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My wife and I have been cruising since 1976. As a matter of fact our first cruise was on the SS Mariposa from Los Angeles to Honolulu. Things have changed. Overall, we give the Island Princess good marks. The ship was clean throughout and the food above average in quality and presentation. The ship has two dining rooms and two theaters. On our voyage one dining room was reserved for fixed seating and the second was set aside for "anytime dining." We had requested an early seating, but the requests for this seating exceeded the capacity by over 150 persons. Anyone not included in the early seating was automatically moved to anytime dining. This was unsatisfactory for us and many of the other passengers who had also involuntarily been placed in anytime dining. Although you could eat at the same time, you were always in a different place with different people. In addition to not having a wait staff who were familiar with your likes and dislikes, the wait staff in the anytime dining room were also positively rude on several occasions as well as being generally inattentive to things like filling glasses, bringing coffee, etc. I asked for a glass of juice one night at dinner and was told there would be a charge as juice was only available free at breakfast. Some nights the staff insisted on room numbers and some nights they never asked. It was a mess. I think with this large a group of passengers who could not be included in fixed seating in the first dining room, a portion of the second dining room could have been dedicated to fixed seating. On the other hand, the Horizon Court (the buffet dining area) not only worked well with different stations for salads, entrees, desserts, etc., but the staff there was attentive, helpful and courteous. Several of them even remembered me and my likes when I went there for a meal. We enjoyed the fact that the ship has two theaters. There were at least two different shows each night and they never repeated a show during the cruise. Several of the headliners were great, none terrible and the ship's dancers and singers well above average. The only complaint about the entertainment is that the smaller of the two theaters, the Universe Lounge, is set up as a lounge with large sofa and chairs. This reduced the number of people who could attend shows and if you were not there at least a half hour before a show you were out of luck. There are two things I really like to do on a cruise (high priority reasons for me to take a cruise in the first place). One is sit in a comfortable chair with a book or IPOD and relax while watching the ship sail ahead. There is no place to do this on the Island Princess. The second is to go outside to a high deck and watch the ship arrive at a new port. The design of the Island Princess makes this extremely difficult. There are six foot high "wind breakers" along the front and sides of the upper outside decks. This means that you can watch your arrivals through a dirty piece of tinted glass or the 3 inch gap between the glass and the support. When sailing into and out of several Hawaiian ports this was a real downer. My wife and I do not do alternative dining. As a matter of fact, I think that the cruise lines are doing themselves a major disservice with these programs. In the first place, in my mind at least, they are sending a message that says if you want really first class food and service don't come on our ships. For first class food and service we will charge you extra. In the second place, for the additional charge ($20 per person at Sabatini's) there can only be a marginal increase in income after all of the expenses related to operating the facility have been deducted. Given the limited amount of room on even the largest ships, I suspect there are a lot of other options that the space could be used for to enhance both the passengers' enjoyment of the cruise and the income for the company. Finally, although we have been cruising for over 30 years, I am seriously thinking of giving it up. I remember the days when all you paid extra for were excursions and alcohol. As mentioned above when I am asked to pay for a glass of juice because it is not breakfast, when espresso and cappuccino are extra items at dinner and when there are a myriad of other charges for items that used to be included one of the great benefits of a cruise vanishes. I also find that cheaper items are being substituted for slightly more expensive ones. An example, herbal teas used to be available without asking. On the Island Princess you not only had to ask, but the brand served is one of the cheaper brands on the market. I know the object of the game is to get the base price down as low as possible, but I think the cruise companies are starting to play the airlines game and the result on the bottom line will eventually be the same. I just realized I didn't say anything about Hawaii. The islands are beautiful, sailing along at night watching the lava fields on the Big Island memorable, but the most amusing thing about the trip was the free shuttle to Wal-Mart at every port. It was a nice way to visit Hawaii and overall the cruise rates at least a "B," but we were not encouraged to go out of our way to chose Princess again.

