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1,183 Princess Island Princess Cruise Reviews

My husband and I enjoyed this 4th cruise with Princess. The ship is beautiful, well-maintained. Public areas were spotless, there was always someone scrubbing something! Congratulations to Princess staff and its high level of service. ... Read More
My husband and I enjoyed this 4th cruise with Princess. The ship is beautiful, well-maintained. Public areas were spotless, there was always someone scrubbing something! Congratulations to Princess staff and its high level of service. Always helpful, friendly and smiling. Our room was comfortable and clean. One thing could be improved: the bed was a pain in the back. Literally. Better mattresses would make the nights more restful. However this cruise was not perfect because of Mother Nature. It's been said, I'll repeat it. It was lovely in Hawaii, but sea days were just too windy, too cold and too rocky. For weeks prior to the cruise, I was anticipating the pleasure of sipping a coffee/glass of wine on my balcony, walking every morning/every night around promenade deck, reading by the pool. Well, we rarely did any of these, the wind was too strong. Around noon on day 3, I got sick, spilling my guts by both ends, running a fever, dehydrated. When I called the medical center, I was told to wait in my room until they call me and tell me to come down. When they did, my husband got me there in a wheelchair, I was too weak to walk. After a lot of paperwork, I was told I had an 'acute gastroenteritis'. All in all, the doctor (from South Africa) spent about 80 seconds with me and yet managed to be impatient and rude, like I was interrupting his vacation. Sure I understand he was busy that night but that's no excuse to his poor attitude. In the bed next to mine was a 70 year-old woman. A young male assistant (med student?) was rudely barking numerous questions to her. It turned out the lady was seasick, not guilty-of-something. I was confined to my cabin for 48 hours and complied until the last minute. The next day I was told to go down again at the med center (temperature taken, tip of IV removed). The nurse (from New Zealand - forgot her name) was nice. When the doc saw me, he opened the door to a room with 3 words: wait in here. Never bothered to ask: feeling better this morning? My point is that, on a ship, the med team should be prepared to deal with common situations such as seasickness & gastroenteritis without 'loosing it'. Apparently Celebrity has a much more caring approach, shows more consideration to its passengers (details in Norovirus thread). Enough with that bad experience. When husband & I were in top shape again when we arrived in Hawaii. We had reserved a rental car in each port, it was so nice to visit at our own pace. Hardly any people when we were at the beautiful Botanical Garden in Hilo. In all ports, we just drove along the coast, walked on post-card beaches, marveled at spectacular views. In Maui we considered that tendering was taking so long we figured it would be 12:00 by the time we picked up the car ,not much time left if we were to be back by 4:30. So we canceled the car, stayed on the ship and finally enjoyed the pool on a warm day. The food was generally very good everywhere. There is so much choice, such a large variety every day, that it seems impossible not to find something you like at each meal. One night we told our waiter that the beef was so-so. He told us to leave it and suggested the raviolis. Delicious. The pastries/desserts were excellent. It was our first time with anytime dining and were happy with it. Bayou Cafe (more than Sabatini) is worth the extra charge. Unforgettable oysters Sieur de Bienville, tender porterhouse steak, tasty jambalaya. We haven't seen all the shows but enjoyed most of them. Kevin Hughes was very funny. Princess dancers/singers are talented people. Island has a great gym and we used it quite often. The crossing back to L.A. didn't seem as rough, but still very windy and bumpy. Disembarkation was speedy. Read Less
Sail Date December 2006
HAWAII..What a fantasy for those folks , myself included , sitting day in and day out dreaming of crystal clear waters and warm tropical trade winds while sitting in bumper to bumper traffic. How could my wife (Dianne) and I(FOGGY DAZE) ... Read More
HAWAII..What a fantasy for those folks , myself included , sitting day in and day out dreaming of crystal clear waters and warm tropical trade winds while sitting in bumper to bumper traffic. How could my wife (Dianne) and I(FOGGY DAZE) achieve this elusive faraway vision of paradise. Easy , pick up the phone and call PRINCESS . The staff at the PRINCESS booking desk do an excellent job and rarely get any recognition for being the start of your dream come true . SUNDAY..NOVEMBER 19th...What a great start , three off ramps from home , I was informed that possibly, we had left the camera behind..oh well , we are on vacation , so what. Now and hour out of San Francisco , I tell Dianne that I was starting to get a headache . She reaches in her purse , no problem..she hands me 4 tablets and a bottle of water to wash them down. Now bout a half hour farther down the road , my eyes are getting very, very , very ,heavy . But hey, the head aches gone , hummm...Honey..are you certain those were motrin , I'm sure getting tired . I see her open her purse and detect a slight whisper "oh no". "Sorry , I gave you my muscle relaxers..I'll drive". We pull into the BEST WESTERN on Harbor Blvd. , just down the block from the San Pedro Cruise Center . The hotel will shuttle you to and from the Ship as well as store your vehicle at a very reasonable rate. MONDAY NOV. 20TH , 5:45 a.m. ...sipping our coffee , we watch the ISLAND PRINCESS quietly pass in front of the hotel toward her berth. We board our hotel shuttle at 11:30 a.m. and check in at the PRINCESS embarkation area.  We are in our cabin within minutes .Hey , lets do lunch. Safety drill , very organized and detailed in their instruction. Now up to the sailaway party as the sun sets .And the band plays on. TUE. NOV. 21St. First meeting of cruise critic group 11:00 A.M. at the explorers lounge....oppps!!...lounge was not open until 12:00p.m. Had a turn out of about 20 to 30 folks...nice to meet ya'll..sorry bout no bar service..my fault. And I was going to even pick up the bar tab for the group...oh well its .. VACATION. The cabin A 215 was very nice..however , our bed configuration was not as requested . We called the cabin Steward ..it was some time before that task was taken care of. I have a habit of giving the cabin the "WHITE GLOVE" .It did not pass . Still yukky stuff in the drawers , least it wasn't moving. Dirt in all the higher ledges , mirror top , door top and other places . hummm , oh MR. STEWARD We called him 8 times over the 15 days on board..and not once did we ever get a reply . Room service was awesome , limited menu , but was always correct and served within about 20 minutes of your call.EXCELLENT ! Food was always fresh and hot . At sea days had an activity for every interest .The PRINCESS PATTER was very informative . We went to several lectures, a wine tasting , trivia games , shuffle board library , casino . We always had a great time . Our dining choice was first seating . We had first rate servers who seemed to go out of their way to make our experience a great one. We often took their advice in what was good and never had a complaint. Water glass was always full..and I drink alot of water...food was served hot, with great appeal to your visual sense's. If for any reason you were unhappy with anything, it would be taken care of in a timely manor to your satisfaction. Dianne and I tried the "BAYOU CAFE" . I had the PORTERHOUSE steak..tender , juicy . Excellent . Dianne on the other hand had the lobster . She had me taste it and it was so salty..wow...not good . The cafe took care of the $$ as well as offered to make it right next time in. We never ended up going back... We had better service in the Main dinning room than in the "BAYOU CAFE",but keep in mind , restaurants also have bad nights too. We would try it again. Cabin problems again...some days we would leave the cabin at 9:00a.m with the "PLEASE SERVICE " sign out , only to return at 2p.m. or 3p.m. and nothing had been touched. The last time we were on the PRINCESS DAWN..seemed like we would walk out , turn around and go back and the cabin was cleaned...no long, long wait. Shore excursions...on the scale of 1 to 10...KONA , submarine a "10" though a bit pricey... Kauia...4x4 back road..."2" . very disappointing..oh well..we are on vacation.. On the other islands we rented a vehicle an did what we wanted to do..good value if you shop the market . Entertainment..well TOTO , it wasn't KANSAS..'RHAPSODY'...I have put several concerts together..so have a good eye/ear for talent..lead singer good, drummer good , bass..better than average..organ..needs to play in another band perhaps the Caribbean ..thought he was tone deaf and often over powered even the lead singer..THERE IS NO REGGAE IN "THE FOUR TOPS" songs... 1 to 10...4 1/2 Now, the banjo playing MICHAEL..really bad...I saw a guy that played at the 'U S Festival' that could play the Banjo, Mouth Organ and the drum at the same time and was better than that..all we needed was an organ grinder and a monkey..that would have made the night.. The comic Kevin Hughes...HE WAS A "10" Would we do it again..in a heartbeat..great value...those 8 days at sea to just relax...the charm of the overall staff of Princess . The food . I will be sitting in traffic tomorrow counting down the days until the next cruise with PRINCESS...FOGGY DAZE Read Less
