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90 Princess Island Princess Cruise Reviews

This ship should be dry-docked and revamped, it is old and worn looking, the entertainment comedian and piano player with the gravely voice were o.k.. the crew chorus/dancers were terrible and some people even walked out of the theatre. ... Read More
This ship should be dry-docked and revamped, it is old and worn looking, the entertainment comedian and piano player with the gravely voice were o.k.. the crew chorus/dancers were terrible and some people even walked out of the theatre. the outdoor pizza tasted like cardboard even though it was pretty to look at, the food was marginal, same dried out cookies every day, same fruit every day,shrimp cocktail in the dining room had to be frozen shrimp, you would think in the area where we cruised that there would be plentiful crab and shrimp as how much salmon can you eat ... our cabin steward Raymond, was wonderful, and to the guy who wore his golf visor to the dining room the last night of dinner, you obviously have no class, shame on the two women who sat with you did and shame on the dining room for not asking you to remove it, do you really think you looked cool?? I would not do the Talkeetna/Whittier ever again. You are in a remote lodge that is one hour bus ride into a town that is about three blocks long, there is nothing to do, if you want to eat someplace nice the Wildflower and West Rib were good places to eat lunch and dinner if you wanted to ride an hour each way... the next stop Denali was nice lodge again nothing around, food at Prospectors Pizza and brewery was great, also try the salmon bake restaurant again across the street from the lodge, we ended up in Fairbanks Lodge out in the sticks again, and Princess charges you 5.00 to ride into town to dine, the morning of our departure the wake up call did not work at the hotel so thank God I set the alarm clock, otherwise......we would still be stuck in Fairbanks,food on the trains were expensive but we had already brought our own Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
We have traveled with Princess enough to be considered platnum members of the Captain's Circle. Had this cruise been our first with Princess, it would have been our last. The experience was disappointing to say the least. In ... Read More
We have traveled with Princess enough to be considered platnum members of the Captain's Circle. Had this cruise been our first with Princess, it would have been our last. The experience was disappointing to say the least. In particular the food was the worst I have ever tasted on a cruise. The food was particularly bad in the Horizon buffet, and only marginally better in the dining room. Generally the offerings were overly salted, meats were tough and tasteless (hence the need for salt), bland and boring. As a result we found ourselves eating in the speciality restaurants for a number of our dinners. The entertainment was so-so. Rather short production numbers, lip-syncing singers, and shows that seemed to be cobbled together at the last minute. Our cabin was fine, as well as our Cabin Steward. We had a mini-suite, mid ship on Dolphin Deck. Easy access to the elevators and stairs. The general feeling that I got from the cruise was that I was a captive consumer, and that the cruise line was determined to sell me something. Teeth whitening, acupuncture, the newest thing in a semi-precious stone that I never heard of (zultanite,kryptonite,dynamite,whatever. Princess what have they done to you? Read Less
Sail Date February 2013
This was our 4th cruise and our first on the Princess line. We chose this particular cruise because of the Panama Canal itinerary. We are in the "way over 70" age group, able to get around and expect to do a lot more cruising. ... Read More
This was our 4th cruise and our first on the Princess line. We chose this particular cruise because of the Panama Canal itinerary. We are in the "way over 70" age group, able to get around and expect to do a lot more cruising. Here's my review: The Ship: The outside has seen better days, but the inside has nice carpets, dated furniture and yet a very comfortable feel in the public spaces. The atrium was beautifully decorated for Christmas and there was also a menorah which was lighted each day. The ship layout is confusing, as even after 9 days aboard, I still didn't know which way to turn after I got off the elevator! Dining: We ate at the 5:30 seating in the Provence Dining room each evening. We had a table for two after initially being herded to a table for 10, which was not at all what we requested. The low ceilings in both dining rooms were claustrophobic. The super-fast, napkin in your lap -- menu in your hand -- what do you want to order -- was quicker than McDonalds. Hold the phone.... I'd like a glass of wine first, please. I hate being rushed! The menu was basically the same every night except for 3 or 4 new main dish items. The shrimp cocktail offered every night looked like what you get in a super market platter -- tasty, but tiny. I wouldn't rave about the food, but DH liked the prime rib -- I liked the scallops. The Buffet: we ate here sometimes, but the layout was just two long serving areas which led to crowding. Granted, there were 2 of these areas, but sometimes one was closed. A very poor layout compared to other ships. The metal patio chairs are uncomfortable. Burgers at the Grill were very good and I loved the thin crust pizza at the Pizza Place. Our Stateroom :-- formerly known as our "cabin". We had a balcony mid-ship. This room was smaller than usual, probably due to the Panamax size of our ship. The bed was very comfortable. The heavy comforter was too hot and so we had to ask for a top sheet for our bed, as none is provided. There was no couch. I brought a balcony chair inside to have a comfortable seat to sit and read. The closet space was super with lots of hangers and we had plenty of other storage areas -- a big plus. The bathroom sink ran hot water instead of cold and brushing your teeth with hot water was a new experience. The flimsy, stained shower curtain and tiny shower gave us a new challenge each morning. The provided shampoo doesn't lather up -- bring your own. The FRIDGE never got cold! We reported it several times and so our room steward brought a big bucket of ice each day and made it into a cooler/ice box. Health: I noticed right away that the only Purell dispensers were in the buffet area -- none at the dining room entrances or anywhere else on the ship that I could see. By the 7th day, I knew several people that were sick and when you went to the theater, you could hear lots of coughing. (We didn't stay.) I asked one of the maitre d's and he said it was company policy not to have the Purell at the dining rooms. Can you believe that?? Tour: We took the "Panama Canal & Locks Transit by Boat" tour. We tendered to land from Gatun Lake -- took a tour bus -- then boarded a ferry. We continued west through the whole canal and the Miraflores locks and the Galliard cut to the Pacific Ocean. A wonderful, historic tour. We returned by air conditioned bus to our ship which was now docked in Colon, Panama. By the way, Columbia and Panama are near the equator and very hot and humid. It rained -- but who cares? It's the rain forest! Entertainment: Yes, the shows were short. The comedians were good but the violinist, David Klinkenberg was excellent. We enjoyed Dr. Dean's lectures on the Panama Canal and Costa Rica. The SLR digital camera class was also excellent. The learning experience is another reason that we chose Princess and we were not disappointed. The Rescue at Sea: We had some excitement on board as we headed to Jamaica. An announcement came over the intercom that a small boat had been sighted and it was drifting. One man said that he thought he had seen a body in the bottom of the boat, but no sign of life. Perhaps it was just empty. Our Captain announced that he was turning around to investigate. We all went out on deck and we could finally see a very small boat, far out on the ocean, with a red ( shirt ) flag on a pole. It was being tossed around in the 3-4 foot waves. As our cruise ship drew closer, we saw that yes! There were people in the boat. We were all gathered at the ships railing and the people on the boat were waving and a man held his arms out as in prayer. They pulled alongside and we could see that there were actually five people. The next announcement that we heard was that they were coming aboard. They had been adrift for THREE WEEKS! They were from Jamaica and were going to the other side of their island for a party . It seems their motors died. Fortunately, they were bringing lots of meat and food to the party, so they were able to survive. Everyone is so happy that we could rescue them. They had drifted about 300 miles away from land. Bugs in my Princess Bed -- this is a copy of what I've sent to Princess. Island Princess -- Bugs in my Bed: "I know that this complaint has (hopefully) been registered and forwarded to Corporate. But, I want you to see a picture to help you understand how the bites ruined the first 4 days of my cruise. I had 2 bites on the back of my ankle and terrible itching when I awoke after my first night on board. I reported it and requested that the room steward, Marlo, change all the bedding which he did. The next morning, I had 2 more bites and the head steward came and suggested that I had an "allergy". He said to go to the dispensary to see what kind of bites they were. I went to the dispensary and they wanted to charge me $60 -- of course I refused because I didn't need treatment, but was accommodating the head steward. The dispensary called back in the evening and said that they would only charge me $18. I said "no thank you". I don't have any allergies and these were either spider bites or some other small insect. The THIRD night, I got 2 more bites on the side of my leg and again went to report it. No one said that they were sorry or offered any kindness. Only my room steward Marlo seemed concerned. His thorough cleaning finally did the trick and my bed was finally "bug free". The first bites still showed even on our 9th day -- a nice reminder of a terrible time. A good portion of my "Escape Completely" cruise was spoiled by the fact of bugs in my bed. This is entirely unacceptable and people are appalled when I tell them of my experience. I hope that you can make it up to me in some way that would make me want to cruise with Princess again. " PS..6 weeks later, this is the response from Princess Claims Dept. Dear Ms. Gibson: I regret that you apparently suffered from some kind of bites during your cruise vacation and that you suspect your accommodations aboard ship as the cause. I hope you will understand that we would never knowingly expose our guests to a problem of this nature and I recognize your disappointment and discomfort. According to an authoritative source, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services website available at http://www.vdacs.virginia.gov/pesticides/pdffiles/bb-identify1.pdf, "While bites might suggest bed bugs, they are not a good method for diagnosing a bed bug infestation. This is because bite reactions are so variable from person to person. For instance, a person who has been bitten while traveling may not react for several days, and only notice the bites after they have returned home. These bites do not mean the home is infested. Alternatively, a person may not react to bed bug bites at all. This can allow an infestation to get started in their home and remain unnoticed until the bed bug population increases so much that bed bugs start to be seen. Because bites are an unreliable indicator of an infestation (they may not be bed bug bites at all), it is very important to be familiar with the other signs that bed bugs leave behind to detect a real infestation (particularly a small one). By looking for specific bed bug evidence, the