1. Home
  2. Cruise Lines
  3. Ocean Princess Review
  4. Ocean Princess Cruise Reviews

31 Ocean Princess Cruise Reviews

Route: 14 day voyage: Miami – St Martin – St Kitts – St Vincent – Tobago – Barbados – Martinique - Antigua – Virgin Gorda - Miami 1. General Comments: We are regular cruisers, but this was our first Princess ship. It ... Read More
Route: 14 day voyage: Miami – St Martin – St Kitts – St Vincent – Tobago – Barbados – Martinique - Antigua – Virgin Gorda - Miami 1. General Comments: We are regular cruisers, but this was our first Princess ship. It was an interesting and pleasant trip; we chose this for the itinerary (5 stops were new for us) and to spend both Christmas and New Year’s in the tropics. Weather was warm (80s) and humid with plenty of rain showers and rolling seas. We were a full ship with ca 680 passengers. Most passengers appeared to be seasoned cruisers, and a good number of languages were heard. While there were a small number of children on board, there were no facilities or activities for them; that was their parents’ responsibilities. We had a suite (7th deck) that made for a most comfortable cruise. However, due to the small size of the ship, you do hear and feel the ship’s engine, especially when the speed is adjusted up or down. Also, the rocking and rolling of the Atlantic Ocean is much more pronounced on this ship, compared to any of the “regular” size ships of 2,000 – 3,000 passengers. 2. Travel to Miami and Embarking: Because we booked so early, we were among the passengers who were caught when Princess changed the port from Fort Lauderdale to Miami. We were unable to change our plane or hotel reservations, but our cruise agent worked with Princess so that we could take a bus from Fort Lauderdale airport to Miami port and reverse. A nuisance, but it worked out, and we were not alone. Check-in at Miami port worked smoothly, and we got on the ship quickly. Our suite was ready, and luggage appeared – piecemeal - in the afternoon. 3. The Ocean Princess: An attractive ship, enhanced by its smallness. Yes, it is being sold to Oceania effective in early April, and the ship may have had a slight tired look about it. However, the facility was still top notch and the crew was the same. Our suite was a delight with all the space and storage drawers/closets. Details can be seen in the cabin descriptions on the Princess website. The bathroom had a tub shower. There was a small safe and a small refrigerator. The balcony is spacious; however, we hardly used it due to rain showers, rocking and rolling, or the sun beating down on clear days. When we could sit outside, it was very pleasant. The flat screen TVs (set up for DVD movies) received the usual news, movies, music, etc. You get a daily planner in your cabin the night prior. You need to read it carefully as there are practically no announcements on the PA system. The Captain does a daily report from the bridge, and the Cruise Director may make a daily announcement on activities. There is no daily newspaper; you have to receive your news from BBC, Fox; financial news from CNBC or MSNBC; and sports from two ESPN channels. 4. Meals: As often on past cruises with other lines, we ran into problems in trying to get a table for two at dinner. Due to the ship being small, it had no “my time” dining. On boarding we learned that the first seating was changed from 6PM to 5:30 (nursing home hours). Next, we learned that although our cruise agent had been assured that our request for a table for two was confirmed, we were placed at a table for eight (nursing home group therapy). My wife and I both groused at the maître d, who finally backed off by telling us, “come see me at 5:30.” At that time we were shown a table for two, obviously hastily arranged, as were other tables for two around the dining room. We later received a card formally informing us that our table was permanent for the cruise. As for meals in the dining room, they were very good. There was clearly some talent in the kitchen, and we appreciated it. As we always had the same table, our wait staff did get used to our tastes. The wine list was also good, whether you wanted a bottle or a glass. We should note that no matter what ship or line you are on, including the Ocean Princess, the first night’s dinner is disorganized as diners and staff sort out who sits where and when. Panorama Buffet: We used it for lunch and a couple times when we wanted just a bite for dinner. There was quite a variety of good food, whether you wanted a meal, sandwich, or salad. The dessert area was equally varied. We did not use the two specialty restaurants (Italian, and steak), only because we are not big eaters. 5. Princess dress code: There were three formal nights; the rest were all “smart casual.” “Formal” for men meant mainly suits and sport coats; tuxedos were a minority. Casual was just that; most men did wear shirts instead of t-shirts. 6. Shore Excursions: Make your shore excursion reservations on-line! This saves you standing in line at the ship’s tour desk. The on-line billing goes direct on your credit card and not on your shipboard account. If you know the ports of call and want to travel by yourself, then, of course, you don’t need the ship’s tour office. Tour prices are not cheap; you are paying for the convenience of having the ship organize the tour rather than you doing it after you get ashore. Also, if you obtain your tour through the ship’s staff, you have support when there is a problem. Two of the eight ports were tender ports. In both ports, the waters were quite active, resulting in the tender boats bouncing around quite a bit during loading and unloading. Crew members literally had their hands full helping passengers on and off the boats. Also, tender boats are the ship’s life boats; they are not made for comfort and you have to clamber around in them for a seat. 7. Shipboard entertainment: We saw two of the individual entertainers and one of the “show” performances with singers and dancers. They were all pleasant. A reminder that the ship has a cabaret and not a theater. This means that there are no seats on tiers; they are all on one level. Your view of the stage is easily blocked by the person(s) in front of you. The ship has a daily schedule full of activities for all tastes: lectures, bingo, movies, etc, etc. The library appeared to be well stocked. There are NO art auctions. (Thank you, Princess.) The casino was small (three blackjack tables and one roulette table). The machine payoffs did not seem to be much worse than Las Vegas. The selection of duty-free liquor on board was not great, but adequate; you order your liquor and it is delivered to your cabin the day before disembarking. There will be plenty of opportunities for you to have your picture taken by the ship’s photographers--pricey, but a good souvenir. 8. Tipping: Not a problem if you sign up for the recommended amounts. The amounts are charged to each person’s shipboard account. You have nothing more to do. You only need to tip separately (cash) the person who brings your room service. Your bar and wine bill automatically adds 15 percent. If you want to tip anyone for exemplary service, you can give him cash in an envelope. 9. Settling of Accounts: During your voyage, anything you purchase on board (drinks, souvenirs, tours, duty free items, photos, etc) is punched into a computer. This was the first ship where you only sometimes signed a ticket, and you sometimes received a copy of the ticket. Unless you keep your own notes on what you charged on your account, you will not have a clear idea of your bill until departure morning. I did ask for a preliminary bill a couple days before disembarking, and it was immediately supplied without question. If you do not do this, though, and you find questionable items on your bill, you will be spending departure morning in line at the Front Desk sorting it out. 10. Disembarking in Miami: Disembarking went very smoothly, and there were no bureaucratic delays. Once we got off the ship, we picked up our luggage and cleared customs and immigration in ten minutes. (Amazing.) 11. Conclusion: This was an enjoyable and interesting trip. The hiccups were minor and did not detract from the Ocean Princess or our enjoyment of celebrating Christmas and New Year’s on board in the Caribbean. We are sorry to see this ship sold to another line, but hope that its sister, Pacific Princess, will remain on itineraries in which we might be interested. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
89 days on the Ocean Princess (22 Sep - 20 Dec, 2015) and still married! A small ship allows you to meet more people and develop deeper friendships on a long cruise. Coming across the Atlantic in December on a small ship is not as ... Read More
89 days on the Ocean Princess (22 Sep - 20 Dec, 2015) and still married! A small ship allows you to meet more people and develop deeper friendships on a long cruise. Coming across the Atlantic in December on a small ship is not as pleasant. I have determined any cruise is what you make of it. We like a large table for dinner to allow for meeting many people from different backgrounds and countries. The eight we had from Dover were totally compatible and we never tired of each other, or their stories. What a hoot!!! Other tables always wondered what we were up to as there was always laughter and fun. Staff members are there to serve you but need to be treated with respect and appreciation, and I am not talking just extra tips. They work 11 hours a day, and most of them work more, to please you and to keep their job. On a longer cruise, you should develop great relationships with many crew. Let them know you appreciate them, ask about their families and you will learn so much more. Tina Zagar, fitness instructor, has me on the way to better health and condiioning. She has changed my life. As a 69 year old golfer I wanted to improve my flexibility while on board, and it worked. Having not hit a golf ball for over three months, I am hitting the ball 25 to 30 farther off the tee, and my lower back no longer hurts. I am now signed up to continue yoga at home to maintain, or even better my strength and flexibility. Tina also gave my wife some exercises to hep with her sciatica, and it is now under control. She is a great teacher and an even better motivator. Ketut, the grill cook, Selma, a waitress, our room steward, Moises Reyes, are on our list to take home. Captain Lorentzen was very visible and always kept us informed of the good and bad news. When you are kept informed it eliminates rumors and unhappy passengers. Our only gripe is that we had several ports where we arrived on holy days or weekemds when nothing was open, and things seemed deserted. Home office provides the schedule not the Captain, and many things dictate the schedule, but leaving two days earlier or two days later would have been better. The quality of the contract entertainment was outstanding. We had singers from Broadway and West End. We had the lead from Lion King (West End), another male singer from Phantom of the Opera, and a female singer who was auditioning for Wicked in New York the week after departing our ship. These are only the ones I can quickly remember. There was a variety of muscians, comedians and what I would call "out of the ordinary" that were all good. Even if they are not what I would normally pay to see, they did expand my world. The food was the best I have had on ship, although after going through their 14 day menu 6 times I was (unfairly) getting tired of it. Cooking 5000 meals a day is quite an operation. Too bad the Ocean Princess is leaving the fleet and heading to Oceana. She is special, as is her other small Princess ship, the Pacific Princess. They allow you to get into ports not normally accessible to the larger ships. We will miss her, as we do our new found friends, both passenger and crew. God Bless you all. Thank you for a special trip. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
. . . . But the itinerary was great!! Arrived in London for a 4 day Pre. So after 11+ hours in the air, long trip to Grovesnor House, virtually crawled up to the reception desk, just to have them tell us our pre-paid reservation had ... Read More
. . . . But the itinerary was great!! Arrived in London for a 4 day Pre. So after 11+ hours in the air, long trip to Grovesnor House, virtually crawled up to the reception desk, just to have them tell us our pre-paid reservation had been cancelled!! We paid for it and Princess cancelled it. No one told us it was changed to Rennaissance across town. We stood there stunned, as if we were trying to fake some scheduling problem or trying to muscle into a room. Not so! Not a word from Princess in advance. Embarrassing! and Angering! I guess they expected all their Pre-passengers to experience a little emotional shock and anger by finding out on their own? Well welcome to London. After that meltdown, we spent more time relocating and thankfully got a room. Transfer to the ship was fine, but: Our tour agent was supposed to have a tour of the White Cliffs in route to the ship. That never happened. Ocean Princess is a fine old lady, small, but the interiors much to my liking. More like an English Gentlemen's club than bright colors. Missed the ice cream bar on other larger ships. Liked the ship much. But it is tired. Peeling caulking in the bathroom, discoloration around the edges of the shower (mold?), water pressure barely produced a shower. Dryer clothes line would not retract and hung there, floating around until I knotted it off. But overall clean and acceptable---just not the new ship sparkle. Had to keep shutting the laundry room door near us because other passengers kept the doors open, and turned the hallway into a noisy humid warm laundry room. Porters should have been on this issue--signs say to keep the doors shut. We had issues with seating at dinner. No one told us that there were two dozen requests to sit in couples which could not be accommodated. And we are Ruby grade too. Anyway they had us at a table for 6. I do not work to the bone for a year in order to suffer through the banalities of fellow passenger's small talk. I want to focus on my lovely wife. We left and I had assumed not to return. Why wait until the time of dinner to deal with this? But they did provide us a two seat table at the late seating after the fact. The MD would not look at us again the entire cruise. Hugely funny to us. I could have lived just with the buffet after all. I will not prepay gratuities ever again. BUT____This trip is all about the destinations. We spent a few days in advance in London. DO NOT TAKE THE CABS. Use the tube. Better cheaper, but--mostly just a lot faster. A little bit a learning curve, but after a 50 minute ride to get to the V and A Museum cross town from St Pancras, the cabbies clearly take the circuitous routes to make their trips. More than that, a waste of precious time. USE THE TUBE. London: See the war rooms (not well promoted), perhaps the best thing to see in London. The actual place Churchill conducted the war from, sealed up right after the war, unmolested and uncovered in the 80's. Even sugar rations were still left about. Virtually untouched. See Churchill's quarters, the radio rooms, kitchen, rifles still in the halls within reach, to defend an invasion of the quarters. The read deal, folks. You can almost feel the presence of the officers and staff underground in the bunkers. FANTASTIC. Jersey, Dublin, unscheduled stop in Belfast--the port I wanted to see anyway!!-- Scotland, all great. Princess continues to excel in the pastry department. Food generally was fine as always. New this trip for me was a real sushi day, with lots of shushimi too. I ate enough to pay for half the trip. I feel good with Princess. Generally well organized, professional, competent. Now at platinum level, I will be back often. Especially if Princess continues with excellent itineraries. I look forward to Hawaii at the end of the year. A great way to end the year and start anew. The Dover to Dover trip. Fantastic. I may do it again one day. I will double-confirm all hotels and transfers before leaving. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
BACKGROUND: I’m a mature adventurous solo traveler who has cruised 45 times on many cruise lines. Most of my cruises have been on Princess ships. I’m currently on a quest to see where my ancestors came from, and many of these places ... Read More
