I have 30+ years of cruising history with various cruise lines and ships of all sizes of which Princess Cruises has always been a favourite. This last cruise on the Emerald was a display of where a once great cruise line can come from and ... Read More
I have 30+ years of cruising history with various cruise lines and ships of all sizes of which Princess Cruises has always been a favourite. This last cruise on the Emerald was a display of where a once great cruise line can come from and then end up. Since the take over by Carnival PTY approx. 15 years ago, Princess Cruises has now sunk to the lowest levels. The company now must have the following motto - "Build them a pretty ship and they will come, given them the most watered down service, catering levels and over the top saturation marketing possible and hope they may come back." The Princess cruises I remember is gone and this new cruising experience has taken its place. Some examples:
Once on board, find your own way to the cabin.
The cabin, average, nothing spectacular, but functional - we travelled in a standard veranda cabin. Cabin steward, did well, English language was a struggle, but at least he tried.
The ship in general, for 10 years old, is showing her age. The Emeralds general appearance has a feeling of tiredness with signs of rust, wall and floor marks and wear and tear not attended to. Have seen older ship in both Princess and other lines in better condition. She is designed to enhance marketing, with little clear deck space for guest to find and enjoy that special place and relax. Yes she is designed for mass cruising, families and children to enjoy, but limited space for those wishing for a quieter experience.
The restaurants: very average, especially the main dining room. Gone is the traditional Italian, French and International nights, replaced with 3 star mass catering in a rushed, noisy environment under the guise of cruising cuisine. Very cheap and nasty, The buffet, don't even go there - complete chaos with substandard food and service - mass catering at its worst - resembling and army canteen in war time. Where did the relaxed, personal service go, why does the catering need to be of the lowest food quality possible dressed up with sauces - obviously to hide the truth below. One bright light was the Crown Grill, yes a $29 cover charge per person, given you have already paid for dinner in the main dining room and god for bid the buffet, so in fact not really that cheap a night out, but at least you could eat a decent meal in a relaxed, attractive environment. Did not try the Share restaurant - $39 per person..
The bars: drinks heavily over priced, bar staff numbers reduced and shared between venues to cut staffing costs. Some lectures and events only had 1 waiter to serve, with many patrons requiring to leave their seat and stand in line at the bar to place their order while the lecture continued. Where have the staffing levels gone. Yes, we all know staff cost, but the cruise lines don't exactly pay top dollar to their front line staff either, so why the number cut backs - profits of course..
Will leave the enrichment and entertainment part of the cruise alone as this varies each cruise and is not a constant, but the items I will provide comment on are constants and experienced every cruise.
General feedback; yes we all know cruising is cheaper now than it ever has been and those who have cruised with the major lines in the 70's and 80's will vouch for this, but in return the Carnivalisation of Princess and other brands under their umbrella has gone too far where now the only cruise experience the guests seem to have is that they are on a ship at sea with a cruise card to empty their wallets - no longer a 4 or 5 start cruising holiday experience of past with duty free or discounted bar charges or upscale catering which many of the brands were proud of - Princess Cruises being one of them.
The answer, simply chose your cruise line well. for service levels look at smaller ships, for families and amusement parks at sea and associated crowds look at the larger ships. When it comes to value for money, this is the home work I will leave you with. Each persons requirements are different. All I am asking for is for Princess to bring back what went well for them in the past, and that was service levels, attention to detail, quality catering and the feeling of being on a ship providing you will a quality cruising holiday or escape, and not the watered down example being sold today. Princess Cruises may be the Love Boat, but they are definitely not the cruise line on which their reputation was forged.
Conclusion: We will now be looking at alternatives in the future and Princess has lost another of its past passengers, which I believe they really don't care about as they are now here for the fast buck and that is what they will get and at the price of other fellow passengers who are also looking at alternatives. Good luck with the brand in 10 years time Princess. Read Less