"Pacific Princess" Mediterranean and Transatlantic Cruise
23 November to 22 December 2010
We know the "R" ships well, having sailed on Insignia, Journey and Quest, and we like the size and design. We were not disappointed with Pacific Princess, the library had been left as a library, with a good selection of books, and somewhere quiet to go for a read, and plenty of space in the other public areas.
The itinerary was :
Athens, Santorini, Patmos, Kusadasi, Haifa, Ashdod, Port Said, Sorrento, Civittavechia, Livorno, Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Ceuta, Casablanca, Ponta Delgada, Bermuda, Fort Lauderdale.
Rather than write a travelogue, I thought I would mention the high and low points of this trip, so here goes......
The main dining room was excellent, first class staff and the food of an unfailingly high quality. So good we did not venture to the specialist diners!
Cabin service was also exemplary, from the routine through to specialised when I went down with the dreaded tummy bug. Medical services were also top rate.
The Cruise Director, Sammi, and her staff we also good, organising and participating in many activities to keep us all amused. The resident entertainers, mainly young Australians, did an excellent job.
Kusadasi and Ephesus - we booked a private tour with Ekol travel, truly wonderful! Guide and Driver were brilliant, we were able to wander through the site and the terraces at our own speed, so we really enjoyed the day. The design of the viewing platforms inside the Terraces site was superb, and our guide knew all the best vantage points from which to take pictures.
Alexandria - Four of us took a taxi to the Library, which is stunning! We went downstairs to a variety of other demonstrations and exhibits, and explored the Museum of Antiquities
Civittavechia and Tarquinia - Short rail trip North to Tarquinia, a walled town. Shuttle bus from the station to the Town gate, and a very unspoilt place for a gentle Sunday stroll.
Livorno, Pisa, Lucca and Florence - we were lucky enough to hook up with a party using "RomeinLimo" for this trip, and again it was wonderful.
Ponta Delgada, Azores - What a delightful surprise this Island is! We went walkabout on our own, and took advantage of the local tourist board staff who provided us with maps and advice as soon as we had disembarked. We speak no Portuguese, but the friendliness and courtesy of the local people made us feel very welcome.
We used a Princess organised tour to go to Jerusalem - mistake, it was poor! We saw very little, we seemed to hang around for long periods doing nothing, and the Guide was not good.
The Internet service was appalling, expensive and slow. As an ex professional in that field I know it could, and should, have been better.
Finally, the Front Desk staff, specially trained to pat you on the head (metaphorically!) and send you away without doing anything other than the simplest of tasks. For example, we were delayed by bad weather between Bermuda and Fort Lauderdale, and it was obvious that most of us would have to rearrange our onward travel. Whilst I accept that there is limited capacity on the ship - to - shore phone, that capacity could have been better utilised had accurate information been forthcoming. It took me five visits to the Desk and four hours of frustration before I was given the correct phone number for my airline. Further, it is now over four weeks since we landed and I am still, despite repeated requests, awaiting a copy of my final account.
The disembarkation was also poor; the need to get us off the ship quickly sometimes overwhelming both front desk the shore side organisation.
We did manage to get to Texas to stay with our family and spent a wonderful Christmas and New Year with them, and we are now back in the UK planning the next trip, though it will not be with Princess......