Sail Date November 2006
We were looking forward to our adventures in Alaska, and were not disappointed. We chose a southbound 6 night cruise with a 4 day land portion first. Getting there: Getting out of airports any more is the hardest part of any trip. We ... Read More
We were looking forward to our adventures in Alaska, and were not disappointed. We chose a southbound 6 night cruise with a 4 day land portion first. Getting there: Getting out of airports any more is the hardest part of any trip. We went from Phila to Fairbanks with a connection in Minneapolis. It was a stormy day and the plane was rocking. Seat assignments were changed for some reason, but I was able to get a change so my husband and I could sit together. NWA was not the friendliest airline to fly with due to an impending flight attendant strike. Due to bad weather, we arrived in Fairbanks at 9 PM, 3 hours late (since we were from PA. it was 1 AM on our bodies clocks). We were greeted by the Outfitters, everything was orderly and we took a bus to Fairbanks Princess lodge, just minutes from the airport. Luggage was placed in our room and we had a bite to eat. Land Portion: Princess provided 2 shore excursions in Fairbanks, they were well organized, but I would recommend that you skip Fairbanks if your are going to Alaska, nothing really to see. After 2 nights in Fairbanks, we boarded a bus to Denali. Arrived in Denali at noon. The worst criticism I have of Princess is that our bags were not delivered to our rooms until 6PM. Basically wasted a day waiting for bags since we were not dressed for hiking, etc. Lovely, lovely Lodge in Denali, gorgeous scenery. Small rooms, but, you are in the wilderness!! Well worth the trip!! Next day's excursion was the Wildlife tour in Denali park. You have to see it to believe it, breathtaking!! It will stay with me forever. My husband will mainly remember the grizzly bear right outside the bus. Don't miss Denali if you have the chance. Princess Dome Train: Next morning, boarded a bus that took us to Princess' domed train. Beautiful train, domed so you do not miss any of the wonderful scenery. We were lucky enough to see Mt. McKinley in all of its glory without the usual clouds spoiling the view. You sit in the domed portion at a table until you go down stairs to eat either breakfast, lunch or both. The trip from Denali to Whittier was supposed to take 9 hours, it took 13. There had been some floods earlier that week, I do not know if that was the problem, but we were all very anxious to get off the train as nice as it was at 8 PM. Embarkment: Everything went smoothly although we were late getting on board. We did the safety thing and then had dinner in the Bordeaux dining room. We had picked anytime dining, so this was the room we would eat in, but all were welcome to eat there that night due to late arrivals. Dining: I cannot imagine any one having anything to complain about. The food was wonderful and my husband is a gourmet cook and very demanding. It was elegant, but not stuffy dining in the dining room. Every dish I tried was well prepared. The wait staff was friendly. I can't praise it enough. Most days we had breakfast and lunch in the 24 hour buffet. Much variety and still good quality. Also tried pizza at the Pizzeria and a burger at the grill. Public Rooms: This ship was spotless and the bars and night clubs are fabulous. We only saw a few shows as that is really not our thing, we came for the Alaska experience, but the ones we saw were entertaining. Drinks were very reasonably priced in all of the bars and restaurants. $4-5 for a mixed drink. $20-30 for a bottle of wine. I do object to having to pay for soft drinks, but what are you going to do. I bought the soft drink package, but still think it should be free. Cabin: We had an outside cabin with a balcony. I like the deck we were on because it was the top balcony so you had privacy, no one could look down at you and it was sheltered from the rain. It does rain a lot in Alaska. The room had a desk, refrigerator, TV, etc. Not a bad size for a cruise. The bathroom was tiny, but well organized. Next time I am getting a mini suite so I have a bathtub to move around in while I am showering. Pools: The pools are great, one pool is indoors (the roof opens when it goes to warmer climates) with several hot tubs. There are 3 other pools outside, one with hot tubs. It was fun to be in a hot tub while watching glaciers. Breathtaking!! Shore Excursions: First town was Skagway. Not much to see in the small touristy town. We went on the Yukon Railroad for another train ride. Very nice. Next town was Juneau, nice shopping. It was pouring and windy. We had already paid for the Tram, so we went up. I was nice, but it would have been nicer if the weather was better. Views were very foggy. Last port, Ketchikan, the rainiest city in the world (I am not making this up!!) Went to the rainforest. We saw a bear while we were walking. Very nice guide, but not really worth the money. Glacier Bay: The best part of the trip was the cruise through Glacier Bay. The ship stayed here for most of the day giving passengers on both sides of the ship a wonderful view of these glaciers, calving and the birds and wildlife there. It was spectacular. It was narrated by US Forest Ranger that told you the history, etc. This was worth the price of the whole trip. Disembarkment: The fun is over and time to go home. Very organized with colored luggage tags to get you to your proper destination. Our group had some problems with Air Canada, not sure whose fault it was. We could not print our boarding passes and had to wait in numerous lines until someone figured it out. Like I said earlier, the airport part is the hardest part of any trip. I would recommend this trip and this ship to anyone. Read Less
Sail Date August 2006
Hi, this was a very pleasant cruise to the interior of Alaska after 7 days of the Island Princess. The entire trip sucked me into the "cruise" attitude...Kathy and I and the other couple with us will go on many cruises in the ... Read More
Hi, this was a very pleasant cruise to the interior of Alaska after 7 days of the Island Princess. The entire trip sucked me into the "cruise" attitude...Kathy and I and the other couple with us will go on many cruises in the future. The only two complaints I had was the instant coffee on the boat and getting stuck in a "smoking" hotel room in Fairbanks when we requested Non Smoking. All connections went pretty smooth from plane to busses and to boarding boats and trains. Long lines but all went pretty smooth. Everyone tried their best for customer service. I say "try" because most people on board the Island Princess were of a different nationality...and they were sometimes very difficult to communicate with...but all people on the cruise were absolutely doing the very best for customer service...no rude people there. Nice job to the "crew"! As I said my "hang up" was the lack of a "Starbucks" standard of coffee. You ask for brewed coffee and they give you that instant stuff they call 'brewed" coffee...yuk...And of course no one understands what you want...and there was none on board anywhere...I was really surprised...I would gladly buy good coffee or some real good espresso...I did find a bar 1/2 way thru cruise that fixed some espresso...was good...but I could never get one w/my meal or at some entertainment...or any other place. I'm really surprised that no one demands a "Starbucks" standard of coffee on these cruises. At Starbucks I mostly get a real delicious decaf espresso...boy was I a disappointed camper on this trip!! Anyways, we'll be on many more cruises...just not cruises without some good coffee though. The experience of traveling that the Princess lines was well worth the price... The entertainment was mediocre...but passable. The informal 24 hr (or at least it seemed that way) food court was very acceptable to our party of four...We hit a couple of exquisite dining arrangements...and it was too formal for us...and I am a very basic guy and couldn't appreciate all of the different fancy side dishes...give me a steak or hamburger and I'm a happy camper. We had great pleasure of roaming the boat checking out virtual golf and a mini put course that was fun. We enjoyed the card room w/some games. I am an ex cigar smoker who absolutely loved sitting in the smoking room enjoying the heavenly fragrance of cigars. My wife got a little sea-sick...the drs took good care of her...we'll bring some good stuff on the next cruise. Sincerely, Jerry and Kathy Carlson Read Less
Sail Date August 2006
May 6, 2006 Los Angeles to Vancouver via Alaska, Island Princess repositioning cruise. Embarkation. We arrived early (noon), but there was already perhaps a 200 person line. People were processed quickly and efficiently. While waiting we ... Read More