infestation can be identified early before the population becomes difficult to control." You may be confident there are rigorous procedures in place to monitor for bedbug activity aboard our ships and the threat of any infestation is taken very seriously. Attention is routinely paid to the outside visible surfaces of luggage when delivering luggage to the staterooms, and to the sheets and mattresses while making up the staterooms before and during each cruise. Additionally, each stateroom and its furnishings are completely torn apart and inspected for any signs of possible bedbug activity at least once every month. These inspections include the bedding, the headboards, the bed frames and skirts, any items under the beds, around and under the tables, the inside and outsides of drawers, the outsides of any luggage, around and under the edges of carpeting, any other joints or crevices close to the bed, the drapes, wall hangings, and even behind the baseboards and wall outlet covers. The ship's reports indicate that upon learning of your situation your stateroom was carefully cleaned and inspected as described above several times but no bed bugs, their characteristic traces, nor other bugs of any kind were found. Therefore we do not know where the bites you report actually came from or how they might reasonably have been prevented. Ms. Gibson, passenger reactions, whether critical or complimentary, are always welcome at Princess Cruises and we appreciate the time you and Mr. Feiden have taken to advise us of your situation both on ship and ashore. While we must respectfully decline responsibility for your discomfort, we now that the true facts have been explained you will understand our position. Of course, all of the foregoing is without prejudice to the terms and conditions of the Passage Contract. Sincerely, Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
We traveled with Princess because of the itenerary. That was great; just what we wanted. We had a mini suite at the very back of the ship. We had no trouble with the location as we enjoyed the walk to the dining room, etc. The cabin ... Read More
We traveled with Princess because of the itenerary. That was great; just what we wanted. We had a mini suite at the very back of the ship. We had no trouble with the location as we enjoyed the walk to the dining room, etc. The cabin was very little larger than we were accustomed to in a balcony room. We had a tub with shower and my husband found it difficult to turn around without hitting the curtain. There was no top sheet on our bed. Out cabin steward (who was excellent) immediately placed one on the bed but why did we have to ask for something that shoulw be standard. They gave a welcome aboard party for those who had not said with Princess before. They served "hot" tea and "hot" coffee and pastries. I filled my cup with tea and walked to the tray of pastries where a waiter stood with tongs to serve. As I approached he said: "They are numbered 1, 2, 3 and 4; give me a number and do not touch!!" I shook my head, gave him a number and took my lukewarm tea and my numbered pastry to a seat beside another lady who was drinking her lukewarm coffee. Is this a way to encourage people to come back? Our dining waiter was rude; he would walk up between 2 people and in mid sentence stick the menu in their face and ask what they wanted. We were always late starting our dinner. The later hour did not bother us as we are used to late dining but it was irritating to stand in line for up to 20 minutes past time. The food was not up to the standard we are used to and when I ordered a steak medium rare and it came medium well and so tough I could not cut it I told the waiter and he just looked at me, looked at the steak and walked away. Tips are mandatory so why would any employee go the extra mile when they know the tips are coming anyway, On other lines we received envelopes with suggested amounts. Many times we gave more for excellent service and in rare instances gave less if we felt they were not doing their best. We had an excellent cabin steward, some excellent waiters at buffet upstairs and the shopping helper (her name was Greenwood) was also very good. We missed seeing the captain around the ship (he came to one event and stayed about 5 minutes). We are used to being offered the opportunity to have a picture with the captain. There was a lack of entertainment at an hour compatible with our dining hour. Only 2 days did they have an early show and it was only 30 minutes long. We were just relaxing and enjoying it when it was over!!! All in all we did not feel we had our money's worth. We took this cruise because it went to the Panama Canal leaving from Ft. Lauderdale and returning there. It seems I am looking for something good to say and the visit to the canal was it. Embarkation was very slow. Read Less
Sail Date November 2012
I will never again cruise on Princess Cruise-lines after this trip. The only relatively smooth parts of the trip were embarkation and disembarkation. Embarkation was annoying but ok, it was a constant line to get into another line with ... Read More
I will never again cruise on Princess Cruise-lines after this trip. The only relatively smooth parts of the trip were embarkation and disembarkation. Embarkation was annoying but ok, it was a constant line to get into another line with each line magically taking 30-45 minutes to get through. After already having traveled for more than 8 hours, it was not pleasant. The bus we were on from the airport to the docks 12 miles away took 40 minutes to make the trip. 12 miles, 40 minutes. You'd think they could do better than that. They could cut down on all the lines, which would make it much better, but all in all it was an ok process. From the second we set foot on the boat, and i mean the second we set foot on it, we could tell something was not right. There were massive vibrations throughout the ship which made it look like I had parkinson's disease when i sat on a bench and tried to read an excursion sheet. Mind you we were still docked and that boat shouldn't have vibrations like that. I pointed it out to my wife, she was shocked when she saw me trying to sit and read the excursion paper with how much it was shaking. In addition to this, the boat had a massive pitch and roll issue the entire trip. We were in calm seas all but one day of the trip, near glass like waters. And yet the Island Princess swayed, pitched and rolled non-stop. I have never experienced this before. I sailed on a Carnival ship in the Caribbean 9 years ago in huge swellS and that boat didn't move an inch. I also have vast experience boating, power boats, 60+ foot sail boats, river kayaks, ocean kayaks, canoe's, lake sail boats, ferry's, white water rafting. Many years of experience. I have never, ever gotten motion sickness or sea sick from any boat before this ship. It is ridiculous. A ship this big should not be moving so much in calm waters.From the very start of the trip Princess was all about nickle and diming it's passengers. I spent 3,800 dollars on this trip before I even set foot on the boat, to be nickle and dimed to death on everything was a big downer on my vacation. A bottle of water, $3.50. A can of pop, $2.00. A milkshake, that's extra. Everything had a price. I understand that they want to make money, but when the nickle and diming takes away from the experience of the trip, it's a problem. Before we reached our first port of call they did a 2 hour shopping seminar. DO NOT WASTE TIME ON IT. It is essentially this, 2 hours of their shopping guy telling you to buy everything in site, including their super great deal $30 shopping book that guarantee you freebies and added great discounts not available to those that didn't buy it right then and there on the spot. It is nothing more than $30 down the toilet. The exact same deals can be had without the book just by walking into the stores, all of which advertised free walk in items, the same items advertised in the $30 book. And whats more insulting, even better deals can be had by going to the stores themselves and looking for the FREE discount book that has loads of coupons in it. The freebies offered in this coupon book are far superior to the junk that the $30 book yielded. After chasing down all the items in the $30 book, I'm hard pressed to say that we got more than $5 worth of value. Most of the freebies were cheap plastic mass produced junk. The food was mediocre, with only the second formal evening having superior food. That night we had lobster tail, muscles and shrimp prawns. All of the other dinners were nothing more than mediocre food that you can get at any buffet. The anytime dining was a joke. We consistently waited 30-45 minutes for a table, even though many tables were empty in the dining hall. These tables were reserved for those that made reservations. Reservations, in the any time dining restaurant. These people that had reservations had tables set aside for hours while others had to wait for a table. Then when you sat down it took us an average of 2 hours to complete our meal. Service was incredibly slow. After having breakfast one time in the restaurant and being told that there were no tables available to eat at a 2 person table, we were forced to eat with a table of 8, after a 20 minute wait. We did not go back to breakfast and instead got room service. That one time that we were told we couldn't sit by ourselves, the hall was 80% empty with tables all over the place. To continue on food, the pizzeria and grill are both outside in areas unprotected from the weather. Alaska, rain, 38 degrees. Lets put a couple food places outside. Genius!!!! Getting rained on while I wait for my burger and fries or chicken sandwich, boy did I love it. There is no thought or planning put into this boat, the main pool is outside and unprotected from e weather, GENIUS!!!! The main pool happens to be right next to the indoor pool and the Buffet. Guess what happens when an open outdoor area that is cold is next to constantly open sliding doors? Those areas get cold too, GENIUS!!! To end this review, the nickle and diming, the food, poorly plannned boat, the black mold and mildew in the bathtub, the torn and ragged sheets on the bed, to constant sales pitch to buy everything in sight, the fact that our cruise was cut short and we didnt even go to the main wildlife area College Fjord. This cruise and cruiseline was a giant waste of money. I will never cruise with this company again and I will discourage anyone that even considers it. Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
I planned this AK cruise for over six months using every bit of info i could find on Cruise Critic and other boards ... still got some surprises. Here goes my/our review! We arrived in Vancouver BC on 6/27/11 after our long ... Read More
