Princess Cruises invited me to take a week-long Western Caribbean Cruise, and I was (obviously) extremely excited to escape the cold NYC weather and head down to the islands for sunshine and awesome weather. As this was my first time on a Princess Cruise, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect – would it be fun? super packed? convenient or the opposite? adventurous or relaxing? could it be both?
I thought I’d break down each day to give you guys a real look at what a Carribbean Cruise is like on Princess Cruises.
Stress-filled arrival, stress-free balcony room.
After almost missing my flight, we had barely made it onto the ship before leaving at 4pm in the afternoon from Fort Lauderdale (I had arrived at West Palm Beach Airport – almost 45 minutes away – at 2:30pm). We did our best to speed through security, handed over our passports to the check-in staff and receiving our statecards, we lugged our suitcases into our rooms. By this point, we were just ready to lay down and pass out onto the beds.
It’s a bit hectic when you don’t check your luggage in (usually they’ll tag it and send it straight to your room), and the hallways aboard are not ideal for luggage-lugging. But once you finally find your room and sit down, nothing will scream “RELAX” better than chocolate-covered strawberries and a bottle of Veuve Cliquot waiting for you on ice.
You’ll notice that everyone around you, is ready to relax, and because travel is filled with unexpected, inconvenient moments (i.e. almost missing your entire week cruise from sleeping through your alarm) – little novelties like above can help kickstart the process of relaxation. From check-in to our stateroom attendant, everyone was cheerful and everything seemed like it was going at a much slower pace than I was used to back home in NYC.
The room we stayed in was cozy – the beds (albeit small, since they were two twins) were soft but still had enough support to be super comfortable. The balcony was such a great, semi-private area – if you can, definitely opt for the balcony room as most interior staterooms are budget-friendly but on the smaller side.
After unpacking a bit, we ventured around to get a better idea of the whereabouts of everything on the ship.
We grabbed a few snacks at the buffet restaurant onboard, and enjoyed the absolutely stunning sunset through the floor to ceiling windows at our table.
After heading back to the stateroom for a bit more balcony-relaxing, we headed to Vines Bar for a glass of wine and pre-dinner light bites.
There are so many sweet little areas on the ship to sit and relax.
And drink and eat more.
Only to eat more at Crown Grill – the premium seafood and chop house on board.
This was the end of the day so at this point I am completely stuffed, around three glasses of wine in, and ready to hit the sack.
A full day at sea.
Pool day, more exploring the ship and people watching, more relaxing. Not much to report here.
Arrival at Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands.
I woke up at 6 am only because I had to use the bathroom, and saw in the corner of my half-shut eyes, bright red coming from outside the balcony. I took a closer look and saw the most magnificent sunrise I had ever seen in my life. I immediately woke up my friend Amy to get her out of bed to see this with me. We were pulling into Grand Cayman in the Cayman Islands, and I couldn’t believe how beautiful the sky looked. This was one of the highlights of my entire week.
We went down to the tour desk to find a last-minute tour. It’s best to book in advance before your cruise, but procrastination is a specialty of mine. We waited in line around 15 minutes, and luckily found a stingray and snorkeling tour still available.
When the ship arrived at Grand Cayman, we had to wait in an extremely long line to get off the ship, onto a smaller boat, which would then take us to port. This entire process could take an hour or longer, which made us miss our tour group – so it’s important to account for this when figuring out your plan for the day.
The weather was absolutely beautiful, the water crystal clear and I was in my happy place.
Once we found another tour to join in on (the Princess Cruises tour assistant at port was extremely helpful in finding us another tour to join since we missed our morning time slot), we headed to a white sand bank about 30 minutes out, and swam with stingrays. I did something that scared the living sh-t out of me and now have a story to tell about it. (READ: The One Thing That All Successful People Do)
After a full day of swimming and snorkeling, we headed back to the ship, showered, ate dinner and went straight to sleep.
Arrival at Cozumel, Mexico.
Docking at Cozumel was much easier than in Grand Cayman, and you were able to walk right off of the ship instead of having to wait for a boat. We booked the Mayan Ruins tour and left with our tour group to head to a smaller boat and sail 45 minutes to Playa del Carmen. From there, we hopped on a bus to Tulum for another 45 minutes.
It started POURING when we got to Tulum, and the rain didn’t stop until we got inside the Mayan Ruins. For around two hours, we walked along the beautiful cliffs and explored the grounds.
Tulum is a tiny town, so there’s a lot to do around here if you’re willing to pay for a taxi to take you around (beach to restaurants to the ruins), but we were limited in what we could do due to the tour group timing.
The ruins were beautiful, and it was a cultural yet calming feeling enveloping the grounds. I would definitely recommend stopping by the ruins if you’re ever around Tulum.
After we got back to Playa del Carmen, we got back on a boat to Cozumel and headed back to the ship to – eat some more and catch up on our sleep.
Another full day at sea.
We slept in a little bit longer than usual today, and journeyed around the ship to explore some more.
We booked spa treatments at Lotus Spa, an Eastern-inspired oasis onboard the Carribbean Princess. The seaweed massage and scrub we wanted was already fully booked, so we opted for another Swedish massage and facial. It’s best to NOT procrastinate when it comes to booking tours or spa treatments – these things fill up extremely fast and it’s better to move things around than be stuck with no time slots available.
After our massages, we headed to get some more food.
The dinner at Sabatini’s Italian Restaurant was absolutely amazing. Seafood spaghetti, dark chocolate-covered tiramisu – everything was extremely fresh and tasty. You can view all of the food options I had on this cruise here.
After dinner, we went up to the Skywalkers’ Lounge for late-night dancing and drinks. It was definitely more lively than it had been the past few nights, and we spent an hour or so listening to 80s and 90s music over some gin and tonics. It was a mixed crowd, lots of couples – not as many young people, but we had so much fun.
We arrived back in Fort Lauderdale that morning, and as soon as we woke up, we headed to get a huge breakfast at the Buffet. After heading back to our room, we packed up and prepared for disembarkation. There were envelopes left in our mailboxes outside of our stateroom, and with a specific luggage color tag and number, we exited out on one side of the ship to head back to the airport back to NYC. It was pretty fast and easy – we got off the ship in around 30 minutes.
We had so much fun on this cruise – I came back at the very least five pounds heavier from all of the amazing food right within reach. The weather wasn’t as great in Mexico, but we got one good day of full-on sunshine in Grand Cayman, so that made up for the rest of the trip. I came back to New York City so much more relaxed, a shade tanner and with a smile on my face. After all, the whole point of going on vacation is to #comebacknew.