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112 Los Angeles to British Columbia Cruise Reviews

We had such a good time on the Grand. Went from Los Angeles to Vancouver on a reposition itinerary. Read many reviews saying the Grand wasn't so grand, however we thought it was just great. We always look for the best in a cruise. ... Read More
We had such a good time on the Grand. Went from Los Angeles to Vancouver on a reposition itinerary. Read many reviews saying the Grand wasn't so grand, however we thought it was just great. We always look for the best in a cruise. The ship was nice, we met some super fine people, had too much delicious food, and some superb entertainment. Service was first-rate in the dining room, in our cabin, and all over the ship. The Grand, for being 16 years old looks pretty admirable. That means in people years (assuming a ship lasts 20 years) the Grand is about say 80 years old. Wow, I hope I look that good when I'm 80. Embarkation and disembarking was better that any of the 15 cruises we have taken. Got there at about 11:00 and we were all by ourselves checking in. We waited about 1/2 hour and were on the ship. Got off the ship at about 10:00 and again were by ourselves. Princess does a great job in making sure you have a grand time if it is a grand time that you are looking for on the Grand.   Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
This was my third and final cruise aboard Century which has been sold and will end its run with Celebrity next year. Century is my favorite ship. I had not cruised for 12 years when I first boarded Century with DH, DD, and DS in 2006. We ... Read More
This was my third and final cruise aboard Century which has been sold and will end its run with Celebrity next year. Century is my favorite ship. I had not cruised for 12 years when I first boarded Century with DH, DD, and DS in 2006. We had gone on two Baja California cruises when DS and DD were young, but did not sail while they were growing up. Finally, in 2006, when they were in high school, we sailed again- this time on the “beautiful Century” (as the crew calls her). Century re-introduced us to cruising again, for which I am grateful. (Can you tell this good-bye cruise was seeped in sediment?). We sailed with her to the Caribbean, to Hawaii, and now to Canada. I was on Century last February when it was announced during our Cruise Critic get-together by the cruise director that Century would undergo a major overhaul. This led to several cruises to Hawaii and the Panama Canal to be canceled. Then, Celebrity changed course and decided to do only a minor facelift in order to sell the ship. Many people whose cruises were canceled were livid. Don’t blame them. After all of that drama, Century ended up having very little done to her. Perhaps new carpets, and a few other cosmetic additions, but little else. In fact, some things had been removed (perhaps in anticipation of the sale). In the Islands Cafe, an object d’ art had been removed, however, the placard stating the artist and title of the piece was still displayed and the metal brackets which had held it up were still there. A tile was missing from an otherwise attractive tile art display in Islands as well. It had obviously fallen off and was just left like that. At our Cruise Critic get-together, many people expressed their disappointment that Century had been sold. One lady called her a “jewel” and stated at length how upset she was with Century’s retirement to Europe. In fact, cruise director, John Grantham, had to finally cut her off and segue onto another topic. As he said, “They don’t fly 707s anymore”. Unfortunately, the reality is that Century, in cruise terms, is old. She just can’t compete with the mega-ships of today. This was an eight night trip from L.A. to Vancouver- Century’s new summer home while going on a series of Alaska runs. We had requested a table for two (DD and DS did not join us). We had been told “Of course” when booking the cruise, however, upon arriving prior to dinner to check out the table, we found ourselves assigned to a table for eight. We spoke with the gentleman in charge of solving all of the dining problems (good luck to him!) and we offered to switch to late seating (for the first time ever). He was able to get us a nice table for two. We enjoyed our dinners- nothing outstanding, but nothing terrible either. As always, more vegetarian choices would be appreciated. Islands Cafe always had something to offer, as well as the burger and sandwich stations near the pool. The Aqua Spa Cafe offered healthy choices. Our inside cabin was kept clean and neat by Dee. We didn’t see any of the shows- two of them sounded like the same ones we had seen in 2007 onboard Mercury and last year onboard Century. There was a guitarist/singer who performed in the Cova Cafe and Rendez-Vous, other performers were also featured in the Rendez-Vous. The ship’s band performed at the Captain’s Club party. A band played as we sailed out of Victoria (they seemed to be practicing for the next cruise), otherwise there was no music by the pool. Also missing was the string quartet or trio. The ports were great. One disclaimer, however. Be advised that some ports require the use of tendering boats. On this trip, as well as last year in Hawaii, I saw people struggle to get out of wheelchairs to be helped onto the tendering boats, with the boats rocking back and forth in the choppy water. Scary sight. Please consider your agility before booking a cruise which involves tendering. Even those of us who are nimble are forced to almost jump into the boat at times when boat really gets to rocking. Not something I would want to be doing when I am 70- 'nuff said. Catalina Island proved to be a nice port with different activities to choose from. We stopped at the Sandtrap for Happy Hour. Can’t say enough good things about it! Great drinks, $1 tacos, other food items as well. Wished I lived nearby, I would go every week! San Fran was an overnighter and a great experience. DH and I went to an Oakland game. They won 11-0, great game! Victoria is a nice place to visit, but as with some cities, bathrooms are limited. Even customers making purchases in some establishments aren’t allowed to use the restroom (such as Craigdarroch Castle- although there are restrooms for the castle tour guests, however. Gift shop customers are told to go to a nearby gas station- you get the idea). The Empress is an option for more than just a restroom break- don’t miss the afternoon tea! The gardens are a must-do. Seattle has many options, including three observation decks: the Space Needle, Smith Tower, and Columbia Center (don’t miss the world’s tallest Starbucks on the 40th floor). Seattle is also home to the original Starbucks located at the famous market at Pike Place. The Underground tour is a must-do. We went on a tour of the ballpark and loved it (if you are a baseball fan, go). EMP is great for music fans. We disembarked in Vancouver and walked around before taking the subway to the airport- a quick and easy half hour ride. We will miss Century, but it is time to choose a new favorite ship. She can remain our sentimental favorite. In sum: Pros: Food- lots of choices. Liked the ice cream and pizza in the Islands Cafe. (We liked the pizza so much we wanted to enjoy one last slice in the Hemisphere during the 80s party on the last night, but were refused admittance, being told “No, no, no”. Would have liked to have gone to the party, but thanks to the Hemisphere’s bouncer, we got an early start on packing instead. Funny, we had just been told at dinner to think of Celebrity as our “Home away from home”. I guess that’s true if you have a mother we doesn’t let you eat pizza in the living room because you might make a mess). Aqua Spa- love the Turkish bath and aromatherapy steam room. Aqua Spa Cafe- healthy eating. Workout room- great views from the front of the ship. Hemisphere Room- great views for the Alaska passengers who don’t want to get cold while enjoying the sights. (Just don’t bring in any food or drinks). Cons: Theater: Could use more variety in the production shows. They are repeated year after year it seems. Aqua Spa Cafe: No longer serves salmon or chicken as they did last year. Very limited menu. Michael’s Club: The club is now a “private” club. Last year we enjoyed listening to a musical performance there, not so this year. Class system, anyone? If you have yet to sail on Century, don’t be afraid to do so- she is a classic. If you don’t mind the lack of bells and whistles which accompany the modern mega-ships, you can look forward to an enjoyable cruise on a ship which will be missed by her many fans. Just hurry and book before it’s too late! Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
THE SHIP:  My wife and I and 2 friends of ours cruised on the Pearl from Los Angeles to Vancouver, BC....stopping in San Francisco and Victoria, BC along the way. We got on the ship about 1.5 hours before it sailed, so we were literally ... Read More
THE SHIP:  My wife and I and 2 friends of ours cruised on the Pearl from Los Angeles to Vancouver, BC....stopping in San Francisco and Victoria, BC along the way. We got on the ship about 1.5 hours before it sailed, so we were literally the only people in line. So obviously, that all went fast. When we got on, we immediately noticed this ship was SO much nicer than any of the Carnival ships we had been on in the past. I have cruised Celebrity and Carnival, but my wife had only been on Carnival. She was extremely happy about the obvious difference. The ship itself was EXTREMELY clean and we did not meet a rude employee the entire cruise. The layout of the decks were great. We did not need a ship map and never got lost. All of the elevators had informative deck plan placards, and there were occasional placards posted on the walls throughout the ship. The pool area had 4 hot tubs and 2 pools. 1 pool was for kids and 1 was for adults. They were both labeled and enforced. Each pool had 2 hot tubs connected to them. The pools were small, but no smaller than other ships. Who really swims in cruise ship pools anyway? CABIN: Our cabin (9132) was a balcony room which had plenty of space, a couch and a good sized balcony. The only complaint about the room was the limited drawer space. A nice surprise was a pay mini bar in the room and the selections were the same prices as up on deck. Our Room Steward (Cristian) was attentive and friendly. SPA: The spa had everything you need; hot tubs, sauna, steam bath, heated loungers, relaxation area and locker rooms. The spa employees were very nice. My wife gets cold easily, so she spent a lot of time in the warm spa. DINING: The food in all of the restaurants was amazing, except the sushi which was dry and obviously not freshly made. We ate in 3 specialty restaurants; La Cucina (Italian), Moderno Churrascaria (Brazilian Steakhouse) and Lotus Garden (Teppanyaki). All were add charge restaurants, but Lotus Garden had additional charges for certain items. I did not realize this until our bill of $80 was presented at the end. My wife saw the additional charges on the menu, but I did not....so my bad there. La Cucina was the best of the three. We ate in the regular dining rooms as well, which had as good or better food than the specialty restaurants. When we cruise NCL again, we will probably just eat in the regular dining rooms. ENTERTAINMENT: The entertainment on Pearl was focused at an older crowd. Most of the cruisers appeared to be in their 60's, 70's and 80's. We are in our mid 40's, so the music was not to our liking. However, there was a very entertaining juggler in the main auditorium (Stardust). One night we went to the Spinnaker Lounge to watch a comedian who was horrible beyond belief. Even though the crowd was older, we enjoyed their company throughout the cruise. Everyone was having such a great time that the age gap was not always noticeable. The casino was awesome! Baccarat, Blackjack, Craps and plenty of slot machines. My wife actually hit the jackpot on a quarter slot and took home $600. I enjoyed hours of $5 Craps and $5 Blackjack on just $40. SHORE EXCURSIONS: Prior to cruising, we booked Alcatraz tours directly through the Alcatraz people. We paid $35 per person instead of the higher rate through NCL Shore Excursions. This turned out great because the Alcatraz tours left from the dock right beside where Pearl docked. I would recommend this for future cruisers. As for Victoria, the four of us couldn't agree on a shore excursion so we took a cab into town ($5.50) and walked around the Legislative Building, Empress Hotel and the adjacent shopping district. The Canadian people were so nice. From the shop employees, to the food servers and bartenders. It was such a breath of fresh air to talk to nice people. Not Los Angeles people (aka: Angelenos) who are so bitter and nasty. Unfortunately, the nastiness becomes normal when you live there and nice people stand out when traveling. We stopped for a couple drinks in a little place called "The Local" and highly recommend the bar to anyone looking to relax and enjoy a few drinks with friendly bartenders. The experience was so nice that we gave a 100% tip. CLOSING: We thoroughly enjoyed this cruise! The Freestyle Cruising concept fit us well, the ship was immaculate and the employees were top notch. The tipping system was a bit of a confusion for us because you have no set waiter and such, except your Room Steward. We were unsure of what cut Cristian got of the $12 per day, so we left a little in the room for him. I almost wish NCL would go to a percentage tip for each meal as you eat, and a set amount for the Room Steward. This would be more clear for cruisers who want to make sure their Room Steward is taken care of. I have seen bad reviews of NCL, but we did not experience any problems and look forward to our next cruise with them. We have a Caribbean cruise planned on RCCL, but had so much fun on Pearl that we are thinking of switching it to NCL. Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
