We have voyaged on the Pacific Princess for almost two months. Our first on this vessel was in November and December 2016. I posted an excellent review back then and this ship still remains one of our favorites. However, since then on this ... Read More
We have voyaged on the Pacific Princess for almost two months. Our first on this vessel was in November and December 2016. I posted an excellent review back then and this ship still remains one of our favorites. However, since then on this ship, there has been a little improvement here and there and some degradation. Which has resulted in my dropping the previous rating. Let me begin with the positives:
--We really like the ship and the crew, from the Captain on down. The main dining room (MDR) folks are exceptional. The high point for us is that the main dining room service and cuisine has restored our faith in the MDRs, at least on this vessel. Maitre d'hotel, Oscar Perego, has to be one of the best if not the best in the business. We originally intended to do a few dinners in the two speciality restaurants but the staff and service was so great in the MDR the only speciality we bothered to use was a Ultimate Balcony Dinner, which was exquisite.
--Our cabin was super just like the other deck eight mini-suite we had one year ago. We really like the size along with the balcony which represents a large picture window facing the sea when you pull the drapes all the way back. The bathroom was typical, not very large and the closets are not walk ins but the closet space was much larger than one realizes at first glance. The bathroom medicine and toiletry cabinets have doors like they used to have in the old days so stuff doesn't spell out in rough seas. The temperature in the cabin can be regulated perfectly, cold outdoors and comfy inside or 95 F outside and cool inside.
--This was the third time we have been on a cruise that coincided with the Super Bowl. This was the best bowl coverage yet, excellent, and outstanding too was because it was offered in the Cabaret Lounge, where three huge screens were used to display the action with the crew outdoing themselves by having a huge tasty buffet line of goodies and eats available throughout the entire game.
--We certainly appreciate the loyalty perk(s) for free internet and laundry. The internet speed for me is satisfactory and reliable and wife loves the care, reliability and quality of the laundry and cleaning service.
--The two main hot tubes on the pool deck were great and I used them some times twice a day. The pool deck on this ship doesn't have chair hogs and I never ran into a time when there wasn't ample fresh towels awaiting at three different locations. The only complaint I had was they got the hot tubs way too hot at times, one time they were at 107 F for two days.
--The vessel is very well maintained and the crew is constantly scrapping, painting and keeping the ship in tip-top condition.
--Love the balcony railings as well as the railings around the vessel where three horizontal bars are below a teak top railing allowing for clear views of the ocean instead of solid steel or Plexiglas which is almost always fogged up.
--Often I'm not certain what the pre and post cruise hotels cost as we like to use the cruise line transfers and hotel package(s) which are lumped together price wise. Normally I believe the entire package is reasonable----this arrangement has really come in handy in the past when things got confused the day before embarkation due lost airline luggage or other problems. Nothing more comforting than to have an agent at a strange airport with a sign and your name.
--The ship's library is the best and largest we have seen. Truly a library designed for exploration cruises.
--The buffet is very good, food wise, service wise and table wise. They even change things around in part of it in the late afternoon making a more formal section with table cloths, flowers and wine glasses. This buffet has ample seating which gets constrained only when inclement weather forces everybody off the outdoor seating areas, which has even a larger number of tables than inside. During the entire cruise we never ran out of cantaloupe, not once, first time I recall that ever happening.
--Cabin T.V.s work great and programming good. Certainly appreciate my favorite news channel MSNBC being available with a good signal all the time. I recall the days when we had no other choice for news but-----LOL. Sure wish they could figure a way to place larger TVs in the mini-suites though,
--No complaints over embarkations and disembarkations. All handled well and luggage arrived in the cabins timely.
--Although our segment involved mostly sea days, the shore excursions we did take were good, typically we never go the independent route on shore excursions but use those provided by the cruise line. One in particular illustrates how Princess stands out here----"We were confused about meet times one morning, so when we showed up for our muster time they told us our excursion had already left. Anyway, bummer, but then, the shore rep said you can get on "this one" if you want instead, which was leaving just then. We took it. We were supposed to be on a rain forest type hike and glow worm cave visit, which we were regretting due to all the rain. As it turned out, the alternative was much better and dryer, plus the one we were to be on they didn't even get into the caves as they flooded and during the rain forest hike portion everybody got soaked. Mistakes sometimes turn out for the better.
--The cruise director on this voyage was a gal from Juneau, Sammi Baker, she managed the Red Dog saloon in Juneau back in the 1980s and had her own band there "Moondance". She got a job with the Italian cruise line "Sitmar" who merged with Princess in the late 1980s. We never ran across her before in our travels with Princess, she is retiring after this voyage. Too bad, she is well liked.
--We never personally experienced much of a problem here, however, something is amiss. We did witness the considerable confusion which apparently exists within the cruise line fleet at large, this is over room service liquor order policy and even water bottle orders, as pre-orders prior to initial embarkation get tangled with room service liquor order requests due contradictions emanating from staff and company both orally and written. It might well be that the line is determined to eventually eliminate service to cabins where spirits or wine can be ordered for consumption within. If not, I suggest Princess better start attempting to squelch rumors and altercations that suggest otherwise, bring forth a consistent written policy/procedure, since a practice like that if it materializes, will be a real downer for cruisers like ourselves.
--I do miss the enrichment lecturers that Princess used to provide, like naturalists, biologists, area historians and geography experts, I thought they would bring someone on board at Honolulu but didn't. However, at Pago Pago they brought on two New Zealanders who were pretty good, too bad for us though, as this occurred two thirds of the way through the cruise.
