Launched in 2004, the 3,140-passenger Caribbean Princess emerged from a multimillion dollar refurbishment in May 2017 with a whole new roster of dining options. These bright, contemporary spaces — from a rustic barbecue joint, where you can dig into saucy ribs and chicken wings to a seafood restaurant that makes you feel as if you're at a New England clambake — really stand out.
The line also made improvements on some favorite aspects of the ship: A brand-new screen for Movies Under the Stars was installed and the kids club was expanded to take advantage of the line’s partnership with Discovery Channel.
What We Love
New Complimentary Dining Venues Provide Variety: World Market Place — a first for the line — is a new take on the buffet, with stations that highlight cuisines from around the globe. For a quick bite, head to the poolside venues, where Slice Pizzeria serves delicious meat-stuffed stromboli and Salty Dog Grill features hot dogs and hamburgers piled high with messy toppings.
New For-A-Fee Options Offer Value: The New England-inspired Steamers Seafood ($12 per person for dinner) offers heaping pots of mussels and clams and broiled fish platters, and the trays of ribs, chicken, and pulled pork at Planks BBQ are so copious that it’s a wonder how anyone could even bother with dessert.
Plenty of Pools and Lounge Chairs: With five pools and two splash pools, there's lots of space to relax, and you won't need to stress over finding a lounge chair.
Local Touches: “Local Connections” excursions give an up close and authentic look at some of the destinations. And Princess has made an effort to incorporate ports’ cultures and traditions onboard, too. For example, on a British Isles cruise, you can learn to play the penny whistle, watch Irish dance performances, and listen to experts speak about the Highlands. There’s even a (no-charge) British pub during sea days that serves fish and chips, Scottish eggs, and sherry trifles.
Princess Luxury Bed: The best part of the cruise may not be during your waking hours. A collaboration between sleep expert Dr. Michael Breuss and HGTV’s Candice Olson resulted in the Luxury Bed, which is made up of soft layers of Jacquard-woven linens, warm duvets, and cushy mattresses.
Jr. CHEF@Sea Program: A small group of children, accompanied by their parents, get to go behind the scenes in the ship’s galley and learn how to decorate a cake, which is later delivered to your cabin for the family to enjoy.
Best Known For
Crown Grill: Despite the dining innovations that were introduced, this clubby, wood-paneled classic remains a passenger favorite for the spot-on sirloins and ribeye steaks, steaming seafood, and decadent desserts, including gooey chocolate cake.
The New Sabatini’s: The brand-new version of Princess’ classic trattoria is a contemporary spin on a line favorite. On our sailing, diners were impressed with the modern dishes, especially the mint-speckled tortelloni with roasted lamb.
Wedding Chapel: Princess Cruises was the first line to have an at-sea wedding chapel, and this dedicated space is ideal for your "I do’s" and vow renewals.
Movies Under the Stars: A large poolside screen sets the stage for watching films on a lounge chair. Hot popcorn and blankets are provided.
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Who It's Best For
Families: The ship has wonderful youth and teen programs, plus family-friendly, all-ages activities, including the family fun fair, which takes over the main Piazza for games, crafts, cookie decorating, and face painting. The refurb also bolstered the number of interconnected cabins, and unveiled the redesigned Camp Discovery, which organizes roller coaster competitions and build-your-own solar system sessions, as well as Shark Week and MythBuster-themed activities.
Laid-back Cruisers: Passengers who have a low tolerance for rambunctious cruises prefer Princess, where the amusements don't revolve around boisterous revelry and non-stop drinking.
Passengers with Mobility Issues: Princess pays particular attention to passengers with wheelchairs and walkers. Besides ADA cabins (roll-in showers equipped with grab bars, easy access closets), there’s dedicated help and a wheelchair ramp on the gangway, reserved seating on tours buses, and guides who make a point of accommodating physically challenged guests.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
High-Adrenaline Activities Are Lacking: The fun here is of the low-key variety, so don't go looking for rock-climbing walls or roller coasters.
It's First Come, First Served: If there’s something you’re looking to try, order it at the beginning of the cruise. We noticed that many bottles of wine were sold out later in our sailing, and the chocolate and wine pairing at Vines was so popular that it was no longer available halfway through the cruise.
Cabins Not Refurbished: Save for the art work and the beds, the dry dock left much of the cabins untouched. The bathrooms, with spotted shower curtains and yellowing floors, were particularly disappointing.
Stacey Zable is a New York-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has also written for Food & Wine and Islands.
Lisa Cheng is a New York-based writer for ShermansCruise who also writes for Travel + Leisure.
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Caribbean Princess at a Glance
- Line: Princess Cruises
- Class: Grand
- Number of Passengers: 3142
- Ship Size: Mega
- Launch Date: 2004
- Refurbish Date: 2017
- Columbia and Snake Rivers
- Eastern Caribbean
- Hudson River
- Mississippi River
- New England and Canada
- Ohio and Tennessee Rivers
- Repositioning Cruises
- Southeast Rivers
- Southern Caribbean