BACKGROUND: I’m a mature adventurous solo traveler who has cruised 45 times on many cruise lines. Most of my cruises have been on Princess ships. I’m currently on a quest to see where my ancestors came from, and many of these places are good cruise ports. This itinerary covered many places my Viking ancestors once lived in, and I’ve always wanted to visit these parts of the world. My favorite Princess ship is the “Ocean Princess”, so it appeared to be a perfect match. TRAVEL TO EMBARKATION: I enjoyed outstanding Virgin Atlantic flight service to London’s Heathrow Airport from JFK. Stayed at the London Heathrow Airport Terminal 5, close to Heathrow, overnight. Went to Canterbury, England the next day for some sightseeing, and then on embarkation day traveled on to Dover with Chestfield Cars, a very good local limo service. For once the English weather was gorgeous – hot, sunny and dry, and it made local travel and sightseeing a pleasure. SHIP INFORMATION: The Explorer Class “Ocean Princess” is a beautiful small ship. 30,277 tons, length 592 feet, with 11 decks, and 338 cabins. Maximum passenger load is 672, and as my sailing was sold out, this was a full load – it never felt crowded, however, at any time. There are 375 crew members on board. The ship was purchased “used” in 2002, and refurbished in 2012. The interior is timeless classic, and looks like a stately English country home with traditional furnishings, lovely carpets and paintings, lots of wood paneling, and a gorgeous lounge with a fireplace (not real). Spacious cabins are very nice, and the small size of the ship makes getting around very quick and easy. One main dining room aft, two specialty restaurants, the usual buffet restaurant, and other dining venues. Small showroom, and other lounges and entertainment venues. Compact but well-equipped fitness center, and elegant Lotus Spa salon. Internet café and various function rooms, and a large boutique and separate jewelry store, small casino, hot tubs and pool, private adult “sanctuary deck area”, photo gallery, guest services desk in a lovely foyer area, several bars, and most of the other amenities found in older traditional ships. It’s a very elegant and refined environment compared to the enormous ultramodern ships. There is a definite vibration and rumbling noticeable in the dining room, no doubt from the engine room somewhere below and in the vicinity. For the age of the ship, it appeared well maintained but a bit tired around the edges inside and out. Internet is available, isn’t cheap (upper level loyalty guests get some free time), and is extremely slow. In this itinerary, internet and TV signals were nonexistent due to the northerly remote areas the ship cruised in at times. The ship has stabilizers, which were a blessing on this sailing which encountered some very high winds and rough seas routinely. Most of the ship is nonsmoking both on balconies and inside and some deck areas. There was only one laundry room for the entire group of passengers (elite level loyalty guests got free dry-cleaning), with 6 washers and dryers, coin-operated, and $2 for every wash, dry, box of soap, dryer sheet, etc. Coins could be charged to the room account using one’s key card. The “Ocean Princess” will be sold at the end of the year, according to Princess, and while things may not have been truly wonderful on this trip, I’m sorry to see this lovely small ship leave the Princess fleet. DINING: There were early and late traditional fixed-seating for dinner, plus other “take-out” places for pizza, etc. The Panorama Buffet has the usual big spreads for all three daily meals, plus afternoon snacks. There is room service, but with restricted hours despite stating in the customer service manual in the cabin that food is available 24/7 – you can’t get any food you want at any time. This caused some issues on my cruise, as this statement about 24/7 dining was very ambiguous and guest services did not have the correct information. There are two specialty restaurants with a cover charge, for Italian and steakhouse type foods – I did not use either this trip. The food appeared to cater more to the British sense of taste and diet, but there were the typical American foods for those less adventurous. There were a lot of Asian and Indian food items, and themed lunch buffets had something from many cultures every day. This was a good opportunity to try something you may not be familiar with or get at home. Food in the dining room came in large portions, and was served at proper temperatures. The menus got a bit “creative” for my personal taste, with a lot of peculiar names, food combinations, poor quality fish, and “always available” foods such as salmon, chicken, and other familiar American food items. A food from each group was featured on all menus – fish, poultry, meat, and vegetarian, with the usual appetizers, salads, soups, and deserts. Some of the meals appeared to be the leftovers from the night before, all mixed together and given a strange name. Tremendous overuse of fruit soaked in alcohol, red and green peppers, heavy seasoning, too much salt, and strange vegetables as edible garnishes. Deserts could have done better - lots of things full of fruit and nuts, and very little imagination other than one or two chocolate “features” which mixed too many rich ingredients into an overkill nightmare. I was very disappointed in the menu choices – it’s sure not the Continental or gourmet cuisine which used to appear on ship menus 20 years ago! I did not see the little heart symbols on the menu this cruise, which used to indicate a healthy item – it’s a relief, actually. Who wants to diet and eat “healthy” on a cruise, where food is such a big item and activity! Salad dressings seemed very weak and watery, and the regular blue cheese dressing was identical to liquid barium, really terrible. Lots of peculiar iced soups were on the menu, and it was hard to decide whether to eat or drink them out of a glass. Birthdays and anniversaries were celebrated by singing waiters and what appeared to be a very nice small chocolate cake. I know the Carnival Corporation is looking at bottom-line profit, but cutting food quality in the dining room and buffet is not the place to save money. Finding meat loaf, hamburgers, fried chicken, spaghetti, roast turkey, chili and other truck-stop or diner type foods on a cruise ship menu was either an attempt to make American cruisers feel at home, or perhaps the result of some survey where guests wanted more of what they get at home instead of “fancy” cruise ship food. Seeing ice cream as a desert offering every night was the same feeling - if I wanted to eat this way, I would stay home and get better quality. The Panorama Buffet had more variety and some interesting international-themed buffets at lunch and dinner. There was a spectacular desert buffet at the end of the cruise. However, there were fruit flies hovering over the pastries in the morning and the waffles, French toast, and pancakes were soggy, cold and stale. Plates and glasses were often wet, and I noticed dried-on specks of food on the very tired silverware. Not enough seating, especially when the tables were used as an internet café by people not eating. Good views from the enormous windows. Intermittent waiter service at best, and usually slow. Hot foods were not kept hot, or even warm, most of the time. Cold foods weren’t held properly, either, and some were room temperature. It was a good chance, however, to sample foods from other cultures and things not commonly found in typical American diets. Small plastic oval plates had to hold everything, as there were no trays and adding one more plate for a separate salad or desert maxed out carrying capacity. I rarely had assistance from a waiter when I had two plates of food and a drink glass. A lack of tags identifying various foods was a problem, and some of the waiters did not speak enough English to answer my questions about food content. No labeling identifying possible allergens such as nuts within foods, either. Deserts had some sugar-free offerings, but there was a lot of fruit and cream style items and some really peculiar combinations of ingredients. Everything was attractively presented, especially the side with the salads and deserts. However, it’s hard to make a metal pan of mashed potatoes look elegant, even on a cruise ship. While the waiters were very efficient in clearing tables, they were very slow to notice guests arriving at tables and come over to offer beverage service. Guests leaving their seats to get refills at the buffet often returned to their table to find everything gone that they had left, and other guests sitting in their seats. STATEROOM: I had a midship, mid-level balcony stateroom. Unfortunately, Princess makes solo travelers pay double, and this trip had steep pricing. The stateroom furnishings showed their age, with nicks, dents, stained fabrics. Very comfortable bed, however, with the two twins combined to a king size. If you don’t like feather pillows, the steward will find a synthetic, firmer pillow if you ask. No blankets, but a lightweight comforter duvet. Nice linens most of the time, but some were tired, and the sheets are changed every four days. Lots of wood hangers in a small closet with a door. Plenty of storage cabinets and shelving units and drawers. Love seat which doubles as a sofa bed. Small desk area with a mirror. Lighting in the room could be brighter, but was adequate. Peaceful blue and neutral color scheme. Sheer white curtains beneath patterned lined drapes – unfortunately the drapes did not close enough nor reach all the way across the glass balcony wall, and the nearly 24 hour daylight coming in at the Midnight Sun latitude at night made sleep very difficult. Decent climate control, very quiet. Phone and several electrical outlets with varying currents. Twice-daily room service. Tiny refrigerator in part of the closet. The beds are low, so storing my huge suitcase beneath the beds was not possible – found an out of the way corner for the luggage, and it did not get in the way. The bathroom is very small and compact, typical plastic module type found on many cruise ships. Decent sized shower with the infamous clinging plastic curtain, and dispensers of shower gel and shampoo/conditioner. There is soap available for the sink and shower, but beware if you have sensitive skin – the soap and shower gel are very harsh and quickly dry out sensitive skin. Elite guests get a small bag of extra bath amenities, as well as a tray of liquor miniatures and some bottled water and sodas. I do not drink, and asked to have the bar tray replaced with sodas and bottled water, and this was done quickly and cheerfully. Ice is supplied twice a day. Either some degree of soundproofing, or the tactful embarkation mention by some officer over the PA of being considerate of other guests especially at night and trying to be quiet in the corridors and cabins, resulted in amazing silence and peaceful quiet 99% of the time on this cruise when I was in my cabin. The balcony was big enough for two people, with two adjustable mesh and metal chairs and a small round metal table. There is plastic tiling on the deck, and a glass wall under the top railing outside. The entire balcony wall of the cabin is glass, providing some spectacular views. There was a modern flat-screen TV with a choice of programming depending on the day and where the ship is to receive signals, plus in-house programs available. Announcements are not heard in the stateroom unless a specific TV channel is on, but if there is something important, there is a speaker within the cabin and announcements can be heard from the captain or other officers should the need arise. I had plenty of room, all the comforts I needed, and peace and quiet. The only problem with the stateroom was a sour odor in the bathroom. No amount of cleaning, chemicals, sprays, or checking could either find the source or get rid of it. Some of the bathroom caulking and grout looked very tired, and there was possibly mold in the shower area or somewhere else. The towels were good sometimes, but most of the time they were nearly threadbare, with some frayed edges, and very scratchy to use. ACTIVITIES: From early morning to late at night, there is something to do for everyone depending on what they consider an activity. This was a very port-intensive itinerary, with just four or five sea days, and most passengers were ashore in the ports. There were enrichment lectures by guest speakers on various topics. Typical fun and often wacky “parlor games” with the cruise entertainment staff were more popular than one might imagine, especially with the marvelously friendly and enthusiastic Australian guests aboard. Bingo, trivia, port lectures and get-togethers for various professional groups were offered, and there was a lovely library for readers. Internet was accessible, albeit slowly, for the IT folks. Knitting, bridge, board games, and shopping sales kept people busy. Shopping was a big thing on the ship, especially on sea days with the captive audience more than willing to part with their money and have some fun looking at all the “bargains”. The fitness center was very busy with guests enjoying all the amenities there. Lots of spa treatments were available. The marvelous exercise disguised as fun dancing, Zumba, was offered every sea day and was well attended. There were galley tours and food demonstrations. The weather on this trip was not really amenable to sitting around the pool or using the hot tub, or even walking on the jogging track, unfortunately, but some hardy souls were outside anyway. The port days were long and busy, and tired most people out by the end of supper as far as further activities in the evening. Princess continues its scheduling of activities listed as seminars, which are nothing more than infomercials aimed at getting guests to spend money on various treatments, analyses, and products. Unfortunately, these seminars were scheduled at the peak times between meals, and normal activities got stuck in the schedule just before or after a meal, or at some really inconvenient time. This trend has gone on for years, and doesn’t appear that it will change any despite passenger protests. The casino was open on sea days and once the ship left port, but did not seem to have many people in it. Smoking was allowed, but there were some smoke-free days with better attendance. The table games seemed sparsely attended, but the slot machines had a fair crowd at times, especially the penny slots. No coins are awarded in this modern digital age, and the room key is used to establish a “bank” credit – you can charge gaming costs to your shipboard account, or feed paper bills into the slot machines, and then cash out if you have winnings at the end. The photography staff was everywhere in the ports, and did a good video DVD for a souvenir - but all photography was very expensive. SERVICE: The best service I enjoyed came from my cabin steward, a lively young lady from the Philippines. She was perfect in everything she did, and my cabin was immaculately serviced twice daily at times convenient for my personal routine. Elena in the Boutique was also amazing – always pleased to be of help, with great fashion sense and a warm, wonderful personality and good sense of humor. I remember Elena from my last Ocean Princess cruise, and it was delightful to see her once again, like meeting family while traveling. Gabriel in the jewelry boutique was also very charming and dedicated to good service and friendliness. The waiter’s assistant was a lovely young lady from Ukraine who provided gracious, poised, and beautiful service in an otherwise chaotic dining room. While the ship’s captain perhaps doesn’t offer a “service”, he was one of the more amiable and well-spoken captains I’ve sailed with. His crew obviously respected him and were very fond of him. Every day at noon, the captain reported from the bridge over the PA system, and included chiming the four bells of the noon watch for us to hear. He also was quite fond of nautical trivia, and we got some interesting and sometimes humorous information at the end of the navigational, port and weather reports. This captain was also very safety-oriented, and cancelled a port call due to very high winds. He had a very good command of Italian-accented English, and was delightful to listen to at least once a day with his broadcasts. Simon the cruise director was also a very approachable, articulate, and pleasant gentleman who had far more dignity and ability than most cruise directors I’ve sailed with. Chris, one of the production show dancers, gave 200% with every Zumba class and activity he participated in, no matter the weather conditions or how tired he must have been after the late night shows. He was always pleasant and friendly whenever encountered around the ship. The rest of the crew was average, but some of the staff had serious burn-out and “attitude”. The front desk staff tried with their English, but there were a lot of misunderstandings due to comments being lost in translation. The staff also was misinformed about things on the ship, especially the room service dining hours. The Captain’s Circle loyalty program person was a very young man with “attitude”, very pressured and not someone I would want to speak with if I were spending thousands of dollars booking a future cruise. Many of the crew in minor authority positions were obviously trying to do their job, but were not mature enough or experienced in what they were doing to present a convincing or reassuring impression. Everyone seemed to be very happy in dealings where the guest had to pay for something, but outside of this, either they could not understand English or just were too immature or burned out to work effectively. The worst service issues involved the food venues. In the Panorama Buffet, especially in the early morning, the few waiters that were there seemed comatose, just standing and staring out the windows or talking to each other, while the guests waited for beverage service. This continued at lunch, and was just as bad at dinner. I got my own water numerous times, rather than sit and wait while the once lukewarm food got colder. This seemed to wake up the waiters for a moment or two before they disappeared or went back to daydreaming. One waiter decided it was a good time to visit and kept trying to start a conversation with me when I was trying to finish my dinner and meet friends. I ate at the early traditional seating for dinner. My waiter in the main dining room had problems – a lot of them. Either this man was new, insecure, poorly trained, burned out, or any of the above, because he was very disorganized – standing at his service station organizing the silverware and menus, while we waited for menus, orders to be taken, food delivery, water refills, etc. He did not coordinate at all with his helper, and the pair of them did not seem to know which tasks should be done separately or as a team. Absolute total chaos. It did not help that others at my table arrived 20 minutes late for the sitting and we all had to wait while they got their menus and ordered. I don’t believe my waiter understood enough English to take the orders properly, as there were mix-ups quite often. I appreciate how hard being a cruise ship waiter is, and it certainly hasn’t been helped by the noticeable and steady cut-back on dining venue staffing. From what I counted, my waiter and his helper had at least 50 people to serve. What a difference from the early days of cruising when there was a waiter, helper, and bus boy for perhaps 15 people. After a few days with this waiter, all we heard from him after the orders were delivered was “quack quack” for poultry meals, and “yummy yummy” and “love it” for the other types of food, and every order placed was followed by “you need alcohol, wine, beer, you order drinks”. This same waiter did this in the buffet when I had the bad luck to encounter him there. Makes me wonder if Princess is now urging the waiters to sell liquor on top of everything else. Order placement was delayed repeatedly at the start of each dinner by the assistant waiter first showing the wine list, making recommendations, getting the wine, the guest tasting and approving, getting the glasses filled, and then, finally, we could place our food orders. Wine is great with food, if that’s your choice, but it shouldn’t hold up the entire table in ordering dinner when the service is already so slow. It got so bad that I ate the marginally tolerable food in the buffet at dinner just to escape this craziness for the last four nights of the cruise. It took almost two hours to get food at my table, and often we had not received our entrees when others with different wait staff were on the main course. The meals were not improved by the interruption of “how was your day” by the totally useless assistant head waiters. I was annoyed also to find at my first dinner seating yet another table assignment for a table of 10, which used to be called the “old maid’s table”, probably computer-assigned seating because I was traveling solo, and this keeps happening despite repeated pleas and complaints to the passenger relations department to be placed at a table for 4 or 6 when I make my cruise reservations. The Maitre’d acted very put-upon when I asked to have my table assignment changed. I know it’s difficult to do this with a full ship, but it can be done. As an Elite level loyalty member, I would expect better accommodation of my requests after cruising with Princess multiple times. Food is such a big part of cruising, but it was definitely not a highlight on this trip. It does no good to mention bad service to those in charge either, as they scold the waiters who in turn become even worse. The head chef was on vacation, and his substitute had his own distinct regional ideas of good cuisine. Unfortunately, we did not agree on what constitutes good cuisine. ENTERTAINMENT: