British Isles cruise on Caribbean Princess will be our last Princess Cruise! From the start in Southhampton, London there were only problems...the embarkation was a 2 hour nightmare with "cattle-call" lines and a staff that were not efficient at all. Usually cruise lines want to get you right on the ship, not Princess. I can comment openly that my family will never sail on another Princess cruise. The announcements as to why we were not leaving port to start our cruise were few and far between, and altogether lies. The captain would never say what the reason was, why we were still in port the day after boarding the ship. Finally...a bilge pump problem was reported...only after our friends in London emailed us with news that our ship made the London news that we were still in port with mechanical problems. Unbelievable. I won't give a view of all the ports, just an overview of the Princess "experience" on this particular ship. After leaving the port we were told that we would be skipping over Liverpool to get to some other ports for making up time for being stuck in port. Well...unacceptable is all i can say about that, being that Liverpool was one of the major ports that the majority of passengers wanted to see. The captain said for missing this port there would be compensation of a $75.00 credit for this, and that itself is insulting ...being that if you are missing a major port of call for ship errors, compensation should have been much more monetarily. Also, Edinburgh was missed due to not being able to tender in the rough seas. There ended up being 4 at sea days instead of 2 as scheduled.
The main problem with this ship was that during these "non-scheduled" at sea days, there were no additional activities added to the revised schedule and there were hardly any activities on the ship to choose from. the main item provided was watching movies. No additional classes or lectures, no additional trivia sessions or exercise classes, and certainly no one present at the closed bars on board. Seriously people, if you have additional days at sea, you really need some activities to help those who want to do something other than sit in a movie theater. i believe i saw bingo offered twice during the twelve day cruise. Another problem was the entertainment--which i use that word "entertainment" lightly...providing a juggler on board for 5 consecutive nights in the atrium doing three shows a night for fifteen minutes each is not something people enjoy. The shows with the singers and dancers on the ship were very good, but a thirty minute show is a bit short, and instead of offering three shows a night, maybe two shows a night and a little bit longer show would be more entertaining. The entertainment on the ship at night was really lacking and of poor quality at that. When we were in the theater for our thirty minute show, there were no waiters taking drink orders like on other cruises. It was like they wanted to get us in and out quickly, and didn't offer drinks. The bars were empty a lot of the time too, with bar staff being scarce. Usually cruises want the passengers to buy drinks as that is how they make their money. Not so on this particular cruise. The casino was closed most of the cruise, if it was open it was only for a few hours at a time with not much reasoning behind it. during the twelve day cruise there was one poker and one slot tournament.
For the salon/spa on the ship i did experience a great massage, but someone else in our group had a terrible experience. The costs were very highly priced (if you didn't catch a special on board) in the spa, and appointments were hard to get if you did not book prior to the cruise. I did get a manicure, and the salon (where the nails and hair procedures are going on) was a mess and really very dirty.
The one problem, that not many people mentioned in reviews, about this ship in my view and others i spoke to was it felt like this ship was an older ship/cut in half/with an atrium stuck in the middle and put back together again. You could not walk from one end of the ship to the other without having to go up/down stairs. The elevators did not even go to all the floors. Depending on which elevators you got onto, depended on which floors the elevators serviced. The three dining rooms, all on different floors were confusing and hard to reach depending where on the ship you started from. Also, the cleanliness of the ship on the whole was just very bad. Our cabin was clean, unlike some other reviews that i read, but the windows throughout the ship were hard to see out of due to the filth. Our cabin did not even have a couch in it, usually there is a bed, desk, couch, table, and so on. This ship did not have half that in the room. I guess we were lucky and had a bed!
I will say on a positive note that the crew on this ship were all very friendly. The crew work so hard and they all were very nice to us.
The food on board was another story. Horrible sums up the food that was prepared on our cruise. On the last night our waiter tried to sell us cookbooks from the chef, and i really wanted to offer to buy someone else's cookbook to give TO the chef! One of the specialty restaurants on the ship--Sabatini's was really not edible. Our group asked for ketchup for the food, we thought the chef would have a clue...didn't help. The one saving grace on our trip was the Crown Grill restaurant which was the steak/seafood one. This was good food and really worth the extra cost. We visited this one three times during our cruise.
Overall i believe that Princess has just cut costs too much with entertainment, activities, food, and all over honesty with the passengers. We had one good experience with Princess going to Alaska two years ago, but this trip was our last on Princess. We have cruised over 16 times and will never book again with this line.