Sea Princess Cruise Review by Stevesan
- Sail Date: September 2008
- Destination: Canada & New England
This was my first experience on a Sun class, and I found that I prefer the larger Grand and Crown. Not to disparage Sea, but she has too little space and too few venues for the passenger load.
Sea is a loverly ship, with low-keyed interior designs. The atrium is notably attractive. I also enjoyed the Wheel House lounge. It is similar in design to Grand or Crown, but larger. The Passenger Services staff is first rate. Every one I encountered was good-natured They unfailingly offered a greeting and were eager to assist. The cabins are only slightly smaller than Grand Class. The bed w/egg crate mattress was comfortable with a nice duvet. The latter was a good match with our coolish itinerary. I was in R340, a rectangular inside on Rivera. I had a peek into a wedge shaped inside. It definitely looks too cramped. I don't know the footage, but it appeared to be smaller. The bed occupied nearly the entire living space. The dresser drawer is alongside the bed. The occupant would need to either sidle sideways or climb onto the bed to gain access.
Unfortunately, the ship's Welcome Aboard flyer encouraged Anytime diners to make reservations unlimited as to time. Reservations during peak hours were ok. With a full passenger complement of almost 2,000 souls it's difficult to fit everybody into only two dining rooms. The Anytime wait lines often became unnecessarily long, and moved at a snail's pace. The primary culprit was the Head Waiter who spent much of his time wandering the dining room looking for empty seats. I've enjoyed Anytime on two previous cruises. The Head Waiters on both those ships utilized one or two assistants to roam the room keeping him updated. Those HWs seldom left the podium. They stayed at their station and kept the lines moving. Sea's HW definitely had enough staff, but failed to utilize them properly. The service, too, was sluggish. The Head Waiter takes the blame for that as well. He's the boss who sets the tempo for the entire dining staff. His inefficiencies ultimately rub off on the crew under him. It certainly wasn't all-bad. The food was consistently good to excellent every night. Kudos to the head chef and his cooks and chefs.
Sea's primary entertainment was provided by the dancers and singers of the ship's production company. They are first rate. By far, the most talented I've seen. Arrive early for a seat. Enough about the ship, on to the ports:
There are a number of tour choices. Here is my take on the tours I took: First stop - Newport - Vanderbilt's Breakers and Marble House was my favorite tour. Breakers is a magnificent mansion, and the resident tour guide is among the best in the business. Well worth the money. http://tickets.newportmansions.org/mansion.aspx?id=1000 http://tickets.newportmansions.org/mansion.aspx?id=1004
Boston - Unless you're interests reside outside the city limits, I can recommend the Old Town Trolley. With fourteen stops you can visit many of the most interesting parts of Boston. The drivers provide continuous narration. Some are very good, one was really bad. You'll immediately recognize him. Take note that some places of interest are closed Mondays, Including USS Constitution. The museum is worth a brief visit and is open Mondays. http://www.trolleytours.com/boston/aquarium-faneiul.asp
Bar Harbor - I booked two tours, the Acadia National Park for morning which included a narrated drive thru the park with a stop atop Cadillac Mountain. The Bar Harbor Walking tour was absolutely great. Our tour guide is a good ol' gal from N. Carolina. She summers here and provides marvelous stories about Bar Harbor's history and people. A wonderful guide.
St John - St Andrews and the Fairmont Algonquin. A pricey tour, but well conducted and worth the time and money. http://www.fairmont.com/algonquin/?cm_mmc=icppc-_-Branded-ALG%20-%20Algonquin%20-%20Canada-_-google-_-fairmont+algonquin+hotel
Halifax - A day of semi rest. Just took a morning walking tour, and then wandered the town. Most passengers, at least ten buses full, opted for the Peggy's Cove tour. You drive to the cove, look at a lighthouse, and then drive back.
Sydney - The Grand Tour Bras D'or Region was my second favorite. An excellent guide with gorgeous scenery. The Highland Village stop was a highlight. This is a reconstructed village simulating living conditions in the lake region from its earliest inception. Some cabins and equipment are original. It's an easy walk and each stop includes a local docent guide/ demonstrator.
Charlettown - The Ah Shucks Seafood Tour. My advice: do something else. According to the description, a seafood lunch is included. Fuggedaboudit. For $99 you watch a guy shuck some shellfish who then distributes mini appetizer samples. That's all folks! The "tasting" is followed by a one-hour tour of town in a minibus.
Quebec - Since I booked an overnight stay, I took the countryside tour. An excellent guide conducted the countryside tour. His skill as a guide is remarkable considering tour guiding is a part time job for him. Like most locals, he works at multiple jobs to pay the local taxes. On day two I toured Quebec City on my own. With a bit of research, the latter is very doable. The Info Center in has good highlighted maps. Audio tours are available, too.
I should mention that we were two or three weeks early for the Fall color riot. We did see some changes. As we headed north, more red coloring graced the Maple trees. As compensation, our weather was nearly perfect. Newport was drizzly to rainy, so a good day for mansion tours. All the others were sunny and cool, except Boston. Leftover tropical air from Hurricane Ike ushered in an unseasonably warm 82 degrees.
Disembarkation was the most efficient I've ever experienced. Everyone abided by schedules and none tried to push ahead. I credit that to the 852 British passengers who throughout the cruise set an example. By cruise end, even we Yanks learned to queue up and behave civilly. Hello to all you Ukers out there. You make great tablemates!
Regard most of my negative comments about Sea as piddling. Except for the dining room, the rest is just picky stuff. Besides, I was pining for Crown's International Cafe.
Katy Hepburn would definitely declare Sea Princess "Yar". This is a marvelous cruise with a good ship and a glorious itinerary - go for it!
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