I planned this AK cruise for over six months using every bit of info i could find on Cruise Critic and other boards ... still got some surprises. Here goes my/our review! We arrived in Vancouver BC on 6/27/11 after our long flights from Tucson. Temp was 108 when we left AZ! Spent 2 nights in Vancouver b4 our embarkation. We like walking around Vancouver. We had been in Vancouver in 2010 while on vacation . In 2010 we enjoyed a late lunch at the Boat House at English Bay. In 2011, not so good. Food was still pretty good but service was slow for no apparent reason. A new restaurant is being constructed between this restaurant and the bay . The view of the bay will be lost from the first floor dining area. Now for the ship. Our minisuite suite with balcony was fine. Did not spend alot of time on balcony because weather was a bit wet and sometimes cold. Balcony was great for Glacier Bay and College Fyord days. Our steward, Morvin, was very attentive. We tipped him $40 cash for his efforts. I found communications from Princess to be lacking starting with embarkation. We accidentally carried our luggage( heavy) through all the embarkation/security checkpoints. We had intended to check the luggage and carry our 4 bottles of wine on board. Unintentionally, we ended carrying everything to our mini suite. We chose anytime dining. We ate one dinner in Bordeaux dining room. Food was just OK and we are not foodies. Portions were small but service was very good. We ate most of our meals at Horizon Court or rather took Horizon Court to our mini suite. Watching people over eat on Horizon Court was a bit of a putoff. We also ate lunch each day at the Grill or Pizza place . Grill food was very good pizza was just OK but very convenient. Back to Bordeaux.. my wife's breakfast was very good.Service was very good. I took coffee from coffee bar( La Patt.... something each day) into Bordeaux. We like good coffee . Stumbled across coffee bar card by accident the first morning. Card costs $30 and for us was a good deal. We had intended to eat at least one night at Bayou Cafe and one night do the Ultimate Balcony Dinner. Neither Bayou or Ultimate worked out. We brought on nice outfit( nice by our standards... not nice enough by formal night) with us . I wore dark slacks and a very expensive Callaway golf shirt. Bayou Cafe staff, on formal night, did not appreciate our dress and tried to put us back in the corner even though there only one other table occupied in the restaurant . My wife got upset so we left without eating. The menu for Ultimate Balcony Dining did not appeal to us . We knew it was going to cost $100 plus a good tip so after reviewing the menu we skipped Ultimate Balcony Dining. The weather was iffy on the balcony most days anyway! We are both very fit 60 year old people who either workout, play tennis or golf every day home in AZ. We used the ships gym each day when we were not in port! Ports: Ketchikan, weather was very wet. We visited Totem Pole center. $10 each it was interesting. Took free shuttle bus from downtown. Juneau, weather was OK. Took Tram to top of peak. Took Mendenhall bus shuttle to the glacier. Both excursions were fine. We booked excursions ourselves after we docked. Pretty easy . Not sure why Juneau is the capital of AK when you compare to Anchorage??! Skagway, Why bother stopping here. 800 residents...40 jewelry stores and one liquor store? Formal night was a big deal for Princess and some people. Not for us!For us it made zero sense to carry formal clothes for one night during our 2+ week AK vacation. The AK people we saw and met wear blue jeans. Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
In November 2009 we spent 10-days on the Island Princess cruising to the Panama Canal. We sailed from Ft Lauderdale across the Caribbean to Aruba, west to Cartagena Columbia, thru the first 3 steps of the Panama Canal and into Lake Gatun ... Read More
In November 2009 we spent 10-days on the Island Princess cruising to the Panama Canal. We sailed from Ft Lauderdale across the Caribbean to Aruba, west to Cartagena Columbia, thru the first 3 steps of the Panama Canal and into Lake Gatun (Gat-tune), backtracked to Colon Panama, sailed west to Port Limon Costa Rica, went NW across the Caribbean to Ocho Rios Jamaica, around Cuba and back to Ft Lauderdale. We booked late and ended up with a balcony on Deck 12. We are keen bird watchers and used the balcony mostly to look for Ocean birds. With temps in the mid 80sF, we could be on the balcony a lot. We selected this trip primarily because it went into the Panama Canal. Some cruises just stop at Colon Panama since it costs big bucks for a cruise ship to pass thru the Panama Canal. Birding Summary We saw 109 bird species in 6 countries on the 10-day cruise: City Country # Birds Ft Lauderdale US 9 Oranjestad Aruba 23 Cartagena Columbia 19 Colon Panama 26 Puerto Limon Costa Rica 46 Ocho Rios Jamaica 32 Total 109 36% of the birds we saw can normally be seen in the US. 46% are never seen in the US. The remaining 18% are uncommon to very rare in the US. A few birds like Brown Pelicans, Magnificent Frigatebirds, and Royal Terns were seen at all ports. However, 81% of the 109 bird species were only seen once. We saw 16 endemic bird species on the trip, all from Jamaica. In Jamaica we were able to find a birding guide - Wendy Lee @ wendylee@cwjamaica.com 876-973-4305. Wendy runs the Seven Oaks Sanctuary for Wildlife in Runaway Bay, and is a volunteer Game Warden. She is a native of the islands, has a Master's Degree in Biology from the University of Florida. She is of English decent and really knows the birds, butterflies and flowers of the island. Embarkation and Disembarkation We drove to Ft Lauderdale and stayed at the Comfort Inn in Hollywood on Stirling Avenue. We could leave our car here for $6 a day and get a free bus to the Cruiseport. Great idea! Lots of people stay here the night before going on a cruise. We got to the Cruiseport at 11:30am, and by 11:45 we were eating in the Buffet. This is first time it really helped to be a Platinum member of the Captain's Circle. However, our 3 pieces of luggage didn't show up till 6pm. Princess was well organized to get people off the ship, but the luggage area was a zoo. Gold 1 thru 6 luggage tags were supposed to be in separate areas, but the luggage was all thrown together. This was the worst experience we have had finding our bags while getting off a ship. We had a free bus back to the hotel, but many people were waiting for the same bus, so we took a taxi back for $25. The bus got to the hotel 1.5 hrs after we did - we had already been to the beach and back. Cabin We had a balcony cabin on the Port side of Deck 12 (A304). The room was pretty standard with lots of storage. The bed was very hard and by 2am your back would be hurting (we heard other passengers make the same comment). We didn't use the balcony as much as on other cruises because of smokers in other cabins around and below us polluted the air to the point we couldn't stay out. Also, the people next to our cabin talked so loud you didn't want to be out when they were around - you could even hear them thru the walls. Some of the cabin furnishings were in need of replacement; i.e., the bedspread had cigarette holes , the duvet was ripped in several areas, and the refrigerator didn't get things very cool. We normally stay on Deck 5 or 6. I can't see how being on Deck 12 was any upgrade from Deck 5 - I wouldn't pay more to be higher up on the ship. Princess must be assigning more rooms to each Cabin Stewart. Our Stewart worked pretty fast, but it still took him a long time to get to our room most days. It didn't used to be that way. We got good Internet reception in our room (free because we're Platinum). The Port side balconies are best for birdwatching going from the Atlantic to Pacific thru the Panama Canal, but the best side for seeing the operation of the locks is on the Starboard side. No one had been smoking in our cabin before we arrived Nov 20. I feel sorry for whoever got cabin A622 on the Nov 30 cruise - we had to hold our nose in the hall as we walked past that room because of the stench of smoke. There is no way to know if your room will smell bad or not - it's Russian Roulette with cigarette smoke. However, if you get a room where someone has been smoking - Complain immediately!!! We did that on a cruise to Antarctica and they shampooed the floors, washed the walls and ceiling, and changed all the linens the next day. Food & Drinks We had one Br, one Lu, and one Dn in the dinning room. Br was OK. The Lu and Dn Dinning Room choices were pretty mediocre, even by cruise standards. A restaurant would soon go out of business with these uninteresting menu selections and tasteless choices. We ate most of our meals in the Buffet on Deck 14 Forward. They had a bigger selection than the Dinning Room, plus you could see what you were getting (helps me a lot). You could always make a vegetable salad for Lu or Dn. There were always lots of rolls to choose from and real butter. There was always some type of fresh cut meat, but the pork was not cooked hot enough so we didn't eat it. The curry dishes were always good. The freshly made pasta dishes were usually bland (they use very weak Pesto). I learned a long time ago that the desserts were going to be bad on cruise ships. The Island Princess was no exception! Their sorry imitation of Key Lime Pie was especially bad. The best thing we found was the Oatmeal & Raisin cookies. On the last day at sea they had a Chocolate Buffet at Noon. The timing was better than the late night dessert buffets I have seen on other ships, but the cakes were dry and bad - I did like the strawberries dipped in white chocolate I got off a piece of cake. The coffee was bad in the Dinning Room and Buffet - they must use instant coffee. To get fresh brewed coffee you have to buy a coffee card ($27 for 15 cups) and get coffee from the Bar - the Cappuccinos and Frappuccinos were good. We brought our own coffee, a small "coffee by the cup" coffee maker, and made our own coffee in the room by getting hot water and cream from the Buffet. The Ice Tea in the Buffet is made from syrup and has a funky celery taste - much better to make your own hot tea from bags and pour on ice. They have a variety of tea bags, but we brought our own Chai Tea. The Lemonade in the Buffet was great with lots of lemon pulp in it. My wife ordered a Margarita during the Mexican Buffet. It came in a small glass and tasted like water, but cost $5.50. She complained to the area supervisor. Pretty soon they brought a much larger drink that tasted like a Margarita and cost $7.76. The waiter said the first drink was the House Margarita and the second was a 24K Margarita, but no one told us there was an option when we first ordered. In the Buffet you can dress casual or even wear shorts for Dn. You can usually eat in 20 to 30 minutes with no waiting for a table for 2. Public Areas We avoided the public areas as much as possible because of the stench of cigarette and cigar smoke. Princess encourages people to smoke cigars at the Churchill Bar on Deck 7, but this contributes greatly to the overall stench of the public areas on Decks 5, 6 and 7. We never went in the Casino on Deck 6 because of the strong smell of smoke. The Wheelhouse Bar of Deck 6 Midship was large, comfortable and smoke free. We enjoyed the private Spa (limited to 20 couples a day) with 4 hot stone beds, 3 steam rooms and 1 dry sauna on Deck 14 Aft. It's a great place to spend sea days and the afternoons of port days - especially since it is No-Smoking! The Rainforest showers are very large with lots of water (in case you don't like the small showers in the cabins). We thought it was well worth the $199! We used the Sanctuary on the day we went thru the Panama Canal. It was probably not worth $70 per person, especially since someone was smoking a cigar on one of the balconies on Deck 12 Aft that wafted up to the Sanctuary. I did get some good pictures of the locks from the Sanctuary as we sailed back toward Colon (but you could get the same pictures from the basketball court on Deck 15). They have removed the freestanding smoke stands from the Promenade Deck and from the elevator areas. This seemed to reduce the number of people smoking on the Promenade Deck, but sometimes people with cigars would congregate there anyhow, even though the Princess handbook in each cabin specifically requests that no cigars or pipes be smoked anywhere on the ship except the Churchill Bar. The handbook also says some areas are marked Non Smoking, but we never saw any signs. The Internet area on Deck 8 was smaller than we had seen on other ships, but we got great Internet coverage in our cabin. We got 250 minutes free since we are Platinum members. Shore Excursions We only took a ship's shore excursion in Cartagena Columbia because of safety concerns. It turns our there was nothing to be concerned about. The tour spent 45 minutes at an Emerald store (we didn't buy any). We should have gotten a taxi on our own at the Port to take us to the impressive Fort and Old Town. At every