20th Weddding Anniversary Cruise: Star Princess Cruise Review by jlloyd
Overall Member Rating
20th Weddding Anniversary Cruise
Embarkation: Los Angeles
We booked a pre-cruise night at the LAX Marriott Hotel with transfers. The hotel was comfortable and the public rooms were really large and clean. The pool area is super but the rooms are starting to show their wear and tear. The transfer was quick and efficient, we were told to leave our bags in our room and they were collected from there and taken to the ship. When we arrived at the port we were taken to the door of the terminal, just a short escalator ride up to the check-in, all so easy.
Due to the fact that we had booked a Suite we checked-in at the Elite & Suite desk we walked straight up - no queues. Saying that I don't believe there were many lines for the other cabins anyway. We were given a special More pass that allowed us to go straight through to the ship - no waiting. Once we had passed through security of course. The Elite passengers also had these passes
On the way onto the ship Security stopped everybody and took a photo of them for future disembarkation and embarkation days. It was then time to find our cabin.
Our cabin was C425 The St Maarten Suite. It was fantastic. The amount of space and storage was amazing. The bathroom is two rooms, the basin and toilet in one room and the Jacuzzi bath, separate shower in the other. The entrance has a wet bar which is set up once for you and includes spirits and soft drinks as well as water. The bedroom is separated by a curtain which can be opened or closed from the lounge. The wardrobe has a door so that the clothes are not on display and there is more than enough space to hang dresses, suites, trousers etc. There are so many drawers in this cabin that I battled to fill them. The balcony was huge. All the furniture was wooden and we had a table and four chairs as well as two loungers and another two small tables for the loungers.
We had the emergency drill before we left the dock and this was well co-ordinated - a necessary drill and they scanned everyone's cruise card to make sure all attended. In light of the latest Ferry disaster a very definite must.
The first night's evening dinner is served in one of the supplementary paying restaurants. This is a perk for Suite passengers. I had a migraine on the first day/night and couldn't even think of eating, we asked at passenger services and they moved it to the following night for us. This was not the case when I asked at Sabatini's. They said no it was only valid for that evening, hence the trip to passenger services. Silly really what difference does it make?
We ate at both Sabatini's and the Crown Grill a few times and the food was excellent. My husband loves steak and I am vegetarian so when we ate at the Crown Grill Marcel the Head Water arranged for food to be delivered from Sabatini's for me. I must say that Marcel who also hosted the breakfast at Sabatini's is an absolute gem. We loved our morning breakfasts there and had a good chat with Marcel, George and Eduardo. Thank you to them for all their hospitality. George remembered from a previous meal that my husband loved the tomatoes they served at supper. He inquired if my husband would like some with his breakfast and from then on they just kept arriving along with our morning Mimosa's - those were courtesy of Eduardo. Marcel helped to sort out our seating in the traditional dining room. We had asked for a table for two and when we arrived we had been seated at a table for eight. We preferred to be celebrating this milestone alone so we asked Marcel to help and he was instrumental in organising it.
Suite passengers have free access to the Thermal Suite in the Lotus Spa. We spent a lot of time there, it was really wonderful, so relaxing. The receptionists are friendly and can't do enough for you. The only negative I have about the spa is the guests being inconsiderate. In the Thermal Suite they have stone chairs that are heated, they are extremely relaxing. There is a sign on the wall stating that the maximum time allowed on the beds is 20 minutes. I saw guests reading on them with their books/kindles for hours and not moving. This is not a problem if there are more beds available but when they are all taken - come on give others a chance. We had a Mud treatment which is in a separate treatment room with a thermal heated room and shower. I would highly recommend this. I had a facial and a hot stone massage, my husband had a shave, bamboo massage and we rounded it off with a couple's massage. All treatments were really good, expertly carried out and in very calm relaxing environments. There is an element of hard sell with their products after each treatment. If you say I will think about it they are absolutely fine with that.
We attended the photographic lecture and that was really helpful, we learnt quite a few things which we put into practice when we got to Hawaii. The shopping lecture that was given by Michael was okay, we all bought the $20 coupon booklet which looked huge. What I didn't realise until I received it was that it was so big because it contained coupons for the whole Caribbean, Mexico, Hawaii etc. I wouldn't personally recommend it but others seem to like it.
