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343 Princess Island Princess Cruise Reviews

Cruise was very good. The room was large and the food was good. I would have liked to been able to use either dining room for a menu meal, but we were assigned a certain one. It was crowded so we ate buffet the most often. An improvement ... Read More
Cruise was very good. The room was large and the food was good. I would have liked to been able to use either dining room for a menu meal, but we were assigned a certain one. It was crowded so we ate buffet the most often. An improvement would be some other soft drink included besides iced tea. All others had to be paid for on your princess card. I was not impressed with the "shopping" program on board. It was an hour meeting telling you how you could buy a shopper card and get all these free things. Princess should not have to do this for the local merchants on the ports. I did enjoy the excursions but they were somewhat pricey. My favorite was the Best of Juneau. We did see whales, humpbacks and killer. My least favorite was panning for Gold. You get a pan with a small amount of sand, etc. and when you look through that it is over. There is a short tour of a mining operation and an outdoor meal. The meal was okay but I did not like the baked salmon. We also did the land tour which involved two different train rides. I did not like the length of these. The princess train is on two levels. You sightsee on the top. Moving near the top of the trees was very hard on the eyes. The meal was on the first level. The service was poor and slow.Food was okay. The two princess lodges McKinley and Denali were beautiful. I would have loved to stay there longer. We were so tired from the train that we didn't have time to enjoy. The Denali tour on a school bus was long but it would have been much easier if we had a night to rest from long train ride first. It was very informative especially if you are into animals and conservation. In Fairbanks we went on a riverboat cruise which was very informative and we really were pleasantly surprised. The last night was at the Bear Lodge. This name is deceiving. It is a motel room in the city. Not a lodge. Just a room with a very expensive dining room. No place to walk to eat, but a free shuttle if you wish to go somewhere else. Read Less
Sail Date May 2007
Embarkation: So easy, so fast! We were in our cabin less than 30 minutes after reaching the pier. Suggest you come early (noon) even tho general recommendations suggest arrival after 1:30 pm are best. Ship: Striking atrium; light, bright ... Read More
Embarkation: So easy, so fast! We were in our cabin less than 30 minutes after reaching the pier. Suggest you come early (noon) even tho general recommendations suggest arrival after 1:30 pm are best. Ship: Striking atrium; light, bright and not as gaudy as other ships. Large, well stocked library & separate card room, maybe too large for the activities, but the furniture was very comfortable & rooms well lit. The shops were similar to other ships; prices were fairly comparable to same items onshore. I don't recall seeing a liquor store onboard. Activities: One outdoor pool, lots of lounge chairs but the air was really too cold for most to swim. The indoor pool was decorated in a tropical/Asian motif; lots of rataan & plants...very appealing. Paxs said pool water was just right. There were 4 Art Auctions with a large selection of artwork but not many people attended the 3 I went to. The moderator was knowledgeable but didn't seem to make contact with the audience. The usual expensive Bingo games and trivia contests but the ship offered full-run movies too. We didn't take full advantage of the dancing parties but there were many opportunities to do so. The casino offered 5 cent slots which was a surprise ... and fun. Not much action in the casino but the machines did seem to pay well. There were a minimal number of announcements over the p.a. (which was welcomed) other than from the naturalists who commented on Glacier Bay and College Fjord as we were cruising through those areas. They also pointed out whales, otters, porpoise, seals as we came upon them Meals: Excellent food, both in dining rooms and buffet. The scrambled eggs were solid not watery, bacon was crisp, try the 6-grain dinner rolls toasted for breakfast; sauteed lima beans at one evening meal (...I'm a convert!), lots of fresh salmon and top-grade steaks every day and eye-candy desserts at every seating. On the other hand, Room Service items are somewhat limited but they cut the crusts off the bread for a sandwich! I ordered coffee every morning at 5 am ... it was such a treat sitting on the balcony, all bundled up, watching the morning sun. Cabins: I think Princess provides very attractive, large staterooms with plenty of space and hangars for your personal items (behind a wall next to the lav) so your things are out/of/sight. Small, small shower (it's a challenge!) but the lav is well appointed. Only one set of towels per pax which was odd to me since our last cruise with Carnival provided so many towels, I had to ask our cabin steward to remove some of the excess! Beds are hard so we asked for a "egg crate" mattress topper which solved that problem. Also, you're given two flat/as/a/pancake pillows per person; ask your steward for fluffy ones. Our balcony had two chairs and table, more than enough room to enjoy the outdoors. Service: Our cabin steward was efficient and pleasant enough but didn't seem to really extend himself. In fact, we felt this with most of the Island Princess staff. Other paxs commented on the same thing, esp. during meal times. We've cruised 5x before on various cruise lines but this was the first time we were not impressed with the staff in general. Shore Excursions: Lots of energetic, adventurous shore excursions offered at the 3 ports but the vast majority of them were very, very expensive. A family of 4 could have easily spent $1K a day if they took advantage of some of the shore planes, helicopters and train rides. The amazing thing to us was...many families DID take the expensive shore excursions, along with extended land tours after we landed in Whittier. I'd like to see a few more sedate tours offered at each port. Entertainment: We don't do shows so I cannot comment personally. However, other paxs enjoyed the musicals but were not too impressed with the comedians. There were quite a few opportunities to dance on deck and in the lounges; live and taped music were rockin' Our entertainment was the views of Glacier Bay and the Fjord...simply breathtaking at every turn. The captain stopped the ship at a couple points, turning it around slowly so paxs on both sides of the boat could see the beauty in front of us. Disembarkation: This was another fast, easy procedure ... we have no complaints whatsoever. Princess does handle their in-masse passengers well, even provided a downtown hospitality room for paxs taking late flights out of Anchorage. Summary: You can't beat an Alaskan cruise. It's everyone's dream. Be sure to take a camcorder and binoculars along with your camera...we didn't so we'll be "forced" to take the trip again to capture the sights. May's a good time to travel; the ice/snow is fresh, weather is cool but not that much rain as compared to late-season cruising, the mosquitos haven't come out yet and prices are right. One wild thing: sunrise was approx 4:30 am and as the cruise progressed further north, sunset didn't happen until after 11:30 pm. You could read a newspaper on the balcony at that time without a light on...wild! Read Less
Sail Date May 2007
Cruise 14N, 7 days at sea and 6 on land, our first cruise. The Alaska cruise on the Island Princess was the better half of the vacation. Synopsis, would rate the sea portion a 7 of 10 and the land portion a 5 of 10. Cabin was small but ... Read More
Cruise 14N, 7 days at sea and 6 on land, our first cruise. The Alaska cruise on the Island Princess was the better half of the vacation. Synopsis, would rate the sea portion a 7 of 10 and the land portion a 5 of 10. Cabin was small but standard and not what you would normally expect for paying that much at a nice hotel. Room service was not bad, but considering that you are paying $20 a day for room service, it is just standard. Ship was clean and well maintained. When you buy a cruise, remember that that is what you bought a cruise. Anything else is added on. Ice cream, spa treatments, cooking classes, exercise classes, computer classes, etc. And you are a captive. ie. when you get on the ship they take pictures of you, then you can purchase them for only $40. It became a joke for folks taking pictures of each other on the ship. On the last day I found the work out area and two days before we found the naturalist doing her thing. Somewhat disappointing. Food was mediocre. I would best describe it as good cafeteria food served with a lot of fol-de-rah. The first night the wait staff was more concerned with selling me their cook book than with providing a dining experience. All extras including the specialty restaurants are pricey and not worth the additional cost. You can eat pasta for only $15 extra. Ports of call were a disappointment. Most are tourist traps where they drop you off at for a day. Excursions are way overpriced but it seemed that that was the going rate for Alaska. Souvenirs of native art are extremely overpriced!!! The high point of the trip was the glaciers. Awesome, and they give you enough time to view the glaciers. The land package was even more disappointing bringing you to their hotels and trapping you there. Talkeetna was a waste of time except for the viewing of Denali. Note: only 20% of visitors see the mountain. Denali again was a waste of time. The National Park Service Natural History Tour is a complete waste of time. Fairbanks was the best of the 3 stays in the land tour. Food at the Hotels is below the standard fare of a chain restaurant and overpriced. Wildlife in May-June was almost nonexistent. Binoculars do not do much good and only bring white or black dots into larger white or black dots. Wildlife does not concentrate until mid-June for viewing. The salmon have to be running for the wildlife to be in the spots to see them. Then you must book and excursion to see it. Scenery, mountains are great, land is tundra or sparse trees. The Rockies or mountain states are far better. Compared to other vacations I would give this a 6 on value and quality was below what I had pictured cruising to be. Others on the trip remarked on how the quality had gone down in recent years. Read Less
Sail Date May 2007
Island Princess, May 11-14, 2007 Room C219 Spring repositioning cruise from Los Angeles to Vancouver BC My husband (DH) and I have five cruises under our belts, but we convinced my sister (DS) and our 30-year-old daughter (DD) that a ... Read More
Island Princess, May 11-14, 2007 Room C219 Spring repositioning cruise from Los Angeles to Vancouver BC My husband (DH) and I have five cruises under our belts, but we convinced my sister (DS) and our 30-year-old daughter (DD) that a short trip along the West Coast would be their perfect introduction to cruising. DS has anxiety attacks about travel, and the fact that she agreed to come along was a big step on her part. We hoped the cruise, and all the travel aspects, would go so well that she would be willing to travel with us again in the future. (Note: DS applied for a passport 11 weeks before the cruise. The government said passports were taking 6-10 weeks. She got hers at Week 12.....beware!) TRANSPORTATION: We all flew down from Seattle the night before, taking SuperShuttle from LAX to our hotel in San Pedro (Port of Los Angeles). We reserved a private van in advance online from SuperShuttle, which, because there were four of us, came to only a few dollars more than being on a regular shuttle (the thought being that a direct van would likely get us there sooner). PRE-CRUISE HOTEL: The hotel, the Crowne Plaza Los Angeles Harbor Hotel, is just finishing up renovations. Our rooms were on the 7th floor and in the morning we had a view of the two cruise ships that were docked less than a mile away. Our room had a clip for the heavy drapes if you wished to guarantee that no early morning sun would spoil your sleep-in. There were other items to help ensure a good night's sleep: an eye mask, a pair of earplugs, a relaxation CD, and lavender linen spray. The bed linens were of a nice quality, and our room was clean. The bathroom was small but had everything we needed. In the morning we enjoyed the hotel's buffet breakfast for $10 each (not included with our room). We like buffets because DS is a picky eater - likes her food very plain and not exotic - and a buffet lets you be in charge of what you eat. Also, we didn't know how long we would be standing in lines to board, so we wanted a substantial breakfast to tide us over. EMBARKATION: Although the information provided by Princess said that boarding would be from noon on, we decided to take the 11 AM shuttle from the hotel to the ship and get in line, rather than sit in the hotel just to kill time. We were not the first in line upon arrival at the pier, but it was a fairly short line and it was moving. On previous cruises, there has been a point in the boarding line where you turned in your suitcases to be scanned and later to be delivered to your room onboard the ship. We kept waiting for someone to say "leave your suitcases here now" but it never happened. Indeed, it seemed that the idea was for passengers to tote their own luggage, which for most folks was a small wheeled bag and a carry-on. This was the first indication that our short three-night repositioning cruise would perhaps not be as "full-service" as many longer cruises are. Once we entered the San Pedro cruise terminal, we followed a contorted figure-eight path where we went from waiting in line to "hurry up!" several times. First you had to lift up your suitcase and put it through a scanner (hard to do with all the passports, boarding passes, carry-on bags, etc. that you were also holding) and then go through a scanner yourself. After that you went across the terminal to the very temporary-looking "fill out the Novovirus form" station, after which you were herded into another line and given a group boarding number, like on Southwest Airlines. This line led to the check-in desks, where we got a representative who was not particularly pleasant or happy (on other cruises, our check-ins have been jovial). DH and I got through check-in OK (the representative felt she had to explain how a cruise card works, which seemed odd since our cards indicated that we were repeat cruisers on Princess), and then DS and DD took their turn with her. DS didn't have a passport but only a birth certificate and her driver's license for ID, which were perfectly valid ID for our travel situation according to the government, but the Princess website pretty much insisted that a passport was the only way they would let you on the ship. While DH and I hovered off to the side in case of panic attack by DS when that same representative discovered her lack of passport, another Princess employee rudely directed the two of us to "go over there (across the room) and sit down." Hardly the way to get folks in a pleasant holiday frame-of-mind. Once over in the seating area (where all the seats were taken, so we had to stand) they began to call group boarding numbers. Our number was four, and it was called about five minutes after arriving in the seating area. We were then told to hurry up, and had to weave through passengers who were crossing from the scanner to the Novovirus form area - a very poor layout. We then, still with all our luggage, went up outside to the dock, where a photographer posed us along the rail for a "portrait" that didn't seem like an optional activity. We continued to the gangway and to the machine where you insert your cruise card and a photo is taken to be associated with it. Once past this station and on the ship, we felt as if we had just been dumped off the end of a jerky conveyer belt. We were glad to take control into our own hands and proceed to our rooms on the 10th floor, the Caribe deck. THE SHIP: We had two mini-suites a few rooms apart. Our steward did not come around before the muster drill, so we explained the room's features and how the muster drill worked to the newbies in our party. We went upstairs to the Horizon Court buffet and had a nice lunch while still in port. Also purchased the soda stickers, which were about $11 each. Then it was time to tour the