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1,149 Princess Island Princess Cruise Reviews

OK, this is looooong  partly a diary, partly a review, partly some random thoughts about our Island Princess repositioning cruise from LA to Vancouver via Alaska. Embarkation: We embarked at the Port of Los Angeles, 10 minutes from ... Read More
OK, this is looooong  partly a diary, partly a review, partly some random thoughts about our Island Princess repositioning cruise from LA to Vancouver via Alaska. Embarkation: We embarked at the Port of Los Angeles, 10 minutes from home. Princess had 2 ships in port, and the Sapphire was at Berth 93, the new and preferred embarkation location. We arrived at 1:15 at Berth 92, where you have to go through security prior to checking in. There were 3 agents and two security screening points, so getting through took us 40 minutes. We checked in quickly, and then stood in another line to board the ship. Total time from the cab dropping us off was about one hour. Some of our friends had arrived at 10:30 and were onboard in 20 minutes, so perhaps the moral of the story is to arrive early. On the other hand, our luggage arrived 10 minutes after we did, and the early arrivals didnt get theirs until almost dinnertime. The cabin: We were in Caribe 703, a penthouse suite. I posted some pictures at http://community.webshots.com/album/550701530KuleXj The PH category on Island, although the top category on the ship, is similar to a minisuite on the Sun class ships  a nice sitting area with a desk, little wet bar, sofa and chair. The bathroom had one sink and the toilet on one side, and a jetted tub and shower on the other. Not really a full suite by Princess standards, but very nicely appointed nonetheless. We had white plastic furniture on the balcony, instead of the teak we have usually seen, which included two padded loungers, 2 chairs and a table. The bed was firm with heavenly linens. I would say the comforter was synthetic down. I loved it! Our cabin steward, Ronaldo, did everything expected of him, but nothing extraordinary. He brought us our embarkation champagne and a couple of down pillows. That and several loads of laundry were the only extras we asked of him. Our cabin vibrated a great deal. Although we were a good 20 cabins from the aft of the ship, we could feel the aft thrusters throughout the cruise, and it was a bumpy ride on our one rough sea day. Worse, there was a lot of rattling from the ceiling. After 4 nights of not sleeping well, I finally stuffed some tissues into the woodwork cracks and found a wire in the overhead light fixture that I shifted about. That helped quite a bit, but the cabin is just plain noisy, the worst I have experienced. Dining: We had traditional late seating, and had a wonderful wait team in Relu and Laura, both from Romania. They were friendly, efficient, helped me drink my red wine, and had good senses of humor. Our headwaiter, Eduardo, was a bit of a ghost in the beginning, but warmed up to us by the end. I thought Relu had a bit of cheek asking us to be sure to fill out the questionnaire so he could get a good job rating and, when we handed him an extra tip at the end of the cruise, asking if we had also left the autotip in place. Hes nothing if not ambitious! We had a table for 2 in the middle of a group of what we think were real estate agents/employees. One of them in particular was very loud, obnoxious and opinionated. She finally changed her seat at her table so she wasnt braying directly at us, but she was incredibly annoying. Oh, well. Next time well ask for a larger table so we can make our own noise! The food was nothing special, but we always found something to make us reasonably content. We usually went with what Relu recommended, and it was almost always beef. I tried fish every now and then, and it was a mistake  overcooked and flavorless for the most part. We didnt see much variety in the offerings, either. We ate at the Bayou Cafe one night, and it was just ok, although the chocolate dessert and the pound cake (soaked in orange liqueur, as I recall) were divine. The food tended to be quite fatty. I had the filet, and scraped off the bacon/mushroom concoction on top. Next time, Ill try the shrimp. We had a nice time, though, and the service was impeccable. We went back frequently to listen to the live music, and the maitre d tolerated with good humor my butchering of his native Italian. The offerings in the Horizon Court were usually the best  a very good salad bar, fresh fruit (looked a little tired toward the end) and a variety of entrEe offerings. We ate there for lunch most days. Pizza was delicious  thin, crispy crust and a selection of toppings every day. We didnt go to Sabatinis, having eaten there on the Star and Diamond and not needing that much food by dinnertime. Service: We always find that RCI has warmer and friendlier staff than Princess, and this cruise was no exception. The times we ate in the dining room for breakfast or lunch, we found the waiters to be indifferent  never a smile, no my pleasure, sir/madame, no visible enthusiasm for their jobs. Waiters in the bars were friendly if we ordered a lot to drink, which we usually didnt. Otherwise they were correct but distant. Crew members we encountered around the ship did no speak until spoken to, which I found a little disconcerting. I went out of my way to greet people and always got a response, but having the make the first effort got old. Entertainment: We went to a few shows, and enjoyed them. The quality of the musicians was excellent, from the string quartet in the atrium to the various bands and combos playing all over the ship. The singers and dancers were also very good. We particularly enjoyed the Big Band show. Ports/Excursions As Southern Californians, we had been to both Santa Barbara and San Francisco a number of times, so we didnt book anything through the ship. In SB, we walked up to the Santa Barbara Winery tasting room, sampled some wines and bought a couple of bottles to bring back onboard. We then wandered down to Stearns Wharf, looked around a bit, and then headed back to the ship. In SF, we docked at Pier 27. We had purchased tickets to Alcatraz Island from blueandgoldfleet.com, which is the official operator of the Island. We walked to Pier 39, passing through a bit of a mob disembarking from Celebritys Infinity at Pier 33 or so, but it was still only a 10-minute walk. The ride to Alcatraz is 15 minutes, and its a trip well worth taking. The history of place is fascinating, and its a good way to get in some exercise walking up & down the hill. In Sitka, we took 2 ships excursions  the Sea Otter and Wildlife Quest and the Semi-submersible. I wrote a mini-review of the submersible trip: http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=348904&highlight=submersible. Suffice it to say that I wont do it again  once was enough! The Sea Otter excursion was terrific  we boarded the excursion boat directly from the Island, so no need to tender to shore and then meet up with our group  very convenient! The crew of the boat was friendly and knowledgeable and we spotted tons of wildlife, including several whales frolicking within about 200 feet of the boat. The guide told us that it was one of the best showings he had ever seen. Loved it, and highly recommend it! The trip included free admission to St. Michaels, but we didnt have time. We grabbed a reindeer dog in between excursions. Next time were going to walk up to the Raptor Center and not take any ships tours. Two was really one too many. In Ketchikan, we walked up to Creek Street in the morning and checked out the stores. On the way back to town, we spotted a Mexican restaurant, Chicos, and just had to try it. It was very good. I had a gyro (!) and DH had tacos. We had booked an afternoon Misty Fjords trip directly with Island Wings, based on what we read on Cruise Critic. We had booked the Fjords & Glacier combination, but the glaciers were fogged in, so the trip was shortened to the Fjords only (and the price was lowered accordingly) Wow! What a flight! Michelle is a terrific pilot, and pointed out all kinds of interesting sights. She landed on one of the lakes and we were able to get out, go to a little bit of land and take some pictures of the breathtaking scenery. In Victoria, where weve been several times, we walked to Craigdarroch Castle, which is only 2 inches from the pier on my AAA map, but is about a 45- minute walk. It was a good workout, which we needed, so we didnt mind. Wandering around the castle was a fun way to spend an hour. We walked back to the Inner Harbour and had lunch at Il Pescatore, a place we had stumbled upon in 2004. Its just up the street from the Empress Hotel. We both had a salmon sampler, and it was delicious. The amber ale went down easily, too! We got back to the ship (on foot) at about 4:00. Cruise Critic We had a very active Roll Call, and had a terrific sailaway party in the Wheelhouse Lounge on Deck 7. Sue T. at Princess was good enough to set up 2 parties (I booked one and jrobinson booked the other so I wouldnt look greedy), which consisted of some reserved space, a dedicated waiter and some peanuts & pretzels. Fortunately, we all got along in person as well as we did online! The second party was on the 10th, our second sea day, at Crooners. Colo Cruiser spoke with the CD, Richard Joseph, about having another get together, and he came through for us  he hosted a champagne & mimosa party for us on the 13th, as I recall. They served some nice munchies and some members of the entertainment staff (CDs in training) mingled with us. The Spa We got a fabulous deal on our cabin, so we spent the money we saved in the spa. DH had 2 Swedish massages, and loved both (same tech both times). I had a Swedish (excellent) and a seaweed wrap/massage combination (heaven on earth). As veterans of the Steiner sales pitches, we were able to fend off any attempts to sell us product  I told my techs up front that I didnt want anything, and they accepted that gracefully. Weather: We mostly had good weather from LA to SF. Our first sea day out of SF was pretty rocky, and the Horizon Court, all the way forward & bumpy as all get out, was pretty much deserted. I slept all morning, but felt better after a workout, and things calmed down by the evening. We had some rain in Sitka, and clouds in Ketchikan, but the seas remained calm. We had a glorious day in Victoria, and Tonidee and her husband hosted a wonderful sailaway party as we left the harbour, then turned in lazy circles all the way to Vancouver. Disembarkation We had thought of trying for the 11:15 flight, but decided to book the next Air Canada flight at 3:55. Although we probably would have made the earlier one, it was less stress wondering if something might go wrong. We booked the Vancouver city tour to kill some time until the flight. We arose in time to watch our passage under the Lions Gate Bridge, had breakfast in the dining room served by the surliest waitstaff of the entire cruise, then finished packing our carry ons and went to the Universe Theater to await our tags (Navy 1). We were off the ship at about 8:15 (1/2 an hour behind schedule), through Canadian customs in about 2 minutes, collected our bags and went to the waiting area for the tour. We were on the bus by 9:15, as I dimly recall. The driver was fun  he took us through Chinatown, Gastown and Stanley Park, making two stops for photos and snacks. We were at the airport a little after noon. US customs was understaffed so it took close to an hour to get through the line, but as we had plenty of time, it was no biggie. I did have time to compare duty-free prices between the airport and the ship, and the ship had better prices on what we were interested in (Clinique and Johnny Walker Blue). We were home to be slobbered on by the dogs by 8:00. This cruise was the most fun I have experienced, thanks to all of our new Cruise Critic friends. Quite a number of us have booked the Diamond repositioning cruise for 2007. I cant wait! Read Less
Sail Date May 2006
This was our first cruise and I have to say that my husband and I really enjoyed the whole experience. We found our balcony cabin to be very comfortable and had no problems with the beds. The towel animals on the bed each night were lots ... Read More
This was our first cruise and I have to say that my husband and I really enjoyed the whole experience. We found our balcony cabin to be very comfortable and had no problems with the beds. The towel animals on the bed each night were lots of fun. The ship was beautiful and clean and I found all the crew from the cleaners, waitstaff, casino staff, photo people, etc. to be particularly helpful and friendly. We had anytime dining and enjoyed meeting different people from other countries at dinner each night. We found the food perfectly acceptable to our standards on every occasion with plenty of choices. As a special treat, we had one dinner at Sabatinis. It was a wonderful dining experience and really worth the extra fee. I am not normally a casino player but for a little fun I spent some time at the blackjack tables. I went to a morning lesson with the Host, Nicol, along with a few other people. We had a lot of fun learning about the games and Nicol did not make me feel stupid when I asked silly questions. We both feel that the real thrill of being in Alaska is the scenery outside the ship. We enjoyed the White Pass Railway, The Mount Roberts Tramway, the Red Dog Saloon and just walking around the various towns and sight-seeing. Seeing Galcier Bay up close and personal from our balcony was a wonderful experience that we will never forget. Overall we found our cruise on the Island Princess to be a wonderful experience and we would recommend it to anyone. As new cruisers, we have been converted and are looking into where we will take our next cruise. Read Less
Sail Date May 2006
HISTORY: We are in our late 40's. We have cruised with Princess twice before; once to the Western Caribbean (10/03) on the Grand Princess which we rated as "very good". The second time to the Mexican Riviera (10/04) on the ... Read More
HISTORY: We are in our late 40's. We have cruised with Princess twice before; once to the Western Caribbean (10/03) on the Grand Princess which we rated as "very good". The second time to the Mexican Riviera (10/04) on the Diamond Princess which we rated as "above average". We had a terrible time disembarking and missed our flight home. Princess would not help cover any of our additional costs and blamed the travel agency, but we and others felt it was clearly a Princess error. TRIP: We wanted a different ship for the cruise to Alaska, but we found that the "ISLAND PRINCESS" had the north bound trip with recommended ports we wanted and most important to us had the "anytime" dining that we most enjoyed. So we booked the "Island Princess" out of Vancouver BC (5/29/06) to Whittier Alaska (6/5/06) for a 7 day cruise with an extra day (pre-cruise 5/28/06) in Vancouver @ the Fairmont hotel and (post cruise 6/6/06) Captain Cook hotel in Anchorage Alaska. SHIP: The ship is in excellent condition, clean, well maintained and just a beautiful ship. The Universe lounge is poorly designed and many of the seats have no visibility to the stage and the upper deck with railing and glass make it impossible to see a show. The ship was caterer to senior citizens age 65 and above. The ship interior temperatures were on the warm side. WEATHER: The inside passage is very calm 0-1ft seas and ocean waters were also calm 1-4 ft seas. The outside day temperatures on the ship were approx. 54-60 degrees with evenings just below 50 degrees with very little wind. Day time port excursions temperatures were approx. 65 degrees and mostly sunny except Ketchikan that was 57 degrees with light rain. Glacier Bay had fog and a colder temperature of 50 degrees. College Fjord was just beautiful, sunny and very warm. Anchorage was almost 70 degrees. EMBARKING: The Ship is located directly in front of the Fairmont Hotel. We arrive early (12:00) and we were in our room within 30 minutes. WOW, the best ever! Fairmont took care of suitcases which arrived in our room approx. 7pm. CABIN: We booked a mini-suite which has a larger bathroom, sitting area and deck. The room B209 is up at the front of the ship but due to calm waters was an extreme blessing that we upgraded. We would never recommend anything else but a balcony. I got an intestinal virus and spent time in the medical center and then restricted to my cabin for the next few days sick. So the extra large room and larger bath was well worth the cost. DINING: We prefer the "ANYTIME" dining which allows us to enjoy the day with out rushing to meet a specific dining time. If you know a time, reservation can be made and you will not wait more than a few minutes. Without reservation, you may have a 5-15 minute wait at the most. FOOD: The food was fair at best! Soups were cold and looked liked water and had no taste. Containers of orange juice were almost always empty and hard to use. Drink selection was minimal. Much of the food was not temperature controlled. Selections were limited, many items had no taste. The buffet seemed to have the same items 24 hours a day. We decided to try Sabintis Restaurant, they bring a little of every thing they make a piece at a time. Dinner took approx. 2-1/2 hours and was very boring. Food was OK but not worth the extra $40 charge. ENTERTAINMENT: Never been so bored in my life! This was just terrible. All we could hear was music from the 40's. The activities were extremely poor -martini demo, shopping show, movie, tea and art auctions? BINGO was poor; the announcer had little personality and did NOT bring life to the game with jokes, comments and props, etc. The ship usually make a person do the "chicken dance" when they make a mistake and call bingo and do not have it. The announcer asked the DJ to play the chicken dance and he did not have it? WHAT? YOU GOT TO BE KIDDING! Princess theater main Broadway show "PIANO MAN" was already seen on the other princess ship two years ago. Why cruise again if nothing is going to change. Where's THE HORSE RACING! This was a fun time on other cruises. No gamers or fun activities anywhere to be found. The cruise director was hardly ever seen on ship and the TV morning show was an insult!!! So disappointing-spent so much time in room watching TV. SERVICE: The staff works extremely hard. Our rooms are cleaned and always properly prepared. A bartender got a little snippy when we asked for a coffee. PORTS: "KETCHICAN" The totem pole and lumberjack show tour was OK. We had to be back on ship by 1:30pm and had to leave before the lumberjack show ended so we did not miss the ship. There was no time to shop, and this was not planned well by Princess. "JUNEAU" The "Best of Juneau" tour was excellent which included a sightseeing bus Tour, Whale watching and wild life trip, then a glacier and a Salmon Bake. The best Salmon on the trip. "SKAGWAY" My girlfriend went horseback riding while I was confined to my cabin due to illness. "GLACIER BAY" TV station provided to allow people stay in their rooms and use their private balconies. The ship goes up and down the bay and spends 1 hour turning the ship 360 degrees around allowing all side of the ship see the glaciers. This was very nice. "COLLEGE FJORD" This is just beautiful; it was sunny and brought out the colors of the glaciers, lots of seals, birds, etc. DISEMBARKATION: The ship arrived in Whittier @ midnight so they had time to prepare. We were scheduled to leave at 6:15am and we were off the ship and in the scenic train en route to Anchorage by 7am. This was excellent! The train rocked a lot and if you're overweight, you may not fit in these seats. The trip took 2 hours and we saw moose, mountain goats, eagles, etc. Then we transferred to a bus to move to a hospitality location in town. Our luggage was transferred later to the hotel and check in is after 3:15pm. We had the day 9am to 3pm to sightsee prior to checking in. This was frustrating but Princess did their best to accommodate everyone. SUMMARY: We will not likely cruise with Princess again and try some other ships with more fun type activities and better food. Read Less
