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217 Ocean Princess Cruise Reviews

This was our second cruise on the Ocean Princess, this time a short cruise around Britain. The ship is well maintained and very clean - almost all the staff are incredibly helpful and always have smiles on their faces. We like the small ... Read More
This was our second cruise on the Ocean Princess, this time a short cruise around Britain. The ship is well maintained and very clean - almost all the staff are incredibly helpful and always have smiles on their faces. We like the small ships where you can find your way around almost immediately. The food is generally good - better than last year we thought. Unusually for us we ate in the buffet a number of times - compared to larger ships it is much calmer and the food is good with a reasonable choice. We had a restricted view outside cabin which we liked. Although small the layout means there is sufficient space and appears to be much bigger than an inside we had on the Oriana. The view was very restricted, there is a lifeboat outside but it has plain glass windows so the room gets some light - some of the lifeboats' windows are covered in orange giving the cabins an orange glow! Deck 6 is quite quiet although I think there could be some noise from the Casino at times - it was normally shut on our cruise and not an issue. There is a new team of entertainers on board who seem good. The Cruise Director, Frank Castiglione, is not really to our taste but is very enthusiastic. Princess are very poor with the information they share about Rosyth, which is about 30-40 minutes outside Edinburgh. About the only information you can glean is that there is a Princess shuttle bus to the local railway station at Inverkeithing at a cost of USD8 per person each way, the return train fare is 5.50. What Princess don't really tell you is that there is a free shuttle bus to the terminal building at the dock gates which is staffed by local volunteers who are very helpful. At the terminal there are taxis available which will take you to the station if you want (6.50 I believe) but we decided to use taxis to get into Edinburgh. They operate on a fixed tariff (both ways), the cost of a taxi to Princes Street is 30 and to the Castle is 35. Most people share a taxi so the cost is relatively modest. You can also ask the taxi drivers to take you out on a tour, I believe they charge about 30 an hour - once again you can share with others making this an attractive option compared to the expensive ship's tours. There is also a free shuttle bus to Dunfermline provided by the local authorities - OK it is not Edinburgh but there is quite a lot of historical interest and some shops. There is nothing in Rosyth. The mobile number of the taxi driver we used (Brian) is 0796373302, the second day we arranged for them to meet us at the terminal. Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
We started our vacation in Dover at the Wallett hotel. The next morning we took a taxi to the castle and then on to the Ocean princess ship. This is a small ship with about 600+ passengers. I have sailed many times before and getting on ... Read More
We started our vacation in Dover at the Wallett hotel. The next morning we took a taxi to the castle and then on to the Ocean princess ship. This is a small ship with about 600+ passengers. I have sailed many times before and getting on this ship was so easy...no lines and able to get in our room immediately. The next day we were supposed to go to St, Peter's Port but the weather was too bad so we had a nice and relaxing day at sea. The next day we docked at Milford Haven and took a bus tour. It was beautiful, and someday I would love to go back again. Our next port was Dublin, Ireland where we took a city bus drive. Then a day at sea and on to Edinburg, Scotland where we spent two nights. The history, the castle, the people were all "lovely" as they say. And then back home. This cruise was so fun and relaxing. The food was excellent. Sit at Jorge's table. He and his junior waiter were very attentive to our every wish. Then meet the head waiter, Velasco. He,too, will make you feel like family. Everyone that works on this ship went out of their way to make sure we had a wonderful time. They were always smiling and making conversation with us. The food is wonderful and the ship is so clean and elegant. Entertainment was good too. As one of our friends said "I'm really mad. I can't find one thing to complain about on this cruise" ha! Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
This cruise has been done once a year for the last 2 years on a former Renaissance Cruise Line ship. Ren went bankrupt and Princess bought 2 of thee ships, Celebrity/Oceania bought 2, among others. Almost all of the cruise locations are ... Read More
This cruise has been done once a year for the last 2 years on a former Renaissance Cruise Line ship. Ren went bankrupt and Princess bought 2 of thee ships, Celebrity/Oceania bought 2, among others. Almost all of the cruise locations are relatively unique and are not listed on this website. We are an active senior couple, semi-retired, very low 70s --and the average age was in the 60s to low 70s, 1/3 brit, 1/3 americans, and the rest from all over the world. On avg, I would say this was a fairly a ctive group--much more active than the seniors we have encountered on HA. We tour independently, aoccasionaly take a smallgroup tour like OAT or slightly larger Smartours, and rarely cruise. We dont like to be herded and our idea of fun is not a ship with 2-5K poeople. I live in a large city and don't need to be on a ship that is like the city. The ship is intimate with only 650 passengers; 1 dining room with 2 settings and/or the casual buffet for L/D. Given its 670 foot length it is is easy to get around; 13 laps on the upper deck = 1 mile; sometimes easier simply to use the treadmills in the fitness room. Cabin and dining room service was efficient, courteous , and excellent. Our deck 3-lowest deck- midship cabin, a deck with only about 10 similiar cabins- was said to be obstructed view but the obstruction which we knew in advance was that we had a porthole instead of a window. The cabin with the equivalent of a K bed -2 comfortable twins placed together-was comfortable , quiet, and even on one rocky day quite calm. There was a decent sized closet and sufficient draws--we travel light with 2 carryons, 22x14x9- and a small backpack, and much nylon/polyester that is easily redone and packable, other than the sport coat and slacks and 2 dress shirts we needed for the 3 formal nights. We had been told that the food on Princess had gone downhill but our experience was excellent-food was superior to the several Holland America cruises we had taken and the Celebrity Expedition Galapagos cruise. There were 2 large shows every other evening,other single acts when the large shows were not given, and the entertainment was quite good-much better than HA and than had been anticipated. We had the benefit of 2 large companies as the shift changed in the middle of the cruise. In addition, there was an excellent magician. There were several lounges and the lunge entertainment, 2 different singers and a pian/guitar act were good but the musical fare could have been more balanced-mostly 50s-70s music, little in the way of jazz exce;pt when the quartet that backed the large musical companies were playing a few times in one of the lounges. We took 2 cruise tours and 4 private tours. In general, the private tours were mcuh better than the ship tours as they were lengthier and covered more ground and were personalized-while max was 14, we wound up with either us two or one other couple compared to 50+ ship tours. The ship tours were overpriced considerably compared to the private tours that were available. We did a GrayLine Blue Lagoon tour which after the spa swim dropped us off in Reyjkavik for exploring whereas the cruise tour would have returned us to the ship according to #800 Princess reps. We also did a tour that included swimming at Lake Myavatn and a glacier, a cave hike, and a coastal 2 mile walk-during fairly torrential rain. We complained about a ship Vigur Island so-called nature walk which had an incompetent and inexperienced young guide and walked not more than a 1/2 mile instead of the 2 miles advertised-a fraction of the distance advertised, with little to see on the small island and most time spent hovering around the small snack bar which could not accompany the 2 ship tour groups. We were given a 20% rebate rather than a compete refund. A ship tour in the Faroe Islands off Denmark that was a 4 hour scenic drive was interesting but marred by the fact that we did not get to make the several photo stops advertised, spent too much time at a cafe, and when we inquired about walking back from the nearest stop to the cruise dock, were misinformed by the tour guide that it was too far-more than 4 miles when in fact it was less than 2 and easily done. There was little during the several at sea days in the way of a substantive learning experience-other than two geology lectures, there was as galley tour, and a lecture on the history of tanzanite-just what you needed to learn about --an artificial non-valuable gem hawked in the ship store. But then, unfortunately this seems to be the typical fare of most cruises. Fortunately, the ship did not offer the typical art auction with fairly worthless and mass produced art. Brief cruise lectures on the destinations were adequate if you had not done any independent research and did not push the tours. I would have preferred open dining but that may not be possible on such a small ship. Our table of 6-as requested-consisted of very pleasant company. A couple we became friendly with was not so fortunate and had a loudmouth couple which forced them to eat at the buffet. I would have asked for a different table which, from the looks of things, could have been arranged. Pros-food, ship size, destinations visited, and staff. Cons- overpriced and overhyped cruise tours, grossly overpriced internet--why dont ship lines get with it like most hotels??, and little in the way of substantive onboard lectures/learning experience. If you have teenagers, while there were a handful, there is little onboard that would interest them. This tour/ship was not for most kids because of that. Would I do this cruise again-in a nanosecond given where we went, particularly the 4 different locations in Iceland. We had looked into self-driving the ring road around iceland, talked to people who had done that but it required 9-11 days of 150-200 mile driving with relatively few stopoffs because of the terrain. You spend more time in the the car than out. Our itineray was as follows: Day & Date Destination Time More Information Mon 07/01/13 London (dover), England   View Details Mon 07/01/13 London (dover), England PORT OF DOVER TERMINAL 2 WESTERN DOCKS, DOVER KENT, CT179TF Depart 5:00pm CHECK IN 1:00PM-4:00PM FOR A FASTER CHECK IN *ARRIVE AFTER 2:00PM Tue 07/02/13 At Sea Wed 07/03/13 Shetland Islands (lerwick), Scotland Arrive 7:00am Depart 5:00pm Thu 07/04/13 Faroe Island(klaksvik),denmark Arrive 8:00am Depart 5:00pm Fri 07/05/13 At Sea Sat 07/06/13 Akureyri, Iceland Arrive 7:00am Depart 5:00pm Sun 07/07/13 Isafjordur, Iceland Arrive 7:00am Depart 6:00pm Tender Required WHEELCHAIR ACCESS LIMITED Mon 07/08/13 Grundarfjordur, Iceland Arrive 7:00am Depart 6:00pm Tender Required WHEELCHAIR ACCESS LIMITED Tue 07/09/13 Reykjavik, Iceland Arrive 7:00am Depart 6:00pm Wed 07/10/13 At Sea Thu 07/11/13 At Sea Fri 07/12/13 Skjolden/sognefjord, Norway Arrive 7:00am Depart 6:00pm Sat 07/13/13 Bergen, Norway Arrive 7:00am Depart 5:00pm Sun 07/14/13 At Sea Mon 07/15/13 London (dover), England PORT OF DOVER TERMINAL 1 WESTERN DOCKS, DOVER KENT, CT179TF Arrive 5:00am Mon 07/15/13 London (dover), England Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
Cruise On Ocean Princess, Honolulu to Sydney. 27 days We had booked a mini suite for this cruise and were basically pleased with the size of the room and the bathroom. The balcony was double the size of the standard balconies. The ... Read More
Cruise On Ocean Princess, Honolulu to Sydney. 27 days We had booked a mini suite for this cruise and were basically pleased with the size of the room and the bathroom. The balcony was double the size of the standard balconies. The bathroom was larger and had a bath as well as upgraded towelling. So, a little bit of luxury. Our room steward, Hector, was obliging friendly and attentive. The Ocean Princess is a small ship with about 650 passengers on this cruise. Overall the ship looks OK for a 1999 build but on closer inspection it is showing it's age. The cabinets in our room were chipped and needed restaining or replacing and the pool had serious chipping on the edges. Some of the deck furniture was cheap and poor quality and there were never enough shaded areas for people to sit in when in the hot sunshine. If you are going to sail in hot climates this must be a priority since we are now educated in skin cancer causes. The pool was small and often crowded on sea days. The food was 4 star and somewhat repetitious at dinner in the main dining room over the 27 days. The best meal was lunch in the Panorama buffet when there was a wide choice and easier to satisfy your taste buds. The Panorama buffet was naturally crowded at breakfast and lunch and often it was difficult to find a table for 4 during busy periods. There were no hand sanitizers outside the main restaurant which I thought was a failing. The evening shows were excellent, especially for a ship of this size. The daytime activities were limited and often biased towards fitness and health and beauty. Over the 27 days there was a lot of repetition in daytime presentations. Overall if you choose a small ship you will have space and activity limitations. This ship is now 14 years old and cannot compete with it's newer and larger competitors in many aspects. However there were good points and overall we enjoyed the cruise. As a final thought, when our cruise lines going to do away with adding gratuities to your onboard accounts and include it upfront in your overall price. I believe in tipping for personal services eg. room steward and waiters, and not subsidising the cruise lines' bottom line which is what we are basically doing, by paying gratuities which are shared by all staff. Ports of Call. We ( the 4 of us ) decided at the outset to do our own thing at each port of call and this worked out well, both in terms of personally seeing what we wanted to see and also saving a pile of money. Taxis and tour operators were readily available at the docks and it was easy to find a driver who would give you a tour of the island to see the points of interest. With a little research and a read of the ship's port guide we knew what we wanted to see. Nawiliwili, Kauai and Lahaina Maui. Taxis on the Hawaian islands charge $60 an hour per taxi for island tours and in both these ports we hired a Taxi Van which took 4 people comfortably. We had a list of places to see on both islands and we discussed the itinerary with the drivers before we set off. We confirmed the price and the likely time of the tour. On both islands we had tours which lasted 3-4 hours and we added a $5-10 tip per person at the end. The drivers were knowledgeable and we saw lots of beaches, waterfalls, vistas etc in comfort. Definitely the way to go compared to the ships tours. Hilo, The Big Island. Prior to the holiday I had researched private tour operators and had seen good reports on Ricky's Tours. I am happy to confirm that Ricky gave us a great tour. With a running commentary about everything, done with good humour and local insight, Ricky showed us smoking volcanos in the National Volcanoes Park, Lava Tubes, Steam Vents, Volcanic rock, Macadamia Nuts, Orchids, Turtles on black sand beaches, and vistas galore. All this for $65 per head. There is not a better bargain in the Pacific. Good on you Ricky. French Polynesia. Bora Bora. After 5 days at sea we were enchanted to arrive at this attractive island with a lot of natural beauty. This is a small island, about 15 sq miles and with a population of about 7500. There are a few shops and some market stalls and a couple of nice public beaches. We took a $10 ride to a nice public beach past a popular, if expensive bar, called Bloody Marys. The beach was white sand and coral ( wear some protective footwear in the sea ). After an hour or so the bus returned to pick us up and returned us to the dock. There is not much to see on this island so you would not bother with a tour, just enjoy it's scenery. Moorea. The next day we were in Moorea which is very close to the main island of Tahiti and Papeete. We rented a small car here for $90 including insurance since the island is reasonably large, 51 sq miles, and there is more to see. Again this is a beautiful island but you do notice that there is little prosperity and apart from pineapples, tourism is important. We went up to a local viewpoint called Belvedere and then after some more touring around ended up at the lovely Hilton resort where they were kind enough to allow us to swim at their beach. We bought some drinks at the bar and the pool attendant supplied us with towels to use. A lovely beach and if you have money and want to get away from it all this would be ideal. Papeete, Tahiti. We were unable to get very excited by Papeete. The central area was not very inviting and it all looked a bit tatty for a town of this size. Up towards the hills on the West of the town there were obviously some better areas but since the major tourist sites were to the east of Papeete we never saw these. There was a tourist office right next to the pier and some taxis and tour operators around. We took a $35 tour from here and to be truthful, it was not that great. We saw a reasonable waterfall and an underwhelming blowhole and a couple of bays and some of the countryside, The guide was poor and it was not worth the money. The US$ was accepted in most places. Pago Pago, American Samoa. Apia, Western Samoa. Tonga I have lumped these three destinations together initially, because they all shared the same type of situations. They all have a similar feel to them. The people are friendly, religious, loyal to their culture and basically live in third world environments. The major economic pluses are tourism, bananas and fish. At each port we were able to procure and bargain for taxis and have a 2-3 hour tour to places of interest culled from the daily fact sheets provided by the ship. The golden rules are check out the driver, check the taxi, does it have air conditioning and can 4 people sit comfortably in it. Finally confirm the price and where he is going to take you and how long. Generally $30 an hour was agreed and all accepted the US$. Each port had market stalls set up to welcome us and Polynesian music. Going around the various islands you will be immediately struck by the major influence the churches play in everyday life for these islanders. There are churches everywhere from all religious affiliations. Catholic, Mormon, Protestant, traditional etc. Each little village has more than one church and several meeting places. Boy! were the missionaries ever busy. The islands were all pretty enough spoilt by run down commercial enterprises. On Pago Pago we went to Two Dollar Beach which was very nice, with a green grassy area, a small cafe and a super and probably best beach on the island. There was not much to see on the island though we drove to the end of the island. On Apia we went to Robert Louis Stephenson's house and quite a long drive out to see some turtles which we fed. RLS house was definitely worth the visit with scenic gardens and $10 entry fee to tour the house. On Tonga. We were lucky to pick a taxi with a great driver who also gave us a very nice tour. Important to try and get a taxi inside the port gates. Outside the gates be careful since there are many unlicenced and dubious operators. The Royal palace was right opposite the ship and the town was pretty disappointing. We were taken to see some great blowholes and also some island children who sang for us. A nearby resort and swimming beach was very average. We also saw the Royal Tombs. A pleasant day Auckland, New Zealand. Our friends who live in Auckland gave us a tour. This is a big city where you can easily spend a day. The ship docks right in the centre of the city and there is a tourist office near the end of the pier. The best deal looks to be a Hop On Hop Off Explorer bus which takes you to the major sites for a daily fee of NZ$40 ( about US$ 32 ). It runs every 30 mins. Tauranga, New Zealand. Where you disembark the ship there was a very comprehensive tourist office set up. You can do everything from rent a car to book an all day tour. Eight of us went to Rotarua in a rented car. Very enjoyable. There are nice shops near the dock in Mount Manganui. Sydney. We got off here. There is so many things to do here that you have a fantastic choice. The dock is usually right opposite the Opera House and almost underneath the Sydney Harbour Bridge, next to the Ferry terminals , The Rocks shopping area is nearby. There is a free bus 555 that goes around the central town area which leaves behind the ferry terminal. Enjoy ! Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