I will say I was a bit apprehensive over booking a Pacific Coastal Cruise on a "small" ship (my goodness my mom crossed the Atlantic in a 35K ton ship). I had read the reviews and knew that the Century was old and showing her ... Read More
I will say I was a bit apprehensive over booking a Pacific Coastal Cruise on a "small" ship (my goodness my mom crossed the Atlantic in a 35K ton ship). I had read the reviews and knew that the Century was old and showing her age, but then in ship years 20 is getting up there. Embarkation was fairly fast and easy, we are used to being a higher category on Royal Caribbean so it was a bit of a shock to be with the "masses". We headed straight for the Cova Cafe and fell in love at first sight even though we received our second shock. We had upgraded our cabin and had a drink package as a bonus. We ordered our tea and received a bill, so we headed straight to Guest Relations and they had it fixed immediately. We continued to enjoy our first ever beverage package for the rest of the voyage. Even after that initial shock Cafe Cova became our favourite spot for morning coffee and afternoon tea -- special shout out to Kristina and the morning baristas!! And the Black and White Cookies are to die for!! Our cabin (4087) was lovely, extremely clean and my goodness the storage was incredible. Our luggage arrived quite early and we actually had space leftover. Our cabin attendants were cheerful, friendly and kept everything so neat and tidy. I missed Vithal when we left the ship -- no towel animals on my bed at home. From the get go all the crew were friendly, helpful and being on the smaller ship there was more contact, never once did we meet anyone that was less than nice and friendly. We like to have Select Dining with a table for two in the main dining room. We liked the service from our waiter Joseph and requested him each night. We are easily pleased but we didn't have a bad dinner at all and I quite enjoyed the selection. Not terribly fond of the table for eight that they deem four tables of two - -but space is limited so they do what they have to do. Catalina Island was quite nice, we did have delays during the tendering process and we thought we might have missed our excursion. But somehow they caught up and we enjoyed an afternoon of kayaking. We weren't too thrilled with the lack of explanation for the excursion. We ended up walking twice the distance than we had expected - not a big deal but we would have planned better and saved our shopping for later rather than rushing ashore and shopping first. San Francisco - what can you say except we were extremely lucky to have fabulous weather. We just did our own thing and loved being over night in the harbour. Seattle - another not so great excursion experience. I won't go into great detail but the bus company seemed to have messed up, we paid the price and in the end Celebrity refunded our excursion. Interesting when we went and talked to them at the excursion desk we mentioned that we were not looking for a refund, but they gave it anyway. Very nice. Victoria - back home for us, Bit of a delay with the CBSA (border guards) and when we left the ship we had to really hike to get to our privately booked whale watching ship. Even though we know Victoria fairly well we misjudged the distance and the time to walk to the Inner Harbour. We finally went into a local hotel to ask for a taxi to be called and the conceirge offered to drive us to the Inner Harbour - what a true gentleman. We just enjoyed the slow pace and lack of belly flop contests on the deck of the Century, the blankets laid out when the weather turned chilly. I would truly love to book a week to Alaska this summer to enjoy her one last time, but time and money just doesn't allow for that indulgence. It was a great break and our bonus was only having to fly one way. It wasn't perfect, there were bumps in the road, worn couches in the lounges and a few other glitches but over all we really enjoyed. Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
As a solo traveler, I got a really good deal, which is rare obviously. I just wanted to get away and try and build up my next tier for cruising on Princess. Additionally, I wanted to check out the ship and try and relax and have a good ... Read More
As a solo traveler, I got a really good deal, which is rare obviously. I just wanted to get away and try and build up my next tier for cruising on Princess. Additionally, I wanted to check out the ship and try and relax and have a good time, which I did. As a previous passenger on the Pacific Princess last month, I really enjoyed the Island Princess even more. It was on a bigger in scale scale, the service was slightly better, the crowd was a little bit younger, the food was better and the entertainment was absolutely outstanding. The cabins are laid out much differently than the Pacific Princess. They are smaller in square footage but I like the layout better. For example, there is ample closet space and a bathroom is more private and secluded then on the Pacific Princess since you have the closet as a divider! Additionally, the balconies have a glass transparent structure that allow you to look at the ocean with less obstruction. One thing I do not like about most Princess ships is that they have balconies that protrude under other balconies. On this particular ship, the forward section of balconies are at level from top to bottom decks on the ship. This means you're not looking down on someone or turning your head and looking up at a sea of balconies looking at you. For the most part, their larger ships really missed the mark on "private balconies" in my opinion! If you want more private on this type of ship, select one in the forward section. The ship, three years newer than the Pacific Princess felt much newer and did not show her age. The public areas were completely shiny and new, the carpeting was in great condition and so was all the furniture throughout the ship. The entertainment on board was outstanding. The show, "On the Bayou," was wonderful and is only shown on the island and its sister, the Coral as they built a stage made just for this show that rotates, has hydraulic lifts and spins. The "Piano Man," at the princess theater, was also superb and featured songs of Billy Joel, Elton John and Barry Manilow. One thing Princess is extremely behind on is there anal-retentive nature about dressing formally on a formal evening. They seem to forget people are on vacation and although some people want to dress in formal attire, many do not. It should be "formal optional" and Princess really falls behind the mark in this domain. The only drawbacks are the formal evenings and the disembarkation was not the greatest. I did a "self-help" disembarkation, meaning I did not purchase a princess transfer. When I went to the "platinum lounge," the Captain's Cruise Circle hostess (Julie) told me to "be gone." That really put a damper on the last memory I had getting off. Being that I enjoy the rest of the crew so much I did not allow her rudeness to interfere with the good time I had but I did leave immediately when she pointed me out to the gateway. Another drawback, their afternoon tea is extraordinarily rushed and you could tell the servers do not want to do this additional task. They are downright rude and passing around sandwiches and tea as quickly as possible. Although they wear white gloves, it is certainly far from white glove service. Princess needs to rethink this and make it a little bit more as they advertise it. Lastly, I really appreciate that Princess allows people to have gluten-free bread and rice milk or soy milk for those of us who prefer an alternative to dairy or gluten. Great product, I recommend anybody to go on this beautiful ship.   Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
Hotel: Doubletree San Pedro - the hotel is nice, and beautifully located right on the marina, but the first room they gave me was so noisy that I and to request a change. They have two or three rooms whose front doors give onto a balcony ... Read More
Hotel: Doubletree San Pedro - the hotel is nice, and beautifully located right on the marina, but the first room they gave me was so noisy that I and to request a change. They have two or three rooms whose front doors give onto a balcony right above the reception desk. You hear everything - music, luggage, front desk clerks, telephones - I mean everything. Of course, the room the replaced it with was at the very far end of the hotel - A very long walk for a partially disabled guy like me! But at least the 2nd room was quiet! Dinner the night before the cruise at 22nd St. Landing. Delicious grilled sea bass - not cheap, but worth every penny. Embarkation was delayed, so there were hundreds and hundreds of people waiting in the terminal, but at last we got on and made our way up to the Horizon court buffet. I was pleasantly surprised by the food. It's been my experience that the first lunch buffet on Princess is mediocre at the very best, but this time the food was good. Our stateroom was ready, and it was a standard Princess balcony stateroom. Bed was very comfortable, everything was clean and the bathroom looked a bit updated, but of course the shower was tiny as always. I had two stewards - one left when we were in San Francisco, but both of them were good. The ship: Yes, the Crown is a bit older, but I thought it was in very good shape. It's a bit different than the other Princess ships I've been on - the Vista lounge on other ships is 'Club Fusion' on the Crown, without the bench seating. Crown Grill is where Sabatini's is on other ships, etc.,etc. No problem, really. The one problem is that the Crown takes more passengers than the Grand/Star/Golden, but the many of the public rooms are the same size, which means they fill up quicker. The International Cafe area was always packed with people, and there were lines every night for dinner...even if you had a reservation! On the good side, unlike the Grand and Golden, the changing rooms in the spa/gym area have showers, sauna and steam rooms, so that is a definite plus. Food: Unlike some other folks on my cruise critic roll call, I thought the MDR food was quite good - didn't have a single bad dinner there, and the maitre'd at DaVinci was very helpful. Buffet food was good too - always a good variety to cater to every taste. the only disappointment for me was at Sabatini's. The special pasta when i went was spaghetti carbonara, which had way too much egg, and ended up very heavy and gloppy. And I had the veal chop, which was tough. Lastly, I got a glass of wine, which was good, but very skimpy for the price. Service: Great - absolutely no complaints - Princess appears to have made a concerted effort in the past couple of years to improve on service, and it shows. Entertainment: Fair, with one glittering exception and one piece of eye candy: The acts they had in the theater (hypnotist, impressionist) were mediocre. However, the classical quartet (Magdalena Quartet) was probably the best classical ensemble I've seen on a cruise. They ladies were good, and that was evidenced by the people (like me), that made it a point to attend their performances, rather than just listening for a few minutes while passing by. The eye candy was provided by a very muscled - and shirtless- young man performing acrobatics in the piazza. Ports: Well, you can't go wrong with Santa Barbara and San Francisco, especially when the sun is shining. I actually didn't get off the ship until Victoria, as I live in the SF bay area and have been to Santa Barbara many times. Disembarkation was very quick and easy. Overall, I had a nice, relaxing time, and the ship and crew made it a good vacation.   Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
No norovirus. No code red. We flew into LAX Saturday morning and took Super Shuttle to the Port of Los Angeles in San Pedro to board the Crown Princess. Arrived in San Pedro about 10:30 am and entered the terminal. We waited another 45 ... Read More
No norovirus. No code red. We flew into LAX Saturday morning and took Super Shuttle to the Port of Los Angeles in San Pedro to board the Crown Princess. Arrived in San Pedro about 10:30 am and entered the terminal. We waited another 45 minutes before we checked in. At 1:10 pm we boarded the ship, dropped off our carry-ons, and made it to the dining room for lunch before the 1:30 pm closing time. Lunch menu was the same embarkation lunch we had in March 2014. Tip: Have all your paperwork ready and in hand for entering the terminal and for checkin. This cruise had very few minors. 2/3 of the passengers had sailed previously with Princess and were senior citizens. The staff was always available to help those in wheelchairs and scooters. The food was OK. A large variety, but nothing really stood out as exceptional. DH liked going to the buffet on this trip instead of the MDR. The pizza on the Lido deck was crisp and tasty. The SkyWalker Lounge had good hor d'ourves for the Platinum, Elite, and Suite cocktail hours from 5-7 pm every night. Drinks were $5. Art auction was LONG and drawn out. It never started on time. Champagne was given out for free at each auction. I won a piece of art at the auction. It would have cost me $269 for framing and shipping. I opted to have it shipped in a cardboard tube for $35. The artwork itself wasn't worth that much in my opinion. Disembarkation was FAST since I was in the first walkoff group meeting at the Wheelhouse Bar at 6:40 am. I was off the ship before 7:00 am.   Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
Our family flew from Eastern Canada to Los Angeles, where we spent a few days before boarding the Sapphire Princess. In L.A. we stayed at the Marriott Residence Inn at the edge of Beverly Hills; this was a great choice, as it was ... Read More