Sail Date May 2006
We booked the 4/21/06 sailing RT Hawaii on the Island Princess a year in advance and had high expectations. I can say, very honestly, these expectations were exceeded in every way. We are experienced cruisers, so keep that in mind. We ... Read More
We booked the 4/21/06 sailing RT Hawaii on the Island Princess a year in advance and had high expectations. I can say, very honestly, these expectations were exceeded in every way. We are experienced cruisers, so keep that in mind. We flew to LAX a day early on Delta without any difficulty and spent the pre cruise night at the Long Beach Hilton. This was an acceptable hotel in a location which made walking to the area eateries easy and allowed us to use the Passport Shuttle to get to the Queen Mary etc. We used Karmel Shuttles to travel from LAX to Long Beach and back to LAX on return. It was about $124.00 for the round trip, traveling in a Town Car. This was our preference and I know we could have used a multi-passenger shuttle for a lesser rate, but ...this was our vacation! They were prompt and courteous. We ate dinner at the Rock Bottom Brewery in Long Beach and it was pretty normal, but we enjoyed the company of 2 of our new cruise critic friends. Cruise morning we had a bite at the Seattles Best in the area of the Hilton and hung around until 1030. We then took the town car outside the hotel and Tony charged us 25.00 to get to San Pedro with a stop at the wine store and a place for me to buy nail polish. We waited outside for a few minutes, inside for a few minutes and were on board in our cabin by noon. We had D614 mini-suite, a little aft of mid ship. This proved to be a good spot on the first couple of sea days when things were a little rough. I always take meclizine (Bonine) prior to sailing and have never been sick. I took it for the first 3 nights on this trip and was fine. Our cabin was fine. We were pleased with the extra room, especially the bath area. We asked for and received robes right away and a lounge for our balcony by the 2nd day. We used the balcony after the 2nd day, everyday until the last 3 when it was cold and windy again. Our cabin steward, Karn, was wonderful, and we were happy to show our appreciation. The sea days going and returning were the best!. We lounged, slept late, used the gym and the spa at will. No time constraints! We had Personal Choice Dining so we ate anywhere from 7 - 9:30, depending on what we were doing. Food was as expected. Everything was good. We ate 2 nights, one going and one on the return, in the Bayou and thought it, as well as Chris May and his jazz band, were great. We ate a few nights in the Horizon Court and thought it was better than other lines we have sailed on. We ate all breakfasts and lunches there or had pizza or lunch off the ship. No complaints from us on the food or service. Entertainment was plentiful and for the most part very good. We enjoyed all the comedians and were pleased to meet most of them on the return at a party hosted for Cruise Critic passengers by our cruise director, Richard Joseph. We would recommend the musical Tribute. Bar staff and all other crew we encountered were pleasant and helpful. We used the internet for $.35/minute and it was an easy way to keep in touch. In Hawaii, we rented cars at all ports except Honolulu. This worked out well. It is very hard to get lost on these Islands. We were able to visit all the main attractions at our pace and enjoyed each stop. In Honolulu, we raced off the ship and grabbed a taxi to Pearl Harbor..$25.00 each way. This got us there before any tours and buses and the wait was only 30 minutes. This allowed us time to get to Waikiki and other points of interest in the early afternoon. This was, by far, one of our best cruises. The sea days were spectacular for really kicking back and getting to know your fellow passengers and the crew. We would repeat this cruise in a heartbeat. Debarkation was a snap. We were at LAX and our gate by 1130 for a 1 PM flight. We had a 2 hour delay in Salt Lake, so by the time we reached our home in FL it was 4 AM. We did not care. When you are as relaxed as we were, these little things dont matter. Of course, after 3 days back at work, my tolerance level has returned to normal:):) Our one and only complaint would be about the smoking in the lounges..ie: Crooners Bar and the Explorer Lounge bar area. This pretty much excluded the non-smokers from those popular areas. That's it! A great cruise and one we hope to do again! Read Less
Sail Date April 2006
I'll probably make this short. My wife and I chose Princess because we wanted a Hawaiian cruise and RCCL did not have their scheduled when we decided to book it. That being said we really like Princess and would not hesitate in ... Read More
I'll probably make this short. My wife and I chose Princess because we wanted a Hawaiian cruise and RCCL did not have their scheduled when we decided to book it. That being said we really like Princess and would not hesitate in cruising with them again. Embarkation was great. Got there between 11:00 and 11:30 and we were on board and in our cabin by 12:15. Although the luggage didn't arrive until after dinner. The food was a little more exotic (i.e Buffalo) but was very good. Even the coffee was not too bad. The excursions were reasonably priced and well organized. Even tendering into ports did not present a long delay. In Kona we did the outrigger canoe. Hilo was kayaking, Lahaina was hike in the rainforest and a swim at a waterfall. We were suppose to go to another waterfall but the guide did not think some people could make it. In Honolulu we went to the Arizona and toured the battleship Missouri. In Kua'i we rode ATVs and swam at another waterfall. All the excursions were great!! Disembarkation was smooth until we got off the ship. Prime time shuttle service screwed up the car that we were suppose to be on. After an hr wait they put us on a shuttle to go to the Hotel we stayed in that night. We are in our mid fifties and were definitely in the bottom third of the age groups. The length of the cruise probably contributed to the demographics but even with the walkers, wheelchairs, and shufflers we enjoyed the entire experience. I hope I can enjoy this type of recreation when I am as old as some of the people on this cruise. And we would recommend this to our friends looking for a cruise with a lot to do but relaxing sea days on both ends of the cruise. the only draw back was there wasn't too much going on around the pool deck especially late in the evening. Read Less
Sail Date April 2006
Island Princess April 21, 2006 to Hawaii Sit down, and relax and read this review. Its long, but so was the trip (15 days). Forget about other reviews which talk about too many kids (Christmas cruise), or terrible weather (January). We ... Read More
Island Princess April 21, 2006 to Hawaii Sit down, and relax and read this review. Its long, but so was the trip (15 days). Forget about other reviews which talk about too many kids (Christmas cruise), or terrible weather (January). We didnt have either of those. We were traveling while school was in session, so there were very few children. The Cruise Director said we had the best weather of the season. Remember, Hawaii had 40 days of solid rain before we got there, but we saw none of it (except Hilo where it always rains). We have been on 11 Princess Cruises, and thought that Island Princess was the best Princess ship weve been on. This is both for the ships design, as well as the outstanding crew and Ill cover both those aspects. This ship is of Sun Princess size i.e. 2,000 passengers rather than the Grand Princess 2,700-3,100 size. However, it has all of the Grand Class features of the larger shipsand then some. The cabins are Grand Class style, not the smaller cabins found on Sun and its sister ships. The public areas of Grand Class are all thereSabatinis, Bayou (instead of Sterling Steakhouse), Explorers Lounge, Wheelhouse Bar, and a larger Universe Lounge/Theater instead of the Vista Lounge. In fact, most of the public areas such as these are actually larger on this ship than on Grand/Golden etc. The Sabatinis for example, is both larger by far, and also more elegant than its counterparts on other ships. So you have the best of both worlds! We had a last minute surprise, as my wife fell down the stairs at home the week before the cruise began and broke her ankle. So with a cast and a rented wheelchair, on board we went. This whole trip was to celebrate my moms 88th birthday. Shes in great health, but at that age has difficulty in finding friends to go along with her. She didnt want to go through an airport with all the security hassles, so we chose this cruise which left from San Pedro (Los Angeles), and returned there. My sister and her husband were also on board. From the moment we got out of the cab, we received Princess treatment. Maureen and I were waved over to a side door for handicapped check-in. Now Ive learned that theres regular check-in, Platinum Express Check-in, and handicapped check in. Before I could get all of my pockets emptied to go through security, Maureen was through and waiting with a Princess staff member to push the wheelchair! We were waived on board and ahead of most other passengers. They had pink shirted staff members at the entrance to push her over the ramp (true for all ports later too). We went up to our room, a mini-suite on Caribe Deck and looked it over. The mini-suites on Island/Coral differ from other Grand Class ships only in the fact that the desk and mirror above it, arent angled out into the room, but are parallel to the wall. This makes the opening to the living room wider and easier to navigate. We had a very large balcony with a square table and two large chairs. The room steward brought us a chaise lounge chair which also fit out there nicely. This allowed Maureen to keep her broken ankle up horizontally which the doctor had recommended. My sister and mother had balcony cabins also on Caribe, but more towards the center of the ship. My sister took my mom up to book hair appointments at the Spa. We were able to pre-book massage and other treatments on the Princess website before the cruise, but not hair appointments. We then all met at the Horizon Court for lunch and this became a daily ritual. While my sister, wife, mom and I all enjoy the relaxing days at sea, we worried that my brother-in-law would be bored. He likes to be doing something all the time. Not to worry, he found the Computers at Sea classes and proceeded to book 20 classes including Photoshop Elements and Microsoft Word. He was a very happy camper for the whole time we were at sea! We all fell into a routine of exercise in the morning, going to the Hawaii lectures that Aloha Bob gave each day, and then lunch. The Hawaii presentations were excellent. Aloha Bob was a NBC reporter/anchor in Honolulu for many years. He gave us history, geology, culture, and current issues/problems of Hawaii. There was a fascinating talk on Pearl Harbor and its events too. There was almost a capacity crowd in the Princess Theater each morning when he made his presentations. The first full day at sea we got together with all of our Cruise Critic friends to meet for the first time. We had been conversing with all of them for over 7 months. Len and Letty kept us all organized. They set up a dinner in Long Beach the night before the cruise for passengers who came in a day early. They also made cute name tags with flip flops on them for everyone. I had e-mailed Princess using the suggested names that I found on Cruise Critic and they arranged that we could meet in the Wheelhouse Bar and had a bartender and waiter to serve all of us. We paid our own way for this party. I had e-mailed Richard Joseph, the Cruise Director prior to the cruise asking if he could arrange a second party on the way back. I had read that he had done so for earlier cruises. He called me the first sea day, and told us that we would get a champagne party the day before we reached Ensenada on the way back. They gave us a wonderful party in Explorers Lounge at 5pm and we had lots of appetizers. They had an open to all passengers Mexico party at 5:30pm in the same lounge that day. He also invited all of the individual entertainers (mostly the comedians) on board to come to the party. They told us we had the highest turnout of any of the more recent cruises. There were almost 50 of us on board although not that many made it to either party. We sure did have a lot of fun though and met some wonderful people. Richard Joseph was outstanding both to us, and to all of the passengers throughout the cruise. I often saw him in the Princess Theater prior to shows because I would place Maureen in her wheelchair at the special handicapped section near the entrance door. He was always so kind and upbeat with us every time we saw him. When you think about it, the 15 day Hawaii cruise has more days where the passengers are together with the crew than almost any itinerary that I can think of. Weve been though the canal twice on longer cruises, but there were more ports and less total sea days than this cruise. His whole staff kept things running and fun the entire time. Richard is a man who obviously loves what he does and does it very well. I think hes the best Cruise Director weve seen in our 11 Princess Cruises. Hes also in charge of some real talent for the production shows. We had seen most of them last year (Piano Man, and the Broadway one). There was one new one I think called Rock which isnt about rock music. It was a bits and pieces show with no real theme, but very over the top sets and costumes especially Hairspray. Was cute and well done. Dancing was great throughout, and so were the singers. We like Princess food, and werent disappointed here either. Because this is a 15 day cruise, you get a few extra menus that arent used on the standard 7-day set. Some things were repeated both going and coming (lamb chops and lobster twice!!). My mom wanted early seating which most of us didnt prefer, but we settled for this anyway. We had our own table with wonderful waiters and a great Head Waiter. When we got to the islands, we went to the other restaurants so we could have time to watch sailaway and sunset on each island. We did the Bayou twice and Sabatinis once. Both were outstanding. Great steaks at the Bayou (filet and porterhouse) as well as other good stuff. In Honolulu, Maureen and I had the most romantic dinner of all time. We booked the Ultimate Balcony Lobster Dinner for our night in Honolulu. This meant that the ship wouldnt be moving as we didnt leave Honolulu until 11pm at night. We originally had set up a sunset catamaran sail in Honolulu and we set the dinner up for 8:30pm. However, at the last minute, the sunset sail people cancelled on us. Luckily I checked my e-mail on board after lunch and saw the cancellation. Otherwise we would all have been standing on Waikiki Beach in front of the Sheraton Moana Surfrider waiting for a boat that wasnt going to come (and Maureen in a wheelchair and crutches). I wasnt too happy with the catamaran people because they cancelled at the very last minute, which gave us no chance to make alternative arrangements. Probably wont ever use them again. They were recommended by others on the Cruise Critic Hawaii Board. Anyway, we re-scheduled our balcony dinner for 6:30 and had a glorious sunset dinner. The director of room service had come to our cabin earlier to arrange everything, and she came that night too, to check that everything was OK. We had our own waiter, who brought us each course. They covered the table with a tablecloth on the balcony, brought yellow roses and set the silver out. A ships photographer was there to take our complimentary picture (we did pay $50 per person for all of this!). Then the courses started coming: a dozen assorted canapes, including caviar; three crab cakes each, wonderful salad, two giant lobster tails with veggies, four different mousses for dessert, and a dozen small cookies to top it off. Finally, we had a bottle of Champagne with all of this and they gave us the champagne flutes as we were celebrating our 24th Anniversary two weeks early. The dinner actually comes with a cocktail and split of Champagne. We were not interested in the cocktail, and asked if we could upgrade and pay for a full bottle of Champagne and they did this. All of this took place as the sun set and then all of the lights of Honolulu came on. We didnt have the best view of the city (mostly other docks and ships), but we didnt care! There were three formal nights during the time at sea. The first was going over, and the other two were on the way back. The usual cherries jubilee, bananas foster etc. were done on the chafing dishes in the dining room by our Head Waiter. I dont know whether they do this in the anytime dining room. We also had the baked Alaska parade the final night, and I do know that the other dining room didnt get that because not everyone is on the same course at the same time. Tours Kona Maureen stayed on board as this was a tender port, and she was still trying to be good and keep her leg up especially since we had a full day tour the next day. I went on the 2 hour helicopter ride. The one offered in Hilo is one hour and cheaper, but we wanted to go to Volcano National Park and the Botanical Garden there. The two hour flight is in two segments. You are driven up to Waikoloa where you board and then fly