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2 Cape Town to Africa Ocean Princess Cruise Reviews

The 30-day Cape Town to Dover cruise on the Ocean Princess was a great adventure, and it really made me fall in love with Princess' small ships. I’ve been wanting to go on a West Africa cruise since Princess first started them in ... Read More
The 30-day Cape Town to Dover cruise on the Ocean Princess was a great adventure, and it really made me fall in love with Princess' small ships. I’ve been wanting to go on a West Africa cruise since Princess first started them in 2009, but the timing has never seemed to work. Fortunately, the May 2015 cruise happened to coincide with an extended period off work, which allowed for a long vacation. Prior to my booking this cruise, Princess changed the itinerary due to fears of Ebola – even though there was a total of just one Ebola case in the four countries where ports were cancelled! Stops in Benin, Togo, Ghana, and Senegal were replaced with Angola, Madeira, Malaga, and Lisbon and the cruise was rebranded as the Two Continents Adventure. While I was disappointed to miss the cancelled ports, I had never been to any of the added European ports, so it still seemed like a great itinerary. Ebola and the subsequent itinerary changes really seemed to have an impact on bookings for this cruise. On the roll call, it seemed like most of the people who had originally booked this cruise a year ago or earlier ended up cancelling. The result was some really good last minute pricing. In March, balcony cabins for this 30-day cruise were going for as low as $1800 pp. Since the cabin is not very important to us, we booked an inside guarantee for $1300 pp, but we were upgraded to a full oceanview cabin on Deck 4. We spent about ten days in South Africa prior to the cruise. We flew into Johannesburg and went on a four-day safari to Kruger National Park. We stayed in very comfortable National Park rondavels (essentially cabins). We had our own private vehicle and guide, so we could really tailor it to our interests. We saw lots of animals and really enjoyed it. After the safari, we flew down to Cape Town for a couple of nights before boarding the ship. What a great city! We stayed in the Waterkant area near downtown, a very safe area with lots of restaurants and shops nearby. We had a beautifully furnished two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment with full kitchen and a huge patio. Being the low season in Cape Town, this only cost $70 per night. Ocean Princess Prior to this cruise, I had only been on one small ship cruise with Princess, and that was only a one day cruise. We really enjoyed the small ship experience. Considering there are only 620 passengers (and I believe about 180 were continuing on from the previous cruise), embarkation was surprisingly slow. We had to be out of our hotel and it was raining out, so we decided to head to the ship early, arriving at 11 am. On past Princess cruises, embarkation has often started quite early, but this time it didn’t start until noon. It seemed a bit disorganized – perhaps because Cape Town isn’t a regular embarkation point for Princess. There were only 4 couples ahead of us in line, but it took a full hour, until 1 pm, before we had been processed and were on board. One thing I missed on the Ocean Princess was not having a full wrap-around Promenade deck. There are only two sections – one on each side of the ship. While some passengers (including myself) did walk back and forth along this short deck, it’s not the same as being able to do laps. However, the promenade deck was very wide and they had nice teak loungers, so a nice spot for reading. Unlike on some ships, we never had a problem finding free loungers (there were 18 on each side of the deck). There is a walking track on the top deck, although it is very short and fully exposed to the sun and wind. The demographics were fairly typical for a longer cruise, with most passengers in their 60s, 70s, or 80s. I’m in my mid-forties and I was definitely one of the younger passengers. Nearly half of the passengers (275) were elite. In terms of nationality, the largest group was from the U.S. (295), followed by Australia (103) and Canada (86), U.K. (29) and New Zealand (19). The remaining 60 or so passengers were from more than 20 other countries. I believe about one third of the passengers were on the ship for 81 days from Sydney. Food: I have to admit that I’m easy to please when it comes to food. I’ve found the food to be very good on all the Princess cruises I’ve been on and the Ocean Princess was no exception. One thing I liked about the smaller ship was the convenience of having the pizza place right in the buffet area. They also had two types of homemade ice cream at lunch every day in the buffet, which was great (there’s no separate ice cream place as on the larger ships). The food in the dining room was very good – the usual Princess standard. One thing that surprised me was that they repeated most of the menus during this cruise. I’ve been on 28 day cruises before and they had a different menu each day, so I wasn’t expecting the repeats. Not a big deal though – it allows you to try things you didn’t have the first time around! Entertainment: I was really impressed by the singers and dancers on the Ocean Princess. Being a small ship, there are 2 singers and 6 dancers and the dancers all do double duty as cruise director staff, leading various activities. Although