This was the first cruise for my husband and me, so we approached cruising with some trepidation. Would we be bored? Would our room be clean? Is the food good? Were the staff eager to please?
Princess is trying the new routes of 3- and 4-day cruises in and out of Los Angeles. We booked a mini-suite on the Emerald Deck for an October 24 sailing. We were also sailing with six friends with cabins scattered across the ship
We headed to the Port of Los Angeles and had no problems finding a porter to take our bags. The car was parked in the lot ($12.00 per day) and we made our way to check in. Unfortunately, the escalator was broken, so we waited for the elevator which also had its own problems. Still, we made it to a check in station and then through security and were seated in the "Group 2" section. We were told we would be embarking around 1 PM. At 11:30 AM they started calling the Elite group to head to the ship. About 15 minutes later, our group was called and we were in our mini-suite about 15 minutes later.
As we got settled, our steward knocked and walked us through the cabin and gave us various information. We made a few requests and he then returned minutes later with two glasses of champagne. We went out onto the balcony and toasted our cruise before meeting our friends for lunch.
Our cabin was a nice size and was very clean. The closet space was ample, the bed comfortable (note: the bed is very firm which was great for us), the room clean, and the balcony spacious. Our only complaint was the bathroom tile and grout that needed a complete overhaul. The grout was dingy and the tile looked like what you would find in an old 1950's motel along Route 66. One plus, though, was the space under the bed for storing our empty luggage.
It was time to head to lunch and we opted to skip the madness of the buffet and headed to the open dining room. The eight of us were seated quickly and our staff and food were very good. Thus, we began our cruise...
With the exception of a couple of minor issues, we very much enjoyed the food. There were plenty of options on the menus in the dining rooms or the buffet or Trident Grill had other items as well. If we didn't like something, we simply requested something else and it was delivered with a smile. Our glasses were kept full and we had no complaints about the service in the dining rooms.
We did visit the buffet and it suited our needs. Breakfast was good except for the scrambled eggs which seemed overly processed. Everything else was hot, fresh and kept us happy. The Trident Grill and Pizzeria were great. We especially liked the pizza which was outstanding. The International Cafe had lots of nice items. Some were creative and some were comforting. All was decent and fresh. We did, however, notice continual service problems at the International Cafe and we never quite figured out who was serving us. Sometimes it was a dedicated person and other times the staff making specialty coffees. We often had to wait to get service.
One evening, we decided to take in the Crown Grill, one of the specialty restaurants on board. There was a cover charge of $25.00 per person which we thought was well spent. Our meal was excellent on ever level. The interior is dark woods and a nautical theme. We were seated at a comfortable table and feasted on steak and lobster. The one down side is that when we called for reservations, the reservation clerk noted that we were onboard for our anniversary, and that was noted on the reservation, but nothing came of it when we were having dinner. However, that was made up for the next night in the main dining room where they gave us a luscious chocolate cake and wished us a happy anniversary.
The bars were plentiful and it was easy enough to fine a cocktail or beverage wherever we went (hint: get the soda package). The entertainment was sufficient. Live music was plentiful and we caught the last few minutes of the magic show and the karaoke. We didn't attend too much of the entertainment because we wanted to relax on our balcony and read or just enjoy the view. Activities, on the other hand, were ongoing from early morning until the Movie Under the Stars and then the dancing at Skywalkers. The Princess Patter had something for everyone and we saw plenty to do if we wanted to seek it out. If a person was bored on the ship, it was because they wanted to be bored.
Our port stops were Santa Barbara and Ensenada. Santa Barbara was gorgeous but Ensenada did not suit us (although we did have some great margaritas and tacos while on land).
The ship itself was clean, spacious and we always saw staff cleaning or tidying up. Service was excellent. We didn't encounter anyone on staff who wasn't helpful and happy that we were on the ship.
There were a couple of things that we did not like while on board. First, we were a bit uncomfortable with the first day's push to get us to buy the wine tasting package. It was incessant for the first few hours we were on board, but it subsided after that. Also, while we appreciated some of the photos taken, it seemed to be a lot of waste to have all of the photos printed out and then put on display boards for a view. We were told they were converting to digital in the future, which we appreciated, but the amount of photo paper wasted was astonishing.
Disembarkation was straight forward and quick. Because my husband is a Canadian citizen, we were able to go through customs and immigration in the non-U.S. side which had about five people in line compared to the hundred deep line for U.S. citizens. The time from when our group was called to disembark until we were curbside with our luggage was about 30 minutes.
All in all, we were very happy with our cruise and we are planning another one for next year. Princess surpassed our expectations and gave us a wonderful anniversary vacation.