May 6, 2006 Los Angeles to Vancouver via Alaska, Island Princess repositioning cruise. Embarkation. We arrived early (noon), but there was already perhaps a 200 person line. People were processed quickly and efficiently. While waiting we were under a canopy and there was water and seats. We were in our room by 1pm. No problems and boy were we impressed. Ship. This French-built 3 year old ship is beautiful from stem to stern, without exception, including the public rooms, the grand multi-deck atrium, library, internet facilities, and pools. Even though the ship was completely full, there were many places to go, and it almost never felt crowded. Again, this made a great impression on us, and that aspect never left us. Cabin. We had a standard oceanview cabin that was approx. 170 square feet. First, let me say that the room is beautifully appointed including nice wood, furnishings and the tiled bathroom with Grohe fixtures. However, it is just too small even for 2 people in love. The shower doesnt fit a normal man. The bathroom is postage stamp sized and there is barely room to walk around the bed. We would never stay in a cabin this size again. Tendering in ports. Things started going downhill here. It took up to three hours to get off the ship in Sitka, with complete disorganization and horrific lines. Regular Princess customers said that they had never seen anything like this before. A similar experience occurred in Ketchikan when tenders were unable to load and unload. Princess apparently did not pay for docking, which really made for a mess. At the last minute, after many passenger complaints, Princess unexpectedly moved the ship mid-day to the dock to avoid any further problems. Food. Things feel off the map here. For us, this food was just unbelievably poor. However, Ill start by saying that the premium Sabatinis restaurant did have reasonably good food, wonderful service, and great ambiance, view and seating. Otherwise, the anytime dining venues (Bordeaux dining room and Horizons buffet) had abysmal, low quality, moderate variety, high quantity food. If you just want to stuff yourself on Hometown Buffet, then Princess is the place for you. The food in all of the venues is the same. The only difference is that in the dining rooms it is plated and served on china. In the buffet, the same food sat around and seemed to be yet worse quality (if that was possible), and there appeared to be problems with proper temperature control of food, which could result in health issues. The service in the dining room was generally either excellent or bad, and rarely in between. We enjoyed a few of the wait staff, and the others should probably have had jobs in agriculture Im afraid. What a mess. So it was a constant effort to get what you asked for without repeated requests. Even then we often just gave up. Cruise director. The cruise director and his assistant were slovenly and unprofessional in both demeanor and dress. Their morning TV shows included unnecessary insulting humor and repeated simulated strangling of one another. This was an embarrassment for us and our family. Tipping. We ended up not using the automatic tipping, and instead gave the same amount of money to the people who did the best work. There is no explanation from Princess as to how the automatic tipping works, and how it is distributed among the staff. Further, we were clearly advised that adding any tips to a room or restaurant charge results in that money going into the pool rather than to the individual providing the service. Therefore, cash is the only way to reward good service. Our tips were spread amongst our wonderful room steward, various restaurant personnel, and an assistant purser. Just a further note on personnel. The crew is obviously very poorly paid and were primarily from the Philippines. Seeing them wait on the American bourgeois crowd was just a said statement about the state of affairs in this industry. Fitness. We signed up for fitness classes upon embarkation. What immediately struck us was the intense smell of alcohol on the breath of the fitness instructor. So I should not have been surprised to find the fitness class completely off-base, and unprofessional in a most unprecedented way. Luckily they dont seem to charge for even the premium classes, so we paid nothing and got nothing. Spa. We also signed up for use (during the entire cruise) of the sanctuary, a premium sauna/steam/heat bench facility, and we were excited to use it. However, when we showed up there the next day, we found no staff, no bathrobes or towels, empty water containers, and a wet, dirty, unsanitary, and unmaintained facility to which we never returned. Repeated calls to the spa manager were never returned. Subsequent calls to the purser, as suggested by the cruise director, were likewise never returned. So here we paid for something and got nothing. Entertainment. There are two large venues plus several bars. The large production shows were generally well done and moderately entertaining. However the individual entertainers were quite poor, and even in bad taste. I would have expected to see them on Venice Beach, but not here. Disembarkation/luggage handling. This was the king of the messes. We were called as expected to disembark (by group). However when we arrived within the port facility to claim luggage, it was a free for all. I only wish Id taken photos. Luggage that was supposed to be organized by color code ended up all being mixed together. Imagine 2,000 passengers and perhaps 3,000 suitcases all mixed on one huge warehouse-type floor. People were tripping over each other and the luggage. One key problem was that the luggage tags provided had no adhesive and only a simple tab to hold them in place. Many fell off and were on the floor. As a result, luggage that needed to go the airport ended up at the dock and visa versa. We were later told by princess that 30 suitcases were sent to the airport in error for example. Many regular Princess passengers said that this was the worst, by far, that they had ever seen. Read Less
Sail Date May 2006
Island Princess - Alaska 7 Day Northbound Voyage of the Glaciers 7 Day Southbound Voyage of the Glaciers B503 Bump Out Mini-Suite Personal Choice Dining 5/15/06-5/29/06 Charles and Judy Crain  48 and 50, SUMMARY: The Highlights: ... Read More
Island Princess - Alaska 7 Day Northbound Voyage of the Glaciers 7 Day Southbound Voyage of the Glaciers B503 Bump Out Mini-Suite Personal Choice Dining 5/15/06-5/29/06 Charles and Judy Crain  48 and 50, SUMMARY: The Highlights: This was our first B2B and will not be our last. A B2B is the best way to cruise Alaska. Our first Alaska cruise in 2001 was hectic, trying to cram two excursions into each port. This B2B cruise allowed us to enjoy and browse around each port, unhurried and leisurely. The Island is a great ship with lots of modern amenities and plenty of space. Thus, this was our best cruise(s) yet. We were treated like royalty by basically everyone. Our room steward was first rate, probably the best we ever had. Extra Patter, extra towels, we hardly ever saw him. Our dinner waiter, Claudia and her assistant Michael were absolutely excellent. This was also our first foray into PC dining. And we loved it. We also got to meet another great couple on their first ever cruise. She was literally pinging off of the walls and having the time of her life and loving every minute of it. Judy spotted her across the theatre, easily, since she was the only one bouncing off the ceiling. It is so refreshing to see someone enjoying every single minute of a cruise with no complaints, only awe and wonder. Makes us appreciate our cruise even more. This was the also first time we had been completely smoozed and catered to by Princess. Rich, the cruise director, sponsored a CC party for all of us CC people. Champagne, mimosas and canapEs. We got to chat with Rich and most of his staff, one on one, for about an hour. They are an energetic and nutty bunch for sure. (Rich also sent Judy and I flowers for our anniversary and wanted to send some crab legs to our room for dinner since we were going to miss dining on crab night.) Nice guy! See, it pays to be a cruise critic! We even got invited to the most traveled party and rubbed elbows with the Captain, the Staff Captain and senior staff. We heard all the juicy rumors about the Star, future ships, how the various ship's work. It was far too short a time to dig for lots of details, but really interesting and provided some more insights into Princess, the company, and how they operate behind the scenes. As a side note - the ship literally will not wait for anyone. It turns out a member of the crew missed the ship in Juneau. We knew him and provided a little rubbing salt over the incident, along with his fellow shipmates, for the next few days. I did mention to the security guy at the gangplank in Ketchikan that a cavity search may be in order. Interestingly enough on some lines missing a ship is cause for immediate dismissal. Not Princess, and the comments I heard from various members of the crew indicate that they appreciate the policy and that Princess takes very good care of them. So when they