Our family flew from Eastern Canada to Los Angeles, where we spent a few days before boarding the Sapphire Princess. In L.A. we stayed at the Marriott Residence Inn at the edge of Beverly Hills; this was a great choice, as it was convenient to our sightseeing and fully equipped for relaxing without getting in each other's hair every evening. After a very busy day we were all happy to get stuff from the local grocery and veg out in our suite over a bottle of wine and dinner, rather than trek out again in search of a restaurant. We were also able to do all the accumulated laundry in the hotel's laundry room before starting on our cruise trip. Boarding day couldn't have gone more smoothly; really, it was the most easy and stress-free experience we've had yet; we literally just walked in from the pier, got our cruise cards, and boarded the ship in about ten minutes. The ship is nice but there were things we didn't love; having big-screen concerts and movies blaring over the outdoor pool at all hours of the day was a bit of a drag; on Mother's Day, we were told early in the morning that we couldn't tender in to the first port of call, Santa Barbara, because of fog, but it turned out to be a gloriously sunny day and we decided to lounge in the sun, only to discover they were playing a movie from the 1980s followed by a Barry Manilow concert. Really? I don't think so. There aren't enough Drinks of the Day to get me through that. The Captain announced that the upside to missing the port was that we'd get to San Francisco that much earlier, but in the end we docked in S.F. exactly ONE HOUR earlier than scheduled. San Francisco was glorious, and we made the most of our day there. Our next port was Astoria, Oregon, which is apparently famous for being the setting of another 1980s movie, The Goonies. We never saw it. There is NOTHING TO DO IN ASTORIA, although the people are very nice. I cannot imagine why it's a cruise port, aside from the fact that the cruise has to go somewhere, and Astoria has a port. Seattle was fantastic, and once again we did everything we could cram in during our day there; we also loved our day in Victoria. In all these ports, we made our own plans. We had discovered in the past that the cruise excursions cost up to three times more than we pay by registering directly online, and this was confirmed when we saw that, for example, a walking tour of Underground Seattle that we bought online in advance for $16 each was a whopping $59 Princess excursion choice. I suppose they bused the people there from the pier, but really, it was easily walking-distance, and we were able to enjoy fabulous oyster poor boys and beer at Pike's Place Market with the money we saved on the difference in price. (And, by the way, the walking tour isn't worth $59, though it is well worth $16.) We like traditional late-sitting dining, as we enjoy getting to know our waiters and sitting at the same table each evening. This trip, the food was a bit disappointing. About ten years ago we experienced the "Parade of Baked Alaska" dessert on a Pacific cruise, and it was elegant and fun; they lowered the lights, and the waiters actually carried huge flaming Baked Alaskas through the dining room. This has now degenerated into a ho-hum masquerade in which bored lead waiters are already passing out slices of Baked Alaska for dessert long before the "Parade" begins, and the "Parade" consists of the assistant waiters, after a long delay, shuffling around holding fake plasti-form models of Baked Alaska with electric bulbs on top, only half of them lit. ZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzz. (That being said, the woman at the next table who was whooping and screaming and cheering either thought it was the most exciting thing she'd ever seen or was plastered. She was more entertaining than any of the "entertainment" on the ship.) Time for the "Parade" to go away. The laundry room on the ship is very nice, and as always we did laundry a couple of times. It makes perfect sense to save on the baggage weight and use this convenience -- one on every stateroom floor -- and it enables us to fly home with a suitcase full of clean clothes instead of a jumble of dirty laundry. The housekeeping staff are pleasant and honest and very friendly, and work like dogs. Ditto the wait staff in the dining room. The buffet staff seemed a bit more indifferent; many times as we searched for a table for breakfast or lunch we'd encounter someone sullenly guarding an empty area who would bark "Closed. Other side." Not great. At time for Disembarkation everything went quite smoothly again, and although there were people complaining about the long taxi line at Port of Vancouver, the process was pretty painless. There was an older crowd on board this cruise, along with a few families with children; we'd have been happy to have seen a little more life on board. Is it the awful entertainment that keeps people away, or is awful entertainment the only thing this sort of crowd likes? Either way, I am not sure I'll do another Princess Cruise. It was a little like being at a huge family reunion with distant relatives that you had forgotten you don't like very much. We took an extra two days in Vancouver before flying home, staying at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver, which is a lovely hotel, and seeing the city. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
The ship itself has a difficult lay-out. No gorgeous artwork like other lines.Cabin is tiny (with no sofa). Food completely mediocre. The Buffet had very little food displayed.Soups were lackluster at best. Great beef in the Steakhouse ... Read More
The ship itself has a difficult lay-out. No gorgeous artwork like other lines.Cabin is tiny (with no sofa). Food completely mediocre. The Buffet had very little food displayed.Soups were lackluster at best. Great beef in the Steakhouse (but why should you have to go to a specialty restaurant every nightto get a descent meal)?I'm disappointed that they've cut the Production Shows to 35 mins. (Princess Production shows had always been my favorite). One terrible comedian.Worst Cabin Steward I've ever had (in 49 cruises)! Asked 3 times at leastbefore we got what we needed for our cabin. Unbelievable ....don't even seemworried about gratuities.I hadn't been on Princess in six years. I've been on Holland America andCelebrity. Celebrity being the favorite (just a little better overall).I'm going back to them for my next cruise!SusieStone Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
We chose NCL for our first cruise September 2012 because of the "Free Style" spirit and the ports of call. We don't want to have a set time for meals, don't want to dress up and don't want to be paired up with ... Read More
We chose NCL for our first cruise September 2012 because of the "Free Style" spirit and the ports of call. We don't want to have a set time for meals, don't want to dress up and don't want to be paired up with people we don't enjoy. Our first trip was on NCL Dawn and we LOVED every minute of it, even in the smallest, inside cabin in rough seas. The staff was absolutely wonderful. No complaints, couldn't have asked for more. Our second trip with NCL was aboard the Jewel. This time we went with an aft-facing suite because of the added space, the view, and the little "extras" advertised as perks -- concierge to get seats at the shows we wanted to attend, etc., and a butler! "What would I do with a butler?" I thought. Turns out, the butler was fabulous! He personally delivered room service each morning (we are early risers) with a great smile and lots of hot coffee. Anything we might want, he was there to provide. Superb service. The concierge, it turns out, was useless. His entire focus was on those in the larger suites (too little of him to go around, perhaps, or he assumed we were not excellent tippers?). The few times we asked for help with seating, he said he would check and get back to us, which he never did. On one specific occasion, he asked us to meet him in the theater so he could seat us in the VIP section. We waited, and waited and waited until 5 mins after the show started and then found seats for ourselves, not together and not reserved. I've never felt "less than first class" in my life. Thanks for rubbing that in. We would have been happier in the inside cabin with the friendly staff. Oh, and the butler got a very substantial tip at the end of the cruise (equivalent to two days' passage). The "entertainment" in the theater was awful: Band on the Run. They should be on the run and not aboard a cruise ship. It felt like a high school musical forced to use the second or third string players. Horrible. The staff throughout the ship was just not as crisp, as friendly, as happy, as those on the Dawn. They appeared tired, overworked, unappreciated. We are booked on an upcoming cruise on the Pearl and another on the Star. If we can't get that loving feeling back (as we received on the Dawn), we'll be looking elsewhere.   Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
I have cruised many times and this cruise tied for last place. I traveled with my adult daughter on this 7 night repositioning cruise from Los Angeles to Vancouver with stops in San Francisco, Astoria, Victoria, Nainamo, and Vancouver on ... Read More
I have cruised many times and this cruise tied for last place. I traveled with my adult daughter on this 7 night repositioning cruise from Los Angeles to Vancouver with stops in San Francisco, Astoria, Victoria, Nainamo, and Vancouver on the Norwegian Jewel, rated 4.5 stars by my travel agency. We made our own travel arrangements and they were fine. The ship, in my opinion, was highly overrated. It had few amenities and what amenities it offered were generally an additional fee. The ship had two central, open air pools and hot tubs, all of which were generally filled with families with children. The only option was the spa facilities which cost an additional $30 per day per person and were only available if you booked a spa appointment. Our stateroom (balcony category BD on deck 10) was tiny. It had a refrigerator but was filled with expensive "mini bar" products so it was really of no use. To its credit, it had the best bathroom I have ever seen on a cruise ship with separate toilet and shower facilities with sliding glass doors. Activities were generally fee based and expensive. There were a few dance classes and deck games, but everything else was costly. We ended up spending a lot of time in our cabin watching very limited television. Service was generally poor and we found guest services staff to be particularly rude and dishonest. The ports and excursions were the highlight of the cruise though not without drawbacks. Tour guides were excellent and we enjoyed a bus tour of Cannon Beach and Seaside in Oregon and a winery excursion on Vancouver Island. Unfortunately, the Oregon tours were on school buses. Dining was a real problem. The free dining rooms had waits of 40+ minutes (no reservations accepted for parties of 2) and service was very poor. I received my food in a free dining room more than 10 minutes before my daughter's arrived and when we complained the server didn't seem to understand that the dishes should be served at the same time. Service in the fancy dining room was not much better. We avoided the buffet after being greeted by loud music and door guards with hand sanitizor spray chirping "happy happy washy washy." Entertainment was very mediocre except for one comedian who was excellent. The production cast was set to disembark in Vancouver, so perhaps that explains their performance, but the musicians were not much better. The embarkation and debarkation process were good and ahead of schedule. No criticism there. In sum, I will avoid Norwegian in the future and do more research on the ship I am selecting. I ended up with sticker shock and a sense that my week's vacation could have been spent much more happily elsewhere. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
We left Los Angeles on a cold and dreary day (highly unusual for us). We were in a Balcony Room 9618.. The room was very clean and our cabin steward was always there to make sure everything was just as we liked it. DH and I are very ... Read More
