Having enjoyed a reasonably good cruise on the Island Princess in January 2009, we jumped at the chance to sail to South America on the Star Princess in Nov/Dec 2009. What a difference!
Cabin - we opted to try an inside cabin (something we have always said we were going to do). Not Bad - particularly once we changed it from a large bed to a twin bed configuration. Would we do it again - probably, although a porthole/balcony would be preferable, saving a 1000 bucks going the inside cabin route was certainly good value. Cabin Steward - great!
Food - bland and boring. Although we had requested first sitting, we were assigned anytime dining. Definitely prefer the assigned sitting as we missed getting to know our servers and regular dining partners.
Entertainment - very poor. With the exception of the production shows, and the local folklorico groups brought on the ship in the ports of Acapulco and Lima, the entertainment was nothing to write home about - a comedian/juggler who continually dropped his props - a comedian/acrobat who continually stated "I'm fine" but he definitely was not - and a lot of classical/jazz type music/singing. The hottest entertainment was the art auctions and the jigsaw puzzles. Really don't think the Cruise Director earned his keep on this cruise.
Port Lectures - exceptionally poor. They were very disjointed and certainly not of the same quality of the ones that "Rusty" gave on the Island Princess. We should have known what to expect when we attended the first lecture which was late starting due to problems with the computer/projector and when the whole lecture was finally given without any graphics.
Information - terrible. Many passengers were complaining about this. It took us 2 days to garner information on disembarkation that was accurate. Over that period of time we were given conflicting information, wrong information, no information etc.
Shore Excursions - the excursions themselves were not bad but disembarking the ship for them was a joke - in one case we sat in the Princess Theatre for 2 hours past our assigned time before disembarking.
Embarkation in Los Angeles - another joke - a large disorganized tent. After receiving our cabin card we were told to sit in a certain area and wait for our boarding number to be called. Unfortunately the 2 or 3 young lades directing the boarding process did not have microphones or for that matter signs to indicate which number was being called.
Shore Excursions (other than those listed below):
Puntarenas, Cost Rica - enjoyable - toured Doka Estates (coffee plantation) and were provided a nice lunch.
San Martin (Peru) - a virtual desert complete with sand dunes. Originally had booked a ship excursion to Ballestas Islands to see the wildlife for something over $120 per person, but cancelled this. Found out later that one could sign up for the same excursion in the small town of Paracas for about $10 per person. The ship provided a shuttle service back and form to Paracas for around $10 round trip which we took and which we found to be excellent value.
Manta Ecuador - nice excursion - got a chance to tour the fish market. Also toured a couple of factories (Ivory Nut, Panama hats, paper furniture)although they hardly qualified to be called factories as they were mainly sales outlets.
Lima - a very good tour of the city including Montiflores.
Coquimba/La Serena - another good tour
Ship Demographics - about 1/4 Americans, 1/4 Canadians, 1/4 Brits, and 1/4 Japanese - average age quite high - likely in the high 70's or low 80's.