4 New York (Manhattan) Princess Star Princess Cruise Reviews

I sailed on the Star Princess on October 28, 2006 to Canada and New England. First let me start by telling you about my cruise history. This was my 10th cruise, and first with Princess. I have sailed on Carnival four times, Royal Caribbean ... Read More
I sailed on the Star Princess on October 28, 2006 to Canada and New England. First let me start by telling you about my cruise history. This was my 10th cruise, and first with Princess. I have sailed on Carnival four times, Royal Caribbean four times, and NCL once. My previous cruises were to the Bahamas, Caribbean, and Alaska. I sailed on this cruise with my dad (54), and my cousin (30). I am 31, and we are all single. My last cruise was on the Carnival Miracle one week before this cruise (please see my Carnival Miracle October 15 review). I spent this summer working for Princess in Alaska (not on a ship), and was excited to finally sail on a Princess ship. This review is rather long, but I wanted to be as detailed as possible. EMBARKATION We arrived at the Brooklyn cruise ship terminal at about 12:30. My father is handicapped, and uses a wheelchair to get around on occasion, so we reserved one for onboard use, and booked an accessible cabin. A ship employee brought a wheelchair over to the car, and took my dad through the entire process, and wheeled him to our cabin. We were whisked through the security line, and our bags were checked. As our bags went through the X-ray scanner, the agent noticed something of concern, so she told the other agent to check my cousin's bag for a cigar cutter. I told her that would be in a smaller bag, and pointed the bag out. She told me I was wrong and had the agent check my cousins bag. After about 15 seconds of looking through the bag, he told her he saw nothing. She shrugged her shoulders and said, "OK, let them go." Pretty scary security check!! Next we got to the check in agent. She was very nice. She explained that, since this was the last cruise of the season, they removed all of the computers the day before and everything was being done manually. The process was very quick, and we were on the ship within 10 minutes. I also asked about the wheelchair that we reserved for my father, but I was told I have to check with the Purser's desk to see if they have an extra one. My father said he would do without it for the week. Not the service I expected since I specifically filled out the information on the forms for a wheelchair. It is a good thing my father was not relying on the wheelchair. CABIN We reserved an inside accessible cabin. We originally planned on a mini suite, but there were no other accessible cabins available when we booked several months before the cruise. We were on the Emerald deck, cabin E716 which is in the rear of the ship. The cabin was very nice. It was about 330 square feet including a "living room" which had a sleeper sofa, a refrigerator and sink, several large closets, and 2 televisions. The bathroom and shower were large as well. This was the nicest cabin I have stayed in besides a suite on Royal Caribbean, (a balcony was the only real difference between the two). Our cabin stewart was excellent. We are not the neatest group, but he kept the cabin very clean and was very friendly. FIRST SHIP IMPRESSION The ship is decorated very nicely. The public rooms were very comfortable and the midship lounge on Deck 7 was a nice surprise. We walked around all of the decks prior to setting sail. The only thing I was unhappy with at the beginning of the cruise was the fact that you could not walk across an entire deck straight through. I will tell you more about that later. All in all the ship was beautiful. SETTING SAIL The day we left there was a very large wind storm that hit the northeast. Winds off the coast, were forecast to near hurricane strength for the first 2 days. We left several hours late, and it was nearly impossible to stand outside even when we were not moving. We finally set sail after 7:30. The ship rocked steadily well into the third day of the cruise. I must admit, the stabilizers and the thrusters did a great job of reducing the motion. I get seasick very easily, and did not feel the slightest bit of discomfort (thanks also to my seabands-they REALLY work). As a matter of fact, the third night, the ship rocked so badly, that the glasses in most bars were thrown to the floor. I still think the motion could have been much worse, and I have experienced much worse on larger ships. PORTS OF CALL I rarely book shore excursions from the ship when I am on a cruise. I usually go around on my own, and look for interesting things in the port of call. I did not book any shore excursions on this cruise either. HALIFAX - This was our first port of call. It is a very nice city, but the weather was pretty bad. We walked around for a little while, but it was about 40 and rainy, so we did not do too much there. I did speak with some people that went to Peggy's Cove. They said they enjoyed it, but the winds were gusting to near 70, so they did not stay outside very long. ST. JOHNS - Another very nice city. We walked around the market which was very close to the ship. It was very similar to Pike's Market in Seattle. There were all types of food stands in the 4th floor market. I had a lobster roll($6CAD) which was excellent. Since we were the last ship in port for the season, all of the stores had some great sales! I got a fleece jacket for $15CAD, and there were lots of t-shirts and sweatshirts for $5-10CAD. BAR HARBOR (or Bah Habba) - This was our first US port of call, and we were required to go through customs before boarding the tender. This process was very poorly done. The night before Bar Harbor, our cabin had a letter with our names on it and a green immigration form for each of us. The letter explained that everyone must meet with a customs official before going ashore. It said that people on early tours would go first, and then they would call each deck on the PA system, from the top down, to meet with customs. It said that they would start at 8:30 and be done by 10:30. Since we stayed up past 3AM, we requested a 9AM wake up call to go to the required meeting. At 8:45 we heard the first announcement. "This is a FINAL CALL, anyone who has not met with customs yet must do so immediately on deck 7." We jumped out of bed, got dressed, and went as quickly as we could only to stand in line for nearly 20 minutes. I checked with other passengers, and they all confirmed that no other announcements were made in their cabins either. After we met with the customs agent (which took about 10 seconds) we went back and got ready to go ashore. The tender process was very quick. Princess has you