across the island to the active volcano. You circle around a number of times so everyone can get pictures of the glowing lava. Then you fly to the coast and watch the red lava fall over a cliff into the sea where every time the waves crash in, giant steam clouds form. It was truly spectacular. You then land at Hilo for refueling. The second leg goes out the coast and towards the Waipio Valley. You see some wonderful waterfalls along the valley cliffs and eventually you fly back to Waikoloa. The interesting thing is that the pricing through Princess was actually LESS than the brochures at the helicopter place indicated (Blue Hawaiian). While I paid something like $375 for this, the published brochure rate which you would get just by calling or walking into their shop was $450! First time Ive ever seen the cruise tour rate cheaper than the public rate. Hilo We went on a day long tour on a Greyhound type bus. This worked very well for Maureen in her wheelchair and crutches. They put the wheelchair underneath where the luggage usually goes. The first two seats were reserved for handicapped, and wheelchair passengers on the bus. She had a seat to herself which allowed her to keep her leg up. We first drove to the Hawaii Botanic Garden. This is a steep valley that goes down to the sea but filled with tropical plants a lot of which were in bloom. I felt this was like eye candy for the camera. Everywhere I turned there were beautiful orchids, blue hibiscus, proteas and waterfalls. Got some great pictures. Next we went to lunch back in Hilo at one of the hotels. After lunch we drove to Volcano National Park. Stopped at a steam vent for pictures (you could stand next to it and it was like warm fog coming out). Then went to the park headquarters for a view out to the volcano itself and you could look at the exhibits. Coming back, we stopped at the Macadamia Nut Factory and got great packages which we shipped home for souvenirs for staff at work. We both had a chocolate macadamia nut ice cream cone. Yummy! Finally we stopped at a candy factory which was OK, but most of us were tired and they were pretty expensive. Overall, a great trip! Honolulu My mom had signed up for a Natural Tour of Ohau so Maureen and I decided to book also. This took us out of Honolulu and up inside the Diamond Head crater. This is an army base inside. Then we went back out to the coast and stopped at some wonderful beaches for pictures. Saw the beach where From Here To Eternity was filmed when the two of them were on the beach at night. Stopped at a Hawaiian temple and later we went back over the top of the mountain crest and stopped at the Pali Lookout which gives a spectacular view of Honolulu from 3,000 feet up. Maui We didnt do any tours here (my mom did), but just shopped as weve been to Maui many times before. Kauai Here Maureen, my sister and brother-in-law and I took the Napili Explorer boat to the Napili Coast. The boat is a large pontoon boat with a canvas roof for shade. Saw spinner dolphins on the way out, and then came around the point to Napili. The water was pretty rough, but the boat kind of floated across the waves. We had less up and down motion than other smaller boats we saw. The coast, which is only accessible by boat or helicopter, has spectacular cliffs and valleys that drop from 3,000 feet straight into the sea. There are waterfalls, sea caves, and some isolated beaches. Was great for photographs. We got splashed a few times, but they gave us nylon pullovers, and we were fine. Even with Maureens leg, we were just sitting there enjoying the view for the whole trip and taking pictures. Overall, we had a wonderful experience. It would probably be a bit warmer if you did this cruise in September/October, but we were fine. Some of the sea days coming back were a bit cool, but not rough. We didnt sit out on the balcony much coming back. The mini-suite living room worked well for happy hour for the family. We loved meeting our Cruise Critic buddies. It was fun saying hello and meeting them after tours to see what other things they had done. Read Less
Sail Date April 2006
My wife and I are fairly experienced cruisers with about 15 cruises between us. However,this was our first Princess cruise. All of the others were on Carnival ships (except for one on Costa but that is a different story) and we enjoyed all ... Read More
My wife and I are fairly experienced cruisers with about 15 cruises between us. However,this was our first Princess cruise. All of the others were on Carnival ships (except for one on Costa but that is a different story) and we enjoyed all of them. The main attraction here was the r/t itinerary to Hawaii and the ability to travel there with friends who don't fly. This was also our first voyage on the Island Princess. Since we live in Southern California, the trip to San Pedro was just another trip on the 405. We did use Prime time Shuttle and, except for being a little late, they performed well and got us to the port in plenty of time. Embarkation was a breeze. Our total wait time to check in was less than 20 minutes and we were on board within 35 minutes of arriving at the port. The use of the Princess website to do all the preliminaries made the whole process painless and very efficient. The embarkation staff was friendly, polite and as I mentioned, very efficient. I've read other reviews complaining about the size of the oceanview balcony cabins, and while not expansive by any stretch, they were more than adequate and very comfortable, even for our 15 day trip. The balcony is small but certainly large enough for both of us to sit out and enjoy the view. The cabin had all the normal amenities including a safe, refrigerator, TV and so on. One nice touch is the ability to request bath robes and a daily fruit basket. My wife did not find the bed to be very comfortable, but a call to the cabin attendant brought a quick response and a mattress pad which solved the problem. Overall, we found the cabin service to be efficient, unobtrusive and very complete. The public areas of the ship were delightful. The Atrium, which extends from Deck 5 through Deck 8 is beautifully appointed and visually pleasing. The ship was extremely well-maintained and all of the public areas were in first class condition. We found the meals to be a notch above the food on Carnival ships. The menu had a more continental flavor to it and a somewhat stronger reliance on the Italian heritage of the executive chef. Our meals were taken in the Provence Dining Room, second seating. We enjoyed the variety of choices available to us, but were also pleased with the "always available" menu selections, that sometimes filled in when the main selections were just too exotic. The wait staff was especially attentive and took excellent care of all eight at our table. The only unusual thing we noticed was that the maitre d's served no apparent function. The food at the Horizon Court buffet was plentiful and varied. The cook to order omelettes in the morning were a big hit as were the fresh pastries. The selection of fresh fruit was outstanding. The buffet was often crowded but we were always able to find a table. The wait staff was helpful, if a little too eager to clear away plates. On the downside, the coffee in Horizon Court was not as good as the coffee served at breakfast in the dining room. We also found that, on the few occasions that we ate breakfast in the dining room, the wait staff was slow and not always responsive, especially if we arrived within 20 minutes of closing. Our itinerary called for about 4 and a half days at sea each way to and from Hawaii with 5 days cruising the islands. The days at sea were simply marvelous. There were so many activities available that it was difficult at times to select just which ones we would attend. The activities ran all the way from pottery throwing (a little expensive at $35/hr) to adult arts & crafts and lectures. We stuck with (mostly) the "free" activities (although we did do some ceramics) and never felt like we missed out. The presentations were first-class and included experts in a number of areas including astronomy, computers, and Hawaiian culture. We found the cruise staff to be especially friendly and spirited. Our hats are off to Richard Joseph and his assistant and junior assistant cruise directors. The on-board entertainment was superb. We had four major production shows and each one was beautifully staged and professionally presented. We especially enjoyed the Backstage Tour (first time we've ever seen one offered) which gave us a behind the scenes look at the work that is required to put on these shows. One very nice touch was the reception that Princess hosted for the Cruise Critic members on board. We were treated to champagne and treats, and had the opportunity to spend some very up-close and personal time not only with Richard and his cruise staff, but also with the entertainers on board for our voyage. It was very nicely done and my sincerest compliments to Princess Cruises and the staff of the Island Princess. Due to the weather, we weren't able to enjoy the outdoor deck areas too much. Our journey was interrupted by off and on rain and fairly stiff breezes across the Lido Deck areas. We did, however, enjoy some time in the Lotus Pool area, which is covered by a retractable roof. On nice days, it was open to the sky and on the others, it was a pleasant refuge from the wind and rain. We did enjoy a couples massage at the Lotus Spa. The only negative was the rather insistent sales presentation of beauty products. We have experienced this before, but found the sales pressure to be a little, pardon the pun, overboard. Cruise lines should advise their staff, and in this case, contract operations, to back off when the passenger/customer says no. The shore excursions were reasonably priced. The ability to pre-reserve shore excursions through the Princess website is an added benefit. We were able to get all of the tours we pre-reserved. The only cancellation we experienced was the Parker Ranch tour, which had to be cancelled due to the muddy conditions of the roads as a result of the recent heavy rains. The staff handled the tour organization very well and all of our tours left on time, from the appointed location and returned at the proper time. One special tour, which I highly recommend, is the Big Island Helicopter Tour (operated by Blue Hawaiian Helicopters). The sheer majesty of Hawaii's volcanoes and the extent of the damage caused by the current Kilaeua lava flows can only be seen from a helicopter and this tour is one of the best I have ever experienced. All too soon, our cruise was over, and the dreaded disembarkation loomed. I must commend Princess on as painless a disembarkation as we have ever experienced. Due to a family emergency, we had to change from our scheduled time to the earliest time available. This request was handled very well by the purser's desk, and we were allowed to leave in the first group. Again, the organization was excellent. We were through immigration in a very short time, and allowed to disembark about a half hour later when they called our group. It was apparent that the staff od the Island Princess had exercise down pat. This was our first Princess cruise, but it will not be our last. Read Less
Sail Date April 2006
Let's see if I can make this short but efficient..... We did go out early and spent one night at the Holiday Inn downtown Long Beach, which was fine for the one night. Took advantage of late check out and toured the Queen Mary, which ... Read More
Let's see if I can make this short but efficient..... We did go out early and spent one night at the Holiday Inn downtown Long Beach, which was fine for the one night. Took advantage of late check out and toured the Queen Mary, which we highly recommend to any non-Californian. The free hotel shuttle also took us to our Island Princess when we were ready. We must have hit the crunch embarkation, (1-2PM) as the line was fairly long. Even with Platinum check-in, the wait was about an hour, including the security procedures. Cabin- mini-suite very near the aft of the ship which is where we prefer to be, less foot traffic and noise.(although the first sea day was rough, and I was very ill, and would have been better off near the middle). The cabin steward was simply the best we have experienced in 8 Princess Cruises. We really appreciated having extra room with the mini as we do actually spend time in our cabin. The new linens on the mini suites are very nice, plush. As this trip has many sea days, we felt it was worth the extra money to have larger accommodations. The one disappointment was how little you use the balcony. The sea days are just too blustery and cold, and you are too busy on port days. Of course, the ship is beautiful, we think all the Princess ships are beautiful. This ship is more roomy feeling, and there were times we walked through a hall, or common area without running into anyone. Food- We had early traditional seating, great waiters both from Thailand. I do think the staff are speaking better English than several years ago! The menu hasn't changed much, and we have eaten most of what they offer, all of which are good. Don't frequent the buffet much, but what I saw looked good enough, and there are hand sanitizers up there as well. Princess Pizza is yummy. Room service very good. Entertainment- Adequate, although we don't bother with the song and dance shows, but all the comedians were funny. Especially Carl Strong... We do appreciate all the ships musicians as we ourselves are musicians. They were all good, The Chris May Jazz Trio in particular. The specialty restaurants seemed to be a bust here. We ate one dinner in the Bayou Cafe, food was really good, but we were the only patrons for the first hour. Mostly both Sabbatini's and Bayou were nearly empty. Shore excursions were adequate as well, we snorkeled twice, (Kona and Maui) visited the Arizona&city tour (Oahu), had a vow renewal on Kauai, and took the volcano tour on Hilo. Wish we had 2 nights in Honolulu as the Carnival ship does. Too much to see there for one day. Disembarkation- organized and orderly except for a few confused elders who needed help. We had independent flights around noon, reservations with prime time shuttle, all which worked out just fine. In summary- We thoroughly enjoyed this trip celebrating a 25th anniversary, the only negative we would say is the high numbers of senior citizens on board. As we are 40 somethings, it was sometimes depressing to observe all the scooters, wheelchairs, walkers, rudeness and confusion,of some. But given this trip is a 2 week one, I guess that in itself explains why there aren't more younger passengers. Guess this wasn't as brief as I had wanted it to be, but hope it is helpful to you. We had a wonderful time, and highly recommend. The extra sea days help you to adjust to Hawaii time, and by the time you get there, you are rested and ready to run! Aloha!! Read Less
Sail Date April 2006
Summary: My wife, Audre, and I took the Island Princess to Hawaii, departing March 7, 2006. It was one of the most enjoyable and relaxing vacations we ever took. The ship is beautiful and very clean, the crew friendly and efficient, and ... Read More
Summary: My wife, Audre, and I took the Island Princess to Hawaii, departing March 7, 2006. It was one of the most enjoyable and relaxing vacations we ever took. The ship is beautiful and very clean, the crew friendly and efficient, and the itinerary with many sea days was perfect for us. We enjoyed it so much that we booked the same trip for next January. Beginning & End: We live in Orange County, CA, so San Pedro is really easy for us, only an hour drive from home. We took an airport limo service up and back for the cruise. I read all the horror stories about the embarkation and debarkation in San Pedro. We saw none of that. Maybe we were just lucky, but I think there are some things to do that help. A friend of mine who took this cruise twice before gave me good advice on this. For embarkation, get there late. Sounds like most people who have problems show up early and get stuck in lines. We got to the terminal around 2:00 PM and took only 10-15 minutes to get from curbside to the gangway. Things slowed down actually getting on the ship, but that was due to the photographers stopping everyone and lots of people waiting for the mid-ship elevators as they got onboard. There are a lot of older people on this cruise, many with walkers, wheelchairs, scooter, etc. We had no problem with that, but it does slow things down when everyone is trying to go to the same place at the same time, especially at tendered ports. Debarkation was even easier. I am serious, it took us less than 25 minutes from the time we left our cabin at the stern of the ship (D718), got off the ship, past through Customs and Immigration, got our luggage and a porter, walked outside, loaded up the limo and were back on the freeway. I actually timed it because we had heard of so many problems. Again, I think part of our success is that we were one of the last groups to get off the ship; all the crowds trying to catch flights were ahead of us. Advice we got was to stay in our cabin until they threw us out. We did not stay that long, but took our time leaving the cabin. I strongly suggest that those of you flying in for this cruise have at least a day or two on either side of the cruise in the LA area. That will avoid all the stress of doing so much traveling in one day. Food: We did Anytime Dining because we could not get Traditional First Seating. It worked fine; we called each morning to make a dinner reservation for that night. Sometimes we asked for a table for two, sometimes asked for a table for six and just met new friends those nights! Never had a problem getting the time or table size we wanted. Food was very good, other than a couple of over-done entrees (one fish, one chicken) my wife got on the way to Hawaii. We had dinner in the dining room ten nights, room service (which is a very limited dinner menu, I took a trip to the buffet to add some things) one night, and Sabatini's three nights (all three formal nights). I cannot say enough great things about Sabatini's. We had a table for two each time, and each time we spent over three hours having a true dining experience. Claudio, the maitre' de, and Daniele, the head chef, were wonderful to us. It is worth far more than the $20 per head they charge. We also liked the pizza up by the pool, some of the best thin crust we have had. Drinks: We did not buy a single cocktail or beer on-board. Ordered, through Princess, a liter of rum, which was waiting for us when we boarded. I purchased a soda sticker ($3.50 per day) when we boarded, then got sodas from the bars to mix with the rum in our room. I also brought six bottles of wine from home; you can bring