ship, and especially to take photos of it without a lot of fellow cruisers in the way. DS was quite afraid of possible seasickness, and never did figure out the ship's layout. DD got the hang of it all right away. We had figured on going up on deck for the sailaway party, but instead we stayed in our rooms, on the balconies, and watched the harbor pass by from there. By the time we reached open water, it was dinnertime. FOOD: We chose Anytime Dining, and ate breakfasts, lunches, and one dinner (on Formal night) at the Horizon Court buffet. We always found plenty of good choices, even picky DS. (The coffee, though, was so poor that we learned to head down to the 5th floor Patisserie (coffee bar) after breakfast, for a relaxing cup ($) in the atrium area.) We ate dinner two times at the dining room set aside for Anytime diners, "Bordeaux." DD especially raved about the food she had there, and I think memories of those meals alone will make her a repeat cruiser! Every course was perfectly prepared and served. We were never made to feel rushed, even thought the room became full and we could see a line to get in. The final night of the cruise was DH's birthday, and he was serenaded and presented with a small cake. We also tried afternoon tea (free), the ice cream stand ($), the pizzeria and the grill (both free). On other Princess cruises we've been on, there is free ice cream served in an area of the buffet for one hour each afternoon. On this cruise, there was free ice cream (and sundae toppings) available self-serve in the dinner buffet line. We didn't go to Sabatini's or the Bayou Cafe, since DS would not have been willing to try the spicy foods presented there. SERVICE: Even though I have requested robes online in advance of our three cruises on Princess, they have never made it to our room without an in-person request to the steward. Do they not read that stuff? I think they must, because each cruise we've been on has had a special occasion associated with it, and there are always balloons and a door sign to commemorate the date - and these dates were entered into the same area online in advance. ACTIVITIES: The weather was not conducive to sitting on one's balcony, or for sunning around the pool - it was overcast, cool and windy most of the time. So swimming and lounging weren't big hits on this cruise. Kids on the cruise seemed mostly to abandon the outdoor pool, and instead headed for the adults-only indoor pool (hmmm). Since it was such a short cruise, we didn't want to be toting the larger suitcases that formalwear would have necessitated, so we didn't participate in Formal Night. However, we had told DS and DD about the traditional Princess "champagne fountain" that is created in the atrium on each cruise, and the party and dancing that go along with it. I knew they would enjoy seeing others at this event, even if all we were doing was watching. Maybe it was because it was such a short cruise, but that whole atrium-party thing didn't happen on this trip. We also never saw the captain, or heard of any get-togethers with him (which, as repeat Princess cruisers, we have been invited to in the past). I guess these activities were also abandoned for such a short cruise. DS and DD did the ceramics-painting activity ($). There was only a small window of time in which to do this, since the post-painting firing took up a large portion of the cruise, but they enjoyed decorating their mug and tile. We participated in three Trivia contests, where the big prize was a Princess luggage tag. The Wheelhouse Bar overflowed during these contests, whereas on other cruises there was a polite smattering of chairs taken. DS, DD and I also went to a couple origami sessions, making a box out of old menus, a paper heart, and some crepe-paper 'hibiscus flowers.' We also took in the Line Dancing classes, which were held in the Universe Lounge. They were humorous as you might expect! And also good exercise! Ballroom dancing lessons in meringue and salsa were also given. There were Princess takes on game shows and board games that we did not attend or participate in, such as Jeopardy, Millionaire, Passenger Feud, The Weakest One, Newlywed & Not-So-Newlywed Game, Pictionary, Scrabble, and Scavenger Hunts. There were "Dr. Bob and Bill W." and "Friends of Dorothy" and "Singles Mingles" gatherings. There were numerous opportunities for table tennis, shuffleboard, golf in several flavors, and basketball shootouts. There were classes ($) available in pottery-wheel throwing, Excel, file management, and photo editing. We were disappointed that there were no ice- or vegetable-carving demonstrations, and no tours of the kitchen or theater backstage - all items we had mentioned to DS and DD that they should be sure to take in....more items dropped due to the shortness of the cruise, I suppose. ENTERTAINMENT: We went to the first night's show in the Theater, which is usually an introduction of the Cruise Director's staff, along with a teaser set by several of the ship's performing groups, and then a little summary of coming attractions. In this case, there was a one-night, one-man Motown show provided by entertainer Kenny James and the ship's band. Kenny stated that Princess was sending him around for one-night gigs on many of their ships this summer. Cruise Director Billy did appear and, over the course of the cruise, cemented his image (as mentioned by others in this forum) as crude and dated. The next night we went to the theater production, which was a Motown revue ("Motor City") with singers, dancers, and the band. Excellent as usual! The third night we attended a show in the Universe Lounge, "Tribute," another song and dance number by the troupe. Did not check out any piano bars, comedians, ventriloquists, bingo, karaoke, casinos, etc., but there were plenty of these. Movies shown in the Universe Lounge or the Theater were "Dreamgirls" and "The Queen" and "Because I Said So." SELLING: There were two evenings where professional photo-sits were available, one formal and one informal. On previous cruises the photo-taking venues consumed much of the atrium and surrounding elevator areas. There were not as many locations set up on this cruise. Perhaps they assumed not as many folks would be bringing along formal wear, so would not want these opportunities? Or maybe, like so many other departments on the ship, the staff seemed to be taking a little vacation themselves? "Chains by the inch," which on previous cruises was prominently featured in an area with excellent lighting and traffic, was tucked away in a dark passageway for a few hours and was not always staffed. Closeouts on winter-season cruise items were available as the boutiques were restocking with Alaska merchandise; there was a sale in one of the dining rooms on the last full day of the cruise, with "apparel, souvenirs & much more" at up to 75% off, including "a large selection of accessories for only $10." Mercifully, the 'mailbox' outside our stateroom was not stuffed daily with ads for spa services and other 'opportunities' to spend money...those are always such a waste of paper and make Princess seem very un-ecological. DISEMBARKATION: Being as the cruise ended in Vancouver BC, but we live in Seattle, we needed to somehow traverse the miles home. We had thought Princess would run a bus back to Seattle (last year, they ran a bus from Seattle to Vancouver for an Alaska cruise). We had our cruise travel agent check on this twice, and we also called Princess ourselves, but they said no, they had no plans for such a bus. So we booked in advance, online, with QuickShuttle. That bus was to pick us up right at the cruise terminal one hour after the ship's arrival in port. This made us a little nervous - what if we weren't allowed off the ship in a timely fashion, or there was some hold-up with Canadian Customs & Immigration? (We would rather have had a Princess bus that was guaranteed to wait for us.) And wouldn't you know, there was an announcement THE NIGHT BEFORE DISEMBARKATION, stating that a Princess shuttle bus would be available ($) from the Vancouver cruise terminal to Seattle. (Wouldn't most folks like to have this transportation piece figured out BEFORE leaving for their cruise?) The price was within a dollar of what we paid for QuickShuttle, and the bus was guaranteed to wait for you. But the best thing about the Princess bus would be, when it got to the Canada/US Border, it would just be waved through without the passengers having to exit the bus and proceed individually - with their luggage - through US Customs & Immigration. Our bus, however, stopped along the way and picked up random passengers in Canada, and we spent nearly an hour at the border. So, Princess: how about publicizing the existence of ALL your shuttle busses in advance - even allowing passengers to book them online before departure, like an excursion? (Profit center!!! Can't believe you aren't "all over" this!!!) Well, it worked out fine - we got the self-help early departure tickets (which were never checked by anyone) but had to wade through hoards who were crowding the aisles on the departure level (even though they had been told to wait elsewhere.....Princess could do a much better job of crowd control for disembarkation). Canadian Customs & Immigration were a breeze; we were 45 minutes early for our bus, which was adequately comfortable but nothing special. Numerous folks on the QuickShuttle bus were unaware that there would be no stop along the way for bathrooms or food (neither were available at US Customs & Immigration) and were unprepared. (Of course, carrying food along is tricky, because so many food items are not allowed across the border.) If taking a bus back across the border, I would highly suggest one that comes directly from the ship with only ship's passengers on it, for the purpose of speeding through US formalities and getting home that much earlier. WRAP-UP: We all had a great three-night trip, but for those seeking a true cruise experience, be forewarned that Princess didn't go the whole nine yards on this repositioning cruise. There was plenty to do - I'm not complaining - but for whatever reason, not all the bells and whistles were pulled out on this voyage. For newbies with no preconceived notions, it would be a wonderful experience! POSTSCRIPT: We were pleased at how well DS did on the cruise, and had high hopes of her being able to join us again. However, all four of us suffered MdDS, Mal de DEbarquement Syndrome, that is, "post-cruise seasickness" - not just the feeling of rocking while standing still, but nausea and dizziness. The seas had not been heavy and none of us felt in the least ill during the cruise. Neither DH or myself had this feeling after our previous cruises, which had been longer and had some rougher seas. We are quite mystified as to why we should have experienced it this time around. All we could figure is that we were on the ship for about 65 hours straight (no shore excursions). Too much sitting? Maybe we should have walked the Prom more? Unfortunately, DS's symptoms lasted longer than the cruise itself, so we think those memories will overshadow the fun times we all had on the Island Princess....but hope not! Read Less
Sail Date May 2007
The Cruise: This was a 15 day round trip from Los Angeles to Hawaii. There are four at sea days each way. I had not done this cruise before. It appealed to us because we would not have to fly anywhere (we live in the L.A. area) and we have ... Read More
The Cruise: This was a 15 day round trip from Los Angeles to Hawaii. There are four at sea days each way. I had not done this cruise before. It appealed to us because we would not have to fly anywhere (we live in the L.A. area) and we have always loved at sea days in the past. I had heard from others who had done this cruise that the first day out of L.A. would be cool, but then it would warm up and we could enjoy our balcony. As it turned out, temperature was not the issue. It was wind and sea spray that kept us off our balcony for 6 of 8 of those at sea days (see The Sea below). The good news is that the weather was beautiful once we reached Hawaii and we made all of our ports, which is not so easy in Hawaii. We have decided that we won't be doing this cruise again. At Sea days are great as long as you can relax on your balcony, not so great under Gale conditions. The Ship: The ship was beautiful. Everywhere I went service was excellent. We usually don't go to shows, or get involved with activities, so I have no opinion on entertainment. We never went to the casino Our Cabin: We had a regular balcony room on the forward section of the Emerald Deck. I love the Emerald Deck, the balconies are covered so no one looks down on us, and we don't look down on other people as well. Dining: We had late traditional dining. The service was exemplary. The food was very good, but I don't think it was up to the standards of my last Princess cruise  last January on the Sapphire. But food is a subjective thing. One couple at our dinner table really disliked the food. But, they were what I call queasy eaters. They didn't eat seafood of any kind, would not consider trying anything they weren't familiar with and ended up ordering a steak every night, well done. They wished the food was more Traditional American in nature. I did not care for any of the soups I tried, and most of the fish dishes were a little too fishy for me. I never ate dinner at the buffet, but those who did, told me it was not so good. I thought the breakfast buffet was quite good. Fellow Passengers: This was the most elderly group of passengers I have seen. My guess would be that more than 60% were over 65 and many of those were way over that age. There were quite a few 50+ people. But the group that was very under represented was the 18-30 year olds  I bet there were fewer than 50 of them on the whole ship (out of 1900 passengers). Someone told me, there were only 20 children on board. This was also a very formal group. I wear a tux on formal nights and I expected to be among a small minority of men doing so. But not this group. Most men wore tuxedos, and those that didn't, wore very nice business suits. I didn't see a single person that was dressed inappropriately. I heard there was even quite a few people in formal wear eating in the buffet. The Sea: This cruise was cursed with the worst sea conditions I have ever seen. The first day out of L.A. was calm, we had no idea what was waiting for us in the middle of the Pacific. I noticed even on this calm day that the ship wobbled more than what I have seen before in fair weather. Then came day 2. It started out just a little choppy and continued to get worse by the hour. The ships navigational information channel, channel 55, on our TV, gave the wind speed using the Beaufort Scale. When I first checked it was at Force 7 - Near Gale. Then I watched it go to Force 8 - Gale, then Force 9 - Strong Gale. Then finally it hit Force 10  Storm. That's winds 55 to 63 miles per hour. According to Wikipedia, Force 10 results in waves 29.5 feet high. The ship would create huge splashes as it crashed through these huge waves. Sea water continually splashed on our balcony and even our sliding door, making the balcony impossible to use. The ship also reported wave height, but I think they were trying not to alarm the passengers by reporting large waves. Although for about an hour they reported Rough Seas, most of the time during this storm they continued to call the waves Moderate. All the passengers were joking about the Moderate Seas afterward. My wife and I have never been seasick before, and had booked a forward cabin. That day my wife became seasick for the first time. That night was our first formal night. She insisted I go without her. I discovered that the dining room was almost empty. I think there were more waiters than passengers. There I sat wearing my tux, at an empty table - none of our table mates made it to dinner. Many people were seasick, but also many who weren't, thought it too dangerous to be walking around with so much violent motion. Although the rough seas were a little better the next day, we had a rough passage the rest of the way until we were protected by the Hawaiian Islands. Even then while moving at night from one island to another we would hit rough seas. On the return trip, the Storm was right there where we left it, and it wasn't calm until our last at sea day. So, of the eight at sea days 6 of them suffered from continuous Gale or worse conditions. The Ports: All of our ports were enjoyable, some more than others. We rented cars in all five Hawaiian ports. We discovered that some ports are better for car rentals than others. First, I will never rent a car again in any port that requires tendering. We had two tender ports Kailua-Kona (Big Island) and Lahaina (Maui). The problem with renting a car here is that because we are not booked on an excursion, we don't have priority status for tendering. Also most of the people on this cruise were Princess Veterans and had Elite Status, giving them tendering priority as well. We have not reached Elite Status yet, and it took forever to get off the ship at both of these ports. In Lahaina the ship arrived at 8 am, but by the time we got off the ship, waited for the car rental shuttle, stood in line at the agency counter, we didn't get behind the wheel of our car until 11am. The last shuttle back to the pier was 4pm so we had a max of 5 hours. Also, some port operators just made it easier for people to find their rental shuttles. Hilo and Nawiliwili (Kauai) were the best ports to rent a car from. And it turns out these were our favorite ports. The port of Honolulu, does nothing to make it easy for people to rent cars. There are no agencies near the pier, and it was confusing trying to find out where to find a shuttle to the airport rental agencies. But this is one of the best ports to rent a car because you have until 10pm to return it. I don't care that much for the congestion of Honolulu, so we drove to the North shore and found a beach that we had all to ourselves. Our least favorite port was Kailua-Kona, We would have preferred to have two days in Hilo and skipped Kailua-Kona. Overall Experience: Despite the bad seas, we enjoyed ourselves and it was a good cruise overall. Hawaii was beautiful and we visited some beautiful places. But we will not be booking a cruise like this again, that has so many at sea days in the open ocean. Previous to this cruise, we had considered making a Trans-Atlantic cruise, this is no longer something we want to do. Read Less