meet on deck 7, and walk down to the tender area on deck 2, which may be difficult for some passengers, but there is a very small elevator available if needed. Bar Harbor was my favorite port of call. Even though 1/2 of the shops and restaurants were closed, I still enjoyed the port very much. It is a very quaint town with lots of beautiful scenery. We also elected to take a 2.5 hour tour ($25) of Acadia National Park. This is a must see. Cadillac mountain gave a beautiful view of the shore, the ship, and surrounding areas. We also ate lunch at a restaurant in town. I had another lobster roll and some lobster chowder-pretty good. BOSTON - This was my first time in Boston and I liked the city a lot. We took a Princess shuttle to Quincy Market ($12 pp rt). We had lunch at a great restaurant and walked around the area. We got a late start off the ship, so we did not have a lot of time, and traffic in Boston was very heavy. I will have to make my way back to Boston again sometime. NEWPORT - A great little port city. Antiques galore, plus some interesting shops right near the tender dock. They also have a great art gallery just above the tender dock. I am not an art lover by any means, but I wanted to buy the entire store. It is a "starving artists" place and the prices were unreal. They had framed 16x20 oil paintings starting at $25, and larger ones starting at only $30. Definitely plan on stopping in if you go there. DINING The food on the Star Princess was OK. It was definitely not the best (or even close) I have had on a cruise. The buffet on the Lido deck was not very good. When we ate there on embarkation day, I figured that the food is usually not too good on the first day, but it did not get any better. Choices were limited, and not very tasty. Hot dishes were often cold and nothing was very flavorful. The sandwiches at the grill were ok, but nothing special. The pizza was excellent the first time we had it, but was just OK the rest of the cruise. When we originally booked, we thought we would try the anytime dining. After my cruise on the Miracle, I realized that we might not like the anytime idea, and would prefer the same table and waiter/waitress the whole cruise. I called Princess, but was told late seating was full, and that I should check when we get onboard. So, acting on their advice, I went to the dining room after we boarded. I was greeted by an employee and I asked to change our dining. She asked me to have a seat and told me the Maitre D' would see us in a moment. Two minutes later, we were escorted to a large round table where the Maitre D' was sitting. We were seated. I felt like we were talking to the Godfather! He told us that there were no seats available at that time, but he would let us know the next day in our cabin if a table opened up. At about 8pm, we went to one of the anytime dining rooms. The hostess asked how many in our party and gave us a pager. She said our table will be ready in a few minutes. After about 15 minutes, our pager went off and we were seated. We were taken to a table with four other people. The waiter came around and started taking orders. After the sixth person, the waiter left. My father still had his menu and had not ordered. The waiter was standing by his tray stand for about 10 minutes trying to figure something out. He kept on looking at his pad, but just couldn't figure it out! I'm pretty sure it was his first night. The head waiter noticed something was wrong and began to help out. My dad told the waiter he had not ordered, and his face showed his relief as the mystery was solved. Eventually the head waiter took over completely, and we did not see the waiter again. If it was his first night, they should have had him follow someone through the process first before sending him out on his own. Thankfully, the next day we received a note saying that a table was reserved for us at the late seating. So we went to the main dining room that night and asked where our table (216) was. The waitress said "are you sure you have the right table? This is my table and it is full." We showed her the note and she seated us. Apparently the other people sitting there changed their mind about that seating. From then the dining room service was excellent-it could not be better. Every time we finished a plate, it was taken away and the next one was served. There were several sodas waiting as we entered the dining room, and as soon as we finished one, it was replaced. The presentation was nice and the serviceware was always very clean. Too bad the food was not as good as the service. The food was nothing special, and the only truly memorable meal was the twin lobster tails. They were the best I have ever had at sea. Other than that, the food was just acceptable - pretty disappointing overall. The deserts looked better than they tasted, which is usually the case on cruises. We did not dine at either of the alternative restaurants. Nothing on either menu looked like a good enough reason to try them. STAFF The staff onboard was excellent. With the exception of the waiter the first night, and a pretty rude comment at the photo desk, everyone was great. Staff members were always smiling and friendly, especially the casino staff. PUBLIC AREAS The public areas on the ship were very nice. The bars were comfortable and the casino was very nice. The Princess Theater was nice, but not as nice as most of the other ships I have sailed on. If you want to sit anywhere near the stage, you had to walk nearly 2 flights of stairs. If you enter from deck 6, you have to walk upstairs to enter, then walk downstairs to your seat. There was also no balcony like most theaters. The photo area was great, and uniquely designed. The photo walls fold in when they are not in use, which was great since it was located in the major walkway. Skywalkers Nightclub was awesome. Located 18 decks up, you have to take a walkway to get there. It would have been better if there was more than 10 people there at any one time during the cruise. ENTERTAINMENT I was very impressed with the 2 production shows. The cruise staff was friendly and hosted a few activities, but not as many as I am used to. I did not get to see a few entertainers that I wanted to since the shows were scheduled at the same time as the entertainers. The only reason I can imagine Princess doing this is because the theater could not hold half of the guests on the ship. If they schedule two things at once, you have to chose which you want, but they would not run out of seats (like they did for the early seating of the first show). The casino was a lot of fun. The machines were not too bad, and the tables offered pretty standard odds for a ship. The staff made the casino the place to be most of