say they wont wait, they wont wait! The Lows: We were a bit disappointed in the on-board notifications of sea life near the ship and of the nature presentations. The commentary on the Ocean Princess in 2001 was continuous and informative. However, I did find out later that the naturalist on board was on his first cruise. He did improve as the cruise went on and did related some pretty interesting stories on the way back to Vancouver through the Inland Passage. Im hoping he gets the hang of it since some of his stories are pretty good. Turnaround day in Whittier was a big joke. We didn't get off, but had to deal with the "turnaround story of the hour". We got five different versions of what we were supposed to do from five different people at the pursers desk, including a manager. We would have to get off, go through the line, get back on, do this, do that, etc., etc. The fifth person, a lowly, but very knowledgeable security guy finally said, oh yeah, put the card here, you're done! It took all of 30 seconds. I guess if you want to know how to do things, go the people who do them all the time. The new mattresses in the mini-suites are a bummer. They are the most comfortable Ive ever had on a ship  for one person. They are the pillow top European style with stiff sides. The stiff sides create a hump in the middle, which makes it near impossible to cuddle with your mate. I didnt even think about asking them to change it out, but probably should have and Im sure they would have. Internet access was an issue. Upon embarkation, some switch was not set right until the next day. It only took the IT guy 2 minutes to fix it, but it didnt get fixed until a bunch of us got a little irate with the Pursers desk. At Skagway you lose LOS to the satellite until you leave, but we were off line for almost 18 hours after leaving, both north and southbound. (The IT person locks out the workstations.) That should not happen, especially when free internet service is one of the few perks I really like AND Im writing Live From posts praising everything else about the cruise. Notes For the Budget Conscious: Water is $3 per liter on board and canned soft drinks are $1.50 each. But, there is water and soda at every stop. We picked up a 12 pack of soda in Vancouver and restocked in Skagway along with a couple of 6 packs of water bottles. In Ketchikan a 6-pack of soda or water was $2.99 right next to the ship - so not too far to lug it. The Coke sticker is up to $31.80 (w/tip) for 7 days. That's getting pretty high for fountain drinks that cost $0.06 per glass! There is free ice cream in the HC from 330 to 430 daily (chocolate and vanilla) and they have two ice creams available during dinner. Last night was melon yogurt and coffee. We think the coffee ice cream was made from their coffee syrup. The Island Princess now charges for all brewed coffee - $1 per 12oz cup in the HC and in the Patisserie. They charge for caps, lattes and mochas as well. THE ITINERARY: The Island, along with the Coral, Diamond and Sapphire, was doing the Voyage of the Glaciers 7 day route from Vancouver to Whittier and back. The itinerary for Northbound is, and it is reversed for the southbound: Day 1  Sea Day  Inland Passage to the East side of Vancouver Island Day 2  Ketchikan Day 3  Juneau Day 4  Skagway Day 5  Glacier Bay Day 6  College Fjord (Half Day Evening North Bound, Half Day Morning South Bound) Day 7 - Whittier The Sea Day: This day, north or south, is often understated, but very scenic and at the right time of year, full of wildlife sightings. It is pretty incredible to sail within hundreds of feet of rocky shores looking up at the snow capped peaks on either side of the ship. Otters, seals, orcas and porpoises will be the most likely sightings. Of interest are the various villages on either side of the passage. Here the naturalist can make a great difference by his commentary and sharing of experiences. Ours had a unique experience near the whirlpool. He was in a rubber boat looking down at a 20 hole in the water with a pod of Orcas between him and the shore. Glacier Bay: Ranger pickup was at 6am on the northbound leg, 10am on the southbound leg, but the show started earlier as we saw whales, porpoises and otters in the junction between glacier bay and icy strait. Make sure to get out and about and see the sites as you enter the strait. Both days started cold, windy and foggy/drizzly, but turned out mostly cloudy at the Marjorie with periodic breakouts of sunshine. (On the northbound trip, the sky was absolutely blue, blue) In the trip down the bay to the Lampleu we did see several seals on ice flows with their pups, one mother and pup in the water and two Mink whales or at least they did not fluke when they dove if they were humpbacks. The captain did a good job of turning the ship around in front of the Marjorie glacier. We did two full 360's so that everyone could see from their balconies or run from one side to the other. We saw two big glacier calves on the northbound leg and one on the southbound leg. We were up on deck for the northbound leg and used our balcony on the southbound leg. I have to say the ranger presentation since we were there in 2001 has really gone downhill. In 2001 as we entered the bay we were treated to a trip through time as the ranger explained the retreat of the glaciers, the various landforms they left behind, the flora and fauna differences as you follow the retreat and what the various avalanche zones and rock formations mean. Now we were treated to a long description of a snowflake and its friends. The best line was something like - under pressure the snowflake turned into ice - huh? Come on folks, we're a pretty intelligent bunch and should not be treated like a bunch of 12 year olds. The commentary was intermittent and spotty. When there was commentary, it revolved around that most important snowflake. None of the wildlife we saw was pointed out by the ranger on the mike. There were goats, seals, whales and birds. Either they weren't looking or they weren't talking. College Fjord: College Fjord is entered in the afternoon on the Northbound leg, early morning on the Southbound leg. In fact, we woke up to the Harvard Glacier outside our balcony door on the southbound leg about 0630 in the morning  just gleaming in the sunshine. Both days were blue sky with no clouds and incredible sights of the glaciers dropping into the Fjord. On the northbound leg we were eating dinner watching dozens of otters out our window as we entered the Fjord. A few seals were on the ice flows according to some reports, but we never saw one. THE SHIP: The Island Princess is not, despite the Princess website, a Sun Class (Sea, Sun, Ocean, Dawn) ship. She is more of an upgraded Sun. She is smaller than a Grand (Star, Grand, Golden, Diamond, Sapphire), larger than a Sun, but only carries 1950 passengers and 900 crew. She and the Coral are the longest ships in the Princess fleet, even longer than the Grands. She is a Panamax, meaning she can still fit in the Panama Canal locks, but barely. She was built in 2003 in France and is very modern. In our opinion, this is the best ship class in the Princess fleet. Our favorite. She has all the amenities of a Grand (Sabbatinis, Bayou Cafe, Explorers Lounge) without the extra people. The lure of the Sun class (small nooks and crannies), but with a few extras. The internet cafe is on deck 8 at the top of the atrium near the library. The library and card rooms are comfortable places to hide from the weather, yet still see the sights. Those hidden decks off Baja, Caribe and Dolphin at the rear of the ship are a real find for experienced cruisers. Most newcomers dont know about them and they are great for a wind free view off the rear of the ship. We did nose around and look at cabins during turnaround day. The handicapped balcony cabin is huge. The two room suite is pretty cushy and the tub is a Jacuzzi tub. There is a DVD player as well. I guess we can only dream. The gym equipment is modern and plentiful. Have yet to find it too crowded. I couldnt get the Lotus pool current machine to work for the first week, but it finally got fixed and served as a good workout. Its not adjustable like the Stars, but its not bad. Unlike other ships, the gym is open 24 hours. The treadmills and ellipticals are Precor  top of the line. They do offer classes (Pilates, Spinning, Yoga), but with the port and sight seeing itinerary, I doubt many people make them. An important navigation tip. On the Island, the even sided cabins (Port) have an Orange color outline in the hallway carpet. The odd sided cabins (Starboard) have a Blue color outline in the hallway carpet. THE CABIN: B503  A bumpout mini-suite. After two cruises in a Sun Class balcony cabin, we'd forgotten how nice a mini was. The aft facing balcony bumpout was a shrewd move on my part. It was perfect. Sheltered by the wind when the ship was moving, yet you could still look around the divider forward. The balcony above on the Aloha deck provided some shade and a little bit of protection from rain. The balcony had a round resin table and two resin chairs. You do lose a little balcony space due to the curvature, but the view you get more than makes up for it. The new mini-suite