Never Princess Again
My husband and I have done over 25 cruises on Carnival, RCCL, Celebrity, NCL and have never had a complaint on any of them. Our general attitude is that any day on the ship is better than a day at work. That is until this weekend’s Princess Cruise. We selected the cruise first because travel from Phoenix to LA is much easier and second because of the stop in Santa Barbara. I was and always will be the organizer of the trips. I was traveling with my 80 year old mother. Two failed knee replacements, and a broken hip have left her mostly wheelchair bound, but with a very clear mind and a love of any type of travel. She recently married and her new husband (90 years old) who has owned a vineyard in Santa Yanez, so they along with my blind husband and I booked a handicap cabin and an inside across the hall. We arrived after the first initial rush to the ship and boarding was pleasant. Sadly that was the end of good service. The gentleman from the ship who was assigned to push the wheelchair for mother asked ME how to get to their rooms. He had no idea where the room was because as we discovered later he was a waiter.
After settling into the room our cabin steward came and had a much rehearsed introduction and was not able to answer any of my simple questions about the cabin. In general he did ok, but I had to request to have the ice bucket filled and after the first day of having ice he removed the bucket and it was never seen again. The first day we simply sat on their balcony and had a very pleasant afternoon. I phoned and made reservations for dining. (They only allow you to make reservations for two days at a time. The second morning I waited on hold for 41 minutes to make the reservations for the next night). Every morning passengers all sit on hold waiting to make reservations. A very unfriendly policy. This was only the first of MANY, MANY situations where we could say it wasn’t a horrible situation, but I truly believe that they have found simple ways for you to just give up and play the wait game. Because of the slowness of our group we waited until 11:30 to disembark in Santa Barbara. We were still shuttled to a dining room where mother needed to walk up a step to be able to have a seat. There we waited over 45 minutes to get off. Why not run tenders from two locations for busy days? That’s what the other cruise lines do.
From here the cruise went downhill. The waiters would NOT speak slowly or attempt to speak up for mother. The dining experience was so unfriendly that two of the four nights we left without ordering desert. It is very apparent that the tips automatic and no one cares about service. This was true from the room attendants, to the dining staff, to those around the pool.
Every trip is what you make of it, we made the best of the weekend by spending most of the time on the balcony and avoiding the staff. At the end of the weekend we again experienced difficulties getting off the ship. When in the taxi heading to the airport I asked my husband if he was glad we did the trip and he replied that for the first time of all of our cruises and land vacations he wished he had just stayed home instead. Take my advice and consider carefully before booking.