Every review should undoubtedly be taken with a grain of salt, as each person’s experience of a vacation will be filtered through their own unique set of needs, tastes, etc. That said, I wish I had paid greater attention to the reviews ... Read More
Every review should undoubtedly be taken with a grain of salt, as each person’s experience of a vacation will be filtered through their own unique set of needs, tastes, etc. That said, I wish I had paid greater attention to the reviews on this site before booking my cruise, so here is my experience, for what it’s worth.
Atmosphere/ship in general (or, what I wish I had known):
The ship was dated and tired. In both appearance, amenities, programming, and clientele. The cruising ‘lifestyle’ is definitely geared towards the white, conservative, 70+ crowd, with events and services including ‘how to look 10 years younger’, ‘how to lose 10 pounds’, napkin folding, and countless jewellery shows and expensive art auctions. Tired platitudes about what ‘ladies’ enjoy, jokes about foolish husbands, and basically your generic sexist, heteronormative talk were all around the ship. This is not the place for younger (or just socially-conscious folk, as this does not have to be mutually exclusive with age) travelers, and if I had considered this more heavily prior to booking, we would not have gone. Princess - and all cruise lines, for that matter - will have to drastically revamp their programming and overall culture if they hope to appeal to younger, more socially progressive generations.
It should be noted that most of our fellow travelers (and staff) seemed quite conservative, and were evidently not comfortable with gender non-conformity or LGBT+ identities.
While I acknowledge working on a cruise ship is likely a constrained choice, most often for the marginalized worker, and requires long and difficult hours with harsh working conditions (this needs to be fixed at an institutional level), the staff seemed indignant toward us and our questions were met with frustration. I’m not sure what this was about (our age and apparent lack of relative wealth?) but it made for a very uncomfortable experience.
The excursions are expensive, though likely on par with other cruise lines. We would have liked 2 days in LA, but 1 day in Santa Barbara and Monterey was enough. Disembarking from the ship for the latter ports was very poorly planned. We waited approximately an hour and a half simply to be be able to leave the ship on a tender boat, cutting our time down in port significantly.
I have a myriad of food allergies and while the crew assures allergy-sufferers that they take great care in providing allergen-free food and I was meticulous about what I ate, I had two reactions on board. I don’t think the crew knows what allergies involve and require. It is not simply about not having the allergen IN what you are eating, but must include absolutely no cross-contamination. For instance, the food that was suggested for me at the buffet as being ‘safe’ was sitting right next to my allergen. The salad bar, for example, had containers of nuts scattered around so that when other passengers scoop the nuts, little bits can fall into other bowls etc.
The quality of food in the buffet was also very poor. I am almost positive the ship uses instant coffee and minute rice, if that is any indication. Most days we ate white bread and fresh fruit. The dining room food was better quality but sadly resulted in allergic reactions.
Many fellow passengers commented on how good the food was on board, though this is entirely relative, and I suppose depends on what you cook and eat in your own home.
They say that cruising is the ultimate all-inclusive vacation, and while that may be true for some, the hidden costs of the trip are extremely high (for us, this was ginger ale to calm our nausea, good coffee, and internet to text our family). It felt as though we were constantly being asked to spend more money, with daily pamphlets about spa offers and on-board shopping. The exclusive ‘adult only’ space is an additional charge, as are fitness classes and any drink other than water, milk, tea and (instant) coffee.
If you are at all sensitive or anxious, I caution you. We were nauseous 90% of the time and the motion was unnerving. We had one night in particular that was so rough, our entire cabin shook and the drawers banged open and closed all night. One seasoned cruiser said it was so bad she thought we were going down, while another fell that night and broke her toe and her husband hurt his hip.
There is not much to do during the sailing days (see above re: programming) unless you are content with full days by the pool.
There were a few evenings with exceptional entertainment, including a comedian/magician and Broadway music and dancing. Other than that, most entertainment involved outdated trivia, game shows, bingo, ‘guess the weight of the sculpture’, napkin folding, art auctions, etc. I've watched many videos about Princess and its entertainment but it does not live up to its promises.
Read the reviews and trust your instincts. We will never be going on a cruise again. Read Less