Summarized Review – My wife & I (59 & 58) are experienced cruisers (Princess Platinum), we’ve sailed on the Ruby twice before this. This was our first cruise out of LA (San Pedro) and our first cruise of less than 7 ... Read More
Summarized Review – My wife & I (59 & 58) are experienced cruisers (Princess Platinum), we’ve sailed on the Ruby twice before this. This was our first cruise out of LA (San Pedro) and our first cruise of less than 7 days.
This was an “OK” cruise, anything less would be picky, anything more would be generous. No major issues, but no major “Wows” either. Food-OK, Crew-OK, Entertainment-Ugh, Weather-Ugh, Cabin- great
Detailed Review –
My wife & I (59 & 58) are experienced cruisers (Princess Platinum), we’ve sailed on the Ruby twice before this. This was our first cruise out of LA (San Pedro) and our first cruise of less than 7 days. We selected the 5 day cruise to tryout the West Coast cruise scene (we are thinking of taking a Hawaiian cruise in the future).
We flew in a day early, you never can guess with Boston weather. We got a direct flight on JetBlue from Boston to the Long Beach airport instead of LAX. LGB is a small airport, a piece of cake, much easier than LAX. It’s quaint and I heard it was where they filmed the final scene from Casablanca. If you have a choice between LAX & LGB, choose LGB.
Pre-Cruise hotel –
We toyed with staying closer to the ship but settled on the Courtyard Marriott at Long Beach Airport. We got a free shuttle and the price was right. They also have a few walk-able restaurants.
The hotel is quite nice, very clean, newer, in a safe area and about a 5-minute drive from the airport. They offer food, beer & wine for a reasonable cost. I would recommend the hotel.
Across the parking lot they have a new shopping area (LBX?) with a few restaurants (an In & Out Burger, a Mod Pizza where you design your own, the Hanger which is like a food court. They also have a Dunkin Donuts, a TJ Maxx, a Whole Foods and some other shops opening soon).
For dinner (Friday), we had a pizza at the Mod Pizza (I wanted In & Out, but lost the coin flip). It was good. You design what you want on the pizza and it takes no longer than 5 minutes to bake. I had a real good local IPA too.
Saturday morning - breakfast before the cruise we kept it simple and went to Dunkin’s
Note: My wife forgot her contact lenses. Another reason to get there a day early. We contacted Costco, they gave us a few names of local optometrists. We spent an hour or so on Saturday morning getting things sorted, but long-story-short, Dr Goldstone’s High-Definition Vision Center is awesome. We got some samples based on her prescription and all was good once again. If anyone in the Long Beach area is looking for a great team of eye care folks, please go to Dr Goldstone’s High-Definition Vision Center.
We caught a Lyft to San Pedro for under $40, the driver was great, no issues.
San Pedro Cruise Port (or the LA Cruise port in San Pedro?) –
We got there around 1130 and were in the cruise terminal by 1132.
What a remarkable place! If you like cargo ships and watching the amazing productivity of loading and unloading these enormous container ships.
It shares a parking lot with the USS Iowa (we didn’t visit it, but if I had time I would have).
Easy in, drop off, the porter took our luggage and we were in the terminal in minutes. Unlike Ft Lauderdale, they were not there with an expectation of getting a few bucks and grudgingly taking care of luggage but were helpful and efficient.
Princess has this down to a science, I think being teleported would be the only quicker way to get aboard. We are Platinum, but it didn’t matter, there was no line. We were aboard within 15 minutes of entering the cruise terminal. The staff there is very helpful (just like Ft Lauderdale), Princess has trained folks quite well.
Immediately Aboard –
We were told that our cabins wouldn’t be ready until 1PM. They gave us the option of dropping our carry-ons at a dining room. We only had a backpack, so we took it with us. We didn’t go scoping around for the open MDR for lunch, we just hit the buffet, which was fine. There were no lines at the pizza joint nor at the grill, as we wanted to see what the buffet had to offer.
We walked up to the Sanctuary after lunch (more on that later).
We had booked a balcony, then were given upsell offers. We passed on the first two, but accepted (rather jumped at) an offer for a Mini-Suite for an extra $49 PP.
The mini-suite was awesome, my wife thinks she’ll find it hard to book anything but a mini-suite from now on. The larger bathroom, seating area, two TVs and good-sized deck were great. We were about 4 cabins from an elevator on the Dolphin deck.