the time for the under 50 crowd. PRICES The beverage prices aboard were about average, and a little lower than Carnival. Beer and cocktails ranged from $3.50-$9. The soda card, which gives unlimited fountain sodas for the entire cruise was $27. Carnival charges $42. Princess does not offer a free can of soda at dinner like Carnival and Royal Caribbean. The duty free shops prices were about average as well. Alcohol and cigarettes were very inexpensive, and logo wear was about average. They did have a 50% off sale on Canada/New England merchandise. Watches and other items were a little bit high, but they offered good discounts if you bought multiple items of the same brand. Photos were about 30% less than Carnival($21.95 for an 8x10), and they offered an additional free photo if you purchased 5. Internet access was $.50 per minute with no connection fee. DISEMBARKATION Princess now offers the option to carry your own luggage off the ship. If you choose this option, you are called first to disembark. We chose this option since it worked out so well on Carnival. We were told they would start disembarkation at about 8:30. We went down to the dining room for breakfast at 7:30 and as we walked out of the elevator, they made the first call. We still went to breakfast and were able to walk off after. It was rather difficult to walk off the ship since they allowed everybody to gang up and wait near the exit. Try walking off with 2 suitcases through a crowd! Then they had you walk like a half a mile through everyone elses luggage to customs. They could have done the process better, but I'm sure it was much quicker than the alternative. OTHER IMPRESSIONS This cruise was definitely targeted to an over 50 crowd. As a matter of fact, there were fewer than 20 people under 50 from what I saw. Activities were targeted to that same age group too. One night, the show choices were limited to a (poor) motown show, a classical concert, or the terrible lounge singer. To his defense, I don't think I have ever heard a good lounge singer on a ship. The ship was practically a ghost town after 10PM, and everything was geared toward early risers-not good at all for night owls. There were several things that could be really annoying to a seasoned cruiser. First and foremost the layout of the ship. On the public decks (except deck 7), you could not walk the entire length of the ship without walking up or down to another deck. To get to the main dining room, you had to take the stairs from above or below. The outdoor decks were no exception. To get to the front of the ship on one of the high decks, you had to walk at least 3 different flights of stairs and you could not walk 100 feet without changing decks. What a poor design! I'm sure this is what led to the long waits for the elevators too. No matter where you were, a 5 minute wait for an elevator was not unusual. Also, our cabin was on deck 8 which is pretty high up, but that did not make a difference with the thrusters as we pulled into ports. On 3 different mornings, I awoke to the ground shaking heavily at about 5AM. It was not your typical vibration, and not what you would expect on deck 8. Another very frustrating thing was the lack of ways to review your shipboard account. Carnival has access to your folio on your in cabin TV. On Princess, you have to go to the Purser's desk to check your charges. I booked directly with Princess and had several problems with my cruise documents. Since I booked the cruise, I relocated, but my original set of documents were sent to my old address due to a Princess error. I received a call from the delivery company saying they had my documents for delivery to my old address. After speaking with Princess, they agreed to send the documents again. They sent them to my old address for a second time. Finally, two weeks before sailing, I received 3 sets of documents. OVERALL EXPERIENCE After working for Princess, I was very excited to finally sail on one of their ships. Ultimately, I was extremely disappointed in the whole cruise. I'm sure the itinerary was the primary reason for the older crowd, but those under 40 will feel out of place. I know Princess offers a better product than the experience we had, but I don't think I will sail on another Princess cruise to find out. I think I will stick with Carnival or Royal Caribbean from now on. Star Princess Canada/New England 10/28/2006 Carnival Miracle W. Caribbean 10/15/2006 Navigator of the Seas E. Caribbean 2004 Explorer of the Seas W. Caribbean 2002 Norway W. Caribbean 2003 Carnival Destiny E. Caribbean 2000 Legend of the Seas Alaska 1998 Legend of the Seas Alaska 1996 Ecstasy Caribbean 1995 Ecstasy Caribbean 1993 Read Less
Sail Date October 2006
We are from MA so we took Amtrak to New York. When we left it was raining and a little windy. So we were surprised when we arrived in NY to see the sun, but it didn't last long! As soon as we got out of the limo the sky opened up and ... Read More
We are from MA so we took Amtrak to New York. When we left it was raining and a little windy. So we were surprised when we arrived in NY to see the sun, but it didn't last long! As soon as we got out of the limo the sky opened up and it got worse from there. While waiting in line for our embarkation photo we turned around and there was Brian and Sue from the cruise critic's roll call board...nice surprise. They are both lovely and fun loving people from Texas. We had the pleasure of their company several times for drinks and dinner. We had also met a couple on the cruise roll call board who happen to live just a 30 minute drive from us! They are Pandora and Dennis who is a lovely couple that also dined with us on several occasions. We all met at the Wheelhouse bar on Sunday at 1:30 for a meet and greet. It was so nice to meet everyone and put faces to the people we have been chatting with on the boards. It certainly made our cruise even more fun than we expected having such nice people to share it with. We didn't depart from NY until sometime after 7PM and it was very very windy and hard to stay on deck. We also heard that they were announcing on the news that the conditions we were heading into were being called "The Perfect Storm". Great I said to myself...I saw that movie! It was certainly a lot of rocking and rolling for three days! When you saw the barf bags laid out all over the ship you knew it wasn't going to be pretty! LOL Hubby and I did fine although we did get a tad queasy by the second night. Ginger ale or two later and we were fine. We arrived in Halifax and it was 43 degrees with winds gusts up to about 40 MPH so it was quite cold. We went on our own and walked along Water Street which was a nice walk with lots of little shops and a casino at the