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Star Princess

Itinerary

It's not hard to understand why Vancouver is so appealing. This vibrant metropolis caters to all age groups and interests; it's particularly friendly to pedestrians and bikers, and even the most navigationally challenged visitors can find their way around with ease.

The area has been occupied by the Coast Salish people, claimed by the Spanish, and was visited for exactly one day by British Captain George Vancouver. In 1827, Hudson's Bay Company built a trading post on the Fraser River, and the company is still around today -- though now as a department store. After that, the fur traders, gold miners and lumber workers arrived and, eventually, the railroad.

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With a cosmopolitan population of 950,000, Honolulu is Hawaii's largest city. It also is the hub of cultural, educational, political, dining, shopping, business and entertainment activities in the Aloha State.

After Captain James Cook put the Hawaiian Islands on the map of the world in 1778, Honolulu became an increasingly important stop for ships traveling between America and Asia. First came fur traders, who made fortunes exchanging otter pelts from the Pacific Northwest for teas, spices and silks from China. Later, fragrant sandalwood became such a prized commodity that Island forests were nearly stripped clean of it. Then came the whalers, who plied the seas relentlessly in search of the gentle giants that were the source of rich oil.

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Kauai is the oldest of the eight major Hawaiian Islands, with volcanic rock dating back more than 5 million years. But the island still displays all the beauty and vigor of youth. From lush rain forests and valleys to majestic mountains and long stretches of white sand, there's no question: Nature takes center stage here.

In fact, Kauai has more beaches per mile of coastline than any of the other islands. Only 3 percent of the island has been developed for commercial and residential use; the rest is agricultural and conservation lands. Two-thirds of Kauai's land area is impenetrable.

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Known the world over as a "trip of a lifetime" destination, the remote Hawaiian Islands were settled by the Polynesians more than 1,000 years ago and were "discovered" by explorer Capt. James Cook in 1778. In 1959, Hawaii became the 50th U.S. state, and to this day, it retains a sort-of-outsider status. Hawaii clings to its rich history while accepting newcomers and absorbing their unique traditions. Every Hawaiian island is imbued with a friendly "aloha" spirit, and most travelers fall in love with the destination the moment orchid leis are draped over their shoulders upon arrival.

Maui, the second-largest island of the archipelago, typifies all that is magical about the Sandwich Islands (as Capt. Cook first called the island chain). It's also referred to as the Valley Isle because a verdant, low-lying isthmus connects the two halves of the island. From the air, Maui looks like a butterfly with the 10,000-foot Haleakala volcano on one wing, Pu'u Kukui and the West Maui mountains on the other and the valley in the middle. You'll revel at the stark contrast between the stunning variety of flowering tropical plants and cascading waterfalls and the lunar-like landscape of Haleakala and Maui's other mountain peaks.

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To really experience Hilo, forget first impressions and dive right in to old Hawaii. Unpretentious and just a little bit gritty, this often-overlooked city on the Big Island is abundantly authentic and full of charm.

Why is it overlooked? Hilo is the departure point for shore excursions to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, one of the most popular tourist destinations in the state. And that's too bad because there's much to recommend Hilo itself, defined in part by a history of tsunamis and challenging economics.

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It's not hard to understand why Vancouver is so appealing. This vibrant metropolis caters to all age groups and interests; it's particularly friendly to pedestrians and bikers, and even the most navigationally challenged visitors can find their way around with ease.

The area has been occupied by the Coast Salish people, claimed by the Spanish, and was visited for exactly one day by British Captain George Vancouver. In 1827, Hudson's Bay Company built a trading post on the Fraser River, and the company is still around today -- though now as a department store. After that, the fur traders, gold miners and lumber workers arrived and, eventually, the railroad.

Read More
Cruise Critic Editor Rating:
4.0
1,029 reviews
Why Choose Star Princess?

Pro

Activities and cuisine are themed around the ship's itinerary.

Con

Nightlife and evening entertainment can be lacking, especially the main stage shows.

Bottom Line

Enrichment, food and drink are strong suits, but you need port days to keep from getting bored.

Star Princess Overview

Star Princess is an elegant midsize ship. It's perfect for older couples or groups of friends who enjoy lingering over drinks and long dinners, as well as those who want to find local influences in dishes, lectures and activities onboard. The ship accommodates children and families, but it doesn't cater to them as heavily as other cruise lines do. There are clubs for kids and teens and a pool with a retractable roof for rainy-day swims, but you won't find water parks, big-brand partnerships, private babysitting or activities for children younger than 3.

Dining and drinking are strong points on Star Princess. About 10 dining options and a dozen bars offer the chance to jump around or find a favorite, and the specialty and main dining restaurants (even the grill) offer menu items inspired by the itinerary. We didn't eat one bad thing onboard, and you don't need to spend a night at the extra-fee Sabatini's or Crown Grill to enjoy a gut-splitting gourmet meal. (Though we do suggest trying at least one alternative restaurant. We doubt you'll be disappointed.) For casual dining, you'll have more than enough choice at the buffet, and the standout International Cafe serves up bistro-style snacks any time, day or night, gratis.