This was a 10 day cruise from Tahiti visiting 5 other nearby islands. We booked our flights through Princess and they put us on Air Tahiti Nui. The flight to Tahiti left LAX about noon and arrived about 8:00 PM. Our return flight was at ... Read More
This was a 10 day cruise from Tahiti visiting 5 other nearby islands. We booked our flights through Princess and they put us on Air Tahiti Nui. The flight to Tahiti left LAX about noon and arrived about 8:00 PM. Our return flight was at 9:50 PM. Do the math, that is 13 hours and 50 minutes after leaving the cabin. Princess told me we would be allowed to stay on board and enjoy everything that we normally do. They were correct. After conferring with other passengers, we were not offered the option of staying at the Tahiti Intercontinental Hotel before our return flight like other passengers on the cruise was offered. We would have liked to stay off ship rather on board for an extra 10 hours trying to find things to do. We were not allowed back into our cabins. We took an island drive shore excursion to burn up time so it was not that bad. Cabin steward - probably the best throughout the cruise line. You couldn't ask for a better steward. Breakfast in the dining room - Very nice, but the choice was somewhat limited due to ordering from a menu. Lunch - Very good selection and very well presented. The wait staff was the best. Evening dining - Outstanding selection and very well presented. Every item I ordered was excellent. On this cruise, I had the very best surf and turf I have ever had. The wait staff was the best. Hair Dresser - It was overpriced. $39 for a wash and blow dry. My wife actually looked better going in than when she came out. Wine Tasting - I do not think it was worth the money. For $25.00 you get to sample 6 wines and Champaign. You would think that at the end, you could at least get a full glass of your favorite; but NO, that was not included. Never again will I do this; I felt cheated when I left. Whatever you do, do not accept cabin 8059. It takes forever; I mean forever, to get hot water. I called it in two times and both times someone came and looked at it. I found out on the last visit, that the water heater was on deck 1 and it is a long way to my cabin on deck 8. I finally figured out that you start to plan on a bath or shower at least 10 minutes before. You need to start the hot water in both the tub and sink and just let them run. If showering, you let the sink run all the time; otherwise the shower will get cold. Whatever you do, do not accept a cabin where the food court is directly above; unless you enjoy getting waken up at four in the morning; every morning. The carts they use make noise when they roll on the ceramic tile above. Refuse these cabins. "R" rated movies are only shown on TV between the hours of 10:30PM and 6:00AM. Must be because of "the children" on board which I only counted 2. Way to go Princess. Luggage delivery when we arrived was very speedy; not like most cruises where it takes a half a day. Shipboard account statements are available for printing at a kiosk by the reception desk. This is the first time I have seen this and is a very good idea. Overall this cruise was very, very good and I plan on taking future cruises with Princess. They are very much customer focused and they met and sometimes exceeded my expectations. I have been an owner of Princess (through Carnival - ticker CCL). I like the on board ship credits given to me by owning the common stock and also shipboard credits for being a military veteran. Read Less
Sail Date February 2013
The Ocean Princess is a refreshing alternative to the mega ships that abound. It's nice to walk around the ship and see familiar faces (people we have met) instead of being squashed by throngs of strangers. The cabin stewards, ... Read More
The Ocean Princess is a refreshing alternative to the mega ships that abound. It's nice to walk around the ship and see familiar faces (people we have met) instead of being squashed by throngs of strangers. The cabin stewards, internet staff, and dining room staff are superior to those on other ships that we have been on. The entertainment was amazingly good, considering the smaller number of performers. The food was typical-overly fancy for midwesterners, complete with limp bacon. The cabin was spacious, and we were able to put our luggage under the bed. The balcony had fairly nice, adjustable lounge chairs. The balcony door seal was faulty on the last night, possibly due to strong winds, so it made a loud moaning noise. We found a crew member but he was unable to do anything except create a shrill whistle instead. We ended up sleeping with the door propped part way open. The book exchange in the library was nice, since we had 5 days at sea. We played bingo & trivia besides using the casino, shuffleboard, and ping pong. Table tennis was a disappointment. The person in charge knew nothing about it, and she managed to damper the fun of tournament play by requiring spouses to first compete against each other, thus eliminating one. It's always more fun playing against someone different. She also ignored us for the first tournament, offering the paddles to people who were walking by, while we were waiting in what appeared to be a line. Dancing on this ship is very challenging because it rocks a lot more than mega ships. It's best not to wear heels. It's sometimes challenging just walking around, so I would not necessarily recommend this ship to people in their 70's and above. The excursions were expensive, and in Hawaii, the same excursions are available independently, at nearly half the cost. This ship was not as conscientious about hand sanitizers as other ships. They rely more on signs advising people to use their cabin bathrooms rather than communal. The ship had a very nice mixture of ethnic groups, all congenial and much better than those that cater mostly to Europeans. There were only about 5 children on the cruise. This ship has no facilities for children. Although the cruise director always announced that children could not be seated in the first 3 rows for performances, no one ever enforced that rule. The fifties night was a huge disappointment, but not unlike other cruise ships unfortunately. Hardly any dancing; just hula hoops, the hokey pokey, Elvis contest, & the teaching the hand jive. (Nothing reminiscent of a sock hop.) The pool was nice but the rocking ship created huge waves which limited being able to use the pool. There should have been more efforts to control the hogging of lounge chairs by people who were not actually using them. (Some would go sit on loungers in the sunny area while leaving their towels in the shady area, on other loungers.) It was good to be able to retreat to our balcony. Passengers tended to agree that time seemed to pass quickly. It was a lot of fun watching the whales from our balcony, in Maui. We brought a buffet supper to our balcony so we could keep watching the whales before the ship started moving away. Read Less
Sail Date February 2013
Our family sailed the Star Princess in January 2013 through Cape Horn and it was a huge ship. We noticed the quality of food had improved and even the fellow passengers were fascinating, mostly from South America so I was willing to give ... Read More
Our family sailed the Star Princess in January 2013 through Cape Horn and it was a huge ship. We noticed the quality of food had improved and even the fellow passengers were fascinating, mostly from South America so I was willing to give Princess a try for a smaller ship- the Ocean Princess. The small ship still had my favorite spots, a great gym, a buffet with outdoor seating, the Tahitian lounge for morning line dancing,belly dancing, bingo for my mom, a beautiful library, card room and specialty restaurants. I was impressed that they could maintain this variety on a small ship. The small size was perfect because my mom and I could get around easily and not get lost. The ship felt like the perfect size. We arrived in Tahiti around 7 pm, used the transfer service and it was my clear the smaller ship was going to be a breeze after the Star Princess for registering and moving quickly into our room. Entering the ship we were greeted by adorable Audrey and we felt a warmth and welcoming that was very personable. This was important because this ship is at first glance polar opposite of the modern ships. I kept thinking ' think replica attempt of the era of the titanic.' Since we were going to have 5 sailing days in a row, through the equator, we decided to book a mini suite. The room was spacious with floor to ceiling windows the width of the room. It was luxurious and we settled in. Here are my complaints. 1. The shower/bath is a step in and out. Both my mom and I felt very unstable in the shower/bath. The only safety rail was down by the bath tub. On the rocky sail days we decided to use the showers in the spa,which was fine, Our fellow passengers were not as bothered by this. 2. The major complaint is that Princess say they have Bridge master( game) for any sailings with more then 4 sea days. I relied on this fact when selecting the cruise. My mom is a bridge player and the only reason I chose a 5 day sailing is that she could play bridge and have classes. I learned that Princess Cruise Director, Frank, had not hired a bridge instructor for the past few sailings. I was really mad. They did publish time for bridge players to get together and that worked out, sort of. In the end, we had so much to do and mom became the bridge master, teaching me and other passengers the game. 3.The dining room menu and food was not great. Not like the dining room menus or quality of the Star Princess. Breakfast and lunch were good but I had to bug them for nuts for my salad. They did have the poolside grill, which is a great staple, just needed more,staff because it got busy at lunch. Excellent The staff on board! Entertainment Lunch time desserts ( unfortunately !) Well travelled fellow cruisers Beds were new, room was spacious a better layout then the big ships Tea time / bar/ future cruises/ scholarship at sea / spa/ gym Loved Island hopping, a great value and easy travel from California. Read Less
Sail Date February 2013
We wanted to find a cruise that either began or ended in Hawaii so we could spend some extra time there. Easier said than done. Most French Polynesia cruises begin and end in Australia or New Zealand and none that I could find included ... Read More
We wanted to find a cruise that either began or ended in Hawaii so we could spend some extra time there. Easier said than done. Most French Polynesia cruises begin and end in Australia or New Zealand and none that I could find included Hawaii. When I came across the Ocean Princess and an itinerary that included French Polynesia and Hawaii I knew this was the perfect ship for us. We are also not fans of large ships and try to chooses ships under 2,500 passengers. The Ocean Princess is a lovely lady. With about 650 passengers you quickly got to recognize most of the passengers and crew. The ship has recently been refurbished and I have no complaints about the decor or cleanliness. The food was very good and well rounded with a lot of fish and seafood options which made my husband very happy. There were a couple of English Pub lunches which made a nice change from the daily buffet. Unlike other cruises we've been on the staff wasn't pushy and didn't make you feel awkward if you didn't want a drink. And thank heaven there were no art auctions. There was a comment card in our room at the beginning of the cruise asking us to let them know if there were any things that they could improve upon. I found the library (which is the nicest one I've ever seen on a cruise ship and one my husband utilized a lot) and the main lounge particularly frigid, and from watching other passengers at the evening entertainment bundle up felt that I wasn't the only one finding it chilling. I put the card in the box outside reception never expecting to hear more but the next day I received a phone call from guest relations saying that they apologized and had spoken to engineering and would insure that the public spaces were less frigid. True to their word that evening there was a noticeable difference in the temperature. This was one of many small details that made this ship a winner in our book. The crew is especially friendly and accommodating. On the galley tour I complimented someone on the pastry chef who turned out the best almond croissants I'd ever had. He asked me to wait while he found the chef so I could thank him personally. I've also never seen a head chef who was as visible and approachable as the head chef on the Ocean Princess. Small ship cruising isn't for everyone. There was only a small pool and no ice rings or climbing walls, but if you want a simple, enjoyable experience without a constant circus, this is the ship for you. In fact in the future we plan to see what other itineraries the OP has and follow her to another port. Read Less
Sail Date February 2013
We stayed at Hotel Tahiti Nui, in downtown Papeete. Taxi from airport to hotel was $40. Lots of taxis available, and there were enough people who spoke English at airport and hotel. Hotel was nice, modern, but dark corridors at night, ... Read More
We stayed at Hotel Tahiti Nui, in downtown Papeete. Taxi from airport to hotel was $40. Lots of taxis available, and there were enough people who spoke English at airport and hotel. Hotel was nice, modern, but dark corridors at night, traffic noise from the street. Next door is a convenience store/gas-station which is a good cheap place to buy snacks. For breakfast we got lovely French pastries and yogurt from there for a (relatively) bargain price. There is a wine shop on Rue Gauguin across from City Hall building. The wine is from France and tends to be expensive. Cheap wine is $25. You can walk from hotel to pier but the sidewalks do not have drop curbs and some have steps. It was about 15 min walk with luggage. The pier entrance is nothing special, no secure gated area as you approach - just walk toward the ship. There was a white tent area to drop off luggage and get the cabin card, and then you proceed to the secure area. Checkout of hotel was 11 am and we began check in at the pier at 11:30. There were about 30 people ahead of us. By 11:30 however, the line was quite long and people were now waiting in the sun. Unlike other cruise ports where you have to leave the ship in the morning on disembarkation day, Ocean princess accommodates for the very late flight departures by allowing passengers to hang out in the common areas of the ship. Lots of people were in the library area waiting to disembark for late flights. Their carry on luggage was stored in a dining room area. I have concerns over how secure people felt their luggage was since we walked in there and it was a while before any ship personnel appeared. I would recommend a hotel in Tahiti rather than depart immediately after the cruise to avoid this.In Papeete we did the self guided walking tour. The pearl museum was interesting and informative. At night we wandered around but there was not much going on. The market was interesting. We bought beautiful flower bouquet that we were allowed to bring into our cabin. In Rangiroa we tendered off this coral atoll. There are a few vendors selling trinkets on the beach and a rustic toilet. There were no tour operators selling their tours aside from one boat operator who would take you snorkeling. There were a few operators who you could prearrange tours with on the internet. We snorkeled off the beach right at the tender. But the water was quite cloudy that day. We walked from the lagoon side to the ocean side. It was only 100 yards across. It was interesting to see the surf crashing and all the shells and coral washed up on the ocean side. The water was quite warm as we walked in depths no higher than our knees on the flat coral ledge. In Huahine we also tendered. There were only two tables set up from vendors. There were no tours available on your own from here. We did have an arranged tour with Mark from Huahine Nautique on a sea-doo and our friends went with his company on a motu (island) picnic. We all had an amazing day. I loved this island and these excursions. I took some amazing sunrise pictures here of the mist. The snorkeling and beaches were perfect. Princess offers transport to town for $8 on le truck (open air, bench seating). In Raiatea we were docked. There is a tourist center right there where you can buy many independent tours. We took a boat tour up the river and to the Taputapuatea Marea (ancient ruins) then to a motu. Tour was $65 usd/pp. There are a lot of vendors here. In Bora Bora, we tendered ashore. We were here for 2 days. We did not have a planned excursion for the first day but found many tour operators willing to take us on tours. We ended up doing an a four wheel drive tour in an open air jeep defender. This tour went up the mountains up some crazy steep and rutted roads. We saw a lovely lady who hand paints pareos, nicer than anything we saw in the tourist shops. We saw the WW2 bunker, and the remaining foundation of a house, high in the hills swept away by a cyclone. We traveled to the public beach, to Bloody Mary's bar (which is empty during the day but check out the washrooms). We made a stop at the Black Pearl farm/store which includes an informative display and lesson on pearl farming. I wish I could remember our tour driver's name. The views from the mountain top to the multi-colored ocean are breathtaking. The next day in Bora Bora we had a prearranged tour with Patrick lagoon tour. There were 3 boats that headed out from the place you tender ashore. The first stop was on a sand bar where the sting rays are feed. Then the reef tip sharks com around. You are standing in water about waist deep. Patrick crew was very informative and entertaining. Then we made a snorkeling stop that was some of the best snorkeling I have done anywhere, for the variety and quantity of fish we saw. Then it was off to a private motu (island) for lunch in paradise. This island was so beautiful it was surreal. The picnic tables are placed in the water, to keep you cool as your feet are in the calm ocean. Delicious Tahitian lunch was cooked in a open beach pit. We were instructed on how they cook the food. Food was served on "leaves" woven as a plate. It was also a chance to play in the shallow water and to take a swim. Only the toilets were a little sketchy here. We loved this tour and remember it fondly. I had not realized before I left how easy it was to use US dollars. All the tour operators took them and so did the tourist vendors and many shops. In fact sometimes the rate was very favorable ($10 or 1000 xpf). But taxi drivers in Papeepte do require xpf. The Ocean Princess is a small ship which we liked especially for the lack of crowds when we dock/tender. Our cabin was at the back and you do feel vibrations and constant movement. The food was outstanding, some of the best Princess food ever. Many of the staff has been with Princess a long time and it was my understanding that they choose to work on the Ocean Princess. This was the first small ship I have traveled on and I loved it. We continued our journey to New Zealand for a 10:30 am flight. Disembarkation was effortless as we were one of the first off the ship. We walked off the ship with our carry on and found our luggage under the tent on the pier. There were taxis waiting there. Again, I was glad I was not one of those waiting for a late evening departure to the States. Read Less
