Our January 5, 2013 Princess Caribbean cruise was a Christmas present to my wife and we were really looking forward to a week of great pampering and fun. At first I was pleased with our Suite assignment, based upon the online information which led us to believe the suite had a great view of the forward seas. When we checked into our room we were immediately disappointed with the room; there were no walk-in closets, as described, however the primary problem was that our balcony had a view of the bridge including a security camera, people in the bridge and other passengers on a walkway above the bridge facing our suite and balcony. Additionally the public walkway, which faced not only our balcony but the window into our bedroom, gave passengers the ability to look directly into our suite, which forced us to keep the drapes closed at all times. This was not acceptable and was not disclosed properly. If it had been disclosed, we would have opted out of the room without hesitation.
We traveled from the West Coast so it took us 2 extra days of travel to enjoy our vacation. This would not have been a problem provided the cruise met our expectations. Before the cruise I spent several thousand dollars purchasing upgraded SCUBA gear including a new underwater camera which we planned to use in Curacao. I am a retired Scuba Instructor and chose to dive with an operator which several of my colleagues recommended. We also transported 60 pounds of dive gear for nothing! The Captain's decision to spend the full day at your private island, and not start earlier for Curacao, was a terrible decision for the passengers and a financial gain for Princess. He knew the seas were going to be rough and it would take more time to get to Curacao. His decision resulted in our arrival into Curacao at 4:30 pm. Needless to say our diving trip had come and gone and so was the $250 we prepaid to go diving. So we adjusted our schedule to walk the downtown area only to find out the shops closed at 6 pm. We had less that 45 minutes by the time we arrived to the shopping district to shop. This resulted in one of the two major ports a major disappointment based on the Captain's decision to spend the full time at Princess Cays. Fifty percent of our vacation was wiped out by a bad decision and poor planning by the Captain!
The trip was not a total bust. There were several staff members that cared about your guest's experiences more than their tips. Our cabin steward Gemma was extremely attentive and Chris Ocampo in the Wine Bar was outstanding; he remembered our names from the first day! Impressive! Carmella in the Crown Grill and Ignacio in Sabatini's went above and beyond to ensure we had a good time. The Matre d's in both specialty restaurants were attentive as well. We did have problems attaining reservations at Sabatini's with more than 48 hours' notice. Dining times should be withheld for Suite and Platinum members to ensure they have first choice in reservations.
I purchased a beverage card for refreshments at the pool. The bar staff at both main pools were more focused on beverages where additional tips would be charged and not on beverage card customers. They clearly did not want to help us. Ignacio, our waiter at Sabatini's recommended we take part in a wine tasting event. He informed us that he may be serving at the function and suggested we ask the hostess if we could be seated in his section. When we arrived at the function Daisy greeted us and when we asked to be seated in Ignacio's section, she snapped back "this is my show not Ignacio's!" We were surprised with her rudeness. The next evening we were dining at Sabatini's where she looked straight at me, lifted her head, and walked away. We were shocked once again!
Special recognition needs to be given to the band Solutions, they were excellent and truly engaged the guests and created wonderful evenings and afternoons. After their performances they would greet us, shake our hands, say thank you for enjoying our show and so on.
Lastly, with the onset of a serious flu season, we didn't feel that enough attention was given to sanitizing hand rails, elevators and staff enforcing that all guests use the sanitizing gel. Other cruise lines are very strict and have higher standards of cleanliness.
The above situations didn't totally ruin our vacation; however it was a major disappointment. Princess has not offered to make this right.