as much wine as you wish. Also purchased a couple of bottles of wine on-board, selection was good and prices vary reasonable. Entertainment: Overall, we though the entertainment was very well done. Did not get to all the shows or performers, but we enjoyed everything we did see. Cruise Director Richard Joseph did a great job of keeping things lively and fun. Saw all four of the production shows; they were excellent. Music and dancing were very professional, and some of the costumes were amazing. The comedy of Kevin Hughes was hysterical, he had my wife and I in tears a couple of times during his three shows. Donnie Abrahams singing was outstanding, and the tribute he did to his mother was very touching. Ray Coussins in the Crooners Bar is wonderful on the piano; the Bar was packed every night he played. We never were able to find two seats together! Room: The mini-suite worked really well for us. Found we spent more time in the room with all the sea days. Plus, we had a lot of stuff with us for the 15-day trip. And I am tall (6 foot 5), so having more room, especially in the bath, helped a lot. My wife especially enjoyed the full bathtub. The full sofa gave the feel of a true living space separate from the sleep area. Misc.: Flowers: We purchased an arrangement of tropical flowers on board during our first full day at sea. They lasted the entire cruise for us. Flower stand is set up in the walkway between the casino and the atrium on Deck 6. He was not there on sailing day, opened around noon on the next day. Then he was there most days for the rest of the cruise. Lotus Spa: My wife had two appointments during the cruise: a massage and treatments on the way to Hawaii, then a foot massage and pedicure on the way home. She was thrilled with the first, both the treatments themselves and the attendant who was both very skilled and personable. On the way home, my wife said the service was a big letdown, almost like she was bothering the attendant. There was also a couples massage class on the way home that we attended. It was given by the same woman who had worked on Audre on the way to Hawaii. The class was $40 per couple, ran over an hour and well worth the price. Gives couples a good chance to connect with each other again and learn how to massage correctly (figure most men are like me, not very good at this!). Gym: Clean, open with modern equipment kept in good shape. It got busy at prime workout times, with waits for some of the machines like treadmills. Great views from the Lido deck. Wine Tasting: There were three during the cruise, two in the main dining room and one in Sabatinis. The dining room events were $10 per person; the one at Sabatinis was $25 per person with better wines. We only attended the one at Sabatinis and totally enjoyed it. Six tastes of very nice wines were poured, plus a glass of champagne when you walked in. They were accompanied by an excellent selection of canapEs and appetizers. We purchased a three-bottle box set of fine Italian wines that were discounted for the tasting. Afternoon Tea: We attended once for the experience. It is nice, but it is not high tea like you would find at a fine hotel or restaurant. Audre & I like to go to the Ritz-Carlton here in Laguna Niguel during the holidays for their traditional high tea. On the cruise, it is much less formal, there is not much of a selection of teas and the food, while fresh, is not the classical fare for afternoon tea. It is worth going to it, just dont expect such a stately high tea. It is a cruise ship after all! Cruise Critic Activities: We missed the sail-away cocktail hour up at the Lido Pool because it was so cold out and Audre was freezing on deck. I felt bad since the Lido Pool was my suggestion. There were two social events held by the Cruise Director and his staff for CC members. The second sea day, they held a noontime mixer in the Crooners Bar. Serve Mimosas and other light cocktails. It was a short, informal event just to meet Richard Joseph, the CD, and his deputy, Leah Hemsley. There was a larger event held in the Explorers Lounge during happy hour on the return trip from Hawaii. This time, the bar was open and trays of appetizers were passed around. All the entertainers joined the Cruise Director and his staff to visit with us, sharing stories about this cruise and past ones, and to filling us in on upcoming events. Richard told us about the new Royal and Emerald Princesses joining the fleet next year. This was the first I had heard about the new Royal. Ports: We have been to all the major islands before, so the time in port was not as important to us as it was to a lot of other passengers. We did not book any tours through anyone, Princess or otherwise. I had reserved a car at each port except Honolulu. As it turned out, we did not use many of those reservations as I will explain below. Kauai: We were disappointed that the ship could not get through the channel leading to the harbor. The captain appeared to make a couple of attempts, then announced that he and the harbor pilot decided to abort the entry. Instead, the ship slowly sailed around the island all day. Direction of travel was counter-clockwise, meaning our port side cabin faced the island. We spend much of the day in the cabin watching the scene go by. We had not seen the Napali coast before, so this worked out well for us. Lahaina, Maui: Nicest day of the five we spent in Hawaiian waters, but still overcast most of the day with a few showers. We took a mid-morning tender to the pier; Princess tours got first priority on the tenders going ashore as we knew. Things got backed up due to some problem with the harbor people or the Coast Guard; we never got a clear explanation. One of the NCL ships was anchored off Lahaina that day as well, and for awhile, someone was only allowing one tender at a time up to the pier (they could fit 3 or 4). So it took longer than it should have to get ashore. Also took longer than expected to get shuttle to pick up rental car. Just an aside, traffic on and around Front Street in Lahaina is terrible when one or more big ships are in town. Walking is the way to go. None of this was a real bad problem, but when you have only a few hours at a port, every minute counts! Once we got the car, we drove to the Maui Ocean Center and spent several hours there. Had been there before, but never tire of the beautiful exhibits and the incredible collection of marine life. The walk-through reef exhibit is amazing, you would think you are walking on the floor of a tropic lagoon. Dont miss it. After that, we drove back to Lahaina, stopped at the Safeway at the north end of town to re-stock water and other supplies, and then drove on to Kaanapali. Walked the grounds at the Hyatt (we had stayed there several times before), then turned the car in. Asked the van driver to let us out near Hilo Hatties on Front Streets north end, then walked back to the pier, stopping in a number of the shops and art galleries. Honolulu: Rained on and off throughout the day. Audre and I both have long time friends who live on Oahu and work in Honolulu. Met one for breakfast downtown at a cute cafe in the business district. Had an incredible dinner with another at John Dominos, a long time Honolulu establishment. During the day, we went to the Arizona Memorial, a very moving experience. We did not take an organized tour, just took taxis over and back from the pier at Aloha Tower. It is about a 15-minute ride, and you can usually find fellow passengers to share the taxi. Allow plenty of time, at least 3-4 hours. We were there on a Tuesday in the middle of March, not exactly high tourist season, but the crowds were large. Took us 15-20 minutes in line just to get our tickets, which were for the tour beginning two hours later. Tour actually lasts about an hour. There is a 23-minute film shown first, then a launch takes you out to the actual Memorial. There are two theaters side by side showing the same film, so there is a group going through every 15 minutes. The entire experience is extremely emotional so be prepared for that. Kona: It was raining on and off all day, so we did not get off the ship. Had planned to tender to shore, then rent another car and tour up the coast. Hilo: It just rained all day here! Audre did not get off the ship at all. I walked off to do some shopping. There is a tourist market set up inside the large building right next to the pier. You can get flowers, leis, local crafts, etc. I walked outside and over to a market a couple of blocks away to get more bottled water and some other things. Bought Audre a beautiful flower lei just before walking back on the ship. It lasted most of the way back to the mainland, we kept it in the fridge each night. It made the room smell so good! Ensenada: This is quick (4-hour) service stop required by US law (the Jones Act from the late 1800s). We tied up at the pier around 3:30 and were able to walk off at 4:00 PM. It was very cold by our standards for Mexico. I joked about the nice surprise of visiting Alaska! There are a couple of buildings right at the pier that house the open market. Inside, there were about 20 stalls, each having a different vendor selling typical wares. We bought some spices and hot sauces, and some small leather goods. After a few minutes, the human crush of passengers trying to get into this relatively small area became ridiculous, so we headed back to the ship. Total time on land was 21 minutes! There were a lot of vans and taxis ready to take people downtown, but we wanted to meet some of our new friends for one last dinner together, so we stayed close to the ship. Could be improved: There were not many negatives from our view, and none really interfered with the wonderful time we had on this cruise. - Rained the entire time we were in Hawaii, but what can you do! Obviously, Princess has no control over this. We were impressed that a number of shipboard activities were scheduled at the last minute and a revised Patter (daily newsletter) distributed the day we could not dock in Kauai. - Intestinal bug: it was reported that about 35 people got sick during the cruise. We started seeing sights of it around Day 5: Disinfectant soap dispensers at the entrance to every dining venue, crew serving food at the buffet, the Captain did not shake hands at social events, etc. My wife, a doctor, was very please at these steps and how quickly the crew reacted to the situation. My only disappointment was that the galley tour had to be canceled. - We love the in-room champagne breakfast, but it is only offered once per cruise. We would have had it several times if possible. - Internet access was extremely slow, similar to dial-up speeds. It was also unreliable, would drop from time to time and some of the computers were not available at certain times. - We sailed from Kona to Hilo by going around the north side of the Big Island of Hawaii. I expected to sail around the south side of the island. That meant we did not sail by the volcano overnight, which we had been looking forward to since booking. In fact, one of the reasons I asked for a port side cabin was the chance to see lava flows at night during this transition. Read Less
Sail Date March 2006
This is my first review. I am a 68 year male and a veteran of 28 cruises. To date I have traveled exclusively on HAL and Windstar ships so this Hawaii cruise was my first Princess experience. I traveled with a friend who has traveled ... Read More
This is my first review. I am a 68 year male and a veteran of 28 cruises. To date I have traveled exclusively on HAL and Windstar ships so this Hawaii cruise was my first Princess experience. I traveled with a friend who has traveled frequently with me. This was also his first Princess cruise. We drove to San Pedro the day before the Island Princess arrived and stayed at the local Holiday Inn. The motel provided parking for the length of our cruise at a very attractive rate and their free drop-off and pick-up service was a breeze. The embarkation was smooth and easy also. We were in our cabin by 12;30, half an hour after arriving at the terminal. Our mini-suite was very nice with great closet space and a nice, if rather stark, seating area. Princess provides two TV's and a fridge. but no mini-bar. The bath size was generous with a full size tub and a fantastic shower. I saw several standard balcony cabins which appeared to be tiny -- bed, desk and a chair. I don't think that they are really adequate for a cruise longer than a week. Also people were complaining about their tiny showers. Go for the mini-suites. They are worth the fare on a longer cruise. However, Princess' "affordable Balcony" certainly would not spoil anyone. Our balcony was tiny with almost no privacy. The mismatched very cheap plastic furniture (oversized table for six, yes six) was crammed on a space perhaps 3.5" by 8.0'! These "affordables" Princess' description not mine, can't compare to the HAL verandahs. Below the Lido deck the Island Princess is a delight. The atrium is truly an elegant center of the ship with lovely bars and seating areas and live music for several hours at lunch and dinner times. I like to amuse myself, but for those who don't there were several activities going on at the same time especially on sea days. The library is beautiful and well fitted out with books. My only complaint is that it became a place of repose for many of the older cruisers who not only snored loudly, but monopolized the chairs. Perhaps Princess could squeeze a loveseat in the standard cabins for these tired seniors. The food especially in the dining room was several steps up from the fare served up by HAL. We ate at the second seating as opposed to the open seating arrangement and enjoyed the experience. Much easier to get wine or any beverage at dinner on Princess than HAL who could learn something by having adequate service bars in the dining room as Princess does. Loved the Wheelhouse bar with Vera the manager and her great staff. The little museum at the entrance to to the room near the elevator shaft is wonderful with all the P $ O artifacts and paintings. I should add that the dining room staff was efficient and very pleasant. I wonder what the three captains do. They don't assist the waitstaff and only prepared one dessert and that at 10PM after the dining had cleared out. However, they are around in force before the cruise ends looking for a handout I suppose. We did not dine in either specialty restaurant because they appeared to be almost empty when we passed by during the dinner hour -- victims to the good fare served in the dining rooms perhaps. Entertainment was much much better than HAL's both variety and especially the Broadway type shows! We did not purchase shore excursions from Princess. I must say that Princess does a great job of getting guests off the ship in the ports where tenders are required. This went like clockwork. Now for the disappointments. Besides our tiny balcony we were extremely disappointed with the Lido deck and those above the Lido. Firstly, the Horizon Court, the Lido deck self service restaurant (aka cafeteria) was too small to accommodate the breakfast crowds especially on the way to Hawaii. The Lido decks with the exception of the protected Lotus Pool area are all covered in indoor/outdoor carpet which got spongy in the rain. Princess must be a valued Wal-Mart customer! HAL's super=dooper retractable roof over their Lido area is much nicer and allows HAL to place tables in the Lido area outside of their restaurants. Princess' arrangement makes the Lido areas unpleasant and unusable in poor weather. The Lotus Pool area, while comfortable, looks like Cost Plus store floor with all the inexpensive oriental junk scattered about. To sum it up, Princess service and personnel are great. Below the Lido deck things are very pleasant. However, the Island Princess overall design, which does not take advantage of the outdoors, will probably make this my first and last Princess cruise. Read Less
Sail Date March 2006
We have taken more than 36 different cruises on various lines, and more than 16 aboard Princess ships. We have read prior critics reviews about the Island Princess trip to Hawaii, and we cannot agree with the comments made regarding the ... Read More
We have taken more than 36 different cruises on various lines, and more than 16 aboard Princess ships. We have read prior critics reviews about the Island Princess trip to Hawaii, and we cannot agree with the comments made regarding the other trips people made. I guess we did not experience any distant travel to the San Pedro docks as we live about an hour drive to the Ship. We found that embarking was no problem rather fast compared to prior trips. We boarded shortly after noon, went to our cabin, left our carry ons and made a quick trip Topside for our lunch. The buffet was very good as was the service. By 3pm our luggage was at the door of our room. Our room was neatly prepared with a guest bar of liquor and other drinks waiting (a perk offered for Elite class travelers). Our cabin steward met us shortly after we began unpacking and introduced himself to us. We had requested a champagne icer for a bottle which we brought with us to celebrate my 76th birthday and our steward assured us that it would be in our cabin on the 24th of March. Later that first day he brought two robes for our use during the cruise. All I can say is that our cabin service was outstanding during the entire cruise. We ran into the cruise Director ,Richard Joseph during one of the earlier deckside functions as well as at a Cruise Critic meeting which was held in a nearby bar. I found him very pleasant and well traveled and qualified in his services as a Cruise director. As far as the entertainment was concerned throughout the cruise the shows and performers were great. Our dining room (Provence) 2nd sitting, traditional table #103 was at a table for 8, which we shared with 6 others from the U.K. Took a day or so to understand the "proper English" language but we caught on quickly. The table service by waiter Gabriel and his assistant David was top notch. We could not ask for anything better. As far as the food itself was concerned I don't know what other expect to get served on a cruise at it equaled or surpassed anything we ever had on other cruises (our food was excellent -- steaks, lobster, crab, prime rib what else can you ask for). All I can say is that the dining room experience without a doubt was enjoyable and most satisfying. Many of our meals were taken topside in the Horizon Court which service was buffet style and food was well presented, maintained clean and neat. The only complaint would be at breakfast time the bread toasters seemed slow and people watched as the bread burned if stuck in the toasters. The pastries not of the Krispy Kreme quality but still ample and eatable. My husband has problems with walking so we restrict our walking distances whenever possible. On this cruise, the first on the new Island Princess we found the location of the hamburger and or hot dog grill all the way on top side was really out of a desirable location with no elevator service to that deck this would have been a minus mark for us. Also the room had no coat hook near the door to hand a garment bag or a coat without going into the clothes closet. Another minus was the disembarkation time and wait. This cruise was to the Hawaiian Islands with a required stop at Ensenada, Mexico with hardly anyone leaving the ship, Why it took immigration and customs such a long time to get us off of the ship is beyond me. You wonder if customs and INS will start checking people traveling to other nearby states. I guess all in all the cruise in our books rate a 4 star or better rating. Read Less
