Caribbean Princess Cruise Review by traveller linda
- Sail Date: August 2019
- Destination: Canada & New England
- Cabin Type: Balcony
It all started with a cancelled EZ Air flight out of MSP 8/18, the day before the cruise. Princess isn't responsible for the Airline cancelling the flight but, since we purchased EZ Air, Princess IS responsible for the negative experience I had with Princess' "In-Route Assistance." I was on hold over 25 minutes before Jill answered then she argued with me over whose responsibility it was to rebook our flights. Jill told me we bought our tickets from the Airline so the Airline had to rebook us. I responded that we bought our EZ Air tickets from Princess so it was Princess' responsibility. The Airline did try to rebook us but couldn't get us to NYC in time for the cruise so Jill FINALLY got us rebooked on a different airline at 6:50AM 8/19 with a 40 minute layover at Washington Reagan. At 5:30AM 8/19, after waiting in line 30 minutes, we were told that our flight was delayed 90 minutes. I responded that we would miss our 40 minute connection and needed to be on a cruise ship by 6:00 PM. That airline found us the last 2 seats on a nonstop flight to LaGuardia (LGA).
We arrived at LGA at 12:15 PM and purchased Princess Transfers at the baggage claim area but our luggage wasn't there. This was because our luggage had gone to LGA on an earlier flight than us and was at terminal D but we were at Terminal C. This is important because we missed a Princess transfer bus while going to retrieve our luggage from Terminal D and the next Princess Transfer bus didn't arrive at Terminal C until 3:15 PM (ALMOST THREE HOURS LATER)! We arrived at the Brooklyn port at about 4:00 and luggage was lying all over the port parking lot. Transfer busses just offloaded luggage and set it in the parking lot where it sat for hours. The cruise left at about 8:45 PM, instead of 7:00 PM, because they were still loading luggage. I later learned, from a high level crew member, that the company Princess contracted with in NYC sent the same people to load 16 days of food and beverages AND the luggage. Obviously the food & beverages were loaded first...
The Caribbean Princess seemed old and tired and the staff seemed more overworked than I've seen on other Princess cruises. There were several instances of rude staff members. The guy in the internet cafe was short tempered with several guests. One of the cruise director's staff made a really rude and unnecessary comment to me at one point, during our 3 hour wait for a tender at Nanortalik. And there was a person disrupting one of the production shows that my husband believes was one of the contract entertainers, we saw him later that evening in the buffet being escorted by 2 other staff members.
This was the most boring cruise we have ever been on. We had 9 sea days and only one enrichment lecturer, a former writer and director from Hollywood. When we went to Hawaii on Star Princess last year we also had 9 sea days and had an enrichment lecturer all 9 sea days, a marine biologist (a naturalist) all 9 sea days, a guy who had been tour director for Fleetwood Mac for years & tour director for the Beach Boys 50th anniversary world tour who gave lectures about 5 days and a Hawaiian couple who gave lectures most days. Based on that experience I expected more from this cruise with 9 sea days. The cruise director (Marcus, who was also the cruise director when we went to Hawaii) said they couldn't find anyone who grew up in Greenland to give us lectures. I can understand that but why didn't they just send some more enrichment lecturers??? I wouldn't have even minded seeing some of the same people again, it would have been better than nothing. And, since I mentioned Marcus, I've seen better cruise directors....
Fortunately Nuuk built a dock so we didn't have to tender. But we didn't even know Nuuk had built the dock until a few days before we got to Nuuk. I'm not sure when Princess found out about the dock but the itinerary was never updated. The dock was not at all secure like you see at other ports, the Nuuk residents were waiting for us on the dock but that wasn't really a concern to me.
