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This was our first experience with Princess Cruises. We usually travel on Celebrity or Holland American. The trip was just "OK", but not nearly what we expected. We wondered if we weren't being too critical until we began to hear similar comments from fellow travelers as the trip progressed. Let's begin with the positives: Entertainment was excellent throughout the week. There was something for everyone. Our room steward was wonderful. He was friendly, helpful and did a great job. Excursions were usually of good quality A request for dining change was handled well. We were able to rearrange reservations so that the group which met the first morning was able to change to the same dining time and table. We began with a six day land tour of Fairbanks, Denali and Mt. McKinley. Our tour guide, Liz, was wonderful. She was full of energy and excitement which carried over to the group. We got introduced at a breakfast on the first morning and met some wonderful people who we stayed with for the full two weeks. That evening, the head of food services for the lodge, (Mr. Wynan?), treated us to a wine dinner. The food and beverages were outstanding, as was his commentary on the meal and his tales of living in Alaska. This was a true highlight. The land accommodations were in lodges with impressive public spaces and comfortable rooms - usually in separate buildings - for sleeping. The rooms were nice, but they had no air conditioning. During most of our land tour, the temperature was in the high 70s to the mid 80s. Sleeping was uncomfortable. In two of the three lodges, we were on the first floor and there was no way to lock the window so that it was only open partially, but we could still feel safe at ground level. There were several included excursions, but we were on our own far too much. The included excursions, as well as the ones we purchased, were of excellent quality. The last day, they had nothing planned and most of the available trips were repeats of things we had done earlier in the week. We left for the cruise at 11 AM on Saturday morning, but there was nothing to do but wait for the bus to the train. Any excursions at the McKinley lodge got back too late for us to partake. We had a very good time on this portion. We saw lots of the scenery and the wildlife. We were checked in for the cruise by Princess personnel who got on the train in Anchorage. They were friendly and efficient. This process made boarding the ship a breeze. When we got to the ship we saw the differences between this line and the others. As we entered the ship we were handed a glass of champagne and then had to walk a gauntlet of people trying to sell wine packages, drink packages, photo packages, tours, etc., etc. We asked each how to get to our floor, but they said they weren't sure and passed us along to the next salesperson. Only when we found the elevator did someone finally tell us which number floor corresponded to the letter on our documents. The room was a big surprise. We booked mini-suite. Based on our experiences on other lines, we expected a spacious room and large balcony. Instead, we had a cramped room which was poorly set up. Much of the floor space was dedicated to a tower with a refrigerator and two flat screen TVs. One faced the bed and the other faced the couch. The room was small and not always seemed to have some piece of furniture in your way. The bathroom had a full tub, but that extra space could easily have been dedicated to room space. The closets and shelving were adequate, but the dEcor looked like we had walked into a hotel in the 1970s. The room was about ½ the size of a mini-suite we had on Celebrity last year. The balcony was only about 1/5 the size of our previous cruise. There were four chairs and a small round table, but we constantly had to rearrange the furniture to move around the balcony. On Celebrity, the mini-suite came with champagne, flowers, fruit, personalized stationary, daily tea, a dining table, and a butler. On Princess, the mini-suite came with a room steward. He was terrific and kept the room spotless, but he couldn't compare with a butler. Day for day, the Princess cruise was more expensive. One of the couples at our dining table had a full suite. The expensive accommodations didn't begin to compare with our Celebrity experience. Our stays in Juneau and Ketchican were very short. We needed much more time there to get a feeling for the destinations. The main problem during the cruise was the lack of attention to detail. We had our first dinner and most breakfast meals in the Horizon Court. The food selection was much smaller than other buffet venues we have experienced. After getting your food, you were left to your own resources to find seats in the crowded venue. There were plenty of workers there, but they didn't interact with the passengers. After being seated, we needed to call a waiter to get coffee or juice. They weren't very friendly and the service was often slow. In the dining room, the service was perfunctory. Our waiter wasn't very friendly and his assistant didn't say 10 words during the seven days. Waiters, especially at assigned seatings, are often the people who make you feel the most welcome onboard. This was not our experience during this cruise. On several occasions we were served the incorrect selection. When asked what was in the wild-game pate, our waited insisted that it was a vegetarian selection. He was unable to correctly identify a number of dishes throughout the week. They also pushed the wine list heavily at each dinner. Offerings were inconsistent. On two afternoons a pub lunch was served in one of the specialty restaurants. The food was good and there was no extra charge for lunch in the room, but they charged for coffee after the meal and no dessert was available. It would have been nice if other specialty lunches were offered on additional days. The ice cream bar served small soft-serve cones, but charged for hard ice cream. After about 10 cruises, this was truly a first for us. One night we watched a movie under the stars on the open deck. The movie was fine, but someone forgot to turn on the sound. A number of us tried to find someone who could address the problem. The first two workers I approached told me that was not their department and kept on walking. Other passengers had the same