1. Home
  2. Cruise Reviews
  3. Island Princess
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    

Island Princess - Hawaii

Island Princess Cruise Review by armandpaul

Trip Details
  • Sail Date: December 2006
  • Destination: Hawaii
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
 
 
armandpaul’s Full Rating Summary
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Cabin
Fitness & Recreation
Shore Excursions
Rates
Service
Free Price Drop Alerts
Get Island Princess price drops
250,000+ people have entered their email