We chose this cruise 18 months previous to departure. It was the first cruise of 2 of our travelers, and the third cruise (previous one 20 years before) for the other 2 travelers. We chose this cruise and ship primarily for the ports of ... Read More
We chose this cruise 18 months previous to departure. It was the first cruise of 2 of our travelers, and the third cruise (previous one 20 years before) for the other 2 travelers. We chose this cruise and ship primarily for the ports of call. We were interested in the varied shore excursions offered, and the mix of environments at the ports of call.
Boarding was simple and it was a pleasant surprise to find we had the option of an escort for embarkation since we were in a suite. Unfortunately, we left port approximately 2 hours late and that impacted our first port of call and tours.
The ship was clean and appeared to be in good repair aesthetically. Our cabin had some minor damage, there was some carpet that was torn on the "kick plate" at the edge of the bathroom, and the door stop was broken for the main cabin door. Carpet was somewhat dated, however it was clean and the cabin was comfortable. Beds were nice and provided a good nights sleep. Our cabin steward was excellent, and we always had clean towels and the cabin was taken care of.
With the suite, we had Club Class dining in the Coral Dining room, that service and food was excellent. We dined in the Island Dining room the second night we were on ship and there was a huge different in quality and friendliness of service between there and the Club Class dining. Our first night on board, we took advantage of complimentary specialty dining in the Crown Grill (again, a perk of having a suite), and that service and food was also excellent. The buffet was good, as with most buffets, you sometimes don't get a food item that you are interested in because they run out, however that was a minor inconvenience. It was occasionally crowded, but not bad for a large buffet. The breakfast cook to order omelets were great, and a wonderful treat each morning. The International Cafe, with 24 hour sandwiches and desserts left a bit to be desired. Some of the deserts were good and there was a variety; some were definitely not as tasty. The sandwiches were ok, though the chicken sandwich has virtually no meat on it and was very disappointing. We were frustrated that Coffee and Cones never had ice cream sandwiches available, even though they were on the posted menu sign. It also felt as though the specialty coffee drinks at New Grounds took quite a bit of time to create and this often resulted in lines and a wait, so we only ordered them once or twice.
The bar service was pretty good, though we definitely found that some of the bars were a lot slower with service and not as friendly as others. Good Times at Sea became our favorite bar, and we would often stop by there to get a drink as we went to another location on the ship.
Due to schedule times we only caught one show, a comedian. We did enjoy the night and wished that we had been able to see additional shows and productions. We also sat out on deck and watched the Movie under the Stars, that was fun, though the popcorn was a bit dry and not that tasty.
Medallion Class and the OCEAN apps: The medallions made entering the cabin easy and almost hands free, sped up embarkation and disembarkation, made it easy to charge purchases to the room, etc. Much easier than handling and swiping a card for each and every thing. The medallions and OCEAN apps are supposed to make it possible to find those you are traveling with and to message each other. Unfortunately, the system did not work as Princess planned and out of the four of us traveling together, one of us could see 2 of the others, 1 could see only 1 of the others, and 1 could see everyone. We had trouble messaging each other, and since there is no message notification, if you don't constantly check for messages, you never know if ,you received one. This is a major flaw in the system (along with it not working properly for everyone). In addition, OCEAN Now, to order drinks and food did not work properly and also couldn't be used in several locations on the ship.
The ports were great, offering a good variety of shore excursions and tours (which is one major reason why we chose this cruise). However we did have some issues. As mentioned previously, we arrived at our first port of call late due to a late departure from Ft. Lauderdale. The captain announced that we would stay in port a bit longer than scheduled and that tours had been adjusted. Unfortunately, they adjusted the tours so that the two we selected overlapped each other and we had to decide which to take. We were told we would receive a refund for the tour that we didn't chose (more on that situation a bit later in this review). For the most part, the tours themselves were as described and stated by Princess (we booked all our shore excursions through the Princess website). We did have an issue in Cozumel with the shore excursion. We chose the "ATV and speedboats", the description stated you drove in a 4 person "ATV" and then 2 person speedboats. What Princess did not convey (and when we spoke to the tour operators, they informed us that Princess chooses what information to list regarding the tours) is that lunch was included and that in addition to speedboats, we had the opportunity to snorkel. Because we didn't now that snorkeling was part of the package, we did not plan accordingly (swimsuits) and missed that opportunity (we also had to change our lunch plans since lunch was included with the tour).
Now for the issues: 2 of us purchased the internet package. 1 of us prior to the trip, the other one just after we boarded before we went to our cabin. The front desk didn't input the internet order correctly and only charged for 24 hours though we requested the full week. Both of us had continued internet connectivity issues. This created a lot of frustration (we had family at home that we had to be able to communicate with) and disappointment, especially for the price we paid. When the 2nd person in group lost all connectivity the second day, we went to the Internet Cafe to get assistance. At that time we discovered that the front desk only charged for 24 hours instead of the full week we requested. We then had to deal with getting it refunded and getting charged for the full week (which they then overcharged us for).
The second issue which became a major issue by the end of the cruise was with the billing for shore excursions. We prepaid our shore excursions through the Princess website on our Cruise Personalizer 4 months before our cruise started. When we requested a statement of account for each of the people in our suite (4 adults), we discovered that they were charging us $10.05 extra each person over what we prepaid. In addition, due to the fact that we had to cancel a tour due to late arrival in port, we should each be refunded $39.95 for that excursion. This totals $50 per person that was mischarged / not refunded. We spent approximately 2 hours on our last day at sea trying to rectify the billing situation for the shore excursions. It escalated to the Finance Manager and though both he and the Shore Excursion Manager agreed that that the numbers didn't add up, no one could explain why, or solve the issues and correct the billing. We ended up giving up on resolving the issue on ship, and have taken it up with our credit card company.
The cruise would have been great, if we didn't have so many little issues to deal with (there were a couple of other little billing issues we had to correct). As it was, the issues we had to deal with (internet, incorrect billing, and wasting lots of time during our last day at sea), overshadowed our full enjoyment. Read Less