Sail Date December 2006
About Us: Married couple from Los Angeles in our early 40s, no kids  4th cruise, 2nd Princess cruise It was such a pleasure that we were able to actually leave from a port without flying there. Since we live in Los Angeles, we booked ... Read More
About Us: Married couple from Los Angeles in our early 40s, no kids  4th cruise, 2nd Princess cruise It was such a pleasure that we were able to actually leave from a port without flying there. Since we live in Los Angeles, we booked SuperShuttle to take us to the port. That was cheaper than leaving our car parked at the port for 15 days (at $12 per day). We had planned to arrive around 1:00 - 1:30pm, hoping that we would miss the crowd. It still took almost 2 hours for us to go through everything and board the ship. Crew told us that the previous cruise, it was even worse since there were multiple ships in port that day.  I guess we were lucky that we were the only ship in San Pedro that day. Demographics Since it is such a long cruise (15 days) and has so many at sea days, I would guess that the average age of the passengers was around 70 - 75. There probably weren't more than 5 - 10 kids on board, and we almost never saw them. I would guess that about 70 - 80% of the passengers were 60+. This was a bit surprising to us - guess because we haven't been cruising that long, it was older clientele than other ships/itineraries we have done. It did seem to be well-traveled passengers - the passenger with the most cruises had been on 40+ cruises for over 300 days. The runners up weren't far behind either. Crew The level of service on this ship is fantastic. I don't think I've ever had a more attentive and accommodating dining staff ever - they were the best! The cruise director and staff were fun and engaging and worked very hard. The performers did a really great job too. Our room steward was okay, but didn't have as good of attention to detail as I have experienced in the past. He often forgot to give us clean beach towels when he took the old ones, and little things like that just not as attentive as the other staff, but all in all, he did a good job. We got a new captain in the middle of the cruise  I guess the replacement didn't make it to Los Angeles in time, so the old captain stayed on board a little longer. We met the new captain at the Members Circle party and found it odd that he doesn't shake hands. Not a very engaging guy, in fact I never saw him smile, but that really isn't so important anyway, now is it? He got us to the ports and home safely, so I'm happy. One little thing I like about Princess is that I haven't even had problems with their accents like I have on other ships. They seem to do a great job of selecting and training their staff. Our Room We had booked a mini-suite very close to the rear of the ship on the port side (we booked last minute so we got what was available). The room was in pretty good shape although a bit smaller than I had anticipated. Not a lot of room to walk around the bed but it was nice to have the extra seating area and couch with a second TV especially since we spent more time in the room than usual with all of the sea days. The beds do have the new duvets although we found it a bit strange that they have eliminated the top sheet on the bed since they are using duvets. One recommendation that I'm sure everyone has seen a million times but you really do need a power strip if you have any electronics. The one plug in the bathroom is located to the right of the sink in the storage shelves, but it only fits the old style plugs where both prongs are the same size (my blow dryer plug wouldn't work since one side of the prong is larger than the other). The other outlet we found was above the desk but situated in such a way that cell phone, camera battery or any other large size plug is difficult to plug in. Also, out by that desk is a well-powered blow dryer that we ended up using instead of our travel one. The bathroom toiletries (shampoo, conditioner, body wash, etc.) in the mini-suites were good quality I think it is different from the ones they put in regular rooms. The shower curtain caused us some frustration - for some reason the magnets never worked to hold it to the side of the tub and it always seemed to be blowing into the shower and sticking to your butt - but we finally figured out if you aim the shower head toward the shower curtain and slightly open the bathroom door, it helps keep the curtain away from your body so you could shower. On our balcony, there were 4 chairs and a small table. I asked about getting a lounge chair, but was told that due to the fire on the Sun, they have now replaced all of those lounge chairs with the new style chair and the steward showed me how two of the chairs were designed with backs that can recline. The Food We were booked for second seating dinner. I guess on this itinerary, the early seating is the most desired - the waiters told us that they were extending tables to pack as many people into the early seating as possible. So, if you want more individual attention, the late seating is probably the way to go on this itinerary. Two of our table mates met us for dinner the first evening, but then were able to get moved to the early seating. The other two never showed up, so we were alone at a table of six. On the 3rd night, we joined some terrific Cruise Critic folks and changed to anytime seating then dined with them the rest of the cruise. We were able to book the same time and table even though it was anytime seating so we had the same wait staff the whole cruise. I can't say enough good things about their service from the Maitre d hotel Ignazio to the head waiter Yarmin (or something like that) to our waiter Agnes and her assistant Aron - they were all terrific. They went out of their way to bring special things for us and really took good care of us for the whole trip. We did eat in the Bayou Cafe one evening, and in Sabatini's the other evening  both were very good, although I happen to prefer the food in Sabatini's. Both places, we ate so much we thought we would burst. There was an outbreak of Norovirus on our cruise  about the 2nd or 3rd day they made an announcement about it and stopped letting us serve ourselves at the buffet (and took away the salt, pepper, etc. at dinner). It must have cleared up by mid-trip, because they stopped all of those precautions about 4 or 5 days later. Who knows how much of it was Norovirus and how much was just really rough seas. Overall, I think the food was good  although maybe not as great as I had hoped. I certainly had more than my share of the amazing breads that they bake daily  and the pineapple on the ship is truly fantastic. We would get a bowl of it every night and save it in the fridge for breakfast (for some reason they didn't normally serve the pineapple at breakfast). We also had some very memorable fruit sorbets. The regular water on the ship is VERY good - we drank a lot of it! We did use bottled water for in the room (so it wouldn't spill) and for ports, but for all of the meals, we were very happy with their water. On the negatives, we found the fish was often a bit fishy, and the cakes a bit dry and bland. As everyone has already mentioned, the coffee is really bad. On our galley tour, we mentioned it to Ignazio, and he showed us that it is a Columbian coffee extract syrup. If you want brewed coffee, you can get it from the coffee bar, or Sabatinis (they brought it to the dining room from Sabatini's for us a few nights). The always available shrimp cocktail and filet were a good choice if nothing else on the menu was appealing. They brought us the following night's menu each evening to help us select which nights to go to Sabatini's and Bayou Cafe. We went to the Bayou Cafe on the evening after the first formal dinner, and to Sabatini's the evening after the second formal dinner. It did seem that in general the menus started out a little weak and got better toward the end of the cruise. The grilled chicken, burgers and brats were always good at the Grill, and the pizza was also good with a perfectly crisp thin crust. Weather The weather was very pretty on embarkation day, but turned chilly by the time we left port that evening. We had pretty rough seas on this trip. Even quite a few of the crew members were ill. The second day at sea on the way to Hawaii was definitely the worst. My husband gets seasick, so he took Bonine and thankfully was only a little queasy. I'm pretty confident now that I just don't get seasick so lucky for me. That day at sea was our first formal night, and only about half the dining room was full that night. The last day at sea on our way to Hawaii was better and finally warm enough to be outside by the pool that was probably the only sea day we could do that. The weather in Hawaii was terrific! Couldn't have asked for better. We had one small rain storm late afternoon in Kauai, but I think that was the only rain the whole time we were there. Otherwise, it was sunny and nice the entire time we were in Hawaii daytime temps in the low 80s. When we left Hawaii, the first at sea day was definitely rough with periods of sun and rain. After spending an hour or two going from the outside pool area to inside area (every 15 minutes it would rain and strong blowing wind), I gave up and stayed at the indoor pool. The seas got increasingly better as we got closer to Los Angeles. However, it was VERY windy and rather cold the entire trip back. Aside from my 15 or 30 minutes in the sun that first day at sea on the way back, the rest of the return trip was pretty cold. They even ended up turning off some of the automatic doors between the pool areas because the wind gusts were so strong. Both of the pools were empty and closed after that through the end of the cruise. I think the indoor pool (which is a wave pool) was splashing too much for them to keep water in it. So, the only water was in the hot tubs, which were quite busy on this trip. The weather was in the low 60s when we returned to Los Angeles, and although it was sunny, it was windy and chilly. Ports Kona Our first port was Kona. We were definitely ready to be on land after so many days at sea. Unfortunately, it took us several hours to tender off the ship. We arrived in the Explorer Lounge at 9am and were on the 16th tender. We finally made it off the ship around 11:45am. Keep this in mind if you schedule anything on your own. Since we had never been to the big Island, we were a bit surprised by the landscape in Kona. It isn't the lush landscape you expect from Hawaii- it's more like a big volcano field. Guess we should have expected that. We had rented a car with Thrifty at the hotel there and it was a breeze to pick up and drop off the easiest rental of our whole trip. I tried to call them to tell them we were running late getting off the ship, but never got an answer. Thankfully, they had a car waiting for us when we arrived (even though we were 2 ½ hours later than the reservation time). You definitely want to book cars in advance and online, the same car we had reserved for $29 was being quoted at $79 to people that just walked up. And by the time we got our car in Kona, they were out of cars completely. We had reserved a snorkeling excursion privately with Dolphin Discoveries (referred by someone on CC), but they left us a message that morning that they cancelled the afternoon excursion not sure why. So that left us with a full day to drive around and just check out the Kona area. We saw the painted church, a coffee farm, and started to go to a beach, but it wasn't a sandy beach, so we changed our minds and just keep driving. We also found a nice area north of Kona with quite a few resorts and high end shopping, but didn't have enough time to go all the way up to Waimea. Hilo The Hilo landscape is in stark contrast to Kona. Again, we rented a car and headed off on our own. We spent a couple of hours at Volcano National Park it is really interesting with probably 5 - 6 stops to look at different areas of lava flow, craters, steam vents, etc. One of the last stops is a blowhole this is not to be missed, but does require a bit of hiking and is a little muddy. After we left VNP, we headed to Akaki Falls and hiked the circle trail there. It's quite interesting to go from Volcano craters to dense rain forest with less than an hour's drive. On our way back from Akaki Falls, we took a short scenic route along the coast and stopped at What's Shakin for a delish fruit smoothie. Then back to return the rental car and head to the ship. Honolulu We were fortunate to have friends in Honolulu, so they took us on a couple hour drive to give us different perspectives on the island, then loaned us their car for the rest of the day. We were intrigued to find out that the micro climates really impact the weather from mile to mile. Our friends live in a valley and get 200 inches of rain per year, half a mile closer to the beach, it only rains 100 inches per year, and in Waikiki, they only get something like 18 inches a year. All that in only a few miles. We headed out to the North Shore. Unfortunately, the waves weren't big enough for the surfing competition to be on that day, but we enjoyed watching the surfers practice. It was very windy on that side of the island but a completely different feel than Waikiki. We then continued on around the island to the Buddhist Temple that was fascinating. If we had more time, we probably would have gone to the Polynesian Cultural Center, but it is a whole day experience and costs around $40, so not a good half-hour stop kind of place. We also drove to Hanauma Bay, but found it was closed on Tuesdays. We ended our day on Waikiki Beach with a Mai Tai at sunset at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. Classic! Kauai We privately booked a helicopter tour here with Safari Helicopters and we had a great time. The ride was very smooth nothing like my husbands prior experience with a helicopter tour on Maui that was more like an e-ticket ride. Definitely book this on the internet! We went with other people that paid over $200 for the same tour they had called rather than booking online. The Safari people picked us up at the port, right on time. The actual air time is probably more like 45 minutes (they say 55 minutes, but that must include time on the ground in the helicopter). It was very beautiful and a great way to see the island. Once we got back to the ship, we took one of the free shuttles about ½ a mile to the beach & shopping center. The shuttles run about every 10 - 15 minutes. Then we just hung out on the beach for a couple of hours. This is