Sail Date March 2006
This was our 10th cruise. All on Princess. We recently returned from a 15 night cruise on the Island Princess from Los Angeles to Hawaii. I give this cruise 4 stars, since the ship was 5 stars and the weather was only 2 stars. We spent ... Read More
This was our 10th cruise. All on Princess. We recently returned from a 15 night cruise on the Island Princess from Los Angeles to Hawaii. I give this cruise 4 stars, since the ship was 5 stars and the weather was only 2 stars. We spent 10 days at sea since we couldn't get into Kauai due to the weather. We stopped in Hilo 73 degrees, Kona 73, Honolulu 75, Maui 78 and Ensenada around 68. Our days were partly to mostly cloudy with Maui being the best. The ship was great with the food, service, entertainment and room being almost outstanding. Our 2 two tours, the volcano and Thurston Lava tube in Hilo, and South Kona including the Painted Church and Place of Refuge were all enjoyable. We rented cars in both Honolulu and Maui. The main downfall to this cruise was the weather. Our sea days averaged 59-64 cloudy windy and moderate swells. We were glad to be back on land after being in the middle of the ocean for such a long period. I am glad not to be cruising again until April 2007. Read Less
Sail Date February 2006
Just returned from this 15 day Hawaii cruise. It was just awesome! We had the most wonderful time. 10 sea days and 5 days in Hawaii and we enjoyed every minute of each day and night. The Ship: Island Princess is absolutely gorgeous and ... Read More
Just returned from this 15 day Hawaii cruise. It was just awesome! We had the most wonderful time. 10 sea days and 5 days in Hawaii and we enjoyed every minute of each day and night. The Ship: Island Princess is absolutely gorgeous and amazingly clean. The crew was constantly working on keeping this ship sparkling. The cruise was sold out, but the ship never really seemed crowded except for several of the shows. Lots of private places to hide out if you want. Easy to learn your way around. And we loved the wrap around Promenade deck for walking off the wonderful meals. We liked all the bars/lounges, except the Universe Lounge which has many seats where it is difficult to see the shows presented here. Our balcony stateroom was small but well designed. Shower is small but we found it adequate. Loved the covered balcony and used it quite a bit even though it was kind of cold. The ship's crew: This crew is outstanding! They really impressed us. We had traditional early dining in the Provence Dining Room and Gabriel and David could not have given us better service. Our room steward Willie was quiet but very efficient and went out of his way to anticipate our every need. Every employee we met was friendly and eager to please. Richard Joseph, the cruise director, had a style that we found very appealing and he hosted a great Cruise Critic party for us. Dining: We did the early seating for dinner, which worked out well for us. Food was very good and often excellent. It certainly was plentiful. Lobster tails, crab legs and fish dishes were outstanding and the special deserts like cherries jubilee that were made only for traditional diners were divine. My husband enjoyed the buffalo and lamb chops. Breads and pastries were to die for. We sometimes had lunch/breakfast in the dining room and sometimes in the Horizon Court. The food was much better than we thought it would be in the Horizon Court and much better than what we experience on the Sun Princess two years ago. Fresh and varied fixings for making a salad were a nice surprise. Fruit was fresher early in the cruise, but not so good toward the end. Ate at Bayou Cafe one time on Valentines Day. Well worth the $15 cover charge. Huge delicious steaks and great appetizers! Pizza, hamburgers and brats served by the pools were great. Entertainment: Attended all 4 production shows and they were great...I think all of them received standing ovations. Kevin Hughes (comedian) and Duncan Tuck (musician/comedian) were most enjoyable. A highlight of the trip for us was the talks that were presented by Hawaii Bob Basso who spoke on the history and hot spots of the islands as well as his life experiences. What a story teller! We loved the Champaign waterfall party and the Pat Juneau Trio who played poolside island music. We repeatedly heard fellow cruises comment that this was the best entertainment lineup that had ever encountered on any cruise. Port Excursions: Only did one through Princess and that was Captain Zodiac snorkeling in Kona's Kealakekua Bay. This marine preserve was beyond words wonderful for my husband's first snorkeling trip. The zodiac boat was a very bumpy rough ride...but we enjoyed it. In Kauai, we booked an independent helicopter tour with Island Helicopters. Another highlight of the trip! We rented cars from National on all the islands except for Kona. This worked out great for us as we got to see a fair amount of each of the islands in the short time we were there. Maui was our favorite island and one where we definitely want to spend more time. We saw many whales at McGregor's Point, visited Iao Needle, Kaanapali Beach and Kapalua Beach. Did a wonderful drive up the coast of West Maui to the blowhole at Honokohau Bay. In Oahu, we visited Pearl Harbor, North Shore beaches, Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head. In Hilo, we loved Volcano National Park. Security was tight in all the ports...bags checked by hand or x-ray in every port. Tendering worked well in Kona and Maui. Embarkation and Disembarkation: Security lines were very long at San Pedro, as 3 ships were embarking at the same time. Once through security, check in with Princess was fast and efficient. Getting off the ship was a longer process, as customs officials came on the ship and checked everyone's papers in one of the lounges the first time your color was called, and then you were called again when you could actually disembark. Not sure how much of this process Princess has control of. We loved this cruise and will definitely sail with Princess again. There were a few negatives I can mention...such as the waste of time going to Ensenada (a non US port is required by law to be a part of each itinerary), weather cooler and seas rougher than we anticipated, two days the indoor pool had no water in it and no explanation was given, casino slots seemed much tighter on the return trip from Hawaii. And the Princess transfer from our pre-cruise hotel was unorganized. We had to stay on the bus once we arrived at the port for at least a half hour because the security lines were so long. We will definitely arrange our own transfers from now on. However, the positives so outweigh these little negatives! Read Less
Sail Date February 2006
We sailed on the 2/5/06 Island Princess Cruise to Hawaii. This was our honeymoon and we hoped for a fun-filled, exciting trip aboard the Island Princess. This was our first Princess Cruise but third cruise overall. The ship, public ... Read More
We sailed on the 2/5/06 Island Princess Cruise to Hawaii. This was our honeymoon and we hoped for a fun-filled, exciting trip aboard the Island Princess. This was our first Princess Cruise but third cruise overall. The ship, public rooms, staff & service were incredible. Our cabin steward went above and beyond the call of duty and the welcoming "Happy Honeymoon" sign and balloons were a nice touch. The transfer and services from LAX to the Pier were deplorable. The busses were full each time they went by are terminal and the luggage truck could never put any luggage on. It was an incredibly disorganized process and something Princess should be ashamed about. This was a black eye on the whole Princess cruise experience. Now, if you are younger (under 50) and looking for a similar age group on a cruise, this is not the place to go. It truly felt like a floating nursing home while we were onboard. The activities are also geared to the geriatric majority. Many of the older patrons were rude, downright snobby and generally gave the impression they were better than the younger folks on board. It was not uncommon to be pushed out of the way by an older cruiser at the buffet, bars, or even in line for the dining room. I have never experienced such poor behavior by people in my life. It was also extremely frustrating to listen to the continuous complaints and issues about every aspect. Even on one of our shore excursions we had to listen to all the complaining. I hope the cruise line keeps a record about chronic complainers as many of the people were discussing areas to complain about so they could write letters and get credits or cash back. It was despicable. The transfer from the ship to the airport was again unacceptable. Princess needs to focus some of their efforts on fixing these critical areas. I am sure that Princess is a great cruise line, we just did not get the chance to see that greatness on this cruise. Read Less
Sail Date February 2006
Island Princess 2006 Review February 5-20, 2006, Los Angeles to Hawaii to Los Angeles. (15 days) Total distance traveled: 5,081 nautical miles. This was our 4th cruise, and our second with Princess Cruise Lines. We are in our early ... Read More
Island Princess 2006 Review February 5-20, 2006, Los Angeles to Hawaii to Los Angeles. (15 days) Total distance traveled: 5,081 nautical miles. This was our 4th cruise, and our second with Princess Cruise Lines. We are in our early 40s, and love each cruise for what it is. We flew in to LAX two nights prior, with family and friends. There were 8 adults, and 2 children in our group. Los Angeles, California -- Arrived in LA two nights pre-cruise for some R&R and sightseeing. Took a pre-reserved SuperShuttle from LAX to Best Western Ocean View Hotel, Santa Monica. It overlooks Santa Monica Beach, Santa Monica Pier, and Palisades Park. We had an ocean view with balcony. The hotel was nice, and in a really GREAT location. The beach and pier is right across the street, and the 3rd Street Promenade is only 2 blocks away. This is a great place to spend some time. Island Princess leaves from Los Angeles Harbor in San Pedro, California. We arranged for SuperShuttle to drive us to the pier on sail date. We were told by Princess to arrive AFTER 1pm because there were 3 cruise ships in harbor. We arrived a little before noon, and the short line outside started moving into the terminal shortly thereafter. Porters grabbed our luggage quickly, and were very helpful. We processed through the EXPRESS check-in line quickly and were in our cabin before 1 pm. Getting to the port early was a great choice for us, as we missed standing in HUGE lines later. The people who bought Princess Transfers got there hours after we did, and waited in those long lines. Tip: Princess Security allows you to carry beer onboard. I bought 6-12 cans in each port and got through every time. They will search all your bags, so dont try to conceal anything. You can carry beer or soda right out in the open. No worries. Ratings: Best Western Ocean View Hotel: C+ Best Western Ocean View area: A Embarkation: A+ SuperShuttle Service: A+ Porters: A+ Sail Away Party -- I enjoy having a nice sail away party at each port, and the first night should be the biggest and the best. Princess put on the lamest party I have ever attended in 4 cruises. The band set up, then disappeared and never played any music. So basically, there wasnt a party, dancing, or an explanation why. It was over before it started. Everyone went inside right away, as it became cool and breezy on deck as night fell. I later found out one band member didnt show up onboard so they didnt play. Ratings: Sail Away Party: F Sea Days -- I love sea days! Id like a cruise that didnt stop anywhere; so being on a cruise that begins and ends with 5 nights at sea was HEAVEN to me. Getting around the ship seems a little confusing at first. It gets easier as time goes by. The crossing was pretty rough at times. Seas were mostly mild to moderate. The ship does pitch up and down, side to side quite a bit. Sometimes, walking straight can be a challenge. There are many daily activities for those who like to participate. Check your Princess Patter daily. TIP: If you are prone to sea sickness, I recommend taking a remedy each day. I would also recommend a cabin near the center of the ship, on a lower deck. The front of the ship seemed to have the most movement. (think of the ship as a teeter-totter) On one occasion, the dance show in the forward theatre was postponed because it was too dangerous for the dancers. TIP: For those that like to carry a schedule, but like to save their Princess Patter as a keepsake: You can pick up a single page daily activity sheet at Guest Services each day. You can fold it up, and not miss a thing. TIP: If you like to see the menu each day prior to dinner, you can simply look in the binder located on most bars. There is a Dining Room Menu posted there each day. This can save you a trip to the Dining Room to see it. FYI: If you book a balcony on this trip, keep in mind it may be windy and cool. Water spray sometimes reaches the highest decks. We found the balcony to be almost useless most sea days coming and going to Hawaii because of this. Even so, I still would have booked the balcony room. Sailing between islands, and while in port are great times to use the area. Its also nice to have daylight in the cabin. TIP: There are some nice aft sun decks on Island Princess. There is plenty of sun, and very little wind back there. You can get to them easily through the upper deck public areas. There are also some hidden sun decks you can only access through the Port and Starboard stateroom hallways on Aloha and Baja decks. You can have them to yourself for a few days. Word usually gets out, and traffic out there picks up later in the cruise. FYI: If you like wildlife, keep your eye out for porpoises on the first couple days. We saw large numbers of them near the ship from our balconies. Hilo, Hawaii -- We rented a mini van from Thrifty, and drove up to the Kilauea Volcano. The drive takes around 45 minutes each way. Prepare for rain, and cool weather at the volcano. There are lots of trails and thermal features to see in the park. Thurston Lava Tube was interesting to walk through. This was the most crowded site in the park. FYI: If you like wildlife, keep your eye out for whales in the morning before entering into Hilos harbor. We saw many humpbacks just before reaching the harbor. FYI: The evening we left Hilo, around 9-10 pm we passed the lava flow where it enters the ocean. It was on the Port side of the ship. You could see the lava flowing down the mountain, and entering the sea. It will be dark, and you will need a really good camera to take a good picture. This spectacle is worth seeing, so dont miss it! TIP: If you have a starboard balcony, I suggest viewing the lava from your cabin. Deck rail space on deck 15 is tough to find. Its crowded with people, and the majority of it has high windows, which limit your view. Get there early if you want your own space, or better yet, stand on the stairs leading to the forward Splash Pool. FYI: This evening is also the ISLAND NIGHT deck party. Fun, music, games and dancing under the stars. Dont forget to go in to Horizon Court and see the tropical buffet. Ratings: Thrifty Car Rental Hilo: B+ Island Night Party: B Kailua-Kona, Hawaii -- This is a tender port. Excursion groups have priority getting on the tenders first. We went on the Capt. Zodiac Excursion. It was fun, but it was a rough ride. Snorkeling in Kealakekua Bay was second to none. Loads of fish, and coral. The area gets a lot of traffic when the Fairwind boat arrives dumping loads of people into the water with you. Much that Kona has to offer is within walking distance of the tender port. Tender lines can get long near the end of the day. The lines move pretty quickly, however. I had planned a trip to a coffee farm, and reserved a rental car from the Dollar Rental place at the King K. Hotel. There was a Chinese New Year celebration going on, streets were blocked, and traffic was a nightmare. I skipped picking up the car, checked out the town, and joined the celebration. I also paid a visit to Rainbow Falls Tattoo shop for a permanent souvenir. Very nice people, and great work. Ratings: Capt. Zodiac Excursion: B Kealakekua Bay as a snorkeling spot: A+ Rainbow Falls Tattoo: A Nawiliwili, Kauai -- A lush tropical island, much of which is inaccessible by car. This is one of the best islands for a helicopter tour. We booked a helicopter tour ourselves with Island Helicopters. The flight was beautiful, and the pilot very skillful and friendly. Here is something upsetting which happened to us, with Island Helicopters: My wife and I were split up at the last possible minute, and put in different helicopters. We were not given an explanation, nor the opportunity to fly at a different time together. They split another couple up at the same time, and they were just as mad. My wife had to be talked into this excursion in the first place (pre-cruise, by me), because she sometimes has anxiety problems. This situation upset her a lot, and really created quite a problem for us. We were assured in the beginning that wed fly together on the helicopter. They also changed our flight time without telling us until I called to confirm 48 hours prior. Then, after the flight, they told us that the free video offered on the website was no longer available. We complained, which made them very agitated with us. They said theyd mail them to us. The shuttle driver dropped us off at the Thrifty Car Rental, as requested&but acted like a jerk after the video snafu. Long story short, I would not recommend Island Helicopters as an excursion. We rented a convertible from Thrifty, and headed to Poipu Beach Park. Great snorkeling, nice sand, and a swimming area for small children. TIP: When you rent a car at any of the islands, its best to reserve it far ahead, as they can sell out. When