end of the pier! Yes we did go in and make a donation! lol The hubby was happy because they had a Tom Horton on the waterfront and he finally got to sample their coffee and donuts! We found that the locals were all very friendly and courteous which was nice to see. When we arrived in St. Johns the people from Halifax were very hospitable and the ladies received a rose and the men a pin. They had two huge tents set up off the ship. One was for getting transportation and the other one had lots of local shop people selling anything from food to clothing. Prices were great at most places as they were all 50% off and better! They had a shop just a block from the ship that was selling fleece jackets down to $10.00 and great tee shirts marked down to $5.00! So it was very nice for shoppers that we were the last ship coming into port...we got all the bargains! Finally smooth seas tonight and all had a better nights sleep! Bar Harbor was beautiful and again we went off on our own. There were lots of shops and again many bargains to be had. Hubby got sunglasses for $3.00 and they had awesome deals at the wine shop. In fact Dennis and Pandora bought a large bottle of their Merlot and we all got to try it at dinner! Thanks again guys for sharing! I have a family member who lives on Deer Isle in ME and she came down to greet us when we got off the ship so that made our trip even more special. Hubby and I had a great meal at Galdas which is next to Getty's on Main Street. Hubby had a wonderful scallop meal and I had one of the best Ruebens! Yup...I'm a New Englander who does not like seafood! Tendering in Bar Harbor went very smooth and it is a short tender ride to shore. Weather wise this was the best day of the cruise! It was in the high 50's and very sunny and it seemed everyone was happy today. When we arrived in Boston it was raining but it didn't rain for long. It was however very cold and windy! We took the shuttle that Princess had set up to go to Quincy Market. It was very convenient and the cost was $12.00 per adult for a round trip ticket. Well worth it as it would have been a very long walk! Children's fee was cheaper but I don't remember the price. The market was full of food and wonderful smells and very crowded. We had wanted to walk to the North End to see all the Italian restaurants and perhaps sample just a wee bit of the Italian pastries but between the cold and the distance I had to give up and took the shuttle back to the ship. We spent the rest of the day relaxing on board and of course eating, drinking, talking, and laughing so it was still fun. It's not like we can't go to Boston since we live only 80 miles away! Heck we could have driven home dropped off some laundry and gone back to the ship with plenty of time to spare! LOL One of the highlights of this evening was being dealt a Straight Flush while I was playing three card poker! I was so excited I shouted out to my table members hey I have a straight flush, which the dealer then proceeded to scold me for having spoke out loud what I had for a hand. I was not happy nor were the other players and we all went silent, but the dealer lost out in the end because I did not give her a tip! Never had this happen in any casino where you play three card poker as you are not playing your cards against anyone and there is no way to strategize. Good thing is is that she was one of only two rude staff, the rest were great. Newport, well we've both been here before but got to see it from a different advantage being aboard the ship. Lot's of nice photo opportunities. We opted not to get off and slept in a little later and had a great breakfast in the Capri dining room. We then walked all the way to the back of the ship and discovered the ping pong table. I beat the hubby big time the first game but he got me the second round. Had to let him win or would have had to play a third round and I was already getting winded!!! LOL Show's we are getting old, he was just as pooped as I was! There was a beautiful sunset this evening and I got to capture it all before we departed. Now as for the ship itself, it was a beautiful ship and well maintained and was kept clean. Our cabin steward Inencencio was great and attentive and it was nice to chat with him about himself and his homeland. He always made sure we had fresh Ice, that he put 4 towels in the room everyday. When we first boarded I asked for the egg crate for the bed and robes and they were delivered in less than five minutes. NO complaints what so ever about him or our cabin...well maybe they could make the bathrooms a tad bigger! lol We chose anytime dining this cruise. We normally due traditional but wanted to see what this was like. It worked out very well for us and we never had a wait whether it was just the hubby and I or the six of us. We were leery about the food because we heard negative reviews from previous cruisers on the Star. But the food was very good and had lots of flavor. As always Princess still has the best bread and pastry chef as they were all as wonderful as we remembered them. I usually do not like the Horizon Buffet so I was pleasantly surprised to find many very good dishes there. Sure sometimes by the time you fill your plate or find a seat some of the food is not as hot, but they certainly had a good variety of food and attentive staff. They also served ice cream and sundaes daily so I don't know what all the fuss is about over the ice cream. It is also served at lunch and dinner in the dining rooms. I personally don't care about the charge for Hagan Daz and if I really wanted it I'd pay for it. We didn't see that much ice cream being eaten anyway as it was pretty cold and not like being in the Caribbean. Being on the cruise during Halloween was a lot of fun. We got to see many staff members and waiters dressed up in some great costumes. The crew did an awesome presentation in the lobby with Halloween cakes and lots of different pumpkin carvings. Hubby and I both thought it was a very good cruise with a very good Itinerary. Hubby's favorite port of call was Bar Harbor. I liked both Canada and Bar Harbor. The one thing I believe Princess needs improvement on is their entertainment and shows. They were much better when we first started cruising with Princess. The newlywed game had far more laughs and entertainment then their comedy acts did from what I heard. We did see the newlywed game and about ten minutes of the banjo player other than that we stayed away form the shows because everyone was not giving them good reviews. We had more fun with our new friends and in the casino. Speaking of the casino&.on my other cruises we would see a slot hit a few times on the first night but then they would tighten up the rest of the cruise. Well