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4 Princess Island Princess First-Time Cruisers Cruise Reviews

The ports of call on this cruise were great. Our experience on the ship was just ok. This was the first cruise for my husband and me, so perhaps our expectations were too high, but we both thought some things could have been so much ... Read More
The ports of call on this cruise were great. Our experience on the ship was just ok. This was the first cruise for my husband and me, so perhaps our expectations were too high, but we both thought some things could have been so much better. To begin with, whenever we passed a crew member on the ship, they completely ignored us, giving us not so much as a nod or greeting of any kind. Only the greeters at the buffet and our cabin steward were cheerful. The captain was not personable at all and bordered on rude. On the one formal evening where he was supposed to "meet and greet" the passengers, he hid near an elevator speaking only to his officers and studiously kept his back to all passengers. When one lady asked if she could have her picture taken with him, he rolled his eyes, stood there while his picture was taken, and then turned his back again to his guests. His welcome speech literally consisted of "Welcome to the Island Princess. I hope you have a nice voyage." and then he left the room. Needless to say, we did not feel very welcome. The Passenger Services desk was staffed only occasionally, and not at all when most passengers were on shore excursions, so if you had a question, you had to wait until it was open and then stand in a long line to get help. Sometimes you got a cheerful answer, sometimes not. We reported a problem of no hot water in our stateroom bathroom; they said it would be addressed, but it was not. Only once was I able to get a helpful answer from someone on the Shore Excursions desk (also only open a couple of hours a day, usually during dinnertime). We had booked a Princess excursion to Cinque Terre, but they cancelled it more than 24 hours in advance due to "high seas." The day it was supposed to take place dawned with calm waters, but the excursion remained cancelled. We tried to book a Princess excursion in Venice, but 5 out of about 8 were cancelled (including the one we wanted), so we went ashore on our own. (Most of our excursions were booked through another shore excursions company for the same tours at about half the price. They were very good, but required walking a little further to reach the van or bus.) The night before disembarkation, we had to have our luggage outside our door by 9pm. That early requirement made our last night on the ship very inconvenient, not having access to everything we would normally need for the night. A time requirement of 11pm or midnight would have been so much better and still given the staff an entire night to collect and sort luggage for our pickup at the port. We chose Anytime Dining. The food was reasonably good (although I would not recommend any of the beef dishes -- too tough), and often the food in the buffet was better, or at least as good as, the food in the dining room. The wait staff was excellent, meals were delivered correctly and hot, and only occasionally slow. We often were seated with other passengers and enjoyed talking with them over dinner. We would go on another cruise if it was the best way to get from port to port, as this cruise was. We would not, however, choose to cruise again if we just planned to stay on the ship. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
Princess changed our port days and times, which in Istanbul, turkey on their highest holy day of the year. Naturally, this found business closed and limited available shore excursions. No explanations given to passengers on why this was ... Read More
Princess changed our port days and times, which in Istanbul, turkey on their highest holy day of the year. Naturally, this found business closed and limited available shore excursions. No explanations given to passengers on why this was done. We felt the shore excursion office was awful! Rude staff, misdirections given . In turkey on our shore excursion booked thru princess, I was one of several guest with mobility issues who were left behind on the pier! First time I have ever been discriminated for being handicapped! I told Olga (the assit manager over shore excursions) that I didn't travel half way around the world to be left on the pier. When booked we were to have dinner for two in a speciality resturant. No coupon waiting in our cabin. We went to customer service and Lawrence (assit manager) had no record of it. He made a copy of our booking that stated we were entitled to this. Several days later we received an invitation to eat there. Made our reservation . Got to the Itilian speciality place and we were told we only had been granted dinner for ONE! After showing our unhappiness, we were told we could BOTH eat there that night. This will be our last Princess cruise! Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