I did not go to the shows, as the same programs appear throughout the Princess fleet and I’ve seen them all. They are great as a high-school musical level show, but not something I’d enjoy seeing more than once. The rest were vaudeville-type variety show acts, something I don’t care for. The best entertainer on the ship was Brad Stevens, a very gifted pianist who could play any type of music and had a great line of patter and sense of humor as well. He performed in a beautiful, small lounge with great views of the scenery we passed in the Midnight Sun hours after dinner. After full days in port and the terribly slow dinner service, an hour of good music was enough entertainment for me before bedtime. There were various singers on board and the usual very good live show band for music and dancing, and the variety acts in the shows – something for all tastes, but the days began early and not too many people were up and about late into the evening. Other than what the ship offered, there were a lot of people perfectly content to curl up somewhere with a good book, their I-gadgets, or for conversation. This was not a young person’s party animal type cruise, and I enjoyed interacting with the various people I encountered throughout the voyage every day and just watching the ocean roll by. Cruise ship entertainment on Princess doesn’t change much, and hasn’t through the years, and it’s not something I care much about when choosing my cruises. SHORE EXCURSIONS: There was a satisfying variety of tour offerings of all lengths and ways of getting around for this voyage. One could walk, ride on a bus, or use watercraft in some instances. Tours ranged from a few hours to all day, with moderate cost. Tours for food, history, sightseeing, shopping, and most other interests were available. I research and book private guides for most of my port excursions, and this worked out very well on my voyage Taxi No. 17 in Akureyri, SeasonTours in Reykjavik, and TourShetland in the Shetland port of Lerwick were wonderful, and well worth the cost when I heard what fellow passengers had to say about their ship-provided bus tours. The only ship’s tour I booked was a repeat of a hiking tour in Bergen, which I had enjoyed on a previous trip. This time it was a disaster, compounded by a very tiny, immature female guide who could not be heard most of the time, and who giggled most of the time. The city was also overwhelmed by summer tourists and the passenger loads of at least four large ships. It took forever to walk with too large a group through the jammed streets, and the wait in line to board the famous funicular cable car to the top of the fjord cliffs for the hike took an hour. The hike was supposed to be three and one-half hours, and by the time we got to the trails we had about 45 minutes of time to hike. I know the city and the trails, and told the guide I’d hike on my own and get back to the ship on my own, and left the group. Had a great hike, but due to lack of time and not wanting to miss the ship, I could not go as far as I had planned. I jogged back to the funicular and to the ship, so it was a great physical adventure on my own and I enjoyed it solo. The group barely made it back to the ship before it sailed, from what I was told. I asked for and received half my excursion cost back after complaining about the poorly organized and operated tour. Some of the ship’s tours were cancelled due to “lack of interest”, but that’s not what I heard from the passengers, who felt they were cancelled because of other reasons. Too many of the tours were simply too long for the senior age group on board, and most involved hours of sitting on a bus going somewhere, rather than being able to spend adequate time at the sights. Some were mainly for shopping or wine or food experiences, but if that’s what interests people, go for it. Early in the cruise, some passengers reported their drivers getting lost, as well as pieces falling off the buses, and after that the tour participation seemed to decline. Some people had better luck just taking a chance on hiring a cab and doing their own touring with a local driver. Many of the ports visited were ideal if one was a walker, and there were trails for hiking and good streets and roads for jogging or using a rental bike. From long travel experience, I know you can’t see every sight even with a full-day tour, and I would rather see a few things well than run myself to exhaustion and be stressed. DISEMBARKATION: Princess does this right. Either you choose a convenient time and are assigned that, or if you are in no hurry to get off, let Princess put you in the last debarkation group. Cabins must be vacated by 8 AM. Luggage goes out the night before, and you carry off your small personal bags. If you can manage your own luggage, ALL of it, you can opt for express walk-off as soon as the ship is cleared, and many do this. Depending on your shoreside plans, there is an option to suit anyone, be it a tour on the way to the airport, an airport transfer, independent plans, or anything else. Waiting areas are assigned, you get four pages of detailed “how to” instructions to avoid stress and confusion, and it all worked smoothly with no crowds or problems. I was off the ship in four minutes when my color and time were announced. I had a private driver meeting me, set by my own choice of time, and a form is provided on the ship asking when each guest would like to get off the ship. I chose my time, and received color-coded luggage tags and information where to wait. It worked beautifully, probably the best organized activity the ship provided. Nobody likes to see a cruise end, and a lot of people were tired and grumpy. Having a flawless, smooth debarkation at least helps ease the cruise-end depression somewhat. The luggage waits in the terminal, grouped by color, and I found mine in minutes and was outside very quickly. There is a nice staff of mature, polite, and delightful English people at the Dover cruise terminal to assist in any way needed. SUMMARY: I travel on Princess ships because they are the best I can afford and have the best itineraries for the money and time I have. I endure the dining disasters because the itineraries are so good. I can get a good balcony stateroom at an affordable price – sort of, as Princess does not give discounts for solo travelers, and I have to pay double the per-person fare. I’ve complained about this for years, but so far nothing has been done as with other cruise lines which give solo travelers a discount. Princess used to be a quality product, with elegant Continental cuisine and very good service. Since Carnival bought it, however, it has sadly declined, with the cost-cutting most evident in the food quality and level and amount of service. The ships are not as well maintained as they used to be. The massive international crew component on each ship is a great way to meet the rest of the world, but the lack of communicable English has become a problem in many instances. Carnival’s bottom line is all about profit, and they know their guests will put up with a lot to take the affordable cruises within the Carnival family of brands. It’s all a matter of personal choice, and it’s better than staying home and wishing I were someplace I always wanted to visit – at least for the time being. Princess still continues its annoying trend of trolling for good reviews at the end of the cruise. Every announcement manages to work in the word “excellent” as much as possible. Seasoned travelers ignore this and report honestly. There were fewer intrusive and annoying announcements made about seminars, sales, etc – a huge relief compared to other cruises. Overall, the ship was lovely, some crew members were truly outstanding, the itinerary was wonderful, and I had a very good time. This was a voyage more suited to mature adults with travel experience who appreciate the out of the way and unusual places, rather than a tropical climate voyage for young party animal travelers who want sun every day, lots of pool deck time, and late nights. This cruise was expensive, even at the per-person shared occupancy rates. When I inquired of the on-board Captain’s Circle loyalty club crew member why the smaller Princess ships cost more than the very large ones per voyage, I was told, with blunt honesty and a good dose of “attitude”, that the profits are smaller with less people and the company has to face the reality of economics and charge more to make more profit on these small-ship voyages. I prefer the smaller ships to today's floating cities with their amusement park activities, too many passengers, and modern glitzy architecture. "Ocean Princess" was a joy to live in for two weeks, despite the food issues, and it could get into very small ports without the need for using the tender service most of the time. It had an elegance that more mature travelers obviously appreciated, as many were repeat travelers who had the means to cruise on this ship for back to back cruises. Bon voyage, "Ocean Princess"! Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
Much more relaxing than our typical cruise. We are usually taking lengthy and or strenuous excursions in every port of call, but on this itinerary there is not a lot to do besides snorkeling (excellent!), island tours, and the like. Not ... Read More
Much more relaxing than our typical cruise. We are usually taking lengthy and or strenuous excursions in every port of call, but on this itinerary there is not a lot to do besides snorkeling (excellent!), island tours, and the like. Not even much shopping near the port at some of the stops. All in all, a VERY relaxing vacation. All the snorkeling we did was great fun, from the "drift snorkel: trip to the "swimming with rays and sharks" at Bora Bora. The highlight was a jetski excursion all the way around Bora Bora (not a ship-sponsored tour). This is the smallest ship we have cruised on to date, and enjoyed the smaller size very much - didn't really miss anything except for a lack of many common areas to relax or use as meeting spots. Hopefully Princess will replace this ship with a newer, also small-class shop when the sale of OP finalizes. Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
This is our 8th cruise since 2010 when we went with the family on this ship. My wife wanted London and Paris this time and we had the chance to pick up other ports that were cancelled in 2010. Two were St Tropez and Portofino. It seemed ... Read More
This is our 8th cruise since 2010 when we went with the family on this ship. My wife wanted London and Paris this time and we had the chance to pick up other ports that were cancelled in 2010. Two were St Tropez and Portofino. It seemed like the decor had been done and was darker but the Tahitian room at the front was still excellent. Overall the ship is still very nice and small enough to be boutique and friendly. Good staff with no bad experiences. Our first meal was also great but seemed more average as the days rolled on. Not as good as 2010. The casual restuarant sometimes surprised. We really noticed that the entertainment was much better than 4 years ago but of course can't equal the sets of the big ships. Very good none the less. With a port nearly every day we were keep on our toes. Steady at sea in the Med except for the first day on the edge of the Atlantic. Completely put "off side" by weight talk that morphed into a voluntary $86 session with a push to buy product for $3000. On land you'd call Consumer Affairs. The ports got us in for this cruise but if RCI was doing the same I'd go for their nicer ships , good entertainment (mostly) but similar other experiences. Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
BACKGROUND INFORMATION: I’m a “mature” adventurous and active solo traveler who has cruised 41 times with various cruise lines. This cruise was a journey to the land of my Viking ancestors and a wish-list destination for many years. ... Read More
BACKGROUND INFORMATION: I’m a “mature” adventurous and active solo traveler who has cruised 41 times with various cruise lines. This cruise was a journey to the land of my Viking ancestors and a wish-list destination for many years. TRAVEL TO EMBARKATION PORT: Amtrak Acela train Boston-Stamford, CT, limo to JFK airport area hotel. Flight on Virgin Atlantic Upper Class JFK-London Heathrow the next day. Superb, outstanding service on Virgin Atlantic – absolutely beautiful flight and far better food than on the cruise ship. Royal, upscale limo service from Heathrow to Canterbury, Kent via IChauffuer Service of London, the world’s best. HOTELS: JFK Airport Hilton in New York, good except for terribly loud room air conditioner. Canterbury, England’s Canterbury Cathedral Lodge the first night in England, a good stay as well, included breakfast. Transport to the Dover cruise terminal via Chestfield Cars, a local livery service who was excellent. SHIP INFORMATION: The aging Ocean Princess is still a lovely cruise ship. This was my first voyage on this ship. It appeared clean and well maintained on first exterior impression. At approximately 30,000 tons and with about 625 passengers, it’s intimate and a lot easier to navigate within than the 150,000 monster floating office buildings more popular today. The interior of the ship resembles a classic, elegant English country estate, with beautiful carpeting, wood paneling,brass, marble, and art work. There is a small central atrium area two decks high, with an elaborately elegant red-carpeted stairway descending from deck 5 to deck 4. Overall, the interior is beautiful despite a few signs of wear on some of the wooden furniture. Lovely public rooms, and easy to get around within the ship (directional signs are a bit small and hard to read, however). ACTIVITIES: These were aimed at the average age of the passengers, and on my cruise, this age was probably late 60’s on up. Some activities were geared to those less active, such as puzzles, bridge games, casino gambling, trivia contests and Bingo. There were two kinds of bowling activities in the carpeted atrium, which were a lot more fun than it might sound like, especially when the ship was rolling – big favorites with the UK and Australian passengers. Ping-pong, shuffleboard and walking around the fitness track were available, but iffy with the cold northern weather outside. There were the usual port lectures, and a lot of seminars which appeared at second glance to be infomercials for products and services available on the ship. Sea days had the typical “bargain sales” in and outside of the small boutiques aboard. There was an excellent library, and an internet café. Princess had a representative on board to book future sales, and who also acted as the Captain’s Circle loyalty representative, but hours were limited. Fitness fans had plenty to choose from, starting at daybreak – yoga, stretching, etc. The ever-popular Zumba Fitness class was available, and one of the best offerings on the cruise – the deputy cruise director, Corey, was outstanding as an instructor and really gave a great workout (a blessing with a lot of high-calorie foods on the ship). A variety of dance classes were available. This ship’s activities had a notable degree of refinement to them, and if you are looking for belly-flop contests or hairy-leg contests, this is not the ship for you. A navigational lecture and galley tour, as well as a behind the scenes TV program, were well received. SERVICE: The crew onboard for this cruise was one of the most cohesive and contented groups I’ve seen in years of cruising. Most, if not all public contact crew, were enviably multilingual, and seemed very genuinely happy to be of service at any time. There was a happy, relaxed, and upbeat feeling to this crew, despite their obvious and constant hard work day and night. My cabin stewardess, Emma, was the best and most energetic and friendly I’ve ever seen. The dining room waiters at my table were quick to deliver orders, and again were genuinely and incredibly friendly and eager to please. I have some digestive issues which can make travel a nightmare, but my waiters always went out of their way to check the menus and have items prepared with or without certain ingredients to be sure I was well fed and satisfied. The first day and night of the cruise, there was some minor confusion having things delivered to cabins or just finding things on the ship due to a major crew exchange, and the new folks on board trying to mesh with the ship’s existing crew, but it all smoothed out and nobody really should complain because they did not find some lotion in their cabin right away. Yes, it all should be perfect for what it costs, but humans are not perfect – and to be going on a cruise is what matters. PORTS AND SHORE EXCURSIONS: One of the best itineraries I’ve ever seen, with a blessed sea day between most of the ports. I arrived in England two days before the cruise, and spent two nights in Canterbury, Kent – it’s worth it just to see the magnificent ancient cathedral there. Two great nights, one each at the Canterbury Cathedral Lodge, and the last night at House of Agnes. Marino’s take-out fish and chips is close to House of Agnes, and had excellent food for a very low price. I had a drive-by of Dover Castle when the ship returned to Dover, and would like to see more of Dover next time I’m in England. Dover was decorated for the 70th anniversary of D-Day on the day the ship sailed, and there was quite a feeling of history when the ship sailed past the White Cliffs of Dover. Bergen, Norway was the big-city port, and then as the ship progressed farther up the west coast of Norway, the ports became small towns, and then tiny fishing villages. Perfect blend of big and small, and all incredibly scenic. The star ports had to be Magdalenafjord, a scenic cruise there, and then the port call at Ny Alesund, where there is an Arctic research station. This is about as close to the North Pole as anybody can get, and the most northerly inhabited area on the planet. On the southerly return journey, a few more fishing villages and small towns were visited, with one larger town as well. Shore excursions were good overall, with the tour buses clean and prompt on the tours I took. However, there was just one Norwegian guide who spoke beautifully accented English, and one English lady who was also excellent. The other two tour guides tried their best, but one was from Portugal and the other from Romania, and they had very heavy accents and challenging use of grammar which made it very difficult to understand them. If I couldn’t walk to what I wanted to see, I took a half day or shorter bus tour, not being one to sit on a bus all day. Roads in the parts of Norway visited were often barely a lane wide, and some roads were winding, twisting, and steep mountain roads with no guard rails in places. Adequate tourist information was available online or at convenient tourist information centers in all the ports, with maps in many languages, and it was nice to just set out on my own and explore. Two ports offered great hiking opportunities, which I took fuill advantage of. Two of my tours were cancelled “due to lack of interest” – one would have gone to Edvard Grieg’s home for