you pick up the car, ask for a map, and pay close attention to the location so you can find the return spot. Its sometimes at a different location than where you pick up the car. Ratings: Island Helicopters flight and pilot: A Island Helicopters management, and business practices: F Kauai scenery from helicopter point of view: A+ Thrifty Kauai: A Honolulu, Oahu -- The ship docks at Aloha Tower Marketplace. (ATM) Its a fun place to eat, drink, and shop. We took the Princess tour: USS Arizona & City Tour. The tour was good, but did not go where advertised. Because of long waiting times at USS AZ, we didnt get to go all places, such as the Pali Lookout as they advertised. Shuttles, buses, and taxis can be had right at the front entrance to Aloha Tower Marketplace. We took a taxi to Waikiki for $17 one way. We attended the Royal Hawaiian Luau, which was very good. You receive a lei greeting, a couple free Mai Tais, and a photographer will take your picture and offer it to you for $20. The hotel is very nice, the seating was great, and it can all take place indoors if the weather is less than nice. Walls are open to the beach, with a spectacular view of Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head. The show was good, the buffet food was good, and the price was ok. We caught a taxi at the front door, and headed back to Aloha Tower for $14. We even had time for pitchers of beers at Hooters Honolulu before boarding the ship at 10:30pm. TIP: If you are attending the Royal Hawaiian Luau, check their website for a coupon. We received 20% off with the coupon offered on each admission. Reserve early, they sell out. FYI: If you want to get from the ship to Waikiki area&a free shuttle can be caught at ATM going to Ala Moana Mall. You can then catch the free shuttle to the Waikiki area. This is the FREE method of getting from the ship to Waikiki. The free shuttles look like trolley cars. ~The next cheapest way to get to Waikiki area is by bus. The stop is right outside in front of ATM, and it costs a couple bucks. Ratings: Princess excursion; USS AZ & city tour: A- Royal Hawaiian Luau: A USS AZ as a must do attraction: A+ Hooters: A Lahaina, Maui -- This is a tender port. We took the Whale Watch excursion, and saw many whales. We were lucky to see a couple of male humpbacks fighting over a female at pretty close range. The excursion boat is nice, with shade on the lower deck if needed. The boat rocks pretty good if the swells are big, so take your meds if you get seasick. There were a few sick people on our boat. The channel between Maui and Lanai can get pretty rough. We had a rental car reserved with Enterprise after the excursion but never used it. We called for the shuttle, and it never came. I tried calling for an hour straight and the calls went unanswered. We took the shuttle to Hilo Hatties, and just walked the town shopping the rest of the day. TIP: The old courthouse in front of the famous Banyan Tree has restrooms, and really cool free walking maps of Lahaina. Ratings: Princess excursion; Maui Whale Watch Tour: A- Enterprise Rental, Kaanapali: F Ensenada, Mexico -- Only a four hour stopover here. Shuttle buses line up outside the shopping center at the pier. They will take you to town for $2 each person, each way. There are loads of shops, restaurants, and bars in town. Downtown Ensenada is a fun place to shop. There are people lining the sidewalks selling things but they arent overly aggressive. FYI: The Shopping Center at the pier is very small. You can buy souvenirs, liquor, and sundries there, but not much else. There is a little bar in there with a really nice, old bartender. Some of the ships crewmembers stop for drinks there, and are fun to talk with. Los Angeles, California -- Disembarkation: Went pretty smoothly, even though there were 3 ships in harbor. You tag your luggage and set it out in the hall before 8pm the last night. You will be called to Customs by your luggage tag color, and process through. Then you go to a public place to relax until you are again called to leave the ship. We lounged on deck in the warm sun. There is no luggage carousel; they just put the luggage out according to your tag colors. Getting a porter was difficult, but only because of the bad management of the Princess Transfer program! We dragged all our own bags out to the transfer bus waiting area. FYI: The Princess Transfer program was all messed up at disembarkation. This REALLY needs improvement. We waited in line WAY too long to board a bus out of there. Many people missed flights, or were very rushed to make it. Our bus line was over 2 city blocks long to board 1 bus! You would think they would have it all together since they do it so often&but they dont. My advice is; SKIP THE TRANSFERS and grab a shuttle or taxi to the airport. FYI: LAX needs to get it together as well. The line for security to x-ray your bags gets way too long, and needs to be relocated. Then, after that long wait, you wait in another huge line to go through security. (ie&huge line, one security checkpoint out of 6 open) FYI: The pier porters were much nicer, and more helpful here than the ones in Miami, FL. Not once was I given any grief, did they demand a specific amount dollar amount, or were my suitcases threatened&as porters do in Miami. Those thugs try to intimidate you into paying them way too much to toss a couple suitcases in a bin. (payment to ensure your luggage arrives safely on your ship) Ratings: Disembarkation: A LAX Security Setup & Operation: D+ Porters: N/A Princess Transfer Program Management: F Conclusion: I knew when I booked this cruise that the majority of the people on this cruise would be in the&older range. Its a long, pricey cruise&and who has more time and money than retired folks? I dont mind much, but we were clearly some of the youngest passengers onboard. Dining & Food: Food is very subjective, but here is what I found: I liked each and every meal I had in the dining room, and our servers were outstanding. The Head Waiter came by each night, and was very nice Breakfast and lunch service is sometimes hit and miss, but the food was always good, and the company interesting. Im still not a big fan of Princess dining rooms. They are very understated compared with Royal Caribbean ships. Im not a big fan of ANY buffet, and Horizon Court was no exception. Its a place I only ate out of convenience a few times for breakfast mostly. Many people thought it was great, but I didnt. We had dinner in the Bayou Cafe ($15 each), and it was great. The Carpetbagger Filet was the best steak Ive ever eaten! Worth every penny. I loved the Pizza, and all the food at Princess Grill. I didnt care much for the ice cream at the Lotus Pool area either. Ice cream was better in the dining room, and it was free there. Ratings: Provence Dining Room Food: A- Provence Dining Staff: A- Bayou Cafe Food & Staff: A+ Horizon Court Buffet: D+ Princess Grill & Pizzeria: B Coffee Rating: I love coffee, and find most cruise ship coffee is pretty bad. Princess coffee is pretty bad as well. I bring my own coffee maker, and make it in my stateroom. This is a good cruise to do it on, as you can buy some great coffee in the islands! The coffee is different at each location, so I rated it: Dining Room: C- La Patisserie: C+ Horizon Court: F (totally undrinkable&and Im not kidding) Bayou Cafe: C- Entertainment: Bands were ok, and most shows too. Im not big on most of them, but I liked the comedy stuff. I know this wasnt a Caribbean cruise&but I sure missed the steel drum music! Activities: I liked most of the Cruise Directors staff, and activities. I got involved in a few, such as Battle of the Sexes, (I was Captain, and Men won) and The Princess Survivor Challenge. ( I placed 2nd ) Ship: I have loved every ship Ive been on, and Island Princess is no exception. Shes beautiful, and kept up well. I do think Royal Caribbeans ships have much more of a WOW factor, and seem more elegant. Princess atriums all look the same, and are no where near as impressive as RCI ships. Spa: A very nice spa package is available. We paid $150 for 2 people to use the Sanctuary as often as we liked. There are several aromatherapy steam rooms, showers, saunas, heated beds to use. Very relaxing. Overall: We liked this cruise very much. Hawaii is beautiful, and I loved all the sea days! The crossing is cool, rough, and windy, so pack and dress accordingly. Most everything met or exceeded our expectations. Read Less
Sail Date February 2006
After flying across country for 5 1/2 hours we were glad to finally get to the Airport in Los Angeles. There were 11 of us traveling as a family group - all with Princess transfers - so there was enough people on our flight just with our ... Read More
After flying across country for 5 1/2 hours we were glad to finally get to the Airport in Los Angeles. There were 11 of us traveling as a family group - all with Princess transfers - so there was enough people on our flight just with our group to warrant a Princess representative meeting the group. instead we had to search through 3 terminals before finding someone who told us to just go back to the terminal and wait. One hour later we ventured out again, this time a different rep told us to wait at the curb. Long story short, three (3) hours later we were put on a bus for the forty five minute ride to the pier. Still we didn't leave as we were flagged down at another terminal and waited while another group of passenger baggage was loaded onto the already full bus. When we arrived at the pier it was total pandemonium. Long lines snaked into the terminal until we finally got to the point of the express check in. What good is a platinum card if we have to go through this. This is day 13 of our 15 day cruise and it was such a bad experience that it's pretty annoying. The ship on the whole has been what you would expect of a Princess cruise. The staff is wonderful but the whole concept of dine anytime just isn't happening here. For five straight days I tried to get a dining time that the was either 6:30 or 7PM. I was always told that it was already booked. I even went to the Maitre D' to see what I could do but he suggested that I call the Dine line. Finally on day five I was told by someone on the dine line that they don't want to book the table that late because it would mess up a possible second seating. since four of or group were children, we didn't want to stand around and wait for a such a large table so we had to eat at 5:45 every night - the latest reservation that they would give us. This doesn't seem like much but we would have booked the dining room if we had known. This is my 21st cruise, 11th with Princess and I've always been with a smaller group and have never had this problem before. There have been plenty of activities and things to do. The weather has not been cooperating but that's hardly the cruise line's fault and the staff is doing their best to revise activities around it. Some of our shore excursions were cancelled without warning. Some of us found outside means of getting to see what we wanted and others of us were not able to. Some of the tours went from sold out to a time change to cancelled. It was difficult to get to the tour office sometimes to deal with the problem. Two tours at Hilo were cancelled due to no busses being available. Hopefully, we will be able to get off the ship a whole lot easier than we got on. Read Less
Sail Date February 2006
Overall this was a wonderful cruise, the ship was beautiful (just the right size), the staff was great, and there were enough activities to keep you busy and entertained without being overloaded. If you like sea days and are looking to ... Read More
Overall this was a wonderful cruise, the ship was beautiful (just the right size), the staff was great, and there were enough activities to keep you busy and entertained without being overloaded. If you like sea days and are looking to relax this itinerary is great. Five days to relax on the ship, then five days to run around the islands, then 5 more days to relax before returning to reality. The only negative for this particular cruise was that the weather was a bit iffy (it did cause us to miss our port call in Nawiliwili), it never got really bad, it just was overcast most days, and quite cool on the return voyage. Another note, I would not recommend this cruise for children as I believe they would be rather bored (at least during the school year) as there were so few children on board, perhaps a dozen or so under 18. I must comment on how well Princess showed its colors in response to help one of our tablemates in a time of need. Upon returning from Maui, they received notice that their daughter unexpectedly died. Princess waived all phone charges so they could maintain contact with their family, they made travel arrangements for them so they could return home directly from Hawaii, and when we were unable to make the next port due to weather (where they were planning to disembark so they could fly home) the Captain headed back toward Honolulu (at considerable expense) to meet with a tender so they could disembark and catch a plane home before heading the ship to Ensenada. The Captain, crew and Princess did a wonderful job in helping them in their time of personal crisis. Our Cruise Director, Richard Joseph and his staff did a tremendous job supporting our Cruise Critic group. He planned a social get together on the way out to Hawaii for us all to meet. Then on the way back home, he planned an evening social, complete with champagne and canapEs. He and several members of the staff socialized with us for the better part of an hour. Embarkation: As many have said before, embarkation is a pain. The problem is that that there were only 2 security checkpoints open for 2000 passengers. I do not know if this is always this understaffed, or because there were 2 other ships in port with us. We arrived around 1pm and waited in line about 1 ½ hours before we could get through security. Once past security it was a breeze, we were in our cabin within about 15 minutes and our luggage made it to us within another 30 minutes. Do not believe some of the horror stories you may have heard about the food, the food was just fine, and in many cases excellent. Breakfast in the Horizon Court was good; I especially loved the omelet and egg station for cook to order breakfasts. DW enjoyed the Horizon for lunch while I preferred the pizza by the pool  it was excellent. We both also liked the burgers from the grill also by the pool. Lunch in the dining room was also very good. We chose traditional 2nd seating, primarily because of the camaraderie of having tablemates, and ours were wonderful (as were or waiters Allan and Glenn). The 1st few nights I would say the food was just good, but after about the 4th night we all felt it was excellent. Check the dinner menu early each day, there were a few nights we did not like the selections (the 3rd sea day out and the 2nd sea day back). Those were great nights for the specialty restaurants; we thoroughly enjoyed both the Bayou and Sabatinis. We slightly preferred the Bayou Cafes due to the steak & lobster and jazz music ambience. The entertainment was very good and offered a wide variety. Do not miss Kevin Hughes; he is one of the funniest comedians we have ever seen. The production shows were very good, other acts we really enjoyed included Don Ware, Kenny Byrd, Duncan Tuck and Jonathan Stamp. Also do not miss Hawaii expert Bob Bassos presentations; he had lots of great information and tips for getting the most out of the islands. Our Cruise Director, Richard, presented a lecture towards the end of the cruise on the cruising industry and a bit about his history; it was fascinating and should not be missed. One minor negative on the entertainment was that some evenings there were too good shows that were not well coordinated with the dinner seatings, thus you had to choose between the two. The Islands: At Hilo we took the Volcano Adventure Hiking Tour through the ship (this one filled up extremely fast so book it online if interested). The tour guide was excellent and the hike was beautiful. The guide tries to tailor the type of hike to the ability of the group, our group was a tad older, thus ours was not too extreme, but we still saw some very beautiful scenery. Do not expect to see active lava flows on this or any of the Princess tours. The only way to see any active lava would be through a private tour via an extremely strenuous hike due to the current conditions and there is likely not enough time in port for it. In Kona we rented a car (a convertible) from Dollar. If you plan on renting a car here, rent it from Dollar (ahead of time) at the King Kamehameha Hotel at the end of the pier. All of the other rentals shuttled you back to the airport (about 20 minutes each way) and required you to have the car back before their last shuttle at 4pm. We walked off the tender and were driving out of the parking lot within 15 minutes. Plus they had a drop box for the keys so we could catch a later tender. We drove to the Puuhonua O Honaunau National Park (Place of Refuge) for a nice tour in the morning. We then stopped for a great lunch in Kainaliu (just south of Kona) at the Aloha Angel Cafe, and then drove up north to visit some of the incredible resorts in Waikoloa. The Hilton Waikoloa was especially spectacular; it had its own lagoon, a dolphin pool and several nice swimming pools, just walk in like you own the place. On the way back we did some shopping for Kona Coffee and Macadamia Nuts to bring home. In Honolulu we booked an early tour of the Arizona Memorial and Missouri through the ship, it was very efficient and had a very short wait, if you plan on going, go early. The ship docked adjacent to the Aloha Tower Marketplace, it had several nice shops and restaurants. We had a nice lunch at Gordon Biersch Brewery at the mall. In the evening we went to the luau at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel on Waikiki Beach. The hotel was beautiful and the luau, although not the most authentic was very enjoyable. They also have a wonderful patio bar along the beach. Not wanting to board too early, we enjoyed a drink at Hooters back at the pier (in the Aloha Tower Marketplace), it was fun seeing many of the crew there kicking back before boarding. In Maui (Lahaina) we also rented a car. We chose Enterprise in Kaanapali here primarily because they had a location a bit closer than the airport (shorter shuttle ride) at the Sheraton Maui Resort. Another plus to this location was that they too were open an hour later than those at the airport, plus it was just down from Whalers Village. This allowed us to again maximize our time as Whalers Village had several nice shops and 2 nice restaurants; we thoroughly enjoyed the Hula Grill, it was outdoors right on Kaanapali Beach, the food & drink were wonderful and they had a fantastic performer singing. Unfortunately, due to sea conditions, we missed our port in Kauai. The Captain waited an hour or so to see if the situation improved (it didnt). We had planned on the Hollywood in Hawaii  Movies & Waterfalls tour, this one did sell out early on-line if you are interested. Ensenada: Due to our missing Nawiliwili, the ship adjusted its schedule and made it to Ensenada by 9:30 am to allow for another port day. Although not Hawaii, it did allow for some excursions and time to check out the city. We simply went into town for lunch and a short walk before returning to the ship. Pre & Post Cruise: Pre: We flew in to LAX the night before the cruise and rented a car from Hertz (returning it in Long Beach). We spent the night in Long Beach at the Westin (thank you Priceline). The hotel was wonderful, had a great view of the oceanfront, and it was very close to many restaurants and clubs. We enjoyed a great dinner at Parkers Lighthouse in Shoreline Village overlooking the Queen Mary. For you wine drinkers, we found a great wine store in Long Beach called Vin De Pays, they specialize in inexpensive (most around $10) but good wines. We bought a case of various wines and champagnes for the cruise and all were very good. Even with the corkage fee, this saved us a lot of money and thoroughly enjoyed the wines. We returned the rental car around noon the day of our cruise, the local Hertz office is about a block and a half from the Westin, and caught a cab from the hotel to the pier in San Pedro (~$20). Post: We took advantage of express checkout and carried our own bags off, we disembarked between 745 and 8am. We caught a cab to Long Beach for our Hertz car rental and we spent the night at the Hyatt in Beverly Hills to see how the other half lives (again thank you Priceline). We found a great place for breakfast, lunch or dinner if you are seafood fans called Gladstones (thanks to a Cruise Critic friend), it was on the coast up towards Malibu on Hwy 1 (Pacific Coast Hwy). We enjoyed breakfast there; the Crab cake Benedict was wonderful. We spent the rest of the day touring around Beverly Hills and Hollywood. Read Less
