About six weeks before the cruise, Princess sends a list of all available excursions. You can book your excursions at that time (by mail, facsimile or over the internet). We booked one excursion on the Princess home page and our excursion tickets were in our cabin on arrival. We also booked two other excursions independently and we arranged two more excursions after arriving at the port.
If you are considering a tour of a town or a tourist site that carries no risk and can be easily reached by taxi, you may want to consider touring independently. Alternatively, if the tour is unusual or runs the risk of delay or physical injury, you should consider booking with Princess. If something goes wrong, and you are on a Princess excursion, Princess will work it out. If you are on an independent tour and something goes wrong you are on your own. However, when the risk is minimal or non-existent, the Princess excursion will cost you more; it will be less personal; and, the delays will be exasperating. We have learned that when the situation is right we can see more of what we want to see in less time with a lot less aggravation at a much better price by touring independently. If you cannot decide whether to book a Princess excursion or to tour independently, you can book the Princess excursion and cancel onboard if you choose to tour independently. Be aware that canceling an excursion must be done by the deadline (usually 24 hours prior to the excursion) to avoid a penalty.
Sun Princess Entertainment
Dan Gibbons was the Cruise Director. He has a lot to learn about being a cruise director. He was not the worst we have experienced but he was far from the best. His morning show appeared to be directed to children on Saturday mornings rather than adults many of whom where on the far side of middle age.
The entertainment was the usual mix of production shows, singers, and comedians. The production shows were excellent. The singer who we most enjoyed was Tony Cherry. Can he sing a ballad! The comedians ranged from very good to truly terrible.
After leaving Ft. Lauderdale we encountered very windy conditions. Our first stop was Princess Cays but the chop on the water was severe enough that the Captain determined that tendering would be too dangerous and uncomfortable. Princess Cays has been a scheduled stop on three of our cruises. Only one of our ships have dropped anchor for Princess Cays.
Each day at sea there were two sessions of bingo. The basic pack of three cards for each of five games ran $20 per session. The sessions get more and more crowded as the cruise goes on because of a roll-over on the last bingo game. The prize reached $3000 before someone won it at the last session.
Art auctions have become as much a part of cruising as bingo. I was pleased to note that the hype concerning the art auctions was greatly reduced from our previous cruises. One of my frustrations was that the art for the auction was stuck everywhere on the ship detracting from the beauty of the ship and its own display of art. Princess seems to have heard these complaints and has greatly reduced the auction art which it has on display.