We left Los Angeles on a cold and dreary day (highly unusual for us). We were in a Balcony Room 9618.. The room was very clean and our cabin steward was always there to make sure everything was just as we liked it. DH and I are very relaxed cruisers and we just take life as it comes - never been on a cruise we did not enjoy. Sure issues come up - but heck that's life...and I don't have to cook or clean (always a plus). Towel Animals are back - we did not have them on our last few cruises (note- not on NCL) and our cabin steward always surprised us with different animals. My personal favorite was the monkey swinging from the middle of the cabin. We enjoyed the Free Style Dining - we never made reservations and always got right in except for one time, and that was our fault for going right at the main dinning time. At which time we decided to try one of the Pay for Restaurants - La Cucina.. again we did not have reservations and at first we were told there were no tables available, would we like to make a reservation for later - we declined and stated that it was no problem we would just try another restaurant - at which time the lady at the front desk said she would try and squeeze us in - and yes you guest it - we got in.. Excellent service and great Food. In addition we also tried the Teppanyaki dinner with our new friends from Roll Call. Thanks Cecilia for setting it all up. Good food and good new friends. The main dining room had great food. I don't understand why some people complain that there is never enough different dishes on the menu. Each night there were at least 5-6 different dishes on the menu plus different appetizers and desserts. What do people expect? Buffet - lot's of different dishes and in order to try them all you would have to be on at least a 30 day cruise (oh please let me try)...Again don't understand the complainers that state the Breakfast Buffet does not have everything that they want. I would love to know what is actually missing? Casino - yes folks there is smoke in the casino, it is after all a casino and if you go to Vegas there is also smoke in the casino. My DH and I are non-smokers but do like to play the slots so we just move away from the machines that have the heavy smokers on them - we really did not find it that bad. Thanks to Lori, our group of Cruise Critic Members had a Slot Pull - I think maybe 50 people (guessing here) showed up and we had a great time - did not win the main prize but had a blast. Again thanks Lori for setting it up. Oh and I also played the slots the following night - $10 bucks into playing I won $231 and walked away... Yeah for me.... Meeting people on a cruise is always fun but it was even more fun because we got to have a Meet and Greet with about 100 people - already we had a head start with meeting folks and when walking around the ship got to see these nice folks and talk to them. Cecilia did an excellent job in setting this meeting up and fun was had by all. Of course having the top brass coming by to meet us was the highlight of the meeting and the Captain offering us a private Bridge Tour... Awesome. The ship was very clean and folks were always cleaning away to make sure it stayed that way. (wish I could have brought some of them home to take care of our home). Our favorite place to hang out before dinner and also after dinner was the Martini Bar.. The Bartender Romeo was terrific and so were all the other folks at the bar. We met up with a couple of Cruise Critic folks - thanks Deb and Tammy for making this some of our best times. A small observation - folks complain about the pricing of bar drinks but I really found that the price is about the same as nice restaurants or bar prices in Los Angeles. Services was awesome by everyone - no complaints here. We usually do not go to many shows - we only saw one which was ok... and we went to two game shows which where hysterical...The Newly Wed Game and the Perfect Couple... If you plan to go and see something go see these - they are sure to make you laugh. DH and I had been to most of our ports before but managed to get off on all of them for at least a walk around. Disembarkation was the best we have ever had in Vancouver. We chose to walk off with our luggage and did just that at 9 A.M. Walking off and going thru customs took us all of 5 minutes... Easy, Easy Easy... We had a wonderful cruise and were reluctant to get off but there is always next time. So if you are trying to decide on whether to cruise on the Pearl, my recommendation is Definitely do it... Great Ship, Great Crew and Great Food... Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
This was our fourth NCL cruise and the one that we were most DISAPPOINTED in. The staff of the ship from the Captain down seemed to be lacking in friendliness and not very customer driven. There were not a lot of smiles on the faces of the ... Read More
This was our fourth NCL cruise and the one that we were most DISAPPOINTED in. The staff of the ship from the Captain down seemed to be lacking in friendliness and not very customer driven. There were not a lot of smiles on the faces of the crew members and many seemed to not enjoy their jobs as in my past cruises with NCL. The cruise director and his staff were NOT very "engaged" as I have experienced in past cruises. When we arrived our state room was VERY dirty (floor in bathroom had splatters of something on it and it went up the wall, it was very dusty on the shelves etc., the floor appeared to not be vacuumed etc.)-- that being said when we called it to or room Stewarts attention, she took care of it pretty quickly and did a good job after that. NCL has some work to do with comforts in the state rooms- the bed is not that comfortable and the pillows are TERRIBLE. When you are travelling, the last things you want to have to bring with you are pillows. Most hotels, even inexpensive ones have decent or even very good pillows on the beds. Service in the main dining rooms was hit-and-miss. The last evening we had a great waiter in the main Garden dining room (I wish I could remember his name) and good service but overall service in the dining rooms was not very good. There was one waiter that was particularly poor and inefficient- his name will not be published here - He needs some training in customer service and not taking advantage of his co-workers by "slacking-off". In closing, I would have to say that if this had been one of my first experiences on NCL, I would not have returned. Hopefully this is not going to be representative of NCL's cruise experience moving forward. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
This was our 3rd NCL cruise and we absolutely loved the Pacific Coast ports. The ports were great and we found something fabulous to do in each port. The smaller ports (Astoria; Nanaimo) put so much effort in helping passengers with ... Read More
This was our 3rd NCL cruise and we absolutely loved the Pacific Coast ports. The ports were great and we found something fabulous to do in each port. The smaller ports (Astoria; Nanaimo) put so much effort in helping passengers with local information and getting around the port, their volunteers are to be commended! We loved the Pearl and all the amenities. Our balcony room was spotless, and the bed was comfy. Most staff were super friendly, sure you might get the odd unhappy person, but this was the friendliest ship I have ever been on! We were disappointed with the speciality restaurants, where we usually dine. We like to book in advance and hate the crowds, but after 3 evenings that were mediocre -- we cancelled the rest of the reservations and ate in the Summer Garden -- where the chef's specials were excellent. Loved the meals and the variety -- everything we had was delicious. Would not bother booking a specialty restaurant again. We used the gym and did the stretch classes, yoga and spin classes -- all were great! The shows were excellent, and were a good mixture of different entertainment. We met so many nice CC people and thank you to Lori for the slot pull. Thank you to Cecilia for organizing the meet and greet. Not sure who organized the bridge tour but THANK YOU, definitely a highlight Our major complaint was with guest services. We like to pay cash and keep close tabs on our account (please NCL provide the ability like Royal Caribbean to check your account on your TV, so much easier) we put money down every other day, and on the last morning received a refund...or so we thought. When we were disembarking we were pulled off by security as our account was apparently in arrears. Seriously? We had been given our refund less than an hour earlier. We made our way back to guest services were we were treated basically like criminals. We had the final statement delivered the night before (indicating a credit), we had our statement from an hour before indicating our refund. After a considerable amount of time they told us we had originally been given a larger onboard credit than we deserved. After 7 days and about 6 trips to guest services they figured it our when we were disembarking? We promptly paid the amount, but never once did they admit it was their error, until I pressed the guest service representative. He was rude and continued to make us feel like the error was our fault. He assured us that the payment was processed...but guess what? When we were trying to leave the ship for the second time we were pulled off by security as our account was in arrears. I showed them the receipt from 10 minutes previously, but they would not accept it, and told us we had to go to guest services. That's when I lost it. Finally security agreed just to call guest services, and after a 10 minute call we were allow to leave the ship. After that fiasco, we would have been done with NCL, but I had (foolishly) purchased a latitudes reward for a future cruise (as the cruise was fabulous until the last 45 minutes). We will have one more cruise with NCL then we are back to one of the other cruise lines we have used in the past. An apology would have gone a long way ..... Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
Let me first say that I am a firm believer that there is rarely ever a BAD cruise - I'm away from work, not having to cook or clean and getting to see places that I've never seen before. I have sailed 3 times with Princess and ... Read More
Let me first say that I am a firm believer that there is rarely ever a BAD cruise - I'm away from work, not having to cook or clean and getting to see places that I've never seen before. I have sailed 3 times with Princess and this was our 3rd time with Norwegian. My husband and I normally travel with friends that we met on our first cruise and this cruise was no exception. I have to say that all 4 of us were disappointed. I knew going into this cruise that it was a repositioning cruise and a trade-off for the lower price would possibly be some concessions on excursions to pick from at ports that don't get alot of cruise travel except for repositioning time. I have to say that I will think long and hard before booking another repositioning cruise. You need to keep in mind that some things that are advertised as a ship feature or part of their normal cruise package may not be available on this special voyage. For example - I was really looking forward to being able to attend the murder mystery lunch. I'm sorry - not being done on this cruise. The weather didn't help this cruise - unseasonably cool several days which also happened to be the sea days.....Not very many activities planned for all the people that thought they were going to be able to spend their sea days outside. I found myself laying on my bed in the room and watching TV or napping the whole day. This was our first time in Los Angeles and not knowing the area, booked our pre-night stay with Norwegian at one of their hotels they are partnered with. A few months before the cruise - we received notice that the hotel had been changed. The hotel stay was OK - the rooms were fine - but I had originally booked a hotel close to the beach and lots of restaurants and activities close. This hotel was an airport hotel - only the high price restaurant in the hotel to choose from with a few Taco Bells, McDonalds, etc a few blocks away. The rest of the area was more of a commerical, warehouse area so nowhere to walk or entertain yourself. With the hotel reservation also came a transfer to the ship. We received a letter from Norwegian in our room telling us the procedure. Leave our bags in the room at 11:00AM, they would be picked up and brought to the lobby where we could verify they were there and then would be put on the bus for our transfer. At 11AM we went to the lobby to wait, and to wait, and to wait until finally a lady with a Norwegian scarf finally showed up with a clipboard and was wandering the lobby. We went to her, she crossed off our names and told us to go to the bus. Still no signs of our bags. Finally we got a bellman to go to our room to check on the bags because of course we had checked out and turned in our room keys.......there they sat......no one picking them up and I'm sure would still be sitting there if we hadn't checked. We lugged them downstairs and to the bus ourselves. There were several other guests wandering the lobby also wondering what to do, who after seeing us get our luggage ended up doing the same thing. The Norwegian representative just laughed and said everything would definitely be an improvement from here which I didn't find very professional or funny under the circumstances knowing that if we hadn't checked - we would have sailed away with no luggage. Normally I find Norwegian's check in process quick and painless. This time we waited and we waited because the computers went down several times......Previous to sailing we had received 2 or 3 phone calls asking us to not be there before 1PM to help with congestion. I'm thinking that CAUSED more congestion having everyone arrive at once. After standing in line again after checking in to get on the ship - they were letting people get on the ship with group numbers.......half the people waiting had not been given group numbers so confusion and unhappiness was everywhere. The Pearl is a beautiful ship - I think it is the prettiest ship I have sailed on. The colors are beautiful, the artwork in the halls are attractive and just the feel of the whole ship is nice. The other Norwegian ships that I have sailed on are the Spirit and the Epic so this ship was nothing like them and a little hard to get used to. One of the reasons that we had made the switch from Princess to Norwegian was the entertainment. We had found that the entertainment on Norwegian was just a notch above Princess except for the Epic which of course was head and shoulders above anything we had seen on Princess. The entertainment on this ship was overall average to a little above. The Norwegian singers and dancers were a little painful to watch and listen to sometimes but they were trying hard. Sharkbait was great - I would have watched their show again and again. Les Langhorst(spelling) was a very enjoyable show. I slept through Second City and the comedian was not very good but in his defense - was not getting alot of help from the crowd. We ended each evening listening to Arvin and Emily. I remembered them from the Spiriti and just as enjoyable on this ship with a good following each evening. When cruising on the Spirit and Epic - the cruise director was seen everywhere, even on the immense Epic everywhere I turned I found him - chatting with cruisers and making himself available. On this cruise, I saw Pedro after each of the performances in the theatre - that's it. Dining - We love freestyle dining - we like to be able to eat whenever we like with whomever we care to eat with. This was the first Norwegian cruise that we had been on that actually it was asked by the dining room staff whether