At 60 days, this was the longest cruise we've ever sailed on. I found it interesting that by day 2 I was hearing such a strong undertone of dissatisfaction from a number of frequent cruisers, one of whom was already "adding to ... Read More
At 60 days, this was the longest cruise we've ever sailed on. I found it interesting that by day 2 I was hearing such a strong undertone of dissatisfaction from a number of frequent cruisers, one of whom was already "adding to my list of complaints when we get back".. Ridiculous, we had barely gotten under way. This aside, here is the good, bad and the unfortunate in my humble opinion.
The good -
- Embarkation and disembarkation went flawlessly.
- The crew could not do enough for you. Our steward, Glad, was well named. He was quick with a smile, greeted us by name every time he saw us and most importantly he kept our Mini Suite immaculate. The public spaces, particularly the bathrooms were immaculate throughout the ship.We could have asked for nothing more from the crew that tried to keep the ship clean.
- As far as food, here's my take. We opted for Anytime dining because we enjoy the flexibility. We were often given a beeper and asked, by a lovely friendly hostess, if we would like to wait for our table for two. We never waited long enough to finish one cocktail and we almost looked forward this pre dinner ritual. My point is that the wait was very reasonable. Once inside the restaurant, the wait staff was consistently excellent and we experienced many, many servers on this trip. As far as the food itself, the menu was repetitive, again as one would expect over 60 days. We never went hungry, always able to find one or two choices that appealed to us. We found the temperature of the food to be inconsistent and often not quite hot enough and that was an ongoing frustration. We did find the food tasty and well presented and, very important to us, served in rationale portion size so that if you opted to eat a full four or five coursed you did not walk away stuffed - we liked that. The wine was a bit pricey but we reduced our cost by buying wine cards throughout the trip.
- We typically ate continental breakfast in our cabin from the International Cafe, where they did an outstanding job. The fact that Princess is now issuing coffee cards that are good for this voyage only, and not forever seemed to get people crazy. $31 for unlimited brewed coffee along with 15 specialty drinks seemed to me to be the best buy in town yet people bitched for 60 days - so boring. They did run our of large cups, twice, and that was troubling and someone needs to be spoken to.
- Lunch was usually at the buffet where the salads were great and the food was just what you would expect. We also love the pizza and burgers on the deck. The Irish Pub Lunch and pizza at Sabbatinis were not special and we only went to each one time. No need to revisit.
- We ate at two specialty restaurants, Bayou and Crab Shack - both were ordinary, no better than the MDR. The main difference was very large portion size and as I said earlier, I don't view that as a benefit.
- We missed a port due to weather, oh well. We missed a second port due a bad screw up, either by Princess or the folks supplying the ship with fuel (or by weather). Either way, we made the best of a bad situation on our unscheduled day in Yokohama by seeing going to a Miyajima which ended up being a highlight of our visit to Japan. We regret missing Kyoto that day but we made lemonade, if you know what I mean.
- The ship did run out of lettuce for several days - a bad screw up and someone should be taken to task. The end of the world - no. We eat salad every day and managed to survive. The tome of some of our fellow passengers was ridiculous. There was so much to eat.
- The shows were standard fare, a few great shows, a few shows not to our taste and a great many good ones. The shows where they brought local performers on the ship were very fun and a nice change of pace from typical showroom headliners. The orchestra was terrific and the singers and dancers always did a fine job.
- A real highlight of the trip for us was the nightlife in The Wheelhouse where the band, Blue Jade, had us dancing nearly every night (that's why we missed a number of shows). They were the best ballroom band we've seen on any ship and we couldn't wait to get in there every nigh to dance and mingle with our new friends. The party band, The Sound, were also really good. Along with a good piano player, a nice guitarist/singer, the string duo and a fine singer in crooners music was not a problem. The piped in music pre dinner in Explorers could have been much better.
- As far as the itinerary, holy cow, it was great. The excursions were good for the most part, They met our expectations. We had one bad experience and were disappointed that the excursion desk did nothing to answer my complaint. They suggested I write head office on my return and I did. I'll update my review if they respond.
- WE had a mini suite, B22, and while it was tired we liked the extra space, the roomy balcony, the bathtub and everything worked well. As I said earlier, it was kept immaculately.
- A big complaint of mine centers around the elimination of Happy Hours and a very poop effort in the nightly Elite/Platinum parties. Princess eliminated every opportunity to reduce our drinking expenses. More importantly, by eliminating Happy Hours the venues during typical HH times are empty instead of filled with passengers having a good time. This was a major misstep. I wrote management before the cruise on this issue and was told to wait and see the replacement promotions, well there were none. My informal survey would indicate that many passengers simply drank less, spent less money, and had less opportunity to connect with other people. This brings me to my biggest concern with Princess and that's my belief that accountants are in charge and that these accountants in particular do not understand this business. I don't know how much better the food was in years past, I've only been cruising for 10 years or so, but I do know that happy hours fill lounges or deck bars and people have fun and that's the idea. It's sad to see musicians play to an empty room, which we saw every day between 3 and 4.
To close - Despite the warts, we enjoyed the cruise thoroughly and were sorry to see it end. The ship was not new but we loved the deck plan, our cabin, the service, the music, the itinerary, etc and would sail on her again in a heartbeat. I hope Princess decides to step up the game regarding some of the issues that are beginning to make this look like a bargain cruise line. If they do that, we'll continue to sail this line for a long time, if not, we will have to explore other opportunities. Read Less