a concert of his music, and the other was a half-day hike to a scenic waterfall and valley. For the really adventurous, one port offered a Zodiac excursion out to crab pots for an up-close experience with king crab, but I unfortunately missed that one. There was also sea kayaking at some of the fjord ports. Abundant museum tours were offered, and overall, there was something for most interests and abilities. CABIN: I had a midship deck 7 balcony cabin, which appeared larger than the usual balcony cabins on the more modern ships. Beautiful dark wood and blue-toned carpeting. Full-glass balcony wall, and a nice-sized balcony with two comfortable adjustable chairs and a small round table. Even with the cold weather itiknerary, it was well worth it to have the balcony and it’s fresh air and incredible views, and I enjoyed some really good naps out there, well bundled up. The beds were the usual two twins put together for a generous queen, and the mattress was very comfortable, with three kinds of pillows available. The incredible cabin stewardess, Emma, soon remembered which style pillow I preferred, and made up the bed at night with my favorite pillows. Bed linens were good quality, smooth and sweet-smelling, and with a lightweight comforter instead of a blanket. It was incredibly quiet, and never heard anything from the corridor or adjuoining cabins 99% of the time. There was a small sofa, a desk and chair, flat-screen TV, safe, and tiny refrigerator. Lots of good wood hangers in the closet, which was medium-sized. There were enough small drawers for what I brought, both in the desk and in the closet unit, but two people on a longer cruise might wish for more storage space. There were some open shelves as well, and two night stands with storage. Other than some obvious wear on the wooden furniture, the cabin appeared well maintained and was very clean. Lighting was adequate, but could have been brighter. As an Elite member of Princess’ Captains Circle loyalty program, I had a complimentary mini-bar set-up in my cabin, and a few extra items in the bathroom amenities, and a handy bathrobe. Both the US and European style electric outlets were available. Internet reception was spotty due to where the ship sailed, but definitely available in the cabin. TV programming had very good variety. There was the usual twice-daily cabin service. I was surprised not to see the bed linens changed daily, as on prior cruises, and this was probably a once a week item, perhaps due to small laundry facilities or limited fresh water on this small ship, perhaps, but it would have been nice to have the linens changed more often. It was also a bit difficult to sleep well with the blazing sun 24 hours a day above the Arctic Circle - cabin curtains and drapes just don't keep out bright light well enough. The bathroom seemed about 20% larger than the usual shipboard bathrooms, and was very clean except for a bit of noticeable scale or water discoloration at the base of the shower walls. Brand new toilet, and Emma kept everything sparkling clean. Lots of towels, but half of them were threadbare and scratchy. There were shampoo and shower gel dispensers in the shower, which had a handy pull-out clothesline available. There was a low-powered hair dryer in the bathroom, and adequate but small shelves within a cabinet and out in the open in a corner of the bathroom. Light was good, but could have been brighter. The deck I was on had the only Laundromat on the ship. Considering the length of most of the cruises on Ocean Princess, each deck could have used its own laundry. Pricey to wash and dry, but very convenient. Some of the units went out of service periodically, probably from overuse, but were promptly repaired. Overall, this cabin was one of the very best I’ve had for its category. Central location and the small size of this ship made it quick and easy to walk a few decks up or down for food, entertainment, spa, and open deck access. With its smaller size, motion is more noticeable on this ship, and the higher up and more forward or aft the cabin location, the more you will be aware of the motion. DINING: Those who remember the early days of Princess might be disappointed at the food on this ship – or perhaps it was the itinerary and an aim to cater to the preferences of the majority of the nationalities on this ship. The heavy hand of the Carnival Corporation was also noticeable – they are obviously trying to save money and economize, but cruise ship dining is not the place to do this. I’ve never seen so many peculiar food combinations on a cruise, to the point of it being almost psychedelic or perhaps randomly selected by computer. The buffet was convenient for fast meals at breakfast and lunch. However, it seemed like there were mostly fruits and vegetable items, with the rest leftovers from prior meals. There were cold cuts of meat and cheese, and a salad bar, and hot items from all food categories at all meals. The deserts were mainly some kind of fruit or odd pudding thing, with very little in the way of cake items. The most unfortunate thing about the buffet was the food temperature and freshness – the first early diners there for breakfast and lunch, myself along them, constantly found the hot food items lukewarm to cold, and pastries which were always out in the open, were stale and hard and dry. Someone put the buffet together too early, and repeated comments and tactful complaints to the food authorities on the ship did not seem to make a difference – hot was warm or cold no matter what. People listened politely and did nothing – and considering how much food is enjoyed on a cruise, plus what it costs to cruise, this was negligent. There is also the obvious health concern about food poisoning when hot items are not kept at proper temperature, or cold at their temps, especially with meat and fish and poultry. Mashed potatoes were either swimming in too much butter, or watery, or both. The buffet had one server supplying Belgian waffles and pancakes, and he was usually far behind the power curve when it came to these items being available. Having four waffles for 100 people is not good service. The waffles were usually cold and soggy unless I got lucky and was right there when they were freshly made. There were enough supervisors and managers around the buffet area, but they did not seem to do much with either suggestions or getting things done. Some of the more mysterious food offerings had no identification tag placed above or near them, and repeated questionings about what was a particular food, or what was in it (for those with nut or other allergies, this could be a real problem) often produced just blank stares – the serving people do not have enough working English to communicate properly in many instances. Many of the foods were a true mystery, as they were in containers, or just anonymous brown lumps, and it was anybody’s guess what they were eating – or perhaps should not be eating. I asked someone on the crew about the food items available, and they said the company does a computerized analysis of the nationalities on the ship, and aim the offerings at the majority nation. I know our UK travelers were very happy with the food, as they had their baked beans, kidneys, sausages, and other known food items available in good quantity, and these nice folks were the definite majority in the passenger compliment on this trip. Another gripe with the buffet restaurant was seeing cups and the plastic drinking glasses placed tops down on the tables. I watched the waiters cleaning the tables after a diner had left, and they used the same dirty gray rag from a bucket of dirty gray water which was placed on the floor next to a tray of clean drinking glasses. Putting clean dishes and glasses on a table which is “cleaned” this way is a terrible health hazard. It was hard to get the right utensils to eat with in the buffet, as the napkin roll contained what appeared to be a large serving spoon or tablespoon, a really tiny desert fork, and a knife. The only time proper utensils appeared was at the dinner table. One thing Princess really could do better with is their plates at the buffet. They are large plastic oval plates, and there are no trays. One is expected to put their soup bowl, salad (on plate or separate bowl), hot and cold entrée items, and a desert (plate or on top of the other foods) all in one container, as one needs a free hand to serve with and possibly balance against the ship moving around, or to carry a beverage. It was not very appetizing to pile all these foods on top of each other, or have desert swimming in salad dressing, hot cold foods, and cold hot foods – it was like a plate of garbage by the time I sat down at a table. I think Princess does this one-plate system to avoid waste, but it is terrible for the food quality and enjoyment by the passengers. To their credit, Princess has put a Purell dispenser right in front of the entry doors to the buffet (they sure need one at the entrance to the dining room!), but some passengers ignored it, and I saw more than one person use their fingers to serve with, lick their fingers, and then stick them into the next food item. Some of the crew all over the ship apparently have to work when sick, and I saw a lot of upper respiratory infections and colds, with waiters wiping their noses on sleeves or napkins and then handling our food. It seems that gone are the days of really elegant or gourmet cuisine on cruise ships, or at least with Princess. Some of the soups looked like dirty dishwater with leftover scraps floating in it. Some of the main entrees at dinner included macaroni and cheese, roast turkey, fried chicken, hamburgers, steak, and odd types of tortilla-type appetizers. The fish selections were what are normally used as bait on commercial fishing boats, and was underdone most of the time. There was one small lobster tail in the entire 16 night cruise, and it was dry and tough. The appetizers were more of the bizarre combinations of alcohol, fruit, and things with names so peculiar even a Google search did not yield information. Same dry, hard rolls at dinner every night. The meat, which I don’t eat, looked like tough brown shoe leather, or was nearly raw. All entrees came with a tiny mat of soggy vegetables or undercooked vegetables, and some of the baked potatoes had rotten spots on them. The very few international entrée items were OK, but again had some bizarre variations for those who know and love Indian or Indonesian or other good international cooking. The once-legendary fetuccini Alfredo has now turned into limp noodles with such a watery sauce that it’s nearly invisible and definitely tasteless, and was never really served hot. Deserts which used to be quite elegant are now reduced to various types of ice cream and more bizarre fruit and sauce combinations. I felt sorry for our extremely gracious and competent young assistant waiter, who every night had to interrupt our meal with his obviously mandatory sales pitch for some weird after-dinner drink or coffee, at an inflated price, and always with a souvenir glass included. He genuinely felt badly interrupting us, but had no choice with his waiter and supervisors watching him. There was an obsession with pepper, bell peppers, garlic and onion, which is not the smartest thing for some older people to eat in large quantities. To Princess’ credit, however, the servings were generous, and presented in a very attractive manner. It was edible art form most of the time, until one actually bit into it. There were the usual “always available” entrees for those not wishing a gastronomic adventure – shrimp cocktail, roast chicken breast, steak, salmon, etc. I did not eat in the dining room for breakfast or lunch, and cannot comment on what it was like with those meals. There is the apparently compulsory Baked Alaska parade with blaring, tinny, trashy music at the end of the last meal on the ship, which keeps the waiters involved when they could be continuing the dining service, and it added a garish air of a drunken carnival to the lovely dining room and ruined the meal for me completely. Not everybody likes Baked Alaska, and waiting for the menu for the regular deserts to arrive, and then the desert itself, wasted another 30 minutes while I sat and watched the melting, overcooked Baked Alaska show and service. The dining room itself is small and lovely, but located at the aft end of deck 5 on the ship. The rumble and vibration of the engines is very noticeable, and the low metal ceiling in the room creates such bad acoustics that it was impossible to hear anybody unless one shouted, even to the person sitting next to me. It was a total roar of noise and with older people on board with hearing difficulties, it was a struggle to communicate. Waiters apparently had to offer their suggestions of what they believed the guests would enjoy for dinner, but I always find this irritating - everybody has different tastes and preferences, and usually select what they like unless they ask for suggestions. The food was a huge disappointment on this cruise, especially since vacation is the only time I can get off a strict diet and really enjoy eating, and I actually lost two pounds. ENTERTAINMENT: There is a small production theater company on board, with a lead male and female singer, and approximately 6 dancers. Due to injury and family crises, the dancers dwindled down to three or four by the end of my cruise, but did a valiant and professional job of putting on the shows anyway. Most were very good, but still had the air of a high school theater company performance. The small live orchestra was superb. The female lead singer had a belting, jazzy singing style, but she was at least two notes off key with every note she sang. The male singer was better, but not by much. The Cabaret Lounge is the theater for this smaller ship, and sight lines are not good due to the nearly flat floor – good acoustics, lighting and sound, however. The featured acts were the worst of 1950s vaudeville, with the usual vocal impressionist, magician, and lounge singer. Some of it reminded me of third-rate has-beens who never quite made it to the big time, or any time. The audience response was very tepid and unenthusiastic, except for the production shows. The other singers on the ship were also off key. The music selections were age-appropriate, and some of it was very good for reminiscing about the good old days. For those preferring movies or TV, there were movies shown in the lounge during the day and also available on the cabin TVs. The cruise director was a hearty, jovial and cheerful man, and did a nice job –but his mercifully infrequent ship-wide announcements during the day for Bingo and other entertainment unfortunately sounded like a carnival barker hawking some kind of cheap goods or entertainment, and could be very disruptive when one was trying to rest or nap or concentrate on something in a public space or one’s cabin. Announcements could be blocked in the cabins, but were clearly audible out in the corridors and all over the public spaces. DISEMBARKATION: This got a gold star for being convenient and organized. Top-level loyalty folks had a private waiting lounge, and could leave when they wanted. There is the 6 AM walk-off express for those being their own porters. If you did not like the assigned disembarkation time, a simple request at the guest services desk produced a time more convenient, with no hassle. Bags were removed silently from the corridors during the last night, and were neatly arranged in the terminal at Dover upon arriving there to collect my bag. Nobody appeared rushed, stressed, or impatient, and there was no elevator hogging or shoving or pushing. The ship had actually docked around 3:30 AM, but of course nobody left the ship that early. I wasn’t even aware of arrival, so smooth and quiet were the actual operations going on. Passengers could stay in their cabin until 8 AM, and breakfast was served early enough to make it all work out for everybody. At least my cabin stewardess respected my need for privacy and time for last-minute packing, and left my cabin alone until I left it for the last time, unlike other cruises where the stewards get into the cabins when they can to speed up the turnaround, and often invade when one’s belongings are spread all over the cabin in a general last-minute mess, or one needs to use the bathroom or get properly dressed. SUMMARY: The Ocean Princess is aging, but is still a lovely small ship. Her itineraries are spectacular, and she can go where her larger sisters cannot. This is a good adult, sedate and peaceful cruise experience, with absence of loud rock music blaring everywhere. People on the ship are old enough to remember face to face socializing, and that’s a bonus as far as meeting people from other places and lifestyles – conversation still exists! Despite the rather peculiar food, I did not starve, and could always cobble something together. I went for the ports and the ocean voyage, and everything else was secondary. Princess still begins its annoying habit of trolling for an "excellent" rating about the middle of the cruise, with every PA announcement containing the "excellent" word someplace. Smart, savvy and experienced cruisers really resent this, and are quite capable of giving their own honest opinion without being brainwashed. This cruise was a fascinating attempt at upscale cruising ambience by a cruise brand owned by a low-budget and often tacky cruise line, and it actually worked most of the time – rather like what one believes is a sterling-silver object, and then on close inspection, discovers it to be silver-plated instead.   Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
We took Air France to Tahiti as it leaves LAX late in the morning and arrives first thing in the morning in Tahiti. This is a pleasant schedule. We flew in 3 days early to enjoy some off before joining the cruise. As usual, one of our bags ... Read More