not that way at all this cruise! I've never seen so many people winning at a casino in my life! The five dollar machines especially! People were winning from $1500.00 all the way up to $40,000.00! I hit a straight flush twice and the hubby hit for $1600.00 on a slot! Maybe the cruise lines are loosening up their slots a little finally or it was just a fluke either way it was fun and rewarding for us! We did not do formal nights this cruise as we decided ahead of time it would be a relaxing cruise and no fussing. So the only time we had any interactions with the photographers was when we first got on board and getting off in the ports. Of course the one photo I liked they had somehow forgotten to make a print of it but they did find it on their computer and had a copy by the last day. I tried to purchase the DVD of our cruise after seeing how good it was as they broadcasted it on the TV the last night. Problem was they said they couldn't take anything but cash the last day so I went to my cabin to get it and when I got back they said they were all sold out! Hopefully someone will have a copy and can purchase a copy of their copy from them. The shops on the ship were the usual with different specials each day. They did have a great deal on all the Canada/New England gear and we bought two very nice fleece jackets for half price. I used the spa once when they had a two for $89.00 special. You got to choose from about six different things and I chose a 25 min massage and a 25 minute foot massage. Jennifer who was from Ireland was great and helped decrease my neck and shoulder pain by about 90%! And it lasted for days so I was impressed. She did not do a hard sell of their product line either which was nice for a change. As for most of their services, unless you get a special I feel they are way over priced. They charge double for everything they do compared to what I pay at home spas. As for their thermal suite or thermal treatment package, they tell you they only sell it to 40 passengers so it is not crowded and you get such individual use and all but, when Jennifer showed me the rooms there are only six stone lounge chairs for those 40 people. Not such a good bargain in my humble opinion. The only hot tubs that were not lukewarm were the two by the spa which they said were out of service due to the rough seas so I never got to use any of the hot tubs as lukewarm water will not relax muscle spasms. We once again took advantage of future cruise booking that Princess offers. We did not select a cruise yet but it is such a good deal all around to do a pre booking. We will be anxiously awaiting our next cruise and be keeping an eye out for another good deal as we both feel cruising is the best way to vacation. As for embarkation and disembarkation in NY, both went very quickly and smoothly for us. We found going to NY by Amtrak a great way to travel there and that Dial 7 Limo made the trip from Penn Station to the Pier, comfortable and easy. We will be looking for future cruises out of NY with no hesitation. As for all the wonderful people we met at the meet and greet I hope you had a safe trip home and we hope to see you all again&.soon! Happy cruising to all and I hope you found this review enjoyable and not too boring! Read Less
Sail Date October 2006
L*O*N*G Review of Star Princess Canada/N.E. Cruise 10/7 - 10/14, 2006 As way of introduction, I sailed with my husband, his brother, and his wife. We are all in our 50s. This was our 4th cruise and the brother's second. We have ... Read More
L*O*N*G Review of Star Princess Canada/N.E. Cruise 10/7 - 10/14, 2006 As way of introduction, I sailed with my husband, his brother, and his wife. We are all in our 50s. This was our 4th cruise and the brother's second. We have cruised with Carnival and Celebrity before. This was our first Princess cruise as well as our first cool weather cruise. We drove to Brooklyn from Frederick, Maryland, a 4.5 hour trip. The pier's website has good driving directions, and we had no trouble finding the pier or with parking. Be prepared when you leave the ship. You must pay for parking before exiting the lot. You can pay before you leave the terminal (just have your parking stub with you), or you can pay when you get to the parking lot (you'll have to go to your car to retrieve your parking stub). The machines take Visa and cash (maybe Master Card). But they do not take Discover card, a shock for me. Fortunately, I had the $128 in cash. Halfway through the trip, my mother-in-law grew critically ill, and the brothers plus the other wife left the ship in Bar Harbor and flew to Houston. Since our car was in NYC, I stayed on the ship. Princess was very accommodating with placing phone calls for us and getting us on the first tender to Bar Harbor. But I can tell you cruising alone is not much fun. DH's mother passed away Sunday night, but he was able to talk to her briefly the night he flew in. General Impressions - We found Princess to be sedate. This, no doubt, owed to the type of cruise. Of the over 2,000 passengers, only 45 children and 5 teens were on board (understandably), and the majority of the cruisers were over 50. The wait staff was also reserved. Certainly, Carnival is a fun ship, but Celebrity also spiced up the dining experience with, for instance, magic tricks at the table. I am not advocating a wild, party atmosphere, but a fun evening of crazy karaoke would have been nice as would the traditional feast-for-the-eyes midnight buffet! I did, however, enjoy the lack of speaker announcements and lack of photographers everywhere you turned. Embarkation - This started off so smoothly. Long lines went quickly, and we were checked in by 12:30. Then the wait began. Someone said the Coast Guard was still inspecting, but I don't know how accurate that was. We were given a number to board (never had that happen before), and we waited and waited and waited. Crowds amassed when their number was called, making embarkation seem more like a cattle call. We did not get on board until after 2pm. Dining Room - We opted for traditional, early seating dining. We were not at all disappointed in the food. Excellent variety, and I especially appreciated how the menu included appetizers and main dishes that were always available (a shrimp cocktail, for instance, and broiled salmon). King crab legs were my favorite. The lobster, served as twin tails, was very good. Meat lovers and vegetarians alike will be satisfied. Desserts were so-so. Our waiter was definitely a perfectionist and attentive to our needs, but he was not very personable. Nor was our asst waiter. That is fine; it was just a marked contrast to our other 3 cruises. It's a small detail, but it wasn't until halfway through the cruise