The tender process in Qaqortoq and Nanortalik were disasters. Over 1/3 of the ship's passengers were Elite so they, and those with Princess excursions, had tender priority. We did have an afternoon Princess Excursion in Qaqortoq and went 90 minutes before the excursion to get tender tickets (the excursion ticket told us to allow 45 minutes for tendering). We would have never made it to the excursion if we hadn't been bumped to the front of the line because of the excursion. In Nanortalik we got our tender ticket at 10:40 AM and finally got to land at about 1:45 PM (my first photo was date/time stamped at 1:59 PM). It took over 3 hours to get to land and we had skipped around 8 tender ticket groups because someone was giving up their #71 tender tickets and I took them (we had 79s). But the thing is, the crew who were loading the tenders weren't checking or taking the tender tickets so anyone could have cheated. I can't remember how long it took us to tender back to the ship from Qaqortoq but we only waited in line about 20 minutes to get on a return tender at Nanortalik. That was late in the day so they were only having to load at Nanortalik and unload at the ship instead of unload and load at both ends.
The average age on the ship was probably about 70 so, with that demographic, most people wanted to see the shows (plus there was nothing else to do). We went to the theater at least an hour before the show to get seats where we wanted to sit. We don't mind that, we took our iPads with us and there are less comfortable places to be sitting on the ship than in theater seats. But the theater was always full by 30-45 minutes before the show. They simulcasted the first show of the guest entertainers into the Explorer Lounge and, eventually, after complaints, added a later matinee of the Production Shows so, eventually, most people probably got to see the shows. But Cruise Director Marcus told us to come even earlier for the last Production Show so the passengers started showing up 75-90 minutes before the show but the crew wouldn't let us in the theater because they were still setting up for the show until about 55 minutes before the show (lack of communication between Marcus and the crew). There were a lot of unhappy passengers waiting in the halls outside the theater. The theater shows were at 6:30 and 8:30 which seemed strange compared to other cruises but seemed to help with the flow of Anytime Dining.
The MDR food was pretty good. We had lobster 2 nights but the first time one of the ladies at our table named them "kindergarten lobsters". My husband's lobster was 4 bites but I took smaller bites and got 6 bites out of my lobster. The 2nd time we had lobster the size was more typical of what we have seen on other cruises. It was difficult to get seats at the buffet at lunch time. This was a cold weather cruise and the interior seating just didn't accommodate all of the passengers We ate several lunches at the MDR, we had never done that before.
The Medallion Net worked pretty good the first few days. By the time we got to Nuuk it was pretty slow. The speed picked back up after we left Greenland but my iPad never did load properly after Greenland, but it the iPad worked fine when I got back to the open WiFi at LGA. As mentioned earlier, the guy at the internet cafe was short with people and, when the internet went down completely, on day 15, he wasn't at the desk, there was a female there who just told us to come back in an hour. Passengers pay a lot of money for unlimited Medallion Net and Princess knows it gets slow when the ships travel that far north but Princess doesn't give a price break for that.
Disembarkation was a mess. We were sent off the ship out of order because an earlier group's luggage wasn't at the port. But our luggage wasn't at the port either! We waited in the port over 90 minutes before all of our luggage arrived from the ship. The advantage to the long wait was the customs line was shorter by then. We took a Princess transfer to the airport and the transfer bus dropped us at the arrival area where we were nearly trampled by passengers for the next cruise getting on the transfer bus while we were waiting for our luggage to be unloaded from the transfer bus. We then got inside LGA Terminal B where the "up" escalator was out of order and the elevator doors didn't stay open long enough for passengers & their luggage to get on the elevators. Once we were checked in for our flight and checked our luggage the return flight was uneventful.
Halifax was nice but our afternoon tour was moved to early morning. This was a big deal to us since we were so sleep deprived by the time we got to the ship and had already lost 2 time zones since we left home. Our excursion was the Maritime Museum and RMS Titanic with Titanic Expert Glenn Taylor. The guide was very knowledgeable and interesting. The cemetery was moving. We felt rushed at both the cemetery and Maritime Museum. The Museum was very crowded.
In Sydney, NS we did the Bell Museum, Baddeck & Bras d'Or Lake excursion. Our tour guide had a lot of knowledge but was boring. It was about an hour ride to Baddeck, where the Bell Museum is, and we could have used a more dynamic speaker. The museum was interesting, again a little short on time.
