My husband and I cruise every year, sometimes twice. It is the best way to relax. NO worries, great food, excellent service and best way to see all the islands. I can go to the spa, my husband can read. He can scuba dive and I can tour and play at the beach. The best option for couples who like different things on vacation. Our preferred cruise line is RCCL. We have always wonderful experiences on RCCL ships. This year when booking our cruise, we found that RCCL was much more expensive than in the past. For the last few years, our travel agent has tried to get us to try Princess Cruise Line. The identical itineraries for both lines usually are within a few hundred dollars of each other. But this year, RCCL nearly doubled the rate on Princess. So, we trusted our agent (who has never tried RCCL), and went with Princess. We sailed out of FLL on the 10th of April aboard the Crown Princess for a 7 night to Eastern Caribbean. We had talked extensively about not comparing the two lines and just going to have a good time. This proved to be nearly impossible.
My first impression of the embarkation was not good. The lines were not long, which was nice. We were told to go to any window, no matter what deck, and anyone could help us. We did just that, but no one came to help. After 20 minutes of standing in a line in front of the counter, a worker said, "Go to another line, no one is at that one." At least 5 people were standing behind the counters doing nothing but complaining about someone putting the cards in the wrong place. After moving to another line, we were given our cruise cards and were off to board the ship. As soon as we boarded the ship, we were immediately shoved into an elevator and asked what floor. Literally. We walked on board, turned to the left and a staff member said, "This way," and put us in an elevator.
We had to go to our stateroom first. We were never given the option to pause and look around or even wander the ship a little. We stayed on Caribe, deck 10. Stateroom was smaller than what we were used to on RCCL. Although the closet was much larger on the Crown, it did not make up for the mediocrity of everything else. One very small desk with 2 drawers, terrible lighting and directly next to the balcony door was the only thing other than the bed. A small fridge with a shelf above for the TV was on the opposite wall in the corner. We had 2 outlets in the whole stateroom. They were placed so close together that if something was in one outlet, it blocked the other. Terrible engineering. Bathroom was the smallest of any ship I have ever been on. Shower? I am small framed woman and it was cramped for me. Very disappointing. On to the best part of the room, the balcony. Our balcony was huge. We were very happy! It held 4 chairs and a table. Two of the chairs even reclined. My husband commented that the huge balcony made up for the terrible room. Well, that was until we looked up. I had not been made aware of the "staggered" balcony concept. We could see everything on the balcony below us and everyone from anywhere higher than deck 10 could see everything on ours. Whenever a deck above us was cleaned or even the stateroom above ours, the excess water fell directly onto our balcony. We could not lay out without getting wet from somewhere above. So, huge balcony was worthless. The door to the balcony did not seal well. All night long the wind whistled through the cracks. The ship creaked and made noises all night long. By the third night, I had to buy earplugs just to block out the noise from the ship. Keep in mind that on RCCL, we sleep with our balcony door open every night. I have never been on a ship that made so much noise!
Without going into major details, (it would take 4 pages), the food was terrible! It was not even up to par with Sizzler or a buffet. Any steak came well done, despite asking for medium. A filet mignon was more like a cheap round steak, drenched in a terrible sauce. Salads were mediocre. On our first night, I asked the waiter for steamed broccoli every night. He said no problem, but it never came. Our friends asked for lemonade with dinner. We were told no lemonade in the dining room! On any other ship, the waiter would have gone to whatever part of the ship and found us lemonade. I would like to say that poor service was the exception, but I would be lying. It was ship wide. Everyday we had breakfast and/or lunch in the Horizon Court (buffet). The food was worse than a hospital cafeteria. Very few choices and the same everyday. It was crowded and no rhyme or reason. The butter was on the salad bar, but 3 islands away from the bread. Try getting ketchup. One bottle for the whole buffet! When we asked for a soda, most times we were done with our food before it came. The service was terrible, at best. Never a "My Pleasure", a standard on RCCL, or anything of the like. The workers seemed rude and mad to have to work. I suppose it's because Princess automatically charges your pass for tips, so they get a share not matter how crappy the service. I asked our waiter if he had ever worked on RCCL. He said, "No Way!" He told me how staff came to Princess from RCCL. They left RCCL because it was too strict and too many rules. When they would come to Princess, they felt like they had hit the jackpot. Well, I suppose all of the rules and strickness of RCCL translates into well-mannered staff and excellent service.
Entertainment? What a joke! The Princess Singers and Dancers were the most unprofessional of any show, including Vegas, I have ever seen. Male dancers tattooed all over and nipple rings. Really? You can't take your nipple rings out for your shirtless dance? The production was random, inappropriate, and worse than a high school musical. A fabulous comedian was featured. He was hilarious without being vulgar! Nice change. One port day, all of the ATM's were not working. We asked the Purser's desk what we could do? We were out of cash. He said to find an ATM on land. Problem, we needed to take a taxi from the port in St. Thomas to get into town. He looked at us and said sorry. Not an offer to let us cash a personal check or even charge our pass for $20 to get us enough money to get to a bank.
I could go on and on about the disappointment of Princess Cruise Line. I can guarantee that this will be our only time on this line. Even if we had a free cruise, we would not go on Princess ever again. The parts we love most about cruising, (staff, service, food) were absent. Not to mention that they nickle and dime you do death! Charge for ice cream and $10-$20 to use the adult pool! Plus, any of the little bakeries or tappas stands around the ship charged money! Ridiculous. We will cruise again later this year, but will go back to RCCL! The money we saved by doing Princess was not worth the quality of the trip. You get what you pay for. The name "Princess" does to fit, it should be more like "Ugly Step-Sister". Just say "NO" to Princess.