I have been on cruises before, but not with Princess. I had high expectations based on reviews. To put it simply, there was a lot of misinformation, poor planning, and the atmosphere was just lacking.
Let me at least start with the positive: Food was great. That Pizza is Amazing. There were a FEW staff that were actually pleasant.
Mostly the issues I experienced were just a lot of little things. Not major things nor directed to individual persons. But it added up.
Let me address some issues that I came across
· I made some excursion reservations before the cruise. I had decided to cancel one of them. When I called the Princess phone line before the cruise to inquire about how to do that, I was told to just not show up and that I would be taken off and there would be no fee. In the back of my mind, this didn't sound right. When I checked with the desk the first day, I was told this is not the case. I needed to actually write cancel on the ticket and drop it off to the excursion desk/drop box. It is a good thing I followed through, or I would have been stuck with a bill for an excursion that I was told would be canceled had I not shown up.
This is one example of misinformation or lack of information I experienced. Here are some others.
·We had no time to shop after the tour. There was nothing to indicate (even on your websites details) if we would or would not have time between getting off the bus and getting on the shuttle boat for any shopping. Had I known, I would not have taken the tour. Everything felt very rushed (keep this in mind, it will come up again). The only shopping was a 20 minute stop at a tourist store obviously with an arrangement of the tour lines. Unless of course you want to buy from the street vendors at Tulum.
· Make a note, to tell people what specifically they should know about Tulum. Such as, the only bathroom at the ruins is outside the gates. And there was no opportunity to stop right there as we were rushed inside. Also, if you had wanted to swim at the small beach while you are there, make sure you have a bathing suit on under the clothes, otherwise you either can’t change, OR you have to change behind a towel and hope no one is looking.
·The "snack" provided...really. A bag of salty chips (on a hot day), with a bottle of water (useful!) and a small cookie about the size of a quarter. Sure...I’ll believe it’s a snack. But don't be so vague about it on the excursion details. I would have purchased something more substantial had I known.
On the ship
· Everything felt rushed. I was on the cruise to relax. Yet every time I want to do something on the schedule it was one right after the other, and trying to get from one to the other was a nightmare because whoever does the planning has no idea about time or logistics. Most of the events did not end on time, and then when I was trying to get to another location, there was a giant crowd blocking my way because of something going on there. (For example from the lounge, to the theater, being stuck as something is happening in the lobby and not being able to get through them). Logistically, they want to do better with crowd control and how things are timed to create better movement and traffic flow. Especially with as many older people as they cater to. Being younger, I tried to be considerate of the older people and their mobility, but when other people are almost shoving you to get through it makes it difficult to maneuver at all. Again...can be controlled with a proper logistical traffic pattern
· TV shows. Most of the movies were fine, but the majority of the channels were just princess logos.
· The last night there was the married couples show. Obviously a very popular event on any ship I have ever been on. But instead of putting it in the theater, it is done in the Explores lounge. So with what? 100 seats only and 200+ people trying to watch it. They need a bigger venue for that. Why not put it in the Theater which has tons of seats? Other options would be to have it earlier in the trip so it can be recorded and watched on tv over the course of the trip.
· Getting a drink should be simple. Several times in the buffet I would sit down and there would be no one around to provide even water. One breakfast I was entirely ignored while on either side of me servers are bringing them drinks. One of the guests just gave me her orange juice because she felt bad for me.
· One of the dinners I couldn't get anyone to come over. I actually went up to one of the attendants and pointed them to my table. He said he would come by. Still nothing, and finally as we were done eating, I was able to get a hold of a manager who sent someone over, but at that point we were done.
· All around the sun decks, if you are on any of the top levels (Particularly around the movie side) there is no one to take drink orders. If you are on the bottom by the pool they were there, but no one would come by.
· In the theater, only 2 people serving drinks in a theater that size and they would only go to the outer edge of seats. Do they need more staff?
· We only ate at the formal dining room 3 times, twice at our assigned time and table, once later on because we were too tired from an excursion to come at the assigned time.
The first night - at assigned table, seemingly well, no issues. Armando came to check on me...good man.
The second time - Non assigned time, different table and waiter. Joe I think...was awesome. Great service.
The last time - the last night of the cruise, our assigned table. The servers seemed distracted. 15 minutes to get me a coke (no surprise). It took a long time for food to come out. It seems that the servers were more attentive to 2 other tables. Our food came out wrong (we did not want shrimp with our food as it makes me sick). Regardless it was a long dinner and i just wanted to get up and leave. It’s not that the servers were horrible, they just seemed distant.
This brings me to the crew in general
· If addressed directly, the crew was very polite and helpful. Occasionally there was a nod or smile, but most if the time, if you were not making direct eye contact they were not engaging. Perhaps they were busy and just focused on the task at hand. It just seemed that the other cruises on had a more positive atmosphere.
· Finally, the last night of the cruise, it was after midnight and I was looking for some food. The buffet was closed but someone in a uniform (naval uniform black and whites) told me that I could get room service. I went to the room and called, but was told there was none. Again more misinformation.
I think Princess is going off my list of cruise-lines to use.
This port is a NIGHTMARE to navigate. It took almost an hour to get to the terminal. Traffic was horrible.
Apparently there is also an issue with Taxi unions and porters. Meaning some taxis will not even pick up from certain terminals because of money. Be aware that you may have to walk to somewhere else to get a taxi