In Nuuk (population 17,635) we got off the ship and walked into town (a steep uphill walk) but didn't find anything we were interested in purchasing. Our 12:45 "Easy Nuuk" excursion was moved to 2:30 and the Nuuk tour company was disorganized. There were no signs indicating where we needed to meet for the excursion, the tour guides were just wandering around, in a mob of people, trying to find the guests & get them lined up. There were 4 buses for our excursion and they wouldn't load any of the buses until all 4 buses arrived at the port, and some of the guests for the "Easy Nuuk" excursion really needed to be sitting down. Then the tour guides never counted the passengers on the bus or, when we got off the bus, told us when we needed to be back on the bus. At one stop the bus before ours left passengers behind because they didn't make sure they had all their passengers. There was room on the 4th bus for the people who were left behind.
In Qaqortoq (population 3089) we did the "Walk through Qaqortoq" excursion. Those tour guides, young ladies from Denmark, were organized. Our tour guide was very good and the tour was interesting. We learned more about Greenland from this young Danish lady than we did anytime else on the cruise. There was a climb up many steps to get to a church which was supposed to be open until 4:00 but was locked when we got there at about 1:40, disappointing. We had 2 English speaking Qaqortoq residents ask us when the ship left; we weren't sure if they were just curious or anxious to see all of us go.
We cancelled a RIB boat excursion in Nanortalik (population 1337) after we received information a few days before the excursion that they needed our survival suit size and telling us the tour guide may not speak English. After our 3 hour wait to tender to Nanortalik we spent several hours walking around the town and visited the open air museum (25 DKK or $5 each). It was worth it. We also visited their subsidized grocery store for a candy bar. One ship passenger was disappointed that their restaurant was closed while we were there. We later heard that a ship from a different cruise line was in Nanortalik the day before and those passengers ate all of the restaurant's food. This was Nanortalik, they couldn't just order in more food for the next day...
In St. John's, Newfoundland we did the Cape Spear Lighthouse, St John's & Signal Hill excursion. The excursion tickets said there was an uphill walk, about 100 steps to Cape Spear Lighthouse. I counted them, there are actually 170 steps then, to see the ocean, you need to walk around the lighthouse on uneven boulders. After the 170 steps, I wasn't able to walk on the boulders so my husband went and took photos of the ocean. Our bus waited about 10 minutes for the last guest to return then left without her. It turned out she was on another bus. Signal Hill was interesting, but very busy.
The weather was beautiful in all the ports. The highs were 58, 57 and 53 in the 3 Greenland ports and it was sunny. The seas were calm except one night but we slept through that. It was foggy at sea and, on many occasions, the foghorn would sound every 2 minutes
So we've been to Greenland. It is very rocky. We weren't anyplace where we could see glaciers or icebergs so we didn't see beauty like in Alaska. Some of the passengers saw the Aurora Borealis the night before we got to Nuuk but we were asleep. We watched for it another evening but it didn't come out. Some of the passengers saw icebergs on excursions but those passengers were probably more adventurous than us.
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Port & Shore Excursion Reviews
Maritime MuseumOur afternoon tour was moved to early morning. This was a big deal to us since we were so sleep deprived by the time we got to the ship and had already lost 2 time zones since we left home. Our excursion was the Maritime Museum and RMS Titanic with Titanic Expert Glenn Taylor. The guide was very knowledgeable and interesting. The cemetery was moving. We felt rushed at both the cemetery and Maritime Museum. The Museum was very crowded.View All 16 Maritime Museum Reviews
St. John's (Newfoundland)The excursion tickets said there was an uphill walk, about 100 steps to Cape Spear Lighthouse. I counted them, there are actually 170 steps then, to see the ocean, you need to walk around the lighthouse on uneven boulders. After the 170 steps, I wasn't able to walk on the boulders so my husband went and took photos of the ocean. Our bus waited about 10 minutes for the last guest to return then left without her. It turned out she was on another bus. Signal Hill was interesting, but very busy.View All 13,320 St. John's (Newfoundland) Cruise Port Reviews
View Cruise Critic's St. John's (Newfoundland) Cruise Port Review
The Bell MuseumWe did the Bell Museum, Baddeck & Bras d'Or Lake excursion. Our tour guide had a lot of knowledge but was boring. It was about an hour ride to Baddeck, where the Bell Museum is, and we could have used a more dynamic speaker. The museum was interesting, again a little short on time.View All 22 The Bell Museum Reviews