I have just returned from an excellent 3 nights On Board the Caribbean Princess. I jumped at the chance when offered, simply because at the moment I feel that the brand is offering excellent value for money, great itineraries and all of my customers give great reviews when I speak to them. I was ready to witness first hand what is making the difference with Princess Cruises. I was On Board as part of Princess Cruises Academy training. it was all about giving us agents a real flavour of the product with a mixture of talks, tours and importantly free time so we were able to experience the product first hand. And I have to say it DID NOT disappoint!!
We Joined Caribbean Princess’s 12 night British Isles voyage in South Queensferry (Edinburgh) and travelled 3 nights to Southampton via Le Harve. We boarded via tender boat and went to our room to freshen up and take a peek at our Balcony cabin, before our public area ship tour with our hosts from Princess. The balcony was of standard fayre really – enough room with small balcony, plenty of storage space and a small bathroom with shower – exactly what I expected.
After checking our cabin out our first stop was lunch in the Horizon Court which is the ‘Buffet’ restaurant – food was great and for all of the people that worry about the self service food being lukewarm, I can tell you it was piping hot, fresh and delicious. One thing that I thought was great is the free fresh Lemonade – proper lemonade, nice touch Princess!! After lunch we set off to meet for the tour that gave us a real flavour of the ship which is in fact one of my favorite ship class types – Grand Class. I was very impressed with the adult only Sanctuary area which is charged at $20 per half a day – well worth it for the comfy loungers and the ‘chilled out’ setting. After leaving The Sanctuary we passed ‘Movies Under the Stars’ has long been a favorite feature of mine on Princess ships and Caribbean Princess was in fact the first ship in the fleet to feature it.
Loungers in The Sanctuary
After our excellent tour and group photo we had our muster drill, we were able to freshen up for our evening.
Meeting in Skywalkers at 7.15pm for a hosted cocktail party to start the evening off. Skywalkers is the nightclub nestled high at the back of the ship reached by a covered walkway with an elevator. It was a bit quieter at this time of the evening and is used more as a lounge with excellent views over the back of the ship – somewhere I like to spend the early evening. I sampled some of the cocktails and was more than happy with the quality and priced at between $8.50 – $8.95 they are reasonable. In fact I would say all of the drinks on board were very reasonably priced and with cocktail happy hour (buy one get on for a dollar) between 10-11pm you really cant go wrong.
Dining this evening was in the main dining room. The food was excellent as was the service – it was definitely a good start. After dinner we had a wander around the ship, there were some great venues including club fusion where a singer was belting out some classics and Explorers bar which is on a thoroughfare – but this is one of those bars which really work as its a great meeting point and very central. We then ventured back to Skywalkers for some late night fun – what a great little club, which for the smokers out there does also have an indoor smoking area.
Day 2 an it was conference morning – We had a great talk from one of the Future cruise team, this was something I had looked forward to. It really confirmed to me the importance of my customers knowing about the benefits of booking on board or taking out a Future Cruise Deposit. For me the Princess Future Cruise Deposit scheme is one of the best out there, on board you pay £75pp and this deposit lasts for 2 years, when you come to use it an on board credit amount is applied based on the duration you book. Definitely worth thinking about on my opinion.
The next speaker was the food and Beverage manager who gave us a great insight into how they order food and the fact that everything is made fresh on the ship even the beef patties for the burgers at the pool bar – Of course I tried one later in the day! Also food ordering is done 2 months in advance and the bulk of it comes from the USA. Really interesting facts, and really the way they are sourcing the food – they know the supply chain, they know the quality and are able to keep track of it.
Last but not least was the Entertainments director. He told us about how they recruit the dancers etc and the staggering costs involved in producing a new show for the ship. The enthusiasm from him clearly filters down to the rest of the entertainments team.
I will leave part 1 here because I want to talk about the specialty dining experiences and our behind the scenes tour in part 2 – stay tuned