you minded being seated with others. I remember on the Spirit and Epic - we had mentioned one evening that we wouldn't mind sitting with others and they looked at us like we had said something crazy. This is the first time ever on a Norwegian ship we had to wait to be seated with the pagers. We like to dress for dinner so always went to dinner in the Summer Palace since that was said to be the dining room for people who wished to dress a little more formally. The way the Summer Palace is arranged - their front doors are located at the bottom of a flight of steps with the dining room people standing at the top with their stand and pagers to be handed out. Also right here was the public restrooms, elevators and the stairway so no matter where you stood you were in the way. The dining room food was fine - we can always find something that we like and this was no exception. One night we ate in La Cucina and enjoyed the food there immensely. Breakfast we always ate in the buffet - typical cruise buffet food with the crowds of people milling everywhere and tables hard to find. For some reason I felt that there were alot of inconsiderate, rude cruisers on this trip. Maybe it was just me and not enjoying the cruise at the level I normally do but I saw alot of butting in line, not stepping aside when you met them in the hall and walking 3 across, etc. We ate lunch in the Blue Lagoon once on one of the sea days. I felt sorry for the dining room staff - they were running as fast as they could but still not giving very good service. The food was mediocre so we never went back. Our state room was a balcony room that adjoined our friends room. Rather small as balcony rooms go but ok - it helped we kept out adjoining room door open alot of the time to make it feel bigger. Our steward was good - always friendly when we met in the halls and the room was kept clean as needed. That is one comparison that I have between Princess and Norwegian. It seemed on Princess that your room steward was always found in the hallway waiting for any requests you might have and if you left your room for a few minutes - they would run in there and tidy while you were gone. I have noticed on all Norwegian ships that you get your morning cleanup and your evening turn-down but you normally don't find your steward roaming the halls in case you need anything special and there is not extra cleaning done other than the norm. The biggest reason for the cruises we pick are the ports. I've never understood the people that travel all the way to Europe to stay on the ship the whole time and enjoy it because they have the ship to themselves. These were all ports that we had not been to so was excited to get off the shp and explore. Los Angeles - Embarkation........We hired a private tour guide that picked us up at the airport with our baggage and gave us a 6 hour tour of LA with all the normal tourist spots. None of us had been to LA before, we covered lots of ground and then was delivered to the hotel that I mentioned earlier. San Francisco - We hired a private guide for that day. Again - we covered alot of the San Francisco highlights with a trolley car ride - Lombard street - Golden Gate bridge and Bay Bridge ( we ran across the bridge to visit Berkley and see the area where our friends had gone to school 35 years ago), downtown area, lunch at Tommy's and a visit to Coit Tower and Fisherman's Wharf. It was a good day with good weather and we enjoyed it. Astoria - We took a Norwegian excursion to Seaside and Cannon Beach. We enjoyed the excursion and felt it was worth the money even though it was basically just a bus ride to the various areas with the guide telling us a few things as we drove. Victoria - We did the CVS Hop on/Hop Off bus. We hit the highlights of Victoria, walked around the Empress Hotel area, ate lunch and shopped. Another good weather day and enjoyable. Nanaimo - This is a port that probably shouldn't be scheduled by Norwegian. It is one of those places where the people try really hard but there just isn't much to see there in my opinion. We took the Norwegian excursion that went to the Cranberry farm and then the downtown gallery just basically because we couldn't find anything to do privately that we thought we would enjoy. I learned alot at the Cranberry farm - dropping us off downtown to go to the gallery was rather a waste of time because they didn't give us enough time to really do anything. We were back at the ship after the excursion by 1PM - could have ridden the bus back into town to wander around but we had seen nothing that intrigued us enough to want to do that. Disembarking in Vancouver was very easy - we just did the walk off on your own - grabbed a cab which took us to our hotel that we had again booked through Norwegian and then took a city tour of Vancouver the rest of the day. Was very impressed with Vancouver and would go there again. I did have one spa treatment on the ship the afternoon of the Nanaimo port. It was the advertised 20/20/20 special which I enjoyed alot and have to say that I didn't feel like the spa staff tried to hard sell me on product as much as I have had in the past. Going into this cruise - we all thought we would book the thermal suite for the week. Right after we embarked - we went to the spa to check it out and see if we wanted to do it. I asked if we could look at it to make our decision. Don't do that! You will be stuck taking a tour of the whole spa and fitness area with a stop and small lecture in each room that took over an hour. After looking at the thermal suite we were afraid that it would be hard to find loungers for all 4 of us in the coed area so we decided against booking. The next day was a sea day and we were so bored - we went back there to look again to decide if we had changed our mind. 3 ladies were leaving as we were standing at the desk who had bought the package and told us that it was the usual "chair hog" saga that is normally found around the pool but now moved to the thermal suite. I think if you were with a group of people all the same sex where you could use the male or female side of the suite it might be worth it. Those areas didn't seem to be busy. The coed section with the heated tile loungers, pool and hot tub seemed to be full most of the time with the usual towel and book thrown over the chair to "save". As I mentioned before - there is normally never a BAD cruise but this cruise definitely ranks in 6th place with the other 5 cruises that I have done. Maybe it's time for me to try another cruise line and see if I will appreciate Norwegian more after an absence. They still have alot of good things going for them - this cruise just didn't hit the mark for overall enjoyment. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
Tuesday was embarkation day, but we couldn't board the ship until noon. We grabbed some breakfast a few short blocks from the hotel (Courtyard, Long Beach) to Roscoe's House of Chicken and Waffles. Best fried chicken ever! We had ... Read More
Tuesday was embarkation day, but we couldn't board the ship until noon. We grabbed some breakfast a few short blocks from the hotel (Courtyard, Long Beach) to Roscoe's House of Chicken and Waffles. Best fried chicken ever! We had chicken, waffles and Mac & cheese for breakfast. YUM-O! Then we went back to the hotel. Check out was at noon, but I could hardly wait to get to the ship! We left the hotel at about 11:45 and there was a cab waiting right outside. It was about $20 bucks to get to the cruise port. Nothing is as exciting as seeing your ship docked! Embarkation was a breeze. The ship was really empty. As soon as we got on we went to the Sanctuary, this is an exclusive section of the deck with big comfy chairs and a private pool. The day we got on the ship was absolutely gorgeous out, so we over zealously booked the Sanctuary for our 2 sea days. Turned out it was was too cold on Wed and Thurs to enjoy the sanctuary. Luckily, they only charged us for the 1 day. On the second day we went up just to check it out and the worker guy was dressed like he was going on an arctic expedition! Our room was ready, so we were able to drop our back packs off and explore the rest of the ship. We had both been on this class of ship before, so we kind of knew the lay of the land. The ship was beautiful. We walked around a bit and went to the aft bar for a cocktail and had some pizza for lunch. Sail away was at 4 pm. There was party on the top deck with a live band and dancing. The ship was really empty, but there was plenty of activities and entertainment planned. Our late afternoon ritual was to go to Vines bar and order a bottle of wine and get tapas and sushi. I ate the tapas, hubby ate the sushi. We would have a glass of wine and then save the rest of the bottle for dinner. The tapas and sushi were complimentary if you ordered wine. We ate dinner every night in the Portofino dining room. The food was very good. I got my fettuccine Alfredo every night! The service in the dining room was impeccable. 2 nights we had a waiter from Poland, Luckas. The last dinner of the cruise, they served escargot! It was excellent!!!! I love the way they prepare it and it's consistent no matter what Princess ship you're on. There was several different shows every night. The first night was a show we had seen already, Destination Anywhere, so we skipped it. But we did see a magician. On the second night we saw a comedian and the magician, he did a new show. On the third night was a show called "British Invasion"' it was one of the best we've seen on Princess. We also saw the comedian again, "Sarge" he did a different show too. Our cruise was short and sweet. I only wish it could have been longer! I love cruising. I became "platinum" on this cruise and they gave me a pin! Hubby was jealous, so he stole it, but I didn't mind. He became platinum on our cruise last year on the Crown that got cancelled and he never got his pin! Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
This was our first Norwegian experience and our last. The free style dining is reminiscent of a night out at Applebees...with long lines and pagers as you wait to be seated with a different waiter each night in the main dining ... Read More
This was our first Norwegian experience and our last. The free style dining is reminiscent of a night out at Applebees...with long lines and pagers as you wait to be seated with a different waiter each night in the main dining room(especially problematic for someone with food allergies). The food was subpar with many desserts looking like they were taken out of a box from a store and cut up in slices. The calzone appeared to be microwaved and pre-made. The prime rib was grilled and dried out...the shrimp also appeared to be pre-cooked and microwaved. The buffet was the same food every day and overcrowded, with no trays to juggle your drinks and plates on. The chocolate night also had the same appearance of store bought brownies and store bought cakes and pies. There were no cookies or finger sandwiches offered. If you wanted a fresh berry of any kind you were out of luck. The food was so marginal we hesitated to try an upscale restaurant to see if it might be better. The boat had old tvs that had very limited channel selections....on other ships you could rent movies or go to a movie theater...not so here. The ship has no indoor pool so if the weather is bad you have no other option. The jacuzzis were crowded and allowed children in them (something I have never seen on any other cruise line). There was no full menu for room service and there was a definite language barrier with the cabin steward. The entertainment was fairly good, but having seen ice skating shows, acrobats and other variety show options on other cruise lines sit still did not measure up to other experiences. The ship was clearly overcrowded and the center atrium area reminded me of the old elementary multi-purpose room .... guest service, the tour excursion desk, the future cruise office, coffee shop....central meeting area...night club...gift shop and outside tables were all crammed into a small space. Upstairs on the floor above there were 2 restaurants that spanned the walkway so you had to walk through them to get from one side of the ship to the other....during the day one doubled as an arts and craft area. The real telling level of concern about your Norwegian experience was that there was no client feedback survey at the end. So it appeared that this line doesn't want any feedback to use to enhance the future traveler's experience. My advice...if you are looking for a bargain and don't care about having more elaborate food or entertainment experience than ...you can give it a whirl...but be warned....you may still be disappointed. As for us...we will avoid this line...opt to not cruise like a norwegian and choose others that we have been more than happy with. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
We flew to LAX the morning of the cruise (all other times we have flown in the evening before). Representative met us at baggage claim, coach arrived soon, trip to ship was fine. Embarkation went well. Our mid-ship balcony cabin was ... Read More