that the asst waiter automatically brought iced tea to all of us, and that is all we 4 had been drinking. We routinely had to request iced tea refills. Whereas Carnival serves complimentary cappuccino and espresso after dinner, you will pay $2 here. The Horizon Court had excellent variety for all meals. It is open 24/7. I never did see any chocolate-dipped strawberries, although these boards had led me to expect them late night. I heard about the free ice cream about 3pm, but I never did go. Otherwise, expect to pay for ice cream. There is no soft serve. The Horizon has two serving and seating areas, so we never felt crowded. At the entrance to the buffet is a hand sanitizer - thoughtful touch. Here the wait staff were very attentive. Set apart from the buffet are counters for hamburgers (avoid the veggie burger!!) and hot dogs or pizza (very good). We ate breakfast only once in the dining room - I recommend that for the last day of your cruise. It is more relaxed there rather than fighting for a spot in the buffet. The passengers dressed nicely. On formal nights, probably 20% of the men had tuxedos (we noticed because my husband wore one). Entertainment - The Star outdid herself. Frequently, I found interesting venues conflicting with each other, so we had to choose. That meant one night missing out on the banjo player. I think we opted for the comedian instead; maybe it was the magician. Don't!! Evidently, the banjo player was amazing. The magician was good. The Las Vegas-style shows were hit and miss. Some entertaining, others so-so. The comedians were fine, nothing special. The Elton John impersonator is excellent. Recent movies, such as The Devil Wears Prada, Da Vinci Code, Cars, Click, and Over the Hedge were shown in the large theater. Definitely attend the line dancing and ballroom dancing classes; the instructors are very good, Adrian especially. Did not attend the trivia shows; the Newlywed show was what you'd expect if you've been on any cruises, with any cruise line. The cruise director and his assistants are all high energy. The cruise director's early morning show on the stateroom TV is informative. This ship has so many pools, including several hot tubs!! One is under a retractable roof, and all have fresh water. While they were never packed, I saw people using the pools and tubs. Stateroom - This is the first time we have sailed without our two children (now 18 and 21) in the room, so we felt like we had an enormous amount of space. We had an inside room, figuring with the sun setting early, only one day at sea, and the cooler temps, an outside room and/or a balcony would be unappreciated. The room was spacious, with a long closet, plenty of drawers and storage space, and a well-arranged bathroom. Shampoo, conditioner, and lotion are provided, as is a hair dryer (I never tried it). Our mattress was not very comfortable, but upon request, we got an egg crate the next day. We had requested a feather pillow and bath robes via the website and a phone call. Those were not in the room, but the steward took care of that. He was attentive and most unobtrusive. Tips - We left the $10/day charge on our bill. Our understanding was that even if we removed them and opted to pay in cash, the cash tips would be distributed amongst the various employees anyway. While service was good, we did not feel we received any special service to warrant additional tips. Weather - We were blessed with lovely weather. The only rain we had was overnight before Boston, Boston was the warmest port; it got to sunny and 75 that day. Dress in layers. In the mornings, if we were walking, I needed gloves and ear muffs. But with a backpack, you can take off layers as you need. Leaves: This, of course, was our motivation for the trip. We left Oct. 7, and we pretty much missed the leaves in Canada. Leaves were just about peak in Bar Harbor, the best place for that to happen (Acadia Nat'l Park). Leaves were just starting to turn in Boston and Newport. I saw gorgeous scenery along the N.J. Turnpike coming home! Day at Sea - Princess packed the day with activities: line dance lessons, a very basic digital photography class, a scavenger hunt, ballroom dance lessons, Passenger Feud, an art auction, a movie, the Captain's Welcome Aboard party, and a show or two that night. Every night, you could find music to your liking in the various lounges. Halifax - We arrived an hour early, so the town crier and bagpipers were not ready for us. But do plan to be on deck if your ship gets in at the scheduled time. We had reserved a rental car with Avis ($50 Canadian), and we called from the visitor booth in the terminal once we got off the ship. They picked us up. (Oct. 9 was Canada's Thanksgiving, so the rental agencies at the terminal were closed.) We drove to Peggy's Cove, saving a considerable amount off the ship's tour as well as off private tours. Granted, we did not learn the history of the area, as we would have with a guide, but we could also take our own time. Two ships were in port, so we had plenty of company at the lighthouse. It is beautiful, and the waves crashing along the shore make for great pictures. We had intended to continue our drive to Mahone Bay, but - holiday or not - there was road construction, and we experienced several delays before we finally decided to turn around and go back to town. We parked near the Public Gardens and walked around there. I am sure the gardens are lovelier in the spring. After we turned in the car, it was an easy walk through town to the boardwalk. Don't miss the Freaky Lunchbox Candy Store. Unfortunately, it was closed for the holiday, but we could peak inside. We walked to and had lunch at the Harborplace Market. I would recommend Cap't John if you want seafood, but several other eateries are in here. We walked the boardwalk - more places to eat, plus some (but not much) shopping. Saint John - We also rented a car here, but we could walk to Avis ($54 Canadian). After you get off the ship, volunteers present the ladies with a long-stemmed rose and the men with a lapel pin. The volunteers in the tent are friendly and very informative. We had checked tide schedules ahead of time so we could see Fundy Bay at low tide and then at high tide. It is pretty amazing. Some people were on a jet boat, but it was noisy, and it looked cold and wet to me!! From the Reversing Falls in the morning, we drove to Irving Nature Park (20 minutes), as we wanted to hike. This is a beautiful place, and we picked up trail maps outside the ship's pier. You could spend the whole day hiking, but we found a two-hour trail that took us along the water and through the woods. I highly recommend this park. We came back into town, parked in a public lot, and went to the