My wife and I chose a Princess cruise to the British Isles to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary. This was our 19th cruise overall and our 14th cruise on Princess. We have chosen Princess in the past primarily due to the itineraries they offer. We have noticed a steady decline in the overall quality of Princess cruises, especially on this cruise which was scheduled to depart Southampton on June 7, 2012. Our first cruise with Princess was in 1993 on the old Crown Princess.
We were scheduled to leave Southampton at 5:00 PM on June 7; however the ship was detained in port by the Coast Guard due to a bilge pump problem. The captain never told us the exact nature of the "technical issue". Announcement were made every few hours that the "issue" was taking longer than expected he would update us later. He never mentioned a bilge pump problem, only a "technical issue." We left port exactly one day late which resulted in our being a day late for our first three ports - Guernsey, Cobh and Dublin. The fourth stop, Liverpool, was cancelled entirely. Later in our cruise, our scheduled stop at Edinburgh was cancelled due to rough seas which did not permit safe tendering to shore.
Therefore, on a cruise advertised to include nine port stops and two days at sea. So we ended up with three days at sea and one cold, rainy day stuck in port at Southampton. Not quite the cruise we expected!! We had scheduled tours at each of the nine ports and three of these tours were cancelled. The tour at Guernsey was cancelled because we were a day late and all the buses were already being used by other tours. Of course the tours at Liverpool and Edinburgh were cancelled since we did not stop at either.
We were taking this cruise primarily for the stops at Liverpool, Edinburgh and Paris. We talked with many other passengers who were very disappointed and angry about the Liverpool cancellation. It would have made more sense to cancel the Guernsey stop and continue with the scheduled Liverpool stop. We paid over $6,000.00 for this cruise and our total compensation for the extra two days confined to the ship was $83.35 per person. This hardly seems equitable when we were being charged over $500.00 per day for the cruise.
The tours we were able to take were excellent and all but one of the guides were very good. The food on the ship was the usual Princess quality although the service and dining facilities were not always pleasant. The service in the dining rooms was often very slow and the Horizon Court was usually packed since the weather was not suitable for outside dining. If one elected to "sleep in" on the four days we were confined to the ship, the only place to have breakfast was the Horizon Court since none of the three dining rooms was open for breakfast after 9:00 AM.
The staff on this ship were the the least friendly and helpful than on our previous 13 Princess cruises. The Internet manager was the most unpleasant and rude Princess staff member we have ever encountered. We also got conflicting answers to the same question from staff members at the Passenger Service desk. Example, As we were approaching the white cliffs of Dover, we would get different answers as to the time we would be passing the cliffs. No one seemed to know or care. When we took our first cruise on Princess in 1993, the captain would make frequent public announcements about our position and interesting sights along the way. On today's Princess cruises, the public announcements are usually promotions for the spas, casino, bars, wine tasting events etc. - places to spent money and increase our shipboard accounts.
We constantly receive mailings promoting Princess cruises and many of them encourage taking a cruise to let Princess help celebrate your honeymoon, anniversary etc. Their celebration of our 50th anniversary consisted of two small balloons attached outside our cabin door and a generic, non-personalized anniversary poster attached to our door. They also sang "Happy Anniversary" to us at dinner and presented us with a very small chocolate cake. (about 4 inches in diameter) They also want to sell you one of two special anniversary packages. One package is $140.00 and the other is $445.00. This is in addition to your cruise fare.
We regret that we did not have a totally enjoyable 50th anniversary cruise on Princess. We did meet many nice passengers on this cruise and made some new friends and we are thankful for that. We had dinner with four very nice folks we had met on the ship and that was the highlight of our anniversary. We shared our tiny anniversary cake with them so we all got a very small taste of the cake. It was good.
We are planning our next cruise and IT WILL NOT BE ON PRINCESS even though we are only one cruise away from being "Elite" members of the Princess Captain's Circle. We have sailed on four other cruise lines and will return to one of those or perhaps a new line. We definitely did not get good value for our money on this cruise and were not compensated fairly for the two extra days we were confined to the ship. We will probably never sail on Princess again.