also where we picked up some mac nuts and other small gifts (at the ABC store). We made it back to the ship with what we thought was only minutes to spare, but it turned out that there was a huge traffic accident and over 100 passengers were stuck in traffic (including several Princess tours). So, we didn'tt end up leaving port until about 1 ½ hours late that day. The local laws require that ships be out of the port by sundown, so the ship left a tender on shore and the ship left the port, then about an hour later (around 8pm) tendered the last of the passengers back to the ship. This is one of those times though that if there hadn't been Princess tours still stuck away from the ship, some of the passengers would have likely been left behind. The other ship in port that day had the same problem and ended up tendering some of their passengers out to the ship too. Maui Since our snorkeling trip in Kona was cancelled, while we were on the ship we were able to book Princess' Molokini Snorkel excursion at 10:30am. Since it was a tender port, the tour passengers actually met on the dock at 11am. We went in a bit early and walked around the downtown area until our 11am meeting time. I would guess that this is probably the only way to do it if you're on this ship. Most of the local excursions go in the early morning, but since it is a tender port, I doubt you can make it off the ship in time to go on a privately booked Molokini snorkel trip. We had a great time the crew on the boat was really great and they offered both wetsuits and underwater digital cameras for rent on board. I personally didn't feel like I would have needed a wetsuit there. I'm not a strong swimmer, so I took my own dry snorkel and snorkeling buoyancy vest with me, but used their fins. They will provide all equipment if you want, but I've never seen a snorkel company to offer dry snorkels, so I always take my own mask/snorkel. They also offered the water noodle things, and had staff in the water on surf boards to help out any hesitant passengers. I have to say getting off the boat is the worst part for me, so being able to fall forward onto the surf board was really great. Once I was in the water, I was fine and not at all scared. On the way back, they served complimentary tortilla chips, salsa, fruit and drinks (including pretty good mai tais). We spent another half hour or so walking around, and then got in line for the tender back to the ship. It seemed like the days in port went very quickly. I was a little tired of having so many full days back to back and was ready for a sea day (or five). Ensenada I'm not sure you can really consider this a serious port. We got in around 5pm and left at 7:30. Just long enough to catch a shuttle into the downtown area ($2 each to go, $1 each to come back). I ended up buying a bottle of Kaluha for $10 in the shop right off the ship. There is also a small bar there, and about 6 - 8 stalls where they sell stuff without you having to go into the town or come back in through security. It was quite cold (probably in the 50s). The trip back to LA was pretty uneventful. Just remember to pack warm clothes! Those sea days can be pretty chilly, and so can some of the public areas. Disembarkation was quite smooth and easy. We were off the ship by 9:30am and through customs and had our luggage within less than 30 minutes. We had arranged for SuperShuttle for our return trip. You may be better off not booking something in advance though we saw people getting better rates without a reservation than with one but not by much, just a few dollars. One thing we found frustrating though is that the driver had no idea where anything was in the San Fernando Valley. He told us that because SuperShuttle is a franchise a different company has the franchise for the San Pedro area than the Valley or Orange County. So, someone from the SF Valley shuttle can't pick up at San Pedro, and the San Pedro vans can't pick up in the Valley or Orange County. It made for a frustrating return trip because different people were telling the driver different ways to go and bickering about who would be dropped off when the whole trip. I would probably recommend arranging some alternate transportation for the return trip since there were so many people on the ship, we were packed in that van like sardines. Of course, on the trip to the ship, we didn't share with anyone and had a really nice trip down there. A big thanks to all of the cruise critic folks on these boards that helped us in planning this trip. Also, to everyone who participated on our roll call it was great to meet you all. Note: we met before lunch the first day at sea in the Wheelhouse (we had 50 - 60 people I think). It was the perfect time to meet everyone who had been communicating in advance and also to meet so we could recognize familiar faces throughout the cruise. Thanks to everyone that participated in making that possible! Read Less
Sail Date December 2006
Joan and Armand  six past cruises on Homeric, Royal, Celebrity and 3 on Princess Summary: Ship  a very lovely ship Service  for the most part the employees who serve you will bend over backward to please you. Main Dinning room  ... Read More
Joan and Armand  six past cruises on Homeric, Royal, Celebrity and 3 on Princess Summary: Ship  a very lovely ship Service  for the most part the employees who serve you will bend over backward to please you. Main Dinning room  Waiter outstanding  food horrid  they make our meal special most nights near the end of the cruise as we just keep on rejecting poorly prepared food. See details. o Fish  they cannot cook fish unless you like it dried out and well done. Rejected swordfish three times in one evening  not me  waiter also upset o Beef  hope you like to eat beef - be very specific how you like it cooked and get to know your head waiter and make them a friend o Pasta  very good Horizon Buffet  Back in my days at Bentley College the grading system went to -5 to 4.0  the buffet gets a -2  salad bar good, occasional food eatable  fresh fruit good Pizza bar on 14  very good Hotdogs / hamburger on 15  good Bayou  really a steak house  good / very good Sabatini  good Weather  going to be a very difficult winter on this trip  high winds moderate seas (6+ ft. seas with chop) in and out. This review was written during sea days as you could not go outside. Islands  see details  it is what you make of it. New Years Eve  a bust no Champaign  party not really held in Atrium not on deck 14  many complaints Entertainment  poor to fair  one good comedian and the weather precluded dancers from dancing / acting  not as good as before Lounges  most lounges had music playing to dance to  pick your style and enjoy Library  nice room  bring your head set and listen to your favorite CD  Cruise has plenty of down time to enjoy Churchill Lounge  a Cigar room that has piped in music from the Atrium, when playing  my wife does not smoke and found it a lovely place to look out the window and enjoy the quite and or music and read. Drinks  bar tenders are forced to use a measuring cup and poor a 1.5 once drink  you be the judge - ouch Internet access  50 cents per minute  if you use their system it is free for Platinum passengers but not for wireless use- very slow to say the least  very old technology  not customer friendly  see details Customer Service Desk  some are very helpful others are clueless Captain  from a customer service point of view - Clueless Head Chef  Clueless or following orders from the top Demographics  a little hard for us to tell with 1900 people on board  families in minority  some say 70% old people but this needs to be defined  we are in late 50s and many are older than us  there is old and active and then old and non active  guess is 40  50% old non active. Princess  it appears Princess is stepping down a grade based upon our experience and those aboard the ship. Over 1200 of the 1900 passengers are repeat Princess cruisers and some are not coming back and many are disillusioned. The staff has indicated it is also abandoning ship as many are moving to other cruise lines. Cost cutting / cost controls are impacting the cruising experience from the need for coffee cards / poor drinks / no free ice cream bar / etc. As for food quality I am not sure it is the food quality or the instructions of the head chief to overcook all food so he cannot be blamed if sickness breaks out. It appears that Sr. people are not empowered to solve customer problems or alter anything to provide a better experience for the cruiser. Examples include: See write up for details o New Years  no Champaign o No New Years Eve Celebration  See details in write up o Inability / refusal to get to show NFL playoffs Sunday claim no reception vs. Jet Blue with in air all time TV coverage o Internet  very poor and very old technology - cost $30 per hour  very slow o 1.5 hour tender lines o 2 hours to disembark ship in Maui o Captains party and champagne water fall  ops colored water and no champagne for the masses. Go Princess o Joan got food poisoning the last evening! Should you take this Cruise  all depends  seas as we understand it remain rough most of the year  it is winter and as such it can be cool outside. Later in spring it warms up. For this reason and the length of the cruise you most likely will find older retired folks aboard. The stops in Hawaii are a little short as the ships leave late afternoon all but one day. Some beautiful spots in Hawaii to visit. With 10 sea days you should plan on spending substantial time indoors during the winter months. o Note: last year for this ship on this cruise Details  the Good Bad and Ugly The day started off early with a 5 AM pickup in Boynton Beach Florida for our ride to Ft Lauderdale airport. The trip started out with a bang as the steward at the airport would not take our case of wine. The manager came over and said put two bottles in each bag and leave the rest  only four bags and it was not yellow tail- hum the negotiations started and after the manager left the steward, a nice fellow after all, said put them in the bags you have and cover with cloths. I did not dare tell him we had a box with another six bottles in a second suite case. A fifteen day cruise needs at least 15 bottles of wine  oh forgot about the bottle of scotch and Ciroc  ops  well somehow those twelve bottles got into the garment bags but they weighed a lot  thank god we had first class tickets with higher weight limits. We arrived in LA early and found the princess personnel and made arrangements to be transported to the ship. Oh you are early; we are going to transport you to a local hotel and pre-register you so you can walk right on the ship. Like fools we believed them. The hotel was two minutes from the airport and the ship is 30  45 minutes from the hotel. Makes a lot of sense to have you wait 2.5 hours in a hotel 30 minutes from the ship and then be bused to the ship. The people were very nice but as you would guess very disorganized. Planning does not seem to be a Princess strong suit. After our 2.5 hour wait we are bused to the terminal only to have to wait in the bus another 15 minutes before being allowed to embark the ship. No idea why but disorganized. The trip through the terminal was no quicker that I could tell but alas we get aboard the ship. The wind is howling at 30+ knots. Based upon other write ups from the previous cruise we are a little concerned about sea conditions. Checked into the room and are meet by our steward who appears very nice and is organized and has our pre arranged tour receipts consisting of a day at the links on the big Island. No luggage in the room or anywhere to be seen. Our luggage had been taken at the hotel via truck to the ship many hours prior to our arrival so we hoped to see luggage in our room. Humm- you long time cruisers say  fat chance  well we had hopped. Off we went to find the Maitre d and try to arrange for a table for two. One person said he would be at his desk at 2:30 and it was 2 so we located the table for making reservations at the Bayou and Sabatini restaurants for News Years Eve and the formal evenings. Very nice fellow at the table and a few dollars obtained a window table at Sabatinis. Based upon the recommendations on Cruise Critic we then purchased coffee cards. Rechecked on the Maitre d and was told he would not be available until later but to call the restaurant and make reservations for this evening and the maitre d would seat us and we could make appropriate arrangements at that time. This was not the case in our prior six cruises but things do change. Off to lunch  passed by the pizza bar and could not pass without a slice. This is a big deal as I shy away from carbs as my wine consumption accounts for mucho sugar. The pizza was as I remember and was consumed while waiting in the luncheon line. While this is the first day aboard and the ship is restocking with supplies we hoped the Horizon buffet would not be indicative of the entire cruise. Sad to say we found comments made previously on cruise critic to be on target and the commissary is open for business. The fish was fishy, old and uneatable, the chicken was hard and dry, the beef Joan left on her plate as it was like a rock. The salad and fruit were very good and the fried scallops were good as well. The ship sails in 15 minutes and the luggage is still no where to be found. After lunch we take off to arrange for internet service in our room  well let me tell you a story. They put a gun to our heads and said pay up. I think this is stealing. PRINCESS is Charging $30 Per Hour for internet Service This is our fourth cruise on Princess. My wife and I both run our own businesses and need internet access and assumed because the brochure indicated in had internet access that it was reasonable priced. (Note  platinum level cruisers receive internet access free per the brochure which may be very misleading as it does not cover wireless and this ship is not hard wired) Not so. Princess wants 50 cents per minute and we usually purchase 24/7 access for $10 per day or a little more on a ship. Not so on Princess as Princess wants $30 an hour for wireless internet which is the same as stealing. Joan must work several hours a day as she is in contract negotiations and dealing with ongoing client issues. We would never have booked on this ship or with Princess if we had known of this pricing before hand. I did not question but assumed and we all know what happened to assume. Joan, my wife, who is really upset was on the phone with people on the ship at all levels and corporate headquarters and is working up the ladder trying to reach the sr. VP of customer service but being the holidays most appear on vacation but she is persistent  people not empowered to solve customer problems with a focus of maximizing todays revenue with no understanding of the long term impact on their business. We were approached by two other cruisers who overheard our conversation and had similar issues and are looking for solutions. It will be imperative for us to know the pricing of internet access on all future cruises. Please note this is a new policy for Princess and it is my memory that it was free in the past. We may just not be the profile of the customer Princess is seeking  late 50s, disposable income with many years of cruising ahead. Humm  if confused appears to be an oxymoron. The ship while redone in 2003 has no hard wiring for networks in the rooms but has cable TV which is similar or the same wiring. Does anyone at Princess understand what is going on in the world. Note: today is day 11 of the cruise and the topic of internet service has come up many times during the last 11 days. It is amazing. Princess is trying to maximize revenue at 50 cents per minute but in fact many people refuse to pay but would pay $20 per day for access. For a 15 day cruise that would be $300. Just how much revenue is Princess loosing by gouging the customer? Penny wise and dollar foolish. Back to the cruise this is your captain speaking We will experience winds of 35 knots and moderate seas (same issues with definition)  the boat is rocking and we have just entered open ocean  going to be an interesting couple of days. To give you an idea of the seas we are on the Aloha deck (12th floor) and spray is hitting our window. It must be real nice outside. Off to dinner soon. Stopped by and said hello to the Maitre d with an Alexander Grant and found our way to a table for two by the window for the entire cruise. Very nice fellow. The food was as described by others; some eatable and some not. The seafood in pastry shell was