Sail Date January 2013
We flew in to Honolulu the night before the cruise departed and used the next morning to tour the Pearl Harbor Memorial, which I would highly recommend. The ship was docked at Diamond Head Terminal, a short walk up Punchbowl Street to the ... Read More
We flew in to Honolulu the night before the cruise departed and used the next morning to tour the Pearl Harbor Memorial, which I would highly recommend. The ship was docked at Diamond Head Terminal, a short walk up Punchbowl Street to the Judiciary History Bldg and statue of King Kamehameha. Set sail for Lahaina, Maui, that evening. The Ocean Princess is a small ship, approx. 700 passengers to 350 crew. The personal attention was a welcome surprise. We boarded early at 1pm and had instant access to our stateroom. With the smaller number of passengers, the odds of actually winning a contest or drawing are very good. The ship was at anchor in Maui, and we tendered in to Lahaina, where there are many shops and restaurants and public restrooms right at tender pier. I took the hiking trip, which is at an often rainy part of the island, so it was wet and muddy, and it was strenuous, which was part of the description of the tour. It was exactly what I wanted. A chance to swim in a waterfall pool and eat lunch in a waterfall cave. Next day's port was Nawiliwili, Kauai, where the ship docked at Pier N3. This island is lush and green, where "Jurassic Park" was filmed. The tubing tour from Mtn. Tubing Adventure was great fun, relaxing and scenic. Next day's port was Hilo, where the ship docked at Pier 1. There's not much right at the dock. There are free shuttles provided by Hilo Hatties and Walmart. Take either one and then you can walk from one store to the other. Walmart has some good souvenirs at low prices. If you walk from the ship dock out the gate to the main road, then turn left, we were told there are some nice beaches less than a 1/4 mile away. From here the Ocean Princess set sail for five days at sea. There were a lot of activities to keep everyone busy. On Day 3 at sea, Monday, 1/14, at 20:00 we crossed the Equator. The next day there was a celebration party with King Neptune, and we received certificates in our cabins stating that we have officially crossed the Equator into the Southern Hemisphere. Two more days at sea, then on 1/17 we arrived at Bora Bora where the ship was at anchor and we tendered in to shore. There are shops, cafes and a small grocery a short walk to the left on the main road. Best prices are at the folk art stands inside the building at the pier. There is also a public restroom onshore. It rained a monsoon this day for us, blowing wind and rain. A trip to Bloody Mary's Bar helped raise the spirits, though. It has a white sand floor and the ladies room sink is a waterfall with a ring pull to turn on the water. A local Hinano beer and a cocktail added up to 20 bucks U.S.! Next day was Moorea, where the ship anchored at Cook's Bay, but also sometimes the ship docks in the next bay over. Tender boats went to shore, which I understand there is some shops there, but we took a tour to a motu islet with a BBQ and stingrays (wild, not captive) came to the shore where you could touch them. The sand is full of coral pieces, so water shoes are suggested. That night on ship, a Tahitian dance group came on board to put on a fantastic show! It only takes 3 hours for the ship to sail from Moorea to Papeete. There is a ferry boat that goes between the islands that takes 30 mins. That same evening we docked in Papeete, Tahiti, alongside Epi Sud #3 at the quay. Not sure if there is much nightlife on shore, but for daytime, it was walking distance to the Vanilla Market and other shops. We missed getting to try the roulettes, the food trucks, which are also close the the dock. Now, here's the unusual part. Although the ship docked the evening before and the cruise ended, because all flights off the island leave at night around midnight, in this port, the Ocean Princess allowed passengers to use the ship at a hotel, in a sense until 8pm. You had to vacate your cabin, but they would tag and hold your bags for the day, you could eat in the Panorama Buffet till 5pm, use the showers and changing rooms in the spa. I've never been treated so nicely on my last morning of a cruise. Ever. Usually it the get up, go outside, get off this ship treatment, but not here, not on the Ocean Princess. We had booked a day room at the Intercontinental Hotel through Princess prior to the cruise. It included transfers ship to IC and IC to the airport later in the day. It is a short trip from the ship to the IC. You pass Fa'aa Airport on your way to the IC. This resort is four-star and has a beautiful pool. It was a great way to spend our last day in French Polynesia. However, the hotel restaurant is prohibitively expensive. The front desk will provide a map and you can walk (or taxi) the .75 each way to the immense Carrefour grocery, where there's a hot food counter and cut-up fresh fruit and French bread and cheese. You leave and go right out of the IC on the main road, then pass the Shell station and the casino, then Carrefour is on your right. You can't miss it. And it accepts VISA and MC credit cards The flight to LAX on Tahiti Nui was superb, two hot meals (you get a choice of two entrees each time) and an open bar. Much different than our United Airways flight from D.C. to Honolulu, what, ten hours and not even a pretzel, and even the for-purchase food, they didn't have the ham and cheese sandwich that day. Crackers and cheese spread is a snack, not a meal, in my opinion. The Fa'aa airport is small with not enough seating for all those flights leaving at the same time. There is a shower and hair dryer in the ladies room, and there's a food counter with sandwiches and a duty free and both take VISA and MC credit cards. The Ocean Princess is touted as Small Ship cruising. It felt like my own cruise ship and the crew were like family. And you get to meet and make friends with other passengers and see them frequently on the ship. I think I almost prefer it to the big ships filled with hordes of people. If you dislike crowds, this ship is for you. Great trip. I highly recommend it. Read Less
Sail Date January 2013
This was our 4th cruise having previously been on Holland, Carnival and Celebrity. First off, the ship is really small compared to any of the previous ones. But knowing that ahead of time, we didn't have a problem with it at all. But ... Read More
This was our 4th cruise having previously been on Holland, Carnival and Celebrity. First off, the ship is really small compared to any of the previous ones. But knowing that ahead of time, we didn't have a problem with it at all. But we are the type of cruisers that are there for the ports, not for the ship. It was very well kept, the service was great and the food was really good too. We really didn't do a whole lot of activities on board but we did do lei making one day and it was a lot of fun. We just relaxed and try to catch up on sleep whenever we had time because we went non stop at our ports. In Papeete we did a island tour through Natura Exploration and it was wonderful. Got to see hundreds of waterfalls, and a lot of scenery. In Huahine, we did a snorkel and then lunch on a private beach. It was so wonderful and very relaxing. In Raiatea, we went to neighboring Tahaa and toured a pearl farm, and then an island tour. I loved the pearl farm but this was by far my least favorite day. In Bora Bora we booked through a guy name Christophe on his ski boat and did a snorkeling trip. I cannot say enough good things about this. He was amazing and accommodated our group of 18 with ease. We saw a manta ray, several eagle rays, a huge sea anemone with clown fish, and lots and lots of fish. Rangiroa we did a scuba trip through top dive. It was an advanced dive which I felt kind of uncomfortable with, but having said that, it was really amazing! We dove to 99 feet and it felt like 30 because the visibility was just so clear. We saw a lot of sea life and awesome coral. In Moorea we did ATV's through Alberts tour. This was also very fun and put together very well. On our last day in Tahiti we took the ferry over to Moorea. It was about $75 for 2 of us. We booked a jet ski tour with Alberts and it was amazing. We swam with sting rays and sharks and it was a once in a lifetime trip. Disembarkation was so smooth. Flights don't leave the island until after 11 pm so they let you stay on the ship all day even thought they are bringing on the passengers for the next sailing. We had to vacate our cabin, but were able to shower in the spa. It was perfect because we got to spend our day in Moorea jet skiing and still be able to come back to a shower before our flight left. I couldn't recommend this cruise more. It was so much fun and Tahiti is really an amazing place. Read Less
Sail Date January 2013
My friend with whom I have traveled many times told me she had booked a trip on the Ocean Princess and would I like to accompany her. I checked the website and told my husband in complete dismay that the trip was TWENTY-EIGHT days. He ... Read More
My friend with whom I have traveled many times told me she had booked a trip on the Ocean Princess and would I like to accompany her. I checked the website and told my husband in complete dismay that the trip was TWENTY-EIGHT days. He said, "Go. Go. Have a good time." And to show what a great guy he is, I was gone for our 25th wedding anniversary, and he gave me the trip as a gift. I can't begin to describe what a wonderful time it was. The Ocean Princess is a smaller ship and seeing so many people so often made it seem like one big family. The ports of call were wondrous. I did very little homework in preparation for this trip, so seeing the Lost City of Petra in Jordan and Luxor, Egypt with no expectations made it more amazing for me. Almost all of our ports were Princess Excursions and they were all well done. The staff of the ship could not have been better. I even got a haircut in the salon and swear it was one of the best haircuts of my life. We had many sea day, and the ship planned so many fun events. I joined the pop choir and had so much fun. I love to sing, and we performed at one of the last shows. I also feel that seeing the Middle East in this way was safe and educational. I had such a fabulous time that I booked a trip for my husband and I while on the ship for our 26th wedding anniversary. We are sailing transatlantic this October from Northhampton to Fort Lauderdale. My husband loves history and we will take the Princess excursion of Normandy. We also both love the sea days and cannot wait to see what Princess has planned for us this trip. Read Less
Sail Date October 2012
Having spent many years wanting to visit the Greek Islands, we took the opportunity to book this cruise on a "small ship" rather than one of the bigger Princess ships. The atmosphere was fabulous, with a much more intimate ... Read More
Having spent many years wanting to visit the Greek Islands, we took the opportunity to book this cruise on a "small ship" rather than one of the bigger Princess ships. The atmosphere was fabulous, with a much more intimate feel about the whole ship. We spent the whole 14 nights with the same dinner partners and were made to feel completely at ease by the table staff. The one strange thing about this cruise was the fact that it was 2 cruises run back to back, and there was a large contingent who left after the first 7 days and were replaced by a new group of travellers. We had to settle our account, move dinner tables, and clear out my $10 balance in the casino( I really didn't appreciate the 10.30pm phone call to tell me I had to go and close the account in person.) We had most of the inconvenience of 2 cruises, but only 1 cruise included on our Captains Circle membership. Back to the cruise: It was great, visiting all the ancient sites, although I could have done without the Carpet factory at Ephesus. We had only 2 sea days, and I was disappointed that there was not much to do on the ship. I felt they could have organised a few more activities, but I guess that's a drawback of the small ship. Generally I was very happy with the cruise, and eagerly await my next adventure, although this time we are on the Sun Princess, back to the big ships. Read Less
Sail Date September 2012
Background & pre cruise: We're 60 year old Australians with 11 previous cruises on different ships (and many different cruise lines) with which to compare. This cruise was actually three by seven days cruises that started in ... Read More
Background & pre cruise: We're 60 year old Australians with 11 previous cruises on different ships (and many different cruise lines) with which to compare. This cruise was actually three by seven days cruises that started in Barcelona and finally finished in Venice. Some passengers did a combination of part of the 3 cruises. Although our on-board credit account was carried over to the end of the 21 days, we were given new ship passes for each sector. As we finished a 9 day Globus coach tour through Spain on the morning of this cruise in Barcelona, we were ready for a relaxing time. Not too relaxing, as this was a port intensive cruise with only 1 sea day each week! Our hotel in Barcelona was next to a bullring converted into a shopping centre. An added surprise was the colourful fountains dancing to music in the evening opposite our hotel. A taxi took us down to the terminal which is centrally located here. Embarkation: Embarkation went smoothly with no delays. Once on board, we were directed to our cabin where we left our hand luggage and went for lunch. Throughout the cruise we had 2 Cruise Critic meetings which were well attended by members and the ship's officers. The Ship: Built in 1999, the Ocean Princess was showing its age but is due for a refurbishment next year. We liked the traditional cruise ship look of the public areas with a lot of wood panelling. With only 688 passenger capacity, it was much smaller ship than others we have been on - there is never a line up for anything on the ship. We enjoyed the change as you keep running into people you know and it was never far to go to various venues. The promenade deck was short as it only ran along the centre of the ship but with only 3 sea days there wasn't much time for walking. There was a small walking/jogging track up top on deck 10. Cabin: On this cruise we were pleasantly surprised when we received our first ever upgrade -- from an inside cabin to an outside one with a window! The overall size of our cabin is not large, but sufficient for two people and our luggage. The space between the wardrobes and the ensuite could have been wider as the wardrobe doors could not be open when using the ensuite -- we prefer the open style walk-in type robe. There was a small fridge which was handy for keeping our supply of Coke & snacks cold -- ice was also supplied. Also if you want a top sheet, ask for it. Our cabin steward was friendly and seemed efficient at his job. Food & drinks: Overall we found the standard of food and the service in the main dining room to be excellent. Fixed-time dining enabled us to get to know 3 couples over the 21 days. Also our wonderful dining room staff got to know our preferences. The lobster on the formal nights was very enjoyable. Wine choices and price were similar to other cruise lines. For breakfast & lunch, we used both the main dining room and the Panorama Buffet. Also the burgers by the pool were good for a change. Although the free coffee was fine, we did purchase a coffee card for a treat sometimes. Staff and service on board: Princess obviously trains their staff well as they were always friendly and polite even at reception. In the Panorama Buffet they were very attentive and offered to help carry your plate & find you somewhere to sit. There is only one coin operated (USD2 - 8 quarters per machine) laundrette on board with only 3 washers & dryers working for the whole cruise. To avoid waiting for a machine, we arrived there before the 8 am opening. Entertainment: On cruises we enjoy the shows in the evening. The singers & dancers did a superb job. The guest entertainers were also good especially the guest tenor who sang songs from musicals (he actually appeared in Les Mis in the West End in London). The entertainment is a bit limited because of the ship's size but after going ashore at the numerous ports, we enjoyed the early nights! On the last few days we've both slowed down with coughs/colds. The shows were held in the Cabaret Lounge which has limited capacity due to its lounge chair layout with a lot of wasted space between the seats. As a result you had to arrive early to secure a seat near the front where you could enjoy the intimacy of surrounding the entertainers. Shore Excursions & Destinations: We normally try to avoid shore excursions organised by ships as we feel that they were too expensive -- although we did use them 3 times on this cruise; at La Goulette (for Tunis city tour), Itea (for ancient Delphi) & Crete (for Knossos). Cruise Critic members organised 5 private tours that we joined; at Livorno (for Cinque Terre & Pisa), Civitavecchia (for Orvieto & Civita di Bagnoregio), Santorini (full island tour including historic Pyrgos,) Piraeus (for Athens) and Koper (for Ljubljana & Bled Castle). Armed with maps & information collected before the cruise (supplemented with detailed free local maps picked up on land), we easily explored ourselves at the other ports. As some ports were a distance from the town, Princess provided a shuttle service which was overpriced as usual. With the unrest in Tunis, the capital of Tunisia in northern Africa, recently in the news; we were lucky to get there earlier in the cruise. One highlight location we visited from Civitavecchia (instead of Rome) on a private tour were 2 quaint old towns, Orvieto & Civita di Bagnoregio; both amazingly perched high on plateaus in the hills north of Rome. In the former, we explored underground tunnels with 3000 years of history; and in the later, we found an almost deserted town (except by tourists) as the only access is by a foot bridge - here time stopped several hundred years ago when the surrounding land subsided, isolating the town. Disembarkation: This was very quick and efficient at Venice as we could just walk off the ship with no passbook checks. Conclusion: In our opinion the ship itself and the service are excellent; whereas the food and entertainment are generally good. The smaller size of the Ocean Princess makes it easy to go to various venues and to get to know the crew and fellow passengers. Princess proves that you get what you pay for. The company seems to build loyalty by rewarding past passengers. We take advantage of both their Future Cruise Credits and Carnival's Shareholder Benefits schemes. We would highly recommend Princess Cruises. Read Less