port, it was possible to get tours at substantially reduced prices from the ship's Shore Excursions. Highlights Finding a beach in Aruba near the ship with lots of Beach Glass. Finding a Mask Boobie rookery on some small islands 3-hours west of Aruba. Finding a store that sold Aguadiente (Fire Water) in Cartagena. Seeing a flock of Keel-billed Toucans and a Black-mandibled Toucan while approaching the Panama Canal. Seeing a pair of Crested Caracaras, a Yellow-headed Caracara, and a Fork-tailed Flycatcher while in the Panama Canal. Hearing "Kiss-K-dee" everywhere in Port Limon Costa Rica and seeing 5 Kiskadee and Flycatcher species around town, finding a gorgeous Montezuma Oropendola in the suburbs, seeing a Violaceous Trogon and 3 Tanager species in the Rainforest, and getting a good enough photo to identify the Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer hummingbird. Birding the Prospect Plantation near the Port in Ocho Rios Jamaica for 4 hours and seeing 16 endemic bird species, including the very long-tailed Red-billed Streamertail hummingbirds, Lizard-Cuckoo, Northern Potoo, Jamaican Woodpecker, Stripe-headed Tanagers and Chestnut-bellied Cuckoo. Walking 4 to 6 miles a day on the Promenade Deck. Relaxing on the heated stone beds of the private Spa. Disappointments The trip was too rushed, with barely enough time in most Ports to take some short shore trips and shop. There was never any local entertainment at night, as we have seen on other South America cruises. The Sanctuary didn't add enough value to justify the cost. The pool should have been a large mineral-water hot tub like on the Pacific Princess. Not being able to get off the ship at the Yacht Club (9.262N 79.916W) after passing thru the Panama Canal. I found a bird guide in Panama (Gonzalo Horna at gonzalohorna@hotmail.com), but Princess said he would not be allowed to pick us up at the Yacht Club. Columbia has an impressive bird list, but we couldn't find any birding guides in Cartagena. If I Could Do It Over I Would Consider going on Celebrity since they don't allow smoking in the cabins or on the balconies. The buzz on Island Princess was that Celebrity had better food. Celebrity stops in Colon all day so you could arrange for a bird guide. I choose to go on Princess because it goes through the Panama Canal. We would probably have had a better experience of Panama by finding a guide and go birding all day. Going through the Panama Canal turned out to be mostly a memorial service for the 23,000 people who died constructing the facilities by the overly talkative Dr. Ryan. Not take any formal clothing. This would have allowed us to do the early morning walk-off Disembarkation. Special Comments Nov 23 Monday Aruba We were off ship at 7am (84F). We found a driver on the street that would take us to the Bubali Bird Sanctuary (12.562N 70.048W) for $40/hr (Regmy Dubero streetzaruba@hotmail.com 297-593-3551). We found some good water birds including a Sora. Regmy spotted 2 pairs of Brown-throated Parakeets for us. We only stayed 1 hour and saw 16 birds. If you put the above Lat & Longs into Google Earth you can see the location I am discussing. Typically, there are lots of pictures. Regmy said it would take 40 minutes to drive to the Arikok NP one-way. The drivers at the Port said you couldn't go to Spanish Lagoon. Back at the Port you could get a 2 hr tour of the islands for $10pp on a school type bus. Princess charges $64 for a 3 hr tour using the same type of open-air school bus. Near the Port we went looking for beach glass on the small beach we could see from our balcony. We got heaps (about a quart) of good beach glass including a nice piece of blue and a small piece of yellow. At 2:55pm (while walking after the ship left Port) we saw our first ocean bird at Sea - a Masked Booby who circled the ship for half hr and dive-bombed fish. We also saw 8 dolphines surfing the boat midship - one jumped from wave to wave. Later there were 16-Masked Boobie on our side of the ship plunge diving for fish. Finally, one Brown Booby showed-up. They all probably came from some small volcanic peaks we saw this afternoon. We saw 23 bird species today, including: Bird Location Black-faced Grassquit Port Brown-throated Parakeet Bubali Bird Sanctuary Neotropic Cormorant Bubali Bird Sanctuary Tropical Mockingbird Bubali Bird Sanctuary Nov 24 Tuesday Cartagena We saw 19 bird species around town including: Name Location Mottle-backed Elaenia Old Town Red-crowned Woodpecker Old Town Rufous-tailed Hummingbird Old Town White-throated Kingbird Old Town Caribbean Martin Old Town Velvet-fronted Grackle Old Town Neotropic Cormorant Port White-winged Swallow Port Nov 25 Wed Panama Canal We saw 26 bird species today including: Name Park Neotropic Cormorant Approaching PC going toward Pacific Keel-billed Toucan Approaching PC going toward Pacific Crested Caracara Approaching PC going toward Pacific Yellow-headed Caracara In PC going toward Pacific Ringed Kingfisher In PC going toward Pacific Fork-tailed Flycatcher In PC going toward Pacific Red-lored Parrot Departing PC going toward Atlantic Tropical Kingbird Departing PC going toward Atlantic It rains here about every day. They get 237" of rain per year. It rained about 11am with some strong wind for 10 minutes. Things got pretty wet. Something to think about if you decide to go on a tour. The only bridge across the Canal on the Atlantic side is a "telescoping bridge" across both lock chambers that is only operational a few minutes each hour; i.e., when there is no boats in both chambers. Long delays are likely for some of the ship tours that have to use this bridge. On average, 43 ships a day go thru the PC. It costs $100 per bed for cruise ships to go thru the PC. It costs about $4 per ton for cargo ships. It takes 8 hrs to go from Atlantic to Pacific. A few hundred people work at each locks, but 8000 people work around the clock to keep the shipping lane thru Lake Gatun (Gat-tune) open. Thanksgiving Nov 26 Limon, Costa Rica We got off the ship at 7am. We found a taxi at the Port (9.984N 83.019W) for $30/hr with a driver that spoke English and knew some birds - Holme Samuels (Sam), PO Box 402, Limon CR (he worked for Trans OBM DEL Caribe - transobmdelcaribe@hotmail.es 2798-07-08. We drove around town and Sam found a Montezuma Oropendola (large bird with yellow tail and black & orange beak) in a tall tree on a back street. We stopped at Playa Bonita (10.010N 83.063W) and found 3 types of shore birds & a Snail Kite. We stopped on a one-lane bridge (9.999N 83.080W) over the Toruguero Canal and found a Northern Jacana, .a.k.a. Jesus Bird. Sam said they also have the Jesus Christ Lizard that can walk on water also. Sam got us a 1 hr Toruguero Canal (9.998N 83.086W) tour for $20pp (it costs $69 from ship) on a small/fast boat with one other couple. We saw 2 Slothes and got to hold a Cayman, but didn't see any unusual birds Sam drove us to the suburb of La Bomba to drive thru the Rainforest (9.912N 83.066W). We found a toucan and several tanagers near the resort that does Zip Line trips. We were back to the ship at 12:30pm. After Lu we went to the Vargas Parque (9.993N 83.024W) across the street from the Cruise Port (2 minute walk from ship). We saw a Sloth in a tree and a Clay-colored Robin - the national bird of Costa Rica. We walked to the Central Market on 2nd Av. Interesting area, but the market itself was smelly, so we returned to ship. We saw 46 bird species today in 6 locations around town: Name Park Magnificent Frigatebird Port Common Tern Port Royal Tern Port Ringed Kingfisher Port Brown Pelican Port Black Vulture Port Montezuma Oropendola Playa Bonita area Snail Kite Playa Bonita area Spotted Sandpiper Playa Bonita area Pectoral Sandpiper Playa Bonita area Grey Plover (Black-billed Plover) Playa Bonita area Semipalmated Plover Playa Bonita area Acadian Flycatcher Playa Bonita area White-ringed Flycatcher Playa Bonita area Social Flycatcher Playa Bonita area Grey-capped Flycatcher Playa Bonita area Great Kiskadee Playa Bonita area Variable Seedeater Playa Bonita area Ruddy Turnstone Playa Bonita area Yellow-throated Vireo Playa Bonita area Blue-black Grassquit Playa Bonita area Northern Jacana Toruguero Canal bridge Reddish Egret Toruguero Canal bridge Green Heron Toruguero Canal bridge Blue-and-white Swallow Toruguero Canal tour Ruddy Ground-Dove Toruguero Canal tour Snowy Egret Toruguero Canal tour Little Blue Heron Toruguero Canal tour Great Blue Heron Toruguero Canal tour Great Egret Toruguero Canal tour Violaceous Trogon La Bomba Rainforest Scarlet-rumped Tanager La Bomba Rainforest White-winged Tanager La Bomba Rainforest Blue-grey Tanager La Bomba Rainforest Summer Tanager La Bomba Rainforest Olive-backed Euphonia La Bomba Rainforest Louisiana Waterthrush La Bomba Rainforest Stripe-breasted Wren La Bomba Rainforest Blue-black Grosbeak La Bomba Rainforest Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer (hummingbird) La Bomba Rainforest Groove-billed Ani La Bomba Rainforest Cattle Egret La Bomba Rainforest Clay-colored Thrush Vargas Parque Red-eyed Vireo Vargas Parque Red-lored Parrot Vargas Parque Great-tailed Grackle Vargas Parque Sam knew where to go to find birds. It is surprising there were no real bird guides in Limon for the number of good birds that can be seen. Nov 28 Sunday Ocho Rios, Jamaica We met Wendy Lee (wendylee@cwjamaica.com 876-973-4305), our birding guide for the day, at 9:30am. Wendy runs the Seven Oaks Sanctuary for Wildlife in Runaway Bay, and is a volunteer Game Warden. She is a native of the islands and really knows the birds. We went to the Prospect Plantation (18.404N 77.112W) to go birding. The Plantation is only a quarter-mile walk from the Port, or 1 mile by car using the one-way city streets. You could easily walk there from the ship, but the Plantation won't let individuals in to walk around - they only have group tours by tractor pulled wagons and on camelback. Wendy has an agreement with the manager to take birders on private tours at the Plantation. We walked the shaded roads of the Plantation for 4 hours and saw 29 bird species, including 16 that endemic to Jamaica. Right off we saw the very long-tailed Red-billed Streamertails and a Lizard-Cuckoo. We found a Northern Potoo sleeping at the top of a termite nest on a tree - it looked like part of the tree. Green-rumped parakeets were easy to see and photograph. The Jamaican Woodpecker and Stripe-headed Tanagers were spectacular. The Chestnut-bellied Cuckoo was massive but beautiful. White-crowned Pigeons are supposed to be uncommon in Jamaica, but there were lots of them here. We heard the knife sharpening sound of the Vervain Hummingbirds (world's second smallest Hummer at 2.5 inches) often and saw some farmed Ostriches (the world's largest bird). Vervain's like to perch in the tops of tall trees and are sometimes hard to see. Wendy said one always perched on an electric line we pass, but today a Kestrel was on the electric pole and the Vervain was no where to be seen. It was sunny and 82F today - that is equivalent to 102F in the shade. By the time we got back to the ship at 1:40pm our clothes were soaked. We were ready for quick Lu in the Buffet followed by a 1.5 hr power nap and an hour in the Spa. From the ship and Plantation we saw 32 bird species today: Name Status Chestnut-bellied Cuckoo Endemic Jamaican Lizard-Cuckoo Endemic Northern Potoo Endemic Red-billed Streamertail Endemic Jamaican Vervain Hummingbird Endemic Jamaican Woodpecker Endemic Sad Flycatcher Endemic Loggerhead Kingbird Endemic Jamaican Crow Endemic White-chinned Thrush Endemic Stripe-headed Tanager Endemic Orangequit Endemic Jamaican Oriole Endemic Jamaican Euphonia Endemic Jamaican Becard Endemic Jamaican Olive-throated Parakeet Endemic Green-rumped Parrotlet Endemic White-crowned Pigeon Uncommon Brown Pelican Common Magnificent Frigatebird Common Royal Tern Common Cattle Egret Common Turkey Vulture Common Red-tailed Hawk Common American Kestrel Common Zenaida Dove