returned uneatable and I joined my wife in the prime rib. The breads were okay with hard crust but not much body, the cheeses of mid level quality, and the ice cream very good. Ordered a double cappuccino and received two cappuccinos. Sitting at our table I had a lovely view out the window and watched the surf cascading past deck 5, which is three levels above the water line (about 21 feet). The winds are out of the North West and the ship is headed South West so the waves are hitting the vessel on the starboard side rocking the ship. Joans meal was held up as you heard several crashes as dishes tumbled to the floor from various swells and Joans dinner fell victim to one. The waiter explained and took care of the problem. What problem we are on vacation. Corking Charge: Princes brochures and web site, if memory is correct, advertise a corking charge of $10  don't believe it  they charge $15 and when challenged I was told it is $15 no matter what is in writing. don't think Princess has heard of false advertising. Evenings Journey in Open Ocean: To say it was an interesting evening might be an understatement. The ship appeared to have hit some very large swells as it went up vertical slowly and then picked up speed on the way down. You tended to be tossed around in bed. We overheard one fellow this AM talking about being thrown out of bed  his state room is in the stern of the vessel. At least we turned the clock back another hour, so we caught up on our sleep this morning. All decks were closed. Felt like I was riding a horse all evening. A little to bumpy to lull you to sleep and when the ship creaking as it came out of the water, like in the Titanic, it was an interesting sound. Early AM day two: This is your captain Speaking Do to high winds, large (notice change in adjective) swells, and moderate seas please do not venture outside and all outside walkways are closed. The commissary was open  coffee as advertised by others. Had some fruit and coffee and headed off to the gym. While the gym is small it was not overly crowded, but it was before 8 AM or noon east coast time. Have a message at 11  ops  they changed it to 10:30  do it my way on Princess. Message was wonderful and rebooked with Barbara for an Hawaiian deep mussel message. Note  this is day 11 and a look back on the message - fabulous The Lotus Spa area was comfortable and reasonably quite during the day. The seas remained high throughout most of the day and started to subside during the late afternoon. Dinner  the Dinner menu was not to our liking so the Maitre d ordered us some lamb chops which were very good. Grant continues to do his work. We also check the menu for the next evening and will order meals a day ahead of time. Our table for two was not just good it was outstanding. Very quite location that truly added to our cruise. During dinner the couple next to us commented on the size of the waves the previous evening. They room was on B deck or level 11 and the waves on occasion, according to them, were equal to the room. No wonder the boat had that distinct up and down feeling the night before. Others reported sea weed on their deck  level 10. My oh my. We attended the performances of the world class juggler and the banjo player the evening before. While both were good it appears to have limited appeal by the emptiness of the theater and those that left early. Day three Seas quieted down today as the ship slides through the water. May visit the golf pro and try and work on that slice. Off to the gym and spa for those hot chairs and relaxation. Lunch at the buffet was putrid. Had a little pineapple, which is always good, and a hot dog / bratwurst from the outside bare. Played ½ hour of golf and worked on my game and set up a lesson from the pro. Arrived late for dinner and even though we called ahead they gave our table away. So much for the help of Alexander Grant, but the positive is that we ended up sitting next to a lovely couple from Puerto Rico. We had pre arranged for veal cocked with mushroom sauce at least so we thought. They brought veal that had been grilled on some type of two sided grill and it turned out to be dry and poorly done. Eat the cheese and pasta instead. So much for ordering ahead of time. The waiter was a distant third to the one at our regular table but we enjoyed the company of the other couple. We spent the evening dancing at the bars and enjoying the music. Interesting to note the sparse crowds after dinner in the bars, casino and around the ship as it would appear that the change in demographics to an older crowd is limiting those that stay up and enjoy what the ship has to offer. Day Four: We had breakfast with lovely people from Denver and Boca Raton, Florida. The couple from Boca were age 78 and have taken many cruises on ships from Royal to Cristal. They booked this cruise because of the itinerary and the cost of a suite was the same as a regular room on Cristal. They had several revealing comments. Never saw so many old fat people. I just looked and did not comment as it was coming from a 78 year old lady. The demographics aboard this cruise is definitely different from past Princess cruises. We are not sure if it the itinerary, length of the cruise, or the road that Princess is headed down. If it is the road princess is headed down they may find it a little like trying to surf the coral lined beaches of Hawaii  very treacherous. Back to our conversation with the nice couple from Boca. It was their opinion that the food was horrid and the husband did not think Princess would be on their itinerary again but the wife loved the suite and she did not eat much as she had steamed vegetables for dinner. Appears the kitchen can steam vegetables well. It was their opinion that breakfast was the best meal aboard the ship. The husband was upset that Princess now charges for ice cream as he is used to a free mid afternoon treat. Each to their own but this appears to be a constant theme and the thought that Princess was becoming Carnivalized for no better word. Hate to taste the food on Carnival if this is a step or two up. Man oh Man After breakfast I head off to see if maybe the ship might be carrying one of the NFL football games. Great opportunity for the ship to sell some beer and provide entertainment to some football fans. It appears the entertainment director was unaware that football was an item the ships patrons might like to watch. Word later in the day was that they are going to try and show the Rose Bowl on TV. We are in port so my guess is no one will show up. This really gets back to our issue with the staff being empowered to solve problems. Lunch at the Horizon buffet had one good item  whole roasted pig  very tasty. My golf lesson was enlightening and the Pro was very good. My afternoon message- Deep tissue Hawaiian  outstanding to say the least. Well tonight is New Years and we were looking forward to celebrating the New Year on the upper deck as this had been our experience previously on Princess. Not to be as they are going to try and squeeze 1900 people into the atrium. Sounds enthralling  ouch. Go Carnival. More later. New Years Eve  Ouch  First the good news  Dinner in the Bayou Restaurant was very nice. The service was excellent and the steak was the quality of a steak house. Joan had the lobster tail and steak and I had a porterhouse. The seafood gumbo was also very good. The menu has what is called Jumbo shrimp. The issue is not taste but what is classified as a jumbo shrimp. If you classify a 30  36 count per lb as jumbo then you have no issue with the terminology. Who cares as you can order as many as you wish. The music was wonderful. What was strange was the mix between passengers and crew as it was 50% each. Guess the passengers did not want to spend an extra $15 each on a News Eve Dinner that was eatable. Interesting The celebration  the ship had music in many of the lounges and most passengers where up and about dancing and having a good time. The countdown in the Atrium, still blows me away that you are in Hawaii and the cruise director holds a News Eve Celebration in the Atrium vs. the deck. As the evening progressed you had many carts full of Champaign / sparkling wine moving around the halls but alas they were selling bottles and not one drop was available to toast in the New Year. The midnight buffet was a bust in my opinion and no ice carvings or other festive elements. Joan decided to sample a lamb chop, that did not last long as they were discarded as just being poor. On the way out I noticed the cook cooking the chops like a hamburger  no wonder they did not taste good. Well onward and upward. The adjectives used the day after included, cinchy, cheap, poorly done, worst I have experienced on a Princess ship, to downright dreadful. Our waiter informed us that the ship is holding a Champaign waterfall on the last formal night of the cruise. Again the cruise director our the boss in Tampa is clueless  who cares about the last formal night when your on a New Years Eve cruise. In my opinion this ship is very poorly managed from the top as it is run like the military and everyone takes orders from above. Someone is clueless on board. Can anyone think for themselves and are they empowered to change itineraries to maximize the customers experience. Day 6 Today was New Years day and our first day off the ship. Maui here we come.. Well as warned the tenders took over two hours to take 50% of the passengers ashore. Appears only three tenders where working to remove 1900 people. Again very poor planning from the top. Let me see, five days at sea and your first port they reduce the number of tenders s people have to stand around and wait to disembark. Do not know if it is the ship or restrictions in Maui. My guess it is the  Captain Speaking  do it my way. Our car, which we thought we had rented from Hawaiians discount auto rental was not there costing us another hour and we finally drove off in our Hertz rental around noon  remember we were in line at 9:30 to disembark the ship. The beaches were nice but disappointing and after spending an hour on the beach we decided we really need a bit to eat as it was after 2. Great lunch at Java Jazz and around 3:30 we go for a ride to see some sights and return the car shortly after 4 PM. Off to the pier to grab a tender back as the last tender is do to leave the dock at 5:30. Upon arriving at the dock we are shown the end of the ¼ mile line to get a tender. It takes us a 1 ¼ hours to get a tender and arrive at the ship a little before six. The line for a tender was over a ¼ mile as we headed for the ship. Everyone was on board around 6:45 by some accounts. Another outstanding show of management as the crew left its passengers standing in line for 1.5 hours to return to the ship. It really begs the questions  does management of the Island Princess really care about its passengers and do they respect and appreciate them as customers. This is a very difficult question for me to answer. I am really leaning toward the clueless side of customer service and that the customer comes first. Many people in line have cruised many times with Princess and others. Most consider this cruise one of the worst run cruises they have ever been on from the food, New Years Eve, to the ship being inconsiderate about the passengers time while on vacation. Do it the Princess way; as we come first. Many of these customers may be former customers very shortly. Day Seven and Eight We had booked golf for day seven and based upon our experience in Maui we decided to play golf for two days. The golf was great  the scenery at Kaulua was out of Jurassic Park. With volcanic hills going straight up with lava lines coming down he sides of the hills. The golf carts would descend to the floor of the value creating the illusion right out of the movie. Really cool. The golf course is purported to be the fourth (4th) most difficult course in all of the US. Very narrow and challenging but a blast to play. The picture on the left is from the club house and the picture to the right is one of the tee boxes looking up at the mountain range. Just an outstanding day. The evening was spent at Dukes on the water in Waukee beach. Great place to watch the surfers and enjoy a drink and a good meal. The golf day two was at the Marriott Hotel and was lovely as well. The onboard golf pro, Kevin, takes his golf seriously and works hard to provide everyone with a enjoyable experience. We had an enjoyable day both day one and two. The views from this course were no less outstanding with the 16th and 17th wholes overlooking the bay and requiring great shots to hit the green. Joan managed to par this par 3  actually amazing as one slight mistake and you are in the water - Sorry to say I missed. Great whole. After golf we look for a beer with Terry and Carol but the course does not have a 19th whole as it is trying to sell real estate around the course. Not unlike the rest of the United States real estate sales are soft as the salesperson sat alone in the large room. Oh well back to the ship for a slice and a drink. Great day. That evening the dinning room was serving swordfish and I enquired if it could be done moist and maybe cooked in butter and white wine. No problem. Over comes the head waiter for our section and he makes out the slip and Slavo, our waiter, heads off to the kitchen. Three pieces of swordfish later and with the head waiter embarrassed at the kitchens inability to cook a simple piece of swordfish without killing it. I ended up eating some of my wifes prime rib, notice the pattern here, and the head waiter trying to make amends offers us whatever we want. We have had the calamari before and it was good so we selected this done in tomato sauce. Day nine We had booked a sport fishing trip out of Kona, a prime area to fish for marlin. In short we had a great day and Hector our captain worked hard to find the marlin. Two of the several boats caught small marlins but no large fish were caught this day. We did boat two Whaoo and the captain and crew enjoyed the catch. Tuna I may have tried to bring back aboard. Returned to ship and was really pleased to see no line with ships personnel assisting Island cruisers to the tenders. Understand that not just a few people had voiced there displeasure about the lines in Maui. Dinner this evening was just outstanding. The Italian Sou Chief really did an outstanding of cooking small whole calamari in a spicy tomato sauce with peas. We thanked him several times. The head waiter came by and took our order for the next evening and with lobster tails on the menu we selected the lobster tail and the waiter made notes of how it was to be cooked. Day 10 Hilo, the rainiest spot on the planet according to some with over 200 inches of rain a year. After looking at the itinerary we decided to rent a vehicle and see the water falls and trek up to the volcano. Rented a pick up, following the advice on cruise critic we noted every scratch, dent, smudge or other blemish on the rental, and headed out to see the sights. The 400 ft water fall was worth the trip. Reveal recommended a small ice cream stand on the way back and we indulged. Home made Hilo ice cream was worth the calories. The rain bow falls were not worth the trip as it was raining, but if the sun is out it may well be beautiful. Off to the volcano we trek. We had a very pleasant visit and wish we had allocated more time to investigate the area more and travel down to the bottom to see the lava flow. Highly recommended, but allow yourself enough time enjoy the entire National park. Dinner this evening is the lobster tail, which we requested be prepared moist vs dry and stringy. The head waiter and Slavo communicate and another slip is made out for the kitchen. The same Sou Chief who cooked our calamari is going to cook our lobster tail we were informed. It was perfectly done. Sorry to say the people sitting next to us were not as lucky as the lobster tail was overcooked. I honestly do not get why the wait staff understands what needs to be done yet the kitchen just does it their way; killing most eatable food. Oh well. Day 11 etc at sea: Today is day 11 and I am sitting in the library listing to Pavarotti writing my review watching 6  10 swells slid under the ship creating a little more motion that one would like. A little rocky but very beautiful with the spray and all. It is very cool outside so few venture outdoors. Before dinner we stopped by the Captains Circle cocktail party. Drinks were the house and on the house and the lounge was full. Foolish me thought if the captain was serving appetizers the they might be worth a taste. The appetizers being passed around were just horrid  the fried whatever was so over done that it broke into pieces and the other items tasted horrid. People I am not over reacting here  the captain should be embarrassed to have his name associated with this  big sell from Captains circle host so we left early for dinner. Dinner at Sabatini  it is what it is  many small or large courses depending on how much you can put into your system  most of it not outstanding but non of it bad  the pasta with seafood was very good  the bread was very poor  my dinner  veal chop was very good while my wife received a piece of veal that was not a chop but the end cut which tasted terrible  they offered to bring another piece but Joan said forget it I'm full. Not sure if we will do Bayou or Sabatini the last formal night. If you should book in a meal at Sabatini be sure to get a table in the back  it is very noisy in the front of the restaurant. The younger Maitre d is the one to see, as he really runs the restaurant and is the protege of the head maitre d. NFL playoffs  many passengers desire to watch the NFL playoffs on CBS but for some reason the ship cannot get reception of a major station on the open water but can get CNN and ESPN  either very old technology or just too cheap  we never got a good answer. I spent the morning login on and off the internet to get the Patriots score (final cost $35 dollars) What a pain. It is interesting to note that the national championship football game was received but had no advertising. It appears to be the broadcast headed overseas by ESPN that the ship is able to show. The seas remain rough and will for most of the cruise as El Nino is creating a unique upper level wind pattern and the ship is stuck in the high wind path impacting the west coast. We spent much of the last four days inside reading, working out and actually doing some work. Chef refuses to cook special meal: Had reservations at Sabatini on the third formal night but were invited to join another family for dinner. Requested the veal chop, a Sabatini dinner option, in the mail dinner room and agreed to pay the $20 for the chop. Chef refused to cook so a head waiter had to cook the chop. Unbelievable. Joan gets Food Poisoning the final night! Joan takes a leap of faith and orders the seafood appetizer with dinner. Our meal was identical otherwise. She was up all night. What a way to finish the cruise     Read Less