mattresses are the most comfortable yet - for one person. The ravine in the middle that brought you closer to your significant other is now a hump about the size of a speed bump. Unless both people can fit on the one twin, which we can't comfortably, you are all alone on your side of the hump. Might as well have a wall there - and as Judy says, we ain't that old or that tired of each other yet! The sofa is a nice addition as is the wall space across from the sofa. Thats where all the shoes can line up out of the way. The fridge is larger than those on the sun and so is the closet and hang-up space. We had no problem fitting 9 days worth of clothes (washing and drying is $1 per load) in all the little nooks. It would have been more crowded in a normal balcony, but we probably would have managed. Judys comment was that we could both get dressed in the cabin at the same time. The bath is a tub/shower combo and much larger than a balcony bath. Its one of the better features of a mini, but I wish someone would figure out a way to keep the shower curtain from wrapping around you while you are showering. EXCURSIONS: We only did one real excursion, the rock climbing and rappelling in Skagway. Incredible challenge, exhausting and fulfilling to reach the top. The rest of the time we hiked and traveled on our own. In Ketchikan we walked up to the fish hatchery, around Married Mans Trail and went to the Lumberjack show  highly recommended. The lumberjack show was a real kick. We missed it in 2001 because we, by that time, were just too tired. Lots of shopping in Ketchikan using those coupons you get in Vancouver or Whittier. When the salmon start running, the walk around the fish hatchery and the fish ladder at Married Mans Trail will be a great show. In Juneau we rode up on the Tram (also highly recommended) saw the movie and plodded around in the snow banks. Later in the year when the snow melts, this would be a great place to hike. We then bussed out to Mendenhall ($6pp one way) where we hiked out to Nugget falls and took some great video and pictures of the glacier, the lake and the falls. You can walk all the way to the falls. Great views of the blue on blue ice at the base of the glacier. The arctic terns were nesting as well. There are tons of quartz laden rock if you want to look for gold as well. Different areas around the base of the glacier have an abundance of habitat to look at and in a few weeks the salmon get here to see as well. A very cheap, but great excursion. For those of you planning, I would plan on spending at least 2-3 hours on Mt Roberts and 2-3 hours at Mendenhall. We came back to town and went shopping with all the special coupons in the book. Tasted Taku wild smoked salmon - incredible but whoa is it expensive. So we went into the Twisted Fish next door and had Alaskan Amber Ale (MMMMMMMM) and the smoked salmon appetizer (Taku of course)  a nice fulfilling day. In Skagway we rock climbed on the northbound leg and hiked out to smugglers cove on the southbound leg. Its real rock climbing. They have several different paths up the cliffs from easy to impossible. You have a climbing harness on and are belayed via anchors in the top of the cliff so its perfectly safe, but they dont help you get up the rock. You have to cling and grab and strain. I fell once, but got right back at it. Judy is afraid of heights, yet did a 30 easy climb and a 70 crack/flake climb before rappelling down a 100 section of cliff. There were only 4 of us on the trip with one guide (Kyle). They try and keep a 4:1 ratio. Really recommended for all you adventurous types. In Whittier, we watched everyone get off, waved bye and went hot tubbing and swimming. There were only about 20 of us B2B persons (called Transit Passengers) on the ship. It was GREAT! ENTERTAINMENT: Kevin Hughes was on vacation. Hal Spear was on the first night, but he's shifted to another ship. Cary Long was on the ship, but hes switching back and forth on various Princess ships in Alaska now. He's a must see if he's aboard. The illusionist, Alexander, is pretty amazing - that's another must see. We saw three of his, and Pamelas (his assistant), shows. By sitting up front, close, we could see some of how the illusions are done, but by the 6-8th row back, its really hard. Its a great show and they are a great couple if you get to meet them in the HC. The juggler/comedian is Mike Price. This is the young kid, not the older mathematician juggler/comedian that's been on Princess before. His juggling is amazing, his comedy is ok, but his energy level is off the scale. If you like juggling you'll like his show. His comedy was getting better as we got off the ship. When he tries stand alone jokes they kind of fall flat, but when he interacts with the audience it gets much better. We saw the production shows as well, but we've seen all of them over the years and since I'm not a huge fan, I can't tell you anything more than there's a bunch of really cute young girls in tight/skimpy outfits with gorgeous legs. (I think they sing too.) But Judy says theyre pretty good dancers and who am I to argue with her. Jere Ring (Crooner's Bar Resident Piano Entertainer - Much, Much More than a Pianist) was going to get off the ship, but if hes still there you MUST see him early in the cruise. After the 4th night its SRO at Crooners as people find out about him or listen to him as they walk by. Fun things to do: Line dance with Veronica, Country and Western Night with the cruise staff, Passenger Feud with Francious, The Newly Wed and not so Newly Wed with Francious, Dancing with Devonish, Dancing through the Ages. We did see Greg Bonham's show. It was highly recommended by Rich and was great. He got two standing O's for his performance, but according to Rich he doesn't do this on a regular basis, but I suspect Rich has other great entertainment lined up for other cruises. It appears that the CDs use a lot of personal influence and have a lot of flexibility to book talent from a variety of locations. One special note - the lighting of Greg's show was incredible. The guys and gals in charge of lighting control and choreography are extremely talented. As Greg did five different songs to honor five different artists, the lighting changed moods (colors) to match the songs/artists and for the culminating solo's, multiple spots (5 at a time) would rotate in and highlight Greg in a brilliant white aura. DINING: Now for the most controversial part of a review  we liked the food. But I have noticed the WOW factor is missing and I finally figured out why  WEVE BEEN CRUISING TOO MUCH! Princess does not change their menus too often and weve now cruised 4 cruises in the past 14 months. While the food does vary from ship to ship AND from cruise to cruise, it is basically the same and Ive tried everything on the menus now. Dont get me wrong, we really enjoy the food and weve learned to take a bite, and if we dont like it, send it back and get something else. They dont mind at all! Service was first rate at dinner. For the first time we tried PC dining instead of late seating traditional. AND WE LOVED IT. Why?  LESS NOISE! In traditional everyone, the room is typically packed, is eating soup, salad and such at the same time. The din rises and rises and rises. In PC we ate at 530 and it was hardly crowded at all, but everyone was eating at a different pace and schedule and the overall clanking and conversation level was noticeably less. Im sure it gets more hectic at 700 but at 530 it was perfect. So much so we ended up making a reservation every morning at 0800 for 530 at Table 94, by the window with Claudia and Michael. (She and he will have moved by now. They rotate waiters among tables and PC/Traditional and a weekly or monthly basis.) The window table, our first that you could actually see something out of because of the late sunset, was pretty incredible. By eating early we could see all the shows, get into all the events and go to bed not stuffed, unless we hit the HC late at night. BTW, the Beef Tournedos are headlined on one menu and featured on the always available on the others. The cut of meat they use is Filet Mignon. Why they dont call it that, I dont know, but I never had a bad steak the whole trip  except the night I got the one with the liver sauce on it. I sent it back and got a sauce free version that was scrumptious. I could cut them with the butter knife, they were always perfectly cooked (medium rare) and seasoned well. Most of the sauces I did like. I especially enjoyed the Pizza and burgers for lunch. HC lunch food was just too buffet for me. The dining room was great for lunch as well, this is where we had all the CC lunches, AND you can get ice cream there for free! The HC breakfast buffet was ok. It had its moments. The French toast was awful! A few times the eggs were over cooked and the bacon was crispy salad toppings instead of strips, but the made to order omelets, the luncheon meats and cheeses, the fruit, breads and various potatoes were very good. The coffee is ok with me. Judy cant stand it and we brought Folgers tea bag coffee for her. Dinner Schedule (Northbound AND Southbound - And What We Liked Best) Monday  Sailaway Dinner Menu  - Cream of Porcini Mushroom Soup - Filet