In our experience cruises are good, better, or the best. This cruise was on the lower end of good. The itinerary was great, but some of the staff seemed to be going through the motions at the end of a long Mediterranean season. We ... Read More
In our experience cruises are good, better, or the best. This cruise was on the lower end of good. The itinerary was great, but some of the staff seemed to be going through the motions at the end of a long Mediterranean season. We missed the smiles and sparkle we saw from the crew of the Pacific Princess, which we were on less than a week before this cruise began. Examples include:
• the coffee guy in the International café who clearly did not want not be there and grunted at you when you ordered coffee,
• the barman in the Explorer’s bar who gave us an environment lecture when we simply ask for a straw to stir our drinks and he complained that we should get glasses for the mini bar in our cabin from our cabin steward rather than him,
• the deck attendants, one of whom was leaning on a squeegee broom having a chat near a big pool of water on the deck and then moving off without making any effort to remove the water, and
• the breakfast dining room greeter who stood at the front of the line instead of at the end to tell people where the two only versus shared table queues should be, which resulted in confused guests.
Individually these are all minor concerns, but collectively it has an impact on your impression of the crew. Most of the above issues were addressed a few days into the cruise and the overall service was better in the second half of the cruise. Nonetheless, first impressions count.
An additional note on the environment and straws issue. Nearly every day of the cruise we get printed Effy, Spa and Art Auction notices, most of which go straight in the bin. If Princess cut back on these notices they could afford to provide a few paper straws without destroying the environment.
The cruise did not start well when we discovered that more than 15 of the wines on the wine list in the main dining room were not available. Initially we were told that the wine was not on board, but had not been found or input to the ship’s inventory system. It took two more days before they admitted that the wine had never been loaded on board. Note to Princess, missed shipments happen, just tell us what happened, do not make things up that you have to later retract.
The food in the main dining room was average. The beef dishes were good but anything else was lacklustre. Nearly all the meals were tepid rather than being hot. On several occasions our table (which consisted for 4 couples of different nationalities) had to send dishes back. One notable example was lobster night. To begin with most of the lobsters delivered were only the size of a large shrimp meaning additional lobsters had to be ordered and the green coloured risotto it came with was simply not edible.
Room service was another issue, our record for waiting on the phone was 45 minutes over three calls until we gave up. I say three calls because after getting a’ we will be with you shortly message ad infinitum’ we would then get a ’please ring back later’ message and then the phone would go dead meaning we had to remake the call.
I also do not understand why Princess used the Piazza rather than the Princess Theatre for folkloric events. These shows were always well attended but only about 20 per cent of the audience could get a seat, a further 20 per cent could get an unobstructed standing view and the remaining 60 per cent had to put up with obstructed or no view at all. The end result was arguments between guests re obstruction of views, thoroughfare access, and seat stealing. All this with no evidence that any of the staff were interested in policing the area while everyone was jostling for positions.
Enough of the negatives, the above faults aside we still had a good time and some members of the crew did put in a great effort.
We really enjoyed the wine blending experience we had in Vines. This was new Princess experience for us and the concept is very good. The Vines manger, James, was an excellent host and the table size of 8 made the experience an intimate one.
Our cabin steward Frank was also outstanding. He met all our requests with a friendly smile and kept our cabin in great condition. We had a mini suite and, although it is showing its age a little bit it was still to the standard we expected. The gym and other common facilities of the ship were kept in a very clean and tidy condition.
There was an outbreak of Noro virus on the ship and I have to say the ship handled the containment and ultimate defeat of the virus in a very proactive way. The Captain gave us daily reports on what was happening and the staff put in a monumental effort to clean and sanitise the ship both inside and out.
The entertainment was ranged from good to excellent. The stage show, ‘Magic to Do’ was excellent and the comedian Steve Bruner put on a great show. The resident band, Topaz was also great. They played a variety of music styles and the music and vocal standard of the group was exceptional.
The cruise director staff were always enthusiastic and energetic. Alex and Amy were particularly good.
The outstanding part of the cruise was the itinerary. We hit nearly all the good spots in the Mediterranean and did a mix of private and ship tours. We had the best experiences doing private tours of Valetta (Malta), the Amalfi Coast (from Naples), Tuscany (from Livorno), and a foodie walking tour in Palermo (Sicily). Ships tours of the Parthenon, Santorini and Olympia were very good.
The poorest experience we had was a ship tour from Rome billed as being an Olive tasting experience. This involved a long drive through the countryside, the guide telling us about an amazing set of engraved tombs dating back centuries that were in a town we drove past. We arrived at a farm with one olive tree for a very mediocre lunch that featured one dish with non-descript olive oil. We had expected to taste different olives at the very least.
In summary a good, but not great cruise. Read Less