Common Common Ground-Dove Common Northern Mockingbird Common American Redstart Common Prairie Warbler Common Bananaquit Common Ostrich Introduced We saw the Cuban Swallowtail and Jamaican Zebra Broadwing butterflies at the Plantation, and several others we photographed but couldn't identify. From Aruba to Jamaica we saw new birds each day of the cruise: Name Date Observed Destination Park Brown Pelican 11/20/2009 Ft Lauderdale Port Everglades Little Blue Heron 11/20/2009 Ft Lauderdale Port Everglades Magnificent Frigatebird 11/20/2009 Ft Lauderdale Port Everglades Osprey 11/20/2009 Ft Lauderdale Port Everglades Ring-billed Gull 11/20/2009 Ft Lauderdale Port Everglades Royal Tern 11/20/2009 Ft Lauderdale Port Everglades Snowy Egret 11/20/2009 Ft Lauderdale Port Everglades Masked Booby 11/23/2009 Oranjestad At Sea 14:55 on 11/23 Brown Booby 11/23/2009 Oranjestad At Sea 15:52 on 11/23 Bank Swallow 11/23/2009 Oranjestad Bubali Bird Sanctuary Blue-winged Teal 11/23/2009 Oranjestad Bubali Bird Sanctuary Brown-throated Parakeet 11/23/2009 Oranjestad Bubali Bird Sanctuary Common Moorhen 11/23/2009 Oranjestad Bubali Bird Sanctuary Great Blue Heron 11/23/2009 Oranjestad Bubali Bird Sanctuary Great Egret 11/23/2009 Oranjestad Bubali Bird Sanctuary Green Heron 11/23/2009 Oranjestad Bubali Bird Sanctuary Neotropic Cormorant 11/23/2009 Oranjestad Bubali Bird Sanctuary Palm Warbler 11/23/2009 Oranjestad Bubali Bird Sanctuary Ruddy Turnstone 11/23/2009 Oranjestad Bubali Bird Sanctuary Sora 11/23/2009 Oranjestad Bubali Bird Sanctuary Tricolored Heron 11/23/2009 Oranjestad Bubali Bird Sanctuary Tropical Mockingbird 11/23/2009 Oranjestad Bubali Bird Sanctuary White-winged Dove 11/23/2009 Oranjestad Bubali Bird Sanctuary Black-faced Grassquit 11/23/2009 Oranjestad Port House Sparrow 11/23/2009 Oranjestad Port Black Vulture 11/24/2009 Cartagena Old Town Blue-and-yellow Macaw 11/24/2009 Cartagena Old Town Caribbean Martin 11/24/2009 Cartagena Old Town Great-tailed Grackle 11/24/2009 Cartagena Old Town Mottle-backed Elaenia 11/24/2009 Cartagena Old Town Red-crowned Woodpecker 11/24/2009 Cartagena Old Town Rufous-tailed Hummingbird 11/24/2009 Cartagena Old Town Turkey Vulture 11/24/2009 Cartagena Old Town Velvet-fronted Grackle 11/24/2009 Cartagena Old Town White-throated Kingbird 11/24/2009 Cartagena Old Town Common Tern 11/24/2009 Cartagena Port White-winged Swallow 11/24/2009 Cartagena Port American Kestrel 11/25/2009 Colon Panama Canal Ani 11/25/2009 Colon Panama Canal Black-mandibled Toucan 11/25/2009 Colon Panama Canal Crested Caracara 11/25/2009 Colon Panama Canal Fork-tailed Flycatcher 11/25/2009 Colon Panama Canal Keel-billed Toucan 11/25/2009 Colon Panama Canal Purple Martin 11/25/2009 Colon Panama Canal Reddish Egret 11/25/2009 Colon Panama Canal Red-lored Parrot 11/25/2009 Colon Panama Canal Ringed Kingfisher 11/25/2009 Colon Panama Canal Solitary Sandpiper 11/25/2009 Colon Panama Canal Tropical Kingbird 11/25/2009 Colon Panama Canal Yellow-headed Caracara 11/25/2009 Colon Panama Canal Acadian Flycatcher 11/26/2009 Puerto Limon Puerto Limon Blue-and-white Swallow 11/26/2009 Puerto Limon Puerto Limon Blue-black Grassquit 11/26/2009 Puerto Limon Puerto Limon Blue-black Grosbeak 11/26/2009 Puerto Limon Puerto Limon Blue-grey Tanager 11/26/2009 Puerto Limon Puerto Limon Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer 11/26/2009 Puerto Limon Puerto Limon Cattle Egret 11/26/2009 Puerto Limon Puerto Limon Clay-colored Thrush (Robin) 11/26/2009 Puerto Limon Puerto Limon Great Kiskadee 11/26/2009 Puerto Limon Puerto Limon Grey Plover (Black-bellied Plover) 11/26/2009 Puerto Limon Puerto Limon Grey-capped Flycatcher 11/26/2009 Puerto Limon Puerto Limon Groove-billed Ani 11/26/2009 Puerto Limon Puerto Limon Louisiana Waterthrush 11/26/2009 Puerto Limon Puerto Limon Montezuma Oropendola 11/26/2009 Puerto Limon Puerto Limon Northern Jacana 11/26/2009 Puerto Limon Puerto Limon Olive-backed Euphonia 11/26/2009 Puerto Limon Puerto Limon Pectoral Sandpiper 11/26/2009 Puerto Limon Puerto Limon Red-eyed Vireo 11/26/2009 Puerto Limon Puerto Limon Ruddy Ground-Dove 11/26/2009 Puerto Limon Puerto Limon Scarlet-rumped Tanager 11/26/2009 Puerto Limon Puerto Limon Semipalmated Plover 11/26/2009 Puerto Limon Puerto Limon Snail Kite 11/26/2009 Puerto Limon Puerto Limon Social Flycatcher 11/26/2009 Puerto Limon Puerto Limon Spotted Sandpiper 11/26/2009 Puerto Limon Puerto Limon Stripe-breasted Wren 11/26/2009 Puerto Limon Puerto Limon Summer Tanager 11/26/2009 Puerto Limon Puerto Limon Variable Seedeater 11/26/2009 Puerto Limon Puerto Limon Violaceous Trogon 11/26/2009 Puerto Limon Puerto Limon White-ringed Flycatcher 11/26/2009 Puerto Limon Puerto Limon White-winged Tanager 11/26/2009 Puerto Limon Puerto Limon Yellow-throated Vireo 11/26/2009 Puerto Limon Puerto Limon American Redstart 28-Nov Ocho Rios Ocho Rios Bananaquit 28-Nov Ocho Rios Ocho Rios Chestnut-bellied Cuckoo 28-Nov Ocho Rios Ocho Rios Common Ground-Dove 28-Nov Ocho Rios Ocho Rios Green-rumped Parrotlet 28-Nov Ocho Rios Ocho Rios Jamaican Becard 28-Nov Ocho Rios Ocho Rios Jamaican Crow 28-Nov Ocho Rios Ocho Rios Jamaican Euphonia 28-Nov Ocho Rios Ocho Rios Jamaican Lizard-Cuckoo 28-Nov Ocho Rios Ocho Rios Jamaican Olive-throated Parakeet 28-Nov Ocho Rios Ocho Rios Jamaican Oriole 28-Nov Ocho Rios Ocho Rios Stripe-headed Tanager 28-Nov Ocho Rios Ocho Rios Jamaican Vervain Hummingbird 28-Nov Ocho Rios Ocho Rios Jamaican Woodpecker 28-Nov Ocho Rios Ocho Rios Loggerhead Kingbird 28-Nov Ocho Rios Ocho Rios Northern Mockingbird 28-Nov Ocho Rios Ocho Rios Northern Potoo 28-Nov Ocho Rios Ocho Rios Orangequit 28-Nov Ocho Rios Ocho Rios Ostrich 28-Nov Ocho Rios Ocho Rios Prairie Warbler 28-Nov Ocho Rios Ocho Rios Red-billed Streamertail 28-Nov Ocho Rios Ocho Rios Red-tailed Hawk 28-Nov Ocho Rios Ocho Rios Sad Flycatcher 28-Nov Ocho Rios Ocho Rios White-chinned Thrush 28-Nov Ocho Rios Ocho Rios White-crowned Pigeon 28-Nov Ocho Rios Ocho Rios Zenaida Dove 28-Nov Ocho Rios Ocho Rios Happy Birding, Carl & Wilma Ball carlball@yahoo.com Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
Over the years we have cruised a number of times.  This was our 19th or 20th cruise taken on various cruise lines including Princess, Celebrity, Holland America, Royal Caribbean, Carnival, and NCL  Even though we have made many of these ... Read More
Over the years we have cruised a number of times.  This was our 19th or 20th cruise taken on various cruise lines including Princess, Celebrity, Holland America, Royal Caribbean, Carnival, and NCL  Even though we have made many of these trips on Princess ships, in the last 5 years we have only traveled with Princess one timeon the Grand Princess in 2005.  It is a nice ship and we were treated very well on that cruise.  Our recent experience on the Island Princess leaves us with the feeling that we probably will avoid this line in the future.  We booked this May 2009 cruisetour in the fall of 2008 when the global economy was stronger.  We probably paid too much for this trip.   However, we did get onboard credit ($200 per person) and, once we had boarded, another $100 per cabin which helped to offset, somewhat, the recent reduction in price that was being advertised by the cruise line for this trip.  In no supplied information were we told that this issued onboard credit was given on a "use it or loose it" situation.  In fact, our final room statement from the ship showed and stated "credit due" of almost $200.  When we contacted the cruise line after almost two months had passed and no credit had been issued for our credit card, the Princess company stated that this credit was on a "use it or loose it" situation and we are just out of luck because we failed to use it all.  Their reply continues that "they welcome us back anytime in the future",  but they don't issue even any onboard credit for this amount on a future cruise.  Well, it will probably be a long timeif we ever doreturn to their line.We visited Alaska in 1989 on a Sitmar cruise, sailing from and returning to San Francisco.  Since that time there have been many changes, both to the ports, and to the landscape.  Even though this cruise only visited three ports, it did include the "double-Denali" tour and 5 days that ended in Fairbanks.  My observation of changes to the ports includes that in 1989 as we departed our ship at each port we were immediately "in the small town or village".  We were not forced to walk through 3 or 4 blocks of "cruise-ship owned" gift stores before we encountered the local merchants and their shops.  It is also noted by this author that the Mendenhall Glacier has receded approximately 100-150 feet since that time.We booked our own air from DFW to Vancouver on American Airlines and returning flight from Fairbanks to DFW on Alaska Airlines.  Both trips were okay and by booking on our own flights, we saved over $400 per person from the quoted "air add-on" of the cruise line.  However, probably because the cruise lines had all the flights reserved on the day of sailing, we were forced to travel to Vancouver the day before sailing and had to spend a night there in a hotel.  Our 3-hour direct flight from DFW to Vancouver was very pleasant and uneventful and we found our hotel very comfortable.  The following morning we walked, in the rain, a couple of miles on Granville Island to various locations around our hotel.  Just before noon we returned to the hotel, checked out, and took a cab to Canada Place where we immediately boarded the ship.At first glance our stateroom, balcony cabin A520, was very pleasant and comfortable.  However, closer inspection revealed that even though it had a very nice "walk-in" closet and there was adequate storage areas, the bathroom was so compact, with such a small shower, it was not easy to use.  Both my wife and I fall into the "per portion height/weight size" category and we were not very comfortable with the shower.  I found that if I dropped a bar of soap, there was no way I could retrieve it without turning off the shower and getting out into the floor of the bathroom to reach it.  My wife, who is somewhat short, was very uncomfortable because the shower had no provision for the nozzle height to be adjusted and there was absolutely no hand-held shower.  Regarding the bathroom size, I heard more than one fellow cruiser remark that they could "wash only one shoulder or one leg at a time, etc".  In the stateroom we noted that there were only two chairs and neither one was comfortable enough to sit in to watch television or read.   Obviously one chair was to be used for the desk and the other had no footstool or reasonable amount of padding to make it comfortable.  We did sit sometimes on the balcony, but found that it was too cool to stay there for any length of time to read.  The result of this was that anytime we were in our stateroom, to be comfortable, we must sit on or lie on the bed.  The stateroom service was acceptable even though the food room service was somewhat inadequate.  On Monday I requested a fruit basket. After a second request on Wednesday it was finally delivered on Thursday.  One pleasant, memorable event (which we all usually dread) was the first day Passenger Muster Exercise.  The other cruise lines should take instruction from Princess.  The Princess crew has this event staged and presented in a very pleasing fashion with passengers gathering in pleasant, comfortable surroundings.We booked tours at two of our three ports with private, local guides.  So, I can only comment about the one "ship tour" that we took.  It was in Juneau and included a very nice bus excursion to a local garden followed by a trip to the Mendenhall Glacier area.  Both stops were very enjoyable.  Our private tour in Ketchikan included a visit to the totem village area and the Creek Street area.  Our private tour from Skagway was a 6 1/2 hour bus trip to Emerald Lake in Yukon Territory, Canada.  It was outstanding!  If I were doing it again I would take the bus/rail combination trip to the same location.  