We took Air France to Tahiti as it leaves LAX late in the morning and arrives first thing in the morning in Tahiti. This is a pleasant schedule. We flew in 3 days early to enjoy some off before joining the cruise. As usual, one of our bags did not arrive and we made our claim with Air France. The next flight was not until Sunday, the day before the cruise. We are used to this routine and that is why we fly early…And, fortunately, on Sunday, our last bag arrived at the hotel and we had our dive gear for the cruise. We spent the three days at Le Meridien which is a distance away from the main downtown area. It was a 3500 franc cab ride and it was quite nice being in a local, quiet atmosphere. Taxis in general are pricey since fuel is close to $10 per gallon. The hotel restaurant prices were VERY high, but you can mitigate this with eating at some of the local places just outside of the hotel property and only 5 minutes walk away. You can get many snacks and food at the nearby grocery as well. You can always use your credit card as long as you spent at least 2000 francs (approximately $20). Things are very expensive on the islands because the taxes are very high, there is very little employment and most government revenue is from import duties. That is what generates the high prices and in general, there is no bartering or negotiation with retailers no matter how hard you try. On the positive side, you do not need to tip anyone in restaurants, bars, etc. It is not the custom nor is it expected. We headed to the ship after breakfast and packing and we boarded around 11:30 on Monday, December 9th. There was a small line, but it took no more than 15 minutes to get checked in. They have a tent to keep you in the shade and it all moved pretty quickly. Some people fear the fact that there is a lot of the previous cruise passengers still onboard the ship. It is true, but it really was not a problem. Many do stay the entire day until the evening, so the Panorama Buffet is a little crowded, but nothing horrible. Many people hang out in the gym, library, common areas, etc. As soon as you are onboard, your room is ready. As soon as you have lunch, your bags are outside your room and ready to be unpacked. We had a mini-suite (8002) and it had a ton of room. Very comfortable. Very little noise or any complaints. The bed, pillows and linens were very comfortable. The TV is quite small though…Our room steward was Dennis and he was awesome. He was always meeting our every need and special requests. Our ship was 2/3 full with 429 passengers, about 50% American, quite a few Canadians, UK and Australian. Never felt crowded or encountered any lines. Getting on and off the ship took only minutes. The first night has open seating because of present and past cruise passengers onboard the ship. And some people are still coming onboard for different reasons. Good reason to try out the Sterling Steakhouse (The Grill). The steakhouse was not crowded, the service excellent and the steaks were a real delight. Worth the $20 extra charge. The first night was the local Tahitian dance show. The shows are kind of late: this one was at 10:00. Good show and lots of energy. Worth watching and they let you take as many photos or videos as you like. The next day is open for tours and anything the guests would like to do. Essentially, there are no lines and you and get on and off the ship into the downtown are within 5 minutes. It was a little weird not having the life boat drill the first evening. For some reason, we really did not feel like we were on a cruise until we went through all the normal routine… There is one laundry on the ship for everyone – quite adequate. But warning, don’t plan on using in Bora-Bora as local regulations forbid the grey water from being discharged. Entertainment It was a little bit of a mixed story here. There is only one (main) show per night starting at 9:30 or 9:45 PM. It is never full and one of the challenges is the audience is very diverse. The singers, etc. are very talented without a doubt, but their chosen programs or planned song choices just did not connect very well with people. It was very awkward for everyone. David the cruise director also did not seem to connect well with the audience. He played the role, but did not seem to adapt to the mood and demographics of the present company to create an environment needed to invigorate the passengers. Jenn – the assistant cruise director from Toronto was a little more lively and a little more dynamic to connect with passengers and create a lively atmosphere. The “martini shakeup” was truly fun and generated lots of laughter and fun. In addition, I will admit the smaller lounge singers and entertainment were excellent and tried very hard to connect with attending passengers. The piano player, Brad Stevens, always evaluated the room audience and adapted well to liven up the room. He is very agile and flexible to meet all requests. But, with no surprise, every 10:00 PM, 50% of the passengers are retired to their cabins and there is no evening nightlife. The magician was decent and generated a few laughs, but again, the audience was very muted and quiet. I must admit that waiting until 9:45 every night for a show was hard for many and when the talent performed well, everyone was sleepy and too tired to clap sometimes. Formal nights Like most cruises, only 10% of the passengers wear tuxedos and long dresses and only 50-60% wear suits and ties. Many just go to the Panorama buffet since they do not want to dress up. Overall, the ones that do dress up have more fun and we joined in. Dining In general, the quality of the dining room and service was quite good. Is it 5 star and unforgettable? No, but it was also nothing to ever complain about. The staff worked very hard to meet all your needs, but I cannot say that anything was above and beyond. The fish dishes were generally the best, but I must admit the soups were often a little bland. The Italian night was the best night overall in the dining room. Most people take the early dining option. The Panorama buffet is always good for breakfast and lunch. Decent selection and variety. Only two pieces of constructive criticism: One is there is a very limited salad bar option. There are numerous vegetarian dishes, but limited individual vegetable options offered. The second complaint is the very low plastic barriers that makes it very difficult to reach under and select/spoon on your food. Very awkward. We attended the Chef’s Table dinner on the 7th night. There is only one seating and it is only 10 people. You have to call immediately as soon as you onboard and it fills up fast. It is one of our favorite opportunities and it is definitely worth the $95 per person surcharge. It does include champagne and wine which is quite nice. Common questions: Q: Can you truly bring flowers onboard the ship when you visit the farmers market? Yes, they cost about 1500 francs and they are gorgeous. 5 minute walk and you are back on the ship with them. Q: Is there a wine store in the shopping mall in Papeete? Yes, there is a nice selection of (French) wines available and similar to when we boarded, we brought aboard a few bottles and they did not stop or ask any questions. Q: Is there a good gym or fitness center on the ship? Yes, there is lots of equipment and space for everyone. Not crowded and they do have some free weights. On our cruise, the fitness instructor became ill and unfortunately had to depart the islands. Q: Is there a good library? Yes, it is excellent with a very good diverse collection and a very good passenger book exchange. Hints and tips: • Turn off your lights in the room. They heat the room up a lot and you don’t want them to compete with the air conditioning. • The Internet is faster on the ship than on the island itself! Definitely worth the money for those of you who like to stay connected. • There are very rare taxis to use and contract with for external tours or drives. They are limited to 2-3 separate customers, so be aware that it is not that easy to get your own custom tour on an island by just walking off the ship. You will need to connect with someone in advance before the cruise in my opinion. • Not many people know this, but if you are a veteran with military service, you can get a $100 onboard credit if you provide proof of your service  Ports and Tours Most ports are very similar in many ways. I am not sure one is better than another, but I will say that Bora Bora is not heads and shoulders above the others. They are all great and they all have their unique advantages and disadvantages. Some you can get lucky with a low cost taxi or tours…others you cannot. It is always a gamble when not using the ship’s higher cost, but guaranteed tours. We published our photos and activities on our travel blog at: http://mrandmrsxblog.wordpress.com   Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
Although we have taken 10 cruises on 6 cruise lines, (Princess is our favourite), this was our first on a smaller ship. We selected this cruise first, because of the ports; second because we were intrigued by the reports on the Ocean ... Read More
Although we have taken 10 cruises on 6 cruise lines, (Princess is our favourite), this was our first on a smaller ship. We selected this cruise first, because of the ports; second because we were intrigued by the reports on the Ocean Princess. Unfortunately, both did not meet our expectations - not entirely due to any fault of Princess. As I spent a lot of time travelling in the Far East years ago, those ports there were not that important to see again. The ports of choice for us were Luxor, Egypt (Valley of the Kings); Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt (diving & snorkelling) and Aqaba (Jordan) to see Petra. Unfortunately, Egypt was cancelled (security issue - we agree), but, we weren't notified until after final payment date. C'mon Princess, you had already cancelled Egypt for the Dawn Princess weeks earlier - what's the hold out for the Ocean Princess ? A tiny compensation was offered (port tax refunded), but couldn't another port could have been added somewhere? As it was, we got an extra 1/2 day in Dubai, but I could think of many more preferable ports to spend more time in. The day we were to visit Petra there were labour problems and it was closed - again, out of Princess' control and they gave remuneration (Future Cruise O.B.C.) to those who had booked ship tours. The Ocean Princess prices are much higher than other Princess ships and we fail to see why - unless she costs that much more to operate. However, what really rubbed salt into the wound was a couple we met who had booked after final payment date and paid a much reduced fare (approx. $6,000 less than we paid for a balcony cabin). The small ship feel was nice, we got to know fellow passengers quickly - the majority of whom were like us, retired and frequent travellers - but, contrary to other reviews, in 28 days we never did see the captain walking around the ship (only at the Capt. Circle parties). The staff was about the same as on all Princess ships, well trained, well mannered, etc. This was our first go at fixed-dining. Despite booking the cruise 9 months ahead, requesting a table for 6 (the Princess agent asked if we wanted a window table - we said yes!), we ended up the first night at a table for 8 in the middle of the dining room, unable to carry on a conversation above the noise. At least this was dealt with and the next day we had a window table for 6, with the best table mates one could want. Service was no better than any other Princess ship - the only glitch was the first night the (rookie) server couldn't get the wine cork out (good restaurants will just replace the bottle - we were fortified with extra cork). The Princess wine card is an excellent purchase - 12 bottles costing out @ $20 each (+15%); and we could select any wines on the menu up to $29. Great value for a longer cruise! Entertainment - minimal, at the best. Solo comedians were up to par; one singer had 50% of the audience leave; floor shows were limited by space and small cast (one dancer even walked off the ship). The lounge was fine for the number of passengers, but the sight lines were poor due to a level floor. It became a scramble to finish dinner promptly in rode to secure a good seat in the lounge. Port lectures were presented in the lounge - the lecturer showed limited knowledge of the ports; many of us were more familiar with them than she was. The cabin review also appears separately, in the deck plans section. Cabin 7064 is a mid-ship BA balcony, the top category below suite. It was nicely furnished; lots of wood like the rest of the ship. However, the overall size was a little smaller than other ships. One unstable and well worn chair plus a small couch made up the furniture package (the small coffee table compromised the space so we folded it up the first day out). We have never had a desk so small - we had to move the phone to get room to work. The wardrobe was enclosed (nice panel doors), but restricted in size. The first section was full height; 33" wide. The second wardrobe (for shirts), was 16" wide, containing a hanging bar for shirts and a bevy of drawers below. Unfortunately, in their wisdom, Princess had installed the refrigerator exactly where the shirts should hang! Now we were left with only 33" of hanging closet for a 28 day cruise. A lot of clothing was left folded. Overall, the Ocean Princess showed more wear than we expected, and it was not up current interior standards on the other Princess ships we have sailed on - she is like an older ship, maybe classic, but basic. One of the highlights on a long cruise in a warm (hot) climate, is having breakfast out on the deck behind the Horizon Buffet - we have never seen anything like this! Is the Ocean Princess worth the extra cost? We don't think so, but, are retaining our booking on an upcoming Mediterranean cruise as this cruise has the best port selection, goes to smaller ports bigger ships can't get to, and you meet a great bunch of cruisers. One of the greatest assets - never a crowd, never a line up.   Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
I spent a week this past summer cruising with friends around the British Isles on the Princess Cruise Lines Ocean Princess. This smaller ship was greatly to my liking. Intimate enough to be interesting, and with great attention to detail ... Read More
I spent a week this past summer cruising with friends around the British Isles on the Princess Cruise Lines Ocean Princess. This smaller ship was greatly to my liking. Intimate enough to be interesting, and with great attention to detail and cleanliness. Pros- easy on and off- no long lines. Small enough to explore fairly quickly, but with lovely ambiance. Great library, beautiful dining room. Photographer did very professional work, small shops were useful, shows were great and varied. Food was very good, and wait staff soon anticipated our various needs. Alternate dining areas served good food and drinks. My gluten free dietary requirements were ably met. Front desk service was superb- great attitudes. Cabin steward was so attentive to one of our number who forgot to take her Dramamine, and did not hesitate to reclean the shower when asked. Nice surprise was a $100.00 credit that appeared, compliments of Princess. I purchased a drinks package in advance which totally helped to keep those expenses in line. I also gave myself a casino credit as a means of paying in advance. In fact, I exited the ship with a $13.00 credit which was given to me in cash on departure. 8 hours shore excursion in South Wales was entertaining and drenched in history. (I paid in advance for that, too) Nice on- board show in Edinburgh for those choosing not to go to the Tatoo. Very few children, but some nice family groups. Average age of participants appeared to be 40+. Surprised at the number of locals (U.K. people) I met who took this cruise. Hairdresser on board was good and reasonable (in port). Loved our balcony room for quiet time and drinks. Great group air fare. I did not get the Princess transfer from Heathrow to Dover, and had an easy time getting into the London bus station connecting on to Dover. My bus ticket was less than $20.00! Got off right next to my bed and breakfast (I went two days early and got a see a tournament day at Dover Castle! I exited the ship two days early on our second day in Edinburgh (preplanned and fairly easy to arrange, but definitely has to be arranged in advance) in order to travel up to Inverness and spend a little additional time in Scotland. I would do this again in a heartbeat! Excursion to the Applecross Peninsula was breathtaking! Fabulous opportunities for photography abound! Cons- Port in Guernsey was not open to us due to high seas, but I was warned well in advance of this possibility by reading other reviews. I only found a 15 minute window when the casino was operational (at least during my waking hours), so could not take advantage of the credit I had paid for. Probably all to the good! I did keep checking periodically, but no go! Time in Dublin was too short to get any more than a cursory glance at anything. I'd suggest a separate holiday in Ireland if you want to understand anything about it. Communication would have been better upon arrival in Edinburgh with regard to shuttle buses into various venues. Presentations on various ports by in-house staff could have been more informative and creative. Would not recommend RCI to arrange this cruise for you. Way too many mistakes.   Read Less
Sail Date July 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
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
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
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
The cruise was in fact two, back to back, Hong Kong to Shanghai (originally Osaka to Shanghai, pre earthquake) then Shanghai to Singapore.Good points.1. Mostly excellent crew. Others have complained about the level of staff training but we ... Read More
The cruise was in fact two, back to back, Hong Kong to Shanghai (originally Osaka to Shanghai, pre earthquake) then Shanghai to Singapore.Good points.1. Mostly excellent crew. Others have complained about the level of staff training but we found that the waiting and the cabin staff were excellent. Several went well out of their way to help.2. The crew kept their helpfulness right up to disembarkation. Some other lines (Regent being the worst) lost interest in disembarking passengers on the last morning.Not so good points.1. The reception staff were not as helpful as the rest of the crew. Indeed on more than one occasion someone came from the back office and was outright rude.2. The attitude to hygeine was strange. Other lines have hand sanitizer dispensers at the entry to every restaurant and bar. When I asked about there being only one on the whole ship (entry to buffet) I was told that there was no need, the crew had excellent standards. What about the passengers? Anyone who, like me, watched someone come out of a toilet cubicle and walk straight out into the restaurant would not be happy to handle his menu after him!3. Passengers doing back-to-back are not really catered for as they should. We asked about excursions for such passengers and were told that there were too few. We later found that there were about 120 rolling over between cruises. How many do they need before they cater for transit passengers?4. The food was OK as to standard but the restaurant menu repeated after 12 days! There was only one working ice machine on the ship, in the buffet. 5. The big one was their nickel-and-diming. Other lines we have been on do not expect you to look for coins (only $1 but if you don't have the right coins it is a bother) to use the washing machines. The standard coffee was dire, made from a liquid concentrate, and in the UK they would have been prosecuted calling it 'coffee'. To get a drink that tasted of real coffee rather than ersatz cost from $2 up. They charged for small bottles of water on disembarkation for excursions just to find that the excursion companies provided complimentary larger bottles on the excursion buses! Read Less
Sail Date March 2011
Review of the Ocean Princess February 2011-- Singapore to Shanghai We took this cruise, as did everyone we spoke to, because of the itinerary --a truly great itinerary that takes in many of the great cities of Asia and other ... Read More
