Pacific Princess Cruise Review by bjb1957: Back from the Black Sea
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Back from the Black Sea
We flew into Athens the same day as our cruise, not something that I like to do because of the "variables" of travelling but we flew on a charter and so we arrived on the same day. We booked the Princess shuttle pre and post cruise as we expected to be jet lagged and it was just an easier way for us to get to the ship. The Princess rep was waiting at the luggage carousel and most of the people taking the bus were on the same flight as we were so the transfer went smoothly and we did not stop at another terminal for passengers, we went right to the ship.
Checking in was a pain, the check in itself was fast but the counters are set up so that the line for the Customs clearance blocked off some of the check in counters. There were 3 booths open for Customs but only one booth was open. There were 2 agents in the booth and the one processing the passengers was a trainee! It took over 40 minutes to clear Customs after getting our room key.
We went straight to the room and had a 2 More hour nap, our things put away and then out onto the deck to explore. The Pacific Princess is a small ship (approx 670 passengers) and is very east to get around. We are used to the larger ships and found it odd that there is no real lobby sitting area. The pursers desk is on deck 4 as is the port lecturer and nothing else. It certainly was not an area to enjoy a drink and people watch as it is on the other ships.
We bought a coffee card which is good for 15 speciality coffees. It is also good for specialty tea and regular coffee without having to use a punch on your card, you simply show it to the barista. Coffee cards are a must for us just as many people buy the soda card. If you don't use up all of your coffee card you can use it on your next cruise for specialty coffee only...the brewed coffee and specialty tea is only good on the ship where you purchased the card.
The room was spacious, it had a small love seat and coffee table, a desk with a small bench that fit under the desk, 2 night stands and the bed. The mini fridge was in the closet beside the clothes and had lots of storage under it. The t.v. was a small flat screen and located there was the safe as well as a lot of storage. We had ample hangers and had to ask for robes. The robes were very small; we have never encountered robes like it. They were more like jackets than robes!
The bathroom had a medicine cupboard as well as 3 shelves in the corner and space under the sink. There was a hair dryer HOWEVER I suggest that you bring your own. I have very short hair and had trouble drying it with the snorkel wand that is attached to the wall. The hair dryer is my only complaint as the hose type dryers went out in the 60's!
The balcony is a little different as it has a solid panel at the bottom and around the sides. It made the balcony feel very private. One night we did not have the balcony door closed properly (the handle must be turned all the way up or all the way down) and we had a noise like the cabin on top of us was being vacuumed and something was caught in it. It got louder as we sailed away and I finally discovered that the door was not secure. Others were commenting on the same thing so it is a common occurrence.
Our Cruise Critic meet and greet was the first day and I was disappointed that Princess did not provide us with anything, not even a jug of water! They did allow us to use the Grill and provided a sign at the door informing people that it was a Cruise Critic function but that was all. Usually there is water, coffee and tea at the least.
Our first port was an overnight stop in Istanbul Turkey. The ship offered a shuttle for $10USD or 8E per person and the shuttle dropped us off right in front of the Grand Bazaar. The return area was about 1/2 a block up the pedestrian street (right across from the Bazaar entrance) and we came upon it by accident on the way back from visiting the underground cistern. The driver who let us off in front of the Bazaar did not speak English and there was nobody on the bus to tell us where we caught the bus back so look for the Princess Cruises sandwich board about 1/2 block up from where you get off. The rep will walk everyone to the bus...and the bus runs every 1/2 hour.
The next day we got off the ship and walked to the end of the pier and took the hop on hop off bus.
We visited Constanta Romania and took a ship tour. Princess should reconsider visiting this port...and this is not only my opinion...as there is little to do or see. We were there on a Sunday and the tour that we were on took us to 2 monasteries, one for monks and one for nuns. Each had a service going inside so we felt like we were intruding on the worshippers. The toilet at the monks monastery was disgusting, it was a squat toilet like most toilets in this part of the world but it was so stinky that I couldn't stand in line to use it. Most women had to use it as there was no toilet on the bus and it took 2 hours from the ship to the monastery. We continued onto our Danube River cruise that lasted 4 hours and there was nothing to see except men fishing on the banks of the muddy brown river.
In Odessa Ukraine we took a Cruise Critic tour that I arranged to the Catacombs. It was an interesting tour with a good guide. We also had a walking tour of the city.
Yalta was another Cruise Critic tour to the Sevastopol submarine base. We also visited a church on the way back that had a panoramic view of the area. The sub base was very interesting and interesting to know that it was used up until 1997.
Nessebar Bulgaria..yet another Cruise Critic tour went out into the countryside and to an old village where we were invited into a home and able to take pictures of the rooms. We were given a sweet somewhat like Turkish delight and a drink of yellow soda. We continued on to a village that used to have 4000 residents and now has 400 people living there. We went into a garage attached to a house where we saw an 82 year old man demonstrating his wool making machine that was over 100 years old. His wife took the wool off the machine and made it into the kind of wool we would by in the store. They had socks, vests etc for sale at the end of their walkway but of course no obligation or pressure to buy. We wandered down the street and entered a shed at the side of a house. A woman there was bottling home made lemonade. We were welcomed into her home where she had the local Ukrainian dresses on display in one room; the other room had all of the preserves that she had put down for the winter lined up on shelves. We had lunch at a restaurant (we were the only 8 there) and were entertained by some elderly women in costume who sang for us.
Santorini is a lovely place but the lines for the cable car can be very long. This is a tender port so you need to allow for the cable line as well as tender time. You can also take a donkey up and down a path beside the cable car or you can opt to walk up the stairs. We waited in line for about 1/2 hour to take the cable car up, the problem is that the cable car can take 36 people each trip (six people per car) and there is only 6 cars going up and 6 cars coming down. At the top are many shops and restaurants as well as places to take pictures.
We missed Sorrento as it is a tender port and it was too rough to use the pontoon for the tender so we sailed into Naples and docked there instead. Naples is a big dirty city and watch out for pick pockets. We walked to the train station where we bought tickets to go to Herculaneum. During the walk there a man stopped one of the people in our group and started the diversionary tactic of wiping off "something" on his shirt. We knew what they were up to and we started yelling don't touch us and they melted into the crowd.
Herculaneum is wonderful to see and having been to Pompeii twice and Herculaneum once I really wanted to see Herculaneum once again as it is much smaller and so well preserved. We took the train back to the station and instead of walking back to the ship (about 3km and 50 minutes walk) we took the local bus. It stops right at the port so all you have to do is cross the street and you are at the ship.
We took the Princess transfer from the ship to the airport in Rome. It is about 1 hour from the pier to the airport. Our flight was at 6:15 pm but because we bought the transfer Princess allowed us to stay on-board until 2 pm when the bus left for the airport. We had to be out of the room by 8 a.m. so that it could be prepared for the next guests but we enjoyed our breakfast and our lunch in the buffet and passed the time reading in the library until it was time to go.
Many of the passengers were doing back to back cruises, the average age would be about 60 and there were no children on this cruise. Less
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