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Pacific Princess Cruise Review by GradUT

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Pacific Princess
Pacific Princess
Member Name: GradUT
Cruise Date: July 2013
Embarkation: Rome (Civitavecchia)
Destination: Eastern Mediterranean
Cabin Category:
Cabin Number:
Booking Method:
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Member Rating   4.0 out of 5+
Dining 3.0
Public Rooms 4.0
Cabins 5.0
Entertainment 4.0
Spa & Fitness 4.0
Family & Children Not Rated
Shore Excursions 3.0
Embarkation 5.0
Service 5.0
Value-for-Money 4.0
Rates 4.0
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Ship Facts: Pacific Princess Review (by Cruise Critic!) | Pacific Princess Deck Plans
A Blast in the Black Sea

This was our second Princess Cruise, the first being a Panama Canal cruise a few years ago. We chose this cruise primarily because we wanted to visit Istanbul and because we had enjoyed cruising with Princess previously.

Here are some comments about the specific things I rated:

Embarkation: This was super-easy because we didn't get to Civitiveccia until after 4pm. There was nobody else at the terminal checking in, so it could not have been faster for us to get checked-in and on board. Note: Using public transportation from Rome to get to the port is easy and cheap. The train leaves every 30 minutes from Rome's Termini Station and takes just over 1 hour to get to the port. The fare is only 5 euros. Once you get off the train, there is a short walk of a few blocks to the port entrance and there you will find a free shuttle bus that will take you to the Princess terminal.

Public Rooms This is a small ship with around 650 passengers. Even on sea days, the ship never seemed crowded. (The pool area was the most crowded area, particularly on sea days, but you could still always find a place to lay by the pool.) The lounges on Deck 5 were the best (wooden with comfortable cushions) and there were always plenty of them. There was also nice indoor seating in the Library, the Casino Bar and bar next to the dining room. We found the ship to have a classy dEcor (no "glitz" on the Pacific Princess!) and it was well-maintained. Although this may be an older ship, she did not show her age.

Cabin: Our cabin was a mini-suite and we loved the size of both the room and the balcony. It was located on the port side which we found to be the best side for seeing the sights such as Gallipoli and the city of Istanbul. We especially enjoyed the very comfortable bed and the bathtub (which is found only in the suites and mini-suites). The mini-suite had a sitting area with a sofa (which converted into a bed for those traveling with 3 passengers in the room), two chairs, and a table. There was also a writing desk in the cabin, lots of drawer and closet space and a mini-fridge.

Fitness and Recreation: I went to the gym on most days. There was a variety of workout machines stationery bikes, stairsteppers and treadmills which clearly were not new, but were in good working order. Each machine had an individual TV screen and you'll need to bring earphones to hear the programs. There were also some free weights and a separate area for classes.

Dining: We ate all but one of our breakfasts in the Panorama Buffet. There was a large variety of food and I found the food in the buffet to be quite tasty. There was also a "cook-to-order" omelette station. It was never particularly crowded for breakfast in the Panorama Buffet and we were almost always able to find seating outdoors on the aft deck to enjoy our meal al fresco. The Pub Lunch on sea days was a favorite of ours (fish-and-chips, shepherd pie, etc.) This British fare was well prepared and quickly served in the Steakhouse. Other lunch choices were the buffet, grill, pizza station and dining room (on sea days). The pizzas were good; the food from the grill was great. The evening dining menus were not particularly memorable. I was able to find something different each evening for dinner, but none of the meals "wow'd" me. I found the food somewhat bland---even the Thai lemongrass soup (a dish which normally takes my head off) was not particularly spicy. Perhaps the food is aimed for the palate of older passengers.

Entertainment: Because this is such a small ship, the Princess Dancers also worked during the day as assistant cruise directors running the various games and activities which were numerable, but not always well-attended. I found they performed exceptionally well in both jobs. The two vocalists, Rosemary and Joe, were excellent singers. There was a comic that we heard only on the "Welcome Aboard Night", a very good magician that even did an afternoon programs showing how he did a couple of his tricks and a talented vocalist named Christopher Riggins. In the evenings, we enjoyed Alan Shear at the piano. (The singing duo of Chico and Dawn was the only entertainment that we didn't particularly enjoy.)

Service The service could not be better on the Pacific Princess. Everyone greeted us wherever we went and several of the staff recognized us after only a few days. The wait staff at the buffet kept your drinks filled and the tables cleared. I found the front desk staff to be knowledgeable and helpful. We were definitely spoiled by the attentive service on this ship.

Shore Excursions We did only 3 Princess shore excursions and they were a day trip to Varna (from Nessabar); a tour of Constanta with the Zamfira Wedding Show and the tour of Sevastopol from Yalta. We chose the first two tours because my research did not come up with much to see and do in either Nessabar or Constanta. The tours of Varna and Constanta were OK; the Zamfira Wedding Show was a lot of fun. It was hard to skip Lavidia Palace in Yalta for Sevastopol, but I think we made the right decision. It was an interesting tour with a great lunch. The only problem with this tour is that they don't make a stop at any of the memorials/monuments commemorating "The Charge of the Light Brigade". There is only a quick drive-by with a chance to take a photo of the Valley of Death (if you are lucky, quick, and sitting on the correct side of the bus.) There is a new monument recently unveiled by Prince Michael of Kent which the bus drove by twice going to/from the submarine facility in Balaclava. Princess should include it as a quick stop on this tour along with a quick photo stop for the Valley of Death.

One thing I noticed was Princess's failure to describe public transportation as an option in their port information. We took public transportation in Rome (to Civitiveccia); Sorrento (to Herculaneum and Pompeii); Istanbul (the tram is right outside the port area); and Athens (the Metro is about a 20-minute walk from the dock and we had no problem finding it.) The fares on the trains, Metro and trams are significantly cheaper than cabs and we had no problem using fare machines. We really enjoyed travelling like a local! Just be sure to validate your tickets before boarding any public transportation and watch your belongings carefully particularly in Athens.

Debarkation Since we were staying for an extra day and night in Athens, we were able to be in one of the last groups to disembark. We had time for a leisurely breakfast after clearing our room at 8am. We went to the Cabaret Lounge to wait for our group debarkation at 9:30 am, but everything was running so smoothly that we didn't even have to wait a member of the cruise director's staff escorted us to the gangplank and we were on our way. I have never encountered such a smoothly-run debarkation. Non-EU passport holders are pre-cleared with Immigration before arrival, so we just collected our luggage and walked out of the cruise terminal in Piraeas on our way to the Metro to Athens. There was a Princess representative available in the cruise terminal to answer any final questions. (Note: One reason we stayed an extra day in Athens is that we were concerned that we could not make an 11:30 am flight, the latest available for our home destination. It would have absolutely been no problem since we did not have to deal with Greek immigration and customs. In fact, acquaintances of ours made a flight that left before 9am!)


Publication Date: 07/31/13
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