Sail Date December 2006
My husband and I enjoyed this 4th cruise with Princess. The ship is beautiful, well-maintained. Public areas were spotless, there was always someone scrubbing something! Congratulations to Princess staff and its high level of service. ... Read More
My husband and I enjoyed this 4th cruise with Princess. The ship is beautiful, well-maintained. Public areas were spotless, there was always someone scrubbing something! Congratulations to Princess staff and its high level of service. Always helpful, friendly and smiling. Our room was comfortable and clean. One thing could be improved: the bed was a pain in the back. Literally. Better mattresses would make the nights more restful. However this cruise was not perfect because of Mother Nature. It's been said, I'll repeat it. It was lovely in Hawaii, but sea days were just too windy, too cold and too rocky. For weeks prior to the cruise, I was anticipating the pleasure of sipping a coffee/glass of wine on my balcony, walking every morning/every night around promenade deck, reading by the pool. Well, we rarely did any of these, the wind was too strong. Around noon on day 3, I got sick, spilling my guts by both ends, running a fever, dehydrated. When I called the medical center, I was told to wait in my room until they call me and tell me to come down. When they did, my husband got me there in a wheelchair, I was too weak to walk. After a lot of paperwork, I was told I had an 'acute gastroenteritis'. All in all, the doctor (from South Africa) spent about 80 seconds with me and yet managed to be impatient and rude, like I was interrupting his vacation. Sure I understand he was busy that night but that's no excuse to his poor attitude. In the bed next to mine was a 70 year-old woman. A young male assistant (med student?) was rudely barking numerous questions to her. It turned out the lady was seasick, not guilty-of-something. I was confined to my cabin for 48 hours and complied until the last minute. The next day I was told to go down again at the med center (temperature taken, tip of IV removed). The nurse (from New Zealand - forgot her name) was nice. When the doc saw me, he opened the door to a room with 3 words: wait in here. Never bothered to ask: feeling better this morning? My point is that, on a ship, the med team should be prepared to deal with common situations such as seasickness & gastroenteritis without 'loosing it'. Apparently Celebrity has a much more caring approach, shows more consideration to its passengers (details in Norovirus thread). Enough with that bad experience. When husband & I were in top shape again when we arrived in Hawaii. We had reserved a rental car in each port, it was so nice to visit at our own pace. Hardly any people when we were at the beautiful Botanical Garden in Hilo. In all ports, we just drove along the coast, walked on post-card beaches, marveled at spectacular views. In Maui we considered that tendering was taking so long we figured it would be 12:00 by the time we picked up the car ,not much time left if we were to be back by 4:30. So we canceled the car, stayed on the ship and finally enjoyed the pool on a warm day. The food was generally very good everywhere. There is so much choice, such a large variety every day, that it seems impossible not to find something you like at each meal. One night we told our waiter that the beef was so-so. He told us to leave it and suggested the raviolis. Delicious. The pastries/desserts were excellent. It was our first time with anytime dining and were happy with it. Bayou Cafe (more than Sabatini) is worth the extra charge. Unforgettable oysters Sieur de Bienville, tender porterhouse steak, tasty jambalaya. We haven't seen all the shows but enjoyed most of them. Kevin Hughes was very funny. Princess dancers/singers are talented people. Island has a great gym and we used it quite often. The crossing back to L.A. didn't seem as rough, but still very windy and bumpy. Disembarkation was speedy. Read Less
Sail Date December 2006
HAWAII..What a fantasy for those folks , myself included , sitting day in and day out dreaming of crystal clear waters and warm tropical trade winds while sitting in bumper to bumper traffic. How could my wife (Dianne) and I(FOGGY DAZE) ... Read More
HAWAII..What a fantasy for those folks , myself included , sitting day in and day out dreaming of crystal clear waters and warm tropical trade winds while sitting in bumper to bumper traffic. How could my wife (Dianne) and I(FOGGY DAZE) achieve this elusive faraway vision of paradise. Easy , pick up the phone and call PRINCESS . The staff at the PRINCESS booking desk do an excellent job and rarely get any recognition for being the start of your dream come true . SUNDAY..NOVEMBER 19th...What a great start , three off ramps from home , I was informed that possibly, we had left the camera behind..oh well , we are on vacation , so what. Now and hour out of San Francisco , I tell Dianne that I was starting to get a headache . She reaches in her purse , no problem..she hands me 4 tablets and a bottle of water to wash them down. Now bout a half hour farther down the road , my eyes are getting very, very , very ,heavy . But hey, the head aches gone , hummm...Honey..are you certain those were motrin , I'm sure getting tired . I see her open her purse and detect a slight whisper "oh no". "Sorry , I gave you my muscle relaxers..I'll drive". We pull into the BEST WESTERN on Harbor Blvd. , just down the block from the San Pedro Cruise Center . The hotel will shuttle you to and from the Ship as well as store your vehicle at a very reasonable rate. MONDAY NOV. 20TH , 5:45 a.m. ...sipping our coffee , we watch the ISLAND PRINCESS quietly pass in front of the hotel toward her berth. We board our hotel shuttle at 11:30 a.m. and check in at the PRINCESS embarkation area.  We are in our cabin within minutes .Hey , lets do lunch. Safety drill , very organized and detailed in their instruction. Now up to the sailaway party as the sun sets .And the band plays on. TUE. NOV. 21St. First meeting of cruise critic group 11:00 A.M. at the explorers lounge....oppps!!...lounge was not open until 12:00p.m. Had a turn out of about 20 to 30 folks...nice to meet ya'll..sorry bout no bar service..my fault. And I was going to even pick up the bar tab for the group...oh well its .. VACATION. The cabin A 215 was very nice..however , our bed configuration was not as requested . We called the cabin Steward ..it was some time before that task was taken care of. I have a habit of giving the cabin the "WHITE GLOVE" .It did not pass . Still yukky stuff in the drawers , least it wasn't moving. Dirt in all the higher ledges , mirror top , door top and other places . hummm , oh MR. STEWARD We called him 8 times over the 15 days on board..and not once did we ever get a reply . Room service was awesome , limited menu , but was always correct and served within about 20 minutes of your call.EXCELLENT ! Food was always fresh and hot . At sea days had an activity for every interest .The PRINCESS PATTER was very informative . We went to several lectures, a wine tasting , trivia games , shuffle board library , casino . We always had a great time . Our dining choice was first seating . We had first rate servers who seemed to go out of their way to make our experience a great one. We often took their advice in what was good and never had a complaint. Water glass was always full..and I drink alot of water...food was served hot, with great appeal to your visual sense's. If for any reason you were unhappy with anything, it would be taken care of in a timely manor to your satisfaction. Dianne and I tried the "BAYOU CAFE" . I had the PORTERHOUSE steak..tender , juicy . Excellent . Dianne on the other hand had the lobster . She had me taste it and it was so salty..wow...not good . The cafe took care of the $$ as well as offered to make it right next time in. We never ended up going back... We had better service in the Main dinning room than in the "BAYOU CAFE",but keep in mind , restaurants also have bad nights too. We would try it again. Cabin problems again...some days we would leave the cabin at 9:00a.m with the "PLEASE SERVICE " sign out , only to return at 2p.m. or 3p.m. and nothing had been touched. The last time we were on the PRINCESS DAWN..seemed like we would walk out , turn around and go back and the cabin was cleaned...no long, long wait. Shore excursions...on the scale of 1 to 10...KONA , submarine a "10" though a bit pricey... Kauia...4x4 back road..."2" . very disappointing..oh well..we are on vacation.. On the other islands we rented a vehicle an did what we wanted to do..good value if you shop the market . Entertainment..well TOTO , it wasn't KANSAS..'RHAPSODY'...I have put several concerts together..so have a good eye/ear for talent..lead singer good, drummer good , bass..better than average..organ..needs to play in another band perhaps the Caribbean ..thought he was tone deaf and often over powered even the lead singer..THERE IS NO REGGAE IN "THE FOUR TOPS" songs... 1 to 10...4 1/2 Now, the banjo playing MICHAEL..really bad...I saw a guy that played at the 'U S Festival' that could play the Banjo, Mouth Organ and the drum at the same time and was better than that..all we needed was an organ grinder and a monkey..that would have made the night.. The comic Kevin Hughes...HE WAS A "10" Would we do it again..in a heartbeat..great value...those 8 days at sea to just relax...the charm of the overall staff of Princess . The food . I will be sitting in traffic tomorrow counting down the days until the next cruise with PRINCESS...FOGGY DAZE Read Less
Sail Date November 2006
Hi, this was a very pleasant cruise to the interior of Alaska after 7 days of the Island Princess. The entire trip sucked me into the "cruise" attitude...Kathy and I and the other couple with us will go on many cruises in the ... Read More
Hi, this was a very pleasant cruise to the interior of Alaska after 7 days of the Island Princess. The entire trip sucked me into the "cruise" attitude...Kathy and I and the other couple with us will go on many cruises in the future. The only two complaints I had was the instant coffee on the boat and getting stuck in a "smoking" hotel room in Fairbanks when we requested Non Smoking. All connections went pretty smooth from plane to busses and to boarding boats and trains. Long lines but all went pretty smooth. Everyone tried their best for customer service. I say "try" because most people on board the Island Princess were of a different nationality...and they were sometimes very difficult to communicate with...but all people on the cruise were absolutely doing the very best for customer service...no rude people there. Nice job to the "crew"! As I said my "hang up" was the lack of a "Starbucks" standard of coffee. You ask for brewed coffee and they give you that instant stuff they call 'brewed" coffee...yuk...And of course no one understands what you want...and there was none on board anywhere...I was really surprised...I would gladly buy good coffee or some real good espresso...I did find a bar 1/2 way thru cruise that fixed some espresso...was good...but I could never get one w/my meal or at some entertainment...or any other place. I'm really surprised that no one demands a "Starbucks" standard of coffee on these cruises. At Starbucks I mostly get a real delicious decaf espresso...boy was I a disappointed camper on this trip!! Anyways, we'll be on many more cruises...just not cruises without some good coffee though. The experience of traveling that the Princess lines was well worth the price... The entertainment was mediocre...but passable. The informal 24 hr (or at least it seemed that way) food court was very acceptable to our party of four...We hit a couple of exquisite dining arrangements...and it was too formal for us...and I am a very basic guy and couldn't appreciate all of the different fancy side dishes...give me a steak or hamburger and I'm a happy camper. We had great pleasure of roaming the boat checking out virtual golf and a mini put course that was fun. We enjoyed the card room w/some games. I am an ex cigar smoker who absolutely loved sitting in the smoking room enjoying the heavenly fragrance of cigars. My wife got a little sea-sick...the drs took good care of her...we'll bring some good stuff on the next cruise. Sincerely, Jerry and Kathy Carlson Read Less
Sail Date August 2006
OK, this is looooong  partly a diary, partly a review, partly some random thoughts about our Island Princess repositioning cruise from LA to Vancouver via Alaska. Embarkation: We embarked at the Port of Los Angeles, 10 minutes from ... Read More