Sail Date September 2012
This is the third cruise my husband and I have done on an R class ship. We love this size of ship and really appreciate the intimate feel of the cruise experience. We always arrive at the embarkation port at least a day early, ... Read More
This is the third cruise my husband and I have done on an R class ship. We love this size of ship and really appreciate the intimate feel of the cruise experience. We always arrive at the embarkation port at least a day early, especially when we are flying from the west coast of Canada all the way to Europe. We have plenty of time to recover from jet-lag, and get a chance to see a bit more of Europe too. We arrived at Dover the day before departure and checked in to the Dover Inn, a hotel right on the promenade along the harbour. We had requested a non-smoking room facing the sea and were very happy with our choice. The hotel was a bit worn around the edges, but the desk staff was friendly and very helpful. We dropped our luggage off and took off to explore. The hotel is within walking distance of Dover Castle. It is a steep climb but it was exactly what we needed to clear the cobwebs from our head after a long overnight flight. We are both interested in history and found our tour of the castle very interesting. It is a fortress rather than a palace, but it has been a part of the defence of Britain for 800 years. We spent 4 hours touring the castle and could have spent much longer but we were starting to play out. After a very comfortable night, we were up early to walk along the harbour and find a place for breakfast. We could see the Ocean Princess tied up at the pier from our bedroom window. Embarkation was the fastest we have every experienced. The taxi dropped us off at the terminal and 10 minutes later we were in our stateroom. As I said, we have sailed in the sister ships to the Ocean Princess twice before and are very familiar with the layout. We took a quick tour to get orientated again. We love the fact that there is never a line up for anything on the ship. We never had to wait for a chair, or a lounge, or a spot on a tender. There was no problem finding a good seat for the evening entertainment. The staff gets to know you so quickly on a ship this size. The service is so friendly and efficient. You are really made to feel like a welcome guest. There is a small casino, which we never used. The fitness facilities were excellent. Both of us used to walking/jogging track (13 times around is a nautical mile). I took a couple of fitness classes and found the instructor to be excellent. The yoga classes were popular. The pool is not covered but we had some lovely warm days and there were plenty of people enjoying the pool deck and the hot tubs. There are no facilities for children on the class of ship and there were only a couple of children on board. I did talk to a couple of young people ( late teens/early twenties ) They were celebrating a family event and were a bit bored. There is no loud music by the pool, late night partying, or activities geared for the younger crowd. We loved it. Most of the passengers were well travelled, well educated and very interesting. We made some great friends. I like the assigned seating at dinner but we could just as easily decided to go to a specialty restaurant for dinner, or enjoyed a casual meal up on the Panorama deck where there is table service in the evening. I was expecting cool, wet weather for at least part of the trip. It can also be rough in the English Channel or the North Atlantic The first two evenings, there was some motion of the ship and I heard a few people say they were bothered by it. We took our anti-nausea pills and were fine. The movement of the ship and the breeze coming in through the balcony windows certainly guaranteed us a great sleep. The remaining time on board the seas were calm. It was a bit breezy across the upper decks at times but, in general, the weather was much nicer than we expected. We had some showers a time or two but they always seemed to occur when we were indoors. We had a couple of lovely sunny days at sea and lots of people working on their tans. Ports of Call St. Peter's Port, Guernsey - We tendered in at this port. The narrow streets are charming. It was a great place to stroll, and search for a few drinks to stock up the fridge in our stateroom. I like diet 7-up or ginger ale and for some reason it is in short supply on board. We hopped on the island bus and took a tour completely around the island. It cost 2 Pounds each and was a real deal. Waterford, Ireland We took the shuttle in to the centre of town and walked everywhere we wanted. Toured the Waterford Crystal factory. Found a really fascinating old pub and started an interesting research project on where the best beer in the British Isles can be found. I'm not telling you the results - very subjective Dublin, Ireland We bought tickets for the hop-on hop-off bus on-line. We spent the day touring the city, walked the grounds of Trinity College, and met some wonderful people ( who had relatives in Toronto and "did we know them?" We live over 3,000 miles west of Toronto so it turns out we were not acquainted. Glasgow, Scotland Took the train in to the city centre. The train station was an easy walk from the ship. The train whisked us in to the city in about 30 minutes. Glasgow central is one of the biggest train stations in Europe but is easy to navigate. We got lost on the way to find the first stop of the hop-on hop-off bus- but had plenty of lovely people who steered us right. They must be very accustomed to bewildered tourists. We had a lovely day, taking our time and stopping off at any location that looked interesting. There was always another bus no more than 10 minutes away. Edinburgh, Scotland Took a taxi to the train station and then a train in to Edinburgh. We toured Edinburgh Castle, walked the Royal Mile, marveled at the Fringe Festival ( I know there is some meaning to all that performance art - at least, I think there is) We walked, stopped for research for the beer project, and I enjoyed a cream tea. We had booked tickets for the Edinburgh tattoo but cancelled them. It was disappointing but a minor medical issue made it too difficult to go. We had a relaxing day at sea before arriving back at Dover. Disembarkation was quick and well organized. Terminal staff helped us to locate the car and driver we had booked to take us to London. We continued our vacation with a stay in London and a land tour of Devon and Cornwall. All along the way, we found we were much better off using the local transportation system to tour on our own. The train system is great and there are lots of information services for tourists. Friends of our who were with us on this cruise had a medical emergency in Dublin and had to leave the ship. They have told us that the Princess staff were wonderful. They had a cruise line representative help them every step of the way, getting them to hospital, helping with accommodation and onward transportation. They are very appreciative. It was a wonderful, relaxing holiday in a very interesting part of the world. We will certainly be making plans to travel on this ship or one of her sisters soon. Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
This was our 6th cruise, the 4th on Princess, our first time cruising in the British Isles and our first time on a small ship (just 680 passengers). We traveled with our adult daughter in a balcony cabin on deck 7, mid-ship. We have only ... Read More
This was our 6th cruise, the 4th on Princess, our first time cruising in the British Isles and our first time on a small ship (just 680 passengers). We traveled with our adult daughter in a balcony cabin on deck 7, mid-ship. We have only sailed the eastern/western Caribbean and Bermuda, and were looking forward with excited anticipation to a British Isles cruise. We flew into Heathrow and stayed in Canterbury for one night pre-cruise. Flight, Transfer & Precruise We took a direct overnight flight from Boston to London Heathrow's on Virgin Atlantic and arrived in Terminal 3 the following morning ahead of schedule by about 20 minutes. Anticipating a long queue at Immigration, imagine our surprise when the room was nearly empty, and the wait was mercifully short and quick - a mere 15 minutes! So much for all the stories about 3-hour lines and delays at the airport during the Olympics. Weather on Arrival: The woman who checked us through immigration said it has been the worst summer for weather in London and around the UK - rainy and cool. We were very lucky, as our first day in the UK was mild - around 70, with just a few showers and a lot of sun - what a blessing! Transport from Heathrow to Canterbury (pre-cruise stay): We hired British Airport Cars, and I highly recommend them. I had reserved this company a few months ahead, and communication was great. I specified a 9:30 am pickup time, which would give us 2 hours to get through all the airport formalities. Since we were through immigration so fast, I called the driver who, as it turns out, was not very far away. He was happy to come ahead of schedule and scoop us up straight away for our visit to Leeds Castle and then to Canterbury for our pre-cruise stay. Our driver, Gary, was personable, professional and accommodating. Leeds Castle: As we had plenty of time to reach Canterbury, we asked our driver to make a stop at Leeds Castle. We arrived early at the castle at opening time, so we enjoyed a leisurely walk through the beautiful grounds leading up to the castle entrance. By the time we got there, the crowds started to swell with lots of groups consisting of mostly young people. The castle itself is beautiful, though not as grand and formidable as Sterling Castle and Edinburgh Castle visited later in the cruise. We queued up for a self-tour, but feel the narrated tour, available for an additional fee, would have been more informative. Canterbury & The Agnes Inn: A few weeks before the cruise, on the advice of my dear and wise husband, we switched our one-night precruise stay from Dover to Canterbury. We couldn't have been happier! This Dickens-like town is charming, with so much history, and we really felt like we got a better experience here than if we had stayed in Dover. The House of Agnes is a cozy and quaint B&B within walking distance of the old town and Canterbury Cathedral. Natasha and the rest of the staff were very friendly and accommodating. We chose to stay in the updated renovated stable rooms facing the beautiful gardened grounds and gazebo in the rear of the main house. The room was very small. However, a comfy bed, tea & cookies, and attractive decor made for a restful night. The heated bathroom floor was a real bonus! The main house is full of history and character, with sitting areas, an honesty bar, and comfortable breakfast room. We only wished we could have stayed longer at the inn as well as spent more time in Canterbury. Embarkation & Cruise: Day 1 Canterbury Cathedral: Before leaving the lovely House of Agnes, we took a walk through the old town of Canterbury to Canterbury Cathedral. If you only have a short time in this beautiful town, this magnificent historical cathedral is truly breathtaking and is a must-see. Once again, the weather gods were good to us, as the day started out with a fine misty rain falling but the sun appeared in time for our walk to the cathedral. Transport from Canterbury to the ship in Dover: We reserved a taxi through Canterbury Taxi for our ride to the ship. Our driver, Ray, arrived on time (even a bit early) and was personable and helpful, even pointing out several sights along the way. The charge was a reasonable £35 to take the five of us and all our stuff to the ship in a minivan. The Ship Embarkation & First impressions: We arrived at approximately 1:00 pm to check in. We have always found the Check-In process on all of the Princess ships we have sailed to be fast and efficient, and even easier on the Ocean Princess, due to the smaller number of people. Our luggage was quickly whisked away, and we were warmly welcomed into the cruise terminal with smiling, happy faces. No lines, friendly staff, and all very fast and efficient, yet leisurely. There were crew members on board to show you the way to your cabin - not that you need help - the ship's not that big. Our Cabin - Deck 7, #7061 Balcony (triple): The cabin was roomy enough, with plenty of storage space. However, the sleeper sofa, when open, blocks the way to the balcony and the desk drawers. The end of the bed can be folded back - but not so easy if there is someone sleeping in it. So I found myself crawling over my daughter to get to the balcony whenever something interesting caught my eye off the starboard side - which I am sure she didn't appreciate much. Our bed was perfectly comfortable, but our daughter said the pull-out bed was not. The bathroom seemed a tad roomier than the other ships we've been on and had plenty of storage. The balcony was large enough with a small round table and two reclining-back chairs. Honestly, though, there were several days when it was just too windy, cold or drizzly - or we were just too busy - to spend much time out there. Our cabin steward did a great job refreshing the cabin daily and always greeted us with a warm smile. The ship's interior design contains a lot of wood paneling, mirrors, art and floral designs, giving the feeling of a traditional cruise ship of the past - a classy look, and I loved it! No room portrayed this better than the ship's library. Wood paneled walls, fireplace and a ceiling mural gave this room a warm, intimate look - a great, quiet place to curl up with a book or just sit and relax. The central staircase on decks 4 and 5 is beautiful and, as others have commented, reminiscent of the staircase scenes with Jack and Rose on the Titanic, except on a smaller and less grand scale. The passenger demographic was much more mature (i.e. older) and well-traveled than the cruises we've taken in the Caribbean on the big ships, though a few kids were spotted around the ship, as well as a number of younger couples. There was no concern over "chair hogs" on this tiny ship in this cooler climate. Due to rain, drizzle and chill, the activity took place inside. Rarely did we see anyone spending time out on deck, although I did spot a brave person in the pool on one warmer afternoon, and the hot tubs seemed to be used often. Those who did chose to sit outside were bundled in sweaters, including myself! One nice thing about the small size of the ship was that everything we needed was either a deck or two above or below our cabin and never more than a couple of flights of stairs away. Due to British maritime law, the casino is closed throughout most of the cruise, but otherwise, the activities on sea days are similar to those on the large ships, but not as varied and on a much smaller scale. Some of these included line dancing, trivia, Wii games, ice sculpture viewing, and the art auction. There are in-cabin movies and occasional first-run movies shown in the Casino lounge. Afternoon tea, of course, is available every afternoon, and the Lotus Spa and fitness room provide classes, treatments and workout options. Day 2: Guernsey (Formal Night) I had read many tales of missed calls to this port. I am happy to report that the day was mild and sunny, and the ship made it to port, as scheduled. However, wind and high winds prevailed, making the tender ride a bit choppy. We watched the tendering process from our balcony and noticed that the tender and ship had trouble connecting in order to board the passengers. The captain had to reposition the ship throughout the day in order to assist the process to make it easier and safer for boarding, so it all worked out. Castle Cornet: Since we had to be back on board by 2:30, it was a short day for us in Guernsey. We walked to Castle Cornet, a very easy and walkable mile. We paid for admission which included a guide who was very informative and filled us in on the history of Guernsey and the castle (which is a fort, really). As an added bonus, the views are truly spectacular, including a fabulous view of the ship! One notable event at the Castle is the firing of the Noon Day Gun, a tradition dating back to the early days of the 19th century. We watched from the roped area surrounding the gun, but a visit timed to be at the level just below the gun at noon may make for a better view. Added note about Guernsey: Later on that evening, we learned that the captain had nearly made the decision to cancel the Guernsey port stop due to high seas. Which makes me wonder - what happens when they tender people over to the island but then can't tender them back because the waves are too high ....? Motion on the Ocean! Just as we had earlier in the day, we faced rough seas Friday night once we left Guernsey on our way to Waterford. So rough, in fact, that the Ocean Princess Singers & Dancers production was canceled, replaced by comic, Tom Brisco. There were a lot of seasick passengers that evening, as well as many empty seats in the dining room and show lounges. Those souls brave enough donned their formal attire, stumbled around the ship, attended the captain's welcome party, and dined to the rocking and rolling of the ship. The formal photo shoot was particularly challenging for both the photographer and the subjects. Another consequence of the turbulent waters is that the ship had to reduce speed, which could have affected the arrival time in Waterford the next morning. As it turned out, we made it on schedule. Tonight was our daughter's 25th birthday. OK, not really. It was actually last January, but we never properly celebrated, so we thought this would be a good way to honor such a momentous occasion. Balloons, a happy birthday sign on the door, a card from the Captain, and a cake complete with singing waiters at dinner made it all special. Day 3: Waterford, Ireland When traveling to Waterford from the ship, cruise passengers are not permitted to walk out of the gated port of Belview. Fortunately, Princess does have a complimentary shuttle for the 20-minute ride into Waterford. We also saw four or five taxis waiting, but with the small number of passengers, it doesn't make sense to hire a taxi here, when Princess provides a free ride. There was never a wait, and it was an enjoyable ride. Rural Ireland & Jerpoint Abbey Excursion: We did not want to leave Ireland without seeing some of the countryside and, therefore, pre-booked this 4-hour excursion. The day began overcast, but rain-free. Sitting on the balcony with my morning coffee and the Princess' version of an Egg McMuffin, I admired the beautiful Ireland countryside as we pulled into Waterford. By the time we headed off the ship for the tour, the rain had begun and continued on and off through most of the day. Our guide for the tour was Mary, a very personable and knowledgeable woman, whose charming Irish brogue reminded me of Mrs. Doubtfire. The bus took us on a ride through rolling hills and farmland filled with horses, cows and sheep. We were led through Jerpoint Abbey with a knowledgeable guide who took us through the old monastery ruins, pointing out interesting facts along the way. We then continued to the little village of Inistioge, along the River Nore, where we spent about 15 minutes photographing the scenery and the remaining 10 minutes in a small Irish pub enjoying a pint of Guinness with my husband's new-found Irish friend "Patty" and a few other locals. Perfect! We then made our way back to the ship for lunch before heading out, once again, this time to the shuttle for a ride into