of Zander Tuesday  Captains Welcome Menu Formal - Crab Quiche - Lobster Bisque - Tournedos of Beef - Ketchikan Salmon Wednesday  Italian Night Menu - Baked Eggplant Parmegiana - Red Bean Soup - Swordfish - Pork Medallions Thursday  Continental Night Menu - Sabbatinis - Escargot - Onion Soup - Rack of Lamb - Beef Tournedos  WITHOUT THE PERIGOURDINE SAUCE WHICH IS LIVER BASED Friday  Chefs Alaskan Menu - Smoked Salmon - Crab Cakes - Fish Chowder - Crab Legs - Halibut Saturday  Captains Gala Menu  Formal - Baked Clams Casino - Garlic Veloute - Lobster - Beef Wellington Sunday  Landfall Menu - Vol-au Vent (Chicken) - Asparagus Soup - Linguine Alle Vongole - Sea Scallops - Beef Tournedos EMBARKATION: Very smooth and well done. We stayed at the Hilton Airport on our own. We had Princess transfers. We shuttled back to the airport around 1130 and dropped our luggage off at the Princess desk and awaited the bus. It arrived at about 1230 and we were bussed to the cruise terminal. Immigrations was the longest and most frustrating line  it usually is, but by 200 we were in our rooms and headed for lunch. The actual Princess check in line for Platinum was unmanned so we used the Baja desk and was checked in in about 15 minutes. The HC was open, the pizza and grill were as well. Note  If you fly in the same day, use the cruise direct line. It avoids customs processing delays. We heard it was pretty good unless the bus driver screws up and opens the door, breaking the seal, before its time. DISEMBARKATION: We used the $15 dollar per person option to use the cruise direct program in Vancouver. It worked great. (Note - we had our own air arrangements, not Princess air.) We registered two checked bags each, received 4 bar coded tags, 2 per person, 2-3 days before disembarkation. We received pre-printed luggage forms the morning before disembarkation. We placed the luggage tags on the bags and placed the bags outside the door at 8pm on sunday night - that's the last we saw of them until we got off the plane in Colorado Springs Monday night. On Monday morning (0845) we went to the Universe Lounge as instructed and within 10 minutes had received our boarding passes and luggage tags for the four bags. (We had purchased Princess bus transfers.) We were then sent out through a special line through Canadian Customs and onto a bus which took us to the airport. We were screened prior to entering the airport and then were taken to a special area for security checks. We went through US Customs there. Once we were screened we entered the terminal in the gate area. We were at our gate at 1045. Considering the alternative of waiting for a bus or taxi, standing in an airport check in line, then standing in the main security screening line, it was a bargain. Read Less
Sail Date May 2006
My husband and I travel a lot using Princess cruises for our destinations. We are in our 40s. This was our 8th cruise-5th on the Princess. Travel to Port of Embarkation: Make sure you do the longest part of your travel in the ... Read More
My husband and I travel a lot using Princess cruises for our destinations. We are in our 40s. This was our 8th cruise-5th on the Princess. Travel to Port of Embarkation: Make sure you do the longest part of your travel in the beginning--not the end. You'll handle it better. Embarkation: They do the best they can under the circumstances. If you go into this not expecting perfection you'll be fine. I have no complaints here. 1. Disembarkation: Best advice! When your cruise gets closer to the end you'll get a note about how the airlines are now offering an Onboard Airline Check-In service for $15 per person. It is the best $30 you will ever spend especially if you have cruised before and experienced the long waits to hear your color called for you to begin the check-out process. You have your baggage out before midnight and you do not see it again until you are at your home base airport. It was great. 2. Land tours. 4 days on land before cruise. This is a warning! First, find ways to bring snacks to save money. The food at the Denali Lodge was expensive and not all that great for the expense. Also, the train ride to Whittier was a 9 long hours and we happened to be very lucky to have sun the entire time. BUT, we were in a dome car. You've got to make sure you have water, sunscreen and a cap. I was sunburned and my husband ended up with heat stroke by the time we reached our suite on the cruise. City of Gold and Riverboat tours in Fairbanks very relaxing and informative. In Denali we were on the bus trip to the national park. It was absolutely fantastic, yes a bus trip and I was scared about that, but it was very nice, plenty of room and our driver was great. Even the box lunch was good. Denali also had a theatre/dinner and that was fun, ok--just don't expect a lot and you'll be fine to just be able to relax. 3. Cruising only days of College Fjord and Glacier Bay. Make sure you have an extra memory card for the camera. Absolutely beautiful. This is where spending xtra for the patio deck is definitely worth it. 4. Skagway. I'm sitting here trying to remember what we did. We cancelled the famous train ride after being on a train for 9 hours I didn't care to hop on another train, even though it was just 3 hours long. We walked about the city--that was it. 5. Juneau, Do all your shopping here. Juneau will be the best place to buy totem poles and everything else is priced fairly as well. We regret that we didn't buy the 4 foot tall totem pole we saw for $1700. Best fudge store, great restaurants and bars. They want you there and you feel welcomed. 6. Ketchikan. The Promech Air seaplane tour was the only good part about this port. The Promech Air staff were helpful and very nice! Our pilot Ryan was GREAT, cute and we should have brought our 23 year old single daughter to meet him, haha. BUT, everything else about this town was a complete waste of time. The other townspeople and sales clerks were RUDE. Same totem pole we saw in Juneau was now selling for $3750! T-shirts, sweatshirts all way over priced. We should have just gone back to the ship after the seaplane tour. 7. Best prices for Diamonds in Alaska? Are you kidding me? Don't do it! Now about the Island Princess Ship. The appearance of the ship always looks beautiful and the restrooms are kept very clean. When I see the staff in the restrooms cleaning up, I take a minute and thank them for their efforts. I used the Lotus Spa for the first time--2 visits. My Advice is don't prebook anything. They offer daily spa specials for a third of the price. I had the facial and mini massage and the aromatherapy massage. Definitely worth it. Service: Ever since the cruise changed how we pay tips to our room steward and wait staff the attitude and service has plummeted. BUT, room service is still the greatest part of the ship. NOTE: Anything on the dining list can be brought to your room. They're quick, everything is made fresh, we've started tipping them extra CASH for their pockets just because they offer such great service that is disappearing everywhere else. The beds were awful. But our last night all of a sudden I had a comfortable bed. They clearly flipped over the mattress--maybe this was just timing of flipping the mattress. Anytime dining is continuing to receive less and less quality service. You don't get the baked alaska on the last night. Sure I understand the preparation timing of things, but next cruise we'll be back on assigned dining. A few things about travelers. You're still not washing your hands when you come out of the bathroom stall! I can't believe this, it takes 30 seconds to wash your hands and prevent the rest of us from being exposed to your dirty habits. Another reason to stay away from the buffets! I don't mean to be disrespectful to our older community BUT I can't tell you how many times I saw older citizens moving slowly, getting crabby if they felt they were being pressured to move faster BUT as soon as there was a food line for them to be in, or a FREE something being given away, ALL OF a SUDDEN--they became fast moving teenagers!?!? Entertainment: I'd like to know what happened to the good entertainment we use to see about 5 years ago? Overall, Alaska is a must see. Do the cruise only. I would pass on the land tour just wasn't worth the time and money spent. Read Less
Sail Date May 2006
Island Princess May 5, 2006 We sailed on the Island Princess repositioning cruise because it was a repositioning cruise and went to great places! Blame it on the Jones Act or whatever but rarely do we get a chance to cruise to ports in ... Read More
