We have completed our first Princess cruise on Island Princess, to Alaska and return from Vancouver, B.C. Canada. Our review and comments are as follows:
Very well organized and went smoothly. Onboard cards were provided with ease. Cabins were available shortly after boarding.
Very well organized system without any lineups. Their scanning of boarding cards provided a very quick exit. By scanning cards while held in our hands, this avoided unnecessary delays. Excellent.
Very clean and spacious. Well laid out and quiet.
Courteous and polite, followed through on all requests. Always smiling and making us feel welcome.
Very efficient and timely response. Any problem solved quickly.
Life Boat Drill:
Very efficient and moved along quickly. Scanning of cabin cards aided in ensuring all guests reported for the drill and no long lines. Life floatation vests were not put on until coordinator requested it and were taken off before returning to cabins. Excellent.
Bringing Liquor, spirits on board:
This policy needs attention. Guests were limited to one bottle of wine each for cabin use. Any liquor/other spirits were confiscated. Understand Holland America permits liquor/spirits brought on board and purchases from onboard stores for consumption in cabin. Policy should be similar to all "family” of Princess ships. Needs some attention.
Drink Packages on board:
In view of charging for most sodas, water, coffee, this policy was somewhat restrictive as is money earned for Princess. Water and pop could be brought on board and checked directly to our cabin. We attached a copy of our boarding ticket to a case of water and it was delivered with our luggage to the cabin.
As for coffee, Princess has a coffee card package well worth the small price. This allows the holder to 15 specialty coffees on our cruise and the card is punched for each use. There is no limit on regular drip coffee which is available with the card. We both like good coffee and enjoyed this with our one card each time. This coffee is much better than restaurant coffee onboard. Well worth the little extra cost, i.e. in our case, for 14 day cruise, $30.00 US. Best to purchase by phone or online prior to cruise as it will then be in your cabin on arrival and you avoid lines for purchasing on board. On the reverse of our card, advises that at end of cruise with specialty coffees yet to be used, the card can be used on your next Princess cruise. A bonus!
Overall, the ship was in excellent condition throughout. Very clean and always had staff working to ensure this was the case.
Lecturers and evening shows:
We attended a few presentations which were very well done. There was sufficient room in the Princess Theater for seating. Evening shows were acceptable and a treat to attend. Lectures were held in the Universal Lounge, which was acceptable.
Basically casual dress was acceptable. On formal nights, some had evening dresses and tuxedos although it was acceptable to have dress slacks and dress shirt for men without suits and ties. This was a treat and good policy. The introduction of Country club casual dress code would clear up any concerns about dress code. Travelling with extra clothes for formal evenings is somewhat onerous with restrictions imposed by airlines and soaring costs for additional luggage.
Service in Restaurants and Self Serve:
We went to the Horizon Court for breakfast and lunches. The food there was fully acceptable and service was wonderful. Staff were attentive and willing to help at any time.
For evening Dinner, we went to the Bordeaux Dining Room and were very pleased with the attention by the Head Waiter and servicing staff. They went out of their way to ensure my spouse was well looked after in view of a severe food allergy. This was a very professional experience. The food was excellent.
We did not visit the specialty restaurants. The food served in Bordeaux was excellent so no need to spend extra money in these restaurants. Would be nice if Princess could include one or more specialty restaurant seatings in the cruise price as there are some cruise lines which do this. Having to pay extra for this service and sodas and wine etc. becomes a sore point - like airlines.
Like most cruises, TV reception was poor. This was on Alaska cruise and satellite positioning for TV was not great. Believe however, it would have been nice to have the Patter expanded to include some news items from around the world including US and Canada. Some cruise lines provide a review in their paper distribution which is very well received. Princess may wish to look at this option.
On Board Laundry:
Many floors have full self serve laundry service. Sufficient machines were there for self service laundry at a cost of $2.00 per load. Laundry rooms are located at the stern of the ship; providing some seating in the laundry room would be a benefit, especially since a TV is provided.
Ship Tours at Ports:
We joined a couple of ship’s tours and enjoyed them very well. Boarding of buses and trains was very well organized. Tours were pricy however, we were provided with value for the cost. Sometimes it is worth participating in ship’s tours due to port locations and departure times.
Price of Cruise:
While this is our first Princess cruise, we found the pricing was very reasonable.
On Board Bookings for Future Cruises:
Process went well although difficult to reach the booking agent on board. There was only one agent and she had to service a passenger load of 1900+. No real price reduction was offered however had favourable terms for deposit and two years to decide on a cruise. The deposit was $100.00 per person, fully refundable. Also onboard booking came with a ship board credit now and on future cruise. We did a booking under these terms.
While we have maintained our loyalty to another cruise line having taken 13 cruises with them, this experience has certainly opened our minds to exploring the world with other options. We would consider Princess in all of our future planning."