Our other excursions were included with the "land portion" of our trip from the various Princess lodges in and around Denali Park and in Fairbanks.  They were all outstanding.  It is also noted that we found traveling on the dome rail cars to these locations very comfortable, enjoyable, and informative.     We had traditional dining, early seating, with our friends at a table for 4.  Our waiters were excellent and very accommodating even to the point of, on two different nights, having a plate of assorted cookies, including petit-fours which my wife likes very much, sent to our stateroom.  The food in all areas was certainly okay.  Some items were better than othersthe lobster and scampi, served together, was interesting.  The scampi was delicious; the lobster was overcooked, dry, and tasteless.  Of all the cruise lines we have used, I think the food on Celebrity usually is the best including their delicious ice cream that is served almost continuously in the buffet area.The entertainment on this cruise was certainly not the normal fare.  The ship's singers and dancers troup was it.  They presented 3 shows, repeated two of those a second night, and the showroom was dark the other two nights.  There was an onboard "Port Enhancement Speaker" or "Special Interest Lecturer" who gave interesting, short programs during the mornings and afternoons on the day prior to arriving at a port.  U.S Forrest Service rangers came onboard at various times to give lectures and answer questions.  And while at the port of Juneau, Libby Riddles (the first woman musher to win the Iditarod) came onboard and gave a short presentation at 4:30 p.m.  Had the scheduling been better I think her presentation would have been very well attended.  It is noted by this writer that the "Princess Patter" (the daily publication that lists all the activities, etc.)  is such a jumbled mess that it can not be trusted.  More than once we found that the times listed were not the times that the activity took place.  Additionally, there is no way for the passenger to remove a shortened schedule of the day's activities (if they were correct) to carry in a pocket.  Princess needs to talk with Celebrity or Holland about this; they both seem to have this thing both user-friendly and well "checked" so it can be trusted.Our disembarkation at Whittier (port for Anchorage) was very easy and well-planned, but then we were continuing on a Princess rail car to a Princess lodge so it should have been easy.  We simply gathered in a lounge, walked off the ship, and boarded the train and very shortly, were on our way.  The rail cars were very comfortable; the food and drinks were good, and the crew was very helpful.  We arrived at our first lodge, The Princess Wilderness Lodge, after a very pleasant rail ride followed by the bus trip from Talkeetna to the lodge.  (Talkeetna is the town that inspired the television show "Northern Exposure" and the town looks just like it did in the show).  The following day we rode on a bus back to the Talkeetna area where we boarded the rail coach to Denali National Park.  After two nights at the Princess Denali lodge we boarded another rail coach that took us to the Fairbanks Princess Lodge.  The weather was absolutely wonderful while we were in the area.  We could see Mount McKinley every day, all day!  There are many details to the land tour that could make this review twice as long as it presently is.  I will share some of them if anyone wishes to contact me.Our return to DFW was much longer than our initial flight.  We departed from the Fairbanks airport at 1:30 a.m. on the 3-hour flight to Seattle.  (We actually went to the airport at midnight.  It was still very light outside; the sun had not set.  People were out riding bicycles!)  With a 1 1/2 hour layover in Seattle we then had another 3 hour flight to DFW.In summary I would say that we enjoyed the land portion of this trip very much.  And, there were certain things about the cruise that were enjoyable, but if I were choosing to make this trip again or any other trip (which we do quite often) I would not travel with Princess.        Read Less
Sail Date May 2009
Please enter your review. I am in my early 50's and love to cruise. My husband and myself are both platinum members in the Captain's Circle, Diamond members in Royal Caribbean and concierge level on Carnival. We had been ... Read More
Please enter your review. I am in my early 50's and love to cruise. My husband and myself are both platinum members in the Captain's Circle, Diamond members in Royal Caribbean and concierge level on Carnival. We had been looking forward to this cruise and it was a 30th anniversary present from my mother. We had a suite as we usually do when we cruise. However, we were disappointed as we had a guarantee and Princess has always placed us in suite that was midship. However, this time we were 3 rooms from the end which was extremely far from the elevators. We thought we were off to a great start as we arrived at the port at ll:30 and were one of the first ones on the ship. The nicest thing about Princess is that you always get to go right to your room and don't have to wait until after lunch. We did have a very nice room steward and an excellent waiter. But, I do have to say that's where the quality of service ended. The purser's desk was extremely unknowledgeable. At one point, all 3 employees told me they were new. The food on this ship was very disappointing compared to our previous Princess cruises. It seemed all of the buffets seemed to be the same old same old. Some nights it was hard to even pick one thing from the dinner menu and after the first few days, we read the menu earlier in the day and ended up going to the buffet or having room service. As we have cruised so much, we normally do not go to the shows onboard. I do enjoy the casino. However, I encountered one of the rudest dealers I have ever come across in 40 cruises. When seated at her table, she said hello and I responded with hello, how are you. She then proceeded to tell me she didn't ask me to say anything else. The whole table looked at each other. There was never a thank you when tipped so the table stopped tipping her. That was s shame because the dealers pool their tips and this rude woman got to ride on the tails of the friendly dealers. I did say something to the manager who told me she has been spoken to numerous times and to please fill out a comment card in hopes of getting rid of her. We had rain most of the time but we had been to all of these ports before so we made the best of it. Although, I could not believe the way we were treated when we were in Costa Rica. We had to wait a half hour in the pouring rain to get back on board. The only one with an umbrella was the security guard. There were 2 people in wheelchairs with no cover. What I couldn't understand was that there were two gangways but they were only using one to let people back on board. The other gangway was to let passengers off but there was no one getting off. Of course, when people went to complain to the purser's desk, no one cared. By the end of the ship, my husband was extremely ill and had to go to the infirmary. I was very suspicious as being an experienced cruiser , I had never seen a notice EVERY night in the Pitter Patter about washing hands and towards the end of the ship, there were notices NOT to use public facilities to go to your own stateroom. Also, the bathroom doors were always open. I also heard people saying they had been in their room for days. I knew this meant there was something going around on board that was no publicized. By the time, we got off the ship, my husband was extremely sick. I was very disgusted with the whole disembarkation process. Big deal, you get to wait in a special lounge being Platinum or Elite. On other ships, one of the perks is that you are in a special lounge and the hostess then escorts the whole room off the ship. Here you still had to wait for a color and I might add ours was 7:30 and we were called at 9:00. People that had tags after us were called before us. When we finally got off, we were on a long line that stopped at immigration. Then Princess proceeded to put disabled passengers in our line for about 20 minutes. There again, other cruise lines take off wheelchairs FIRST. After this went on for 20 minutes, people in our line started complaining. By this point, I was getting very sick. When we finally got outside once again we were literally kicked to the curb by Princess. We had this same awful experience last year. Our car was at a different parking lot as we did not dock in the same place that we left from. We then had to wait and take a shuttle bus to our car. You are then dumped to the curb with NO porters to help you get your luggage to your car. People were sitting there in wheelchairs with no one to help them. Boy, they sure are quick to help you when you arrive at the port. When we finally got home, both of us were sick. I might add, our daughter had to take both of us to the hospital the next day as we were that sick. We were told we came in contact with some kind of parasite. As we are experienced cruisers, we never eat or drink while on shore. It has taken us almost 3 weeks to recover. This was the cruise that kept on giving and not in a good way. Again, if this was my first cruise it would have been my last. Read Less
Sail Date October 2008
My partner and I cruised from Whittier to Vancouver in July 2008. This was our first cruise but we were a little disappointed with several aspects. First impressions were that the Island Princess cabin looked a 'little tired', ... Read More
My partner and I cruised from Whittier to Vancouver in July 2008. This was our first cruise but we were a little disappointed with several aspects. First impressions were that the Island Princess cabin looked a 'little tired', the carpet in our mini suite looked as though it needed a good clean, the bed valance had a tear in it and the outdoor deck chairs were splattered with paint! On a positive note the bed was very comfortable and our steward meticulously maintained the cabin although we saw him only twice during the trip. We chose anytime dining and found the food and service in the dining room excellent, special requests or variations to orders were no trouble at all. Food in the buffet was quite good but there were some occasions when it appeared that it had been left in the warming dish a little too long. Service in the buffet was very enthusiastic at the beginning of the cruise but waivered towards the end. It was disappointed we didn't have a coffee machine in our cabin, it's a bit annoying having to call room service and wait 20 minutes or more for coffee or alternatively make one's way to the buffet. I do think the ships could provide more inclusive additions in their costs, why can't they allow passengers at least one cappucino or coffee of their choice and perhaps one ice cream a day as part of their fares, also fruit juice, seems a bit ridiculous that you can order it free for breakfast but have to pay for it at any other time. Pottery classes and computer classes were around $25-35 each, massages etc very expensive, it just seemed that we had to pay for almost everything we chose to do in addition to the standard activities. The entertainment seemed very out dated and reminiscent of what one may have experience in cruise ships 20 years previously. Daytime entertainment was bingo, trivia, pottery, computers etc - what about some debates, book readings, daytime movies, guest speakers - after all we were cruising Alaska and there is lots of wonderful history to share. We did have a lady who won the Iditarod on board for a presentation and she was excellent. We attended a musical performance, hypnotist show, an Elvis hour which was a farce - the DJ played Elvis music for 20 mintues then simply replayed the same music over and over! The chocolate buffet was held one night about 10 or 11pm but the queue was round the deck so we didn't bother to wait around. Perhaps they should consider offering this at several locations throughout the deck, the champagne fountain was at 11.15pm, some people are asleep at that hour!The bar staff were excellent and the range of cocktails very good but also quite expensive. We enjoyed the ranger's talks but were disappointed that the Captain did not update us as to where we were travelling throughout the day. We received Princess Patter every evening which told us where we would be going but on the day we had no idea where we were. Bridgecam which transmitted through the TV simply showed the boat travelling but no indication of where we were. A friend recently took a cruise ship through the European rivers and said their captain kept them regularly updated as to their whereabouts throughout the cruise. We paid a lot of money for this cruise and while we are pleased we had the opportunity to see Glacier Bay and we did relax on the trip we both felt it was overrated and overpriced for what we got. Read Less
