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The itinerary was the primary reason this cruise was chosen, but I expected Princess to provide a solid on-board experience. Unfortunately, too many problems that should have been very preventable will lead us to choose elsewhere in the future. I never expect cruise food to be great, but many choices were surprisingly poor, with buffet very limited and mostly low quality. And while our room steward was very nice and competent, the attitude of the crew elsewhere was surprisingly indifferent and often dismissive of very polite inquiries and requests. Our cabin choice did not disappoint, but add on multiple significant misses in other areas, often involving getting on and off the ship at ports makes it easy to choose elsewhere for future cruises. Disembarking and embarking for ports: From discussions with other passengers, evidently the captain was new to berthing at Kirkwall, and he aborted the port completely after trying, saying it was too windy. The captain also stated that tugs that could have assisted were not in port that morning. Given that other reviewers state that this port has been missed often by Princess, it is inexcusable that they do not reserve tugs in advance as a general practice to ensure berthing success. Greatly disappointed that Kirkwall was missed as this distinguishes this cruise itinerary from some others. The process to move passengers off at each port was clumsy, poorly organized, and often significantly late, which caused many problems. Disgruntled passengers who asked questions (for really legitimate reasons, such as why are we still being kept on board 40 minutes after the stated time in Invergordon) were typically ignored or treated indifferently. Passengers can understand that not everything is going to go smoothly, but when there are repeated problems there should be some sympathy or clear explanation from the crew about it all, and an attempt to address the issues. This indifferent attitude by the crew in general was way too common and speaks to either lack of experience, poor training or ship culture and lack of clear management expectations. Tendering process (two ports) was slow as well, with only a minimal number of the available vessels being used, often leading to lengthy waits, with Guernsey being the worst. An hour and half long process to return to the ship on an already short day in port is unacceptable. Ports: The port itinerary for this cruise is fabulous. Our excursions were arranged privately, save one in Dublin. The Princess tour was fine, although about twice the price of similar private tours. Fortunately there are many wonderful private tours in all of the ports. Dining: Buffet-Compared to a recent Celebrity cruise the food was quite sub par, although with effort you can find some things to your liking. Mostly repeats every day, with entree selections varying some. We chatted with multiple couples who are major Princess cruisers and usually happy with their food who stated that they found this ship's food quality to be way below average. MDR- Mostly mediocre food, some awful, some fine, you just needed to try a lot to find what you liked. We had anytime dining and tried various times. If you wanted a two person table, and did not arrive very early, you were given a buzzer and told to wait, usually about 15 minutes or more. While we didn't mind that so much, the attitude of the MDR staff was really poor. We were most shocked at how the wait staff was in most cases so inattentive and perfunctory in their jobs. MDR wait staff quality is invariably a very strong point on our past cruises, and we always enjoy interacting with the waiters and have always had excellent experiences on all past cruises, but this time it was very different. The first night set the tone, our appetizers (spring rolls) were brought but they were terrible, cold, and inedible. One bite each and we set them aside. No waiter contact for about 10-12 minutes even though he was standing at the station much of the time. He finally came and swept them away without a word. Not everything is going to be tasty, but usually cruise waiters want you to be happy and will ask if they can bring something else, or at least ask. Very surprised at this, and it continued from most of the wait staff the entire cruise. We also noted that anytime diners were treated as a group in a given area; if four 2-person tables were seated nearby, even at somewhat different start times, they were all adjusted to similar course delivery times. So there would be a big wait if the couple next to you decided to have soup, salad, and appetizer courses and we just wanted soup-our entree would be held up for a long time until the other table was ready for theirs. No big deal, but it got tedious night after night. It was clear that the ship had more 2-person table requests than they could handle, so many of these table were situated in areas not suitable, some with no lighting, or too close to traffic etc. Specialty Restaurants: Crown Grill, one night. It was tasty, but service was just ok. Other spots: The Pizza place was decent, and often was the savior when the buffet choices were poor. I had similar hopes for the Hamburger place but no luck. I'm always happy with burgers of all quality, from fast food to Kobe beef, but the burgers from this venue were inedible. I don't know what kind of beef they source, or what they do to it, but I could not eat more than two bites. I had several others mention to me the same thing, several also noting that they are way under cooked for ground beef as well. We did not avail ourselves of Steamers or Planks. Initial Embarkation: We booked air and transfers through Princess, decent prices, but poor scheduling on their part. They got us on board so late that we were forced to race to our room and throw down our carry on luggage and hurry to muster, which was taking place a half hour earlier than the schedule we were handed as we walked on board. Would have appreciated a little more cushion in the Princess scheduling. End of Cruise Disembarkation: We had a post cruise London package. This went very, very well, with minimal hassle. Superior disembarkation process to all past cruises we have taken. In addition, the Grosvenor House hotel through Princess was exceptional and highly recommended. Entertainment and activities: Very limited experience here, but this was not a strong point of this ship to say the least. Fitness center was fine, though. I also thought the presentations about the ports were well done, detailed, and helpful. Ship: Most areas were clean, and well repaired. Lots of crew working to keep things nice and shiny. No complaints. Cabin: C752, aft balcony. Just as hoped, this was a great cabin. It should be noted that there is a bit of shuddering vibration when underway, but that did not bother us much. Big balcony, covered. Bed was excellent. Bathroom small, but fine. Only thing I can think of as an issue was the fan, which is not adequate to keep the steam from the shower vented.