OK, this is looooong  partly a diary, partly a review, partly some random thoughts about our Island Princess repositioning cruise from LA to Vancouver via Alaska. Embarkation: We embarked at the Port of Los Angeles, 10 minutes from home. Princess had 2 ships in port, and the Sapphire was at Berth 93, the new and preferred embarkation location. We arrived at 1:15 at Berth 92, where you have to go through security prior to checking in. There were 3 agents and two security screening points, so getting through took us 40 minutes. We checked in quickly, and then stood in another line to board the ship. Total time from the cab dropping us off was about one hour. Some of our friends had arrived at 10:30 and were onboard in 20 minutes, so perhaps the moral of the story is to arrive early. On the other hand, our luggage arrived 10 minutes after we did, and the early arrivals didnt get theirs until almost dinnertime. The cabin: We were in Caribe 703, a penthouse suite. I posted some pictures at http://community.webshots.com/album/550701530KuleXj The PH category on Island, although the top category on the ship, is similar to a minisuite on the Sun class ships  a nice sitting area with a desk, little wet bar, sofa and chair. The bathroom had one sink and the toilet on one side, and a jetted tub and shower on the other. Not really a full suite by Princess standards, but very nicely appointed nonetheless. We had white plastic furniture on the balcony, instead of the teak we have usually seen, which included two padded loungers, 2 chairs and a table. The bed was firm with heavenly linens. I would say the comforter was synthetic down. I loved it! Our cabin steward, Ronaldo, did everything expected of him, but nothing extraordinary. He brought us our embarkation champagne and a couple of down pillows. That and several loads of laundry were the only extras we asked of him. Our cabin vibrated a great deal. Although we were a good 20 cabins from the aft of the ship, we could feel the aft thrusters throughout the cruise, and it was a bumpy ride on our one rough sea day. Worse, there was a lot of rattling from the ceiling. After 4 nights of not sleeping well, I finally stuffed some tissues into the woodwork cracks and found a wire in the overhead light fixture that I shifted about. That helped quite a bit, but the cabin is just plain noisy, the worst I have experienced. Dining: We had traditional late seating, and had a wonderful wait team in Relu and Laura, both from Romania. They were friendly, efficient, helped me drink my red wine, and had good senses of humor. Our headwaiter, Eduardo, was a bit of a ghost in the beginning, but warmed up to us by the end. I thought Relu had a bit of cheek asking us to be sure to fill out the questionnaire so he could get a good job rating and, when we handed him an extra tip at the end of the cruise, asking if we had also left the autotip in place. Hes nothing if not ambitious! We had a table for 2 in the middle of a group of what we think were real estate agents/employees. One of them in particular was very loud, obnoxious and opinionated. She finally changed her seat at her table so she wasnt braying directly at us, but she was incredibly annoying. Oh, well. Next time well ask for a larger table so we can make our own noise! The food was nothing special, but we always found something to make us reasonably content. We usually went with what Relu recommended, and it was almost always beef. I tried fish every now and then, and it was a mistake  overcooked and flavorless for the most part. We didnt see much variety in the offerings, either. We ate at the Bayou Cafe one night, and it was just ok, although the chocolate dessert and the pound cake (soaked in orange liqueur, as I recall) were divine. The food tended to be quite fatty. I had the filet, and scraped off the bacon/mushroom concoction on top. Next time, Ill try the shrimp. We had a nice time, though, and the service was impeccable. We went back frequently to listen to the live music, and the maitre d tolerated with good humor my butchering of his native Italian. The offerings in the Horizon Court were usually the best  a very good salad bar, fresh fruit (looked a little tired toward the end) and a variety of entrEe offerings. We ate there for lunch most days. Pizza was delicious  thin, crispy crust and a selection of toppings every day. We didnt go to Sabatinis, having eaten there on the Star and Diamond and not needing that much food by dinnertime. Service: We always find that RCI has warmer and friendlier staff than Princess, and this cruise was no exception. The times we ate in the dining room for breakfast or lunch, we found the waiters to be indifferent  never a smile, no my pleasure, sir/madame, no visible enthusiasm for their jobs. Waiters in the bars were friendly if we ordered a lot to drink, which we usually didnt. Otherwise they were correct but distant. Crew members we encountered around the ship did no speak until spoken to, which I found a little disconcerting. I went out of my way to greet people and always got a response, but having the make the first effort got old. Entertainment: We went to a few shows, and enjoyed them. The quality of the musicians was excellent, from the string quartet in the atrium to the various bands and combos playing all over the ship. The singers and dancers were also very good. We particularly enjoyed the Big Band show. Ports/Excursions As Southern Californians, we had been to both Santa Barbara and San Francisco a number of times, so we didnt book anything through the ship. In SB, we walked up to the Santa Barbara Winery tasting room, sampled some wines and bought a couple of bottles to bring back onboard. We then wandered down to Stearns Wharf, looked around a bit, and then headed back to the ship. In SF, we docked at Pier 27. We had purchased tickets to Alcatraz Island from blueandgoldfleet.com, which is the official operator of the Island. We walked to Pier 39, passing through a bit of a mob disembarking from Celebritys Infinity at Pier 33 or so, but it was still only a 10-minute walk. The ride to Alcatraz is 15 minutes, and its a trip well worth taking. The history of place is fascinating, and its a good way to get in some exercise walking up & down the hill. In Sitka, we took 2 ships excursions  the Sea Otter and Wildlife Quest and the Semi-submersible. I wrote a mini-review of the submersible trip: http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=348904&highlight=submersible. Suffice it to say that I wont do it again  once was enough! The Sea Otter excursion was terrific  we boarded the excursion boat directly from the Island, so no need to tender to shore and then meet up with our group  very convenient! The crew of the boat was friendly and knowledgeable and we spotted tons of wildlife, including several whales frolicking within about 200 feet of the boat. The guide told us that it was one of the best showings he had ever seen. Loved it, and highly recommend it! The trip included free admission to St. Michaels, but we didnt have time. We grabbed a reindeer dog in between excursions. Next time were going to walk up to the Raptor Center and not take any ships tours. Two was really one too many. In Ketchikan, we walked up to Creek Street in the morning and checked out the stores. On the way back to town, we spotted a Mexican restaurant, Chicos, and just had to try it. It was very good. I had a gyro (!) and DH had tacos. We had booked an afternoon Misty Fjords trip directly with Island Wings, based on what we read on Cruise Critic. We had booked the Fjords & Glacier combination, but the glaciers were fogged in, so the trip was shortened to the Fjords only (and the price was lowered accordingly) Wow! What a flight! Michelle is a terrific pilot, and pointed out all kinds of interesting sights. She landed on one of the lakes and we were able to get out, go to a little bit of land and take some pictures of the breathtaking scenery. In Victoria, where weve been several times, we walked to Craigdarroch Castle, which is only 2 inches from the pier on my AAA map, but is about a 45- minute walk. It was a good workout, which we needed, so we didnt mind. Wandering around the castle was a fun way to spend an hour. We walked back to the Inner Harbour and had lunch at Il Pescatore, a place we had stumbled upon in 2004. Its just up the street from the Empress Hotel. We both had a salmon sampler, and it was delicious. The amber ale went down easily, too! We got back to the ship (on foot) at about 4:00. Cruise Critic We had a very active Roll Call, and had a terrific sailaway party in the Wheelhouse Lounge on Deck 7. Sue T. at Princess was good enough to set up 2 parties (I booked one and jrobinson booked the other so I wouldnt look greedy), which consisted of some reserved space, a dedicated waiter and some peanuts & pretzels. Fortunately, we all got along in person as well as we did online! The second party was on the 10th, our second sea day, at Crooners. Colo Cruiser spoke with the CD, Richard Joseph, about having another get together, and he came through for us  he hosted a champagne & mimosa party for us on the 13th, as I recall. They served some nice munchies and some members of the entertainment staff (CDs in training) mingled with us. The Spa We got a fabulous deal on our cabin, so we spent the money we saved in the spa. DH had 2 Swedish massages, and loved both (same tech both times). I had a Swedish (excellent) and a seaweed wrap/massage combination (heaven on earth). As veterans of the Steiner sales pitches, we were able to fend off any attempts to sell us product  I told my techs up front that I didnt want anything, and they accepted that gracefully. Weather: We mostly had good weather from LA to SF. Our first sea day out of SF was pretty rocky, and the Horizon Court, all the way forward & bumpy as all get out, was pretty much deserted. I slept all morning, but felt better after a workout, and things calmed down by the evening. We had some rain in Sitka, and clouds in Ketchikan, but the seas remained calm. We had a glorious day in Victoria, and Tonidee and her husband hosted a wonderful sailaway party as we left the harbour, then turned in lazy circles all the way to Vancouver. Disembarkation We had thought of trying for the 11:15 flight, but decided to book the next Air Canada flight at 3:55. Although we probably would have made the earlier one, it was less stress wondering if something might go wrong. We booked the Vancouver city tour to kill some time until the flight. We arose in time to watch our passage under the Lions Gate Bridge, had breakfast in the dining room served by the surliest waitstaff of the entire cruise, then finished packing our carry ons and went to the Universe Theater to await our tags (Navy 1). We were off the ship at about 8:15 (1/2 an hour behind schedule), through Canadian customs in about 2 minutes, collected our bags and went to the waiting area for the tour. We were on the bus by 9:15, as I dimly recall. The driver was fun  he took us through Chinatown, Gastown and Stanley Park, making two stops for photos and snacks. We were at the airport a little after noon. US customs was understaffed so it took close to an hour to get through the line, but as we had plenty of time, it was no biggie. I did have time to compare duty-free prices between the airport and the ship, and the ship had better prices on what we were interested in (Clinique and Johnny Walker Blue). We were home to be slobbered on by the dogs by 8:00. This cruise was the most fun I have experienced, thanks to all of our new Cruise Critic friends. Quite a number of us have booked the Diamond repositioning cruise for 2007. I cant wait! Read Less
Sail Date May 2006
This was our 10th cruise. All on Princess. We recently returned from a 15 night cruise on the Island Princess from Los Angeles to Hawaii. I give this cruise 4 stars, since the ship was 5 stars and the weather was only 2 stars. We spent ... Read More
This was our 10th cruise. All on Princess. We recently returned from a 15 night cruise on the Island Princess from Los Angeles to Hawaii. I give this cruise 4 stars, since the ship was 5 stars and the weather was only 2 stars. We spent 10 days at sea since we couldn't get into Kauai due to the weather. We stopped in Hilo 73 degrees, Kona 73, Honolulu 75, Maui 78 and Ensenada around 68. Our days were partly to mostly cloudy with Maui being the best. The ship was great with the food, service, entertainment and room being almost outstanding. Our 2 two tours, the volcano and Thurston Lava tube in Hilo, and South Kona including the Painted Church and Place of Refuge were all enjoyable. We rented cars in both Honolulu and Maui. The main downfall to this cruise was the weather. Our sea days averaged 59-64 cloudy windy and moderate swells. We were glad to be back on land after being in the middle of the ocean for such a long period. I am glad not to be cruising again until April 2007. Read Less
Sail Date February 2006
We sailed on the 2/5/06 Island Princess Cruise to Hawaii. This was our honeymoon and we hoped for a fun-filled, exciting trip aboard the Island Princess. This was our first Princess Cruise but third cruise overall. The ship, public ... Read More
We sailed on the 2/5/06 Island Princess Cruise to Hawaii. This was our honeymoon and we hoped for a fun-filled, exciting trip aboard the Island Princess. This was our first Princess Cruise but third cruise overall. The ship, public rooms, staff & service were incredible. Our cabin steward went above and beyond the call of duty and the welcoming "Happy Honeymoon" sign and balloons were a nice touch. The transfer and services from LAX to the Pier were deplorable. The busses were full each time they went by are terminal and the luggage truck could never put any luggage on. It was an incredibly disorganized process and something Princess should be ashamed about. This was a black eye on the whole Princess cruise experience. Now, if you are younger (under 50) and looking for a similar age group on a cruise, this is not the place to go. It truly felt like a floating nursing home while we were onboard. The activities are also geared to the geriatric majority. Many of the older patrons were rude, downright snobby and generally gave the impression they were better than the younger folks on board. It was not uncommon to be pushed out of the way by an older cruiser at the buffet, bars, or even in line for the dining room. I have never experienced such poor behavior by people in my life. It was also extremely frustrating to listen to the continuous complaints and issues about every aspect. Even on one of our shore excursions we had to listen to all the complaining. I hope the cruise line keeps a record about chronic complainers as many of the people were discussing areas to complain about so they could write letters and get credits or cash back. It was despicable. The transfer from the ship to the airport was again unacceptable. Princess needs to focus some of their efforts on fixing these critical areas. I am sure that Princess is a great cruise line, we just did not get the chance to see that greatness on this cruise. Read Less
Sail Date February 2006
After flying across country for 5 1/2 hours we were glad to finally get to the Airport in Los Angeles. There were 11 of us traveling as a family group - all with Princess transfers - so there was enough people on our flight just with our ... Read More
After flying across country for 5 1/2 hours we were glad to finally get to the Airport in Los Angeles. There were 11 of us traveling as a family group - all with Princess transfers - so there was enough people on our flight just with our group to warrant a Princess representative meeting the group. instead we had to search through 3 terminals before finding someone who told us to just go back to the terminal and wait. One hour later we ventured out again, this time a different rep told us to wait at the curb. Long story short, three (3) hours later we were put on a bus for the forty five minute ride to the pier. Still we didn't leave as we were flagged down at another terminal and waited while another group of passenger baggage was loaded onto the already full bus. When we arrived at the pier it was total pandemonium. Long lines snaked into the terminal until we finally got to the point of the express check in. What good is a platinum card if we have to go through this. This is day 13 of our 15 day cruise and it was such a bad experience that it's pretty annoying. The ship on the whole has been what you would expect of a Princess cruise. The staff is wonderful but the whole concept of dine anytime just isn't happening here. For five straight days I tried to get a dining time that the was either 6:30 or 7PM. I was always told that it was already booked. I even went to the Maitre D' to see what I could do but he suggested that I call the Dine line. Finally on day five I was told by someone on the dine line that they don't want to book the table that late because it would mess up a possible second seating. since four of or group were children, we didn't want to stand around and wait for a such a large table so we had to eat at 5:45 every night - the latest reservation that they would give us. This doesn't seem like much but we would have booked the dining room if we had known. This is my 21st cruise, 11th with Princess and I've always been with a smaller group and have never had this problem before. There have been plenty of activities and things to do. The weather has not been cooperating but that's hardly the cruise line's fault and the staff is doing their best to revise activities around it. Some of our shore excursions were cancelled without warning. Some of us found outside means of getting to see what we wanted and others of us were not able to. Some of the tours went from sold out to a time change to cancelled. It was difficult to get to the tour office sometimes to deal with the problem. Two tours at Hilo were cancelled due to no busses being available. Hopefully, we will be able to get off the ship a whole lot easier than we got on. Read Less
