Fiji Princess Cruise Review by Gcrackr: Good, but be aware
Good, but be aware
We booked the 4 day/ 3 night Gold Club Cruise on the Mystique Princess for late May 2008. However, that's not what we cruised!
We were notified 3 days before our departure to Fiji (which was 10 days before the cruise sailed), that our cruise on the Mystique was cancelled, and that we had been switched to the first 4 days of the regularly scheduled 7 day / 6 night cruise on the Fiji Princess. We were told that the itinerary would be exactly the same, except that we would return to port on day 4 via a "speedboat" instead of via the ship. Further inquiries and information our travel agent received from Blue Lagoon revealed that the itinerary was NOT exactly the same, a big disappointment for us. The major change would be less time at the private island (1/2 day vs. the scheduled nearly full day). Our travel agent was not able to answer additional questions about the switch before we departed, but followed up with us in Fiji at our first destination (verbal & in writing) More with a credit that amounted to about 30% of our cruise fare.
We inquired upon boarding about the switch, and were told by the registration clerk that the reason for the switch was that only 10 passengers were booked on the 4 day (Mystique). The Mystique was anchored in Port Denarau when we departed.
The major differences as the result of this change (to the extent that we know them because we never sailed on the Mystique):
As to the itinerary differences, we lost the top half of the Yasawa Islands, lost half a day at the private island/beach (received a half day instead of what was supposed to be close to a full day), and gained some time in a second village with a performance by school children. We were expecting to be able to Scuba dive while at the private island. Scuba was available when we were there, but doing so would have cost us substantially all of our time on the private island beach, something we were not willing to do. The shortened time at the private island was the most disappointing part of the change.
We received a 2 ½ hour "speedboat" ride back to Port, and noted that quite a few more than 10 people were on the "speedboat". So rather than a leisurely ? hour cruise back to port on the Mystique, we got a partial thrill ride to port.
According to the Blue Lagoon website, almost all of the cabins on the Princess are smaller than those on the Mystique. We received a Bridge Deck cabin on the Princess, the largest available, in exchange for a Saloon Deck cabin on the Mystique, apparently a loss of about 50 square feet.
Disappointing, yes. A disaster, no (but it would have been if we had not received the credit). But we would have appreciated more notice of the change (and an opportunity to cancel)—we would have considered changing to a land based resort in the Yasawas, and probably could have seen/done all the same things as the original 4 day/ 3 night cruise.
Our recommendation: don't book the 4 day—consider instead a land based stay at a resort. You will do fine with the 7 day if you have the time.
As to the cruise we received:
First, let me say that the professional review here on Cruise Critic is very detailed, and most importantly, incredibly consistent with what we experienced. It is so accurate, we don't have much to add, but we will give it a try.
The Blue Lagoon staff is warm and friendly, right from the moment you arrive at their offices. Our bags were checked for loading outside the front door to the Blue Lagoon Boarding Lounge. The registration clerk inside was quick & efficient, and we were invited to wait in the spacious Boarding Lounge until time to sail. The Lounge has a boutique stocked with logo items, clothing, and misc sundries. It also has a snack bar and cocktail bar, so arriving early and hungry is not a problem. While waiting is also the time to be fitted for snorkel gear if desired (extra charge).
About 1 hour before sailing, the Cruise Director began a presentation about the cruise, explaining the boarding procedures and other need to know information, and then proceeded with a fashion show of clothing available in the boutique.
A 5 min bus ride took us to the wharf for boarding. The Captain was at the gangway to greet us, and once on board, we quickly, found our cabin (Bridge Deck) with a chilled bottle of champagne waiting. The usual fire drill was performed shortly after departure, but also included full introductions of all of the staff.
Our cabin was compact by big cruise ship standards, but had a surprising amount of storage. Everything was clean, in good condition, with no unpleasant smells.
The food was good, buffet style (except for the Captain's Dinner on the first night), and had a reasonable variety. There was something for most everyone at each meal, but none of the dishes garnered a "wow" during our cruise. Good, hearty, and satisfying are the best words we can come up with to describe the dining. We thoroughly enjoyed the shoreside dining at the private island, and also note that they bring the bar on shore so you can have your favorite cocktail or wine with dinner.
Bar service was good, creative if requested, but sometimes hard to find. It seems the bartender has other duties, and except during peak bar hours, was not always at his station.
We made use of the spa, but you must recognize that it does not have the expansive menu of services nor the vast space of the big cruise ships. If you are inclined to exercise on your vacation, the only choice is an exercise cycle at the rear of the Bridge deck, which makes for a nice view while exercising.
Activities and entertainment were nothing fancy, but were generally quite good. We had two visits to native villages. The first was a traditional Kava & Meke ceremony by local villagers. The second was singing performances by school children. It was good to see native life and local culture.
The beaches were great, especially the one at Blue Lagoon's Private Island. Snorkeling was great at all locations offered.
Evening entertainment consisted mostly of impromptu dancing and music by/with the crew and passengers. On one night, the passengers were encouraged to participate in a make your own crazy hat contest—quite funny at times. The highlight was at the private island where passengers/crew were grouped by country of origin and participated in a contest of song/dance/skits. The crew won the contest.
We enjoyed the two visits to native villages. At one, we received a performance of a traditional Kava and Meke ceremony, at the other, a performance by school children.
Overall, a good cruise. Less
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