--I'm not big on the production shows anymore where you got a bunch of young folk jumping around singing, dancing and doing hand stands. But on this voyage I guess they should be given credit since I attended most performances and thought they were okay, most guests appeared to really like them. I also don't care much for ventriloquists, comedians or jugglers, what I like is the individual singers, violinists, etc but only if they stay away from attempting to articulate political jokes, most of which are tired and ancient and usually irritate more than amuse. In fact, on the larger vessels I quit going to the overcrowded theatres with too few isles all-together, it wasn't until on this ship, a year ago, I became interested again due the comfort and convenience of the Cabaret Lounge. Here is my opinion of the entertainment list ---
Good---(1) The Lions Den (2) Dave Klinberg (violinist and enrichment lecture--ancient cultures) (3)The Stevie B. Show, (5) Monty Cotton-- "Johnny Cash" (4) Production Shows, Jennifer Andres and Charlie Vose with the Belinda King Dancers. (5) Diane Cousins, singing and jokes. (6) Russell Harrison
So-So--- louie Shelton,
Bad----(1) Bayne Bacon, mediocre piano man and right wing sick joke critic of the Clinton family----(3) Domenick Allen, disorganized music performances---(2) Ventriloquist, Mark Merchant, good ventriloquist but that is where his talent ends; he also should stay away from right wing leaning ignorant jokes.
Not so good----
--The gym is in an excellent location but too small for the number of guests wanting to use it. Only two ellipticals and five treadmills, that doesn't cut it in the morning. The gym doors open at 7:00 PM and often if you aren't in line at least 20 to 30 minutes before you better plan on waiting at least an hour. I have to admit though, we were on the Prinsendam for almost three months, a larger exploration type vessel than the Pacific Princess carrying 200 more guests, but their gym was almost half the size of that on this ship. Watch out for the "Man Killer"---Normally I would go out onto the circular track on deck 10 and walk or jog if the gym equipment was busy on this ship, however, this is a dangerous track early in the morning, as water collects on the track and it is very slick even after they mop it. I almost fell completely down four times and witnessed others crashing down, it is a wonder there hasn't been serious injuries. Apparently they tried to remedy this recently by painting the primary center running and walking area with a red substance which was actually slicker than the old surface which most runners or joggers tried to favor due better traction.
--Platinum & Elite Lounge, Princess has changed their format here from what they used to provide. Now they offer a selection of eight different alcohol drinks which they apparently came up with as substitutes for the more traditional drinks they used to offer for $5.00 per. They now charge $6.50 for these new concoctions. We gave them a chance. Went three times and tried three different drinks each, most of the time we didn't finish the drinks due to not liking them. Their hors d'oeuvre offerings were still pretty good but the only way we would want to take time to attend is by purchasing their old traditional drinks for the full price. Thus, we say goodbye to this once great loyalty perk.
---This cruise involved one sement of a world cruise, 47 ports, five segments, 111 days. We originally purchased the second and third segments, 49 days. The third ended in Dubai. I had arranged and paid for air transport back home from Dubai when I first booked, about 11 months before embarkation. Our flight left at 9:30 AM in the morning of our second day in port at Dubai. That turned out to be a bad assumption and mistake. Unfortunately, Princess said we couldn't get off the ship that day that early since our flight left before 11:30 AM. After much discussion, Princess allowed us a "cruise deviation" under which we could get off early. They provided us no help or advice as to how to get off but did offer a lot of worrisome suggestions, like: "You are on your own" and "It is up to you to arrange with immigrations at that country when you get off our ship". Thanks but no thanks, we decided to cancel the entire voyage, both segments. At the last minute we decided to stay with the first segment only. It seems to me that for $34,000 to $37,000, which the second segment alone was going to cost us or in the neighborhood of $57,000 for the entire two segments, they could have given us just a little encouragement and assistance for our disembarkation.
Since we were on part of a world cruise it gave me an opportunity to evaluate the merits of these since this got me to focusing on the merits and dismerits of booking the entire package if we had chosen to do so. We have never booked a "world cruise". Our longest cruise was one just shy of three months, which was 95% Africa ports. Most likely the reason we haven't booked longer voyages is that by now we have visited just about every port offered on those, many, multiple times. My advice to those just beginning cruising careers, if they can make it work, take a world cruise as soon as you can, that way most ports on the itinerary will involve first visits making the voyage that much more enjoyable.
I did note on this voyage over 80% of the guests were taking the entire 111 day world voyage and out of those there were a lot who love to do this time and time again regardless of the number of visits they may have had at the same ports. We met couples that have been on more than five and often they were friends with others that had been on the same voyages. Camaraderie was a big inducement factor. Obviously, cruising is not the same for all, there are many types and variations. However, we see now the world cruise probably isn't for us.
We do love sea days and you do get a lot of those on world cruises, which is a plus for us. But It seems to me that the industry is rather coy in describing "world cruises" or "world voyages" as these are somewhat misnomers. The one we were just involved in was indeed a cruise that went all the way around the globe, beginning and ending in Florida. However, to call this a "world cruise" is rather disingenuous. 20 of the 47 ports are all in the Mediterranean, there is no Africa, no South America, no---Indonesia, Asia, Malaysia, Baltic, British Isles, Holy Land, Antarctica or Arctic or much more, most all of it is confined to traditional tourist haunts within the Northern Hemisphere, with the exception of a jaunt down the Pacific to Australia and then back north. One fellow, on his 5th world cruise, told me he was "bored". My preference now would be to get more bang for my buck by booking separate cruises of four or five week durations each, maybe lumping two together as a back to back (B2B). Read Less