Six seniors (age 68-71) who have cruised together since 2013 wanted a cruise that involved driving or short air flight thus choosing the 7 day west coast on Princess. The 4 from Arizona drove over from Phoenix, overnight in San ... Read More
Six seniors (age 68-71) who have cruised together since 2013 wanted a cruise that involved driving or short air flight thus choosing the 7 day west coast on Princess. The 4 from Arizona drove over from Phoenix, overnight in San Bernardino; 90 minutes drive to the dock next morning. One way, one day Hertz dropping in nearby Hertz office in San Pedro. The Washington cruisers flew down the night before, stayed near LAX at an Embassy Suites.
Embarking: we arrived about 10am, waited to enter the ship once our group number was called. Onboard about 11am; went directly to the Concerto dining room—not the Horizon buffet – a nice option on Princess, had a good lunch at our table for 6. After lunch we had cabin access—we were all on deck 12; deluxe balcony for our room.
Dining: Had the 5pm traditional seating in the Concerto dining room. Out of the 7 days ate there only twice. Food quality and selection were usually good; no real complaint. Dined once in a specialty restaurant to celebrate the wife’s birthday; The Crown Grille. Though the room was not enclosed we had a great table for the six; service, food quality ambience were all great. Horizon Buffet on Deck 16 – normally ate breakfast and lunch here. Found the quality and selection to be better than the MDR. Tables normally were available, stewards kept the tables cleaned off and practically badgered you with offers of drink refills—very good service here. Nice feature on this cruise: the Horizon opened at 5am partially and fully at 6am; great for early risers like us. Show times were normally at 8pm and 10pm so a 5pm schedule for dinner worked very well to attend the evening show at 8pm.
The Evening Shows: we like to catch the 1st show, in this case at 8pm. However, most everyone else did as well. If you did not have your seats by 7:30 you were in trouble. A good seat involved 7 to 715pm arrival in the theatre. A real downside on this ship – way too few seats for the 3700 passengers. I understand seating was no problem at 10pm. Seats were narrow, not very comfortable and the full room got warm. In 7 nights we had the same comic twice, the same impressionist twice and 3 production shows. I would have preferred more variety. The shows were decent.
PASSENGERS: Mostly seniors, very few children/minors. Probably the oldest crowd we have ever sailed with – was told they utilized the LA Port because it did not involve an air flight to come and go and this age group was common on these sailings. The passenger make up did aggravate another strong downside to this sailing -- THE ELEVATORS ! There were 3 banks of elevators but they seemed smaller than usual elevators. If the ship was empty they worked well, during sea days and busy times the waits were too long. I admire seniors who travel; cruising is a great option for people who have medical limitations and move slowly – I understand I now am part of that group at my age, but getting on and off elevators is not a quick process.
Internet and the Infamous Medallion Program – As usual the internet pricing was outrageous so we did not participate. I did attempt to print an airline boarding pass 1 day prior to disembarking and found I was expected to buy 1 day’s worth of internet (19.99) to do this. No provision to use internet to check in and print a boarding pass. Customer service said they could not help me. This is something that a person should be able to do without paying $19.99. The Medallion Program – as a pacemaker person I noted the medallion is not recommended for me so I used a regular card which worked well. In our group there seemed to be problems with the Medallion program working as advertised at least on this cruise—there appear to be some bugs that need working out. I’m sure they will eventually force this on us as an “improvement” and make this our only option – I see it coming. So my experience is not favorable.
The itinerary - Good itinerary – got on Saturday, sea day Sunday (good for the 1st full day) then SFO, Monterey (tender), sea day, then San Diego, then Ensenada and finally off Saturday in LA. Late departures from SFO and San Diego caused some alteration in the evening dining – so we had 2 nights of open seating to go with those late departures.
Excursions: Took only 1 ship excursion in Ensenada – was okay – once was enough in Ensenada – would not go ashore next time. Did our own tour in Monterey, renting an Enterprise 6 passenger Dodge Van to tool around this beautiful area and splitting of the cost made this convenient, enjoyable and reasonable, plus it enabled us to lunch at one of our Monterey favorites; Rosines.
Casino: On deck 6 – busy place, wife hit a number of decent slot jackpots on this cruise making it our best casino win story of all our cruises.
Disembarkation: We were scheduled to dock at 615 on Saturday, which we did. With our flight back to Phoenix at 1110 at LAX we chose the walk off option; were to meet in the dining room at 7:20. We arrived at 655 am to find we were cleared and headed for the gangway. Walked about a mile to reach immigration/customs, very quick and outside by 705am. Took a dedicated Super Shuttle for 4 to LAX (took about 20 minutes) for $54. Arrived early there so a great getting off experience this cruise.
Summary: Great time with our good friends (again). 4 out of 5 overall on the ship. Was clean, kept up, ran on time in and out of ports. Good dining selection and variety, good service but this elevator issue and inadequate seating in the theatre were very annoying and took the edge off a great experience. We continue to rate Princess, Celebrity and Royal as our favorites and consider those three when we cruise – this experience reaffirmed our commitment to Princess. Read Less