Sail Date February 2006
Our Hawaiian adventure aboard the Island Princess was a trip to remember. We started in September reading and writing posts from roll call passengers eagerly waiting for our December 7th cruise to Hawaii. We became friends on the computer ... Read More
Our Hawaiian adventure aboard the Island Princess was a trip to remember. We started in September reading and writing posts from roll call passengers eagerly waiting for our December 7th cruise to Hawaii. We became friends on the computer and that made for a very pleasant cruise. Princess did a great job scheduling our transportation. Everything went like clock work at the airport and upon our arrival at LAX. LAX,however, is a nightmare of an airport and there was a delay boarding busses to travel to pier. People were arriving from all over the country and a very frustrated Princess representative tried her best to accommodate passengers and massive amounts of luggage. Once at the pier all went smooth boarding the ship. The crew had friendly faces and were more than willing to help passengers get where they were going. I was particularly impressed with the help they gave to handicapped people. Throughout the cruise, the crew lifted wheel chairs, helped them in dining area, theatre, etc. Our cabin was very clean and our steward was great. We had a change in our bed configuration, which made him change size of sheets and spread. He graciously accommodated our request. We were impressed with the stewards on decks cleaning the balconies each day. They would wipe the table, chairs-including the rungs of each. They must have a large night crew because each morning the whole ship seemed to sparkle. We were amazed at the transformation of the ship at Christmas time. When we boarded on the 7th of December, the ship was tactfully decorated with modest Christmas decorations,and by the time we were ready to leave on December 22 it was a Christmas wonderland, but still not overstated. The entertainment was very good and a lot of variety. There was a 4-piece string group that played primarily in the main lobby in evenings before the dinner hour. They were great. Most of the comedians were fun and in pretty good taste. There was one we thought made too much of the fact he could not perform his regular routine because of the mixture of audience-well duh-we are a mixture! Dancers & singers were very professional and entertaining. There were performances in both the Princess Theatre & Universal Lounge. There were many first-run movies if one preferred that entertainment. We had Personal Choice dining, and while we liked the concept of going when we wanted, we felt the service was poor. We enjoyed eating with new tablemates each evening and found we were better off with a table of six or less. The waiters & servers tried their best to accommodate but the food was slow in coming and the coffee was difficult to get. We solved the problem by finding a waiter and server we liked and requested his table each evening. He got to know us and our tastes and coffee arrived on time, and when he saw us coming to the table the server automatically brought us iced tea to start. The food in the dining area was good and had a nice variety. We enjoyed the buffet in the Horizon court in the morning. Eggs were cooked to order and there was a wide variety of bagels, fruit, etc. It was ok at lunch but seemed to be the same day to day. We never ate there at night. The Cruise Director was great. Because there were so many sea days, he and his crew had to have a lot of activities planned for a wide variety of tastes. I thought they did a wonderful job. There were a lot of trivia activities planned for all tastes and expertise. They had a lot of water activities planned for days that permitted it. The activities were interesting and geared for adult participants-scrap heap wars, survivor, etc. We do not usually participate in the sea school activities but I went to a seminar on purchasing a new computer. Found it very informative and wished I had enrolled in her other computer classes. A lot of people were working with pottery and it was fun to watch. I have two areas of criticism of the cruise. First area was the pursers desk. They were not very knowledgeable in handling problems. We made a complaint regarding the service in dining area and their solution was to remove all dining gratuities and that was not satisfactory to us. We could not reduce our charged amount and give a special tip to our new waiter & server we found. We were not the only ones making the same complaint. The second area was of course the anytime dining room. Thankfully, we found a solution before the cruise went too far. The trip was a wonderful experience and we would not hesitate to book the trip again. I realize we are not all the same and many people like to find areas to complain about, but Princess certainly went out of their way to make a very pleasant vacation. Read Less
Sail Date December 2005
My wife and I have been cruising since 1976. As a matter of fact our first cruise was on the SS Mariposa from Los Angeles to Honolulu. Things have changed. Overall, we give the Island Princess good marks. The ship was clean throughout ... Read More
My wife and I have been cruising since 1976. As a matter of fact our first cruise was on the SS Mariposa from Los Angeles to Honolulu. Things have changed. Overall, we give the Island Princess good marks. The ship was clean throughout and the food above average in quality and presentation. The ship has two dining rooms and two theaters. On our voyage one dining room was reserved for fixed seating and the second was set aside for "anytime dining." We had requested an early seating, but the requests for this seating exceeded the capacity by over 150 persons. Anyone not included in the early seating was automatically moved to anytime dining. This was unsatisfactory for us and many of the other passengers who had also involuntarily been placed in anytime dining. Although you could eat at the same time, you were always in a different place with different people. In addition to not having a wait staff who were familiar with your likes and dislikes, the wait staff in the anytime dining room were also positively rude on several occasions as well as being generally inattentive to things like filling glasses, bringing coffee, etc. I asked for a glass of juice one night at dinner and was told there would be a charge as juice was only available free at breakfast. Some nights the staff insisted on room numbers and some nights they never asked. It was a mess. I think with this large a group of passengers who could not be included in fixed seating in the first dining room, a portion of the second dining room could have been dedicated to fixed seating. On the other hand, the Horizon Court (the buffet dining area) not only worked well with different stations for salads, entrees, desserts, etc., but the staff there was attentive, helpful and courteous. Several of them even remembered me and my likes when I went there for a meal. We enjoyed the fact that the ship has two theaters. There were at least two different shows each night and they never repeated a show during the cruise. Several of the headliners were great, none terrible and the ship's dancers and singers well above average. The only complaint about the entertainment is that the smaller of the two theaters, the Universe Lounge, is set up as a lounge with large sofa and chairs. This reduced the number of people who could attend shows and if you were not there at least a half hour before a show you were out of luck. There are two things I really like to do on a cruise (high priority reasons for me to take a cruise in the first place). One is sit in a comfortable chair with a book or IPOD and relax while watching the ship sail ahead. There is no place to do this on the Island Princess. The second is to go outside to a high deck and watch the ship arrive at a new port. The design of the Island Princess makes this extremely difficult. There are six foot high "wind breakers" along the front and sides of the upper outside decks. This means that you can watch your arrivals through a dirty piece of tinted glass or the 3 inch gap between the glass and the support. When sailing into and out of several Hawaiian ports this was a real downer. My wife and I do not do alternative dining. As a matter of fact, I think that the cruise lines are doing themselves a major disservice with these programs. In the first place, in my mind at least, they are sending a message that says if you want really first class food and service don't come on our ships. For first class food and service we will charge you extra. In the second place, for the additional charge ($20 per person at Sabatini's) there can only be a marginal increase in income after all of the expenses related to operating the facility have been deducted. Given the limited amount of room on even the largest ships, I suspect there are a lot of other options that the space could be used for to enhance both the passengers' enjoyment of the cruise and the income for the company. Finally, although we have been cruising for over 30 years, I am seriously thinking of giving it up. I remember the days when all you paid extra for were excursions and alcohol. As mentioned above when I am asked to pay for a glass of juice because it is not breakfast, when espresso and cappuccino are extra items at dinner and when there are a myriad of other charges for items that used to be included one of the great benefits of a cruise vanishes. I also find that cheaper items are being substituted for slightly more expensive ones. An example, herbal teas used to be available without asking. On the Island Princess you not only had to ask, but the brand served is one of the cheaper brands on the market. I know the object of the game is to get the base price down as low as possible, but I think the cruise companies are starting to play the airlines game and the result on the bottom line will eventually be the same. I just realized I didn't say anything about Hawaii. The islands are beautiful, sailing along at night watching the lava fields on the Big Island memorable, but the most amusing thing about the trip was the free shuttle to Wal-Mart at every port. It was a nice way to visit Hawaii and overall the cruise rates at least a "B," but we were not encouraged to go out of our way to chose Princess again. Read Less
Sail Date December 2004
You'll find the support staff and supervisors more than adequate to fulfill your need for a special vacation on board a cruise ship. The personal service is delightful, courteous and friendly, and the crew well trained and ... Read More
You'll find the support staff and supervisors more than adequate to fulfill your need for a special vacation on board a cruise ship. The personal service is delightful, courteous and friendly, and the crew well trained and enthusiastic. The ship is immaculate, well designed and well maintained. Although we were forced into personal choice dining, it turned out o.k., but missed the regular experience with the same tablemates and waiter. The Horizon Cafe topside was great for breakfast, pizza and grille were good also. Dining room fish prep was unreliable at best but beef always on the money with veal excellent. Salads and soups were enjoyable. When any waiter was asked for a recommendation from the dinner menu he/she offered the non committal "I can bring you both dishes". The desserts were good but not memorable, however most people liked the souffles. The casino staff, Michelle, Irina, Gabi, Igor, Delia, and more were thoroughly professional albeit entertaining and playful while they lightened the load in my back pocket. Slot machines were actually paper shredders. They oughta turn them babies up. The photo staff -- Cat and Sara, and the guy with the spiked hair that says "c'mon , baby" all the time -- did a great job making the posing fun and entertaining. The photo gallery is my wife's "casino" so more than a few megapixels were used on us, and purchase decisions difficult. The ships dancers were above average and the shows' variety and content enjoyable. However, the comedians needed some new material. Well, it sure beat getting up for work that day, anyway. The cruise director, David Cole, needs a vacation. When I expressed my frustration at having a full blown variety show in the limited seating lounge (while I was sitting on a metal folding chair in the rear with a very limited view), he seemed to let his own frustration pour out like lava, and ultimately instructed me to write Princess a letter if I didn't like it. Evidently this is a recurring complaint on the cruise. Well, hey Dave, diffuse the situation with some basic customer service skills, or advise the passengers in the Pitter-Pattter (daily newsletter) of the limited seating. Or, better yet, let Martin, the very gracious and friendly assistant take over while they leave you in Hawaii for one rotation. Shake it up with a Hula girl, or hula boy if need be, pal. Lighten up, we're on vacation, remember. Embarkation was rough, and Customs insisted on clearing the entire ship before letting anyone disembark. Ok, we missed our morning flight with the other 500 early passengers, but the airlines were very accommodating, at least for us. I guess the cruise director told the customs guys to write Princess when they asked for a cup of coffee, so they dug in their heels. Actually, the Princess experience was very good, but the lack of training for customer service agents in the home office and the cruise director's misplaced basic skills left me with the impression that future Princess cruises for me would set sail with a puff of morning breath. This was my 6th cruise, and all have been enjoyable, but next time I go the selection will be as follows: 1. Celebrity 2. Royal Caribbean 3. Another line 4. Princess Still, overall a good experience. Read Less
Sail Date October 2004
Since I had not done a cruise in years, this ship was a real surprise. Very clean lines and spotless and elegant interiors. Near the glaciers they can spin the ship on its axis to allow all cabins to view the glacier from their balconies, ... Read More
Since I had not done a cruise in years, this ship was a real surprise. Very clean lines and spotless and elegant interiors. Near the glaciers they can spin the ship on its axis to allow all cabins to view the glacier from their balconies, which most cabins have. Very spacious cabins, particularly for the mini-suites. Layout is nice throughout with good access to almost everything. Having ongoing naturalist and ship particular channels on closed-circuit is wonderful when cruising near the shorelines. However, the downside was the dining. With the norwalk virus ever on the prowl, they were draconian in their hygiene, requiring everyone entering any dining facility to wash with an alcohol wash. I didn't mind this as I'm a bit of a hygiene fuss myself, but then they went the extra step of not allowing anyone to even get their own food in the buffet. This brought buffet service to a crawl and made getting something as simple as a cup of coffee a painful endeavor. The food itself was generally not bad, but not exactly four star either. I guess feeding a zillion people at a time and still getting food that is properly prepared and served is not easy, but other lines seem to do this a bit better. Simple suggestion here would be to move all beverage service away from the rest of the buffet and allow better access. No one is going to stick their hand in a 198 degree pot of coffee or tea and contaminate it. To add insult to injury I had to pay for soda ($22 for 7 days worth). Service, both in-cabin and dining, was spotty. Some staff were courteous, friendly, and helpful. Others were snooty and churlish day-in day-out. I think they have some training issues they need to deal with. Their standard you-pay-unless-you-demand-otherwise method of doing tips contributes to this as well. Most staff know they are going to get about the same whether they are nice or not. Since they have a passenger identification card for every passenger I don't understand why they couldn't just set up some kiosks around that allow passengers to insert their card, punch up the staff-person's name they wish to tip, and enter the amount. Bingo, on-demand tipping! Overall, not a bad cruise to take. Beware the ninja soda-card salesman though! He has a future in the insurance industry. Read Less
Sail Date June 2004
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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