Star Princess Cruise Review by BarbarianPaul
- Sail Date: March 2017
- Destination: Mexican Riviera
- Cabin Type: Premium Balcony
The ship itself is a bit of a mixed bag. Seen from afar, anchored in Cabo or docked in Los Angeles, the white hull, blue glass, and curves of the smokestack looked stunning. The inside central atrium, called The Piazza, has an impressive three story design with swooping staircases, and though not as large as the pictures seemed to indicate, it was a totally fun place to hang out. There was always something going on there, whether it was a band playing or some audience participation event in the afternoon or a party at night. We really enjoyed the captain's cocktail party with the champagne glass waterfall, and the final farewell balloon drop, both longtime and much loved Princess events.
The other public venues radiating outward from the piazza were well appointed and nice, from the semi Egyptian theme of the Explorer's lounge, which was a fun place to watch a singer or musician while having a drink, to the larger Vista lounge, where all sorts of things happened, like trivia, game shows, etc.
The cruise director, Andrew Kadillac, and his staff were wonderful, and had so many fun activities happening on sea days in particular that for the first time in all of our cruises we really had to keep track of our schedule so as not to miss anything. The captain, Michele Tuvo, was phenomenal, an engaging and lively and warm man who really seemed to enjoy interaction with the passengers. We've never had that on a cruise before.The entertainment in the main Princess Theatre was great, in particular the production shows, with fantastic singers and dancers. The movies under the stars, on a huge outdoor screen by the pool, are also a fun feature. They even pass out blankets! The two lecturers, however, a husband and wife team who talked about the history of Mexico, whales, and all the ports, weren't compelling at all. We've seen far, far better on other cruise lines.
We had a pretty big issue with the design of the upper outdoor decks of the ship. We are not sunbathers, but love to find some shady, quiet outdoor places to enjoy the sea going by and read a good book. Sadly, they were almost impossible to find on the Star Princess. The covered pool is just too noisy, as is the main pool area, and almost all the rest of the upper decks feature vast bland open spaces crammed full of uncomfortable chaise lounges. There's not a single shade structure or umbrella to be found. We wound up paying either $40 for a full day, or $20 for a half day to use a covered area call The Sanctuary near the bow of the ship, with lots of shade and nicer chaises, and very attentive attendants. It's luxurious, but we didn't like having to pay for the only place with shade on the upper decks.
The decks featuring passenger cabins felt old and dated. The endless hallway leading to our cabin was completely undecorated and felt like a service corridor in an old hotel. Our balcony cabin was on the Caribe deck, with a large balcony that we enjoyed. Our steward did an incredible job, keeping it clean and fresh almost invisibly. The cabin itself was small and nothing special, and felt more spartan than any we've had before. Not a huge deal, but the tv was quite small and the space a little claustrophobic, even for a cruise ship. We also had unpleasant toilet plumbing issues that you really never want to experience, especially while on vacation. These happened twice, but to the ship's credit they were dealt with quickly.
The dining was problematic. Both specialty restaurants, The Crown Grill, a steakhouse, and the Italian Sabatini's were delicious and had great service. We did enjoy the Horizon Court buffet. There was usually a wide and varied selection of well prepared and above average food for each meal. I really liked the different style pancakes every morning, and the different gourmet sandwiches I could find at lunch every day. Our biggest problem was dinner in the main dining room. We didn't enjoy it at all. Service for the early seating was so slow that we were not able to attend the early production show that started two hours after we sat down each day. My wife and I are not foodies and always on cruises keep our expectations realistic, but these meals varied from ok to quite subpar, with the best parts usually being the appetizers and dessert. We try to eat healthy and often eat fish, but it was so poorly prepared that neither my wife nor I could eat it. As a result, we wound up eating every night in the buffet. That part was a shame because we usually love the "pomp and circumstance" of sharing a meal with our fellow passengers in the dining room.
Overall, we still had fun and enjoyed the trip. I think we'd be open to cruising again on Princess, but I think we'd want to experience a newer ship than the Star Princess.
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