Old City Market to eat. I was anxious to try a lobster roll. I did; it was good. But when I had one in Bar Harbor the next day, I knew I had not really had a lobster roll! We then returned to the Reversing Falls, turned in the car, and walked the city (very doable). The Barbour General Store is free and interesting - a museum now, it had once been a general store. Bar Harbor - This is a tender port, but since my family had to catch a plane home, we were given priority. Otherwise, expect a long line for a tender ticket (unless you have a ship's tour). We had reserved a tour of Acadia with the national park ($25). We missed the free shuttle that goes around Acadia; it shut down for the winter 2 days earlier. We were warned that the traffic through Acadia would be congested and not to hassle with a private car. Well, I wish we had. The roads were just fine. And taking a bus tour is a frustrating way to see Acadia. We had only 3 stops, which meant bypassing scores of other gorgeous scenery and vistas. With a car, you could stop whenever and for however long you want. With the almost-peak leaves, Acadia was stunning, and I hated seeing it so quickly (2.5 hour tour). But since I ended up alone in this port, I was glad - after all - we had not reserved a car. But I strongly recommend against the Oli's Trolley or Acadia Tours. Not to disparage the guides, for they are so knowledgeable, but that doesn't make up for the fast pace. And, yes, I understand why it has to be done this way; I am just disappointed to not have seen more and seen it more leisurely. Ideally, rent a car, and spend some time hiking. Or investigate At Your Service taxi; they probably would be as leisurely as you like. After the tour, I walked around, on the prowl for a lobster roll. Not wanting to spend $15 near the dock, I ended up at the Chowder House on Cottage St (thanks to someone on this board!). My $10 lobster roll had to have 1/4 lb. of lobster chunks. It was amazing and so delicious. After eating, I walked the Shore Trail which skirts the water's edge. Then it cuts back into town and through the city streets. You'll enjoy the scenery, the water, the view of your ship, and then you'll end up with the massive crowds in all the tiny shops!! Boston - The terminal is, unfortunately, far from the heart of Boston. I heard someone say getting into town was a 15-minute walk; I do not know. I took the ship's $12/rt shuttle to Quincy Market. I talked to a couple who opted for public transportation and were very pleased with the bus. I walked and walked the Freedom Trail, preferring my own pace, so I did not join a tour. I had a pamphlet guide of my own although I am sure I would have learned a lot from a guide. Still, I wanted to see all the Trail. I walked from Quincy Market to the old State House, hoping to get in on the 1st come-1st served free tour. On the week days, though, that departs only at 2pm. So I headed to the beginning of the Trail (Boston Common) and walked it all to the Bunker Hill monument. With a good guide in hand, you can learn enough about what you are seeing. I paid the $3 entrance fee to tour Paul Revere's house. The line was too long to tour the Constitution, and after walking uphill to the Bunker Hill monument, I discovered it was closed for renovation. So, with the Hard Rock Cafe as a goal (I have pin collectors in my family), I retraced my steps along the Freedom Trail to its beginning again - and beyond. I spent some time in the Public Gardens. Do not miss them. So very beautiful. Halfway along the Trail, at Quincy's Market, you can be overwhelmed at the dining choices and stores. Newport - We arrived several hours late. The Captain told us the night before we were heading into pilot whale breeding grounds, and since he and Princess were committed to preserving the environment, we would be going slowly . . . as in 4 hours late slowly. Approaching Newport, the ship's generator faltered (9:30am, and people could not get coffee, hot water, or tea - yikes!!) and then stopped. Lights out. Ship at a standstill. After an hour, I think, we were on our way again. Obviously, many, many tours were cancelled. I had hoped to tour a mansion and walk the Cliff Walk. I could only do one and chose to hike. This is also a tender port. I did not rush for a ticket. After the 4 tenders left for the first run, then I went for a ticket. The ride to Newport is 20-25 minutes. The Cliff Walk skirts the ocean, giving vistas of many of the mansions. It is quite a walk to the beginning of the Cliff Walk (20-30 minutes at a good clip). I learned later of the trolley! I believe it is $6 for on/off privileges for the day. The Cliff Walk is easy at the beginning and then gets a little challenging, but it is very doable. Exits appear along the way (you'll walk along city streets to get back into town) if you get tired and don't want to complete the 3 miles, or you can backtrack. Suggestion: take the trolley to and from the Cliff Walk if time is at a premium. Shops are everywhere near the pier. Since we had such little time here, the line to get a tender back was enormously long (an hours wait). I wish I could have seen one of the mansions. They looked amazing. Debarkation - You're issued colored luggage tags, and passengers depart accordingly. Unfortunately, I was in the very last group to leave; I was in my car at 12:15, and they had started getting passengers off by 8:30. I don't know how many passengers opted to take their own luggage off, but it is nice that is offered. They may even be the first color called, which would be nice, but again, I am not sure about that. I recommend this port-intensive cruise, and I am happy we tried Princess. If you're still reading by now, I'll be happy to answer any questions you might have. Read Less
Sail Date October 2006
This was my 7th Princess (4th Grand Class) and 12 overall cruise. I have sailed with RCL, Celebrity and Disney as well as Princess over the past several years. We arrived in New York on Friday and meet the Princess rep (Debbie). She was ... Read More
