by Jim and Gretchen Pugh
My husband and I recently took our first cruise aboard the Star Princess with two other couples who have sailed previously, and I had to write about our experience.
They say first impressions are usually the correct ones, and Princess made sure that our experience from start to finish was nothing short of exceptional. Friendly staff, incredible food, the cabin (we had a double extra large balcony) was much larger than we had
expected... a large closet with plenty of room for luggage, hanging clothes.....plenty of drawers and shelves for those of us who tend to overpack. The bathroom was
pristine... plenty of countertop space and shelves for your
toiletries... my husband is a large man, and he was able to take a shower fairly comfortably. We never caught our steward in our room, he was like a
ghost--every time we left the room for just a minute or two, he had been there to straighten up, turn down the bed, etc. we would see him in the hallway occasionally, and he was always friendly, and remembered our names. he even helped me clean up a queen conch shell that some Jamaicans had sold me that stunk a little.
The food... what more can I say? awesome. pheasant, filet mignon, lobster, lasagna, assorted pastas with authentic italian
sauces. They make their own ice cream on the ship which is better than anything I've ever had on land!
French onion soup, the pink grapefruit and pineapple are the best I've ever
had and fresh squeezed orange juice, not bottled. croissants were light and airy, not greasy and heavy, with a delicate buttery flavor. the 24-hr buffet was always fresh, prepared properly, and beautifully
presented, as well as immaculate.
The entertainment was wonderful, the theatre was very
large, though you need to get there at least ten minutes before a show or you won't get a seat. we saw a husband-wife comedy/musical duo called 'Tamika' who were
wonderful. We never laughed so hard before. she did a funny imitation of Tina Turner, and the husband could play the electric guitar as if he were channeling Eddie Van Halen himself. the Ventriloquist was
excellent. The Princess dancers and singers were so talented, and put on truly entertaining shows. the Casino was large, clean, not smoky at all, and I actually won money at the slot
machine! (only at one particular machine--I won money every single time, even placed second in a slot tournament on that machine as
well. NO, I'm not telling which one is was, that's MY secret!!!!) thank
you, lucky number four!
Embarkation and Disembarkation were simple and easy hardly anyone in line at
all; the after two pm check-in is much easier from what we saw. we flew in and out of Ft. Lauderdale, and it wasn't horrible, but it wasn't great, either.
Very long lines; some people nearly missed their flights because they were early flights, and it sometimes takes awhile for the bus to get you to the airport.
for excursions, we went to Jamaica first, saw Shaw Gardens which were beautiful, but DO NOT buy that video that they offer, it's of horrible quality and very short!
We then went to a private beach where I found my own large conch shell in the
water--not a common thing I'm told--and then to Dunn's River Falls.
Another lady and I did not climb the falls due to knee ailments, but the rest of our group did and thoroughly enjoyed it. if you are not in good shape though, I would not advise doing this,
We saw two older ladies fall and hurt themselves a bit; it looks like it could be pretty dangerous if you're not in good physical shape.
Grand Cayman was gorgeous--please do NOT miss seven mile beach--it is a true jewel. we found some excellent bargains on jewelry and other
souvenirs there; just be careful that you are buying from a reputable
dealer and look at prices in the states before you go, so you have some idea of what things should cost. I would also advise looking in all the shops before making a firm decision on anything.
They don't like to see you walk out once, so they certainly don't want to let you walk out a second time without one of their treasures! I might add that I got some very high quality
jewelry for some unbelievably low prices, thanks to some bargaining tips from a friend.
My friends and I went to tea in the Portofino dining room, and had a lovely
experience... very relaxing with delicious treats, and tea.
We didn't get to go to Princess Cays as scheduled, due to unforeseen bad
weather, but Princess did their best to make up for it, and we all need to understand that sometimes these things happen unexpectedly, even with the best technology
available--fronts come through faster than forecast, things they can't control.
We were disappointed because it looked like such a gorgeous place, but the captain puts your safety first, so try to understand if it happens to you.
I have to say that normally, my husband is not the kind to take this sort of vacation, he usually prefers to go hunting and fishing, and it took some convincing by our friends to go on this
trip, but he had such a wonderful time, that before the trip was over, he and our other friends had already booked another cruise on this ship for next year! and me? I'm so
excited I've already started packing!!!