Sail Date July 2008
No Hawaiian music aboard the Island Princess, no decor indicating she was called the Island Princess and no Hawaiian food. That should have been our first clue that this was going to be on ordinary cruise. We had been looking forward to ... Read More
No Hawaiian music aboard the Island Princess, no decor indicating she was called the Island Princess and no Hawaiian food. That should have been our first clue that this was going to be on ordinary cruise. We had been looking forward to our first trip to Hawaii with our friends. After four days at sea, very rough sea, I might add, we approached the island of Kauai. We were informed, by Capt. Manfuso that the sea was too rough to get into port via the tenders and oh by the way we're heading to Honolulu because we have a medical/casualty emergency. Okay, we could handle that, but that meant our tour that included renewal of our vows was cancelled too. Disappointed, yes, but it couldn't be helped. Or could it? No one would tell us. The next stop was to be Lahaina, Maui...guess what, the Capt. got on the PA and cancelled this stop too. Hazardous harbour conditions for tendering operations. There went the snorkeling we had booked. Disappointed, yes. Again, no one would tell us anything about the decision. By the way, during all this it was announced by the Capt. that "a passenger has deliberately come on board with the novovirus and contaminated the ship" or words to that affect. How could he accuse anyone of that? From then on, we lost our salt, pepper, sugar etc. on our tables, food service staff had to hand us our food with tongs. Our wait staff was wonderful, and helped to make it a much more pleasant experience. We washed our hands all over the ship with smiles on our faces. Certainly we were not going to let this get us down. At the end of the cruise more than 200 passengers and staff had contacted this virus. The ship was scrubbed after we departed...it should be done every cruise, not just when a virus is on board. Princess Cruise Line didn't even offer us a "peace offering" - a free glass of wine, or at least ...gee we're sorry for your disappointment and inconvenience. Not a word! No one outside of Princess Cruise Lines knew about the virus either..not one newspaper or TV coverage. Amazing! Hilo, Hawaii was our next destination. We landed, but our "Circle of Fire helicopter tour" was cancelled when we got to the airport, too windy! Disappointment seems to be our middle name. We shopped at Hilo Hatties instead, this was not what we came to Hilo for, but at that late time there was no where to go. It looks like a beautiful island. Back to my review. At last Honolulu! We all got off the ship like crazed college kids...freedom, land etc! We took the tour to the Arizona and Mighty Mo. Well worth the time and money. I still look at the pictures and get goose bumps of The Arizona sitting in Pearl Harbor under the water. Our bus driver, Cousin Dave, was well versed in sights around the area too. The next day we arrived on Kona. We had booked a tour that included snorkeling, a coffee plantation, and a beautiful national park through Princess. It was lovely. Our guide was knowledgeable and very willing to answer all our questions, he even went up a Mango tree, grabbed a ripe mango for my husband and me to eat..delicious to say the least! Snorkeling on Kona is wonderful, we saw a wonderful variety of fish and sea turtles. Could have stayed all day. Four days at sea again...I read 5 books this trip. The library on ship is chock full of great selections of reading material. Soft leather chairs with footrest looking out to sea is the nicest way to read and take a nap. Why on earth we dock at Ensenada, Mexico is beyond me..yes, I know there are regulations to follow, but don't bother going ashore unless you book a tour or grab one of the independent tours at the dock. We stayed aboard and relaxed. I understand Captain Mariano Manfuso was temporary as the regular Capt. was on vacation. We never saw him on ship until the Captain's cocktail party. He didn't shake anyones hand..afraid to get the virus I guess. The drinks were so small and watered down they weren't worth the effort. No food was served, that virus problem again, we thought. Or is Princess just getting cheap? Usually at these parties the Capt. introduces his staff, chief of this, head of that...but that didn't happen, he mumbled a greeting and that was it. Oh, they introduced the passengers with the most days at sea. Who cares? I hope he has a refresher course in public speaking. The Cruise director and her staff tried too hard. One night we had a 50, 60, 70's program after dinner. They all showed up like the "grease" characters from the movie. One of the men dressed as a geek, pants hiked up to God knows where, broken glasses, etc...he proceeded to grab breasts and bottoms of the staff, thinking he was being funny. No, don't think so! They seemed to all be from England, and had a very odd sense of humor, it was either silly or rude. We didn't see many 1st, 2nd or 3rd officers around the ship either. The lectures and daily activities were geared to those over 65..we don't play bridge, or use a wheel chair and that's who the activities were geared to. Nothing wrong with older people..but come on! There was a very nice man lecturing on how to sell your house..nice, but not what I'd want to learn on a cruise. There were dance lessons, but the woman of the dance team got the virus. Two ukulele lessons were given. I would think a hula class would be fun, or how to make a lei, or something geared to Hawaii...we were on the Island Princess after all. The ladies and men in the Steiner Spa are wonderful. Massages were worth the expense! Our friend had two foot massages while he was on board, his first in his lifetime. The Horizon food court staff was great as were the bartenders and waiters throughout the ship. That staff group put up with unhappy passengers, rough seas, and some very sick people with smiles and jokes and songs. Our room steward was terrific. He picked up the lint off our floor with his fingers as they weren't allowed to vacuum because it might cause the virus to get airborne. The food was adequate. The lobster and crab legs were delicious, but as for the rest of the food it just wasn't special. I make many of the dishes they prepared for us, at home. Nothing special at all to tell you about. With the price you pay for the cruise, you'd think they'd think of something. The rooms are okay. TV reception is not good, of course you're on a cruise and should be doing something else. Princess still hasn't sprung for comfortable beds, ask for a foam crate to be put on your mattress, that helps a bit. The pillows are awful, bring your own if you have room in your suitcase. The shower is still way too small. The comedians make fun of them everytime, but it's true. Bring your shampoo too, their's makes your hair feel awful. Bring Lysol, hand cleaners etc. too. The process of getting us off the ship and on board are smoothly handled by the Princess staff. They've done this enough times that you should not be inconvenienced in any way. So, if you want to go to Hawaii...fly. Or take a cruise around the islands unless you want the extra days at sea. We don't and won't recommend this cruise to anyone. Perhaps another time of year is better, you might want to check into that. So good luck, I hope this has helped you. We are not usually so "down" on a cruise, we love to cruise and have taken 11 so far. This was our last Princess cruise. Read Less
Sail Date January 2007
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
I'm 55 and my wife is 35. This was our seventh cruise. 4 on RCCL, 1 Celebrity, 1 Carnival previously. This was our first Princess cruise out of seven now. We booked early in March because availability last year was non-existent by ... Read More
I'm 55 and my wife is 35. This was our seventh cruise. 4 on RCCL, 1 Celebrity, 1 Carnival previously. This was our first Princess cruise out of seven now. We booked early in March because availability last year was non-existent by October. Needless to say we were excited. We were set to sail 1/21/06! Embarkation was a breeze. We were on the ship by 11:30 AM with maybe a 10 minute check in. Good start. Our cabin was a Minisuite and it was great. Very roomy and a nice balcony. Actually I think this is the largest room we've had. We set off to explore the ship and eat of course. The ship is very nicely done. Beautiful. Everyone seemed very nice, we we're very impressed so far. The food. Our first disappointment. From top to bottom I'd have to say the food was just fair. There were a few bright spots but generally nothing special and far below what we've experienced on other cruises. The buffets were plentiful, all the wait staff were excellent, but the food was pretty much like any run of the mill buffet. The main dining room had a few really good meals. The lobster was excellent as was a pasta dish we tried. My wife and I agreed that 5 out of the 15 meals were very good, the rest were just "ok" to "not so good". We liked our waiter a lot though. We tried Sabatini's on our anniversary. It was very nice with a lot of foods most folks never have the occasion to try. There must have been 10 or 12 courses. The seafood platter was very good. It was worth the $20 pp surcharge. One bright spot in the food was Breakfast. Fresh eggs made to order, good bacon, french toast and pastries that were excellent. Oh yes, dessert. Not very good overall. as with dinner there were a few good ones but mostly not so good. Again, overall the food is just "fair". The ship has a small gym which we used daily. Sometimes there was a wait for a particular machine but no complaints here. With working out every morning and the food not being that great a temptation, we actually didn't gain any weight. We thought that was amazing. The weather was pretty chilly for the first 3 days out of port so not much deck activity. There was a nice solarium area with fresh water pool and hot tubs. It was a nice place to lie and read and nap. The weather warmed up on the fourth day so more people were out and about. The weather stayed fairly good until we left Hawaii although it is the wet season there. On Hilo we rented a car and drove up to see the volcano but it was raining heavily so no hiking but we at least got to see it. We also drove elsewhere around the island and viewed some waterfalls. It was very pretty, the rain just put a damper on things. On Kona we did the ATV adventure through the ship. It was fun. Very scenic. Long bus ride but very nice bus. Honolulu. We are still kicking ourselves! I can't believe we didn't go to Pearl Harbor. Instead we took the Polynesian cultural and Luau extravaganza. I should have known better. A very long bus ride with stops at the hawk shops then onto the cultural center. It was fairly interesting for a little while but really