There was but one problem with our cabin. The toilet clogged a few times, all mechanical, not “human” related. The vacuum seemed to be malfunctioning. They’d fix it, then it would happen the next day. We called them 3 or 4 times to get it squared away. They take care of it from outside the cabin, the little door next to your cabin is for bathroom access, so they never had to come in, but one time they said they never logged the call, which was fine as we just went to a public room on the way to a show or something.
Our steward was fine, things were tidy and clean
When we cruise the Caribbean, we like to take advantage of the Sanctuary, great loungers, quiet, great service, not worrying about a chair, etc. We booked the 4 days (not the embarkation nor debarkation days).
They were pretty much empty. Most days there were only 4 to 8 people in the Sanctuary. We took advantage of the afternoon tea and they’d get us water (or food if we wanted).
We went to the first night show, which was “Magic”. It was not that great. We decided to skip the rest of the production shows.
We were planning on some other shows at the Explorer Lounge, but the first shows ran way over and couldn’t get a seat. It was mismanaged stuff like that for most of the shows.
The Cruise Director Natalie was very nice, sweet and peppy, but there wasn’t a great variety of stuff to do. Her team was almost non-existent.
We did go to the Piazza and caught a solo guitarist, she was very good.
I’ll start by saying we are not “Foodies”. We don’t expect a 5-star, gourmet dinner each night.
Breakfast – we usually go to the buffet, you can’t really screw up eggs, bacon and toast, and they didn’t screw them up, they were good. I did get an omelet a couple of days. They write down what you want then rather a line of people waiting, the waiter (the folks bringing you coffee, etc) will get your omelet for you, much more efficient and no crazy queue in the middle of the buffet. They had the usual fruit, pastries, cereals, toast, etc.
International Café – I was tasked with getting real coffee each morning. I’d pop down and get a couple of to-go cups. We didn’t buy the coffee card since you have to use all punches on that specific cruise. I’d get a pastry or two when I was there as sort of a pre-breakfast. The International Café is awesome.
Lunch – we were in the Sanctuary during lunch, I’d usually pop down for a couple of slices of pizza for us, knowing we were going to have a good-sized dinner that night. The grill was always hopping and had a line during lunch. I do like their burgers there.
Dinner – We had 3 dinners in the dining room (out of 5 nights). The 3 entrees we had were good. There was never a wait for anytime dining. All the waiters we had were attentive, pleasant and efficient.
1. Salmon – it was good. The size was on the smaller side, but I had an app & dessert, so it was filling.
2. Prime rib – really good. This was on the night we stayed over in Cabo, the dining room was empty. The cut I was given was big. I had a baked potato and asparagus, which was excellent. The waitstaff wasn’t overwhelmed and were having fun. Best night of dining.
3. The surf & turf (for the last night). I think the filet was about 4 oz, small but cooked medium rare, and there was a huge shrimp with it, prepared perfectly as well. No lobster or beef Wellington on this cruise. Baked Alaska was great.
Food – Dining Note 1:
There was one formal night. Why even have it any longer? There were no tuxes, about ½ of the diners (guys) wear suits or a blazer and dress slacks & dress shirts (no tie). Ladies always look nice, but the gowns are pretty much gone, replaced with dresses or pants.
The rest of the people were in jeans. Yup, jeans.
I stopped wearing a tux a bunch of cruises ago. The switched to a suit, now it’s a Navy Blazer with dress slacks and a dress shirt. My wife will wear a dress or black dress pants and a glittery top.
In my opinion, the folks that wear jeans, baseball caps and t-shirts really take away from the overall experience. We’re not at McDonalds.
Food – Dining Note 2:
Although I’m not a Foodie, I am a bit of a beer snob. Someone at Princess finally listened to the collective belly-aching for those that wanted more than Bud, Lite, Heineken & Stella.
They’ve added a bunch of decent beer to the usual selection:
Sam Adams, Bass, Sierra Nevada, Lagunitas IPA (Little Sumpin), a couple of ciders, a couple of Goose Islands, Perini, Urquell, Tiger Red Stripe & Fosters.
Thanks for adding some better beer Princess…
Piece of cake. We had a couple of bags, so we did the walk-off. There was a slight line getting off, but it moved well with the Princess folks directing people to the customs officials.
It was raining when we got off, there was a 5-minute wait for a taxi, again no big deal. The ride to LGB was uneventful.
All in all a good cruise, certainly not great, but not bad. The crew was OK, the cabin very nice, the food was OK, the ship was OK. Read Less