We flew to LAX the morning of the cruise (all other times we have flown in the evening before). Representative met us at baggage claim, coach arrived soon, trip to ship was fine. Embarkation went well. Our mid-ship balcony cabin was spacious and appealing - except for the dirt. The only surfaces that were not dirty were sticky. The room was never adequately cleaned. My wife tried to clean the balcony door herself to no avail. Just over halfway through the cruise the HVAC stopped working right and the room became very cold. The first solution tried by maintenance was to shut off the system and hope we did not notice. We noticed. The next solution was to tell us to live with it. This typified the attitude of the hotel staff - passengers were a bother. We had sailed 18 months earlier on the NCL Dawn and were delighted. Our interior stateroom on the Dawn was kept in top shape. Lounge and entertainment staff were attentive. The Dawn was kept clean. Public areas on the Jewel repeatedly had trash left out for twelve hours or more. I drank no alcohol on the cruise; perhaps that explains why on the Jewel my drink orders were routinely forgotten. The Dawn had no such issues. The lounge musicians, with the exception of Michael Masci at the piano, were forgettable. Not bad, just not up to the standards of a lower-tier cruise line. We ate twice at Mama's Italian Kitchen and once at the Oriental Fusion specialty restaurant. Food and service were excellent. In those two restaurants the staff had a service attitude and attention to detail. The main dining rooms were another story. The Azura Main Restaurant was chaotic with service that would not be tolerated at most fast food restaurants. We ate there once and vowed never again. Our first dinner at Tsar's Palace was a delight. The waiter was personable and helpful. His menu suggestions were excellent and he went above and beyond what we expected. Our second dinner there we requested the same waiter at the check-in desk. The hostess assured us she had passed on the request. When escorted to our table we were told that the only description that had been passed was "Some Indonesian guy" and it was too general. The waitress was adequate, but we still left disappointed at the lack of attention to detail. We ate one evening in the buffet; it was infinitely better than Azura. We made frequent use of the Blue Lagoon 24 hour restaurant for snacks and drinks. The restaurant was always clean and the staff always on their toes. We loved the port call in San Francisco. The Hop On/Hop Off bus tour was well worth the money. We could have stayed there longer. Astoria, Oregon, was a bust. We took the Seaside/Cannon Beach tour, which included a very very very short stop at a magnificent group of tall rock spires used for migratory bird nesting. Right back on the bus and into the two towns for shopping. The tour guide recommended all sorts of pedestrian places to shop, owned by his friends. These are small towns with small town attractions and establishments. A waste of time. We toured Victoria on our own. It is truly beautiful. Nanaimo was a pleasant surprise. We took one of the typical "Best of.....plus underwater basket weaving and nuclear weapons design" tours. Pleasant people, pleasant countryside, well organized tour, the cranberry farm proved far more interesting than we could have expected. Disembarkation in Vancouver went well. We chose to carry off our luggage and go directly to the bus to Seattle for our flight. The bus service was comfortable, quick and pleasant. How two ships in the same fleet could differ so much is astounding. The Dawn was just short of crisp; the only thing crisp we found on the Jewel was leftover French Fries matted to the floor. The ship was dirty, the staff had no service orientation, and in general the hotel staff failed to perform. We might give NCL another try, but it will be several years. This Jewel simply did not sparkle. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
My wife and I are veteran cruisers ( mostly Holland America) but this was first time on Disney with daughter, son-in-law, and 2 grand-daughters.So many positives--shows were a much higher quality than I expected, rotational dining was ... Read More
My wife and I are veteran cruisers ( mostly Holland America) but this was first time on Disney with daughter, son-in-law, and 2 grand-daughters.So many positives--shows were a much higher quality than I expected, rotational dining was wonderful--my grand-daughters were charmed by Anthony, our server.Our 5 year old grand-daughter loved the character breakfast, the princess tea--she loved it all. Our 2 year-old was a bit overwhelmed by the characters.Food was fine--not up to Holland America standards but certainly acceptable. We dined one night in Palo--excellent--worth the $20 charge.Getting information from Customer Service before the cruise was sometimes difficult. This was a re-positioning cruise for the Wonder from LA to Vancouver where it will be doing Alaska cruises for the summer. Alaska does not permit fireworks so we were mistakenly informed there were no fireworks on our cruise--there were fireworks.Unfortunately, we hit cold and windy weather from day 2---since the Wonder has no provision for covering the pool areas, we really couldn't enjoy that feature.Don't want this to sound overly negative---we really did have a fabulous time and probably will look forward to a warmer climate in 2-3 years. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
This was our first NCL cruise, and we had a wonderful time. I have found that the most useful reviews give more information and less opinions, although is it hard to sometimes separate these, but I will try my best here. We arrived ... Read More
This was our first NCL cruise, and we had a wonderful time. I have found that the most useful reviews give more information and less opinions, although is it hard to sometimes separate these, but I will try my best here. We arrived at the port of Los Angeles at 11:00. By 11:30 we had been checked in and were waiting in the departure lounge. It was very smooth and well organized. There was plenty of seating in the lounge, even though we had received several automated phone calls from NCL over multiple days preceding departure, that we should not arrive before 13:00 due to limited seating. Seating did not appear to be an issue. We had arrived early, so we were part of boarding group 1 and we were on the ship by 13:30. We had a 10th deck balcony cabin (first time for a balcony for us). The cabin was adequate in size but had lots of nooks and cubby holes for our things, so it made the cabin seem larger during our trip, since luggage, clothes and souvenirs were never in the way. We found where our cabin was, took a brief look around the ship and ate lunch in the Summer Palace dining room. We spent some time after lunch exploring the ship. In the Crystal Atrium, they were selling an "all you could drink" soda package. This was well worth it for us, as we did not care for the flavor of the Iced Tea on board. Since this was a 7 night cruise with 2 days at sea and visits to ports were had previously visited, we decided that on this cruise we were going to take advantage of the spa... something we have not done on previous cruises. The spa is clean, bright, and has many features. There is a charge to use the spa facilities. While some reviewers have complained about the fee, we found that the $125 fee for use of the spa for a full week was well worth it. We visited the spa at least once if not twice every day (1-2 hours per average visit). Over the course of the week, we each had several massages, the wife had a facial, and also got her hair styled. They run a special called 10-20-30, where if you sign up for 3 treatments, each one gets a progressively larger discount (10%, 20%, then 30%), so make sure you choose the most expensive treatment as your third one so the largest discount applies. As with all ship board services, the spa treatments were not cheap , but we felt like we got our money's worth with each one . We booked our first massage (hot stones) for the day of departure, and they threw in an extra 15 min (from 60 min to 75 min), and did this for the two of us in a couples massage room at no extra charge. Our only complaint with the spa was how often and how forcefully products were being pushed at us (if you liked the massage you just had, then you should buy this year long supply of massage oil that is the same oil we just used. And it's very special oil that you can only get from us.) Once we discovered that every treatment came with a pitch, we were able to adjust our attitudes. We had many treatments, and did not buy any of the products we were pitched. We just kept saying that we would think about it. Over the course of the week, we saw many of the shows, and participated in many ship board events. Overall we found the entertainment to be superb. The shows were divided into 2 categories... professional entertainers, and ship staff entertainers. The saw Sharkbait (comedy jugglers), Les Lankhorst (Sinatra style singer) and several of the Second City shows (Improv comedy). These were all top notch professionals. We also saw 2 shows with ship staff entertainers (singers and dancers). We have found many of these shows on other ships to be cheap and cheesy, but not this time. The productions were much better than what we have seen in the past, and we enjoyed all of them. We also spent time in the Crystal Atrium listening to Arvin and Emily (lounge singers), whose shows we enjoyed. We also participated in Bingo twice and an audience participation version of Deal or No Deal. We never won, but we had fun. Bingo on 2 of the sessions was at a discounted rate, due to low attendance (days in port). Another event we attended was the White Hot Party. This didnt have very good attendance, and seemed to break up early we didnt stay long. During our trip, we had planned to mostly eat in the main dining rooms. But as the trip progressed, we soon found that the food quality jumps significantly in the specialty restaurants. In the main dining rooms, the right side of the menu never changes with 5-6 starters, entries and desserts. The left side of the menu changes daily where they add echefs selections¦ 3-4 starters, entries and desserts. The food quality in the main dining rooms was very good, but we found that many of the offerings were uninspired . Fish and chips, Classic turkey dinner with dressing, grilled fish, steak and baked potato... these are items I can find at the local caf in my neighborhood. The offerings would be improved with a little creativity (special sauces, spice options, creative side dishes, etc.). Again, the quality of the food was very good its just the variety that was uninspired. The service in both of the main dining rooms was very slow. We had 1 lunch and 2 dinners where service took over 90 minutes from the time we sat down until we were done eating, and on one of the dinners, we waited almost 30 min between when they took away our plates and when dessert was served. We joked at our table that maybe our waiter fell overboard. As for specialty restaurants, we ate in the Teppanyaki restaurant, the Churrascaria, and twice in the Italian restaurant. The offerings are greatly improved over those in the main dining rooms (many more upscale ingredients like scallops, jumbo shrimp, lobster, Angus steak, etc.). We had shrimp and scallops in the Teppanyaki restaurant, Lobster Fettuccini in the Italian restaurant, and wonderful cuts of meat in the Churrascaria. Each specialty restaurant has a different fee. By coincidence, not by design, we mostly ate at those with lower fees. The Italian and Churrascaria restaurants always seems to have little to no wait, so they are good options if you do not have a reservation. We also never saw a wait in the Asian restaurant either. Teppanyaki fills up fast due to limited seating, so it is best to make a reservation here. We also ate several breakfasts and lunches in the Garden cafe (Buffet). In general, the food was just okay. We only ate here when we were limited on time or wanted to eat at a time that the main dining room wasnt serving. For both breakfast and lunch, the menu is mostly the same every day. The Breakfast menu was adequate, but again, uninspired. Scrambled eggs, breakfast meats, breads, cereals and fruit make up the majority of this buffet. You can have an omelet cooked to order, but the filling options are plain (onions, sausage, bacon bits, cheese, tomatoes). There is also a station where you can get fresh juices for a fee, but we did not take advantage of this. The lunch choices left something to be desired. Clearly geared for families with teens and kids, (lots of finger foods, pizza, hot dogs and hamburgers), this was our least favorite option for lunch. This was also the only venue where some of the food didnt look all that appealing. Our biggest food disappointment by far was the Chocolate Buffet. This is the first cruise we were on, where this was held in the buffet restaurant and not in the main dining room. On all other cruises we have been on, this has been an upscale event with fruit and vegetable carvings, ice carvings, and added decor. Here there were only 7-8 types of desserts (repeated at 5-6 stations). And the presentation was sorely lacking. NCL didnt do much to dress up the venue. This event has always been a highlight for us, but NCL really let us down on this one. Disembarkation was very smooth. We placed our luggage in the hallway the night before departure as instructed. We were part of the Purple tagged group which had a departure time of 10:00, but they actually called the purple group about 15 minutes early. By the time we walked down to the luggage storage area on the dock, our bags were already there. Overall we had a great trip. The ships crew was wonderful, we liked how the ship was laid out, and we felt like we got a great vacation and good value for the cost. This was our first NCL cruise, but Im sure it will not be our last. It is easy in a review to dwell on the negatives, and that is not my intent here. I hope you will take the negative items in this review as lessons learned by us so that if cruising on the Pearl or with NCL, you can use our experience to better prepare yourself for what you might expect. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
First time Princess cruiser; started off on the right foot by receiving an 8-category upgrade to a balcony after having purchased a very inexpensive guarantee. (Also, our on-line TA booking came with a bonus shore excursion credit which we ... Read More
