My husband and I joined the cruise in Fort Lauderdale on 1st May 2011. Embarkation was speedy and efficient and as we passed through the ship to our cabin, we were reminded how pleasant it was to be greeted by staff, who were just passing by, in such a pleasant and genuine way. It made us feel good.
Due to the unexpected and critical illness of my husband last year, we had to cancel all our cruises and this was the first cruise in over a year.
When we opened the door of our cabin (R503) the smell hit us. The only way I can describe the smell, is that sometimes you pass by people that have obviously not washed their hair for a long time and the smell hits you. I opened the balcony door to let in some air. It was very obvious that the smell was coming from the cushions placed on the bed and so we moved them immediately under the bed. It was disgusting. Unfortunately they had already passed the smell on to the clean pillow cases and so we left these out to air and ensured that we did not use them.
The cabin steward came in to introduce himself, his name was Alejandro and said we could call him Alex. He was very pleasant and said to let him know if there was anything we needed.
We removed the cushions and he put them out again. On the third day the cushions were out again, I took the cushions out to speak to Alex. He was doing the room a couple of doors down and his trolley was outside that door. I approached him and said could I please give you these cushions. He looked at me and continued into that room. I walked back to our room and waited at the door. A few minutes later he came out and walked towards me. I was smiling at him and said could you please take these out of the room as they did not smell very good and they were making the clean linen smell dirty as well. He took the cushions and went away. I felt much better that we would not get the smell back and assumed that all was well.
As we moved in and out of our cabin throughout the day, it was clear that Alex would not make eye contact with me. As we went off for our evening meal, I mentioned it to my husband, though Alex was being very chatty with him. I continued to say hello to him, though he would not look at me.
By the fourth day Alex was beginning to make exaggerated moves to show that he was not talking to me. He cheerily greeted my husband in the corridor and then bent down on the floor to pretend to do something as I passed him, he kept his head down.
He said hello and good evening etc to my husband and clearly ignored me. By day 5 I decided not to bother any further with him. Quite pathetic and disturbing really.
Princess appears to have moved to "very hard sell", every where we turned there was someone on a sales pitch. It became very tiring and a number of fellow passengers commented on this hard sell. In the restaurant on an evening, first the water, then the wine, then the coffee, then the sale of wine and cheese tasting for the following day. The majority of staff take it in their stride, offer the sales politely and move on in their usual pleasant way if you do not want it at that time, however, in Michael Angelo there was one waiter, Atari, who seemed to take extreme offence if you do not want to buy and was quite rude, walking away pulling offensive faces. From that night we tried to attend the Da Vinci restaurant (to avoid this snooty waiter and his pompous face pulling), however, as we were unable to have "anytime dining" in the Michael Angelo until 8pm onwards, we sadly missed most of the shows and on occasions, when we wanted to see some evening entertainment we had to go the Caribe. Not quite the same when we really enjoy dressing and going to the restaurants for dinner.
I will not dwell on the hardsell of Lotus Spa, Teeth whitening, Acupuncture, Dr Mailine etc etc etc,(now all called Scholarship at Sea - should perhaps be renamed to Hardsell at sea). Suffice to say that this is the first cruise where I have not treated myself to a least one beauty treatment, due to the permanent pushing of these services. I went for a break, to avoid and escape from the usual pressures.
There appears to be a real reluctance to seat people for a table for two and you needed to be very firm in your request, whilst you are being pushed to share. Despite that fact there were large numbers of couples wishing to dine alone, every time we dined there were a number of vacant table and usually some 4's spare as well. On occasions, when tables for 2 were spare, couples were seated alone at tables for 4 and the spare settings removed (as we were on a couple of occasions.
On the final formal evening, we went to have our photo taken, called for a cocktail and listened to the captain speaking. As soon as this was over we went to the Michael Angelo. We were pushed to share then told we would need to wait. One of the Head waiters said to my husband that it would not be longer that 15-20 minutes. Almost one hour later and still no sign of being called we returned and asked what was happening. The book had been closed and they had clearly forgotten to buzz us. The girl on reception came along and opened up the book, she saw that our room number had not been highlighted and went to the head waiter, he was quite short in his manner with her and did not have the courtesy to speak to us, just told her that we could go to the Michael Angelo or wait, it would be at least another ½ hour.
It would be wrong of me not to mention the good things, that happened. The very many lovely, pleasant, friendly and very helpful crew who cannot not do enough to make your holiday an enjoyable experience. People like, Rebekka, Richard, Franscisco, George, Melissa and Hung from the restaurants. There are so many I cannot recall all the names. Also Ian and the lovely Asian man whose name escapes me from Crooners bar, who made me forget Alejandro and Atari for a short time and allowed me to enjoy my long awaited holiday.
We thought we had paid to get a "C.R.U.I.S.E" service and "escape completely",as advertised, or at least to be treated with the respect we afford to others, not total disrespect.
I wrote to Princess almost 4 weeks ago to ask for assurance that not one single penny of my hard earned money, namely the gratuities, goes to either Alejandro or Atari. As yet no response.
It's back to Celebrity and Royal Caribbean for us.....they know how to treat customers....