Ocean Princess Cruise Review by athos: Beautiful Islands - So So Ship
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Beautiful Islands - So So Ship
Background Info: This was our first cruise with Princess but we had cruised before with both RC and NCL. We were a group of 4 (2 couples in our 30s) and we booked our cruise and flights with princess through a local agent.
Embarkation: We flew over on Air Tahiti Nui. We hit a little turbulence but other than that the rest was fine. Service was good and seats were standard. The only thing that isn't so great is arriving so late. But embarkation was super fast and easy. Once on board they still had the buffet open for us late arriver's.
Room: The room was what you would expect. It had plenty of room for just the two of us. The stateroom attendant was pleasant and tried very hard to get us whatever we asked for. The only negative was that they didn't produce any towel animals. We always enjoyed seeing how creative they could be when creating them.
Public Areas: The boat was beautiful. Very elegant. A lot of great places to take photos. The pool was a bit on More the small side but it was never really crowded and many times we were the only ones in it.
Stores: Worthless. I'm not sure if the boat is just trying to emulate the high prices found off the boat, but there were really no savings to be had at the stores. I can get cheaper prices on some of the items here at home then on the boat.
Entertainment: Normally we never miss any shows and we tried to do the same here, only the shows were pretty bad and we found ourselves walking out on a couple of them. The magician showed only basic stuff that everyone has seen 100 times. The boat only really employs 2 singers, the rest of the "dancers" are really the support staff. So the shows they put on were dull and boring. We never even bothered to see the comedian since he performed towards the end and we had given up on trying to be entertained. The pool side band was average at best but hearing them butcher the same song day after day can get repetitive. The few game shows that they did put on were lacking. The cruise director was dull and we didn't think very good. The highlight was on Raiatea. The children that performed during the day and the adults at night were fantastic. The only show that is a must.
Breakfast & Lunch: The buffet area wasn't that big so they would never have out a lot of selection. However in the morning they did rotate a lot so that we were never eating the same thing 2 days in a row. The Lunch hours were just to short. Lunch ended at 2:30 and then they only had sandwiches. Since most people didn't come back onto the boat from the islands till after 3:00 a lot of sandwiches were eaten.
Dining: The other area of our greatest disappointment and this was two-fold, service and food quality. The way they have it set up is that the dining room has one overall Maitre D'Hotel (as they call him). Then the dining room is divided into several zones with each having a head water. Each zone is then divided up into tables that are assigned to waiters and water boy. First our Head Waiter passed by the first night for introductions and then we never spoke to him again. We would see him but he never made an effort to stop by to see how things were going. The water boy (who also served as the bar steward) only seemed interested in talking to us if we were ordering something from the bar. Otherwise he ignored us. None of us are drinkers so we would just normally get ice tea, the result is that we went the first 3-4 nights without getting our glasses refilled. Our Waiter wasn't much better. He would stop by, take our order, bring us food and then never check back with us. On the few occasions when we did flag him down he wasn't to happy about it. The culmination came on Italian Night when we asked several times for more bread and never got it and then never received food we ordered. Before we new it we were all given desert menus. After that we made a point to tell the waiter that we weren't interested in the food anymore. They seemed to get the hint and service did improve for the last 3 nights (coincidentally right around tip time) but it was to little to late. As for the food, it was below par. Every night between everyone in the group we always ordered most items on the menu. Every soup they served was salty. Main dishes had portions small portions, which nobody complained about since the taste was nothing special. The most annoying thing was that they would serve the same thing over and over again, only they would call it something different. Very disappointing.
Ports: The highlight of the cruise and the only reason I can think of for recommending this cruise. All the ports were fantastic and amazing. I can't say enough good things about them. Overall I would recommend not bothering with the cruise tours. They are expensive and not really worth it. I would just recommend getting off the boat and talking to the local tour operators that are all standing at the piers. Huahine and Roratonga were the only islands where local tour operators were not present.
Papeete - We just grabbed a taxi and did an island tour with him. He didn't talk much but it was much cheaper than the boat and we hit all the main spots and we spent as much time as we wanted to at each spot.
Huahine - Took the circle island tour through the boat in the morning and hit the beach in the afternoon via a shuttle ($10 per person round trip). The only boat tour that was pretty good as it took us all over and made plenty of stops. They were renting cars right on the pier and if we had known would have probably opted for that.
Roratonga - We managed to tender in and we are glad we did. Did a circle island tour through the boat and then hit Muri beach in the afternoon. I would recommend skipping any tour and just catch the shuttle to Muri Beach ($10 per person round trip). You get dropped off at a resort and the beach there is incredible. You can walk across the lagoon to a motu and it is just beautiful.
Raiatea - Did a local tour (Mata Tours). Fed the sting-rays, fed the sharks in shallow water and did some snorkeling before being taken to his private motu for some beach time. At the end we stopped by a pearl farm to learn how they are cultivated. An absolute incredible experience.
Bora Bora - Did a local tour (with Mata again). Fed the sting-rays again, swam with bigger sharks in the ocean outside the lagoon and did some deep water snorkeling before being taken to Matira Beach. On our second day on we just rented a car and drove around the island exploring. Another absolute incredible experience.
Moorea - Did a local 4 x 4 tour and then went to the beach at the intercontinental hotel.
Papeete - Just roamed the city and did some shopping as we unwound from the trip.
Disembarkation: While the transfer to the airport went fine getting to that point was a trial in patience. Princess asks that you have you suitcases done and outside by 10pm the previous night. If you have a second seating (as we did) then you really need to have it completed by 8 or just not go and eat in the dining room. We opted to skip the dining room because we didn't want to get stuck carrying around extra clothes without anywhere to put them. They also kick you out of your room by 9am. They provide food during the day, but its with reduced services. And they don't provide beach towels to use around the pool. You basically have to take them from your room before 9am otherwise they won't give you one. The worst part was that princess didn't provide anywhere for passengers to freshen up before having to board a flights back home. When I asked at the spa if we could use there bathrooms I was informed that only passengers who had done a tour through princess that day or had spa treatments that day were allowed to use them. Needless to say I saw a bunch of people washing up in swimsuits by the pool. Also saw quite a few doing the paper towel wash in the bathroom.
Overall: This trip is all about the ports. They were fantastic and worth going. The service on the ship was lacking in certain areas but as we tried to minimize the time we were on the boat we only really felt it at night during dinner and the shows. Less
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