First time Princess cruiser; started off on the right foot by receiving an 8-category upgrade to a balcony after having purchased a very inexpensive guarantee. (Also, our on-line TA booking came with a bonus shore excursion credit which we used to purchase a private limo transfer from LAX to San Pedro - very nice!). Value for the Price: 4/5 Embarkation on Wednesday was unbelievably quick and hassle-free. Including travel time we were no more than 35 minutes from airport luggage carousel to gangway. (Mind you, this was 12:30 p.m. - peak boarding time.) This part of the process couldn't have gone better. Excellent luck with everything from our transfer arrangements to the curbside porters. Embarking onto Deck 7 rather than the Atrium though, lacked a certain WOW factor, and I was disappointed for my sister, who is a first time cruiser (who fortunately didn't know what she was missing!). Travel & Embarkation: 5/5 Our cabin was ready when we boarded, which I understand is the standard for Princess. Our BE balcony was located way too far aft for my preference, and actually we under-utilized the balcony due to the weather and having so much else to do. Even so, never look a gift-balcony in the mouth (or something like that...). The cabin itself was very spacious, but dated in decor and somewhat ill-kept with stained and worn furniture. Storage was strangely lacking other than the large, open closet (one cabinet with shelves and only bed-side table drawers). The beds were INCREDIBLY UNCOMFORTABLE - I slept poorly and rose early as laying there too long was actually painful. Our cabin steward was perfunctory - not a super job, but adequate. Robes from our Personalizer requests were delivered the second day. Accommodations: 2.5/5 The ship is clearly not new or particularly modern in decor, but is very tasteful and not garish in any way. Clean and tidy, with everything one could ask (children's facilities, bars & lounges, a very impressive library, showroom, shopping, giant movie screen, golfing, spa, salon & casino). We took advantage of almost everything on offer, including the Sanctuary and the Lotus Thermal Suite. (These facilities were completely under-subscribed on this trip and by the end of the second day aggressive "salesmen" were roving the ship trying to get people to sign up. While we really enjoyed both of them, I must say I am a little resentful of having to pay for what used to be included in yester-year cruising). A FEW WORDS TO SMOKERS: There are outside smoking areas along the starboard side of the walking track on Deck 7 and in the open space on Deck 15 forward. There is no smoking at all allowed at the tables or loungers around the pool on the Lido or that I noticed in the Casino, although I was not in there much. There is an indoor facility (Churchill's Cigar Lounge) that is so oppressive and horrible it was more like free smoking-cessation therapy! I did not notice any conflict whatsoever between passengers over smoking on the Coral Princess. Public Spaces: 5/5 Dining was uniformly disappointing, perhaps the worst food I've ever been served on a cruise in every venue. (I had fully intended to enhance this review with "Food Porn", but honestly, there was nothing worth photographing.) Main dining menu selections were not tempting, presentation was not creative and taste and temperature were unsatisfactory. Our table request was not accommodated and we were seated at an 8-top. Two of the other couples had been on the ship since Ft. Lauderdale and had developed a real rapport with the wait staff. We actually felt a little ignored (by the wait staff, not our tablemates), which was a weird experience although I suppose we could have complained if it was that big a deal. Service in Horizon Court was better, but buffet choices were unappealing and deteriorated quickly under intense heat lamps. Cold selections of meats, cheeses, fruit and salad were better, but really, how can you mess those up? In desperation we ate at one of the specialty restaurants (the Bayou Cajun Steakhouse). It was way better, but only as good as main dining should have been - nowhere near as outstanding as the high-end restaurants I've been to on other ships. Dining: 1/5 Service was efficient, polite and professional, but rarely personable. Just O.K. in every way, but O.K. is good enough isn't it? We wanted for nothing, and if we had we were more than capable of seeking out assistance. I'm beginning to believe that we've all developed a mythology around cruise ship crew. They are there to do their jobs, and for the most part are very adequate at it. Few genuinely desire to "be friends", but then again, why would they? (FYI for anyone that's wondering - yes, we did leave our auto-tips in place, which I consider part of the cruise fare. Almost nobody warranted additional cash tips except the sweet staff in the Sanctuary). Service: 3/5 Activities and Entertainment provided by Princess blew me away!! Incredible array of opportunities on the roster each day - I consistently had to miss something in favour of something else. Never before have I been confronted with this happy dilemma! Two shows each evening (one on the main stage and one in a cabaret setting) and each performer was GOOD, really good! Any of you who have seen Steve Moris over the years will understand the caliber of the talent. I do regret that "On the Bayou" was not performed as it was highly recommended, and weather conditions precluded watching an evening movie outdoors. I think in hindsight I would trade better entertainment for better food again anytime. Entertainment & Activities: 5++/5 Itinerary was lovely, we had unbelievable luck with the weather in San Francisco, Victoria and Vancouver, although the winds on board were FIERCE and the seas rough while underway. Ship sponsored excursions were limited as this trip was the first of the season for each port. We toured independently in San Francisco (google GoCar dot com - you won't be sorry!!) and took Princess excursions in Victoria & Vancouver (Butchart Gardens & City Tour/Canyon Walk respectively). Both were very good quality and we were satisfied. I highly recommend taking an excursion on disembarkation day - it allows you to be escorted off the ship past the other 2000 people waiting in line! Ports of Call: 5/5 All in all, we had a wonderful vacation and I'm very pleased with the experience I was able to offer my DSis, who was a cruise newbie. I still have not found my elusive "Absolute Favorite Cruiseline". More and more I'm convinced that I never will, as the offerings of each of them are quite diverse and really serve different, equally worthy purposes. I will confidently recommend Princess when appropriate and look forward to sailing Princess again myself when the circumstances are right. Please feel free to ask any specific questions! Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
We had an absolutely amazing time. The service was outstanding - I kept having to tell the waiter not to cut up my children's food. The kids kept begging to go back to the kids club because they were having so much fun. They mostly ... Read More
We had an absolutely amazing time. The service was outstanding - I kept having to tell the waiter not to cut up my children's food. The kids kept begging to go back to the kids club because they were having so much fun. They mostly went to the oceaneer club (awesome slide/treehouse play area) but went to the oceaneer lab if there were any particular events they wanted to do there. My daughter (age 3) loved seeing the princesses - make sure to sign up early at guest services for the princess tea (free) if you want to go - tickets run out fast but some people got in on standby as well for no-shows. Several times we were walking around the ship and we would turn a corner and randomly run into a character. If you are on the ship on a port day, take advantage of the mostly empty ship to see characters if they are available - there was virtually no lines to see the princesses on the day we were in Victoria - the princesses were wandering around trying to find kids to talk to. They had a great show at the end where the kids got up on stage and sang and danced with mickey and minnie for the parents. The weather wasn't great so we only used the pools on the first day in port in LA. I get motion sick easily but only got sick once on the one really rough day at sea. After the first day we didn't really notice the motion of the boat. We got first seating (watch out if you are booking online - it automatically puts you in the second seating so you have to change it if you want the first), which was nice since it was closer to the kids' normal dinner time, but irrelevant for bedtimes since the show is afterwards (vice versa for second seating). We never had any real problems getting seats for the shows (which were fantastic and the kids loved them - they put the shows live on the stateroom TVs if you can't make it to one, but it really doesn't compare to going). We didn't usually arrive until right before showtime but there were always seats left near the front left - an angled view, but it was close up for the kids to see and we were close enough to have the glitter/streamers/bubbles/snow fall on us. If you have mobility issues, make sure to go through Cadillac lounge to get to the show - my mom sprained her replaced knee right before the trip and was in a wheelchair then used a cane but we didn't know about the secret entry until the last show (you can't use it with a wheelchair but if you can walk down a short hallway then they will take you though the door near the stage). We didn't do much for excursions. My husband and son rode the cable cars in San Fransisco, we skipped Victoria and we met up with friends to go to the Vancouver Aquarium (not an advertised excursion so few people knew about it but it is only a 10 minute cab ride from port). We had a great time - we did a week in Disneyland first and actually enjoyed the cruise even more than Disneyland. We can't wait to go again! Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
We have been regular cruisers, having cruised about 10-15 times. We are in our mid-sixties and really don't participate in a lot of activities. We are just happy sitting out on the balcony; reading and watching the world go by. Being ... Read More
We have been regular cruisers, having cruised about 10-15 times. We are in our mid-sixties and really don't participate in a lot of activities. We are just happy sitting out on the balcony; reading and watching the world go by. Being in customer service fields, we look forward to cruising to see examples of good customer service. Over the past few cruises with Celebrity, we have seen a decline in the quality of service and were looking for something more. The Haven concept on NCL intrigued us, and we booked a four-day repositioning cruise (Pacific coastal) on the Jewel as a short getaway. The ship was in A-1 condition throughout. Very little wear and tear. As expected, NCL quality (but not service) was a step downward from the other lines that we have cruised on recently. Everyone was smiling and greeted us throughout the ship, something like Crystal does. Some even learned our names. Prior to the cruise, we stayed at the Renaissance Hotel in Long Beach, which was very nice. We noted that almost all the cabs in the area seemed to be Prius' and we were concerned about fitting all our bags in one cab. We asked Eric, the bellhop to arrange a town car to drive us to the cruise ship terminal. It worked well and we arrived curbside at the terminal in 15 minutes for $30. Our bags picked up, we headed inside at 11 AM. After some computer glitches (this was the embarkation crew from San Diego as NCL doesn't usually go out of the Port of Los Angeles), we were escorted to the holding room for suite passengers. Unfortunately, the incoming cruise had some immigration issues and boarding was delayed about two hours. Ruth, our concierge, did her best to keep us comfortable and informed. Once the ship was cleared, we went right on and were escorted to Cagney's for lunch. While in the restaurant, the announcement was made that the rooms were ready. We chose a two-bedroom suite in the Haven, one of the nicest laid-out rooms that I have seen in over 20 years of cruising. The decor was a little kitschy, but was not overtly obnoxious. Teodoro, our butler, came in shortly to introduce himself. He turned out to be great -- never missed a request, always wishing he could do more (we're pretty self-sufficient). Later our room steward, Edgardo, came in. Quietly efficient and always smiling. He kept the room in tremendous condition. Kudos to a great team! Since the weather was cloudy and windy most of the time, we abandoned our plan of vegging out on the balcony and instead spent most of our days in the Haven. They kept the roof closed all days but one when they cracked it open about 10 feet. Lovely and peaceful. Got more reading done than on most seven day cruises. Thanks to Teodoro, Edgardo and Ruth, we got into "cruise mode" quickly and relaxed as much on this cruise as on longer ones. We had been concerned about interlopers sneaking into the Haven and interrupting the serenity there. There were three couples that came up a few times from non-suite cabins, to join with a friend who had a suite. They were mildly loud but usually left in an hour anyway. Still, there was plenty of space for all of us. The bar menu seemed a little limited, consisting of name brands mostly. I drink straight, high-quality vodka and my wife drinks gin. The offerings were mostly only well-known brands with nothing unusual or special to try. Some other cruises offer one or two boutique brands, making interesting choices. After reading several Cruise Critic reviews about the mediocre food in the regular dining venues, we made advance reservations in Cagney's and once we found a server we liked, we stayed with her throughout the cruise. Heidi gave us very refined, unobtrusive service. She was terrific! We only ate at the main dining room once and were served warmed-over eggs that were gelatinous and rather unpalatable. The server there was very attentive. Disembarkation in Vancouver was flawless. With three other cruise ships at Canada Place, we had to use the alternate pier, Ballentyne. Things moved without a hitch. We left our room around 9 and were in a cab by 9:30 (not a Prius). Our hotel (another Renaissance) room wasn't ready, so we strolled the city and met some old friends in the interim. All in all, a great cruise. Would gladly sail with NCL again! Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