Waterford. We were very happy with the Jerpoint Abbey tour, though, as my husband mentioned, we would have liked to stop for a quick photo op of the beautiful countryside we drove through. After all, photos tend to be of better quality when the scenery is standing still, as opposed to speeding by. Waterford: As mentioned, we took the ship's free shuttle into Waterford after lunch. We began by heading over to the City Square Shopping Center. It was Saturday, there was an outdoor festival going on in Waterford and the streets were mobbed. The shopping center was just a mall with chain stores mixed in with local shops. We didn't like it, so headed back to Reginald's Tower, the Greyfriars ruins and the House of Waterford Crystal, stopping on the way to pick up a few gifts. We prefer the historical aspects of touring and found these places more interesting and enjoyable than trying to maneuver a busy shopping center full of stores that we can find back home. Waterford is the oldest city in Ireland and I am sure has many fine qualities. However, after spending time in quaint Canterbury two days before, it was hard to become excited about Waterford's traffic, crowded streets and noise. It was my least favorite city on this itinerary. Day 4: Dublin. The weather in Dublin on the day we called was fairly wet - not a washout by any means, just enough to bring out the rain slickers and umbrellas. There may have been taxis available at the port, but we chose the ship's shuttle into Dublin, 16 dollars/pp round trip. It was convenient for us - the shuttles drop off and return to the same location, so they were easy to find and always available. Once dropped off, we needed to get our bearings and find the green Hop On, Hop Off bus which we reserved in advance. There happened to be one sitting nearby, and when we asked the driver how to find the location to obtain our tickets, he said it was about a mile away but made it easy for us by giving them to us right then and there. As he wasn't operating at that time, we walked to the nearest location and hopped on board the next bus. This was #5 on the route and we stayed on until the end, at which time we needed to change to a new bus. This next bus had a live narrator, where the first was the multilingual recording. If I were to do it again, I would be sure to be on the bus with the live narration. Other than that, the HoHo tour was a great way to get an overview of this lovely city as well as many photo ops. Note: The HoHo bus tour we booked was the green bus run by Dublin Bus Tours. They can easily be joined and paid for at any of their stops, and it is not necessary to book in advance. However, they do offer a 15% web discount. As our only missions in Dublin were the Book of Kells and a pint of Guinness, we got off at #3, queued up at Trinity College for the Book of Kells and then had a fine lunch on Grafton Street consisting of a very tasty Irish stew and a pint. We stopped at a few shops for Irish woolens on the way back to the shuttle and headed back to the ship. When comparing Dublin to Waterford the day before, Waterford seemed to be more of a typical working class city, whereas the city of Dublin had more of an Irish flavor and character, as well as better local gift shops. With regard to the Book of Kells: We arrived here on a Sunday morning and, therefore, the city was pretty quiet. We arrived at the queue for the Book at 10:45 am, just in the nick of time, before several large groups lined up behind us. So if you plan on seeing this, make it your first stop of the day or save it for later. We waited about 30 minutes in line and then, once inside, it took some patience as people waited their turn to view the Book as well as other writings. Once in view, it was humbling to be in the presence of such ancient works. Day 5: Glasgow/Greenock We woke up to Greenock with the sound of bagpipers playing below our cabin on the pier and then, once off the ship, were treated to a dram of whisky (my husband got a double!) by a friendly Scottish welcoming party at the port. We were very impressed by the genuine hospitality all over the UK, but particularly here in Scotland. Independent Tour with Gordon Ross - Luss, Loch Lomond & Sterling Castle: I had gathered a group of fellow Cruise Critics and booked a Highlands tour with Great Scot Tours for 15 people. Our guide, Gordon Ross, and his able driver, John, were waiting for us right on schedule and greeted us warmly as we boarded his mini-coach to set out on a full-day tour of the Highland. The village of Luss, our first stop, is a quaint, pretty little town on the banks of Loch Lomond. Gordon refers to it as "Brigadoon" and we wholeheartedly agree. One feels a sense of quiet serenity in this idyllic place, and the view of the distant hills across the lake is one of timeless beauty. It was all very magical! Back on board, we arrived in the Highland, at which time Gordon stopped at an overlook and let us sample an assortment of whiskies - just a wee dram ... or two or three! This was not in the tour description - just a little extra something that this kind and thoughtful Scotsman adds to his tours. With his passengers now all warm and giddy, he took us on a scenic drive, pointing out many sites along the way including all the "white rocks" dotting the countryside. Except they weren't rocks - they were sheep! Thousands upon thousands. I believe there are more sheep in Scotland than there are people. After sharing his vast knowledge and history of this beautiful country, Gordon brought us to the lovely town of Callender, where we could wander about and have lunch. While many in our tour chose a restaurant pointed out by Gordon, we chose a pub nearby for some fantastic fish & chips and black pudding. We then continued on to the final destination of our tour - Sterling Castle. As we came closer, the castle appeared majestic and formidable to us at the top of a rocky hill and was a fearsome sight to behold. There are no words to describe it. A walk through the castle and along the grounds is like a step back in time to the days of Rob Roy, Sir William Wallace and Sir Robert the Bruce. While some in our group toured on their own, Gordon led a few of us through the castle and showed us some of his favorite rooms - the jail, the great hall, the queen's and king's bedchambers, the kitchen, tapestries, and so much more. The distant views from the castle are spectacular, and it was humbling to look down upon the fields where fierce battles were fought to secure Scotland's freedom. Our tour was now nearly at an end, and it was time to head back to the ship. Gordon Ross was an outstanding tour guide, as well as a kind, intelligent and well-traveled man. Did I mention that he travels the world with his Celtic band? He is retiring as a tour guide after this outing, but tours will still be available with other guides from His tour company. Thank you to our fellow tour mates: Violet, Tom, Sharon, Cindy, Jon, Nancy, Dennis, Kathy, Cheryl & Mike. I couldn't have found a nicer group of people! Today was our 35th Anniversary. Just as with our daughter's birthday celebration earlier in the cruise, there were balloons, a happy birthday sign on the door, a card from the Captain, and a cake complete with singing waiters at dinner to make it all special. Day 6: Sea Day Today was the first day of this cruise without a raindrop, and partly sunny skies prevailed. As great as it is to be in port and see new cities and places for the first time, it is nice to have a day in between to sleep in a bit, with no place to be. As I write this on our first day at sea, I thank God for our balcony. With just a climb over my daughter slumbering in the pull-out bed blocking the balcony door, I could step out and admire the majestic rocky cliffs off the coast of Scotland. We headed north and rounded the northern parts of Scotland today on our way to Edinburgh. I had no idea the coastline would be so magnificent, and I could sit on the balcony and stare at this beautiful scene all day. With that said, however, I should point out that my husband and I have very different ideas about sea days. I like to lounge around in my jammies and order breakfast in the room. He likes to be up at the crack of dawn, get some exercise, and stop at the buffet for breakfast. I like to find a quiet place to read, write or just watch the world go by, maybe participate in an activity or two. He likes to be entertained non-stop, 24/7. We both love to lounge out on deck, swim in the pool, and walk around he promenade deck. Unfortunately, there is no promenade deck on the Ocean Princess, and it was too cold for serious sunning and swimming. My husband likes to try his luck in the casino, but that too was unavailable for most of the cruise. While I was perfectly content with the entertainment on this ship for this itinerary, he was not so impressed. Unlike me, he was restless and it was an effort for him to find things to do. I can see his point, and I think on a longer cruise with more sea days, it would all become old fast. By the way, today was my husband's birthday. Balloons, a happy birthday sign on the door, a card ... well, you know the rest! Day 7: Edinburgh As we headed into the Port of Rosyth, the Captain came on over the loud speaker with an announcement that (1) a barge was blocking our way into port and (2) a cargo ship was parked in our spot, and he did not know if or when we would be able to dock. Well, you can imagine the rumbling which began to arise among the passengers. This was the highlight of the tour for some folks, especially those who spent big bucks on Edinburgh Tattoo tickets. Fortunately, the ship did manage to pull alongside the dock a short time later, and we were soon on our way into the city, so it all worked out. Weather forecast: Today we were given a gift. After a mixed bag of sun, clouds, drizzle and rain, we were blessed with a warm, sunny day in Edinburgh. Blue skies prevailed, and the folks holding tickets for the Edinburgh Tattoo were very fortunate and had a beautiful night for it. We did not choose an excursion for this port, but instead found 2 taxis for the 5 of us to take us to Edinburgh Castle at a flat rate of £35 each. There were taxis lined up at the port terminal building, and we could see them clearly from our balcony cabin. In order to get to the taxis, you might think - ok, it's just a short walk from the ship to the terminal along the perimeter of this cargo port. No, not a chance. Due to insurance reasons, presumably, we had to take a free shuttle from the gangway to the terminal, just a stone's throw away. Silly, really. Our taxis dropped us off just a short distance downhill from the castle on the Royal Mile. We had purchased the Explorer passes in advance of the cruise and simply walked in through the Fast Pass gate. Not a big deal with the small crowd when we arrived early in the morning, but a real timesaver if arriving later when the queues become large. We joined a guided tour through a portion of the castle and explored the rest on our own. The views over the city and distant hills and river are stunning. Once we had our fill of the castle, we continued downhill along the Royal Mile toward the Palace of Holyrood House, stopping for lunch at a Scottish tavern, Deacon Brodie's Tavern. We were seated upstairs, which was fortunate because the downstairs was crowded and very warm & stuffy. There was a nice breeze and a roomy feel upstairs, and it was a great place to refuel with local favorites, like chicken pie, vegetable tort, bangers & mash, and we shared a plate of Haggis, which was actually quite tasty considering the contents of the dish and the manner in which it is prepared - minced meat and oatmeal cooked in sheep's bladder. Yikes! We had our fill, left the restaurant and found ourselves in a large crowd of festival goers outside. It was the week in which "the Fringe" was happening, and the streets were mobbed with performers, photo ops, including Sir William Wallace (my personal favorite), Yoda, and lots of people passing out ads of the fun things going on around town. We made our way down the Mile until we finally made it to the Palace. We didn't go in, but simply peeked through the gate and took photos of this stately retreat for the Queen. We turned around and started back up the hill, bought a few gifts, and when our legs couldn't take another step, grabbed a 5-person taxi parked at a hotel and went directly back to the ship. The cost was £35 - a very economical and convenient ride when split among the five of us. We loved the picturesque streets and beauty of Edinburgh, and the Castle was magnificent. Next time, though, I would take a HoHo bus tour around the city, similar to what we did in Dublin, in order to see more in a short amount of time. The big highlight, of course, of this cruise was The Edinburgh Tattoo. Even though it is a must-see event recommended by many, we chose not to attend. At $199 per person for the ship excursion, it was more than we wanted to spend. Even though we could have easily saved a lot of money by purchasing tickets to the show on our own, stories of cold, torrential downpours during the performances were deal breakers for us, as well as the late night crowds and transportation issues if we were to go on our own. As it turns out, the night was clear and dry, though a little cold. Many people I talked to said it was a perfect night and all had a great time. Day 8: At Sea It was another much welcomed, relaxing day at sea - the second and last of the cruise. The warmer sunshine brought a few more people out on deck, and I saw at least one person in the pool. Re-packing took up most of the late afternoon hours. Disembarkation: Dover Disembarkation was a breeze. We had breakfast in the buffet, vacated the cabin, and waited at the appropriate time and venue according to color code. In our case, we waited in the Cabaret Lounge for just a short time while Princess showed a video of the new Royal Caribbean features. We had already seen most of it, but the review was nice, as we are booked on Royal for next summer. Our color was called, we exited the ship, grabbed our luggage, and climbed directly aboard the Princess shuttle for the 2-hour drive to Heathrow. The process was all very well quick and well-organized. Return Flight Home: This was the first time we flew out of Heathrow. The process was pretty painless, except for not assigning the seats requested on line. I was surprised by the terminal - it's a shopping Mecca. I also didn't realize that we would have to wait over an hour before we could go to the gate, nor that one had better use the bathroom before you get to the secure gate area, which seems to be guarded like Ft. Knox, not like the small town airport I'm used to. Dining, Entertainment & More: Dining Room: This was our first time with fixed, late seating, and it worked out very well. With long days in port, we were able to nap or just rest before dinner. We found the dining room cuisine to be excellent. Just like all Princess menus, the menu is different each night, and if you don't see anything that appeals to you, there are the alternative always-available items (i.e.. Fettucini Alfredo, roast chicken, etc.). Our waiter was fabulous, attentive, friendly and professional. It always amazes me how hard the dining staff works, always especially evident on the final evening with the Baked Alaska Parade. If the service seems a little off, it is always this final night. It takes time and patience to individually serve and chocolate-glaze that Baked Alaska after being paraded around the room, and things can get a little muddled in the process, with some staff assigned to the parade, and the rest left to serve the tables alone. So please forgive your waiter on Baked Alaska night, when he seems a little frazzled or for the little omissions, like forgetting to bring coffee. Buffet/Room Service: The buffet, on the other hand, at both lunch and breakfast was hit or miss, like every other cruise or land buffet I've experienced, but there was always something to like. In particular, there is an omelet station for made-to-order eggs if you don't care for the buffet scrambled eggs. Drinks, on a couple of occasions, were a little slow in coming in the buffet, and I found myself getting my own coffee or juice on occasion. Room service is available 24 hours, and we always started the morning with pastry and a pot of coffee. Specialty Dining: Crown Grill and Sabatini's: We didn't bother with either this time around, so I can't comment. Pizza/burgers: Princess still has the best pizza at sea. I was told by my family that the burgers by the pool were good. Coffee: With coffee being a popular topic on the boards, I will simply comment that it was all good, but better when cream was added as opposed to milk. I am a Dunkin Donuts/Folgers gal, and I take my coffee with "extra cream". It was fine in the dining room with milk, but better in the morning when it came with cream to the cabin. Whatever it was - syrup or real ground coffee - it gave me the caffeine kick I needed. I used my old coffee card from 2010 for specialty coffees and hot chocolate in the Club Lounge. Afternoon Tea: It was our sixth cruise, and we finally attended our first afternoon tea. I don't know why we never tried it before (could it have something to do with my husband not being fond of tea?). We enjoyed it and think it will now become tradition. Entertainment: I liked the intimacy of the show lounge over the large crowded theaters of the big ships, there was never a problem finding a seat, thought the entertainment on board ranged from "just OK" to excellent, and all provided 45 minutes of solid entertainment. Following is a summary of some of the entertainment we caught: Ocean Princess Singers & Dancers/Joe & Jennifer: Great vocals, choreography and stage presence. By far, the best shows on board. The alternate cast appeared later in the week with their premiere dance show - good, high energy dancers. Comedian, Tom Brisco: Good, funny stand-up comic. Piano man, Alan James: Young, talented guy with a nice voice. He takes requests, to the point of attempting a Lady Gaga song ("Bad Romance", of all things!) requested by a group of three young blondes who wandered into the bar. Let's just say it wasn't pretty. I give him credit for aiming to please his audience. Comedian/Impressionist, Sean O'Shea: Highly energetic, entertaining and sometimes funny. In one of the more memorable moments of the show, I was one of several women picked to throw a piece of underwear at him during his rendition of "Delilah" as Tom Jones. Oooh La La! Alex Crowe, Mentalist: He was the "Just Ok" element of the entertainment on board, and the skeptics among us had an inkling of how he was able to perform some of his mind reading acts. Trivia: Tough questions on this cruise, mostly relating to history and geography. Art Auction: The free champagne flowed on this voyage at the auction, several glasses, so I hear from my husband who attended and was feeling enough of a buzz to purchase a piece. I have yet to see it. Line Dancing: Since it was too cold for the pool, we found ourselves taking part in cruise activities we never bother with. This was one of them, and it turned out to be fun - and we burned a few calories in the process! Casino: Gaming lovers, take note: The ship's small casino remains closed throughout most of this cruise due to British maritime law. Dress Code: Even on this classy little ship, a few pairs of jeans were spotted in the dining room at dinner. The staff didn't bat an eye, but some of the more seasoned cruisers may have turned up their their noses at this. Several tuxedos were seen in the dining room, but the majority of men wore suits or jackets, and the women were seen in an array of styles ranging from cocktail dresses to long gowns. Weather: like most reports I read about weather in the UK, every day on this cruise was a mixed bag of sun, clouds, drizzle and a few periods of steady rain, but far from a total washout. The temps hovered at a high of low 60's through most of our time in Ireland and Scotland, except for our last port day in Edinburgh, when the sun appeared and warmed the day up nicely. As others have recommended, bring a rain jacket and umbrella, and be prepared for anything. Dolphin Discovery: Early in the cruise I was sitting by the balcony door writing notes for this review, when I turned to gaze outside at the sea and spotted some gray fins pass by as they bobbed up and down in the waves. With no open sofa bed to climb over, I jumped up, grabbed my camera, and quickly made my way to he railing, and snapped a couple of photos. By that point, they were pretty far ahead of the ship, so I may have only a couple of dark specks on the ocean in my photos to show for it. It was still a great moment nevertheless! Final Thoughts: This was a fantastic itinerary for an 8-day cruise, and we thoroughly enjoyed all the ports, except maybe for Waterford, which was our least favorite. I particularly thought the cooler climate was a nice change to the tropical waters of the Caribbean. The Ocean Princess is a very pretty ship, and the smaller size makes it easy to get to know the crew and fellow passengers. On more than one occasion, crew members addressed us by name, a pleasant personal touch not found on a ship of 3,000 passengers. Features of the bigger ships that we missed most on the Ocean Princess were a real promenade deck and the International Cafe. The most wished-for item missing from the dining room menu was French Onion Soup. For the most part, the pool deck was unusable and I wish there had been a covered pool like that of some ships cruising colder waters. We are happy that the cabins and balconies are now smoke-free, but disappointed that the prettiest lounge on the ship, the Tahitian Lounge, allows smoking on one side of the room, making the room reek of tobacco at any time of day. Would we cruise Ocean Princess again? If it were me, absolutely! However, given that my husband still prefers the large ship experience and since he contributes the most money to the cruise piggy bank, I would have to give him a say. So the answer to whether or not we would cruise Ocean Princess again is probably more of a definite maybe! Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
