We were looking for a relaxing vacation to truly get away from it all, and we found it on the Pacific Princess. Other than some unnecessary and ultimately disappointing difficulty around our dietary restrictions, this was a great trip. Part of the attraction was that it is a small ship, where you get constant attention and service. We flew to Orlando from Boston three days earlier, both to avoid the risk of weather delays (which would have happened had we flown later), and to visit family and friends. We rented a car and drove to Ft Lauderdale the day of the cruise. Embarkation was a smooth process. We went right to our cabin, which was highly satisfactory. The bed was not great at first but they got us a bedboard and all was well. We loved the balcony and spent a lot of time watching the ever-changing show that was the sea and sky-scape, day and night. The entertainment was good to just OK, and paled in comparison to the draw of the balcony, though I had a great time making a complete fool of myself at the passenger talent show. Our luggage arrived in a timely manner, and our cabin steward, Rugnapa from Thailand, was wonderful. Most of the stewards are men, so we had one of only two "lady stewards." Lucky us! We were also well-situated midship so that when we did hit some rough seas a couple of times, we were in a relatively stable spot. The Pacific Princess was the original "Love Boat" on the 70's TV series, which played on the closed circuit TV, fun.
The pool and hot tub were great, as was the deck track - 13 times around is a mile. The exercise room could have been open for more extended hours, however.
The library was extensive, and was the site of Friday night Sabbath services, with kosher wine and challah provided, much appreciated, and gave us the opportunity to make more new friends. Though we are in our 50's, we felt like the "kids" of the cruise, which we got a kick out of.
We only took advantage of two shore excursions, see the excursion section, had a great time.
DIning was mostly good, with some notable exceptions. I have both gluten sensitivity and lactose intolerance. This is a VERY common combination, as many, many people with celiac disease (which I don't have, luckily) go through periods of lactose intolerance. This is very well known, but as we keep discovering in our travels, venues such as this ship, which do great with the gluten free menu, do not get the lactose thing at all! I also have an unusual allergy to yeast, and ran into issues with the reasonable accommodation request that I made to the dietary people in advance. I had so much difficulty getting confirmation that my needs would be met, that we almost didn't book this cruise. I asked if I could bring my own yeast-free bread, since I don't expect anyone to have this available, and to bring my own vegan margarine, since I suspected, correctly, as it turned out, that truly dairy-free marg, though advertised, would not be available. I went back and forth MANY times with them, just trying to confirm that I could bring these items and would be able to store them in the fridge in our cabin, and trying to get the fridge dimensions. During these exchanges, I was given a list of gluten free items that could be ordered for me, and when I looked at the ingredients, almost every item had dairy and/or nuts in it, despite the fact that I'd specified what my (Very common) allergies were. This offer was made more than once, by the same person. I felt she was not paying attention and became concerned that this would be the situation on board as well. This was finally straightened out, and I was assured that the crew was well-versed in managing food allergies, but I was told that I could only ask my maitre'd to toast the bread for me as this situation was to be considered, and I quote, "a one-off," and that I must not ask this of anybody else. I found this turn of phrase offensive. All very silly, as it turned out that there was a public toaster at the breakfast bar. We only made the seated breakfast once, since we wanted to be able to sleep later on vacation.
The breakfast and lunch daily buffet selections were great. I asked several times about getting some gluten-free muffins as they supposedly had a mix, but this never came to pass. I did get gluten-free pancakes one day, and the less said the better, blah. I don't understand why they couldn't get some of the many, many good-tasting products readily available. This was also an issue at dinner. We had great tablemates, and made new friends. Our headwaiter, Feliciano was THE BEST, and went out of his way to accommodate us (my husband also has some unusual food allergies and restrictions), and we can't say that we went hungry at all. The gluten-free selections, while somewhat repetitive, were excellent and very nicely prepared and presented. But it was a bit disappointing to pay top dollar for a luxury cruise, communicate about lactose intolerance WELL in advance, and find there there was virtually no non-dairy, gluten-free dessert available other than albeit tasty sorbets- still it's disappointing to have to see the amazing array of choices and not be able to partake. They were able to make my husband an apple pie, and just served him a slice several evenings, but sure enough, the supposedly non-dairy margarine that they used contained buttermilk, so I was unable to have any. After several requests, they finally tried to make me something using the supplies at hand, and told me that it came out so badly that they couldn't even bring it out, and wouldn't I care for some nice sorbet? Seriously! This was a glaring deficit on the part of whoever orders the special needs supplies as well as on the part of the chef. Some of our new companions were also disappointed that they ordered Kosher foods and only some of what they requested arrived - no soups or desserts at all, though their headwaiter was knowledgable and was able to make sure they had enough to eat, they ended up having pretty much the same fare day after day.
So we weren't the only ones having issues. However, we did eat more healthily than we otherwise might have, and at least I didn't put on any weight during the cruise.
Disembarkation was OK, if briefly a bit harried, and it was unfortunate that we had to get going so very early, but overall it went fine, and our transfer to Herz was right there.
All in all, we would cruise on Princess again, particularly on the smaller ship.