The Horizon Buffet was much improved from the last time I travelled. The dessert section looked wonderful
and a very friendly crew member encouraged everyone to try the selection and then wished them all a good morning/evening. The rest of the food looked okay and tasted fine. We took water bottles with us and refilled these twice a day with ice as well to keep it cool. This saved quite a bit on buying bottled water for excursions.
We also ate at the Pool Grill which was convenient and I had the veggie burger and my husband had the Bratwurst - yummy. Soft serve ice-cream is available all day from the Ice Cream Parlour which is an improvement on our last cruise when ice-cream was only available between certain times. The International Café is lovely. The crew members are fabulous and are happy to help you. The food selection changes constantly. We had a coffee card each which allows you to have 15 brewed coffees and unlimited premium teas. In hindsight I would recommend one card as we didn't use the second card at all.
I have to say that our Cabin Steward was not what we expected. Our last cruise we had a really happy Cabin Steward that couldn't do enough for us. On this occasion we had the opposite. I think the attitude was just do enough to get by. Saying that our cabin was always clean and well presented. Here is an example. We used the laundry service daily. There was always a problem getting it returned which was the cabin steward's responsibility. On the second last day he argued with my husband about outstanding laundry but then gave in and went and had a look - low and behold he returned with more laundry. All unnecessary. Maybe he was just having a bad cruise or maybe he had too many cabins to look after, I'm not sure but when you have paid money to upgrade you expect better service.
Movies Under the Stars are a lovely addition you have a blanket, popcorn, cookies and milk. Please Princess Cruises listen to the reviews and keep to the title "Under the Stars". You can't lie at the pool in the day because of the blaring noise. It is very loud and if you want to relax and read your book or have a nap in the sun it is a no go. We eventually landed up at the Lotus Spa pool or at the back of the ship with the rest of the escapees.
The entertainment was mostly okay not fantastic. All shows are 30 minutes long, two that stand out are Scott Harris the Canadian Comedian was very funny and we enjoyed his show. The other excellent show was David Klinkenberg a virtuoso Violinist - what a show. The Princess's own production shows need work. They looked and sounded amateurish, in fact we left after 10 minutes. Our last cruise on Princess they seemed to be much better and the shows were much longer.
The photographers were out in force for Formal Night, disembarkation etc. They are very friendly, helpful and helped us select which photo's to choose to take home. We did notice on this cruise that not everyone dresses up for Formal Night in the Traditional Dining Room which is a bit weird, so that you have some people in casual and some dressed to the nines. There are three Formals on this cruise.
I will review the excursions in separate reviews.
If you can possibly upgrade to a Suite I would highly recommend it, the perks and extra's are well worth the extra cost. Go on treat yourself.
The casino was fun and some nights were smoke-free which was great and we tended to go more on those nights or we went in the afternoons when the smoking was less obvious.
There were many free prize draw's on the ship throughout the cruise and I won $50 to spend in the shops on board. This was unexpected and great fun choosing what to buy.
Just to conclude I will say that the ship is in excellent condition with maintenance being carried out all the time. It has definitely had a refurbishment since I last travelled on it and the difference is for the better. The atrium is wonderful and we spent a lot of time there listening to music and watching the world go by. I want to end this review by saying that if you are expecting a full on cruise with lots of partying and wild times then this is not the cruise for you. It is for the more mature passenger. We are aged between 40 - 48 and we felt quite young saying that we had a wonderful cruise and it was more than what we expected. Less
Cabin review: C425
Our cabin was C425 The St Maarten Suite. It was fantastic. The amount of space and storage was amazing. The bathroom is two rooms, the basin and toilet in one room and the Jacuzzi bath, separate shower in the other. The entrance has a wet bar which is set up once for you and includes spirits and soft drinks as well as water. The bedroom is separated by a curtain which can be opened or closed from the lounge. The wardrobe has a door so that the clothes are not on display and there is more than enough space to hang dresses, suites, trousers etc. There are so many drawers in this cabin that I battled to fill them. The balcony was huge. All the furniture was wooden and we had a table and four chairs as well as two loungers and another two small tables for the loungers