What a great experience to sail on this beauty. Small on size but not on service, comfort and friendship. The ship is beautifully clean, cabins more than adequate, and food great all round. Very easy to negotiate every level with 4 lifts ... Read More
What a great experience to sail on this beauty. Small on size but not on service, comfort and friendship. The ship is beautifully clean, cabins more than adequate, and food great all round. Very easy to negotiate every level with 4 lifts and stairs of course. Cabin levels are altogether and very quiet. Appointments in all areas were well maintained and very comfortable. Lots of quiet places to just read (there is also a library), enjoy the views or of course many activities to keep busy if needed. All communications on Princess Patter each day were good, although passport requirements at some shore excursions were confusing if not read in detail and nor were passengers checked to have passports when leaving the ship. This caused some confusion when returning abroad at Amsterdam, and did cause some distress for elderly passengers.The entertainment shows were very professional and dancers were also on duty to help with trivia, disembarkation etc. The theatre does have one drawback in that it is often hard to see due to there not being terraced seating but this is not a criticism as room multipurpose too. Other entertainment spots were great and the Piano/Music man Adam James was fantastic with his large repertoire of music each night in the Casino Lounge. Packed out each night !! Food was 1st class everywhere as was the wait staff. Kiza in Buffet/Seated Dining was good fun, great personality and very eager to help. Bar staff were also so very friendly, Carla in Casino Bar in particular and as it is such an intimate ship very easy to feel at home and welcomed by all. Staff Always had a smile, an "Hello" or "Have you enjoyed your day" as well as "Welcome Back" as we returned from Shore Visits. Our Cabin Steward Agnello was such a lovey young man, always smiling, very enthusiastic, and our towel sculptures made us feel so special too. If there are any negatives they are but few. One is charging for bottled water,then the Internet is far too expensive, and being unable to use a travel money card to pay account is just in the dark ages.Princess must improve the merchant facility to fix this!! Having to draw out currency in Euro whist ashore, then paying conversion fees etc is unacceptable. Might add that the customer service desk was most helpful in trying to resolve the problem but alas hands were tied due to merchant facility restrictions.Good to bear in mind that it is possible to pay end of cruise account in cash, currency variable but charges will be incurred to convert to $US. One request would be to have another laundry facility - Level 7 gets very busy !!! Disembarkation was well organised and went smoothly which is a comfort to all passengers and commendable for crew. All up a great cruise on a lovely sized, friendly ship and would recommend to all that like this type cruising without too many families. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
I discovered cruising in my fifties and loved it from the start, with 7 delightful journeys prior to this one: Holland American (1), Disney (1), NCL (2), Celebrity (3). I frequently travel solo, as I did on this trip. Hands down this was ... Read More
I discovered cruising in my fifties and loved it from the start, with 7 delightful journeys prior to this one: Holland American (1), Disney (1), NCL (2), Celebrity (3). I frequently travel solo, as I did on this trip. Hands down this was the best overall experience of all and a big part of that was the fabulous Ocean Princess, which has I fear has spoiled me forever. This small-ish ship (c. 600 passengers) feels more like a ship than a hotel (as the bigger ships do); it is elegant, intimate, friendly, easy to get around, uncrowded,and personal with every amenity that interests me and more dining choices than on any of the other lines I've been on, except for NCL. Embarkation and travel there: I had Princess arrange my air travel and was extremely pleased with the excellent price they got and the acceptable airline choices. I arrived in Honolulu 2 days before boarding and stayed in the Outrigger Reef Hotel on Waikiki Beach--an excellent, great value hotel, right on the beach with a small hotel feel. Boarding was amazingly easy...no waiting in line, just walking up an old-style gangway onto the ship. As best I could tell, we were the only cruise ship in the harbor. What a treat compared to the chaos of the big US ports (e.g., San Diego, Ft. Lauderdale, Miami). On-Board Activities and Amenities: People looking for rock-climbing, constant live-music at the pool,Broadway-style shows, and multiple lively late night venues will not find that on this ship. But everything I am interested in when cruising was fully available and well-done on this ship. I care about the fitness center (well-equipped with only one 10 minute wait for a treadmill the entire cruise; good daily programs, many for no extra charge), the enrichment program (outstanding lecturer, very knowledgeable), and the conduciveness of the ship to just walking about and/or sitting and reading or watching the sea. With respect to the last item, I was very pleased with this ship and surprised that despite its small size (even the stairs and the elevators are smallish), it felt less crowded than any other I've been on. I could always find a comfortable deck chair, by the pool or elsewhere, no matter the hour. The beautiful library is rightfully called (based on my experience) "the best at sea." Shore Excursions: Normally I book most of my on-shore activities myself, avoiding the typically high priced, crowded ship-organized tours. But this time I selected the Princess tours and was Maximally Happy! Only two tours I took (those on Boro Boro and on Morea) were more than 12 people. All the rest (and I took one at every port) were highly personal, with superior guides, and outstanding values. The Morea trip (half day on a motu ((small island)) with swimming, bar-b-cue, and music) was about 75 people but did not feel crowded and was a to-die-for day in Paradise. Kudos to Princess for offering outstanding options! Dining: Of the cruise lines I have previously sailed with, Celebrity had the best food by far in the main dining room, though I give NCL high points for the quality and variety of their alternative sites. But the Ocean Princess on my recent trip topped them all. I ate dinner in the main dining room about 75% of the time and never lacked for good choices. The lobster tails were actual whole lobster tails (I had seconds!) and not the disappointing tidbits served on Celebrity. The New Orleans styled crayfish etouffee was one this native New Orleanian would have been proud to have to prepared. The salads were composed of fresh, high quality ingredients. Breakfast and lunches I mostly ate in the Panorama buffet (which on sea days, turns into a table-service Bistro at night). I was astonished at the magnificent variety and food quality there as well. Every day there were, among other things, multiple excellent seafood choices including fresh mussels in the shell and huge bar-b-cued tiger shrimp. Desserts were varied and the pastry outstanding. Yum, yum all around!! Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
I've been on about 15 cruises since 1989, on many different lines, so I guess you could say I am an experienced cruiser. I have cruised Tahiti twice. The previous one, on Renaissance (now defunct) was my favorite cruise ever. Here is ... Read More
I've been on about 15 cruises since 1989, on many different lines, so I guess you could say I am an experienced cruiser. I have cruised Tahiti twice. The previous one, on Renaissance (now defunct) was my favorite cruise ever. Here is a link to my photos from the trip: https://picasaweb.google.com/moxiethebeagle/TAHITIJan2012?authuser=0&feat=directlink As you can see, we had excellent weather. The service on the ship was friendly and very good. Embarkation was a breeze on this small ship. We easily found our cabin, since we had been on this ship before on a Med cruise in Oct. 2010. We arrived about 8 PM, so just unpacked and went to bed. The next day after breakfast we went on a ship's tour around Tahiti, which was very nice. We came back for lunch, and then went over to the Papeete Market and bought a lovely tropical flower arrangement in a container for our room for only $10. We also bought papaya, passion fruit, limes and those tiny bananas for our room - yummy! For some reason, there was very little papaya on board the ship's buffet, but we could only get just a little if we asked for it special in the dining room. I had noticed that on this ship, in this tropical flower paradise, that there were NO flowers. Not on the buffet, public rooms, reception desk..nothing. Nothing in the dining room at all, and no carved ice or other niceties to see upon entering. They must be cutting back in that area. Strange, since the flowers were so gorgeous and inexpensive in Papeete at the market, even the very large arrangements. They also seem to be cutting back on the ship's maintenance. Many of the balconies had a lot of rust showing, the jacuzzi's and pool needed painting and varnishing, and even the public restroom doors needed paint. It was so obvious, that it really shocked me. I have never seen a ship in such poor maintenance before. The next day was at sea, unlike our original itinerary. Princess had changed our itinerary with only one day notice! NOT nice. When I asked, they said there was another ship scheduled at Rangiroa on our original date. Don't they know these things far in advance? We were supposed to be in Huahini, and we had a private tour scheduled, so we were worried about whether we could still have the tour on the new date. As it turned out, were were OK, but others on the ship were quite upset about the last minute change. They were meeting friends or relatives and were now going to miss seeing them. We had a formal night and dinner and service were very good. In general the food on the cruise was good, not great. Presentation was fine, but not WOW. The one improvement I noticed was the deserts - much better than previously. Next day, Rangiroa, and we had a morning ship's snorkel tour scheduled. The huge coral atoll was very interesting to see as we approached. Be sure to be out to see it. Not much else to see or do on the atoll except swim and snorkel and look at the ocean side. Shopping is minimal. Our snorkeling was just OK. Fish were large, but the water was deep and not as clear as I expected, and the guide kept yelling directions at all of us very loudly. Not a good place for beginners. Luckily, we are very experienced snorkelers. The next day was again at sea. We enjoyed the pool and the spa. The music poolside was great. We watched the ice carver. We had a private tour on Huahini - Motu picnic tour with Marc. Luckily, he was able to accommodate us. We snorkeled in a lovely coral area, saw a pearl farm, and had a nice Polynesian lunch on a motu. A very good day. Next day was Raiatea, and another private tour to Tahaa - with Bruno and L'Excursion Blue. I cannot recommend this tour, although the scenery and snorkeling was magnificent. Bruno (a Frenchman) was very unfriendly, did not help people into or out of our boat, and his English was very hard to understand. He spoke fluent French to one lady on the boat, however. The drift snorkel spot had the best coral and fish, but it was really slightly dangerous and he did not prepare us for it. It was like a shallow and tight maze of coral, and we followed him in single file. The problem was all the people - we were all bashing into each other in the strong current, and then into the coral. I got a bad shin scrape on the coral, and my friend had punctures by a sea urchin on her foot. He actually had the boat over an urchin bed, so when she jumped into the water from the ladder she got punctured. Others were similarly hurt. There was a HUGE moray eel that one lady almost stepped on. Not good. Back on Raiatea that evening, the local families and children came onboard to entertain. Do NOT miss this. It is so special. Really unique. Later that night, there was a big party poolside, which was also really fun. We had 2 days in Bora Bora. Our ship's tour of the island by L'Truck was very nice. The second day we had another private tour - Patrick's 3/4 day lagoon tour. Fabulous. Best tour ever. Can't recommend it enough. We snorkeled with rays and reef sharks, then snorkeled in some beautiful coral gardens. Patrick and his driver played their ukeleles and sang for us on the boat. The motu picnic included fish and lobster and nice drinks..it was all so good. Tables right in the water. Worth every penney. They motu is right next to the 4 Seasons Bora Bora. Location is tops. That night we rushed to get ready for the 2nd formal night, which was again a great dinner. Too bad we were so full from the motu picnic! The singers and dancers on the ship were some of the best I have seen at sea. Considering the size of the ship, they did a magnificent job. On Moorea we rented a car with Albert's rental car for about $100 for the day. We drove all around the island, walked on the beach near the Sofitel Hotel, went to the Belvedere, saw lots of sights, had lunch at the Hilton, and shopped. Lovely, lovely green island. Our last day was back in Papeete. Our flight was not until 11, and we were allowed to stay on the ship all day. This is a real plus. We checked our carry-ons in the Sterling Steak House, so they were safe. Then we grabbed a poolside chair and enjoyed a nice swim. We also went into town and shopped some more and went to Bouganville Garden (nice). It was a great trip. Ocean Princess is getting old and needs some sprucing up and flowers and better art in the stairwells and elsewhere, but she is still a very pretty ship. We also loved the smaller ship size and smaller number of passengers. We made lots of friends aboard, both Cruise Critic folks and others. It is so nice to see the Captain walking around the ship greeting everyone, too.   Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
We loved sailing a small and intimate ship. No lines and very little hassle all around. The ship itself at first appeared old, but in an elegant and not a tired way. The dark woods and brass rail stairways are elegant and welcoming. ... Read More
We loved sailing a small and intimate ship. No lines and very little hassle all around. The ship itself at first appeared old, but in an elegant and not a tired way. The dark woods and brass rail stairways are elegant and welcoming. Most important, the cabins and entire ship were immaculate. Our Penthouse suite was a splurge for our 25th Wedding Anniversary celebration, and was gorgeous and well worth the additional cost. There were five couples in our group, and we had cocktails most nights in our cabin. For me, the three most important ingredients for a successful cruise are the itinerary, the food, the service. Princess made a prudent choice to reenter French Polynesian waters with its newly renamed Ocean Princess. The itinerary was extraordinary and ideal for such a small and intimate ship. The nightmarish logistics of traveling to Tahiti were met with well thought out including alternatives for passengers arriving at dawn and departing at midnight. Never have I experienced such a flexible and seamless process with passengers from two sailings coexisting on board in a logical and welcoming way. Congratulations to Princess in thinking outside the box and coming up with a solution that helped cruisers acclimate to both pre and post cruise realities. The staff worked together, and did so seamlessly. From the maitre de, the head waiters, the cabin stewards, the wait staff, the purser staff to the captain himself, they all really showed themselves to be part of a family that cared. The service was exemplary. In most every way, Princess actually provided Crystal Cruise line type service at around one half the price, and did so in a warm and engaging manner. It was the extra smile from the ship painter and mechanic, those that did not interact regularly with passengers that also made a difference. It was a head waiter group that worked tirelessly with the wait staff to make sure all went well. The did not just show up at the table on lobster night or tip night, as is so common on so many cruise lines. The captain walked the ship and knew or group and many other passengers by name. The same was true with the head chef. Speaking of the head chef, the food was far superior to the offerings we had on a previous Princess sailing a few years back. It was almost on par with Crystal, and put Royal Caribbean, which in my opinion has fallen off a cliff with quality, in the dust. The food was really wonderful. The food was cooked as ordered. Creative and inventive options were offered along with standard good food. The vegetables and the pastas were properly cooked, not over salted, and the food presentation was lovely. The desserts tasted as good as they looked! The waiters inquired of each person at each meal whether the food was properly prepared. The buffet food was fresh and excellent, and the servers bent over backwards to accommodate. Our party of ten attended a dinner at the chef's table, which was well worth the extra cost. The chef was delightful and the friendly camaraderie he showed with the Maitre De made us all feel at home. Most importantly, the food at the chef's table was exquisite. On par with any five diamond restaurant. Our group is very fussy, and the raves for that meal were unequaled elsewhere. We did not partake in the entertainment, and for most that did, we heard that it was only fair. My attitude is that the entertainment was not a priority. We did not go on a ship to see shows, we went to enjoy French Polynesia. We did not miss having an ice rink or a climbing wall. The small intimate ship, with few lines and incredible food and service more than made up for lack of ice dancers, Broadway numbers, and other high end entertainment. While smaller ships are not for everyone (Don't bring your kids on a small ship if they need things to keep them busy), Princess really has made their small ship product shine. We will sail with Princess again, if we can find a wonderful itinerary. Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