experience. Finally I got one of the servers at a snack bar to allow me to use the phone to call the main desk to report the problem. It took over 30 minutes to get it working. The movie was a popular title and many people wanted to see it. Many requests were needed to get the stewards to unlock the blankets and let us use them. We were on the open water in Alaska and it was cold! They only brought out a few blankets at a time and needed constant prodding to produce more. Our last day was a sea day. We wanted to sit on the deck and read, but we were told that blankets were not available. There were three stewards standing on the outside deck chatting, but the rest of the space was nearly empty except for a few people who bundled up with coats and towels from the pool. They wouldn't give a reason why we couldn't use the blankets. While the entertainment was excellent, the timing of events was poor. Many activities overlapped by a few minutes. By the time one show or game was finished, the next event was already starting in the next room. If the cruise staff left a little additional time between events, there would be more availability for the passengers. It seemed like much of the time on ship was spent catching the last portion of one event or another. Many entertainments took place during only one of the dining times. If you were scheduled to eat then, you just missed the entertainment. The event times in the Princess Patter newsletter didn't always match up with the actual events. Several things we wanted to attend were just terminated early. One of these was the highly-touted "dessert extravaganza." We went up to get a snack about 45 minutes before it was supposed to end. The "extravaganza" had been moved to the regular food line and two waiters were doling out minute portions of the final half of just two cakes which were available. While seated in the various theatres or lounges, we were often approached by four or rive servers hawking drinks. It servers had been assigned to a particular section, they would know who didn't want service and that would be the end. After a few days, the constant bombardment got to be annoying. The disembarkation process did not go nearly as smoothly as the embarkation. We were assigned tags with colors and numbers. When we assembled in the Princess Lounge (theater), the numbers were not seated separately. When they called a group, people found themselves crawling over others who were still waiting to be called. It truly felt like we got the bum's rush getting off the ship. We were told that we could be in our rooms until 8 AM. When we got back from breakfast at 7:20, our things had been piled on the couch and the room was ready for the next passengers, even though the next boarding was 5 hours away. While the personnel on the pier were friendly and helpful, those who worked on the ship gave the impression that the tips had been given and they were more than through with us. When the Princess buses arrived at the airport, we needed to stand in a very long line for nearly 45 minutes before any luggage arrived. We were there over an hour when we finally received our bags. Anyone in PR should know that the first and last impressions are the most lasting. This last impression wasn't what they should be giving.

First and Last Princess Cruise

Coral Princess Cruise Review by Larryjb1

Trip Details
  • Sail Date: May 2010
  • Destination: Alaska
This was our first experience with Princess Cruises. We usually travel on Celebrity or Holland American. The trip was just "OK", but not nearly what we expected. We wondered if we weren't being too critical until we began to hear similar comments from fellow travelers as the trip progressed.
Let's begin with the positives:
Entertainment was excellent throughout the week. There was something for everyone.
Our room steward was wonderful. He was friendly, helpful and did a great job.
Excursions were usually of good quality
A request for dining change was handled well. We were able to rearrange reservations so that the group which met the first morning was able to change to the same dining time and table.
We began with a six day land tour of Fairbanks, Denali and Mt. McKinley. Our tour guide, Liz, was wonderful. She was full of energy and excitement which carried over to the group. We got introduced at a breakfast on the first morning and met some wonderful people who we stayed with for the full two weeks. That evening, the head of food services for the lodge, (Mr. Wynan?), treated us to a wine dinner. The food and beverages were outstanding, as was his commentary on the meal and his tales of living in Alaska. This was a true highlight.
The land accommodations were in lodges with impressive public spaces and comfortable rooms - usually in separate buildings - for sleeping. The rooms were nice, but they had no air conditioning. During most of our land tour, the temperature was in the high 70s to the mid 80s. Sleeping was uncomfortable. In two of the three lodges, we were on the first floor and there was no way to lock the window so that it was only open partially, but we could still feel safe at ground level.
There were several included excursions, but we were on our own far too much. The included excursions, as well as the ones we purchased, were of excellent quality. The last day, they had nothing planned and most of the available trips were repeats of things we had done earlier in the week. We left for the cruise at 11 AM on Saturday morning, but there was nothing to do but wait for the bus to the train. Any excursions at the McKinley lodge got back too late for us to partake.
We had a very good time on this portion. We saw lots of the scenery and the wildlife. We were checked in for the cruise by Princess personnel who got on the train in Anchorage. They were friendly and efficient. This process made boarding the ship a breeze.
When we got to the ship we saw the differences between this line and the others. As we entered the ship we were handed a glass of champagne and then had to walk a gauntlet of people trying to sell wine packages, drink packages, photo packages, tours, etc., etc. We asked each how to get to our floor, but they said they weren't sure and passed us along to the next salesperson. Only when we found the elevator did someone finally tell us which number floor corresponded to the letter on our documents.
