Caribbean Princess Cruise Ship Review

Caribbean Princess departs Southampton
Caribbean Princess departs Southampton

In early 2017, Caribbean Princess emerged from an $8.2 million refurbishment. The ship received a new livery and the iconic Princess ‘Sea Witch’ is emblazoned on the ship’s bow. The ship received revamped interiors, improved dining venues, and impressive technology in preparation for Princess’ “Ocean Medallion” concept.

At the heart of Caribbean Princess, is the three-deck-high Piazza surrounded by various shops and bars. Tucked away in the corner, yet still prominent within the Piazza on Deck 5 is Vines. Caribbean Princess‘ dedicated wine bar is perfect for enjoying a wide selection of fine wines from around the world. Highly recommended are the wine flights, perfect for sampling new flavours. International Café is a staple of Princess cruise ships. Throughout the day, you can enjoy delightful pastries, sandwiches, cakes, plus a selection of teas and coffees. Crooners is a small piano bar overlooking the Piazza on Deck 7. It’s an attractive place on an evening, especially for pre-dinner drinks.

Deck 7 is the main thoroughfare on Caribbean Princess. This deck is home to the spacious promenade that wraps around the entire outer deck, plus several lounges. Explorers Lounge is a cabaret show lounge with an Egyptian theme. This venue has various uses throughout the day and evening, playing host to trivia, game shows, and live music. From the entrance, the nautical-themed Wheelhouse Bar seems small. As you walk further in, past various paintings and models of ships, you’ll realise it’s a stately venue, yet still retains that intimate feel, making it ideal for the various social gatherings that take place here. As you enter Club Fusion, one of the main entertainment venues on the ship, you’ll immediately notice it’s Western theme. There’s a saddle by the entrance, and the show lounge is filled with leather, brass, and wood-effect beams. There’s plenty of artwork depicting cliche scenes of the Wild West. The venue is always a hive of activity, hosting the popular bingo sessions, dance classes, karaoke, comedians, and themed discos.

The 800-seat Princess Theater is home to glitzy production shows and headline acts. Hidden in the armrests of the seats are small tables that fold out, so that you can place your drink on them. Located underneath the theatre is Churchill’s Lounge – the only indoor bar where smoking is allowed. The lounge is rather small, but suits its purpose well. This venue is also used for showing sports highlights on the TVs.

Caribbean Princess has three main dining venues. Island Dining Room and Coral Dining Room are for the majority of guests and operate mostly on an anytime dining policy, where guests can dine at any time that suits them best. Specific requests, such as tables for two, may result in you having to wait for lengthy periods, though you can pre-book in the day to save time. The Palm Dining Room is exclusively used for suite guests.

Sabatini’s Italian Trattoria received a complete refurbishment during the ship’s 2017 dry dock. The dated and tired décor has made way for a contemporary Italian eatery, where ingredients take centre stage. For a nominal charge of $25, you can enjoy five-courses of authentic Italian cuisine.

Crown Grill is Princess’ signature steakhouse. It’s the most popular specialty restaurant found across the Princess fleet and has a vast selection of perfectly-cooked steaks and seafood. There is even a menu dedicated to salt! Dining here costs $29, and it is well worth the money.

World Fresh Marketplace replaces the Horizon Court buffet located on the Lido Deck. This large buffet has undergone a complete transformation, not just in terms of décor, but also with food offerings. There is now a great focus on healthy fresh fruit, salad, and hearty soups. There is a great selection to choose from. New food options include a pancake station, specialty hand-crafted sandwiches and a carvery with a selection of roast meats.

New to the ship and the Princess fleet, Caribbean Princess has two casual evening speciality restaurants called Steamers Seafood and Planks BBQ. Buffet-style breakfasts and lunch options are complimentary. Both restaurants have a cover charge of $12 per person for the waiter-served dinner menu. Planks BBQ serves family-style ‘planks’ of loaded ribs, beef, sausages and chicken plus sides, like fries, chilli, coleslaw, and dill pickles. Steamers Seafood consists of seafood selections including mussels, scallops, clams, prawns, and crab-stuffed flounder. For an extra $10, diners can choose king crab legs or lobster tail. 

The Salty Dog Grill, formerly Trident Grill, is a complimentary gourmet poolside grill. Tuck into classic hot dogs, juicy burgers, or flavoursome tacos – either grilled chipotle chicken or sweet potato-green chile – served with fries and topped with chilli cheese or bacon & cheese. The ‘Ernesto’ burger, created by Chef Ernesto Uchimura, is the only food item at The Salty Dog Grill with a charge. For $5, or $8 with a beer, this tempting burger is made up of rib eye beef patty, grilled pork belly, caramelised kimchi, beer battered jalapeño, aioli, and cheese. Slice pizzeria has a fantastic new complimentary menu with exciting new pizza flavours to choose from. Enjoy Neapolitan-style pizza, deep dish focaccia layered with marinara, meatballs and cheese, California artisan toast topped with avocado or caprese salad, and sliced stromboli with deli meats and cheese. Coffee & Cones brews specialty coffee drinks on top deck, in addition to gourmet ice cream sandwiches, and free soft-serve ice cream.

The most iconic feature on Caribbean Princess has to be Skywalkers Nightclub. Suspended above the aft section of the ship, access to this spaceship-like venue is via a moving travelator (the kind you’d expect to see at airports) surrounded by large panes of glass. The view from the nightclub is simply breathtaking offering 360 degree views over the sides and aft of the ship, and looking across towards the gigantic funnel. In the day, this a a great quiet hideaway, perfect for soaking up the views, and a few drinks too. At night, this is the hottest place to be, as the light-up dance floor and chart-topping songs get into full swing.

For a ship with Caribbean in its name, there’s no surprise that Caribbean Princess has plenty of pools to cool down in. To be more precise, the ship has a total of twelve impressive pools, hot tubs, and splash pools to enjoy. The two main family pools onboard are the Calypso Reef and Neptune’s Reef, both on Lido Deck 15. The Calypso Reef pool has a tiered sunbathing area surrounding it – perfect for watching ‘Movies Under The Stars’ with blankets and popcorn! Two adults-only swimming pools can be found at both extremes of the ship. The Terrace Pool offers stunning views over the aft of the ship, though is often shaded due to the Skywalker’s Nightclub perched directly above. Towards the front of the ship is the Lap Pool and is within close proximity of The Sanctuary and Lotus Spa & Gym.

The Sanctuary is a fantastic place to spend a sunny sea day relaxing in comfort. This serene environment, available from $20 for half a day (08:00 – 12:30 or 13:00 – 17:00), has plush sun loungers, and a private cabana for a relaxing massage. Serenity Stewards are also on hand to serve you refreshing drinks and light snacks. Walk down a few steps and you can also enjoy the delights of the adult-only pool and hot tubs. The Lotus Spa & Gym is situated at the forward end of Deck 16. There is a large gym offering stunning seaview vistas over the bow, along with a relaxing spa, offering various massages and beauty treatments, as well as a well-equipped hair salon perfect for formal night preparations.