Review of the Ocean Princess February 2011-- Singapore to Shanghai We took this cruise, as did everyone we spoke to, because of the itinerary --a truly great itinerary that takes in many of the great cities of Asia and other places as well. And the itinerary truly is great. This is a pretty small ship -- about 30,000 tons, and not new. Nonetheless it is well kept and charming in it's own way with dark woods and nice touches. Crew -- by and large the crew is great. I know that some have argued that since the advent of automatic-deduct-from-your-credit-card tipping, service on cruise ships has declined. I will say however, that this ship had some of the best wait staff, and cabin staff we've ever encountered on over the dozen cruises that we've taken. The tour person and the port speaker were also very friendly and very good to deal with. An exception to this good crew were the front office women at the main desk. We found them to be unfriendly and generally not helpful. This is an opinion shared by others on the cruise as well. I cannot imagine why a cruise company which hired such friendly and helpful people on other parts of the ship, would fail to address this issue. Food in the dining room generally was a cut above the norm (although not at the 9th deck buffets) and very good in specialty restaurants (for an additional charge). Entertainment was fine for a small ship--singers, dancers, comedians, etc. Not fabulous, but good enough. It is worth mentioning at this point, and you probably know it, the the average age is pretty high on this ship-- I think most people over 65. That's not surprising since it is fairly expensive and takes a lot of time---neither of these factors generally available to young people. Having said that, the entertainment is pretty geared to that age group and I thought the entertainment generally popular. The real stars of this cruise are the ports of call. Fabulous and interesting to visit, and the excursions cover many of the places you'd want to go. Overall, despite some flaws, this cruise is extremely enjoyable and I strongly recommend it--and rate it 4.5 of 5 stars. Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
We left Montreal 2 days prior to our cruise from July 13 -31 2010. Jet blue was our choice as it was the most inexpensive to New York out of Burlington Vermont .WE nearly missed our flight arrived 20 minutes before departure but although ... Read More
We left Montreal 2 days prior to our cruise from July 13 -31 2010. Jet blue was our choice as it was the most inexpensive to New York out of Burlington Vermont .WE nearly missed our flight arrived 20 minutes before departure but although hectic we did make it . New York was wonderful. We stayed in Midtown in a lovely art dec hotel the BELVEDERE which I got on Hotwire .It was perfectly located for our visits ,right near Times Square and fun.WE took the hop -on hop-off bus and revisited all.Lots of craziness in New York for the soccer finals .It was hot and muggy but fine.We carried water in a cooler type carrier on the bus ,HOHO is a great way to see New york if you are pressed for time.We walked everywhere and LOVE New York.We also did a boat tour included with HOHO. Because we were near 9th avenue lots of restaurants around Food was fine everywhere On Tuesday under pouring rain we headed for Brooklyn and Ocean Princess ./no line ups we were very quickly on board without problems.Loved our upgrade to a balcony cabin.THANK YOU PRINCESS!!!!WE were near elevators and LAUNDRY ROOM best place to meet people After emptying our carry-ons we had lunch at the buffet and went exploring Ocean is a SMALL ship with about 600 pax tops .Visiting the whole ship rather quickly is not difficult The public rooms feel like large living rooms ..cozy comfy where we met with friends to chit chat. After muster we sailed away a little late because we were waiting for pax who never made it because of the weather Johan the head waiter came the first evening to deal with my food allergies and took care of all meals thereafter.He was very professional and kept a watchful eye on his staff....nothing escaped him and he kept them on their toes!!!  The next day we had our Meet& Greet and we met the loveliest people who made this cruise special.Susan and Arthur organized tours we shared and my heartfelt thanks for wonderful experiences everywhere.I really enjoyed our tours in Iceland ,Scotland Our first excursion was with a former Montrealer in southern Nova Scotia to Peggy;s Cove with other CC members Adele,Michael Sandy and Les.WE had a GLORIOUS day .I had been to Peggy;s Cove a long time ago and really wanted Jeremy to see it. It was as wonderful as I remembered Our guide bought us all kinds of berries to munch on as Nova Scotia was famous for them .A nice touch Very much appreciated We did stop at a lobster pound where I purchased a DELICIOUS NOVA SCOTIA lobster to enjoy later that day ...YUMMY I loved the lakes and rivers we crossed and their proximity to the sea .It was UNIQUE .Everywhere we went was SUPERclean and lovely .We walked in Lunenberg saw Bluenose and drove in lovely elegant towns All in all a wonderful tour I think Halifax and region is a GREAT choice to retire in About the Ocean ...do not waste your $$$ at the Casino very few machines and one very rude attendant whom I had to literally tell to shut up because her comments were unappreciated .Every time she saw me she made comments ..so I HAD to put a stop to it I also did not return 10 machines does Not a Casino make ..way too small.IMO either make a bigger one or scrap it altogether It really was a joke Entertainment at best on Ocean was MEDIOCRE .Some of the acts offered were downright PITIFUL ...anyone remember the ventriloquist ...SAD >>>SAD>>>SAD >>> Other then the Dance Production shows the rest were not that good .The Piano needed tuning .I felt bad for the professional musician who gave the piano recital ...those sour notes really spoiled his performance At Times our CD chose to put shows before dinner ...BAD CHOICE as there was nothing to do except chit chat in the foyer around the shops .For my Young man there was nothing to do and he found the ship VERY boring ...I have to agree They had a Naturalist Jules we got to know and felt bad his VERY interesting lectures got cut off regularly NOT FAIR He had lectures prepared he never got a chance to present on Icebergs etc Knowing what is going on now in Greenland with the huge iceberg break up it would have been very pertinentto hear that lecture Food on Ocean was as good as on any Princess ship ...not necessarily better .There is only the buffet available and Dining room /At night Bistro and Sabatin;s WE did enjoy our evening at Sabatinis as we crossed the ARCTIC circle under the midnight sun Our companions Anne and Nick made this dinnere memorable Thanks to our Captain for taking the detour and making us official bluenoses ...certificate in hand !!!GOOD JOB CAPTAIN SERVILLO My biggest thrill was seing ICEBERGS in Greenland ..Susan and Anne can attest to my joy at seing the first one .I saw one going by as I was sleeping I jumped up got dressed and ran to the top deck to film and photograph .I actually got a pic of one with a ship and speedboat in front of it WOW it was HUGE Our Captain could not anchor and needed to keep an eye on all the icebergs floating around.I got a pic of one right in front of the ship which I gave the Captain!!!The weather in Greenland was terrific and we thoroughly enjoyed our visit .Princess even organized the town to present a dance show,choir and Kayak demonstration .Some people even got to taste seal.All in all Greenland and its people were wonderful. Iceland on our tours was UNIQUE with its lava formations,wild horses,sulfur and hot springs and mineral baths .WE sure enjoyed the 2 swims we took in mineral baths THEY FELT SO GOOD .On all these visits we were in CONGENIAL company .Truly memorable days In Norway we spent a lot of time walking around and goofing off with Anne and Nick ...GREAT FUN .Norway was charming in every way...but be advised it is VERY expensive!!! All in all a great cruise where we met some very special people who made it that more memorable To all I tip my hat to you I would love to retravel with you I enjoyed all the time we spent together Ocean Princess is truly a MUCH smaller ship ...Yes it was lovely but why is it SO expensive compared to other ships ?I really do not see why Neither food nor entertainment was Superior yet is is so much more $$$$ However I would definitely go on a small ship again were the itinerary and price reasonable We really enjoyed our cruise The places we visited were awesome so I do recommend this journey   Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
It's French Polynesia, one of the most beautiful places on Earth, so it's really hard to go wrong on this trip, whatever you do! A lot of what I learned from this site really helped me to become familiar with some of the ... Read More
It's French Polynesia, one of the most beautiful places on Earth, so it's really hard to go wrong on this trip, whatever you do! A lot of what I learned from this site really helped me to become familiar with some of the can't miss places so hopefully my experiences will inspire someone else in the same way! We booked our cruise straight through Princess. We booked almost a year in advance and they had the best deals at the time. We got a guarantee type balcony cabin so we wouldn't have our room number til later but we knew what area we would be in. We booked the air straight through Air Tahiti Nui. I wanted our seat assignments and flight information right away with no surprises and the price was almost the same as what Princess offered so we went for it and had no regrets. We booked several shore excursions ahead of time as well thanks to reviews from past cruisers, which I will talk about later in this review. We arrived to LAX FIVE hours early for our non-stop flight to Papeete on October 20. Our plan was to check in early to request an exit row. After waiting four hours and the desk we were informed that because the flight was coming from France, all exit rows had been taken. It would have been nice to be informed of this ahead of time, but off we were to our previous assigned seats. The seats are definitely on the small side and leg room is pretty non-existent, but the worst part is how far the seats in front of you can recline. VERY FAR. When the person in front of you reclines back all the way your face is within inches of your t.v. screen and you definitely start feeling claustrophobic. The selection of movies was decent but most of the food was pretty inedible. It was like they tried to be cheap fancy instead of just cheap but tasty. It was great to have such a large selection of beverages but they only came around with the meals so if you wanted drinks you would constantly have to call someone over. We got to Papeete late in the evening but luckily had booked Princess transfers which were VERY efficient. We had barely stepped foot off the plane when we were whisked away to a waiting bus and parted with our luggage for the short trip to the dock. The check-in process was very quick and before we knew it we were on the ship! They even had the embarking photo set up for us to take at that late hour! They also had a buffet set up for late comers. Our room was definitely on the small side, but I think that's a reflection of the age and size of the ship. But we definitely found ways to be comfortable throughout the cruise. The balcony was a decent size but there are huge gaps so if you are leaning at the front of it you can see everyone else on both sides of you. If you stay in the middle you do have privacy though. Air conditioning worked great, as did the toilets. The shower was a nightmare. It was already tiny and the curtain blew inward so it was constantly sticking to you unless you turned the shower on it while you soaped up. The ship as a whole is small but adequate. Smaller size means less people so you were still easily able to find privacy when you wanted it, but ran into a lot of the same people which made it easy to make friends and get to know the crew. The activities were definitely not as good or diverse as a larger ship but with the extensive port itinerary sea days were used to catch up on sleep anyway! They tended to have a lot of game competitions (like Pictionary and Scattergories) which were fun but tended to draw the same people each time. One thing we really liked were the Bingo odds! At times there were only about 20 people playing Bingo and the prize money is quite high! The food was just average. It was actually quite difficult for someone who doesn't like "rich" foods to find a selection wide enough for 11 days. We only ate in the dining room twice because the only thing on the menu we could stomach was the Fettucine Alfredo (which was quite good but how much can you have that?) The rest of the menu had more fancy stuff like lobsters, duck and veal which I can't eat on principal. They had no "basic" or "simple" dishes. And the buffet option tended to have the same type of stuff for dinner so we had pizza or went hungry most nights. The breakfast buffet is very good as was the grill which served delicious french fries and mediocre hot dogs and hamburgers. The best time of day to eat for us was between 3 and 5 in the buffet area which had a make-your-own sandwich bar, homemade guacamole and homemade ice cream which changed everyday. It was all really delicious and we tried to fill up on that to be able to skip dinner. We got the coke card which we used SOOOO much and really got our moneys worth. If you drink coke at all, go for it. It's a great deal and very convenient, and unlike some other cruises I have been on, the bar staff happily stops what they are doing to get you the coke, rather than making you wait since you aren't paying for a drink. The whole staff was pretty much amazing on this cruise. I have really not ever encountered one so friendly and helpful. They actually seemed to be enjoying their jobs and were so personable to cruisers. The gift shop selection was pretty awful, and since it was duty free there were a lot of times they weren't even open, so if you needed dramamine you were out of luck! They have a black pearl jewelry store, but I can't imagine buying them on the ship instead of in the ports. The only other shop had a lot of alcohol, perfumes and makeup, but very few trinket options. They didn't even have postcards, other than one of the ship and one of a generic island. We didn't attend any shows but I heard they were not very good. The type of people on the ship actually surprised me a little! I expected it to be all honeymooners or seniors but it seemed to me the majority of the people were in their 40s or 50s with lots of families and groups of friends traveling together! It made for a very interesting time. There were only about 6 kids we saw total and they were always well behaved and respectful. It is definitely true about what people say of the reasons you are on this cruise... it's all for the ports. My advice would be to definitely book something at every port. Even renting a car may not take you to the prettiest parts of each island or give you the full experience. We never saw the crystal blue water until we got off the beaten path or took excursions. Our first port was Papeete, our port of embarkation. We scheduled the 4x4 excursion to the Papenoo Valley through the ship and had a great time experience all the lush greenery and rivers and waterfalls. We went offroading, saw eels and swam in a refreshing river. I highly recommend doing this your first day rather than just walking around Papeete. Definitely bring your bug spray. You'll need it here! After the tour we walked around the city a bit which is noisy and dirty and full of the few rude people in all of French Polynesia. The city is not beautiful so don't waste your time with a walking tour. We did go to the market and were a bit surprised by it at first! It's actually a little hidden which I didn't expect and when we entered it we were struck with how similar it was to the International Marketplace in Honolulu for those that have been. It's just rows and rows of the same type of merchandise and merchants jumping all over you vying for your business. Do what we did and head right upstairs. Things are a little more quiet up there so you can get your bearings. By the time we shopped around up there and went downstairs we felt much more comfortable. We had already seen lots of merchandise so we had a better idea of what we were looking for. A shotglass costs about $10 so that will give you an idea of the typical souvenir prices. We did look at the flowers which were certainly beautiful, but cabin space was a premium for us and we simply had no spare places to put such huge bouquets. Our next port was Huahine which ended up being one of my favorite. We did Marc's Motu Picnic, and if you only do one excursion NOT through the ship, make it this one! We got to go on tour with Marc himself which was a lot of fun. He took us to Marae's (ancient restored archeological sites), a vanilla plantation (which was just a few tables set up at someone's house) and to feed the blue-eyed eels which unfortunately had just been fed by tons of other tour groups so were not hungry at all by the time we got there. But we still had a great time. The tour ends up on a motu which was probably the prettiest place we saw in all of Polynesia. The water was crystal blue and so inviting. It was surprisingly salty though so expect that! He quickly takes anyone interested to a place to snorkel, but if you are going to be snorkeling anywhere else in the islands, my recommendation would be to just spend the time swimming at the picnic site instead since the coral spot was not that spectacular and you have to jump off the boat. The entertainment was fun and the food was amazing and delicious. I would highly recommend this tour. We had a sea day and then arrived at Rangiroa. We had booked a glass bottom boat tour and then a snorkel tour through the ship. Both were expensive and went to the same site. I would not recommend the glass bottom boat tour. We went to one spot and stayed there the whole time. The fish were plentiful but the view did not change. Then some of the tour guides jump into the water to spear beautiful parrotfish to lure the sharks. It was so awful seeing these amazing fish killed in front of our eyes. A few sharks did come which the guides catch with their hands and haul out of the water for the tourist to see. It may have been impressive but the poor sharks looked miserable. None of the guides seemed to have much respect for the ocean life from which they make their living! The snorkeling was SO much better. We were taken to the same spot but let around the reef so we got to see it all! We saw giant eels, clams, sharks and every kind of fish you could imagine. Our guide would even take our cameras to swim down and take up close pictures of the sharks and eels! This was some of the best snorkeling I have ever done in my life. The tour was incredible and I highly recommend it. This was also one of my favorite ports to shop. The locals set up