I LOVE cruising, and even the worst day at sea beats the best day at work (and I love my job, too... so that says a lot!) So writing this review is a little bittersweet, but as I still to this day have a bit of animosity towards Princess, and especially because we are booked on another Princess cruise (not by choice, but by destination and limited options), I am going to write this in hopes that perhaps they will make some improvements!
Our first red flag, was getting on the ship in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Now all of us cruisers know that long lines at embarkation is a likely thing you will face, but this was beyond anything I have ever witnessed. Our bus (transfer bought through Princess) was scheduled to take us from the hotel to the pier at a specific time, but it was nearly an hour late picking us up at the hotel (an hour we would have preferred spending at the hotel's beach, right?) Then when we arrived at the pier, we were dropped off at the front, and told to walk to the end of the line that was formed outside. as we walked down to find the end of the line, we realized it wrapped around the entire building and extended down the parking lot. Now a long line in the hot sun with no shade or place to sit is one thing... but the rudeness of the staff as they walked by and answered questions was completely unacceptable. At one point a Princess staffer walked passed us, shouting out "Any Elite or Platinum members please come with me" I asked "How do we become an Elite or Platinum member?" and he said "If you have to ask, you can't afford it." REALLY? I was so shocked and offended that anyone even still says such a thing. We stood in the outside line for over 2 hours. We laughed it off but little did we know at the time that this was just a taste of the poor customer service yet to come.
Now, let me say, to my fellow coffee drinkers out there... my husband and I love a good cup of coffee, and we have come to learn in our cruising and travel adventures that this is not always available. However, if a cruise line sells a coffee card with so many "punches" on a literal card that you prepay for... and if they advertise a coffee bar that has lattes - they should make sure they are working machines! Or, at the least, refund the purchase price of the cards when the machine breaks down. I am not a cheap person and will gladly pay extra for quality, and neither my husband or I are chronic complainers... but on the fifth time that we headed to the coffee bar and were told the espresso machine was not working, we did ask to speak to the
supervisor, her name was Beverly, and she wanted to argue with us, first telling us we could have hot cocoa. I told her we bought the cards for lattes and if those were not available, we wanted to know where we could return the coffee cards for a refund, and she rudely told us we could have cocoa, wait for the machine to be fixed, or use the cards on our next cruise.
Our other concern may only be for a few of you. I am a smoker, and some lines, Princess being one of them, have eliminated the option to smoke on your balcony. I guess I can understand this for those non smokers out there, as the smoke drifts upward and backward. What I don't understand is why they don't allow "smoking balcony" rooms at the back top of the ship, which would not affect anyone. Instead they give us a few small sections on different decks, where people have to walk by us to get where they are going. The areas are too small to accommodate the number of smoking cruisers, and on this cruise we were on, they were grossly neglected. Ash trays were not emptied and dishes were left on tables for hours on end... many people asked staffers while I was there to help clean up and yet no one ever came.
When we returned, I contacted Princess by email to share my concern about the coffee card and the dirty areas of the ship. I did receive a call, but I was made to feel like it was too bad, so sad, nothing they could do. Not that I expected anything in return, I just wanted to provide them feedback on the poor customer service so they could perhaps do something to improve it, yet after the conversation, I felt like the person who called was not listening and just doing her job by calling me. We cruised once before on Princess to Alaska in 2006 and it was wonderful, so I am hoping this was just a poorly trained and supervised crew
and that our adventure on one of their ships this October will not be so frustrating.
I do have to say that the Caribbean cruise took us to some of the most beautiful places we had ever seen, and that the food was fabulous! There was also a photographer named Emily who was AWEsome!