the production shows are scaled down, they were probably the best I’ve seen on Princess – the singing and dancing was excellent. They did 7 production shows during this cruise (Do You Wanna Dance, What a Swell Party, Stardust, Shake Rattle & Roll, Tribute, Cinematastic, and Motor City). Ports: I’m not a big fan of cruise line shore excursions – I’m more of an independent traveller. We had never been to any of the ports before, so we were generally happy to wander around and explore the towns where we docked. Luderitz, Namibia – This is a nice little town with many older German style buildings. We spent the morning walking around the town. Walvis Bay, Namibia – We rented a car and drove to Dune 7 – it’s hard work getting up, but fun going down. From there, we drove through the desert to Swakopmund, which has more German buildings similar to Luderitz. We drove back to Walvis Bay along the coast road, which is beautiful with the desert sand dunes on one side and the ocean on the other. We also went to the Walvis Bay Lagoon where we saw thousands of flamingos. Luanda, Angola – This was one of the replacement ports when the itinerary was changed. We were the first Princess ship to visit Luanda, so none of the crew or the port lecturer seemed to know what to expect. We were given a lot of dire warnings about crime, horrendous traffic, etc. I wonder if this was just a ploy to encourage passengers to book the shore excursions at highly inflated prices (ranging from $149 for a two-hour city tour to $699 for an eight-hour 4WD city and beach tour). That’s about what we paid, per person, for our 4 day safari in South Africa, including accommodation, meals, and a private guide and vehicle for the two of us! We just explored the city on our own. We walked for about 4 hours and walked through many of the back streets and up to the fort for great views over the city. Despite all the warnings, we never felt unsafe. It was a great opportunity to experience a big sub-Saharan African city and we really enjoyed it. Sao Tome – As in Luanda, we were the first Princess ship to ever visit this port. This is a small town (70,000 people) and very laid back. It was a nice town to wander around and explore. We went to the local market, which was very busy and very interesting. We also took a taxi out to one of the local beaches for a nice swim – the ocean was like bathwater. Cape Verde – The ship docked in Mindelo, which is a very nice town. We went to the fish market, which was very interesting. The fishermen were bringing in the fish right outside. We also took a taxi up to Monte Verde. The road is a little scary and we wondered at times whether the very old taxi we were in would make it to the top of the mountain - we seemed to be the only vehicle on the road. We did make it and there were great views all the way up. Tenerife, Canary Islands – The ship docked in Santa Cruz, which is a fairly large city (about 200,000). In the morning, we took the tram (about 40 minutes) up the hill to La Laguna, the beautiful former capital which is packed with wonderful colonial buildings. We spent the afternoon back in Santa Cruz, which although more modern, also has many beautiful buildings. Madeira – This is a beautiful island. The ship docked in the capital, Funchal. In the morning, we took the gondola up the hill to the suburb of Monte – the gondola goes right over the old town and there are great views the whole way up. The traditional way of getting downhill is on a carro de cesto, essentially a big wicker basket/sled that is guided by two people who run along the side as you slide downhill – it was a lot of fun! The carro de cesto only takes you about 2 km down the hill, so we walked the remaining 6 kms back to town along the old road (Camino do Monte) which is very narrow and picturesque with very little traffic, so ideal for a walk. There were quite a few people doing the same. In the afternoon, we just walked around Funchal, which is a really beautiful town – this was one of our favorite stops. Casablanca – It’s an easy walk from the port to Place Mohammed V, Casablanca’s main square. From there, we did an architectural walking tour that was in my Lonely Planet guide book. Casablanca has some really beautiful old French colonial buildings. We also went to the public market, then we walked over to the Habous Quarter or New Medina, which is a more touristy shopping area. The Mahakma Law Courts are nearby. They were closed when we arrived, but the guards let us go in, so we were the only tourists wandering around the intricately carved inner courtyards – wonderful! After that we went to the Hassan II Mosque, which is the second largest in the world – it is amazing. Ceuta, Spanish Morocco – We had thought about arranging a taxi to go to Tetouan, Morocco from here, but in the end we decided there was enough to see in Ceuta to keep us occupied for the day. Ceuta is on a narrow isthmus, with a hilltop fort at the end of the peninsula. The ship docked right beside the main town square, and from there a pedestrianized road led through town. We wandered through town, then went up to the fort and the lookout with a great view over the entire peninsula and across to Gibraltar. We walked down from the hill and back along the water to the ship. In the afternoon, we went swimming at one of the town beaches. The water was really nice, but unfortunately there were lots of jellyfish so I didn’t stay in too long. Malaga, Spain – We walked from the