got old. The IMAX was nice and the canoe show was nice but that was about it. Then came the Luau, which is Hawaiian for cold food in a buffet line. It was awful. Nothing authentic about it folks. It was awful and the tour cost $288.00. It was awful! We ended up taking a cab back to Honolulu rather than wait a few more hours for the bus to leave. It was awful. On the rest of the stops we rented a car and drove the islands. We got to see a lot more and on our own schedule. Cars aren't that expensive and worth it. We saw numerous whales and some sharks as we were driving and got a lot of nice pictures. Hawaii is pretty for sure. Then it was time to go. Five sea days back. We actually like sea days. The entertainment. The standard production shows were what they are. I don't generally care for them much but that's me. They do try hard. They had 4 different comedians, a couple of magician/comedians and a musician performing throughout the cruise. These were excellent except for two of the comedians who had a rough time. They weren't that bad though. Overall that part of the entertainment was very good. As far as the music in the lounges it was very unorganized. The cruise director and his staff on this ship are not to good. We dance a lot when we can. For the first 8 or 9 days there was very little going on. It got better on the way back but it had along way to go. The bands weren't bad, it was just the scheduling. They have two very nice lounges with small but adequate dance floors but very few times did anything happen there. The cruise directors staff were very uninvolved. Disembarkation was not as efficient as getting on but we made it in plenty of time. Our overall impression of this cruise. Not great. We were somewhat disappointed. It could have been a lot better and should have been. We weren't the only ones calling it the "snooze cruise". We were used to RCCL where there was always multiple things going on somewhere. Lots of activity. This was a very relaxing cruise and we did enjoy it but I doubt we'll do Princess again. Back to the Caribbean for us. Good Luck Read Less
Sail Date January 2006
Background Info: Four of us, my husband and 2 children ages 1 year and 17 years old, cruised together, sharing a balcony cabin. We got the largest room that was available at the time. This was our first cruise on a cruise line other than ... Read More
Background Info: Four of us, my husband and 2 children ages 1 year and 17 years old, cruised together, sharing a balcony cabin. We got the largest room that was available at the time. This was our first cruise on a cruise line other than RCL - we had cruised RCL four times in the past several years and enjoyed all our cruises with them very, very much. We understood Princess did not cater to children as much and were prepared for that - but they did boast their holidays were full of families so that is why we selected this particular time. It was our first trip to Hawaii, and since I despise flying, what could have been better than sailing to Hawaii (or so I thought). This turned out to be our worse cruise and I adamantly recommend against Princess cruises to anyone I speak with. Embarkation: The only good thing about the cruise is that we did walk right on with the absolute minimum of problems. Hotel: I always like to book us into a hotel room the night before and stay the night after the cruise. We had one very close call with almost not arriving the day of embarkation due to vehicle problems and I don't want to take that chance again. There are nice hotels very close to the LA pier with shuttle service and that is convenient. We stayed at the Holiday Inn at Los Angeles Harbor and they even will allow you to keep your vehicle parked at their hotel, indoor, covered parking, for the duration of your cruise. There is a small fee for this, but cheaper than the pier parking. Stateroom: Our stateroom - I just cannot say enough bad things about it! We are used to booking suites on RCL and having lots of room. Princess doesn't have rooms like that available - I booked this cruise 14 months in advance and could only get a "mini-suite". They don't seem to have larger rooms. The worst thing however, was the smoking. Passengers in a room a couple doors down from us smoked the entire cruise and the hallways were filled with the smell of smoke all of the time. I could not believe it!!! RCL does not allow smoking indoors - Princess has a different view on it. Our cabin steward took $20 from our room - we know because we left the money on the bed and came back a few minutes later when we realized we did that. The steward was just leaving the room and when we walked in the money was missing. The hallways were unbelievably SMALL!! We had a baby stroller and could not maneuver it down the hallways. One of the reasons is because they left their service carts in the hallways the entire time. Very dangerous. Dining/Activities: The food was AWFUL! Could not believe it. This was also the first cruise we have been on that we got food poisoning on the second day. It was also the first time we had to use the infirmary, it was so bad. We found out that a very large percentage of passengers had similar problems. As far as activities, they did have pottery classes and that was the only highlight. If you didn't do that or participate in a pool game, there were none. And if you don't like eating with the crew, don't take this cruise. Literally, the crew would sit next to you and get waited on rather you, the paying passenger. I was blown away. Entertainment: We went to the show the first night and were very disappointed to see that the stage and auditorium for the show did not compare at all to the types of shows that RCL puts on. The opening night show had an off-color comic who did a bit with sexually graphic language! There were children in the audience! It was opening night for pete's sake. Shore Excursions: This one takes the cake. You want to be able to stay on land and take part in the activities. How often does a person get to Hawaii, right? The ship changed the return times at almost every port, shaving off several hours of time at the port!! You wouldn't know until the night before when you got your Princess Patter and see the time was changed! We found this out the hard way because the first port we did not look at the Princess Patter, just went by the published itinerary and schedules when we boarded the ship. We literally almost missed the ship because it was leaving an hour early that day. Like I said, all of the other schedules, the shore excursion schedule, the ship's calendar, everything else had the same time. Then they changed it at the last minute! Overall: The final culmination of our terrible cruise was when the Youth Security Director bragged to my husband on the last night of the cruise that he loves his job because he stays in a balcony cabin on deck 10 and gets to have a different young girl every night. It was disgusting. This was the only cruise we have been on that I literally feared a mutiny of the passengers. Everywhere you went, the passengers were in an uproar complaining how upset and unhappy they were. Read Less
Sail Date December 2005
My last cruise to Alaska prior to this one was on NCL Norwegian Spirit. I thought I would pay more for Princess expecting a better experience since Princess IS after all higher tier than NCL. But I WAS WRONG. THIS SHIP'S FOOD WAS ... Read More
My last cruise to Alaska prior to this one was on NCL Norwegian Spirit. I thought I would pay more for Princess expecting a better experience since Princess IS after all higher tier than NCL. But I WAS WRONG. THIS SHIP'S FOOD WAS ABSOLUTELY THE WORSE I HAVE EVER HAD ON A CRUISE. I have been on Carnival and Norwegian. Their meals were a pleasure. This ship's meals were torture. It seems like Princess was trying to cost cut in the wrong area on their cruise. The value and quality of the food served was similar to my college cafeteria food, cheap and without taste. The food in the buffet was almost the same everyday. There is very little variety. We would have asparagus au gratin for lunch, then pureed asparagus soup for dinner. For lunch they would serve minestrone soup and pork chop. For dinner they would serve "Philadelphia Pepper Soup" which looks and tastes amazingly like the minestrone soup from lunch. The only difference was it was a bit diluted and we found some cut up pork chop from the lunch earlier in the soup. Dining room food was worse. The "formal" dinning room menu was a subset of the buffet menu. With exception of the lobster and crab leg night, the rest of the dinning room food was just the buffet food scooped on the plate in their kitchen and dished out to you in the dinning room. They were cold and unappetizing. I ordered a "Aged New York" steak, medium. What I got was a well done baked New York Steak. I guess they put that in the warmer for too long. It didn't look like it was even grilled. Those foods don't look like they were cooked to order. So, we ended up eating the buffet every single meal. We avoided the dinning room. I don't care to be served cold buffet food at my table in a formal environment. I'd rather get my own food from the buffet. At least I can see them before I put them on my plate. In my previous 2 cruises, I've every had to eat pizza because the buffet and dinning room foods were so GOOD! For this cruise, I had to resort to pizza for some meals. My daughter had a pint sized carton of milk one day and it was bitter. Yes, I've never tasted bitter milk. When I tried to bring this to the attention of the buffet supervisor, the excuse given was these milk have been the the ship for 7 days and air could have gotten inside. I don't know how much air can get inside a sealed pint sized carton of milk. But I buy milk by the gallon at home and they usually last 2 weeks after opening in my fridge. In short, he was not apologetic nor did he try to check for the quality of the rest of the milk in that buffet counter. Shows how much Princess cares for the quality of their food and the well being of their passengers. In Carnival and Norwegian, hot chocolate (for breakfast) and cappuccino (for dinner) were always offered in their standard menu for free. In Princess, they charge for these 2 item every meal. During breakfast, they have more people walking around selling hot chocolate than people walking around replenishing juices or coffee. During breakfast, there were only OJ and cranberry juice available. If you want apple juice, you've got to ask someone to get it from the kitchen and wait for them to bring it to you. 1/2 hour before the breakfast buffet closes, they stopped replenishing juices altogether. If you want juice, you have to ask a few times before someone will go to the kitchen to get it for you. PRINCESS IS DEFINITELY TRYING TO CUT COST ON THE FOOD THEY GIVE TO PASSENGERS. We have a 6 year old daughter. Of the 7 nights were were on board, there was NOT even 1 animal towel on our bed. We didn't even bother asking. At all the ports were were docked furthest away from town. Princess has tour busses at the dock for you ONLY IF you sign up for their tour. If not, you will have to pay a few dollars to take a 10 min shuttle to town and back. It was worse in Ketchikan, we had to be tendered in from the middle of the water. They couldn't even pay for a dock for their ship. While Holland America, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian ships were docked directly in the center of the towns. JUST DISGUSTED WITH THE VALUE AND QUALITY WE GOT FOR WHAT WE PAID FOR!!! LAST TIME WE ARE GOING ON PRINCESS AGAIN. Read Less
Sail Date May 2005
Island Princess Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.2
Dining 4.0 4.0
Entertainment 3.0 3.9
Public Rooms 4.0 4.2
Fitness Recreation 5.0 3.7
Family 4.0 3.7
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.9
Enrichment 3.0 3.8
Service 4.0 4.4
Value For Money 4.0 3.9
Rates 4.0 4.1

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