Sail Date February 2006
My new wife and I, who decided to take this cruise together, and get married on board the ship, wanted to write a small review about our experience. ... Island Princess... (No princess treatment, a few missed promisees) . Day 1... Port ... Read More
My new wife and I, who decided to take this cruise together, and get married on board the ship, wanted to write a small review about our experience. ... Island Princess... (No princess treatment, a few missed promisees) . Day 1... Port of LA, Non English speaking citizen? working for port security, decided to cram and stuff, wife's 2000.00 wedding dress thru the x-ray machine. (which it was in a clear plastic bag, he could have looked in it, or had her carry it thru . (1st missed promise..) Someone from the ship.. from Weddings at Sea. from Princess was to meet us at dock take dress on ahead of time, safely, so we didn't have to wait an hour , and then get it almost torn up, by security. ... Day 2 the wedding.... had to reschedule based on the captain was too busy.... (also we did pay 1800.00 extra on top of 5k cabin to have this wedding at sea) so all friends we emailed time and web cam site to now were going to log on 1 hr early and think they missed it. .. Then those that did log on couldn't see anything because the camera was way too dark, and it looked nothing like promised. .. later after the ceremony, at the reception, we had our cake and champagne toast, we were given Waterford lead crystal stemware from my wife's sep sisters, as a gift which we brought on board. We used these for our toast , then the server picked them up, to clear them we thought, when we asked for them back, they rudely said, "no you did not pay for those," I had tried to tell them 3 times we brought those with, and they would not hand them back. I had to get all upset and argue with them till they finally called their superior to verify, but nothing like calling your customer a liar to their face, then when they saw they were wrong, they just came over and rudely handed them to my wife with no apology at all.... Days 3-14 went smooth, except for the slowness of getting off the ship at each port. They should give a lesson in how to line up properly when they do the safety drill the first day, I guess once you pass the age of 65 you forget what a line is, and how to be polite. The best service came from the bar staff, since we were among the 15 people under 65 on the ship, that stayed up past 10:00 they all got to know us well. The food was great ,,,, I would wish though they would look to make this a 20 day cruise that way you could spend 1.5 days or 2 days in each port and really enjoy it.... it goes by too fast , one excursion, a little shopping and time to leave. One lesson we did learn is that there are a lot of better deals to be found if you get off the ship and then look around to do a tour or excursion, the prices are way better. The best example was on Hilo , we planned nothing thru the ship, they offered a vehicle with driver for the day for 450.00 !!!!!!!! Now hilo you can't get lost if you tried, it is too small, so we walked up to a rental agent after we got off the ship, and rented a 4 pass suv, for 75.00 for the day, and spent 6.75 in gas driving around all day, o and a free map too.... So keep this in mind and save some $$$$$ ... Read Less
Sail Date February 2006
We looked forward to this cruise for a year. We booked mini-suites, starboard side, and having sailed on Princess many times, and the Island's twin sister, the Coral, the year before, we expected a wonderful cruise. Unfortunately, we ... Read More
We looked forward to this cruise for a year. We booked mini-suites, starboard side, and having sailed on Princess many times, and the Island's twin sister, the Coral, the year before, we expected a wonderful cruise. Unfortunately, we did not have a very good time. First, let me say, the ship is beautiful, the crew is pleasant, helpful, and eager to please. We found the food excellent; as close to gourmet as you can expect when they are serving thousands from one kitchen. And the waiters were terrific...attentive and courteous. Our unhappiness was the fact that Princess Cruises knew something we didn't know: YOU DON'T SAIL THE PACIFIC...AND YOU DON'T VISIT HAWAII DURING THE WINTER MONTHS !!! My point is this: Princess is aware that rough seas are NORMAL on this itinerary. They are aware that Hawaii during the winter months is chilly, windy, and frequently, overcast. Hawaiians told us this weather is not unusual, but normal. However, we had no idea of this, nor did the majority of the passengers on our cruise. It's one thing if the weather turns bad suddenly; that's not the cruise line's fault; but selling an itinerary that they KNOW is going to provide rocky seas and lousy weather, is just uncaring and greedy. Here on the East Coast most people think a cruise sailing out of Los Angeles will be leisurely and sunny and warm. They also assume that Hawaii will be tropical. NOT SO !! On a very positive note, when it comes to quietly elegant, the Island, like the Coral, is hard to beat! The atrium has the only neon, and this is a beautiful use of neon, snaking elegantly up four stories to the multi-light ceiling. There are plenty of quiet corners, and the furniture is the kind you just sink into. Our cabin attendant, Francisca, was terrific...just wonderful. She was so hard working; it seemed she was always in the hallways doing something for someone. And she was constantly smiling and pleasant. We made sure we gave her an EXTRA good tip. If you are a drinker, you will surely come into contact with Cisco. Always smiling, he remembers everyone's name and greets you whenever he sees you... which is often,no matter where you are on the ship. The passenger age, it should be noted, is definitely senior; easily 90%. Any cruise that goes 10 days or longer is usually a senior cruise, and this one was no exception. It didn't bother us, but you should be aware of this is you are under 50. If there was one glaring problem that should be addressed by Princess regarding the ship itself, is the mattress situation. The beds were like stone. I actually brought a 29" suitcase with a queen sized foam topper (with a durafill cover) stuffed inside! And I STILL had to request an egg crate topper in addition. Our friends in the adjoining cabins had laughed when I pulled that foam topper out of the suitcase, but they ended up moaning, because, even though they had egg crate toppers added to their beds, too, they were still miserable. We certainly never had this experience on other Princess ships. Fifteen nights on those beds, rocky seas, unusable balconies due to the cold and wind, had us longing to just get off and go home! So...would we sail to Hawaii again? No thank you. Curiously, once the weather gets better, Princess changes the Island Princess to the Alaska route. I think they know the Hawaii route is not really good, but they have no where else to send her during that time, so out to Hawaii she goes. When I was in the Casino, one of the employees said that during the Christmas cruise, the waves were pounding on the windows. The casino is on the sixth floor! Do yourself a favor: if you want to sail during the winter months, stick to the Caribbean. We've never had a bad Caribbean cruise. Read Less
Sail Date February 2006
Cruise number 11 -Embarkation was easy, arrived at 3 PM, very few people around. It was very fast. First time with a mini-suite, tub was nice but drain plug never worked and it was never fixed. It is a long 5 days of cruising before you ... Read More
Cruise number 11 -Embarkation was easy, arrived at 3 PM, very few people around. It was very fast. First time with a mini-suite, tub was nice but drain plug never worked and it was never fixed. It is a long 5 days of cruising before you catch up to Hawaii and if the weather is mixed. We had first seating and our dinner companions made the cruise. Gone are the waiters who learn your names and hustle to make things perfect. Also gone are the wine stewards. Food was fine. My wife is a vegetarian and her best choice so far is Celebrity for menu selection. Princess was average. Entertainment was ok. The ship's singers and dancers were very good. The comedians were just ok. Other than the ship's singers and dancers, the rest of the entertainment was not quite as good as we have had before. On our previous 7 day cruise on the Grand Princess, they packed more into 7 days than the Island was able to pull off in 15 days. CD was good, he gives a talk on the history of cruising and I missed it only later to be told by many that it was a very interesting talk. So don't miss it if you have the chance. The ACD (Leah) was not that good. We took one excursion on Maui, it was a snorkeling trip and we enjoyed it. The excursion write up was misleading as it did not mention a 45 minute bus ride before you get on your boat ride. The boat ride and snorkeling however was excellent. Pizza on the ship was awesome, the burgers were good, cooked while you waited. The Ensenada stop is a waste of time to just comply with the Jones ACT. We went there as per the itinerary but once we arrived, we were able to stop. First we were told that we would be stopping later due to RCCL ship already being in port and that would delay us....and then later we were told that we were not able to dock. I really believe Princess had no plans to dock there and was only complying with the need to stop at a foreign port. Time to change that rule please. I am waiting for my compensation for not stopping there...ha! I missed the Captain making the noon hour announcement from the bridge every day.....that has now been delegated to someone else. Expedited disembarkation is the new attempt to get people off the ship quicker. It is very clever as they have found a way to get you to want to carry your own luggage off the ship. As my wife and I only packed one suitcase each (the rule is you must carry your own luggage off)we went for the new expedited embarkation. We were off the ship by 8:00 am and in a cab headed to LAX. It worked for us and probably helped the other passengers get off the ship quicker as well. Read Less
Sail Date January 2006
I'm 55 and my wife is 35. This was our seventh cruise. 4 on RCCL, 1 Celebrity, 1 Carnival previously. This was our first Princess cruise out of seven now. We booked early in March because availability last year was non-existent by ... Read More
I'm 55 and my wife is 35. This was our seventh cruise. 4 on RCCL, 1 Celebrity, 1 Carnival previously. This was our first Princess cruise out of seven now. We booked early in March because availability last year was non-existent by October. Needless to say we were excited. We were set to sail 1/21/06! Embarkation was a breeze. We were on the ship by 11:30 AM with maybe a 10 minute check in. Good start. Our cabin was a Minisuite and it was great. Very roomy and a nice balcony. Actually I think this is the largest room we've had. We set off to explore the ship and eat of course. The ship is very nicely done. Beautiful. Everyone seemed very nice, we we're very impressed so far. The food. Our first disappointment. From top to bottom I'd have to say the food was just fair. There were a few bright spots but generally nothing special and far below what we've experienced on other cruises. The buffets were plentiful, all the wait staff were excellent, but the food was pretty much like any run of the mill buffet. The main dining room had a few really good meals. The lobster was excellent as was a pasta dish we tried. My wife and I agreed that 5 out of the 15 meals were very good, the rest were just "ok" to "not so good". We liked our waiter a lot though. We tried Sabatini's on our anniversary. It was very nice with a lot of foods most folks never have the occasion to try. There must have been 10 or 12 courses. The seafood platter was very good. It was worth the $20 pp surcharge. One bright spot in the food was Breakfast. Fresh eggs made to order, good bacon, french toast and pastries that were excellent. Oh yes, dessert. Not very good overall. as with dinner there were a few good ones but mostly not so good. Again, overall the food is just "fair". The ship has a small gym which we used daily. Sometimes there was a wait for a particular machine but no complaints here. With working out every morning and the food not being that great a temptation, we actually didn't gain any weight. We thought that was amazing. The weather was pretty chilly for the first 3 days out of port so not much deck activity. There was a nice solarium area with fresh water pool and hot tubs. It was a nice place to lie and read and nap. The weather warmed up on the fourth day so more people were out and about. The weather stayed fairly good until we left Hawaii although it is the wet season there. On Hilo we rented a car and drove up to see the volcano but it was raining heavily so no hiking but we at least got to see it. We also drove elsewhere around the island and viewed some waterfalls. It was very pretty, the rain just put a damper on things. On Kona we did the ATV adventure through the ship. It was fun. Very scenic. Long bus ride but very nice bus. Honolulu. We are still kicking ourselves! I can't believe we didn't go to Pearl Harbor. Instead we took the Polynesian cultural and Luau extravaganza. I should have known better. A very long bus ride with stops at the hawk shops then onto the cultural center. It was fairly interesting for a little while but really got old. The IMAX was nice and the canoe show was nice but that was about it. Then came the Luau, which is Hawaiian for cold food in a buffet line. It was awful. Nothing authentic about it folks. It was awful and the tour cost $288.00. It was awful! We ended up taking a cab back to Honolulu rather than wait a few more hours for the bus to leave. It was awful. On the rest of the stops we rented a car and drove the islands. We got to see a lot more and on our own schedule. Cars aren't that expensive and worth it. We saw numerous whales and some sharks as we were driving and got a lot of nice pictures. Hawaii is pretty for sure. Then it was time to go. Five sea days back. We actually like sea days. The entertainment. The standard production shows were what they are. I don't generally care for them much but that's me. They do try hard. They had 4 different comedians, a couple of magician/comedians and a musician performing throughout the cruise. These were excellent except for two of the comedians who had a rough time. They weren't that bad though. Overall that part of the entertainment was very good. As far as the music in the lounges it was very unorganized. The cruise director and his staff on this ship are not to good. We dance a lot when we can. For the first 8 or 9 days there was very little going on. It got better on the way back but it had along way to go. The bands weren't bad, it was just the scheduling. They have two very nice lounges with small but adequate dance floors but very few times did anything happen there. The cruise directors staff were very uninvolved. Disembarkation was not as efficient as getting on but we made it in plenty of time. Our overall impression of this cruise. Not great. We were somewhat disappointed. It could have been a lot better and should have been. We weren't the only ones calling it the "snooze cruise". We were used to RCCL where there was always multiple things going on somewhere. Lots of activity. This was a very relaxing cruise and we did enjoy it but I doubt we'll do Princess again. Back to the Caribbean for us. Good Luck Read Less
Sail Date January 2006
My husband and I were on this ship in 2004 for its final transit of the Panama Canal. Call us neophytes, as that trip was our first cruise, decided on a whim one snowy, snowy, snowy and cold March weekend. We really had a wonderful time on ... Read More
