Although this was not our first cruise, it was our first one out of Los Angeles. We arrived in San Pedro the day before we set sail. San Pedro was an added bonus to our cruise. This city has enjoyed a renaissance and we look forward to re-visiting.
As first-time Platinum Passengers, we were able to board the ship quickly - no long lines and short wait time before boarding.
Our cabin was as we expected. For this cruise, we chose an inside cabin rather than balcony. Although small, the cabin offered everything that we needed - comfortable bed, lots of fresh towels, blow dryer, toiletries and a refrigerator stocked with sodas and ice. Our cabin attendant introduced herself to us and brought us extra pillows within minutes of our request.
For the past several cruises, we have selected the "anytime dining" option and did do this time. This ship offered more dining room selections than previous ships on which we sailed. As a result, we experienced no waiting and we always received a reservation when requested. Although the Italian dining room did not allow "anytime" diners until after 8 p.m., we were able to try its specialty of the house, osso buco, in the other dining rooms. Of the anytime dining rooms, we preferred the Santa Fe simply because it was better lit. The Savor, although "clubby" in appearance, was too dark. It was well-suited to the pub lunches.
We enjoyed all our meals - Princess is consistently very good. The menu choices were excellent and gave us a chance to enjoy items that we not not otherwise. In particular, we enjoyed the fish dishes. And, the soups were outstanding. The portions were are always too large. However, our wait staff worked at trying to get us appetizer sized portions. Service was excellent and affable. This time, we stuck with the house red wine at dinner instead of higher priced brands. We were not disappointed.
Before dinner, we regularly visited Crooners Bar for cocktails. Bar staff quickly remembered our names and drinks of choice. They were a joy!
During the four day crossing to Hawaii, there was much to keep us busy.
We especially enjoyed the lectures which were better than expected thanks to two new lecturers who spoke as part of Princess' Scholarship at Sea program. Pat Kramer's morning lectures on Hawaii, Captain Cook, Captain Bligh and a wide range of topics relative to each cruise port made the time at sea a real joy. Hers were not to be missed. In addition, attorney-at-law Micheal Bishay's afternoon lectures were something totally different than traditionally offered on cruises. Mr. Bishey fully engaged his audience with thought provoking and well-publicized legal case histories. Within each 1-hour presentation, he had every audience member involved on the debate either through a show of hands or interactive discussion. A few of us called it Princess Moot Court - but it was more. What a clever idea and addition to the Scholarship at Sea program. Michael is a star and we won't be surprised to see him wind up on television with his gentle approach, careful analysis and engaging style. We will make it a point to find out if Michael is part of other cruises. Like Pat Kramer, he helped make the ship the destination for us more than the ports-of-call.
We have spent many vacations in Hawaii. So. we had already visited the ports of call scheduled for this cruise.
Once we reached the big Island, we took advantage of free-shuttle service and did the same in Honolulu.
Unfortunately, we couldn't dock in Kauai. However, the Captain sailed the ship around islands that we have never seen so that turned out be a bonus for us.
All-in-all, it was a great cruise except for a couple of issues. We did not spend any time in the pool for 2 main reasons. The first is the pool-side music. It's so incredibly loud that we had difficulty making our order heard at the Trident Grill. As a result, we stopped going to the grill and that deck. The other reason had to do with the weather. Although warm enough, it was often windy.
The first day out to sea, we enjoyed a couples massage. The massage was excellent and put us in the right mood to enjoy the balance of our trip. However, we wish that the Lotus Spa staff wold quit trying to flog their products. We understand that Lotus Spa staff work for a UK supplier but they need to ratchet down the sales pitch.