My girlfriend and I took the Sea Princess out of San Francisco (May 30) for a 10 day cruise to Alaska, and walked away pretty disappointed. We're both pretty new to cruising, was her first and my second, so I might just have unrealistic expectations for cruising.
1) The Ship: The ship seemed to be pretty run down and out-dated. The stained carpets, rusty pipes, dirty windows, and broken furniture created a pretty dilapidated atmosphere. The layout was inconvenient at times, the pizzeria was situated directly between the main elevators and the casino, and so while you were trying to enjoy your meal, people were constantly walking through the restaurant. And for those partaking in libations in the "secluded" wheelhouse bar were terrorized by massive crowds leaving the princess theater. The every window that had a view outside was dirty, which I thought they'd be at least trying to keep clean seeing as Alaska was known for breathtaking views.
2) Service: I can't quite say the service was bad, every reasonable request was honored but with a smirk instead of a smile. The staff with the exception a select few seemed too busy to deal with customers. One little thing I was really looking forward to were the towel animals that were always in my room after dinner, some passengers had great stewards that did them, but the vast majority that I spoke with never got a single animal. I know this is trivial, but these little things really make a difference.
3) The Food: Hit or miss anywhere you go. The Buffet was defiantly the worst I've ever been to (and that includes on land also). Because of a norovirus outbreak (not really the cruise line's fault but still) they had employees scooping and serving, which really made the buffet seem crowded to the point of discomfort. And the food was just terrible, except for some eggs benedict that I happened to get straight from the kitchen. Me being a bacon fanatic was excited for the opportunity to stuff my face with all the bacon I could handle, but the bacon tasted artificial and just gross. The only thing truly edible was the prepackaged cereal during breakfast hours. The grill by the pool never had fresh food, but burgers that were reheated at your request, dogs that had been sitting on the rollers for hours, and french fries that they gave a dunk in oil after sitting under a heat lamp. The main dining room was much better than the buffet/grill; as a result it was filled during meal time with about a 15-30 min wait. The food there was very bland but the super salty sauce that covered every dish made up for it I guess. I never got a steak cooked to order, well done every time (I ordered medium-rare), even in the Sterling Steakhouse. Deserts were good though, probably because they were premade and precut. Another little thing, they never once had escargot on the menu, I guess it was on the "secret menu."
4) Cabin: It was small, just like every other cruise cabin in the world, but the beds were hard and lumpy even with a mattress topper. Running with the ships atmosphere it just felt used and abused.
5) Entertainment: This is where my biggest quarrels were. The ship had very few fun activitys, mostly dominated by port shopping lectures (big diamond commercials that make you feel like a broke peasant because you don't want to spend $10,000 in diamonds), corny cruise games (trivia and bingo mostly), and movies that are repeated all day long in you stateroom. We had late seating in the dining room, and they had the times set up for the evening shows so you would have to rush through dinner and skip desert just so you wouldn't miss the first 10 minutes of the show (if you were lucky enough to get a seat that late).
If we could do the cruise over again, we would in a heartbeat. We had a AWESOME group at dinner time, the itinerary was spectacular (Glacier Bay is just life changing like a frozen Grand Canyon), the shows we did see were very good and entertaining, and reasonably priced goods/services.