We flew into Orange County Airport, which worked out very well- nice airport, and a 40 minute drive to the port, much less traffic than from LAX. We booked a private shuttle with Prime Time Shuttle and had very good experiences both to ... Read More
We flew into Orange County Airport, which worked out very well- nice airport, and a 40 minute drive to the port, much less traffic than from LAX. We booked a private shuttle with Prime Time Shuttle and had very good experiences both to and from the port.
This was a spring break trip for the family, usually we do not cruise with kids. If you were not on spring break, you would have hated this trip, the boat was PACKED with families. I had one worker from the Kid's Club tell me they had 700 registered kids on board this week, from the three kids clubs. WOW. Made for a very crowded pool.
Embarkation was very smooth and quick. Many hosts to direct you to one of the many open windows for check in, and got you right on the ship.
The family had a very nice time and was a great break from reality which is what we all needed. Our main goal was R&R. Have not traveled this itinerary before, though we are frequent cruisers. All the ports were enjoyable, however there is not one that we feel is absolutely necessary to go back to. We did our own excursions, did not book through the ship. We had two cabins on the Aloha deck, which was a great location for the pools, but a long way from the dining rooms- we make it a rule to never take the elevator. Having been on the Crown before, and also on the Ruby, we found the boat in the beginning stages of needing repair. Cracked tiles, scratched toilet seats, spots on the walls, worn carpet, worn towels, darkened china. Even the information binders in the rooms were falling apart. The atrium is still impressive. Though the condition was noticed, it did not impact the enjoyment of our cruise.
We found the entertainment on board above what we have found on recent Princess ships. A juggler in the atrium three evenings was entertaining for all the families on board. The "Blame it on the Boogie" disco show by the Princess performers was high energy and entertaining, many recognizable songs makes it fun. A comedian on the last night was OK. The magic act on the second night was good. The mariachi band that played often was good and festive for the cruise. We also enjoyed the banners hung in the atrium once we hit the Mexican border- again adding to the festive atmosphere. Now get some Mexican food in the dining room, and you'll be all set!
My kids had intentions of using the Kid's Clubs, but finally gave up after the first couple days of it being crowded, boring, or the "fun" activities taking place too late. My teen went up one time for a scheduled activity to be told that they were currently closed because the previous activity was still going on. After going back twice to closed doors, that was the last time she attempted to participate. Fortunately, they get along, are happy entertaining themselves and hanging out by the pool. The older one made a few friends that she ran into on the ship frequently anyway.
On previous Princess cruises, we have had pool towels in our staterooms. Not so on this cruise. All towels were in common bins on the pool deck. This meant that by 1:00 in the afternoon, all towels were gone, and those of you returning to the ship or late to the pool had no towels. While we often saw crew hauling out the used towels in big bins, we never saw anyone bringing back more than 4-6 towels at a time. Wish they would go back to having towels in the staterooms- that way everyone is assured of one!
Dining was pretty good this time. I say pretty good because the last two I would rate as "average". The things I would recommend (in no order- I can't remember what was served what night) are: the deep diver scallops, the surf and turf (steak was EXCELLENT), the entire menu for the 50th anniversary dinner, the linguini with clams, and the cream of mushroom soup- especially the first night (it was served twice). Of course the lobster and King prawns is always the week's highlight. One night there is a pot roast in reduced borolo wine sauce. FANTASTIC. My husband and I both could not decide between the entree we ordered or the pot roast (I had read a different review recommending it). The waiter brought us one to split because she heard us talking about it. We had 5 different entrees on the table for 4 people, and by far, the best was the pot roast! The desserts unfortunately were underwhelming, 90% ice cream, and we would have skipped 5 out of 7 nights if it wasn't for the kids. The one dessert highly recommended is the one that comes on the 50th anniversary dinner menu.
The dining room service was very slow. We had anytime dining, and usually ate after 7:30 each night. Some nights we had a small wait to get in, but not much. Two nights we waited almost an hour to get the next course, and two nights we waited about 20 minutes to get menus and water. We ate in the dining room for one breakfast, which was a waste since it offered pretty much the same food as the buffet, and for one lunch which was really good.
We choose the carry off option for disembarkation. Our time was 8:30, and they called our group right on time. We got through customs and was waiting for our ride by 9:10 AM. Easily made it to our 12:40 flight out of SNA, no stress or worries.
Overall, the cruise was adequate, the ship needs updating, the ports were entertaining and nice, and it gave us a much needed vacation. The value was great. Would not necessarily recommend this cruise over others, but for something different and for a get away, we would not steer anyone away. Read Less