Island Princess May 5, 2006 We sailed on the Island Princess repositioning cruise because it was a repositioning cruise and went to great places! Blame it on the Jones Act or whatever but rarely do we get a chance to cruise to ports in California, Alaska and British Columbia with enough time in port to enjoy them, and do it all on the same cruise. We sailed from San Pedro, tendered into Santa Barbara, docked in San Francisco, tendered into Sitka, tendered then docked in Ketchikan, docked in Victoria, and disembarked in Vancouver. We took a ship sponsored tour to Butchart Gardens in Victoria, but everywhere else we just did our own thing which was mostly just walking around as everything was close by. This was a great 9 day cruise as far as itinerary and also for almost perfect weather. That should make for the most perfect cruise ever, but of course all great things always seem to have a downside. The downside on this cruise was that the basics of food and service and tendering and entertainment were inconsistent. For example, on one night dinner in the dining room would be super  great table by the window, attentive service, excellent food, etc. and the next night were shuffled off to some very dark place in a corner where the waiters are more interested in talking with each other than providing service, and when the meals finally do get there you wished you hadnt ordered at all. Same story with the buffet  some dishes would be great but others looked like they had been under the warming lights for weeks. On one morning the staff were constantly on the move with carts refreshing your coffee, but on others the only staff you would see would be trying to sell you something! We had to tender in/out of ports and it was no doubt the worst tendering operation weve experienced. There were long lines, maybe not enough boats; the whole operation was just not crisp and efficient. As frequent Princess passengers we have seen the current crop of production entertainment shows at least one time too many already so we passed on all of them. The other entertainers were fair to good, typical cruise ship variety entertainment. Maybe it has something to do with repositioning cruises, when the crew isnt used to a particular pattern established for a certain run. Maybe it was because many of the staff were at the end of their contracts and looking forward to getting off the ship. On the other hand, our cabin steward was at the end of his contract and he was one of the best cabin stewards we have experienced (and weve done over 50 cruises). So  next time you do a repositioning cruise be ready to take the bad with the good, so you can minimize the former and maximize the latter! There was a very active Cruise Critic group on this sailing, and we looked forward to meeting everyone who had posted to the Roll Call through the previous months. We had two scheduled in advance get togethers during the cruise and two that would be best described as sort of impromptu. The group was great, and many of us have booked next years repositioning cruise on the Diamond already so we can have a reunion. The Island Princess is a beautiful ship and very comfortable overall. We only had one rocky day at sea and even that was not so bad compared to other ships weve been on. It did have a rather unusual feature that we had not experienced before. Our Aloha deck port aft balcony had no roof! It was great on sunny days if you wanted to get some rays but lousy when it was raining or even misting. Also, the Lido deck was just above and seemed to be a congregating point for staff who wanted to get some fresh air or see the sights going into port. And there were also the smokers who leaned over the rail right directly above us and let their ashes fly where they may (and even their cigarette butts). Made you feel rather strange to know that if you looked up you might see things you really didnt want to see. The other unique aspect of this cabin selection is that the Kids fun zone is located in the stern on the Aloha deck  and the signs warn that if you are over 17 you cant go back there! That was unfortunate as it would have been a nice place to catch some sun or watch sailaways  especially since we never saw any children back there using it. In our view it is an unfortunate use of prime space. Even stranger is that there is a deep pool back there that is easily accessed from the Kids zone through unlocked gates So if you have little ones balcony cabins aft on the Aloha deck might prove an ideal choice but keep a watchful eye for supervision. (We didnt pick the cabin and our former travel agent didnt tell us about its unique features.) After one of the not so good nights in the dining room and a wonderful lunch at Fishermans Wharf in San Francisco, we opted to try the Horizon buffet for a light supper. What a delight! There were enough good dishes to pick from to provide a satisfying meal, the place was almost empty and quiet, and the views were spectacular. Might be hard to believe but it was one of our most romantic dinners on the cruise! (We tried it a couple more times as well with the same results.) Embarkation and disembarkation were the same as just about any other cruise  long lines waiting for the security screeners and the people directing traffic to check-in lines acted like it was their first day on the job  and they had no training whatsoever. Otherwise embarkation was relatively painless (We flew in a day early and stayed in San Pedro overnight so took the hotel van to the pier.) Disembarkation was all about long lines. We bought Princess transfers to the airport so our luggage went direct  probably much more quickly than we did. Apparently Princess staff were releasing passengers from the ship faster than security could deal with them, so the result was wall to wall people in the terminal in lines that were moving extremely slowly. We finally boarded buses and found the same problem with long lines at the terminal waiting to claim luggage. Then we had the same problem going through security! Flow control has never been a Princess strength, and increased security has only made it worse. And with larger and larger ships that problem can only get worse. Princess is one of our favorite lines and the Island Princess could be one of our favorite ships. We look forward to sailing her again on a regularly scheduled itinerary, hoping things will be a bit more organized and quality more consistent. And as for next year were looking forward to our coastal cruise on the Diamond, and hoping that quality on the Diamond will be consistent from embarkation through disembarkation! Read Less
Sail Date May 2006
We flew out on a Sunday from Atlanta to Dallas, and then Dallas to Vancouver the day before our ship was supposed to leave. It was a fairly long flight. Total flying time was a little over 6 hours. We arrived in Vancouver around 8:45 p.m. ... Read More
We flew out on a Sunday from Atlanta to Dallas, and then Dallas to Vancouver the day before our ship was supposed to leave. It was a fairly long flight. Total flying time was a little over 6 hours. We arrived in Vancouver around 8:45 p.m. and the airport was an absolute ghost town! Our flight seemed to be the only one there. We then proceeded to get a taxi to take to the Westin Bayshore (which we received through Priceline). It was a very nice hotel right on the water. We were starving and were trying to find something to eat, reasonably priced, and that was hard to do at the time of night we arrived. We ended up eating at a Dairy Queen and it wasn't very good. We could see the Island Princess from our hotel room window. It wasn't very far away. The next morning, Monday, we checked out of the hotel and took a 10 min taxi ride to the port. Embarkation was a breeze! Princess staff had it so organized. We did arrive pretty early though. We arrived between 11:45-12:00. We unloaded our luggage from the taxi and gave it directly to the baggage handlers at the port. We then went directly inside to check in. Total embarkation process was less than 30 minutes and that included going through security. It was probably the easiest embarkation we have ever been through on a cruise. Itinerary: Day 1: Vancouver-sailing at 4:30 p.m. Day 2: At Sea Day 3: Ketchikan Day 4: Juneau Day 5: Skagway Day 6: Glacier Bay (sailing) Day 7: College Fjord (sailing) Day 8: Disembark in Whittier, AK This was a great itinerary in my opinion. On our first stop, we did the canopy adventure zip-lining excursion in Ketchikan. It was a BLAST! Definitely not good for height-fearing individuals though. It was a very exhilarating experience. Well worth the money! The "kids" that guide you are very knowledgeable and friendly. Safety is #1 to them. We did this excursion through the cruise line. On our second stop, we did a whale watching tour with Captain Larry at Orca Enterprises located in Juneau. We set this up on our own because we had heard such great reviews here on Cruise Critic that we had to try him. He definitely lived up to his reputation! His boat is awesome. It kept us very warm and dry on a not so pleasant day. We saw several humpbacks, sea lions, eagles and one bear from a distance. I would highly recommend him. Also on this day, we did a helicopter tour to a glacier where we got to go on a dog sled ride. This was arranged through Orca as well but wasn't run by Orca. The helicopter ride was amazing! The dog sledding was ok. We didn't get a whole lot of education about the mushing experience or on the dogs. It was basically taking a ride in a circle around the dog camp and then they sent us on our way. It was still worth the money in my opinion to be able to see the scenery where the camp was located. It was pretty incredible. On our third stop, we did the Eagle Preserve Wildlife Adventure in Skagway. This was organized through the cruise line. I was disappointed in this tour. We