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I want to preface my review by stating this is my 12th cruise. My first cruise was in 89. I previously cruised on the Sun Princess in 2007, and Grand Princess in 2010.BoardingThe boarding process was quick and efficient. We were traveling with 2 other couples. All 3 couples received last minute free cabin upgrades. Since we had cruised Princess 2 times before, we were upgraded from an inside cabin to a balcony. I believe the ship had about 400 room upgrades due to not being full. Our luggage arrived quickly and intact. The room was not cool. You could feel cool air coming from the vent but very weakly and not real cold, in spite of the thermostat being at it's lowest setting. We complained to our room steward who said it was because the ship was not underway, and to let him know, if it continued, when we were underway. We sweated through the unpacking process. Once underway, it was still not cool. We informed the steward who said he would have a mechanic look at it. I don't know if he ever did, but nothing improved. It remained this way throughout the 10 days. Also, the dining room was never cool and uncomfortably warm, every night. This seemed to be the case in many parts of the ship.DiningOur cruise on the Grand Princess in 2010, was the best food we ever experienced on any cruise, so we were very disappointed when the Star did not equal that experience. We dined at 7:45 late seating. The best word here is inconsistent. We had 2 nights where the food was inedible. A steak that was fatty and tough that was replaced by a second one that was just as bad, and a Veal Scallopini that tasted like dog food and was even tougher than the steak. We also had 3 outstanding meals. The other 4 nights were average. The wait staff were great but seemed overworked and never called any of us by name.  Yet they were working hard and trying hard to please us. The other food at the buffet and snack bars was good. We ate in the Crown Grill specialty restaurant one night and it was worth the money.EntertainmentI am a musician so I am very attuned to the entertainment. Let me say that the 2 main bands in the Explorer and wheelhouse lounges, were extremely talented musicians. Yet the song selection was disappointing. The band in the Wheelhouse was terrific on deck and would put you to sleep in the Wheelhouse. There they played very good, quiet jazz. The place was usually empty. The Vintage People, in the Explorer did a good job in spite of some sound mixing problems where you could not hear the words of the lead singer clearly. The main orchestra was very good and were also featured in the atrium at times. The highlight of the cruise was a doo wop group called Spank. They appeared very often in the atrium and were terrific. A pianist named Kathy Phippard did a competent job in the Atrium lounge area. The featured entertainers were less than satisfactory. The first night was a not funny comedian named Reid, who was also the main feature for the next 2 nights. Then a juggler/comedian who was a terrific juggle but also not funny, He re-appeared the next night. The 3rd featured entertainer was a comedian name Tom something or other who was at least funny sometimes. He appeared 2 nights as well. That's it. 10 nights with 3 featured entertainers in 2 venues. A total of 20 shows. The other nights were filled in with the ships singers and dancers, in 3 different shows, each repeated once, and they were OK, and then Kathy Pheppard and Spank featured twice in the Vista show room. The rest of the entertainment was movies that appeared in theaters 3 to 6 months ago. The disco on deck 17 is another story. First of all the term disco is from the 70's, yet that is not the music that is being played. After midnight, this is all that is available on the ship. The average age of the passengers on board was 62, per the hotel manager. Yet in the "Disco" the average age was 15. Ironic because the kids laugh at the term Disco. This is not touted as a teenagers hangout, but the Dee Jay is playing Hip Hop and Rap. It's not that there were no adults there. On several occasions, such as Motown Madness from 11 to 12, the adults were there in force and dancing up a storm. At 12:01 the DJ changed to hip hop and rap as teens appeared out of nowhere. The drinking adult crowd promptly left. Drive out 50 to 70 paying customers to cater to a dozen underage kids. It made no sense. The staff run event by the pool and in the lounges were good, it's just too bad many people could not get into the lounges to appreciate them. This was, without a doubt, the worst entertainment I have ever experienced in my 12 cruises. It is obvious they are trying to save money. CongestionOften the ship was congested, even though it was not full. I attribute this to several things. Scheduling is the main culprit. Many nights we could not get into the Explorer lounge for the entertainments such as dating game, trivia, country night, Motown night, etc. We were still in the dining room, eating when these events started at around 9:15. The same for the black jack tournament which was scheduled for 8 PM. Huh???? Everything was concentrated on deck 7. The photo gallery, 2 specialty restaurants, the Vista theater and the Princess theater the Wheel house and Explorer lounges as well as the Atrium lounge. The scheduling of events and the location was terrible. Add to this that this ship is 22 years old, and like most of that era, was designed with the idea that only half the passengers would attend a function or event and every event would be scheduled twice, once for the early dining and once for the late dining.  