DW and I took the Star Princess R/T out of Seattle on June 30th. The cruise was an excellent overall experience and we were very pleased with the ship and itinerary.
Cruise started out on a high note as the friends we stayed with in Seattle decided to join on on the "Bon Voyage" experience. We were the first to board a little before 1100, with a personal escort. After dropping off our bags, we did a quick tour of the ship and had some drinks on deck - morning Mimosas and Bloody Mary's. It was both great and eerie to have the ship to ourselves for over an hour. We hit the lawn court for some quick golf putting and then headed over to the dining room for an excellent sit down lunch with wine. Spent the rest of the time with our friends doing some further ship exploration and general relaxation. They de-boarded at 3:00 when the call for muster drill was about to start. One little "trick" we tried was to ask them to bring along a bottle of wine in their carry on as well. No problem, so we had 4 bottles of wine in our cabin for the week! Nice...
Our steward Loida (sp?) was just wonderful as have been almost all our stewards. She was polite and friendly, got us wine glasses to use in the room, and always had the room made up beautifully. We took extra good care of her at the end of the cruise.
The ship is just absolutely beautiful and classy. Nice color schemes, lots of wood and wood paneling, and just a soothing overall environment. Quite a change from our last Carnival cruise on the Ecstasy, which was the standard Carnival "funky".
Food was very, very good, and I would give it an overall 8/10. We loved the choices, especially the International Cafe, and the killer Pizzeria. Food in the MDR was of very high caliber, as was service, with just a few "misses" - some overcooked beef and lamb, but that was the exception. We had other wonderful beef, fish and shellfish dishes and lobster night was great as well. The desserts - just wow! About 5 extra pounds of wow.
So beyond the few "misses" in the MDR, why the 8/10? I have to say it was our disappointing experience at Sabatini's. At my request, I got the DW to agree to allow me to spring for the extra cost, and we were expecting great things. While the meal was OK, it was not a wow. Lots of little things - the mozzarella appetizer was served on a bed of completely unripe tomatoes - almost green. When the Maitre D came by to check, we mentioned it to him and he quickly tried to remedy by bringing out a plateful of barely riper slices. The calamari starter was terrific, some of the best we had, but the main lobster course was nothing special. Good but just a lobster tail with a bit of risotto on the side. The big disappointment was the Gamberi (shrimp) main course, The shrimp were large but flavorless and served with a watery spinach and turnip side. Just blah and several of the shrimp were mushy, indicating they had been around for a while or refrozen. It was a pleasant meal with good service, but I doubt we would ever repeat. Several meals in the MDR were far better. Oh well...
Well that's about it for "complaints", because as mentioned the cruise was great. One other thing about the Star Princess that we loved was the feeling that it was never crowded. We just never had to wait in any significant line, chairs and loungers were always available, we could always find a hot tub to relax in, and saw many open tables at dinner. We mentioned this to one of our waiters and he agreed with us, as the Star and its sister ships (Golden and Diamond I think) carried almost 400 less passengers than later ships such as the Emerald and Ruby. We can attest to that, as our cruise on the Emerald in 2010 seemed much more crowded. I believe that the later ships have one more deck of staterooms, but no more open space.
Ports were very good as we had good weather at all of them (for Alaska!) and very much enjoyed doing our own tours at each. We did take the mountain bike (downhill!) tour at Skagway and enjoyed it a lot. This tour must be booked through the cruise line however. Lots of fun, and we really "sailed" down the mountain at a pretty good clip. Guides were friendly and knowledgeable, but wish we could have spent a few more minutes at each rest stop to further enjoy the scenery.
Running a bit out of time to finish the review, but I will state that embarkation, debarkation and overall crowd control was great. Lots of interesting activities on the cloudy sea days, and just an exemplary staff. Oh and as you can infer, an absolutely spotless ship throughout.. Excellent cabin with comfortable beds, plenty of room (We did inside this time to save a bit of money) Highly recommended for Princess in general, and the Star and its sister size ships in particular. Give it a try, you will be very happy.