If we had to use just one word to describe this cruise, the word would be AWESOME! It is difficult to give a review because of the unique nature of the cruise itself. Visiting the Falkland Islands, observing all of the wildlife throughout our travel, seeing the magnificent icebergs and glaciers, experiencing Antarctica, sailing the Drake Passage, rounding Cape Horn, and visiting Tierra del Fuego made the cruise AWESOME. The guest lecturers were outstanding and provided insight into the areas we were visiting. These experiences made it easy for us to overlook the "less then excellence" of the Star Princess.
We arrived a day early to Buenos Aire and stayed at the Wilton Hotel. The hotel was very economical,a great location, and the personnel were extremely helpful. We enjoyed our stay both before and after our cruise. Embarkation was something else. The terminal is definitely not set up to handle large ships. It lacked air conditioning or even enough electricity to run both overhead fans or Princess computers. No one assisted you with your luggage. It was just thrown on a mound of other suitcases. Before you knew it, the piles were more then twelve feet high. Once passengers were registered, they were made to wait in a holding area until buses could transport you to the ship. On the other hand, when we had to disembark at the end of the cruise, things were done very efficiently and quickly....at least for those disembarking early.
Having sailed with Princess on twelve previous cruises, we definitely would not give the Star Princess a rating of excellence as we have done on all our other cruises. The ship's staterooms, lounges, dining rooms, and other areas were clean and well kept. The food in the dining rooms was very good. However, the Horizon, was less then desirable, especially in comparison to all other Princess ships. Stewards, waiters, and assistant waiters, were very professional. However, the Purser's Desk seemed cold and indifferent.
The total atmosphere on the Star Princess was strange. We felt part of this was due to the Cruise Director and his assistant. They both deserved a poor evaluation for their performance. Information was often not relayed to passengers. His morning show was an advertisement rather then a time to provide information. They were often unseen on the ship. Activities were lacking in comparison to our other cruises. Entertainment was also very weak. The singers and dancers were just average and most of the individual entertainers were sub par.
My husband and I have tried to seriously understand why the atmosphere on the Star Princess was strange. We believe the itinerary may also be the cause of this. To us, this was the ultimate itinerary. Look at our blog, http://wadswatchers.blogspot.com/ to see all of the fantastic things we saw. However, in order to provide such an itinerary, few ports are offered and half are tendered. The weather is cold and the seas can be very rough. Working for several months in this type of environment may be a good reason for why the atmosphere was so strange. It could also be why top notch performers don't perform on cruises in this part of the world.
We will be sailing on the Star Princess in April. Once again, we have a fantastic itinerary but with many ports of call. Even though the standard of excellence was not shown on the Star Princess, we look forward to sailing on her in order to experience the wonderful itinerary it will offer. Hopefully, the warmer weather, sunny skies, and calmer seas will bring a change in the ship's atmosphere.