ship into town and up to the hilltop Castillo Gibralfaro. There is a great walkway leading up to the castle with amazing views over town. From there we walked down to the Alcazaba Palace, with its beautiful gardens and courtyards. The rest of the day we spent wandering around the town. I just love all the pedestrianized streets in European cities! The cathedral was also amazing! In the late afternoon, we went to the beach ( just a 10 minute walk from the ship). The beach has great facilities and the water was really nice – a perfect end to the day. Lisbon – We were docked at Alcantara, about 3 km from central Lisbon, so we took the #15 tram into town (the tram stop is a short walk from the ship). If you’re planning on taking more than 3 trams, then the best thing to do is get a day pass for €6. Once in town, we headed straight for the #28 tram, since we knew that it gets very busy later in the day. This tram takes a very scenic route through Alfama the old medieval part of Lisbon. The streets are very hilly and narrow – it’s a bit like taking a cable car in San Francisco, but with more curves and turns. We got off the tram in the middle of Alfama and walked up to the castle and around the neighborhood. There are some amazing miradours (viewpoints), and the narrow streets and alleyways are very atmospheric. Rouen – The ship docked about a 30 minute walk from center of Rouen. Princess also offered a shuttle bus. We rented a car and drove out to Honfleur, a beautiful Normandy fishing village about an hour away. There is a pretty little harbor and many narrow medieval streets. We dropped the car off in the early afternoon and spent the rest of the day exploring Rouen. There is a large medieval area, a beautiful cathedral, and the square where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake. The ship was originally scheduled to leave at 10 pm, but the itinerary was changed to instead leave Rouen at 6 am the following morning. This allowed for a 6-7 hour daytime cruise down the Seine, past the French countryside. There were some great little villages and beautiful chateaux along the way – a great way to end the cruise! Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
This was a long awaited cruise , so we made it the trip of a lifetime with pre cruise land content, including safari parks. At the end, I was satisfied that I had seen much of sub-Saharan Africa. Though many onboard had sailed from ... Read More
This was a long awaited cruise , so we made it the trip of a lifetime with pre cruise land content, including safari parks. At the end, I was satisfied that I had seen much of sub-Saharan Africa. Though many onboard had sailed from Singapore or even Sydney ( 90 days), this itinerary with its sea days, at times dragged on. The activities including the Special Interest and Port Lectures were such that did not fill us with enthusiasm to go to, so we spent most sea days reading or in my case, playing games on my iPad. The ports, on the other hand were very interesting and I felt privileged to have had the opportunity to go to places that most of us from the more developed countries, would ever dream of. As such, I am ever so glad we did this trip and so tolerated those areas of the cruise that were perhaps more enjoyable on the newer ships Dining On booking, I requested a 6 pax table but on the first night ushered to a 4 pax table with just us. After 5 days of looking at ourselves each night, we invited another couple, who then stayed with us throughout the cruise. The food and service was excellent- I cannot fault anything. The hot and cold soups were a highlight of the menu for me. Biggest problem was the fact that food ran out because the ship didn't get all the container deliveries but what the heck, we were never going to starve! Can't understand why the Dining doesn't move to Anytime but people seem to make their own arrangements anyway! Entertainment Hmmm, I think Head Office booked the circuit left overs of individual entertainers. Perhaps we have cruised too much but some of them should have retired a long time ago. There were exceptions and they were the ones that got standing ovations. The intimate atmosphere of the OP, means it is liking having entertainers in your lounge room- sometimes that worked and sometimes it didn't. The production shows were good as usual and now Aubrey is contracted to the bigger ships and will be missed. Spammy Goldstein on the piano in the lounge was a highlight for many- he is quite an exceptional entertainer with a sincere and very pleasant personality. Accommodation Balcony as usual, we had the most amazing female cabin steward- never seen anyone who worked so fast and efficiently and with such a delightful personality. Always smiling, happy and ready to assist. Thanx Emma Excursions Mostly good except for the Ghost Town excursion in Luderitz- interesting but boring really Well, overall a good cruise but the ship is looking tired even if the staff kept it going really well. We are booked on her again July 2015 and by then she will be looking like she definitely needs to be retired too!   Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
Ocean Princess Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.0 4.5
Dining 4.0 4.1
Entertainment 4.0 3.8
Public Rooms 4.0 4.5
Fitness Recreation 4.0 4.2
Family 2.0 4.2
Shore Excursion 4.0 4.0
Enrichment 3.0 3.6
Service 4.0 4.6
Value For Money 4.0 4.2
Rates 4.0 4.3

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