were transported from Skagway to Haines by ferry and a bus picked us up at the pier and took us to the location where we loaded jet boats. The boats held about 10-12 people each. Each boat had a captain and each boat went in different directions, which in theory this would be a better opportunity to see wildlife. We didn't get so lucky on our boat. We saw a moose and a moose calf from a distance and that was it. The companies don't go into a lot of detail on the description of the excursion as far as what time of year you see certain animals. We did see a couple of bald eagles and their nests. However, for the price we paid for this excursion I would expect to see a lot more than what we did see. After the boat trip we did get to roast hot dogs over a fire and had a pretty nice lunch there. Our bus driver, Laura Anne, was SUPER! We had more fun on the bus rides than we did in the boat. We learned a lot about Haines from her. SPA: We did get to experience the Lotus Spa on this cruise. My husband did the seaweed body wrap and full body massage and I chose to do the massage/facial combo. We were in two different rooms. We both agreed that the actual spa service was wonderful. HOWEVER...they are very pushy sales people as well. As soon as the lady finished with me, she proceeds to go into her "sales pitch" for the products she had used on me and telling me that I have been doing everything wrong and blah blah blah. Keep in mind that I'm still not dressed! Now I will say that the products she did use felt nice. I then asked about how much the facial products were. She then tells me that it was around $700-800 for everything! I'm sorry but I refuse to pay that much for cleansing products for any part of my body. To make a long story short, I didn't buy the products and I felt that she became very rude that she wasn't going to make commission off of me. Also, when she gave me the ticket to sign for the services, she stood right over me when I was trying to fill in the gratuity. This whole experience would discourage me from having other services done on our next cruise. FOOD: We ate breakfast and lunch at the Horizon Court, deck 14, just about everyday. We enjoyed the food. It wasn't outstanding but it was satisfying. We also enjoyed Princess Grill and the Princess Pizza. The hamburgers from the grill were outstanding! As far as dinner, we had 2nd seating, fixed seating. We chose this due to our experiences on past cruises and we were pleased again on this one. We enjoy having the same waiter/waitress each night and knowing that we will be able to eat at that particular time. Food was excellent just about every night. Desserts were out of this world! Service was excellent. ROOM: We were in cabin B737, which is a category BD, located on Baja Deck, which was deck 12. It is a balcony room and were on the aft of the ship. It is actually the last room on the back of the ship. We really liked the location because it was right next to the exit door that went out onto a private deck. This made it really nice on the glacier cruising days because we could just walk out of our door on the deck to see what the other side of the ship was seeing. However, this is also where the smokers would congregate. If the wind was blowing in a certain direction, the smoke would come right onto our balcony. It wasn't unbearable but if you have a smoke allergy, this is definitely not your cabin! This balcony also wasn't covered. I do think that Princess should advertise this because we weren't aware of it. Fortunately, we had great weather on our trip and it didn't rain. The room was very nice. Lots of storage space for luggage. Beds were very uncomfortable though. Very hard and the gap in the middle of the bed is very annoying! Our room steward was great. We had heard that if you asked for robes they would provide them for you and this was true. We had to wait until the 2nd day to receive them because the steward told us they were being washed. We did have some shower issues that were cleared up the same day the problem arose. We didn't see our room steward that often but he got the job done and was out of our way. He didn't seem to socialize a whole lot with us as other stewards have in the past but it was still ok with us. He was very pleasant. The TV seemed to have a more limited menu than other ships. It seemed to repeat things more quickly. The movies were really good though. ENTERTAINMENT: I will preface this part of the review with an apology to anyone who might read this review and get offended. The night life on this cruise was definitely lacking! My husband, 33, and I, 28, were by far the youngest people on this cruise. We enjoyed the people on this cruise but we weren't aware of the age group differences. Now, even if someone would have warned us, we would've most likely gone anyway. We aren't big "party" people but we would have appreciated better comics and more current trivia games. The ship was pretty much asleep around 10-11 p.m. SHIP: I really enjoyed having a smaller ship. It was a lot easier to navigate and it didn't feel as crowded. It was very clean. It seems as though Princess is trying to fight off the Norwalk Virus better than other cruise lines. They have hand sanitizers pretty much all over the ship. I think this is an excellent idea! It seemed to really encourage people to be aware of their hygiene. The Island Princess is a sister ship to the Coral Princess. It carries around 1,978 passengers. Since this was an Alaskan cruise, all of the pools were heated. There were 3 pools and a wading pool that was closed. The pools were very warm. The laundry facilities were wonderful! They did have more washers and dryers on this ship than on the Golden Princess. A little advice though...do laundry throughout the cruise if you so desire. My husband and I were doing a 5 day land tour on our own after the cruise so we really needed to do the laundry. On the last 2 days, the laundry rooms were full. I had been doing mine from the beginning so it wasn't that bad. The washer and dryer cost $1.00 each but the dryer usually took 2 cycles to dry the clothes. They do sell detergents there for $2.00 I believe. However, we purchased ours from Target in the travel section of the health and beauty aids section. They sell little bottles Tide that do 4 loads for 99 cents. It worked out great! DISEMBARKATION: No major problems here. As always, it's frustrating being kicked out of your room so early when you don't get called until later. I understand the reason why they do this but it would make it a lot more enjoyable to be able to relax in your stateroom. Other than that, things were ok. We were off the ship by 9:00 a.m. LAND TOUR: We did our land portion on our own and not through the cruise line due to so many people discouraging us from doing so. This was the best advice anyone has ever given us! We did everything at our own pace. We rented a car in Whittier, AK from Harley's Rent Alaska. I highly recommend them! Very small company so make your reservations early. We drove from Whittier to Denali, it took a little over 7 hours but that did include stopping for lunch and making a couple of stops to look at scenery, where we would spend 3 nights. Our motel was actually in Healy, the Motel Nord Haven. It was about a 10 minute drive from Denali Nat'l Park to our motel. Not bad at all! It was a very clean hotel but it didn't have any amenities. There is no air condition. There were a couple of days that we were there that it did get up in the high 60's, low 70's and the room was just "muggy". My husband is very hot natured as well and he was a little uncomfortable. I would still recommend this to anyone looking for a reasonably priced motel that is VERY clean. It was away from all of the hustle and bustle of the Princess Lodge and also Holland America's Lodge. We did go to the Princess Lodge two times to eat at Lynx Pizza. It was the best pizza we have ever eaten and it was so nice to have some good food! Restaurants are scarce in this area! There was a little "general store" that sold individual cereal bowls and snacks so that helped. We also tried Fannie's Flapjacks at the Holland America resort and it was ok...pricey. After Denali, we drove to Anchorage and stayed at the Hilton downtown. It is about a 5 hour drive from Denali to Anchorage. We had a bad experience at this hotel and would not recommend it to anyone. Our room wasn't clean we when arrived-they gave us a key to a room that had not been fully cleaned. When we called the front desk about it they said they couldn't give us another room because it would be another hour or so before one would be clean. We didn't check-in until after 7:00 p.m. You would think they would have the rooms cleaned by the 3:00 p.m. check-in time. They ended up sending housekeeping back in to "tidy up". There were a couple of other situations that came up and we didn't like the way they were handled. FLIGHT HOME: Anchorage Airport is very nice. Security is tight so it does take a little while to get through it. Allow some extra time. Read Less
Sail Date May 2006
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
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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