This was my first time cruising on Princess. I previously cruised on Carnival, Celebrity and Norwegian. I enjoyed this cruise more than any other.
I originally used EZAIR as a place holder and booked a flight on American from Richmond,VA through Charlotte to Fort Lauderdale. EZAIR does not include JETBLUE. As I got closer to the time when full payment was due, I found a direct flight on JETBLUE for the right price, and I was able to cancel the American flight through EZAIR.
I arrived in Fort Lauderdale at 8:30 am the day before the cruise and I rented a car through Budget at FLL, since we had all day in Fort Lauderdale. We checked in at the Hampton Inn North Cruise Port before 10 am and our room was ready. I highly recommend the Hampton Inn North - very nice people, nice accommodations and a shuttle to the cruise port if you need one.
I was able to turn in the rental car at the Budget office at the cruise port at 9:30 am the day of the cruise. Budget has a free shuttle to the cruise port (about 5-10 minute ride). We arrived at the port a little after 10 am, and were allowed to begin boarding at 11 am. The boarding process was quick and painless, and our room was ready when we got aboard. Luggage didn't arrive until around 2:30 pm.
I should add that we had a club class mini-suite with a balcony. Club class made the boarding process a snap. You receive priority boarding and wait in a separate area with coffee and pastries etc. I assume that is why our room was ready before noon. Club class also has a separate area in the Concerto Dining Room, and you can choose to enter the dining area any time after 5:30 pm and you are gauranteed seating. We ate in the dining room every night and the food was really great. You are also asked who you want as your waiters, and we chose Roy and Ogbert each night.
One observation. Because the cruise left the Saturday after Thanksgiving, there were very few kids on board. There were also a lot of walkers, canes, oxygen tanks and scooters due to an older group of passengers. The entertainment in the atrium was geared to a more sedate bunch. The production shows were first class, very entertaining.Voices of the Sea was based on the TV show, and 6 finalists were passengers who competed. I was blown away with how talented each finalist was. A must see show.
This was a Western Caribbean cruise. Saturday through Saturday. The first formal night was the first sea day on Monday, and the second formal night was on Wednesday, after leaving Belize.
Some people have complained about the Horizon Court buffet. I don't get it. There are multiple food stations spread throughout, but we had no problem maneuvering, and we never had a problem finding a table at the pool end of the Horizon. Although window tables were at a premium, but who cares when you're on a ship surrounded by water. The food quality is pretty good considering that they are feeding over 3,500 people.