Ever since enjoying "South Pacific" and "Mutiny on the Bounty", a trip to the south Pacific has been one of my strongest driving desires. Going on a cruise seemed to be the best approach since French Polynesia is as ... Read More
Ever since enjoying "South Pacific" and "Mutiny on the Bounty", a trip to the south Pacific has been one of my strongest driving desires. Going on a cruise seemed to be the best approach since French Polynesia is as wildly expensive as almost everyone warns. That said, a ten day cruise on Princess line's Ocean Princess seemed to be the near perfect solution for us during January, 2012. To me and many of the cruise mates, the OP may be the perfect size ship. At about 650 guests, it provided everything a larger ship does without the feeling that you are just a number in a large crowd. (Parenthetically, it should be noted that the large ships of Royal Caribbean seem to handle the large numbers very, very well and ship size would not stop me from sailing on a mega ship if I liked the itinerary). Flying from the east coast to Papeete, Tahiti where the ship was docked was a bit of a challenge just because of the long hours in the air but Air Tahiti Nui does its best to make that leg enjoyable. The layout of the plane with two four two seating means that every traveling couple has an aisle seat that allows some plane movement during the 8.5 hour trip. Some people came a day or two early and that probably was the best approach as jet lag on a 14.5 hour trip can be threatening. This brings up the first problem for east coasters to tackle. A south pacific cruise will involve money and time that a Caribbean, Mexican or even European cruise will not. It is over 6500 miles from NJ to Tahiti and the air fare is consequently expensive. Staying a day or two in advance in Tahiti or Moorea (probably a better choice) adds a substantial expense so save up your money and be prepared to spend it to make the trip the most enjoyable. We choose to do all our flying in one day. The good side is that we went from the cold of winter to Tahiti in 20 hours. The worst part for us was LAX. There is a ton of construction and the whole layout just doesn't seem convenient. You can't check your luggage right though to Tahiti (or home on the way back) and we had to retrieve our luggage, leave the domestic terminal and walk about 10-12 minutes to the international terminal, re-check bags and go through security again. A decent restaurant was difficult to find in the terminal. The airline employees seem to understand the challenges and everyone we met from Continental and Air Tahiti was very kind and professional. Just for the record, I am beginning to appreciate Terminal C in Newark Liberty more and more! When you are finally on Air Tahiti, expect food, movies, eye shades, booties, pleasant employees and even a little sticker that tells them to wake you for food. So, we arrived in Tahiti at 11:30 PM on a Saturday (the cruise was leaving Sunday at 5 PM). The large plane overwhelms the terminal and the staff so be prepared for a substantial wait on line. There were musicians there and because you were in paradise's airport, everyone seemed to endure the process with good humor. Princess, of course, is ready for you when you get through customs with a bus to take you the short distance. They had many outside kiosks ready for your check in at past midnight! Go on board, and once again, Princess had a buffet going upstairs and everyone greeting you pleasantly as if it were noon! It was a nice way to greet weary travelers. Allow me to go off on a positive tangent -- I think the operation of the OP showed real forethought to the ship's guests and made many accommodations that a smaller, luxury line does, Kudos! OK, the rooms. We had a mini-suite. If you can swing it, do it! This was our home for 10 days and the extra room was truly worth it. The balcony was a bit larger than the balcony cabins and in the south Pacific proved to be a favorite place to relax. The regular balcony cabins seemed more like the norm and of course, the ocean-view cabins without the balcony provided a bit more space since you don't lose the balcony. We were shown one of the larger suites - wow, but I am not sure the extra space with a dining room and wrap around balcony would be worth the large expenditure. The odd numbered mini-suites on the 8th level and the starboard (I think) side are under the buffet and in fact, this causes three things to happen -- 1) you will smell the food being prepared above in the corridor, 2) you will hear the food carts rolling up to the buffet starting early in the morning, light sleepers may want to factor this in, 3) you will be in a very convenient part of the boat to run up for an early cup of coffee. Food. I would say I am a slightly finicky eater and the food on this voyage was consistently very good to excellent. The dining room was always top notch. We went there for breakfast about half the time as it was always uncrowded. Food choices, preparation and service were wonderful and when you wanted to sit at a table for two and plan your day, they were always accommodating. For dinner, I would put the food, service and preparation at the highest level of Princess, RCCL, Celebrity ships. We were a table of eight that thoroughly enjoyed each meal. At each dinner there was usually one dish or course that was exceptional, one night a fish dinner, another an appetizer and almost always desserts. We did try both specialty restaurants and, in truth, they just were not that special over the dining room to warrant the extra charges of $20 and a dinner away from our dinner mates. The steakhouse food was a bit uneven and the Italian restaurant was a bit better but, again, not up to say, NYC standards in either category. Service was especially attentive but then so again was the service in the main dining room. Maybe, this is my prejudice but they try to serve too much food. The buffet was very good and this comes from a person who hates buffets. For breakfast you could order fresh cooked eggs or omelets and eating healthy was easy with many, many choices. Lunch was also terrific with one day's whole cooked salmon being one of the best I have ever had. There is a back deck to enjoy your meal with the most spectacular views of the South Pacific imaginable. Beverage service here and pool side, however, may have been the weakest aspect of the ship's abilities. If you ordered wine or beer it seemed to take an inordinate amount of time to come so that we almost always finished our meals before the wine arrived. Pool side I always got up and went to the bar for a drink as roving beverage servers were in short supply and seemed more interested in walking then taking orders. One other weak (no pun intended here) link for me was the coffee on the ship. It was just not good -- don't know whether it was the brand or the weakness of the brew but a real coffee drinker like me basically had to be satisfied with weak coffee. Now, they are selling a coffee package of fresh brewed coffee but I refused to opt in on principle alone. The biggest food disappointment for me was the BBQ grill on Deck Nine. In concept a great idea but I found the hamburgers and hot dogs near tasteless so this opportunity for a quick meal in your bathing suit was wasted for me. Once again, the grill on the Serenade of the Seas was light years better. Sorry! Entertainment. This ship has lots to do like the mega ships and the professionalism of the entertainers was especially strong. The two shows (one of which debuted on the voyage) were very good. The dancers in both shows received strong applause. The comedian was funny, the trivia contests interesting and fun and all in all, there was something to satisfy everyone. By the way, the library was very well stocked and a delightful place to be on days at sea. One night's deck party with the requisite champagne pour (is this really necessary?) was wonderful with great music, decorations , etc. It was a night when many stayed up late and enjoyed music under the stars. Pretty fabulous. By the way, the entertainment staff is high energy, fun and just plain terrific, especially our Jersey girl, Ali! When the local entertainers are brought on board, stake out a good spot and get ready to really enjoy yourself. The polynesian dancers were wonderful, especially the children. Speaking of entertainment, just watching the ship enter and sail away from these islands is a near experience of a lifetime. Don't miss the entrances to Rangiroa, Bora Bora and Moorea! I went to a wine tasting, very well done for the $9.50. If you are in the South Pacific and Douglas Pearson is on board, go to his presentations (or watch them on the tv). The man is a true treasure and will go out of his way to help you enjoy French Polynesia. Facilities. The shops on board were fine although when you are below the Equator don't run out of high numbered sun screen. Conversely all their other prices were way below shops on land. The casino was smallish but still very enjoyable, especially the table games. I saw no one happy after playing the slots, I wonder how these slots match up in payout against AC and Vegas? The fitness center is well equipped and well used. The staff seemed a little aloof but maybe that was just me comparing them to stateside folks. My travel partner used the Spa and loved it. It seemed beautiful and that staff was very nice. They have a quiet, relaxing room up front of the spa that you have to pay extra to use. With our balcony we didn't feel the need to use it but the extra charge was annoying to me. Is it me or are the extra charges for coffee, drink packages, soft drink packages, special areas of the ship starting to change what cruising's appeal was? The internet center is typical of internet service at sea, understand that and accept it. If you do opt on, try to do it the first day as you can receive some bonus minutes and you will need them with the slow e-mail. The pool and hot tubs were clean and never seemed overcrowded. Finding shade seats could be a little problematic around the pool but when we found them with the nicer deck chairs on Deck Five, problem solved. All the lounges were attractive and pleasant. Since the cruise occurred during the NFL playoffs, the ship's staff took great pains to get and show one of the games in the Casino lounge and even served "football" food during the Giant victory. This was a particularly nice touch and showed the care and concern for about the 50 to 60 people who wanted to watch the game in a public setting, especially since there are few tvs in the public areas. (At this point I did miss the sports bar on the Serenade of the Seas but I was grateful for the staff's efforts to provide a touch of home in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.) Excursions. It's the south Pacific, how could they be anything but wonderful? Bear in mind that these are really small islands. One island only had three taxis! Quick review. Rangiroa has a beach on both the atoll and ocean side, we just relaxed on the beach though there were locals running boat trips with snorkeling. Huahine had a great excursion to a lagoon, lunch in the water, dancing, and great fun with a wonderful family. Raiatea has a small town to walk around and we went on the Pearl Farm Reef and snorkel excursion. It was wonderful, about 8 people learning about the black pearls and some magnificent snorkeling. You may pay more here but quality is assured and you will receive a certificate of authenticity. Bora Bora is just beautiful and you can arrange your own excursions either on the Internet or when you get there. The Aqua Safari Helmet Dive is a once in a lifetime experience as was the snorkeling with sting rays and sharks! The ship overnighted in Bora Bora. Finally we enlisted a local to drive us around the island of Moorea to see that beautiful island. A tip: exchange money on the ship for Polynesian Francs and you get better prices for purchases or taxis. The ship overnights in Tahiti and disembarkation was a breeze. One really terrific thing that this ship allows is for passengers to vacate their state room but remain on the ship as late as 10 PM with the use of the Spa, luggage storage and the buffet. Nice gesture since most flights leave late at night. Minor concerns. I don't know when this ship was last refurbished but there were a couple of signs of needed maintenance, i. e. my bathroom vanity had a couple of chips missing, the shower stall needed new grouting. Also, the ship ran out of some things I was surprised by, i. e. particular wines, some beers. Finally, those folks running the beverage service might try a cruise on another line and pick up some pointers as I saw more than a few people poolside who gave up on flagging down a beverage server. Finally. This ship and its staff from captain down are VERY safety conscious and I don't believe it is a new concern after the Costa tragedy. The captain does a daily walk about and speaks to guests with ease and he is not above speaking to someone if the situation warrants. I felt very, very comfortable on the ship and sensed that the staff was constantly working to provide the best product. Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
This was a spectacular cruise in nearly all respects. Service, food, entertainment, itinerary, ambiance, and fellow passengers altogether resulted in this cruise leap-frogging ahead of some of our other Princess sailings we heretofore ... Read More
This was a spectacular cruise in nearly all respects. Service, food, entertainment, itinerary, ambiance, and fellow passengers altogether resulted in this cruise leap-frogging ahead of some of our other Princess sailings we heretofore thought would not be surpassed. This was our first Princess "boutique style" experience and left me wondering why we had waited so long to sail on one of the Princess small ships. Loved the ambiance, the proximity to performers in the theatre, and the ability to get to know more of our fellow passengers. I power-walked most mornings with a younger lady who was later identified as my "wife" by another passenger. We got a good laugh out of that incident. Also, only one flight of stairs up to the Panorama Restaurant and pools and only 3 flights down to the MDR and other venues on what is known as the promenade deck on bigger ships made getting around quite easy. We have to book more cruises on this size ship. Check-in was quick and our luggage arrived in a timely manner. We were surprised to see the number of folks from the previous sailing still onboard as late as 8pm. How nice of Princess to allow them to stay aboard whilst waiting for their late evening flights. If we had been in their shoes we would have done the same and that would have been appreciated. Our first day onboard in Papeete was pretty dull as most of the town is shut down on Sunday. Princess provided excursions and privately arranged tours were readily available but as we were going to be in Papeete for 3 days post cruise we chose not to go ashore. Spent the day meeting new friends from our cruise critic roll call. What a nice group of folks. Itinerary: Fabulous exposure to Huahine, Rangiroa, Raiatea, Bora Bora, and Moorea and all of the scenic beauty we expected to see. Snorkeled several times on both ship sponsored and privately arranged tours. The array of tropical fish, rays, eels, and sharks was breathtaking. I can't imagine snorkeling being better anywhere else. Cabin: Had a bit of trouble with the air conditioning but the empathetic crew did their best to alleviate the trouble. Engineers came to the cabin at least 4 times trying to nail down the difficulty. Kudos for their efforts. Mother Nature's high heat and humidity at the tail end of the French Polynesian rainy season is a challenge to all mariners. We all have to realize that sometimes things break but as long as the cruiseline does what they can to fix the problem one cannot complain. Curiously noted that "Paul Gauguin" was in refit during this time which is traditionally "low tourist season" for this part of the world. Do they know something Princess doesn't know? I believe we ran into rain only once during the cruise and it was early in the morning. I recall on that morning the congenial deckhand standing by to squeegee the jogging track once the rain stopped and he was busy as soon as the rain ceased. Other than the warm temperature the cabin was wonderful. Our room steward, Seree, did a great job for us and kept the ice coming several times during the day. Enjoyed the balcony in the early morning before daybreak and before going to sleep. Thought about doing the Princess ultimate balcony dining but it was pretty warm outside even after sunset and our meals in the MDR were so good and our tablemates so interesting we couldn't give those things up. Meals: Maitre'd Giovanni relocated us to a table for two (from table for 8) adjacent to a table for 6 and we could not have been more pleased with the location. The couple closest to us were so friendly and we frequently ended up with them for the evening entertainment. As an added bonus we lucked out and had Oana as our waitperson. Her 10 years of experience certainly showed and she made us feel as if we were her only responsibility for the evening. Our water glasses were never empty and she kept our wine glasses filled. After the first night Oana knew we did not care for any potato dish and delivered post dinner peppermint tea without our requesting it. Her recommendations helped us make the difficult decisions each evening. The starters, soups, and sorbets surrounded entree's that were cooked to perfection and offered a nice variety of tastes throughout the cruise. The crawfish etouffe (spelling?) was mouthwatering and closely rivaled the gambieri fra alla diavolo as my favorite Princess entree. Well done to the chefs and servers! Our headwaiter, Joaquin, always stopped by to ask how we were enjoying our meal and making small talk with us. We saw him at other times during the day and he was equally gracious and concerned for our satisfaction. As an aside, I witnessed Giovanni judiciously directing an inappropriately dressed man back to his cabin for more "smart casual" attire. I'm glad the dress code was enforced in the MDR but with the passengers on this cruise I don't think it had to be very often. Well done Giovanni! Entertainment: Tom Briscoe, comedian, was a hoot and we thank him for a "clean" show. Alexander, the illusionist, was mystifying and thoroughly entertaining. Heard one passenger say, "I don't like magic shows but this guy was great!" The Princess singers and dancers were wonderful and we were so fortunate having them share their talent with us. The production shows were energetic and well performed. One show, Cinematastique, debuted on this sailing and gave all of us a thrill. The dancers also doubled as trivia hosts so we were able to see them on a day to day basis which was nice. Captain Ravera: We had the opportunity to visit with Captain Ravera on several occasions and found him to be the most personable Captain since we met Captain Creighton 30 years ago. Captain Ravera has his fingers on the pulse of the ship making it a point to stroll the decks frequently interacting with passengers and crew. Perhaps it's the size of Ocean Princess that allows him to do this. In my Navy days we called it "management by walking around" and how effective that policy is in terms of passenger and crew satisfaction. His is a happy crew and I think they would all go to war with him! I really was refreshed to observe his leadership style. The ship: The intimate size of Ocean Princess returns us to the earlier days of cruising and it is a pleasant change from larger vessels. I can understand why some passengers restrict themselves to this size ship exclusively. We saw many positives but won't limit ourselves to the small ships. Aside from the wraparound promenade deck that I enjoy for my morning walks I honestly did not miss anything from the "bigger" ships in the Princess fleet. Tender operations were efficient with very minimal lines and offloads were well organized and timely. The ship appeared "ship-shape" and clean. I think one would have to look quite closely to find flaws. Certainly one will see some rust spots here and there but I thought Ocean Princess was in great shape. Miscellaneous: Jessie, the morning barista in the Panorama restaurant, made good lattes for us and started the day on a positive note. The art director was pleasant but we never made it to her auctions. The photo staff was not pushy but the passageway outside their office got clogged every evening. We steer clear of the casino but it looked like those who visited the casino were having some fun. The boutique staff, especially Emma, were very nice to speak with and helpful when picking out a gift. The staff in the buffet restaurant were nice and very attuned to cleanliness and service. Daniel and Prawat were especially congenial. We are looking forward to our next Princess sailing. Thanks for giving us so many new memories. Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