Way too many crew problems, food sub par, but once off ship the ports are great

Caribbean Princess Cruise Review by PDXNative

6 people found this helpful
Trip Details
The itinerary was the primary reason this cruise was chosen, but I expected Princess to provide a solid on-board experience. Unfortunately, too many problems that should have been very preventable will lead us to choose elsewhere in the future. I never expect cruise food to be great, but many choices were surprisingly poor, with buffet very limited and mostly low quality. And while our room steward was very nice and competent, the attitude of the crew elsewhere was surprisingly indifferent and often dismissive of very polite inquiries and requests. Our cabin choice did not disappoint, but add on multiple significant misses in other areas, often involving getting on and off the ship at ports makes it easy to choose elsewhere for future cruises.

Disembarking and embarking for ports: From discussions with other passengers, evidently the captain was new to berthing at Kirkwall, and he aborted the port completely after trying, saying it was too windy. The captain also stated that tugs that could have assisted were not in port that morning. Given that other reviewers state that this port has been missed often by Princess, it is inexcusable that they do not reserve tugs in advance as a general practice to ensure berthing success. Greatly disappointed that Kirkwall was missed as this distinguishes this cruise itinerary from some others.

The process to move passengers off at each port was clumsy, poorly organized, and often significantly late, which caused many problems. Disgruntled passengers who asked questions (for really legitimate reasons, such as why are we still being kept on board 40 minutes after the stated time in Invergordon) were typically ignored or treated indifferently. Passengers can understand that not everything is going to go smoothly, but when there are repeated problems there should be some sympathy or clear explanation from the crew about it all, and an attempt to address the issues. This indifferent attitude by the crew in general was way too common and speaks to either lack of experience, poor training or ship culture and lack of clear management expectations.

Tendering process (two ports) was slow as well, with only a minimal number of the available vessels being used, often leading to lengthy waits, with Guernsey being the worst. An hour and half long process to return to the ship on an already short day in port is unacceptable.

Ports: The port itinerary for this cruise is fabulous. Our excursions were arranged privately, save one in Dublin. The Princess tour was fine, although about twice the price of similar private tours. Fortunately there are many wonderful private tours in all of the ports.

Dining:

Buffet-Compared to a recent Celebrity cruise the food was quite sub par, although with effort you can find some things to your liking. Mostly repeats every day, with entree selections varying some. We chatted with multiple couples who are major Princess cruisers and usually happy with their food who stated that they found this ship's food quality to be way below average.

MDR- Mostly mediocre food, some awful, some fine, you just needed to try a lot to find what you liked. We had anytime dining and tried various times. If you wanted a two person table, and did not arrive very early, you were given a buzzer and told to wait, usually about 15 minutes or more. While we didn't mind that so much, the attitude of the MDR staff was really poor. We were most shocked at how the wait staff was in most cases so inattentive and perfunctory in their jobs. MDR wait staff quality is invariably a very strong point on our past cruises, and we always enjoy interacting with the waiters and have always had excellent experiences on all past cruises, but this time it was very different. The first night set the tone, our appetizers (spring rolls) were brought but they were terrible, cold, and inedible. One bite each and we set them aside. No waiter contact for about 10-12 minutes even though he was standing at the station much of the time. He finally came and swept them away without a word. Not everything is going to be tasty, but usually cruise waiters want you to be happy and will ask if they can bring something else, or at least ask. Very surprised at this, and it continued from most of the wait staff the entire cruise.

We also noted that anytime diners were treated as a group in a given area; if four 2-person tables were seated nearby, even at somewhat different start times, they were all adjusted to similar course delivery times. So there would be a big wait if the couple next to you decided to have soup, salad, and appetizer courses and we just wanted soup-our entree would be held up for a long time until the other table was ready for theirs. No big deal, but it got tedious night after night.

It was clear that the ship had more 2-person table requests than they could handle, so many of these table were situated in areas not suitable, some with no lighting, or too close to traffic etc.

Specialty Restaurants: Crown Grill, one night. It was tasty, but service was just ok.

Other spots: The Pizza place was decent, and often was the savior when the buffet choices were poor. I had similar hopes for the Hamburger place but no luck. I'm always happy with burgers of all quality, from fast food to Kobe beef, but the burgers from this venue were inedible. I don't know what kind of beef they source, or what they do to it, but I could not eat more than two bites. I had several others mention to me the same thing, several also noting that they are way under cooked for ground beef as well.

We did not avail ourselves of Steamers or Planks.

Initial Embarkation: We booked air and transfers through Princess, decent prices, but poor scheduling on their part. They got us on board so late that we were forced to race to our room and throw down our carry on luggage and hurry to muster, which was taking place a half hour earlier than the schedule we were handed as we walked on board. Would have appreciated a little more cushion in the Princess scheduling.

End of Cruise Disembarkation: We had a post cruise London package. This went very, very well, with minimal hassle. Superior disembarkation process to all past cruises we have taken. In addition, the Grosvenor House hotel through Princess was exceptional and highly recommended.

Entertainment and activities: Very limited experience here, but this was not a strong point of this ship to say the least. Fitness center was fine, though. I also thought the presentations about the ports were well done, detailed, and helpful.

Ship: Most areas were clean, and well repaired. Lots of crew working to keep things nice and shiny. No complaints.

Cabin: C752, aft balcony. Just as hoped, this was a great cabin. It should be noted that there is a bit of shuddering vibration when underway, but that did not bother us much. Big balcony, covered. Bed was excellent. Bathroom small, but fine. Only thing I can think of as an issue was the fan, which is not adequate to keep the steam from the shower vented.
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Cabin Review

Premium Balcony
Cabin B4 C752
I reserved this cabin over a year in advance, and this aft balcony was just as great as I had hoped. Covered, big, and a fabulous view. Highly recommend, although I do caution that you can feel a bit of shuddering/vibration while underway, which may bother some people.
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