We boarded the Star Princess the second week of August from Seattle, WA to do the 7 night Alaska Inside Passage trip for our anniversary. I just want to preface this review with the fact that we aren't "cruise snobs" and are fairly down to earth people that just felt disappointed with the Star Princess experience overall. We aren't retirees who cruise a lot. We save up and consider cruising a vacation and expect something a little special. Princess just didn't deliver.
Pros: 1) Alaska is the most beautiful place on Earth. The sunsets, whale watching and weather in mid-late August was INCREDIBLE. The ports of call were short, but sweet. 2) I really enjoyed the Sanctuary private deck above the ship for $10 extra a session (4 hours.) It was well kept, quiet and made our time together special away from the crowds. 3) Some of the folks working on the Star Princess are incredibly sweet, like Elmer, our room attendant. 4) Our inside stateroom was spacious and well appointed. 5) Smooth sailing. We didn't get sick once and felt like the captain was great about letting us know when to take meds ahead of time when we entered rougher waters. 6) The spa and gym were a big plus for me.
Cons: 1) Unless you drink soda or alcohol (which we RARELY do), it is almost IMPOSSIBLE to get served a drink on this ship. We would have loved more self-serve drinking stations with ice water or lemonade or iced tea, because it took servers forever to notice us and refill our drinks. There is a place to get drinks at the Horizon Court buffet area, but it is often slammed with other thirsty people or tapped out. Something so simple shouldn't even be an issue. The drinking glasses looked like thin vials that held very little liquid in them. No bueno. 2) The food was mediocre as a whole. With the exception of some of the desserts in the nicer restaurants like Sabatini's, everything tasted like cafeteria food. Aerated foamy desserts with no real taste at the International Cafe/Horizon Court buffet, Hamburgers made with filler and stale buns at the Trident grill poolside, Less-than-fresh/re-fried, canned offerings at the Horizon Court buffet and yawn-inducing fare in the dining rooms. When my husband's wine is the highlight of his meal, there is a problem. Food is not the only part of cruising, but it's an activity where a cruise can shine, if they just listen to their guests and prepare things fresh. 3) The art gallery on board is a JOKE. It's almost criminal to suggest that 3rd party reproductions of incredibly bad art could possibly be worth more than the crappy frame job they are presented with. The worst was the programming surrounding this so called "art" (auctions, stateroom videos about these hacks with no talent or education mimicking dated styles of fantasy art ,lectures on-board that are outrageously ignorant of history and craft...It induced nausea in us. Princess should promote local arts from the region and hire an educated organizer with some experience to curate the art sold on the ship. 4) Smoking is allowed on the ship in designated areas but, it poured into other parts of the boat making it a huge annoyance for other cruisers. 5) There weren't enough "adult only" designated areas unless you paid extra (Sanctuary area) , so teens and pre-teens were in every common pool/hot tub area horse playing. This was a bummer, because we didn't have many places to escape to for a little quiet.
I'd say this is a good cruise if you lower your expectations a bit and if you keep it all in perspective. :) I hope this helps other people in their planning.