However that is not the way it works on Princess. You also have anytime dining. So you had the entire ship's passengers trying to get into the area where the event was held. Add to that the already inadequate air conditioning and I was uncomfortable most of the cruise. CASINO: Since I am somewhat a student of gambling, I would never play the machines except for entertainment. The video poker pay outs were pathetic, compared to most casinos. I played Texas Hold Em, at a computerized table, mostly. The tournament structure was ridiculous. It favored luck way over skill. Most tournaments were done in an hour due to the insufficient starting stack of chips, high blind structure, and 14 minute levels of doubling the blinds. This is run and gun poker and takes away much of the skill. I could not get in the black jack tournament since it was not scheduled on a sea day, as is the norm for most cruises. Beverage servers and waiters:No one hustled. I don't know why. No one called us by our names. I don't know why. Bar tenders were very stingy with the booze. I don't know why. Pricing was crazy. Wine, that sells for $5 a bottle at home, was $6 a glass, while a rusty nail (Scotch and Drambuie) was $5.25. Beer was $5 for a light beer. I can get a 12 pack for $9 at home. I was actually charged $18, twice, for a Martini that I paid  $6.95 for on Royal Caribbean. Pure gouging, Cruising used to be much more intimate and personable. I suspect it is because of the tipping. When we first started cruising waiters and bartenders got their tips directly from us, in cash. They busted their hump to serve you and call you by name. Nowadays, the tips go on your bill and God knows who gets them or how they're distributed. Aren't tips supposed to be to reward good service? Maybe that's why the dining room waiters and staff never called us by name either.Itinerary and Tours.I thought this was a great itinerary. We booked 4 tours and they were all terrific.Debarkation:It was very efficient and painless. We had to be out of our rooms by 8 AM. CONCLUSION: In spite of all this, I still had a good time. A bad day cruising is better than a good day working, etc., etc. Yet I could have had a great time, had I been comfortable and entertained. Never say never. So I won't say I will never cruise Princess again, but I will look elsewhere first. Given a choice I will choose Royal Caribbean and Celebrity. On a scale of 1 to 5 I rate this a 2 our of 5.

Star Princess 4/3/11

Star Princess Cruise Review by bobsynth

1 person found this helpful
Trip Details
I want to preface my review by stating this is my 12th cruise. My first cruise was in 89. I previously cruised on the Sun Princess in 2007, and Grand Princess in 2010.BoardingThe boarding process was quick and efficient. We were traveling with 2 other couples. All 3 couples received last minute free cabin upgrades. Since we had cruised Princess 2 times before, we were upgraded from an inside cabin to a balcony. I believe the ship had about 400 room upgrades due to not being full. Our luggage arrived quickly and intact. The room was not cool. You could feel cool air coming from the vent but very weakly and not real cold, in spite of the thermostat being at it's lowest setting. We complained to our room steward who said it was because the ship was not underway, and to let him know, if it continued, when we were underway. We sweated through the unpacking process. Once underway, it was still not cool. We informed the steward who said he would have a mechanic look at it. I don't know if he ever did, but nothing improved. It remained this way throughout the 10 days. Also, the dining room was never cool and uncomfortably warm, every night. This seemed to be the case in many parts of the ship.DiningOur cruise on the Grand Princess in 2010, was the best food we ever experienced on any cruise, so we were very disappointed when the Star did not equal that experience. We dined at 7:45 late seating. The best word here is inconsistent. We had 2 nights where the food was inedible. A steak that was fatty and tough that was replaced by a second one that was just as bad, and a Veal Scallopini that tasted like dog food and was even tougher than the steak. We also had 3 outstanding meals. The other 4 nights were average. The wait staff were great but seemed overworked and never called any of us by name.  Yet they were working hard and trying hard to please us. The other food at the buffet and snack bars was good. We ate in the Crown Grill specialty restaurant one night and it was worth the money.EntertainmentI am a musician so I am very attuned to the entertainment. Let me say that the 2 main bands in the Explorer and wheelhouse lounges, were extremely talented musicians. Yet the song selection was disappointing. The band in the Wheelhouse was terrific on deck and would put you to sleep in the Wheelhouse. There they played very good, quiet jazz. The place was usually empty. The Vintage People, in the Explorer did a good job in spite of some sound mixing problems where you could not hear the words of the lead singer clearly. The main orchestra was very good and were also featured in the atrium at times. The highlight of the cruise was a doo wop group called Spank. They appeared very often in the atrium and were terrific. A pianist