This was a 17-day repositioning cruise from Ft. Lauderdale to Venice. It was also the last cruise before six weeks of extensive refitting, which explains some of the problems. This cruise attracted primarily Americans. There were ... Read More
This was a 17-day repositioning cruise from Ft. Lauderdale to Venice. It was also the last cruise before six weeks of extensive refitting, which explains some of the problems. This cruise attracted primarily Americans. There were some Canadians, a few Brits, and a sprinkling of other nationalities, but we did miss the international contingent we found in cruises to South America and Australia/New Zealand. I suspect this will be true of most such repositioning cruises. We do our own shore excursions or join ones organized by Cruise Critic members. In Madeira we did a van tour with 6 other Cruise Critic members. In Barcelona, a Fat Tires bicycle tour (recommended). In Rome we took the bus to Tarquinia to visit the Etruscan necropolis and wander around. It’s a lovely town and connections by bus/train are easy. Just get to the train station (by foot or bus from the cruise terminal). If you’ve not been to Rome you’ll probably want to go there, but if you have been there Tarquinia is a fine option. In Naples, we were going to catch the ferry to Ischia but the weather was inclement so we settled for walking around the city. As several previous reviews noted, there was an annoying sewage odor at times. For us, it lasted for the first half of the cruise. Not overpowering — but also not pleasant. I presume that will be fixed in dry dock. Unfortunately, the renovation will add about 100 cabins, eliminate a major lounge, and cut off the back part of the promenade deck. Princess is apparently doing this because Venice is restricting larger cruise ships and the Island Princess is just under the limits. The added cabins will make the ship less pleasant, I think. The ship’s itinerary could have been better. It was a repositioning cruise. However, we got to Madeira and Barcelona at about noon, making for abbreviated visits in those lovely ports. Surely the ship could have steamed slightly faster to give more time in port. Our first trip as elite members (in possession of the much-desired benefit of free laundry) didn’t turn out so well. The ship lost a lot of our laundry. Never showed up. Apparently we’ll be reimbursed. Then there is the matter of sniffles. I think cruise ships are like kindergarten — remember when your kids began to go to school and were sick for a semester, passing the various minor infections on to you? Cruise ships seem to be the same. A large percentage of the passengers were sniffling and sneezing, myself included. Norovirus is relatively rare on ships, even if it does get a lot of publicity which it shows up. Colds are much more common, and can last a week or so. On both this and our previous cruise, we could hear the neighbor hacking away through the wall. There isn’t much cruise lines can do about this — but my advice is to pack every cold remedy you find helpful. You may need it. And the on-board store charged $3.49 for a SINGLE antihistamine tablet! Be prepared. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
We were very excited to do this as well as all the excursions. Paid mucho dinero $$$ for the expeditions that were average and now, in hindsight very overpriced! I feel ripped off by Princess. Did the 12 day cruise-tour. First night at ... Read More
We were very excited to do this as well as all the excursions. Paid mucho dinero $$$ for the expeditions that were average and now, in hindsight very overpriced! I feel ripped off by Princess. Did the 12 day cruise-tour. First night at Hotel Captain Cook in Anchorage which was very nice, great room with views of water and town (corner room), eating at a local pub called Humpy's which now in hindsight was THE highlight of our meals in AK over all, including the cruise ship fare. Second and third nights at the McKinley Princess Lodge was just an average, boring place, including the restaurants. The uninspiring decor could have been anywhere. I did not feel as if I was in Alaska. Boring, plain rooms. In fact, I can't even recall a single detail about them. Mt McKinley showed it's face for about 20 minutes. Rain, Rain, Rain. Our first very overpriced excursion was the horseback riding trip with very, very nice wranglers and horses that were kept in really awful quickly built cover, not worthy to be called a stable. Nice new trails, but I longed for a bit of cantering and galloping as I am an experienced rider. This is ALASKA! Where are all the animals????? Saw nothing other than the horses. Next days overpriced excursion was the Devil's Canyon Jet Boat trip. Rainy, but