Arrived one day early in LA before the cruise. Stayed at the LAX Marriott. My wife chose this against based on the fact that Princess was offering a transfer from the hotel to the ship. Nice enough property but the location is poor if you ... Read More
Arrived one day early in LA before the cruise. Stayed at the LAX Marriott. My wife chose this against based on the fact that Princess was offering a transfer from the hotel to the ship. Nice enough property but the location is poor if you want to sight see without renting a car. Cab fare to Hollywood was approx. $55. We took a the #3 bus to Santa Monica. The cost was $2 and took about 35 minutes. Went to the farmers market, walked along the beach and the pier. Wished we would have stayed here. Ship left at 4. We got to the pier a 1:45. No lines and check in was a breeze. Made a suggestion to Princess to offer another hotel option pre cruise. There were pros and cons to the ship. Let me say this. This was our 10th cruise and 5th with Princess but first on this ship. We are middle class and would classify us as low maintenance. It seemed to us the service on the ship was a little below normal in the buffet. Quite often you would see the wait staff standing around talking to each other when there were drinks to refill and tables to clean. I thought the food was very good and offered variety. Never ate in the dining room so I cant comment on it. The new specialty pizza station is a nice addition. Our room steward was very good. We never wanted for a thing. The bed was terrible. We actually saw people bringing foam bedding back on the ship. The entertainment was fair. The first couple of shows by the singers and dancers were ok. Their last show Born to be Wild was really good. There was no sail-away show, no crew talent show. I thought the cruise director was dry but the other members of the staff were quite funny and engaging. I give very high marks for the folks in the spa. We spent quite a bit in the spa but we were treated very well and felt like we made friends with several people. The ship itself was clean and in good condition from what we could tell. In summary about the ship and crew is one that in our opinion things were really good to nothing special. We chose this cruise based on the Port Of Calls. We had calm seas and good weather. Several days it was early afternoon before the fog would burn off First stop was Santa Barbara. We did a whale watching excursion. Followed a mom and it's calf for about 5 minutes. Saw quite a few dolphins. Santa Barbara's downtown area was nice to walk around in. Went to the court house. A beautiful building with great views from the top. San Francisco was next. Did the HoHo tour. This was a fun tour that allowed us to see most of the city highlights. We had been there before 10 years ago so for one day it was the best option for us. Just a fun place with many sights to see and some interesting people. Sea Day-- Slept in a little. Went to the spa and found a place to lay in the afternoon sun. Astoria Or was next. A hidden little gem. No glitz or glamour here. A town with extremely nice people, a few landmarks to visit (we did the Flavel House and Astoria Column) some nice brew pubs and the best fish n chips I have ever had a Bow Pickers. Seattle-- Another fun place. Nice weather with no rain. Did the Underground Tour in Pioneer Square and spent the rest of the day in Pike Place Market. Had been here before so we had already done several of the other touristy things. Victoria-- Toured the castle did a little shopping went back to the ship (to the spa) then back into town for dinner at the Bard and Banker. Nothing like fresh Canadian Beer!! Debarkation was in Vancouver. In closing it may sound like we didn't enjoy a lot of things but actually we really did have a good cruise. Having sailed on Princess before we were accustomed to things that weren't done this cruise. The biggest gripe was the bed on the ship. I wished we had more time in Vancouver. For us the expense and the flight home made more sense to us to go back to Seattle to fly home I know this was a relocation voyage but I suggested to Princess to either make this an 8 day voyage with an overnight in Vancouver or a 7 day and skip Victoria with an overnight in Vancouver. Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
Sapphire Princess Wine Country Coastal Cruise May 12-19, 2012 (Saturday to Saturday)-7 days, 6 ports EMBARKATION No staggered boarding that I was aware of. I arrived at the terminal at 12:30pm, need to show boarding pass & ... Read More
Sapphire Princess Wine Country Coastal Cruise May 12-19, 2012 (Saturday to Saturday)-7 days, 6 ports EMBARKATION No staggered boarding that I was aware of. I arrived at the terminal at 12:30pm, need to show boarding pass & passport, filled out a health form, went up escalator, went to Platinum line and turned in boarding pass and health form, changed onboard credit card, then went through security screening, a small line to the gangway, took security photo with a handheld machine(3 ship's security doing this), got on ship and 2 photo screens were set up to take embarkation photo near ship's elevator(s). Went straight to cabin. Met up with my 3 friends at 2:30pm who arrived from LAX and we had our embarkation photo together. Santa Barbara This is a tender port. We were here on a Sunday and there is an Art & Crafts show(sbaacs.com) along Cabrillo Blvd. We walked from the tender area(Sea Landing) there. There is a 25 cent each way shuttle with transfers called the downtown waterfront shuttle-look for the black sailboat with blue circle signs. The bus has a colorful flower on roof.(sbmtd.gov) We did a brownie & wine tasting at Santa Barbara winery. (sbwinery.com) or check out other wineries at(urbanwinetrailsb.com) We ate lunch at Mac's fish & chips on State Street, very good, casual place. San Francisco We docked at pier 35.We took a cab to The Walt Disney Family Museum in The Presidio area.($15. without tip, each way) Then a cab from museum to pier 39 near the ship. Cabs were near pier 39 at a taxi stand, a short walk from the cruise terminal #35. Astoria, Oregon The town is named after John Jacob Astor- sole investor in Pacific Fur. Co. 1810. We took the $7.00(paid in cash) all day bus/trolley to stop #1 and then walked a few blocks to The Flavel House.(river bar pilot/areas 1st millionaire) Cost is $4.00 AAA or senior. Then walked back a few blocks to shuttle stop #1 and went to The Maritime Museum,(nice exhibits of nautical and Columbia river facts & history) which was stop #2(trolley was also at this stop). Also included in Maritime ticket is Lightship Columbia. Cost was $11.00 for AAA discount. Got back on the bus and went to stop # 3 the transit area and walked a short distance to Cellar on 10th, elevator or stairs down to a basement store. We enjoyed tasting some Oregon wines here. If you wish to walk from the port to town along the river walk it is about 1.5 miles. The dock is just before the Astoria-Megler bridge which links OR with WA-US 101. There are about 20 or so vendors under white canopies right at the dock, selling handmade jewelry, lotions, etc. Seattle We docked at Bell Street Pier which is #66. We rented a car from Enterprise; they picked us up and dropped us off at pier. We went to 3 Woodinville wineries.(Woodhouse Family, Columbia, & Chateau Ste. Michelle) We had a tasting($5. or $10) and flatbread lunch($6-$12) at Columbia. We were late disembarking in Seattle, we did not get off ship until 10:45am, we were ready to go ashore at 10am. We also went to Pike Place Market. The ship docks just below the market area. I believe there is a elevator and skywalk bridge that will get you close from where ship is docked at pier 66;we drove. We drove past Seattle center(space needle, saw Chiuly display from Broad St.)This is the only port we had to show ID and cruise card to get back on ship and go through security in the dock building. Victoria We docked at Ogden Point. We took the $8.00 all day bus that dropped us off at The Fairmont Empress Hotel and they also had another stop(Shuttle center) further(don't know where it was though). Pay in cash(took USD) for this; go through sign area that says shuttle buses. Seemed to be plenty of cabs also lined up. Went to tea at The Empress that we had booked through opentable. The tea is $67.14 CAD with HST included. We also went to Rogers Chocolates off Government St., about 2 blocks towards downtown shops from the Empress on same side of the St. Rented a car from Enterprise and they picked us up at The Empress and dropped us back at the ship. We used the car to go to Butchart Gardens; the entrance fee was $30.86 CAD with HST included, no car park fee. CAD to USD was even;$1.00 to $1.00. Vancouver There were 3 ships in port on disembarkation day.(Diamond, Sapphire and I believe Holland America-Zuiderdam) We had pre -purchased a Princess transfer bus ticket for $49.00 from Vancouver Canada Place to Seattle airport. There was also a NCL Jewel ship at Ballantyne pier. We had to be in our lounge at 5:55am,the earliest I have ever met on a Princess voyage. Cruise Critic We had a great CC group. We had a sail away party, a blind wine tasting get together, slot pull, some organized individual tours, and a meet & greet in Skywalkers(had about ½ of the people show up who said they wanted to meet) . Misc. Elite, Suite, & Platinum Lounge was in Skywalkers from 5-7pm. Wednesday eve-2nd formal night there was no daily hors d'ouvres or 'party". Our most traveled passenger was from California with 847 days on Princess. Our Captain was Nick Carlton, CD Billy Hygate with Bex, Maitre d' Hotel was Rui Pereira, & Hotel GM was Shelia Griffin. Our formal nights were Sunday and Wednesday. Our general emergency drill was between 3:15pm- 3:30pm approximately, we set sail at 4pm. The ship went through a dry dock January 2012 and added many public venues. Near the passengers service desk were 2 'kiosks" to scan your cruise card and get a print out of your current bill. I found this very convenient. Dolphin & Caribe decks had different(newer) balcony furniture than our Baja deck on the port side. There was no power hour in the bars. A new system called clean Sweep Bar Bill card which is a punch card(30). Chance to win your bar bill being paid for in full. Beer is 1 punch, cocktails, wine, & spirits are 2 punches, bottle of wine is 6, beer bucket is 3. Dining Breakfast in The International dinning room was from 7:30am to 9:30am all days but embarkation and disembarkation days. Lunch in Dining Room-closed on port days; open noon to 1:30pm on embarkation day and our 1 sea day. Traditional Dining 5:30pm 1st seating, 8pm second seating. Vivaldi (Anytime )dining room was also used for 5:30pm traditional, 8pm-10pm it was used for Anytime dining Anytime Dining for dinner 5:30pm to 10pm in Pacific Moon, Savoy, & Santa Fe. Sabatini's & Sterling Steakhouse 6pm to 11pm.($20. cover charge ) Horizon Court Hours: 5-6am continental breakfast 6am-11:30am breakfast 11:30am to 3:30pm lunch 3:30-5:30pm light snack 5:30pm to midnight dinner Our room steward was Joselito, our dining room waiters were Dan from Romania & George from Philippines. I did not notice any special wine tastings on this sailing other than the normal 2.(3:30pm on the day we were in Astoria -Grapevine wine tasting-$9.50 & sea day; 3pm Sommelier's Wine Club) So don't expect any just because it is 'billed" as a Wine Country Coastal-just an FYI.(I did not expected any special tastings,nor did I attend any of the ships wine tastings) Pub lunch was offered on the sea day from 11:30am to 2pm in Savoy Dining Rm. Entertainment Don't Stop the Music, Comedian Rollin Jay Moore, Comedian Doug Funk-CD Billy sang 1st, Do You Wanna Dance, I Got the Music, Born to be Wild(a rock n roll road trip) Indigo Band-they were wonderful, Oceans Quartet, Bruce Tilden at Baby Grand in Crooner's, David Pitchfork Orchestra,70's Revival Party, Illusionist Landon Swank.(his wife was his assistant.) , and DJ in Skywalkers & Club Fusion. There was much more entertainment than this, but this is a sample. Seemed to always have something going on in The Piazza on deck 5. Born to be Wild is a new show and it was offered at 7pm,8:30pm, and 10:15pm-lasted about 45 min. The 10:15pm shows had plenty of seats. There was no International Crew show which I love nor was there a back stage production tour. Disembarkation We pre-purchased the Princess transfer from Vancouver to Seattle airport. Because we were 1 of 3 ships at Canada Place, we arrived in Vancouver earlier than scheduled.(originally 7:30am) we met in Club Fusion at 5:55am and left the lounge at 6:35am. We did not have to claim our luggage, only hand in Canadian customs form, that was left in stateroom a few days prior to departure. Only 1 "hiccup" to our trip was that our suitcases were suppose to be under our bus, but out of 4 of us traveling together only 1 of our suitcases was under the bus. The rest of our bags(4 bags) came on the very last Princess bus. We had a 4:05pm flight and the last bus arrived at 2:20pm with our luggage.(luckily we had time on our side) We had a restroom onboard our bus, but 1 bus driver told me his did not have a restroom onboard.(make sure if you take a transfer that you have a restroom onboard) We left Canada Place at 7:20am and arrived at Sea-Tac airport at 11:20am. There was about 1 hr. wait, stopped in Saturday traffic to get across to USA. We made no stops along the way. We liked the itinerary and we love Princess. These ports are easily done on your own, no need for a Princess tour. Read Less
Sail Date May 2012

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