We started cruising in 1999 and had always enjoyed our cruises with Princess. Sad to say that we had very different experience this time. Princess had been cutting their operating costs gradually over the years. First the silver spoon, china and glassware were gone from the Horizon Court. The food quality gradually went down hill. Theme based Buffet disappeared. We have to print our own luggage tags....etc.
We were in Coral Princess in 2011 to Alaska. We just got off Caribbean Princess on Sept 15, 2012. During the 14 months, I noticed the following changes had taken place:
Sommelier is no longer around. The waiter who filled our water glasses served our wine.
There was no Headwaiter preparing the occasional special dessert like Cherries Jubilee. As a matter of fact, we did not see him until the second last day of our cruise.
The library is gone, now its just a row of cabinets with books on one side of the Internet Cafe, with 4 chairs.
There is a new menu in Sabatini's now. Gone are the "sampler package" where you can taste a little bit of everything. The lobster's tail served is about 2 inches long. I would say it came from a lobster less than 3/4 lb. Dinner stretched over 2 hours. Waiter did not know the food on the menu enough to help you make the right choice. Striped bass was said to be similar to Chilean Sea Bass but when served, was totally different. The Maitre D' poured our wine.
Specialty Restaurant has very limited seating due to limited staff. So just because you see that it is half empty, you may not get a table.
All beef dishes were disappointing. We used to get very decent Prime Rib Roast or Filet Mignon in the Dining Room. Now they are tough and have no flavor. We could not get a table at Crown Grill even though it is half empty every night we walked by.
We could no longer get Specialty Coffee in the Dining Room. I purchased a Coffee Card and had to line up for my specialty coffee, premium coffee or tea in the International Cafe. The International Cafe is now opened 24 hour but you can no longer go to the Horizon Court and have pizza after a late show. The Horizon Court is closed after 5:30pm, with the Caribe Cafe (the back part) opened till midnight. The Caribe Cafe now no longer hosts special dinner with table cloth. By doing so, Princess reduced the serving area of the Buffet.
We have 5:30pm fixed seating but our waiter did not know our name. He only took our order then brought the food to us. His assistant appeared every now and then to fill our water glass, then disappeared completely. Dinner stretched over 2 hours at times.
The biggest impact on the enjoyment of our cruise was the food quality in Horizon Court. There were very limited choices and the same food were served every morning. Dinner served in Horizon Court was horrible, and food served in the Dining Room was mediocre. The only good meal we had was on the second Formal Night, when they served the lobsters, which were much better than those served in Sabatini's.
Overall, this cruise was a disappointing experience. The ports were great but the experience on board of the ship was not. We did not enjoy the food in Horizon Court, in the Dining Room and in the Specialty Restaurant - Sabatini's. Our cabin Steward has an attitude and was not very attentive. Our daughter travelled with us this time so there were 3 of us in the mini-suite. He only gave us 2 sets of towels on the first day. When we asked for an extra set, he told us he would bring it at "turn-down" time. We did not see the extra set when we came back from dinner so we called his pager. It was not answered so we called Passenger Services. We did not realize that he put this extra set under the sink. The next day he told my husband off, said that calling the Passenger Services got him in trouble with his Supervisor. From that day on, he ignored us when we met him in the corridor. He did his job, making the bed, cleaning the bathroom but he did not dust our room. Fortunately, I brought my Swiffer!
We are no longer sure that cruising is for us. On land, when you don't care for some places or some people, you can always leave. On a cruise, you are trapped and stuck with them. There's nowhere to go. We found that we spent more time in our cabin watching movies (better selection, I guess this is cheaper than providing good quality show)than going to the show, which was mediocre as well.
Cabin is as comfortable as before.
Younger people should avoid cruising in September, at least on this cruise ship with this itinerary. They will find a lot of older passengers on board and may feel out of place. I would say over 40% of people on this cruise are over 70.