Are all cruise ships this boring?
This was our first cruise and we really did not know what to expect. Before we left, our friends went on and on about all of the on board activities and the food. Our travel agent assured us we would ... Read More
Are all cruise ships this boring?
This was our first cruise and we really did not know what to expect. Before we left, our friends went on and on about all of the on board activities and the food. Our travel agent assured us we would not be bored—wrong!
The food in the dining room was very good, and the service was excellent. We had Anytime dinning and we only had a long wait (40 minutes) on one night. Please note that we always asked to share a table. I do wish that priority was given to those who actually signed up for Anytime dinning. Many of the traditional dinners like to crash our room to the point that there were two nights that we were taken to the traditional seating dining room because it was virtually empty.
Now for the activities....Were there any besides the floating infomercial about art, health, beauty, jewelry or photography, and/or activities designed for you to spend additional money like bingo or the casino? Okay, there were trivia games--good luck getting a seat near the game. There were movies under the sun/stars, and there was a nightly "show" which you needed to arrive 45 minutes before to get a decent seat. If you arrived much later you might be lucky enough to nab a single seat between two strangers. I was thankful for the shows since they provided some much needed entertainment; although, they were nothing special or memorable.
Shore days seemed to be loaded with great on board activities, which made no sense since the majority of the passengers got off the ship. Out of desperation I went to a line dance class that lasted less than 20 minutes. Unfortunately, it was not very fun. We even tried to listen to a music group in one of the lounges while having a night cap. The group was actually very good, but we did not arrive at the right time since after 3 songs they took a 30 minute break. Several of the other couples we spoke to mentioned how board they were on this cruise. One man said he had already read 3 books because there was nothing else that interested him. On a positive note, I did enjoy the Theater Tour and the Kitchen Tour, but could not understand the crew member who gave the navigation talk.
We loved 2 of our 3 shore tours. Rio Secreto, a tour on the Cozumel stop, was the highlight of the trip. It was worth every penny, and budget an additional $40 to $80 (depending on your negotiation skills) for the photo CD. The lunch served was very good and they offered us free shots of anise flavored liquor. This tour saved the cruise for us, and immediately changed our attitude about cruises. Our second stop was Honduras where we opted for Gumbalimba Park (bring $3 for a locker rental) and Tabyana Beach. Both were fun, and we got great photos with the monkeys and parrots, and enjoyed swimming in the warm Caribbean water. The lunch that was included was excellent, and there was ample security at the beach. If we return to Honduras, we will either do a beach day or snorkeling.
Our last stop was Belize and unfortunately, we selected the wrong tour for us. We took the Altun Ha Maya Site and a River boat tour. It was a long hot day, and our guide, Marcela, did not have the energy or sense of humor of our previous guides; however, she was knowledgeable and passionate about her country. I tired quickly of her bringing in “helper” guides who wanted to be tipped but did not add anything to the tour. In all, I think there 10 people who we were asked to tip. The most glaring example of unnecessary guides, was Raquel, who repeated word for word a script Marcela had given earlier. To make matters worse, the lunch served was the worst meal we had on the entire trip; however, I did appreciate the bottled water and bottled soft drink that was included. If we return to Belize we will do the zip line and cave tubing.
I was very pleased with our Baja deck 11 balcony cabin, and our steward, Richard, was very attentive. There was a constant "vibration" in the bathroom and throughout the cabin, but we got used to it. In addition, the ship did sway and list more than we thought it would. The TV in the room had 3 movies channels, a couple ESPN stations, and re-runs of the Love Boat. Our remote was hit and miss, and the reception on the TV was not consistent, but I did not take a cruise to watch hours of TV in my cabin. There was someone smoking nearby since when we would open up the balcony door, the smell would fill the room. Richard, the steward had stopped by for some reason and asked if we were smoking in the room. I invited him in and said it was a daily occurrence, but that I could not determine where the smell was coming from. He went out on the balcony, but also could not see where the smoke was coming from. He said he would report it and they would look into it further since smoking is not permitted on the balcony or in the cabin.
On disembarkment day, we were delayed into the Port of Houston due to high winds—no fault of Princess or the crew. We had been told that our cruise was the first is several weeks that left the port on time, so it was not a huge surprise to be arriving back late. This meant that our 8:05 AM disembarkment group was moved to after 3:00 PM. Once the ship docked in port at 12:30 PM, we were asked to leave our stateroom which meant all of the public areas were very, very crowded. Thankfully for us, we were driving home, and not flying, as many of our new friends missed connections. If you booked your airfare through Princess, they paid for and arranged all ticket changes. If you booked airfare on your own, then you were out of luck, and Princess seemed very unsympathetic. Many complained that they were forced to buy internet minutes or incur large phone bills to try and rebook while still aboard the ship. Others lamented that the airline ticket change fee might be as much as they paid for the cruise. Lesson to the wise— book your airfare through the cruise line, buy trip insurance or refundable/changeable tickets, and/or add a day or two onto the trip to ensure a stress free flight home.
Although we found the ship itself very boring and lacking in quality activities, we thought our cabin steward, dinning room staff and food were outstanding, and we enjoyed meeting new people, and the land excursions so much that we are already planning our next cruise—most likely on another cruise line. Read Less