If you're keen to splurge on spirits, the whole page of chocolatier Normal Love's concoctions makes it easy to succumb to the "well, I'm on vacation" mentality. Wine aficionados should head to Vines, where they can choose from pages of wine selections not available elsewhere on the ship. Enjoy your glass with the day's complimentary selection of tapas and sushi or an extra-fee wine-and-chocolate pairing. For a deal, take advantage of the drink specials extending until midnight at Skywalkers Nightclub, though be warned: It's easy to lose track of the hours (and cruise card swipes).

Enrichment -- especially in Alaska -- is a highlight that Princess makes a point of emphasizing, and we totally dig it, from the lumberjack show to emotional tales of an unlikely friendship in the wild. Entertainment, on the other hand, is hit and miss. There is music all around the ship, but it's the instrumentalists and not the vocalists who stand out. Similarly, evening entertainment is varied -- a comedian, production shows, a ventriloquist act, a singer and pianist -- but seems like something to do if nothing else is going on, not something to make a point to see.

Service left us with kind of a shoulder shrug. It certainly wasn't bad, but it wasn't outstanding either. Our room was always clean, and requests were always accommodated, but we never got to know our cabin steward. Perhaps it was a matter of timing. Similarly, we had one waiter in the main dining room who was enthusiastic, but the rest of the time, requests were simply fulfilled around the ship -- coffee handed, plates cleared, order taken -- with little personality.

Overall, the ship is comfortable and polished, and the crew has a firm grasp on a reliable level of service. While tropical paintings seem out of place as cabin decor on cooler-clime itineraries, Star Princess does a fine job of highlighting local flavors through daily activities and menu specials, making it a refined ship for any destination.