My husband and I were on this ship in 2004 for its final transit of the Panama Canal. Call us neophytes, as that trip was our first cruise, decided on a whim one snowy, snowy, snowy and cold March weekend. We really had a wonderful time on this trip and could hardly wait to sign up for another cruise. We were very happy when we decided to take this very same ship to Hawaii, in part because we would have an extended day to spend with our nephew, who lives on Oahu. Many of the things we liked about the Island Princess were the same. We liked the cabin (a basic balcony) and the quietness they afford for privacy, sleeping and reading. Its a very womb-like environment that both my husband and I crave since we are very much out in the public when we are at home and working. For my part, Im sure the food could be better, but it is more than adequate simply by virtue of the fact that I dont have to cook it or clean up after it. My husband enjoys the quiet of some of the semi-private areas such as the Library and Crooners Bar where he can go to people watch, read and write. I retire to the bow areas sun deck or near the splash pool for the same activities. Yes, the dEcor is a bit over-glitzy for our taste, but we have no huge problem with this and the staff from the Captain right down to the plumber are friendly and helpful in almost all areas. During this January, 2006 cruise, the only complaints I have about the staff are that requested fruit never arrived and that the complimentary bathrobes were not in our stateroom when we got there. When requested, they were promptly delivered, but there were obvious stains on them, despite washing. I am not sure I would blame this on the steward, since I believe that they get their information from the online form  so it seems to me that someone is not paying attention to that end of things. Finally, here, after 2 more years of use since our 2004 trip, the cabin dEcor is starting to look a little tired, though again, everything was clean and neat. On the not so happy side, I will have to echo a couple of the other reviews here when I talk about some of the other aspects of the trip, especially the transfers from LAX to the ship and some of the not too true excuses given out by the ship to the passengers. First, there was no one in sight when we arrived at LAX and it took some time for us to call Princess and remind them that we were coming. We were then left waiting with upwards of 60+ people out in the median outside the terminal with a gigantic pile of luggage for well over an hour until the rude and inconsiderate Princess staff saw fit to allow us onto the busses, which they seemed very confused about themselves. A woman near me in this sweltering herd was very concerned about her baggage and tried to ask one of the staff a question, but he rudely snubbed her and just turned away. In addition, although my husband and I are fairly young (mid-40s to 50s), many of the people in this large group were either elderly, disabled, on canes or walkers or  quite bluntly  obese  and unable to put up with all the standing in the hot sun. This situation was repeated to an extreme when we arrived for embarkation at Pier 91. All 1970 passengers were lined up in a miles long, snaking line without shade or water in 80 degree weather for a wait of at least an hour to get into the terminal where nothing but chaos reigned! After a short check-in procedure, we snaked through another long wait to exit the terminal on the ship-side, only to be accosted by a photographer eager to delay us even further in our (apparently futile) attempt to board the ship. It is no joke to say that it took us as long to get from our home airport (Pittsburgh, PA) to LAX as it did to get from LAX to our cabin aboard the Island Princess (4 ½ hours both times)! Further, it was given out by the cruise staff that the reason for all the transfer and embarkation problems was that Customs had halted and boarded the ship to do a full inspection just before the ship had entered the harbor (some accounts had this happening in Ensenada). In reading other accounts of this trip, this appears not to be the case and it seems clear that the ship staff and Princess, corporately, deliberately lied to its patrons. I find this most unfortunate. It is my opinion that these circumstances, and the frustration they undoubtedly caused, affected the entire tone and tenor of the cruise for a vast majority of the passengers. Cruise or not, I am not sure I have ever been in, with or around a more complaining, griping, critical and generally mean group of people. I am not sure that there was a day that went by during the whole cruise when I did not hear or see passenger(s) being rude or verbally abusive to other passengers and most especially to the cruise staff. In one case, my husband was accosted for saving seats for people we had arranged to meet after dinner. He was abusively raged at by an 87 year old man at some length who then proceeded to call my husband a very uncharitable name in a very loud tone of voice. And although this was just our own personal example, it seemed the order of the day on this cruise. For our part, we were able to leave the troubles at LAX and during embarkation behind just about the time the ship pulled out from the pier. After all, we had returned to our little womb away from home. We slept, ate, read, relaxed, danced and cruised our way half-way across the Pacific and back. Despite things that didnt go perfectly, we werent at home in the cold weather and we were not of a mind to let the problems, or the people, get the better of us. Will we travel Princess again? Probably. But we are also looking to branch out into other cruise lines and, we hope, smaller ships. Next stop, however, will be a rented home in the hills above Lahaina! Aloha! Read Less
Sail Date January 2006
About Me. This was my 14th cruise, but the first on Princess. I have cruised RCI, Holland America, Costa, Crystal., Celebrity and a freighter. I'm not horribly demanding nor do I expect absolute perfection when trying to deal with ... Read More
About Me. This was my 14th cruise, but the first on Princess. I have cruised RCI, Holland America, Costa, Crystal., Celebrity and a freighter. I'm not horribly demanding nor do I expect absolute perfection when trying to deal with nearly 2000 people. I also don't expect the same standards from a mass market line as I would Crystal anymore than I would expect rock climbing walls on a freighter. But I do expect true value for the price paid and minimal irritants. After all, it is a vacation. About the ship. The Island Princess is a spacious and well designed ship that can accommodate the large number of passengers without feeling crowded. It appeared in good repair and well maintained. The cabin, however, was the smallest balcony cabin I have ever had. The balcony itself had no room for a lounge chair. The shower was extremely small with barely space to turn around. The room itself was well appointed and clean, just small. About the food. Overall, pretty good. The Horizon Court hosts one of the the best ship buffets I've had. A variety of selections, most well prepared. The dining room food was just okay. We were forced into personal choice dining since there was a long wait list for first seating in the main dining room. This is not a true choice when you're forced---is it?. Anyway, we ate at the Bordeaux ( alternative DR) most nights. Many of their entrees were rather uninspiring. Not bad, just not real good. The grill served a good burger, hot dog, chicken sandwich and fries. And the pizza is the best I've had on a cruise ship. Room service offers a reasonable selection, except offers only a cold breakfast . I don't eat cereal or sweet rolls or yogurt for breakfast so I was pretty much limited to coffee and a tough roll if I wanted breakfast on my balcony ( which I do enjoy). I think this is a real disadvantage and can't understand this policy as room service breakfast is a treat for most vacationers. About the service. It was consistently good in all areas except the Bordeaux dining room. Unfortunately there, the service was often painfully slow and more than once, orders were either forgotten or mixed up. Sometimes we sat at the table forever before even getting a menu. Very disorganized..Perhaps serving different people every night does not allow for the smooth, seamless service I'm accustomed to. Along this line, dining with different people every night had it's advantages and disadvantages. We chose to plug into a large table to avoid a wait. Meeting different people nightly was interesting and the time flexibility was convenient but it became somewhat tedious to recite the same personal history every night. In a nutshell, I'm not sure I'm yet a PC fan. About the entertainment Definitely above average for a cruise ship. They offered a variety of performers without repetition. I'm not a huge fan of production shows but these seemed a bit more tolerable than most. In Conclusion -- I could nit pick here and there but that's all it would be. Sure some things could have been done/handled better but overall it was a fine cruise and worth the value paid. Princess is not my favorite line but I wouldn't hesitate to cruise with them again if the itinerary and price were right. Read Less
Sail Date January 2006
Our Hawaiian adventure aboard the Island Princess was a trip to remember. We started in September reading and writing posts from roll call passengers eagerly waiting for our December 7th cruise to Hawaii. We became friends on the computer ... Read More
Our Hawaiian adventure aboard the Island Princess was a trip to remember. We started in September reading and writing posts from roll call passengers eagerly waiting for our December 7th cruise to Hawaii. We became friends on the computer and that made for a very pleasant cruise. Princess did a great job scheduling our transportation. Everything went like clock work at the airport and upon our arrival at LAX. LAX,however, is a nightmare of an airport and there was a delay boarding busses to travel to pier. People were arriving from all over the country and a very frustrated Princess representative tried her best to accommodate passengers and massive amounts of luggage. Once at the pier all went smooth boarding the ship. The crew had friendly faces and were more than willing to help passengers get where they were going. I was particularly impressed with the help they gave to handicapped people. Throughout the cruise, the crew lifted wheel chairs, helped them in dining area, theatre, etc. Our cabin was very clean and our steward was great. We had a change in our bed configuration, which made him change size of sheets and spread. He graciously accommodated our request. We were impressed with the stewards on decks cleaning the balconies each day. They would wipe the table, chairs-including the rungs of each. They must have a large night crew because each morning the whole ship seemed to sparkle. We were amazed at the transformation of the ship at Christmas time. When we boarded on the 7th of December, the ship was tactfully decorated with modest Christmas decorations,and by the time we were ready to leave on December 22 it was a Christmas wonderland, but still not overstated. The entertainment was very good and a lot of variety. There was a 4-piece string group that played primarily in the main lobby in evenings before the dinner hour. They were great. Most of the comedians were fun and in pretty good taste. There was one we thought made too much of the fact he could not perform his regular routine because of the mixture of audience-well duh-we are a mixture! Dancers & singers were very professional and entertaining. There were performances in both the Princess Theatre & Universal Lounge. There were many first-run movies if one preferred that entertainment. We had Personal Choice dining, and while we liked the concept of going when we wanted, we felt the service was poor. We enjoyed eating with new tablemates each evening and found we were better off with a table of six or less. The waiters & servers tried their best to accommodate but the food was slow in coming and the coffee was difficult to get. We solved the problem by finding a waiter and server we liked and requested his table each evening. He got to know us and our tastes and coffee arrived on time, and when he saw us coming to the table the server automatically brought us iced tea to start. The food in the dining area was good and had a nice variety. We enjoyed the buffet in the Horizon court in the morning. Eggs were cooked to order and there was a wide variety of bagels, fruit, etc. It was ok at lunch but seemed to be the same day to day. We never ate there at night. The Cruise Director was great. Because there were so many sea days, he and his crew had to have a lot of activities planned for a wide variety of tastes. I thought they did a wonderful job. There were a lot of trivia activities planned for all tastes and expertise. They had a lot of water activities planned for days that permitted it. The activities were interesting and geared for adult participants-scrap heap wars, survivor, etc. We do not usually participate in the sea school activities but I went to a seminar on purchasing a new computer. Found it very informative and wished I had enrolled in her other computer classes. A lot of people were working with pottery and it was fun to watch. I have two areas of criticism of the cruise. First area was the pursers desk. They were not very knowledgeable in handling problems. We made a complaint regarding the service in dining area and their solution was to remove all dining gratuities and that was not satisfactory to us. We could not reduce our charged amount and give a special tip to our new waiter & server we found. We were not the only ones making the same complaint. The second area was of course the anytime dining room. Thankfully, we found a solution before the cruise went too far. The trip was a wonderful experience and we would not hesitate to book the trip again. I realize we are not all the same and many people like to find areas to complain about, but Princess certainly went out of their way to make a very pleasant vacation. Read Less
Sail Date December 2005
Background Info: Four of us, my husband and 2 children ages 1 year and 17 years old, cruised together, sharing a balcony cabin. We got the largest room that was available at the time. This was our first cruise on a cruise line other than ... Read More
Background Info: Four of us, my husband and 2 children ages 1 year and 17 years old, cruised together, sharing a balcony cabin. We got the largest room that was available at the time. This was our first cruise on a cruise line other than RCL - we had cruised RCL four times in the past several years and enjoyed all our cruises with them very, very much. We understood Princess did not cater to children as much and were prepared for that - but they did boast their holidays were full of families so that is why we selected this particular time. It was our first trip to Hawaii, and since I despise flying, what could have been better than sailing to Hawaii (or so I thought). This turned out to be our worse cruise and I adamantly recommend against Princess cruises to anyone I speak with. Embarkation: The only good thing about the cruise is that we did walk right on with the absolute minimum of problems. Hotel: I always like to book us into a hotel room the night before and stay the night after the cruise. We had one very close call with almost not arriving the day of embarkation due to vehicle problems and I don't want to take that chance again. There are nice hotels very close to the LA pier with shuttle service and that is convenient. We stayed at the Holiday Inn at Los Angeles Harbor and they even will allow you to keep your vehicle parked at their hotel, indoor, covered parking, for the duration of your cruise. There is a small fee for this, but cheaper than the pier parking. Stateroom: Our stateroom - I just cannot say enough bad things about it! We are used to booking suites on RCL and having lots of room. Princess doesn't have rooms like that available - I booked this cruise 14 months in advance and could only get a "mini-suite". They don't seem to have larger rooms. The worst thing however, was the smoking. Passengers in a room a couple doors down from us smoked the entire cruise and the hallways were filled with the smell of smoke all of the time. I could not believe it!!! RCL does not allow smoking indoors - Princess has a different view on it. Our cabin steward took $20 from our room - we know because we left the money on the bed and came back a few minutes later when we realized we did that. The steward was just leaving the room and when we walked in the money was missing. The hallways were unbelievably SMALL!! We had a baby stroller and could not maneuver it down the hallways. One of the reasons is because they left their service carts in the hallways the entire time. Very dangerous. Dining/Activities: The food was AWFUL! Could not believe it. This was also the first cruise we have been on that we got food poisoning on the second day. It was also the first time we had to use the infirmary, it was so bad. We found out that a very large percentage of passengers had similar problems. As far as activities, they did have pottery classes and that was the only highlight. If you didn't do that or participate in a pool game, there were none. And if you don't like eating with the crew, don't take this cruise. Literally, the crew would sit next to you and get waited on rather you, the paying passenger. I was blown away. Entertainment: We went to the show the first night and were very disappointed to see that the stage and auditorium for the show did not compare at all to the types of shows that RCL puts on. The opening night show had an off-color comic who did a bit with sexually graphic language! There were children in the audience! It was opening night for pete's sake. Shore Excursions: This one takes the cake. You want to be able to stay on land and take part in the activities. How often does a person get to Hawaii, right? The ship changed the return times at almost every port, shaving off several hours of time at the port!! You wouldn't know until the night before when you got your Princess Patter and see the time was changed! We found this out the hard way because the first port we did not look at the Princess Patter, just went by the published itinerary and schedules when we boarded the ship. We literally almost missed the ship because it was leaving an hour early that day. Like I said, all of the other schedules, the shore excursion schedule, the ship's calendar, everything else had the same time. Then they changed it at the last minute! Overall: The final culmination of our terrible cruise was when the Youth Security Director bragged to my husband on the last night of the cruise that he loves his job because he stays in a balcony cabin on deck 10 and gets to have a different young girl every night. It was disgusting. This was the only cruise we have been on that I literally feared a mutiny of the passengers. Everywhere you went, the passengers were in an uproar complaining how upset and unhappy they were. Read Less
Sail Date December 2005
Island Princess Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.2
Dining 4.0 4.0
Entertainment 3.0 3.9
Public Rooms 4.0 4.2
Fitness Recreation 5.0 3.7
Family 4.0 3.7
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.9
Enrichment 3.0 3.8
Service 4.0 4.4
Value For Money 4.0 3.9
Rates 4.0 4.1

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