stands that had a huge variety of things to buy. After the tour and shopping we walked straight back to the opposite side of the atoll which was only a short walk and took us straight to the Tiputa Pass. We got to stand right next to it and witness dolphins leaping, spinning and twisting right in front of us. It was magical and I recommend doing this as well. After another sea day we arrived in Raitea which was one of the more disappointing of the ports. The snorkeling we booked through the ship was canceled last minute and with no alternatives provided we left the ship to attempt to find one. This is one of the best ports to be stranded though because there is a building which fills up with tour operators about 8a.m. so you have many options. We booked one that took us up the Faaroa River. The river itself was absolutely amazingly beautiful. It was like being in the Jungle Cruise at Disneyland but real (and without the elephants!) The ride over and back to it you get soaked on the boat though. After that we were taken to a motu with some pens with a turtle, sharks and ray. The pens were tiny and the animals looked miserable. It was so sad. Next they took us to a very average motu to snorkel. The sand was infested with ants and the snorkeling was just average. Next time I would book an all day adventure to go further up the river. Perhaps by the kayak option that was provided. All the huts set up to shop in basically sold the same shell type jewelry, but we found a few fun pieces to add to our collection. It was Sunday so the rest of the city was closed. Next up was Bora Bora, the most beautiful place on Earth. Our ship was docked there overnight so we booked an overwater bungalow at Le Meridian Bora Bora. We got off the ship and headed right over. On our way over we received a call from the hotel saying a movie production had reserved most the rooms and to make a long story short, they had given our room away. They instead offered us a room at their luxury line hotel called Bora Bora Nui. Without knowing anything about the hotel we were on our way. It was Paradise. The huts were HUGE with a walk in rain shower, and the toilet room even had a bidet! The decks alone were the size of our cruise room and had privacy walls and a dock you could jump off into the crystal blue water. The room had glass bottom panels and there was so much coral that there were thousands of fish! And because they were used to being fed, when we snorkeled they followed us everywhere! The time passed way too quickly. It's very expensive but consider doing this. It was the absolute highlight of the whole trip and the complete Polynesian experience. It also came at the perfect time in the trip when we were getting a little tired of ship life and ship food. It was hard to leave. Our last port was Moorea which we had high hopes for after reading the reviews. We booked an ATV adventure on our own which was a lot of fun to start the day. We saw a lot of pretty view points but driving an ATV was a lot harder than I expected especially on the terrain we were on! I felt like my arms and hands were very sore and always like I was going to crash. After we were done we headed to the Intercontinental hotel where we had booked the underwater helmet walk excursion on our own. Unfortunately Princess made the last tender back at 4 which was way earlier than we expected so we had no time to do the tour! The staff recommended a visit to the Tiki Village which we did and which was just okay considering everything else we could have done. It's very authentic but there isn't much to do. The show was a lot of fun and the cheeseburger and fries we ate were among the best I've ever had, although I ended up giving most to an adorable little black which was wandering around by our feet looking very hungry. They also take you out in a canoe to see they oysters they are harvesting and tell you a little about how to select pearls which was interesting. The receptionist had said there was snorkeling and swimming available but the water seemed very dirty and was lacking coral so we didn't step foot in it. A lot of people loved Moorea but I felt like we didn't really get a chance to see or explore it. Next time I'd consider just renting a car or doing a water excursion. Don't rent a scooter, the roads are a little scary at times. We ended up at Papeete which is where we started. We had to be out of our rooms at 8, so we had breakfast and found a quiet lounge to play games in until 1p.m. when we had decided to get off the ship. The dining rooms were packed but all the lounges were open and almost empty so there is lots of room to hang around. How we spend our last day was perfect and I would highly recommend it to everyone. We contacted Carl's Taxi service in Papeete. He also operates in Moorea. For 15000 francs, he took us on a private tour of the island for 4 hours in an air conditioned van. It was the perfect way to end our vacation. He showed us the blowhole, lighthouse, black sand beaches, historical places and the most amazing waterfall I have ever seen. He speaks perfect English and French and is absolutely delightful and wonderful. The best part is that since it's a private tour you can linger any place you want. By our request he dropped us off at the airport 5 hours before our flight. The airport is outside and very hot though it is covered. We stood in line for 2 hours until the counter opened and were able to switch seats to get the bulkhead seats which were so much nicer than the regular seats! We had a delicious turkey sandwich there on french bread which I recommend. They also have a last minute duty free shop and large chairs to lounge in while waiting for your flight. Overall the trip was perfect. We normally are the type to stay up late, but like the rest of the ship tended to wake up very early and go to bed very early instead. This is really one of the most beautiful places to experience and I loved getting to see so many islands. I'd love to spend more time in the overwater bungalows in Bora Bora. Away from the tourist places however, there is lots of poverty which took me aback. The stray dog population is a huge problem as the poor creatures just look miserable and are ignored by the population as a whole. The most touching moment for me was seeing the cruise staff feeding them scraps and giving them water. I'm really not sure if I would do the cruise again but I enjoyed every second of it this time around. I know there are a lot of rumors about the fate of the Tahitian Princess. From my understanding it will be renamed the "Ocean Princess" at the end of this year, but will probably continuing sailing in Tahiti. I hope this helped and I know you will enjoy your cruise! Feel free to contact me if you have any specific questions. Read Less
Sail Date October 2008
Background Info: This was our first cruise with Princess but we had cruised before with both RC and NCL. We were a group of 4 (2 couples in our 30s) and we booked our cruise and flights with princess through a local agent. Embarkation: ... Read More
Background Info: This was our first cruise with Princess but we had cruised before with both RC and NCL. We were a group of 4 (2 couples in our 30s) and we booked our cruise and flights with princess through a local agent. Embarkation: We flew over on Air Tahiti Nui. We hit a little turbulence but other than that the rest was fine. Service was good and seats were standard. The only thing that isn't so great is arriving so late. But embarkation was super fast and easy. Once on board they still had the buffet open for us late arriver's. Room: The room was what you would expect. It had plenty of room for just the two of us. The stateroom attendant was pleasant and tried very hard to get us whatever we asked for. The only negative was that they didn't produce any towel animals. We always enjoyed seeing how creative they could be when creating them. Public Areas: The boat was beautiful. Very elegant. A lot of great places to take photos. The pool was a bit on the small side but it was never really crowded and many times we were the only ones in it. Stores: Worthless. I'm not sure if the boat is just trying to emulate the high prices found off the boat, but there were really no savings to be had at the stores. I can get cheaper prices on some of the items here at home then on the boat. Entertainment: Normally we never miss any shows and we tried to do the same here, only the shows were pretty bad and we found ourselves walking out on a couple of them. The magician showed only basic stuff that everyone has seen 100 times. The boat only really employs 2 singers, the rest of the "dancers" are really the support staff. So the shows they put on were dull and boring. We never even bothered to see the comedian since he performed towards the end and we had given up on trying to be entertained. The pool side band was average at best but hearing them butcher the same song day after day can get repetitive. The few game shows that they did put on were lacking. The cruise director was dull and we didn't think very good. The highlight was on Raiatea. The children that performed during the day and the adults at night were fantastic. The only show that is a must. Breakfast & Lunch: The buffet area wasn't that big so they would never have out a lot of selection. However in the morning they did rotate a lot so that we were never eating the same thing 2 days in a row. The Lunch hours were just to short. Lunch ended at 2:30 and then they only had sandwiches. Since most people didn't come back onto the boat from the islands till after 3:00 a lot of sandwiches were eaten. Dining: The other area of our greatest disappointment and this was two-fold, service and food quality. The way they have it set up is that the dining room has one overall Maitre D'Hotel (as they call him). Then the dining room is divided into several zones with each having a head water. Each zone is then divided up into tables that are assigned to waiters and water boy. First our Head Waiter passed by the first night for introductions and then we never spoke to him again. We would see him but he never made an effort to stop by to see how things were going. The water boy (who also served as the bar steward) only seemed interested in talking to us if we were ordering something from the bar. Otherwise he ignored us. None of us are drinkers so we would just normally get ice tea, the result is that we went the first 3-4 nights without getting our glasses refilled. Our Waiter wasn't much better. He would stop by, take our order, bring us food and then never check back with us. On the few occasions when we did flag him down he wasn't to happy about it. The culmination came on Italian Night when we asked several times for more bread and never got it and then never received food we ordered. Before we new it we were all given desert menus. After that we made a point to tell the waiter that we weren't interested in the food anymore. They seemed to get the hint and service did improve for the last 3 nights (coincidentally right around tip time) but it was to little to late. As for the food, it was below par. Every night between everyone in the group we always ordered most items on the menu. Every soup they served was salty. Main dishes had portions small portions, which nobody complained about since the taste was nothing special. The most annoying thing was that they would serve the same thing over and over again, only they would call it something different. Very disappointing. Ports: The highlight of the cruise and the only reason I can think of for recommending this cruise. All the ports were fantastic and amazing. I can't say enough good things about them. Overall I would recommend not bothering with the cruise tours. They are expensive and not really worth it. I would just recommend getting off the boat and talking to the local tour operators that are all standing at the piers. Huahine and Roratonga were the only islands where local tour operators were not present. Papeete - We just grabbed a taxi and did an island tour with him. He didn't talk much but it was much cheaper than the boat and we hit all the main spots and we spent as much time as we wanted to at each spot. Huahine - Took the circle island tour through the boat in the morning and hit the beach in the afternoon via a shuttle ($10 per person round trip). The only boat tour that was pretty good as it took us all over and made plenty of stops. They were renting cars right on the pier and if we had known would have probably opted for that. Roratonga - We managed to tender in and we are glad we did. Did a circle island tour through the boat and then hit Muri beach in the afternoon. I would recommend skipping any tour and just catch the shuttle to Muri Beach ($10 per person round trip). You get dropped off at a resort and the beach there is incredible. You can walk across the lagoon to a motu and it is just beautiful. Raiatea - Did a local tour (Mata Tours). Fed the sting-rays, fed the sharks in shallow water and did some snorkeling before being taken to his private motu for some beach time. At the end we stopped by a pearl farm to learn how they are cultivated. An absolute incredible experience. Bora Bora - Did a local tour (with Mata again). Fed the sting-rays again, swam with bigger sharks in the ocean outside the lagoon and did some deep water snorkeling before being taken to Matira Beach. On our second day on we just rented a car and drove around the island exploring. Another absolute incredible experience. Moorea - Did a local 4 x 4 tour and then went to the beach at the intercontinental hotel. Papeete - Just roamed the city and did some shopping as we unwound from the trip. Disembarkation: While the transfer to the airport went fine getting to that point was a trial in patience. Princess asks that you have you suitcases done and outside by 10pm the previous night. If you have a second seating (as we did) then you really need to have it completed by 8 or just not go and eat in the dining room. We opted to skip the dining room because we didn't want to get stuck carrying around extra clothes without anywhere to put them. They also kick you out of your room by 9am. They provide food during the day, but its with reduced services. And they don't provide beach towels to use around the pool. You basically have to take them from your room before 9am otherwise they won't give you one. The worst part was that princess didn't provide anywhere for passengers to freshen up before having to board a flights back home. When I asked at the spa if we could use there bathrooms I was informed that only passengers who had done a tour through princess that day or had spa treatments that day were allowed to use them. Needless to say I saw a bunch of people washing up in swimsuits by the pool. Also saw quite a few doing the paper towel wash in the bathroom. Overall: This trip is all about the ports. They were fantastic and worth going. The service on the ship was lacking in certain areas but as we tried to minimize the time we were on the boat we only really felt it at night during dinner and the shows. Read Less
Sail Date March 2008
We are in our 50's and have had the opportunity to cruise a half dozen times before this trip. We looked forward to the experience of seeing Hawaii and Tahiti and sailing with Princess for the very first time. We choose to take ... Read More
We are in our 50's and have had the opportunity to cruise a half dozen times before this trip. We looked forward to the experience of seeing Hawaii and Tahiti and sailing with Princess for the very first time. We choose to take Princess air arrangements and arrived at about 3PM Honolulu time and were taken from the airport to the ship. Embarkation went very smoothly and we were on the ship in less than 30 minutes. This was among the best embarkations that we had experienced in all our cruises. Upon entering the ship we were not greeted by any crew but we found our way to our cabin on deck 7. There, we were greeted by our cabin steward. Marian was friendly and always courteous. Our cabin was well appointed, compact with a balcony which we used each and every day. I would highly recommend a balcony for a similar cruise. The shower was small but adequate. The food in the Panorama Buffet was very good and included hot selections, salads, fruit and deserts. We especially enjoyed the thin crusted specialty pizzas served in the afternoon. At dinner, we only ate in the Club Restaurant and opted not to go to the specialty restaurants. The food started out less than satisfactory for the first two sittings but improved after that. Our waiter and assistant waiter were excellent and added to our dining enjoyment. The three production shows were well done along with the local folklore shows in Hawaii and Raiatea. We also enjoyed the group Elua who entertained us at the pool and again up in the Lounge in the evening. The remaining entertainment was not up to par in my opinion. We chose to make our own travel arrangements while in Hawaii but purchased Princess tours on three of the four islands in Tahiti. They were a little pricey but no more than any other cruises we had traveled with in the past. Overall, the ship was one of the smallest ships which we had sailed upon (only Royal Caribbean's Sun Viking was smaller) the result being we did experience movement in the open sea. This did not pose a problem for us but it did for others not used to it. This is one point to consider in booking this size of ship. Another perhaps negative item was the limited number of public areas onboard. For example a surprise to us was the number of children on board for this cruise. The ship did not have a room set out especially for the youth so they used the card room onboard. Well how about some positives. Seeing there were only 680 passengers on board it became easy to identify other fellow cruisers and offer a friendly hello in passing. Another plus was the ship never felt full even though we were told it was at capacity. There were always several tables at the Panorama Buffet available, a recliner by the pool even on the days at sea and we seldom had to line up for anything except the odd tender. The ship is well appointed and finished in dark wood tones that give it a warm rich appeal. We loved the central staircase and the library on deck 10. Would we travel on the Tahitian Princess or a similar ship again .... yes we would. We liked the size of the ship and the lack of crowds. Oh by the way. It appears that this cruise is the cruise for honeymooners. We heard there were 30 newlyweds on board for this sailing. Read Less
Sail Date June 2007
Just returned from fantastic cruise to French Polynesia and Cook Islands. The journey out to the Tahitian Princess in Papeete was long and tiring from the UK with an overnight stay in LA and we arrived very late on the boat. It would have ... Read More