This was my 7th Princess (4th Grand Class) and 12 overall cruise. I have sailed with RCL, Celebrity and Disney as well as Princess over the past several years. We arrived in New York on Friday and meet the Princess rep (Debbie). She was fantastic, fun, friendly full of life, just great. Since NW changed our flight she thought we were not coming, but made arrangements for us once we got there. We had a slight wait at LGA, but we were on our way to the Brooklyn Bridge Marriott soon enough. The transfers and precruise package was great. The hotel was very nice and near the port, but I would have rather stayed in Manhattan. Embarkation: We were (wife and father in-law and I) pick up at the hotel around 11:30, and on the ship by 12:15. No one was in line, we just walked up, checked in and headed to our suite (we were upgraded from a mini-suite to a penthouse suite. .THANK YOU PRINCESS!). Room: What can I say, it was wonderful, especially with 3 adults. The bathroom was huge and included a whirlpool tub. Treats and the wet bar were set up and waiting for us. The balcony was partially covered and was just huge. Larger then the Sky Suite on Celebrity and nicer in my opinion. Bedding was comfortable, loved the new linens, but the mattress was just okay. The room was in great shape except the grout on the tile of the shower floor was coming up. The worked on it the entire time and it kept getting better, but never was 100% fixed. William our room steward was fantastic. We took advantage of the free laundry service twice and they did a fantastic job, same day, very nicely done. We actually had most of our clothes clean the day before we left so no laundry when we got home! Public Rooms: Star Princess is in great shape. We were inside a lot and used all the public rooms at least once. Everything was in working order, clean, polished and well kept. I noticed once slightly worn carpet edge in a very busy hallway, but was surprised it was as in that good of shape considering the traffic. As with most of our Princess Cruises, we used the Lotus Spa, Horizon Court, Wheelhouse Lounge, Princess Theatre, Vista Showlounge, Amafli Dinning Room and Skywalker on a regular basis. All were well staffed, well maintained and run. Food: The food was over all good. I found the food in the Horizon Court better then normal for Princess and the Dinning Room, just good. We ate lunch in the Portofino dinging room and it was the best meal of the trip. Room service was used a lot for breakfast and my only complaint was that the eggs would always be cool. Would highly recommend the Chocolate Marquis for dessert on the lunch menu. WOW it was the best dessert I have ever had on Princess. Entertainment: The trio's in the Wheelhouse lounge and the group in the atrium lounge were very good. The cruise staff was good, but we change cruise directors in St. John's which was weird and we never saw either very much because of that. The Movie Musical number in the Princess Theatre was okay, and I heard that the Motown review was okay as well, but generally speaking my high school put on better performances. If there is one area that Carnival could interfere with Princess it would be the production shows. They are fair at best. Piano Man still was the best on the Caribbean last year. The comic should be fired, he was awful. His 20 minute show terrible and then his hour long show (which the staff kept telling us would be much better) was worse. People were actually complaining to the captain about it. Overall, the now production shows , trios and bands, trivia and bingo were fun as always. Just do something about those so called singers and dancers. . YUCK! Service: In one word. . OUTSTANDING. Great job to the entire crew. Besides our room steward, waiter and jr waiter, Ronald a bar waiter in the Wheelhouse lounge had our drinks ready for us every night before dinner. Never need my cruise card after the first night and remembered us by name. FANTASTIC!!!! Spa: Stiener has calmed down the sales pitch and if you tell them up front your not interest in products they won't even start. Hot Stone massage was wonderful. Ports of Call: NewPort RI - we did the walking tour of town and some exploring on our own. Would recommend the tour if you like history or don't care about mansions. Boston MA - The only all day tour we took going to the historic sites of Boston, Harvard, Lexington and Concord. Our tour guide was fantastic. The tour also included lunch (best claim chowder I a have had in years). If you like history (or even if you don't ) and have never been to Boston before I highly recommend this tour. Just great! Bar Harbor ME - We walked Arcadia National forest in the rain (YUCK). Be in good shape, the trail is uneven and lot of leafs hiding roots and holes along the way. Beautiful walk even in the bad weather. Cadillac Mountain was foggy and couldn't see a thing, did clear up in the afternoon, so that maybe a better time to go up there. The town is full a great little shops. Found some nice local art and since it was late in the season everything was 50% off! St. John's NB Canada - If you like pubs and local shopping just go out on your own. Our tour of the "Moosehead Brewery" was a drive by and we later went to a pub for a free drink. Saw the reversing rapids too (whoopee). Our guide was okay and I was for the first time disappoint with a Princess tour. Take my advice and get a good map and enjoy this wonderful town and it's history on your own. Halifax, NS Canada - We by passed Halifax for Peggy's Cove. Okay, now I was disappointed twice in a Princess tour. Long bus ride to see a small fishing village (aka tourist trap). The drive was nice, but exploring Halifax on your own is much better. FRED is a free bus system that picks you up at the port and lets you off at the highlights of town. Don't bother with the Plaid Place, it's over hyped and full of (sorry) crap. The crystal is worth seeing. Again, get a good book and tour Halifax on your own. Coming Home: Last day at sea was great, was very glad our itinerary was backwards, much more enjoyable in my opinion. Disembarkation was slow due to the high winds and sea conditions in NY. Messages from the Pursers office kept us informed. We were toward the end of the list and got off about 10:45. We had 4 tugs and the full force of the bow / aft thrusters keeping us in place. Very rough. Got luggage, went through customs, got on our bus and made it to the airport by 11:45 and through security by noon for our 1:30 flight. Summary: Overall, it was a great trip. Service and ship were outstanding. Activities and food were what you expect from Princess. Entertainment except for the production shows were good. Production shows not worth the wait or the time (help us here Carnival. . PLEASE). While an older crowd (over 60 for the most part) a good number of 30-50 year olds keep it alive (myself included). Put down our deposit for the next trip and hopefully we can get a tan this time. If you have any questions, please feel free to e-mail me. Enjoy the Star Princess. . we sure did. ksuboy88@yahoo.com Read Less
Sail Date October 2006
Star Princess Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabin 4.0 N/A
Dining 4.0 3.9
Entertainment 3.0 3.7
Public Rooms 4.0 4.2
Fitness & Recreation 4.0 N/A
Family 4.0 3.8
Shore Excursions 4.0 N/A
Enrichment Activities 4.0 N/A
Service 4.0 4.2
Value for Money 4.0 N/A

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