We chose this cruise (September 9-23, 2019; roundtrip Dover, England) both for the itinerary and to experience the “small ship” atmosphere of the Pacific Princess. We were not disappointed by either. Indeed, we would sail both this ... Read More
We chose this cruise (September 9-23, 2019; roundtrip Dover, England) both for the itinerary and to experience the “small ship” atmosphere of the Pacific Princess. We were not disappointed by either. Indeed, we would sail both this itinerary and this ship again.
Embarkation: We booked a few nights in a London hotel (The JW Marriott Grovesnor House) through Princess, which included transfers from London Heathrow to the hotel and then from the hotel to the ship. All of these arrangements were seamless, expeditious, and professional. We essentially walked from the hotel to the bus to the ship, with the slightest of pauses to check in and collect our ship card.
Ship: In my opinion, the ship was a perfect size. Nothing was too far away and no venue was ever over-crowded. While the ship is older, it has a gracious feel to it, with a proper (and absolutely lovely) library, nicely appointed common areas, cozy bars, a small casino, and ample outdoor spaces. There are no water slides, go-carts, concert venues, or other features of the new mega-ships. (Frankly, they were not missed).
Passengers: The clientele reflects the ship itself. Almost all passengers were 50+ and very well-travelled. Indeed, the Princess “elite” level passengers made up at least half the ship’s guests. Most guests were Americans, Canadians, and British, with a handful of Australians and New Zealanders. This is not a ship for children or teenagers; they would be bored.
Service: The service on the ship was uniformly very good and we had no complaints at all about our room stewards, waiters, or bar staff.
Food: The food was typical “hotel banquet quality,” with nothing being either truly outstanding or terrible. I am often critical of the buffets offered by Princess, but this buffet, while small, was generally a cut above the usual offerings, with two omelet stations in the morning, a small pizza window, and a burger grill just outside by the pool. My main complaint is that meat dishes were often overcooked and suffered from too much time in steam trays. The specialty restaurants – the Sterling Steakhouse and Sabatini’s – alternate nights. The service in both was exceptional but the food was not exponentially better than that in the main dining room. The Steakhouse did a nice pub lunch on our mid-cruise sea day.
Itinerary: The itinerary was very intense: 11 ports in 14 days. That left only two sea days: one after seven ports and the other the last day on the ship before Dover. This left little time to relax on the ship. However, all the ports were great, as were the excursions we took through the ship. While entertainment venues were limited in size, the ship provided some special entertainments brought in from various ports, such as Irish folk lore group and a Scottish bagpipe band. Ports visited: St. Helier in Jersey, Portland, England; Falmouth, Cornwall; Waterford, Ireland; Holyhead, Wales; Dublin, Ireland; Belfast, Norther Ireland; Perotree, Isle of Skye; Kirkwall, Orkney; Edinburgh, Scotland; Newcastle, England.
Shore Excursions: All the shore excursions we booked through the ship were very good and professionally run. Our main complaint is that they were often too short. This is particularly true of the many castle excursions we took (Kilkenny Castle, Alnwick Castle, Dublin Castle) which did not allow enough time to visit the gardens. Adding just one hour to each excursion would be nice. Read Less