My husband and I just returned from a two week cruise on the Ocean Princess in the Eastern Mediterranean and we loved it. Having cruised on the largest of Princess ships in the past, I was excited to see the difference a small ship would ... Read More
My husband and I just returned from a two week cruise on the Ocean Princess in the Eastern Mediterranean and we loved it. Having cruised on the largest of Princess ships in the past, I was excited to see the difference a small ship would make. We did not have to deal with crowds anywhere. Embarkation was a breeze as was debarkation - no waiting or lines anywhere. We were always able to find a poolside lounge chair, a seat at the cabaret lounge and a table at the buffet. The waiters at the buffet brought drinks to the table and seemed more attentive than those on other ships. I felt I knew the crew when we disembarked. I saw and spoke with the Captain almost everyday on his "walkabout" and his welcome parties were nice and intimate. I had thought that being on a small ship would allow us to pull into ports where larger ships would have more difficulty. However, there were times when larger ships were docked at port and we had to anchor and tender in. I'm not really fond of tenders but there was no problem and the crew handled it well. I was a little stunned when I discovered our 14-day cruise was actually two 7-day cruises. This was a little confusing in that we were never told by Princess or anyone and we never saw it advertised as two different cruises - one starting in Venice and ending in Athens and the other starting in Athens and ending in Rome/Civitavecchia. At the end of the first 7 days, we received our billing statement for payment along with instructions for obtaining a new cruise card, too. Neither of these created a problem - just seemed strange. We were asked if we'd like to keep the same table for dining and we did. However, the strangest part was that all the announcements, including the muster station practice, were made as if everyone had just embarked. We were invited to attend our second Captain's Welcome Party - so that was a good thing! However, four formal nights were a bit much! All in all, it turned out to be a wonderful cruise and the ports were amazing! Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
Dover to Barcelona to Rome This is our 5th Princess cruise and we are in our 60's. Booked with Princess, used FCC's then moved it to a TA and got free trip insurance through the TA. Started booking in December for a ... Read More
Dover to Barcelona to Rome This is our 5th Princess cruise and we are in our 60's. Booked with Princess, used FCC's then moved it to a TA and got free trip insurance through the TA. Started booking in December for a Sept 1 cruise and was waitlisted, as were many. I got shareholder benefit of $250 for a 14 day cruise plus $100 OBC from the FCC's. This was a two segment, 17 night, expensive, once in a lifetime cruise for us starting in Dover and seeing Normandy or Paris, Bilbao Sp. Lisbon, Portomao, Gilbraltar, Barcelona, Sete Fr., Portifino, Florence, Tunisia, and Sorrento then Rome. Flew to London LHR on an overnight from Chicago nonstop, about an 8 hour flight time, arrived at 9 AM. Took out 200 GBP from an airport ATM, grabbed a cab to the Radisson on Bath for 10 GBP. Had asked for an early check in and were in the room at 10 AM. Room was 100 GBP (bfst incl). Concierge got us a car to take us to Windsor Castle for a visit. Another option is to take a bus. The Castle was 15 GBP PP over 60 rate. Were back about 4 PM and went to dinner about 6. Should have gone to McDonalds which is right next door. Lasted till about 7:30 before we both crashed and slept through the night. Next morning we grabbed a cab back to the airport for a 9:30 AM pickup on the Princess transfer bus. The ride is about 1 ½ hr. and can be very expensive to book on your own . With the transfer you hand your bags to the driver and don't see them again till they're in your room. That alone saves a lot of tipping and handling. The ship was ready for us and we were on board before 11:30 in our cabinette. We had a level 7 balcony room forward. The ship. Small with 680 passengers, clean well kept a short walk to everything. Tender time was always short, would do it again. The casino, casino bar, and lounge were all together which allowed me to have a drink, watch the piano player and keep an eye on my wife. Buffet was 9 aft had a coffee bar and some outside seating. Lotus was 9 forward as was the cyber cafe. MDR was on 5 aft. Shops were 5 mid. Lido had 2 small hot tubs one pool. Cabaret lounge was never packed, always had a good seat. We got to meet a whole bunch of people due to the size of the ship. There were one or two buses per tour so you would run into the same folks. We were always bus # 3 or# 7 or# 8. While in Piza I looked at the tags on some folks from those mega ships and noticed they were bus #27. Shows. Liked the shows, they changed the shows and had different acts join the ship. The usual comics, singer, magic act. Food. MDR was kinda bland. Nothing special and on Lobster night the Lobster/Prawn combo had good prawns but mushy lobster both times. Went to Sabitini's and that was good. They didn't drag out a bunch of things you didn't want but you can order anything on the menu you wanted. So we did our own thing and tasted a few things plus our entrEe. Went to the steak house with two of our table mates for steaks. They were served with brown gravy on everything, even the rack of lamb. Sent it all back to remove the gravy. I let Princess know about that via the follow up survey. Note: Sabatini's and Sterling Steakhouse are two different restaurants on deck 10 and they alternate being open. The Panorama Buffet is set up as the Bistro on sea days with waiter service for dinner. Eggs to order and afternoon pizza are served from the same window in the buffet area. Burgers are out by the pool. Ports: Being small we pulled into smaller docks and were closer to the center of some towns. Barcelona we were next to the World Trade Center, Portifino we were a short tender ride from the yacht club pier. Lisbon across the street from the bus station and train station. Tunis two blocks from town. Le Havre France: All tours left before 8 AM and ours was 10 hours long. Choices were Paris or Normandy. We spent a week in Paris once so went to Normandy. IMHO I think that Paris deserves a lot more than 5 hours in the city which included some shopping and a river boat ride. Everybody I've talked to wanted to know about Normandy. "Everybody". We visited Omaha beach, the US cemetery, the bunkers on the cliffs that the Rangers attacked and the June 6th Museum in the town of Arromanche where they constructed the artificial harbor. All of it amazing, glad we went, wouldn't miss it. Had lunch at a French farmhouse/hall which was great. A two hour bus ride each way. $480 for two. Bilbao Spain: In town there is the Guggenheim, It was Sunday and some places were closed. We opted for the bus tour of Basque country which was just OK, nothing special. Saw Bermeo and Guernica, the city that Franco had the Germans bomb during the Spanish Civil War in the late 30's. Lisbon: On our own, we got lucky. The first line of cab drivers try to sell you a city tour for 100 E. Across the street is the train station and bus stop. The Yellow HOHO bus was there and for 20 E we got a day pass which allows you to ride on any public bus plus the HOHO. Every town has a fort and a church to see so we took the yellow bus into town center and transferred to the smaller #87 bus which took us up to the Castelo S. Jorge. We toured the fort and grabbed the #87 back down to Miradouro Sta. Luzia church. Toured the church and #87 back to central square. Here we walked down Rua Augusta pedestrian mall and visited a wine shop, bought some Port. Had lunch in a cafe, bought some trinkets from Fatima and Lisbon and walked down toward the dock. We ran into a HOHO rep and she pointed us to the bus back to the ship. Got lucky this time and only walked down hill. LOL. Portimao: Free shuttle takes you into town then stops at the beach then back to the ship. We were going to take a boat tour of the grotto's but missed it cause we got a late start. Option two was a boat trip up the river to Sintra with a fort and a church so we took that. Nothing thrilling, visited the cork shop which has a bunch of strange cork products. Back to town then the bus. Turns out the beach was a better bet because that was the tourist / resort part of town and all the shops were open. We missed the Grotto's but as the ship pulled out of port and headed to Gibraltar we passed all the grottos on the port side. We got to see more than the tour although from farther away. Gibraltar: On our own again. Walked off the ship into a cab driver offering a tour. This one we took up on the deal. He had an 8 passenger and there was 8 of us including two kids that he charged half price for. I think is was $25 PP which included tickets to the sites. That's about half of what the ship wanted. Drove us up the rock to the siege caves. Went in there. Went to see the monkeys which were very funny. They do bite. Saw the lookout site and back to Main Street for some shopping. Went to the glass blowing shop and a cafe and a linen store. The private cab was smaller than the ships buses so at each location we were closer to the attraction, less walking. The instructions on getting back to the boat weren't clear and it took us a while while waiting for the cabs that were assigned to the boat to show up at the pick up spot. They were scheduled to be there at 4 PM but were late. We had to pay for the cabs but it was a fixed rate. This was were I unloaded the last of my GBP's left over from London. Barcelona: Barcelona is a major cruise starting point and we arrived on a Saturday. There were 7 ships in according to a cabbie. The place was so packed with people that it was hard to move in some places. On our own again. We got on the HOHO Red bus into town center to transfer to the Blue bus to get to La Sagrada Familia. So did 300 other people. The line to board had 200 people in it but did move right along. When we got to the church there was another monster line. We walked around the outside and left. Shoulda taken the tour. Big mistake. Went back to La Rambla ped walkway and strolled along there. Visited the market place which was swarming with people. The Palau Guell which was beautiful to see although it was hot in there. Stopped for lunch had the Black Pig ham with some wine and bread. Walked and shopped some more, looked at all the street performers etc. Skip the bus, cab back to the ship. Barcelona requires more time. So much to see. Must go back. I was armed with a Frommers walking tour guide so I had an idea of what to see in the big cities. I also used the CC port guide to let me know about each ports highlights. Sete France; (Didn't set the alarm, almost missed the tour.) Took the ships wine tour which included the city of Montpillar which was beautiful. Our bus was blocked by a stray parker and we were delayed while having him towed. Had a coffee and crepe snack in town square. Wine tour of an old winery at Chateau de Flaugergues. Bought 2 bottles of Cuvee Rose for 6E each and 1 Cuvee Sommeliere red (Wine Spectator 92 points) for 10E. The red we took home. No problem bringing it back on board. Everybody seemed to be buying wine. We had sampled 3 different wines. The guide said that Montpillar was not bombed during the war because it wasn't a port and wasn't a strategic location. Good tour. Stopped in Sete on way back and there really isn't much there to see. A little fishing village is about it. Portifino: Doesn't everybody want to go here? Tender to town. Not very big and not a lot to see. Walked up and down the harbor front and then decided to see the church and fort. Talk about a climb up the mountain. I wouldn't do it again. A lot of work and not that great. Took a ferry to Santo Margarita and walked around there. The church in town was a beauty, the shops were closed from 1-4 and we had lunch at Palma's. Back to the boat. Florence + Pisa: Took the "trolly" tour to Pisa. A lot less walking with the trolly. The bus drops you off and a trolly picks you up. Saw the tower which has recently been restored so it looks like new. Got tickets to tour the church and baptistery. We didn't get into the tower because the next time slot was after we left. The tour guide should have managed things better and we could have gone in the tower given enough notice. The church was worth seeing, the baptistery, save your money. This was a half day tour but we had been to Florence before so we did this one instead. Tunis: Another tour, went to Carthage Roman ruins, American Cemetery, and the Souk market. Tunis is where Rommel made his stand and lost Africa. The cemetery has grave markers covering about a three year span. The Roman ruins are huge here. The market I could have done without. In your face vendors. There is an enclosed market at the pier when you get back that has all the same stuff with better prices and no haggling. Everybody was late getting back and I think we left a little late, Sorrento: Were here 12 years before and had planned some shopping and lunch. Ship provided a free shuttle to town. Last minute decided to visit Capri. Took the ferry over walked around and went back. Didn't care to see the grotto, or take the tram up the mountain so without a specific reason to go there it was a waste. So much for last minute decisions. Back to Sorrento, into town at Tasso square, visited some shops bought some glass trinkets and went to a leather store for a purse and a belt. Had lunch at Caruso's just off the square which was great. A great finish to a great trip. Rome: Been there three times. Dock to airport, FCO to LHR, LHR to Chicago. 12 hour trip. BA business class is another story. The whole trip it was hotter than usual. 85 and up some days. Tires you out walking. Got home and people were wearing jackets. Remember that Rome and Chicago are both 42 degrees North. It was about 65 in Chicago. After visiting all these places, it's great to be back in the Midwest on FLAT ground. Got my Platinum card midway through the trip. Showed it off to our table mates at dinner, made jokes about it for days since everybody else was Gold. I asked the waiter if I could see the Platinum dinner menu. Everybody got a laugh out of that, even the waiter. Told everybody there was a midnight buffet for Platinum members but you had to know where the secret door was to get in. They tell you to take your passport with you. Only had to show it at Gibraltar. At a few places I asked for a senior discount and we got one. Then I had to show my passport for ID. One lady got picked in Paris. If you have a purse, a cane, and a little green sticker on your shirt, you're a target. They got her wallet, charge cards, money and passport. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
We picked this ship because it had the ports of call that we were looking for -- we wanted to either start or end in Greece and Princess was one of the few that did this. We had never sailed with Princess before and had heard some good ... Read More
We picked this ship because it had the ports of call that we were looking for -- we wanted to either start or end in Greece and Princess was one of the few that did this. We had never sailed with Princess before and had heard some good things about them and were looking forward to the cruise. Don't get me wrong -- how could a Greek Isles cruise be disappointing? It wasn't, but the ship was. Embarcation was excellent -- the staff was friendly and everything went smoothly. Our cabin was a nice size. Dinner was nice -- nothing spectacular, but not bad. The food and service were good. What disappointed me about this ship? The cost was premium, the ship was small...we knew that, but I hoped there would be quality. The entertainment was flat-out horrid. No bands so to speak. Two duos with canned background music and they sang off-key!!!! There was very little entertainment in the evening. But...what ticked me off the most was that on one of excursions...we got left after being 5 minutes late. The excursion manager could have made us happy by offering to reimburse us our out-of-pocket expense to get back to the port...or maybe buying us a drink. We were told if we had any more problems, we could go to the excursion office. IT WAS ONLY OPEN BETWEEN 5 - 7! That was our dinner time!! When I filled out an email when we got back, a Princess rep called, but she also didn't offer to try and make me happy. (We were about about 20 Euros...I know it wasn't much money, but it was the principal -- we spent a fortune on excursions1) The first day was at sea...on RC and Celebrity, they do a great job of selling liquor around the pool -- I would say that the ocean princess needs to go on a RC cruise and learn a few things. Second day was at Itea (for Delphi) not listed as a port. We went on the excursion to Delphi and the Museum...was absolutely wonderful! The guide was fantastic, Delphi was amazing. Third day was cephalonia (Argostoli) went to underground caves and lake. Was a fun thing to do especially since it was raining that day! Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
Ocean Princess Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabin 3.0 N/A
Dining 4.0 4.1
Entertainment 4.0 3.8
Public Rooms 4.0 4.5
Fitness & Recreation 4.0 N/A
Family 2.0 4.2
Shore Excursions 4.0 N/A
Enrichment Activities 3.0 N/A
Service 4.0 4.6
Value for Money 4.0 N/A

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