Island Princess - Hawaii

Island Princess Cruise Review by Stan

1 person found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: December 2004
  • Destination: Hawaii
My wife and I have been cruising since 1976. As a matter of fact our first cruise was on the SS Mariposa from Los Angeles to Honolulu. Things have changed.
Overall, we give the Island Princess good marks. The ship was clean throughout and the food above average in quality and presentation. The ship has two dining rooms and two theaters. On our voyage one dining room was reserved for fixed seating and the second was set aside for "anytime dining." We had requested an early seating, but the requests for this seating exceeded the capacity by over 150 persons. Anyone not included in the early seating was automatically moved to anytime dining. This was unsatisfactory for us and many of the other passengers who had also involuntarily been placed in anytime dining. Although you could eat at the same time, you were always in a different place with different people. In addition to not having a wait staff who were familiar with your likes and dislikes, the wait staff in the anytime dining room were also positively rude on several occasions as well as being generally inattentive to things like filling glasses, bringing coffee, etc. I asked for a glass of juice one night at dinner and was told there would be a charge as juice was only available free at breakfast. Some nights the staff insisted on room numbers and some nights they never asked. It was a mess. I think with this large a group of passengers who could not be included in fixed seating in the first dining room, a portion of the second dining room could have been dedicated to fixed seating. On the other hand, the Horizon Court (the buffet dining area) not only worked well with different stations for salads, entrees, desserts, etc., but the staff there was attentive, helpful and courteous. Several of them even remembered me and my likes when I went there for a meal.
We enjoyed the fact that the ship has two theaters. There were at least two different shows each night and they never repeated a show during the cruise. Several of the headliners were great, none terrible and the ship's dancers and singers well above average. The only complaint about the entertainment is that the smaller of the two theaters, the Universe Lounge, is set up as a lounge with large sofa and chairs. This reduced the number of people who could attend shows and if you were not there at least a half hour before a show you were out of luck.
There are two things I really like to do on a cruise (high priority reasons for me to take a cruise in the first place). One is sit in a comfortable chair with a book or IPOD and relax while watching the ship sail ahead. There is no place to do this on the Island Princess. The second is to go outside to a high deck and watch the ship arrive at a new port. The design of the Island Princess makes this extremely difficult. There are six foot high "wind breakers" along the front and sides of the upper outside decks. This means that you can watch your arrivals through a dirty piece of tinted glass or the 3 inch gap between the glass and the support. When sailing into and out of several Hawaiian ports this was a real downer.
My wife and I do not do alternative dining. As a matter of fact, I think that the cruise lines are doing themselves a major disservice with these programs. In the first place, in my mind at least, they are sending a message that says if you want really first class food and service don't come on our ships. For first class food and service we will charge you extra. In the second place, for the additional charge ($20 per person at Sabatini's) there can only be a marginal increase in income after all of the expenses related to operating the facility have been deducted. Given the limited amount of room on even the largest ships, I suspect there are a lot of other options that the space could be used for to enhance both the passengers' enjoyment of the cruise and the income for the company.
Finally, although we have been cruising for over 30 years, I am seriously thinking of giving it up. I remember the days when all you paid extra for were excursions and alcohol. As mentioned above when I am asked to pay for a glass of juice because it is not breakfast, when espresso and cappuccino are extra items at dinner and when there are a myriad of other charges for items that used to be included one of the great benefits of a cruise vanishes. I also find that cheaper items are being substituted for slightly more expensive ones. An example, herbal teas used to be available without asking. On the Island Princess you not only had to ask, but the brand served is one of the cheaper brands on the market. I know the object of the game is to get the base price down as low as possible, but I think the cruise companies are starting to play the airlines game and the result on the bottom line will eventually be the same.
I just realized I didn't say anything about Hawaii. The islands are beautiful, sailing along at night watching the lava fields on the Big Island memorable, but the most amusing thing about the trip was the free shuttle to Wal-Mart at every port. It was a nice way to visit Hawaii and overall the cruise rates at least a "B," but we were not encouraged to go out of our way to chose Princess again.
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