Land of the Midnight Sun: Ocean Princess Cruise Review by harbormaster
Overall Member Rating
Land of the Midnight Sun
Destination: Baltic Sea
We just complete the Tahitian Princess June 19th Land of the Midnight Sun cruise from Dover to Dover. Ports included Stavenger, Tromso, Svalbard - cruising Magdalena Fjord and stopping in Ny Alesund, Honningsvag,
We are frequent cruisers and have cruised on Princess a total of 5 times, mostly on ships like the Crown and the Emerald. This was our first time on More
one of the Princess smaller ships. We are in our 60s and the age of passengers on this cruise skewed older than we. There were 3 children on the cruise. We had early dining at a table for 6, with amiable dinner companions.
The makeup of passengers was about 40% British, 40% American and the rest Canadian, Australian and other nationalities.
We flew to
We checked at the front desk for any upgrades available (including paid ones), but they said they were fully booked. We found the location of the cabin to be good during the high seas we experience on the way to
The cabin was small but adequate. The bathroom was acceptable, but had one of those small showers with curtains that can be uncomfortable. We had filled out the cruise personalizer and also had our travel agent fax Princess asking for bathrobes, egg crate and Coke in the room. None of those items was there and when we finally found our steward just before 5 pm, we asked him to bring them. The bathrobes and egg crate did show up, the Cokes never did.
The room had adequate storage for all our clothes. We used the safe for our valuables. We did have a problem in that the bedding was very old and stained. The sheets and duvets were actually coming apart in several places. We asked the steward to replace them. The sheets were changed mid-cruise but the torn duvet stayed on the bed. Also, the carpet in the room had significant staining and our couch was very dirty with crumbs, stains and signs of wear. You could smell cigarette smoke. We were told by the steward there was nothing he could do. He did eventually put deodorizer in the room and the cigarette smell was better. We met another couple who actually refused to move into their 7th deck balcony until all the soft goods in the room, including the drapes were removed and replaced to eliminate the smell of smoke and the ripped condition of the bedding. This ship is in desperate need of drydock to replace the room furniture bedding and drapes. It is scheduled for drydock Nov. 19 and will return as the Ocean Princess. Let's hope they replace the cabin furnishings.
We went to the front desk to reports these conditions and found one of the most annoying issues on the cruise. The front desk staff's attitude was totally uncaring, non-responsive and frankly rude. Other passengers also expressed frustration with trying to deal with the front desk staff.
Captain Ravera was very outgoing and it was common to see him throughout the ship speaking with passengers and staff. He did an excellent job telling us about high sea conditions and what to expect. He obviously loves his "White Lady" and during the cruise of the fjords turned the ship 360 degrees under waterfalls and in the fjords to afford all the passengers a wonderful view of the scenery. Other ships officers were not visible.
The tour desk and Robbie the Tour Director had lots of information on the tours itself, and he was very visible and accessible. The port lecturer Hutch gave basic information on the ports, but nothing that you couldn't read in a tour book. We were a bit surprised that he kept saying, "I haven't been able to get that information," on a number of ports. It was as if he had been put on the cruise at the last minute without prior preparation. This was unfortunate, as a large number of passengers wished to do ports on their own and had little information besides the published sheet for each port.
We were blessed with wonderful weather on this trip. The sun shone and the temperature was in the 60s many days, with the exception of the
One of our most favorite stops was Honningsvag where one can visit the
The inconvenient part of the cruise was the timing of when we made ports. Unfortunately, Stavenger, Honningsvag and
As for the ship itself, we found we truly enjoyed the smaller sized ship and would definitely prefer to cruise this sized ship over the larger ones. It is a stable ship and handled the seas well. We found the lounge entertainment of the duos and piano player very good. The evening shows we attended were good, not great, but the singers and dancers really tried. If you like big production shows, this is not the ship for you.
To be honest, food was a real issue. The breakfast buffet was good and we have no complaints. However, lunch in the Panorama buffet was chaos. Because the weather was nice but not warm, many people wanted to sit inside. There simply is not enough space in the seating area of the Panorama to accommodate the number of passengers. There was no attempt by the staff to help people find seats and there actually were people standing up eating their meals. Also, some excursions returned after 2 pm and we found that the buffet often was shut down early with nothing to eat.
Food in the dining room was adequate, but there was a constant problem with overcooked meat. We and our tablemates had to return food a number of times because although ordered medium rare, it was well done. The three times we ordered fish, it was soggy (with the exception of the fish and chips at lunch which was excellent). This has to end up being really expensive to Princess and they must be able to come up with something better. We ended up ordering a lot of Caesar salad and fettucini alfredo, the "always available" foods. The chicken dishes were good. Our waiter did the best he could and was very pleasant. Head waiters Nello and Mauro were great also.
The real problem was the specialty restaurants. We always look forward to dinner at Sabatini's. It has been one of our favorite treats. However, we found the dinner there to be, frankly, awful. The menu is entirely different on this ship than on the big ships like the Crown and Emerald. The antipasto is ok, but the pasta course is no where near the quality of the other times we ate at Sabatini's. The main course was a disaster. Both of our entrees were terribly overcooked. They serve pizza like in the buffet for a course. The desserts were ok. The restaurant was basically empty. Service was ok.
The steakhouse was the same. The menu is not at all the one on the other ships. The appetizers are quesadillas, etc. The meat again was seriously overcooked - rib eyes. They do not have the chocolate molten cake. We were very disappointed and would not do them again with these menus. Service was ok.
Internet service actually was better than we expected. There was outage while we were deep in the fjords and in Svalbard and outside of
Disembarkation went smoothly and we were off the ship by 8:30 am and off to Heathrow by train.
Things we liked:
The club-like feeling of the Tahitian Princess
The library space
Ice cream in the buffet
The mix of nationalities onboard
Speaker Captain Wells who talked on naval issues
The Midnight Sun which made days seem longer
Things we did not like:
Soft goods in room needed cleaning
Food in the specialty restaurants
Sunday ports and short afternoon only port visits
Smell of smoke in common areas and halls
Lack of other lectures on history of area
Art auction taking up most of the Lounge and blocking views
One other point. Our cruise was June 19th to July 7th. This is about as early as one would want to do this cruise, because of the weather and the viewing of wildlife such as polar bears, seals, whales, etc. The seas were high going up to