named Kathy Phippard did a competent job in the Atrium lounge area. The featured entertainers were less than satisfactory. The first night was a not funny comedian named Reid, who was also the main feature for the next 2 nights. Then a juggler/comedian who was a terrific juggle but also not funny, He re-appeared the next night. The 3rd featured entertainer was a comedian name Tom something or other who was at least funny sometimes. He appeared 2 nights as well. That's it. 10 nights with 3 featured entertainers in 2 venues. A total of 20 shows. The other nights were filled in with the ships singers and dancers, in 3 different shows, each repeated once, and they were OK, and then Kathy Pheppard and Spank featured twice in the Vista show room. The rest of the entertainment was movies that appeared in theaters 3 to 6 months ago. The disco on deck 17 is another story. First of all the term disco is from the 70's, yet that is not the music that is being played. After midnight, this is all that is available on the ship. The average age of the passengers on board was 62, per the hotel manager. Yet in the "Disco" the average age was 15. Ironic because the kids laugh at the term Disco. This is not touted as a teenagers hangout, but the Dee Jay is playing Hip Hop and Rap. It's not that there were no adults there. On several occasions, such as Motown Madness from 11 to 12, the adults were there in force and dancing up a storm. At 12:01 the DJ changed to hip hop and rap as teens appeared out of nowhere. The drinking adult crowd promptly left. Drive out 50 to 70 paying customers to cater to a dozen underage kids. It made no sense. The staff run event by the pool and in the lounges were good, it's just too bad many people could not get into the lounges to appreciate them. This was, without a doubt, the worst entertainment I have ever experienced in my 12 cruises. It is obvious they are trying to save money. CongestionOften the ship was congested, even though it was not full. I attribute this to several things. Scheduling is the main culprit. Many nights we could not get into the Explorer lounge for the entertainments such as dating game, trivia, country night, Motown night, etc. We were still in the dining room, eating when these events started at around 9:15. The same for the black jack tournament which was scheduled for 8 PM. Huh???? Everything was concentrated on deck 7. The photo gallery, 2 specialty restaurants, the Vista theater and the Princess theater the Wheel house and Explorer lounges as well as the Atrium lounge. The scheduling of events and the location was terrible. Add to this that this ship is 22 years old, and like most of that era, was designed with the idea that only half the passengers would attend a function or event and every event would be scheduled twice, once for the early dining and once for the late dining.  However that is not the way it works on Princess. You also have anytime dining. So you had the entire ship's passengers trying to get into the area where the event was held. Add to that the already inadequate air conditioning and I was uncomfortable most of the cruise. CASINO: Since I am somewhat a student of gambling, I would never play the machines except for entertainment. The video poker pay outs were pathetic, compared to most casinos. I played Texas Hold Em, at a computerized table, mostly. The tournament structure was ridiculous. It favored luck way over skill. Most tournaments were done in an hour due to the insufficient starting stack of chips, high blind structure, and 14 minute levels of doubling the blinds. This is run and gun poker and takes away much of the skill. I could not get in the black jack tournament since it was not scheduled on a sea day, as is the norm for most cruises. Beverage servers and waiters:No one hustled. I don't know why. No one called us by our names. I don't know why. Bar tenders were very stingy with the booze. I don't know why. Pricing was crazy. Wine, that sells for $5 a bottle at home, was $6 a glass, while a rusty nail (Scotch and Drambuie) was $5.25. Beer was $5 for a light beer. I can get a 12 pack for $9 at home. I was actually charged $18, twice, for a Martini that I paid  $6.95 for on Royal Caribbean. Pure gouging, Cruising used to be much more intimate and personable. I suspect it is because of the tipping. When we first started cruising waiters and bartenders got their tips directly from us, in cash. They busted their hump to serve you and call you by name. Nowadays, the tips go on your bill and God knows who gets them or how they're distributed. Aren't tips supposed to be to reward good service? Maybe that's why the dining room waiters and staff never called us by name either.Itinerary and Tours.I thought this was a great itinerary. We booked 4 tours and they were all terrific.Debarkation:It was very efficient and painless. We had to be out of our rooms by 8 AM. CONCLUSION: In spite of all this, I still had a good time. A bad day cruising is better than a good day working, etc., etc. Yet I could have had a great time, had I been comfortable and entertained. Never say never. So I won't say I will never cruise Princess again, but I will look elsewhere first. Given a choice I will choose Royal Caribbean and Celebrity. On a scale of 1 to 5 I rate this a 2 our of 5.
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Balcony
Cabin BE
Nice layout, small balcony, AC hardly worked at all.
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