enjoyable, very nice staff, but saw 2 bald eagles and quickly, 2 young moose running away from the rivers edge. 130 miles and WHERE ARE ALL THE ANIMALS? Ate at the 20320 restaurant twice and the staff were clearly overwhelmed and clueless asking us twice on 2 different dining occasions if we wanted anything else before the check when we hadn't even received our meals yet. Went into Talkeetna and ate at a very nice Cafe (something Brewing Company) which was delicious!!! (better than Princess food) Next two days at Denali Princess again: rain, rain, rain... and overpriced food, especially at the King Salmon restaurant with a King Salmon entree for $46-$48 which was just so-so. Ongoing disappointment, thus far with Princess and their price gouging. The Lodge was much better than McKinley in terms of ambiance and projecting that you are actually in Alaska, the river views below were lovely, but I longed to get on the ship for my very first cruise! Our "included" Denali History Tour advertised for a 6+ hr tour was just about 4 hrs and was on a cold school bus. The guide was informative, friendly & funny. Again: WHERE ARE ALL THE ANIMALS? FINALLY...ONWARD TO THE SHIP! I was excited and the 9 hr train tour to Whittier was very nice and went by quickly thanks to a nice older couple from Florida and the very knowledgeable guide on board. Our first night on board was nice and the anytime dining option chosen was fine. We were eager to sit with others at a shared table as we are friendly. Our room steward Bonifacio was very attentive and helpful from the start. No problems with him at all, exceeded my expectations here @ Princess. The Horizon food court was average to below average and we tried not to eat here much unless hurried or if only for breakfast. Food was fine for breakfast, but "eehh" for other meals, in my opinion. Fruit and desserts were always good however here. Not crazy about the main courses. As far as the Bordeax anytime dining room, the staff were good and the food was anywhere from just okay to good. Never anything great or fantastic. The room itself is quite large and well appointed. Spa services: $19 for a nail polish change!!!!! I did it as my nails were a mess after the land excursions. At home in NYC metro area, one of the priciest places in the USA, same service for $6. I pre-booked a Swedish massage for the second to last day and was happy to change it for a lower priced "special" advertised the night before. Still, I can get a better price at home. As far as all of our land excursions off the ship in Scagway, Juneau and Ketchikan, again, while they were nice and the staff were excellent and friendly, Princess prices again were overly inflated for what we actually got. Just way too over the top price wise for the actual product. Suggestion: look into booking privately to save big bucks. As we are first time cruisers, we just took the whole Princess package as we didn't know better. We spent ~ $1200 on all of our excursions above and beyond our cruise costs. I do not feel that any of them were worth that kind of money NOW IN HINDSIGHT! Another issue: the Spa staff are heavily attempting to sell, sell, sell you overpriced products you don't need or can get at a fraction of the cost elsewhere. My spouse coined the phrase "Prince-sell" cruises. The FINAL insult was the 14 hr layover in the Vancouver, BC airport to fly back to NYC on the red-eye at 11:00pm. Thankfully, Cathay Pacific was wonderful and short and sweet. Our flight on Delta to Seattle before transferring to Alaska Airlines has sworn me off Delta for life. Overall, in hindsight, I would not do the land part before the cruise as there was little of value for me. In conclusion, I feel taken advantage of by Princess with price gouging of the optional excursions and Spa services. As a now "experienced cruiser", I would pack less, (people were very informal), I would make my own land tours with a independent company ashore and probably NOT use Princess again IF we cruise again. I can't stand all the waiting around and time wasted. We travel all over, but without formal tours; I do all the planning and work and our best travel has been this way. If you are considering a trip to Alaska, there are far more superior National Parks in the USA. Yellowstone is AMAZING as are the Grand Tetons. Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Arches, Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks are all far superior to Alaska, IMO. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012

Top Island Princess Itineraries

Island Princess Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.2
Dining 4.0 4.0
Entertainment 3.0 3.9
Public Rooms 4.0 4.2
Fitness Recreation 5.0 3.7
Family 4.0 3.7
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.9
Enrichment 3.0 3.8
Service 4.0 4.4
Value For Money 4.0 3.9
Rates 4.0 4.1

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