The room was a big surprise. We booked mini-suite. Based on our experiences on other lines, we expected a spacious room and large balcony. Instead, we had a cramped room which was poorly set up. Much of the floor space was dedicated to a tower with a refrigerator and two flat screen TVs. One faced the bed and the other faced the couch. The room was small and not always seemed to have some piece of furniture in your way. The bathroom had a full tub, but that extra space could easily have been dedicated to room space. The closets and shelving were adequate, but the dEcor looked like we had walked into a hotel in the 1970s.
The room was about ½ the size of a mini-suite we had on Celebrity last year. The balcony was only about 1/5 the size of our previous cruise. There were four chairs and a small round table, but we constantly had to rearrange the furniture to move around the balcony. On Celebrity, the mini-suite came with champagne, flowers, fruit, personalized stationary, daily tea, a dining table, and a butler. On Princess, the mini-suite came with a room steward. He was terrific and kept the room spotless, but he couldn't compare with a butler. Day for day, the Princess cruise was more expensive.
One of the couples at our dining table had a full suite. The expensive accommodations didn't begin to compare with our Celebrity experience.
Our stays in Juneau and Ketchican were very short. We needed much more time there to get a feeling for the destinations.
The main problem during the cruise was the lack of attention to detail. We had our first dinner and most breakfast meals in the Horizon Court. The food selection was much smaller than other buffet venues we have experienced. After getting your food, you were left to your own resources to find seats in the crowded venue. There were plenty of workers there, but they didn't interact with the passengers. After being seated, we needed to call a waiter to get coffee or juice. They weren't very friendly and the service was often slow.
In the dining room, the service was perfunctory. Our waiter wasn't very friendly and his assistant didn't say 10 words during the seven days. Waiters, especially at assigned seatings, are often the people who make you feel the most welcome onboard. This was not our experience during this cruise. On several occasions we were served the incorrect selection. When asked what was in the wild-game pate, our waited insisted that it was a vegetarian selection. He was unable to correctly identify a number of dishes throughout the week. They also pushed the wine list heavily at each dinner.
Offerings were inconsistent. On two afternoons a pub lunch was served in one of the specialty restaurants. The food was good and there was no extra charge for lunch in the room, but they charged for coffee after the meal and no dessert was available. It would have been nice if other specialty lunches were offered on additional days. The ice cream bar served small soft-serve cones, but charged for hard ice cream. After about 10 cruises, this was truly a first for us.
One night we watched a movie under the stars on the open deck. The movie was fine, but someone forgot to turn on the sound. A number of us tried to find someone who could address the problem. The first two workers I approached told me that was not their department and kept on walking. Other passengers had the same experience. Finally I got one of the servers at a snack bar to allow me to use the phone to call the main desk to report the problem. It took over 30 minutes to get it working. The movie was a popular title and many people wanted to see it. Many requests were needed to get the stewards to unlock the blankets and let us use them. We were on the open water in Alaska and it was cold! They only brought out a few blankets at a time and needed constant prodding to produce more.
Our last day was a sea day. We wanted to sit on the deck and read, but we were told that blankets were not available. There were three stewards standing on the outside deck chatting, but the rest of the space was nearly empty except for a few people who bundled up with coats and towels from the pool. They wouldn't give a reason why we couldn't use the blankets.
While the entertainment was excellent, the timing of events was poor. Many activities overlapped by a few minutes. By the time one show or game was finished, the next event was already starting in the next room. If the cruise staff left a little additional time between events, there would be more availability for the passengers. It seemed like much of the time on ship was spent catching the last portion of one event or another. Many entertainments took place during only one of the dining times. If you were scheduled to eat then, you just missed the entertainment.
The event times in the Princess Patter newsletter didn't always match up with the actual events. Several things we wanted to attend were just terminated early. One of these was the highly-touted "dessert extravaganza." We went up to get a snack about 45 minutes before it was supposed to end. The "extravaganza" had been moved to the regular food line and two waiters were doling out minute portions of the final half of just two cakes which were available.
While seated in the various theatres or lounges, we were often approached by four or rive servers hawking drinks. It servers had been assigned to a particular section, they would know who didn't want service and that would be the end. After a few days, the constant bombardment got to be annoying.
The disembarkation process did not go nearly as smoothly as the embarkation. We were assigned tags with colors and numbers. When we assembled in the Princess Lounge (theater), the numbers were not seated separately. When they called a group, people found themselves crawling over others who were still waiting to be called. It truly felt like we got the bum's rush getting off the ship. We were told that we could be in our rooms until 8 AM. When we got back from breakfast at 7:20, our things had been piled on the couch and the room was ready for the next passengers, even though the next boarding was 5 hours away. While the personnel on the pier were friendly and helpful, those who worked on the ship gave the impression that the tips had been given and they were more than through with us.
When the Princess buses arrived at the airport, we needed to stand in a very long line for nearly 45 minutes before any luggage arrived. We were there over an hour when we finally received our bags. Anyone in PR should know that the first and last impressions are the most lasting. This last impression wasn't what they should be giving.
Larryjb1’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Cabin C211
The room was described as a "mini-sweet", but the emphasis is on "MINI." The room wasn't any larger than regular rooms we've had on other cruises. The veranda was small and cramped.
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