Just returned from fantastic cruise to French Polynesia and Cook Islands. The journey out to the Tahitian Princess in Papeete was long and tiring from the UK with an overnight stay in LA and we arrived very late on the boat. It would have been better to have stayed the day before in Papeete and not lost a ship day. The cabin was as expected and the ship well presented although much smaller than the Grand Class ships we normally sail on. Decor was very much English Country House which the Americans loved. Lots of quiet places to go during the day - the library was lovely. Entertainment on board was not too good. Only a comedian and a magician for a few nights and they weren't up to much. The Princess Dancers were good although could have done with a bit more rehearsing. (Perhaps if Stu had spent more time with his crew and less time propping up the bar they would have been better!!). The casino was a bit cramped and lacked the atmosphere of larger ships and the only Roulette table was positioned so that it was difficult to sit down without being knocked by people walking by. The food in the dining room was excellent as always and we certainly ate too much. Many new restaurant crew on the ship which meant some errors with ordering and some being rather surly and even answering back. (Mainly East European now as on most of ships and certainly not as friendly and courteous as Filipinos) Afternoon Tea was almost a non-event with no music white gloves and very rushed. All the above being said, we had a very good time. The islands were wonderful. Sailing into the moorings each morning got to be an event for me and my camera (even at 5am). The lagoons were beautiful. We arranged quite a few trips via Princess as some of the smaller Islands lack public transport and Taxis. The were quite good - the one going to TAAHAH for the Vanilla Plantation and Pearl Farm being one of the best. In Papeete we hired a taxi with another couple for $45 each. The driver was called Emily and was brilliant. She took us all around the island for 4 1/2 hours and was very informative. Highly recommendable. The airconditioned car was very welcome with the high humidity. Read Less
Sail Date March 2007
Background: First cruise- S.S. Monterey Honolulu to LA 1971, many after that-most since 1990. We go for the service and relaxation on the ship and the destinations, not all the hype onboard. We prefer small ships. Booked our own flights. ... Read More
Background: First cruise- S.S. Monterey Honolulu to LA 1971, many after that-most since 1990. We go for the service and relaxation on the ship and the destinations, not all the hype onboard. We prefer small ships. Booked our own flights. Flew from Florida to LA and stayed several days. Major storms in midwest raised havoc with the airlines. ATN moved us up to flight @130PM because many passengers missed it. Many people missed both ATN flights that day and had to spend big bucks to get to Papeete by the next (sail) day. Many found the Princess emergency number is not 24 hours! We met people who went up to 6 days without their luggage. Get to either LA or Papeete early! ---ATN-good service, decent food, seats a little narrower than normal, but you have more leg room. No air controls, hot and cold during flight. Layer clothes. Free drinks, lots of movies. Around 8.5 hour flight. ---Papeete Airport--hot and humid. Long lines--they have to type in info on each person. Plenty of taxis to dock-USD $30. ---Papeete--port town. Nice around quai, but then turns grungy. Market is OK, great flowers $15-20. Lasted whole cruise. Champion supermarket nearby for water, wine, etc. Use VISA, Mastercard. ---Nice size ship (R type). Clean, good layout, great service overall. Food was average. Ice cream 230-430 in buffet. No panni bar at lunch. Sundeck (with wind screen) too hot for this locale. Temperatures averaged 82 to 86 degrees day AND night. It was very hot and humid. However, we saw blue skies everyday, and only had a few passing showers the whole trip! ---Huahine--small lush island. Took Le Truck to village and beach. $10/PP RT charged to ship account. Pretty laid back. ---Rarotonga, Cook Islands--made it in. Turns out this was the island that most people liked best (that we talked to). A reef surrounds the island and provides plenty of protected water to play in. It is a very CLEAN island! 5 minute walk to nice "town". Internet cafe near tourist office was good--but the only place on the WHOLE trip that did not take USD. It was 6 NZD for 30 minutes--dial-up, but fairly fast. Get there early, the locals crowd in from noon on. Hint: just buy a drink or t-shirt and get change in NZD. Banks charge 7 NZD to change $$. Took bus (padded seats) around island for 4 NZD (or small USD). Took 55 minutes. Beautiful island!!!!!! Recommend buying day bus pass for 10 NZD--go around island in AM, to ship for lunch, then take bus to beach in PM. Beers were 3 NZD at Trader Jack's in town. What a great day--but hot! ---Raiatea--Quiet island, nice. Walked to Mooring's Marina for lunch at a French cafe on waters edge(taxi back $10). Kid's show on ship was fun. ---Bora Bora--the draw here is the lagoon and water sports. Most people fly in, take a water shuttle to there OTWB and stay put except for the beach/water sports. Not much on the island and it is a trashy island. The area where the tender arrives is hot and dusty. A few shops and rental places. Take the $5 OW taxis to Matira Beach (nice!) and check out the hotels with OTWB's. Taxi also stops at Bloody Mary's--which is way over-hyped. LUNCH was NOT expensive, but it is very warm in the hut. You can walk from the beach to BM's. ---Moorea--No town where tender arrives, just vendors. Rented an Avis car for $60 for 4 hours and circled the island with multiple stops. Need USD or CFP for gas, cannot charge less than $25. Pretty island. ---Tahiti--Out of rooms by 10AM, we put ALL luggage upstairs in holding area. Avis was a few blocks from ship, so we rented minivan with 2 other couples and toured island. It is very pretty outside of Papeete. It changed our opinions of the island. Back to the ship for a meal. We were able to drop off the van at the airport along with our luggage and ourselves. No taxi or transfer mess. ATN opened at 645 for 10 PM flight--you cannot check in earlier. We were first in line, when the buses showed up the lines were horrible. Upstairs cafe/bar OUTSIDE of security is air conditioned. Go through security a max of 45 minutes before boarding--crowds had thinned. It took 5 minutes. Delta checks bags to final destination--still have to clear in LA. Great trip, Princess did a fine job. Cruise director did NOT publish our CC meetings but he announced them a couple times. Minimal kids. Passenger ages @20-85, many in 30s to 50s. Read Less
Sail Date February 2007
This was our 7th cruise, first in South Pacific, second in Princess. 1) Precruising. We live in South America, so we flew Lanchile from our country to Papeete. The flight was good and on time, though the check in process should be ... Read More
This was our 7th cruise, first in South Pacific, second in Princess. 1) Precruising. We live in South America, so we flew Lanchile from our country to Papeete. The flight was good and on time, though the check in process should be faster. Before the cruise, we stayed two days in the Sheraton Moorea Resort. The island is wonderful, and the hotel excellent. We rented a car (Avis), and everything was O.K with the company and with the car. We did almost the complete circle of the island in the car. In the first night, we had dinner in The Mahogany restaurant, not very luxurious but with very good meal and service. They pick you up in the hotel and then get you back there. The second night we bought a package with transportation, dinner and show in the Tiki Village. The village is fine, the food average, and the show was the best we found in French Polynesia. The weather was fine both days, and the temperature in the 30 C. 2) The ship. Embarkation in Papeete. The cabin. We never had a so fast embarkation. We got to the port at 9.00 a.m, left the luggage in Princess hands and have two hours to stroll around Papeete and have a coffee. Embarkation started at 11 a.m. We had got the boarding pass on line, and that was a good idea. In 5 minutes we were on board. Then we had lunch, in one hour our cabin was ready, and in two hours we had all our luggage in the cabin. I had a problem because during the embarkation process I lost an envelope with travel documents. I reported it to the crew. Everybody was very helpful , and finally the envelope appeared in the Pursers Desk and was returned to me. The ship is the most beautiful we have cruised so far. It is not a megaship, decorated with good taste,and very comfortable. The only precaution: the lounges where shows take place are not very big, so you must go early to get a seat with good view of the stage. The cabin was fine, with a nice veranda and exactly as we were told. We went to the MarchE Municipal, one block from the pier, and bought wonderful flowers to decorate the cabin. The flowers are everywhere in these islands, and are not expensive (it is the only cheap item in French Polynesia !!). 3) Dining. This is a cruise preferred by honeymooners and couples who take it as an anniversary gift. So, we think it should be easier to get a table for two. It is not. You can not book in advance a table for two, and there are very few of them. You have to talk to the maitre and wait if the can get one for you. I did that, and I found the maitre, Lorenzo, was a competent and fine man who finally got a table for two for us. We went to the Main Restaurant only for dining. We had breakfast and lunch in the Panorama Buffet instead. It was faster and choosing the food we could exercise (almost always) our self-control to fight the kilos (obviously, cruises are extremely dangerous for those who want to take care of weight). The Panorama Buffet was O.K. with many good choices of light and vegetarian food, and desserts sometimes were better than the ones in the Main Restaurant. The Main Restaurant food was excellent, and the desserts only average. The wine list was good, and the prices were reasonable. Simona and Florin, both from Romania, gave as a very good and kind service as our waiters in the Main Restaurant. You also have two alternative restaurants, where you have to pay a nominal fee . We went to one of them, Sabatini, and had an extraordinary and complete Italian dinner. Here also is not easy to get a table for two. We got one, but tables for two and four are bad placed. Briefly: a bad table, an excellent dinner and an outstanding service. Do it. Steward service in the cabin was only average. 4) Cruising Princess can control many things, but can not control weather. We were not very lucky with weather. Our first stop was Huahine,a charming island. We took a very good tour that gave us a complete sight of the island, and another one with boat transportation to a beach. The only setback: it didn't stop even some minutes in the only town of the island (Fare) and we couldn't buy even a souvenir (We are not compulsive shoppers, but we like to take a souvenir from each place we visit). Weather was very nice. Then we sailed to Rarotonga, Cook Island, and the weather began to get worse. It didn't´t rain, but the sea was not calm. We were in front of the island, but as we had to use tender service, the captain cancelled the call. We were very disappointed but understood the decision: it was not safe to use the tender service. So we spend another day in the ship sailing to Raiatea. Frankly, it didn't´t bother us. As we said, the ship is gorgeous, you never feel she is crowded, she has plenty of things to do, a wonderful library, and we ratified once more that it is worth to pay a little more and have your own balcony. Being there during sailing, reading, or simply doing nothing drinking a glass of champagne, really makes the difference. The passengers were generally over their fifties (as we are), and we also saw couples of honeymooners. Good sense prevailed in this cruise, and few children were seen. This is not a cruise for children, less for babies (as we saw, incredible, in a cruise in Alaska). The ship was quiet, no noises at night, and the few children we saw were all well behaved and their parents always were taking care of them. Weather in Raiatea didn't´t improve, though we could disembark there. They have a very good terminal , and no tender service was needed. Most of the tours were cancelled because of the weather. The afternoon we were docked in Raiatea we had a wonderful show on board with the Uturoa dancers, who are teens and children. It is not to be missed. In Bora Bora weather improved, and we took a good tour for a general sightseeing of the island, and a stop in Matira beach. We liked the island, but not as much as Moorea. In Moorea, weather was bad, though we also could disembark. We only did a brief walking tour there, but it didn't´t matter because we already knew the island well. We reached the Intercontinental hotel, and then call a taxi to go back to the ship. It came, but 45 minutes after it was called. Taxis are not always available here, and service is not fast. Finally, we came back to Papeete and stayed two days in the Sheraton waiting to our flight to come back home. The hotel is very nice, and the staff was very helpful and cooperative, in spite of some minor failures in the function of the hotel services. For our final stay in Papeete we had booked a car in Europcar, that, according to its website , is supposed to have a desk in the hotel we stayed. That was not true. The reception desk calls Europcar Airport location, and they come to pick you up, take you to the airport and there you sign the contract and get the car. To return the car, it is the same. You have to go to the airport, and they take you to the hotel. Result: you loose almost an hour each way, when you expected to save time renting the car in the hotel desk (who did not exist). Europcar also failed in the car they gave us. We rented (and paid) an intermediate car, and we got a Mini Morris, though it was automatic. Frankly, in the future we will continue renting Avis, as usual, and we will not trust Europcar anymore. Papeete Airport. French Polynesia is a wonderful destination, but Papeete airport is simply horrible. We can not understand how a first class tourist destination has a so bad airport. To make the check in you have to make the line in the street , yes, in the street. No air conditioning is available. And if it rains when you are going to board (as it happened to us), don´t expect to be covered the whole way to the plane. You have to walk, or better run, at least twenty meters, and you get soaked. When you enter the plane, the combination with the air conditioning guarantees you a cold. Briefly, Papeete airport is a shame. Do not plan to stay there more than 3 hours before your flight. If it is necessary, get a late check out in your hotel or pay a day use. We paid a day use to rest in the comfortable hotel we were, and reduce to a minimum our stay in the airport. We were happy to do so. Conclusion. The ship is a wonder. The islands are gorgeous. People in the island are very kind (though slow in service). Some knowledge of French will help you, specially outside the cruise and the hotels. In our case, weather was not the best, but we knew January is rainy season and took the risk. Our advice: don´t miss this experience, but don´t go in the rainy season. Princess was excellent, and we plan to repeat. Roberto and Graciela. Read Less
Sail Date January 2007
Many thank to Cruise Critic for a wealth of information. This is definitely the #1 site for cruisers. Getting Prepared: Buy Jan Prince's book - Tahiti - Very informative Underwater Camera - Buy a Kodak underwater disposable ... Read More
Many thank to Cruise Critic for a wealth of information. This is definitely the #1 site for cruisers. Getting Prepared: Buy Jan Prince's book - Tahiti - Very informative Underwater Camera - Buy a Kodak underwater disposable Snorkel Gear - You can buy on the ship Bug Spray - Really not necessary Packing - You will be in bathing suits and shorts a lot (with the exception of dining and formal nights), so try not to overpack. Also remember the weight limit of your luggage on your flight. Getting There: Flew from Philadelphia to Los Angeles - Overnight stay at the Crowne Plaza to adjust to time change Flew from Los Angeles to Papeete via Air Tahiti Nui (Note: Get seat assignments as soon as possible. You can call the airline to get seat assignments. Not a very comfortable flight). Pre-Cruise: Stayed at the Intercontinental Papeete in an over the water bungalow (#485). Fantastic views and beautiful waters. (Note: Had originally planned a 2 day pre-cruise but ended up doing 3 days since Princess had us arriving very late for our first night which would have been a waste of money. If you do a pre-cruise definitely check what time they plan on having you arriving. Prices are high for the breakfast buffet at the Intercontinental. Ask for the a la carte menu. Boarding - Went very smoothly as we were the first to arrive. Cabin (7114) - Very roomy, nice balcony. Clean but showing signs of wear and tear. (Note: If you have long hair bring a hairdryer. Also if you use hair conditioner bring your own since the stuff they give you really does not work well. Food on Board - Average Specialty Restaurants: Sabitinis - Below Average Sterlings - Excellent Crew - Young. At time inexperienced but very personable and they do try to please. Activities on Ship - Average Casino - Ok but, a lot of machines were broken and stayed that way for the entire cruise. Pearl Shopping - Your head will spin with all the Pearls that are available. Our best buy was through the Ship. They were very knowledgeable and personable. For a cheaper selection, i.e., gifts for your relatives there is a pearl shop off the ship in Papeete (where the Paul Gaugan is docked) which had inexpensive yet very nice pearl necklaces, earrings, etc. Souvenirs - Found the best deals at the Marche (Market). Large variety and very reasonable. Also the flowers there are absolutely beautiful and extremely cheap. Bought arrangements for our room and paid $15 each. (Note: When buying the flowers make sure they have some Cala lilies in them for a fantastic scent.) Tours: Patrick's Tour - Excellent Marc's Motu Picnic - Excellent Helmet Dive - Excellent Bruono's Tour - Would not recommend Albert's Tour - Would not recommend Seas - We did encounter rough seas and were unable to stop in Rarontonga (this seems to be the norm for this cruise). Unfortunately ended up having an extra day at sea and by the time we arrived at the next port I actually saw people kissing the ground!!! (Note: If you are prone to sea sickness get a prescription from your Doctor). Fellow Cruisers - Met a fantastic bunch of people on this cruise (who we met on this board) which made it that much more enjoyable and unforgettable. Forged some great friendships as a result. Many thanks to Bert, Rob, Ron, Lynn, Jan & Merrill, Howard & Sharon and all of the wonderful folks who we shared some great times with. Disembarkation - Took a cab to the airport which was much better than boarding a bus and arriving like a herd of buffalo to retrieve your suitcases. Ending - Would we do this cruise again? In a heartbeat. It was a very beautiful experience. Read Less
Sail Date October 2006
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

Find a Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click