Having sailed before from San Diego R/T to Hawaii we decided to try a similar trip leaving from S.F. this time. Our first trip had been on the Celebrity Infinity, while this one was on the Star Princess. My wife and I travelled with good friends and were looking for lots of sea days and an interesting group of days on land. This time our balcony cabin was on the Caribe Deck with a balcony about twice as deep as we had on other trips. Our room seemed standard in terms of overall size, but there was plenty of room for hanging clothes along with the usual assortment of drawers, nooks and crannies for all of our stuff.
We stayed for 4 nights at the Best Western Tuscan Inn on Fisherman's Wharf. It was a great location and the inside room we chose worked out well to avoid outside noise. Prices were typical of that area and the cost included nightly wine and appetizers. We booked this outside of our arrangements for the cruise. I would recommend the hotel and definitely would stay there again. Given our usual collection of bags getting to the ship was easy as pier 35 was very close to our hotel.
We had been on the Star Princess and enjoyed the Piazza with Vines (wine bar and free tapas, sushi), The international cafe with a variety of sandwiches, salads and a daily soup selection. The piazza was designed to be a hub area on the ship and again had a chance to listen to music and watch performers.
We found the food choices pretty good and food quality the same. I do think that portion size particularly for most meats was small. But we never walked away hungry. All our dinners were in the Amalfi dinning room set aside for traditional dining. The room was attractive without to much glitz. We dined much earlier than in the past at 7:45, and getting to this room was a bit tricky. I think this is a design flaw shared by many of the similar Princess ships. You can't go through ship and must take only 2 elevators.
Service by our waiter, Ronald, and assistant waiter, Marabell was outstanding both professional and warm. Our headwaiter, Giovanni helped us nightly with special requirement diets. The dining room team did a great job!!
Most of our other meals were taken in the Horizon Court (buffet). There was enough choice for us and service with juices, tea coffee was well done. We also tried the Pub Lunch with British style food for a change of pace. We also went to the main dinning rooms for a few lunches and food and service continued to be very good. As a change of pace we also went to the 2 alternate restaurants for dinner and found the steak and Italian food matched the service.
Entertainment was a mixed bag though there was a good variety of types. Some production shows were quite good particularly the British Invasion one, but the Destination show with original music was not as much to my taste. Variety acts also were mixed with comedians not getting me to laugh as much, but I love magicians and jugglers. Performances in the lounges were ok.
Lots of lectures on this long voyage and both the naturalist and the anthropologist were very good, interesting and informative. Tried the casino only once just to make sure that my donations were recorded, and at least part of the casino was smoke free.
Both embarkation and disembarkation went smoothly. Getting off of the ship at the end of our trip was particularly excellent. My wife needed assistance by staff and this was provided regularly throughout the trip. The entire ship staff was welcoming and friendly so you felt very good about coming back to the ship at the end of long day of sightseeing. I would definitely sail the Star Princess again. Hopefully as Princess rolls out larger ships they will not lose sight of customer service.
Only took one shore excursion with the ship. This was on Hawaii and our visit to the Tropical Gardens was excellent with the bus driver doing a great job. The gardens were beautiful and they even provided tram service down a steep boardwalk so you get past this ravine if you had some mobility issues. The rest of our trip as it was flatter in most places and had places to rest.
Our cabin attendant did the usual job we have come to expect on a cruise. Our cabin was kept clean and like other staff members on the ship we also had a warm good morning or evening when we past him.
One comment about the itinerary. I would have skipped Ensenada. We only were there for about 4 hours and on last trip to Hawaii Celebrity gave us one more day in Hawaii and a token stop in Ensenada for paper work to meet foreign flagged vessel requirements. Hopefully Princess in the future will try to maximize the time spent in Hawaii.