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Cruise Reviews

Sail Date: December 2017
First time with Princess cruises, embarkation was very good with a quick and speedy transfer through LA, luggage was delivered to our room within an hour of getting on board. the cabin was well laid out with a separate area for hanging ... Read More
First time with Princess cruises, embarkation was very good with a quick and speedy transfer through LA, luggage was delivered to our room within an hour of getting on board. the cabin was well laid out with a separate area for hanging garments along with the safe and toilet, this give pricey to dress for our son (15) who was traveling with us. The Tv in the room had a terrible picture but was fixed within an hour of reporting. We had anytime Dining which worked very well for us and we never had to wait for a table we was also given a choice to sit with others or on our own. The food served was also hot and the waiting staff could not be more helpful in advising what was on the menu. The entertain on the ship was terrible, I have never been so disappointed with a ships entertainment team before. The only plus was a comedian who we since found out delayed the ship from leaving LA because he was late. The sail away party lasted 35 minutes even though we never sailed away until some 2 hours later. The new years eve party was the worst I have ever been to, over the 2 hour period prior to midnight the music cut off twice for a total of 40 minutes. The officers with us where calling frantically to address the problem but then came back with it was organised to be cut off. We tried to contact the entertainment director (Bernie) in the morning but she was to busy to see us, we left messages at the front desk but she never even acknowledged our call. The ships disco was alright for happy hour then the DJ went off on a tangent with his own music choices and managed to clear the floor every night. On New years eve the DJ and a member of staff had a shouting match with one guy who complained about the music, the guy was so intimidated by this that he left & the member of staff followed him across the dance floor shouting and screaming at him, to give this guy credit he just turned round and filmed the event with his phone. We paid an extra premium for the thermal spa facilities which give us access to joint steam rooms & sauna, again this was very poor the sauna never worked from day 1, I went to use the standard men only sauna in the changing room but that was broken and wasn't repaired until the return leg back to LA some 9 days later, in the thermal spa the lights where hanging out of the ceiling the taps in the steam room did not work (9) the shower facilities only one worked correctly, the ventilation to the spa area & the gym was in a very bad condition, sewage could be smelt everywhere, the dirt was clear to be seen around the grilles & light fittings showing that the system needed a major overhaul (recommissioning) , I pointed these things out on a daily basis to the spa desk who give a standard answer that it was reported, I even spoke to the maintenance guys in the spa area working on the electrics who also reported this to. At the end of the trip I got my bill through the door on the last night with our spa bill up at $450, I thought I need to address this as it quite clearly states on the paperwork you need to address all issues with statement before you leave the ship. I went to the ships reception to discuss it but nobody was available from the spa to address the issues I had. One last point that is a major concern is that whilst watching a band play the ceiling fell down behind us in the main corridor. We reported it to staff and a maintenance guy turned up to fix it, he tried but as he had no steps and was standing on a chair the ceiling came down even more causing the lights to spark where they came out of the ceiling. Another guy turned up with steps and assisted in putting the ceiling back up. When complete we noticed that the emergency exit signs where pointing into the ship not how they had been before, we told the maintenance guy who didn't believe us so we showed him a photo we had taken just before the event, he still didn't want to know. This ship just out of dry dock is in a bad condition, if you intend to use it you need to be aware that the average age on board is 75+ they do not cater for younger clients adults and children. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2017
Was it good value for money? Hard to say ... The itinerary was great and we were very luck to get hot, calm weather between LA and Honolulu. However, landing in Honolulu on Christmas day isn't ideal. Shops were only open in Waikiki, so ... Read More
Was it good value for money? Hard to say ... The itinerary was great and we were very luck to get hot, calm weather between LA and Honolulu. However, landing in Honolulu on Christmas day isn't ideal. Shops were only open in Waikiki, so it was overflowing with tourists. That said, it was probably our best day, due to the vibrancy. We walked around Diamond Head, swam at Waikiki Beach, shopped and had a drink and dinner on the balcony at the Hard Rock Cafe before heading back to the ship. The food was terrible. We've cruised with Princess before, so this was no surprise. Vegetarian choice limited to one dish (often slimy eggplant), on the evening menu, so we mostly ate in the buffet. And I still don't understand why you can't get a cheese sandwich until 3:30pm! Every cake looked the same. After trying a couple, I avoided them for the rest of the cruise. Peanut butter cookies were pretty good though. If you really wanted nice food, you needed to pay $29 pp per meal to eat in the Crown Grill. Our friends raved about it but those costs added up over 16 days. With no vegetarian items on the menu, we missed out on the really good stuff. There were a lot of return guests on the ship, with many saying they wouldn't do the cruise again, due to the quality of the food and entertainment. One woman had done 42 with Princess and told them this would be her last. Most of the staff were fantastic and worked amazingly hard but we did notice a few with attitude (not in a good way). The same mediocre entertainers were onboard for two weeks, which meant the shows were terrible and featured singers that really couldn't, so we stopped going. The Hawaiian ambassadors, Tiki Dave and Leialoha were great entertainers and teachers. As well as performing every night, Dave taught ukulele; Leialoha hula and lei making. Their students performed a concert on the last sea day, which was super fun to be part of. The best and hardest working entertainers on the ship by a country mile - Tiki Dave and Leialoha, rock! The gym was interesting ... with some aggressive people and not one staff member to be seen. Witnessed a fight between a woman who took exception to the length of time someone was on the weight machine she wanted to use. I stopped going after that, preferring instead to walk the decks. The highlight of the cruise was meeting awesome people. We made wonderful friends through the ukulele lessons and we're now in regular contact. So, yes, from that perspective it was worth the price (and more). Read Less
Sail Date: December 2017
This was my second cruise on Princess to Hawaii. It proved to be one of the best I have ever taken. The Star Princess had just left dry dock where the new sea witch was painted on the hull along with re-carpeting of common areas and ... Read More
This was my second cruise on Princess to Hawaii. It proved to be one of the best I have ever taken. The Star Princess had just left dry dock where the new sea witch was painted on the hull along with re-carpeting of common areas and replacement of the furniture in Horizon Court. Furniture in the Wheel House and other venues, International Café was also improved. The one thing I was most looking forward to was the new bedding in all cabins. That was the only item that was less than perfect for me. New linens were very nice but the mattress was very soft and left me with a soar back some mornings. I can't say enough about the service and food that we received. This was my first cruise as an Elite Captains Circle member. The stocked mini bar was a wonderful perk. I didn't take advantage of the free laundry as just doing some pieces in the laundromat proved more efficient and quicker. The cruise was completely sold out and we received notice that the ships laundry might take as long as 3 days to get back. Still this was not a problem for us. Our room steward was outstanding and all the staff I interacted with and even those I just passed in the halls smiled and seemed engaged with making the cruise a success. We had an excellent mini suite on deck 8, Cabin E729. I've posted pictures, The balcony was superb. I really enjoyed every stop in Hawaii. Even with being in Honolulu on Christmas Day being able to stay in port until 11:00 PM allowed for a day of sightseeing, Waikiki beach and a wonder luau show at the Hilton Hawaiian village. Cannot speak to the entertainment in the Vista Lounge or the Princess Theatre as we stayed mostly at the Wheelhouse bar and enjoyed the gym, Sauna and our great cabin balcony. Passengers on this cruise consisted of a mixed group with it being the Christmas break. Many more children, teens and young families than on any Cruise that I can remember. I saw no bad behavior or other issues on this trip. One down side seemed to be the elevators. There of course was the expected wait due to the number of people on ship especially on deck 5-7. The problem was the slowness of the doors closing and the fact that one elevator was constantly getting stuck due to apparently too many people onboard. It always happened on the same elevator but it continued for the entire time of the cruise. I am a sea days lover so this was a perfect cruise to disconnect and power down. Wi fi was definitely not improved, slow as ever but that was not the ships fault. Water was a little choppy going to Hawaii but not anything unbearable and the weather was perfect in Hawaii at all Islands. Basically everything went off without a hitch for us. I was very satisfied with this cruise and will be taking a California Coastal in March. Read Less