We had taken a sabbatical from Princess for quite a few years, but not intentionally. Sailing dates and other itineraries kept us from them since a U.S. West coastal cruise on the new Star in 2002. Having sailed for the first time in 1992 on the Island Princess ( Love Boat twin) out of Papeete, and having taken several other of their cruises, we were familiar with the line's product. We did not scrutinize the ship for signs of wear and tear as some have reported, and we noticed none. The ship was beautiful in all respects to us.
A one night stay at Long Beach's Queen Mary hotel was a great way to start the trip. This way Texans sailing with Canadians were assured any flight glitches would not interfere with our plans. The history and celebrities who crossed on her can only be left to the imagination. The hotel/ship seemed spruced up compared to a few years ago, and onboard lunch and dinner venues were both outstanding. Notable were the Fish and Chips in their Promenade Cafe. The fries have remained excellent over many years.
Boarding early is not usually a priority but the group got antsy the day of sailing, so we headed for the ship around noon. The seven mile taxi ride from the QM on a Saturday morning took no time. There was a throng of cruisers heading into the terminal, but waiting time/lines to board seemed very short.
Shapphire's production show was fine if not typical. It always amazes me to look around the theatre and see the lengths the human race goes to to amuse each other...singing, dancing, orchestras and stage effects....at sea. A passenger singing competition near the end of the trip turned out to be very entertaining. You could tell they had them audition and practice during the trip before performing.
DWs' belated birthday celebration resulted in booking a mini-suite on Dolphin deck. This is the lowest deck on which the balcony (big) juts out of the side of the pyramid shaped hull. Weather was on the chill side, but warmer weather would have probably resulted in making new friends on balconies above.
The room steward did an excellent job all week, but Princess could learn a lesson from parent Carnival when it comes to pillows. (On the flip side, Princess knows how to make a Caesar. The Triumph's staff struggles making this drink.)
LA to Puerto Vallarta to Matzalan to Cabo. PV has long been one of our favorite land destinations. The malecon was hopping with tourists, Papantla flyers, some pretty amazing sand sculptures, a guy balancing rocks (no glue) on the beach akin to inukshuks. Visited the Bistro Cafe on the Rio Cuale, one of our regular spots. The ladies enjoyed shopping here especially. Mazatlan had been visited once before many years ago. We went out of our way to find something a little different to do and started at the main square. An obligatory poke into their amazing cathedral and short walk through the adjacent market, preceeded a lunch at La Tramoya Restaurant. Great quesadillas. Caught a pulmonia to the Golden Zone and our driver took the initiative to take us to a scenic overlook on the way back to the ship. Cabo has grown so much since we had last been there. The vendors are in abundance and want to sell you on any tours they can. Let's face it, we feed their families. Excellent lunch at Panchos.
I did not see whaleskin myself, but we did see half dozen whale spouts at a time on a couple of occasions during the sea days on the way from LA to PV.
Food and Service
This is where we think Princess excelled. We experienced no disappointments here. Their noon buffet, often open on two sides, offered an excellent choice of freshly prepared meat dishes and side dishes. Cookies! Maybe a little crowded at times but this goes with the territory. We had not noticed wait staff offering to refill water/tea at noon at other ship's lunch buffets. Very attentive. If you are dining in the main dining room one night and notice on of the fresh dish preparers making Spaghetti Bolognese, tell your waiter you would like to have it as you entrEe instead of the pasta course. Fantastic. Princess is the master of pasta. At late sitting, we never noticed any lag time between courses. Instead of the head waiter being invisible, he made an appearance every night. We were easy. No complaints. We did tip him at the end of the cruise. Could not detect a wine package being available?
The trip, with the exception of a member of our group falling ill early, was one of the best. We are glad we had the chance do another Princess cruise and realized how much we missed them. In our opinion, they do an top-notch job. Yes, the bill at the end of the cruise was painful as they all are. Onto the Voyager in April....timing, itinerary and ease of getting to Galveston for us in S.A. Onward through the fog.