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7 Princess Pacific Princess Cruise Reviews for Family Cruises to Europe - Eastern Mediterranean

We chose this cruise as it was a small ship (660 passengers), was visiting places we wanted to see, and was when we were in Europe visiting other countries. Firstly our cabin was obviously designed for twin beds but the turned it into a ... Read More
We chose this cruise as it was a small ship (660 passengers), was visiting places we wanted to see, and was when we were in Europe visiting other countries. Firstly our cabin was obviously designed for twin beds but the turned it into a double. What this meant was that when your pillow was in the wrong position it hit the light switch and turned all the cabin lights on. This happened several times over the 12 days. Also we were on the 4th floor above the gangway on the 3rd floor, every time we docked we were awoken by banging, crashing, and even one morning by an angle grinder as they prepared for disembarkation in port. One excursion we got absolutely soaked getting from the ship to the bus and had to sit for seven hours in wet squelchy clothes- not good. As it was a small ship you had only one choice of entertainment each night and it was hit and miss as to quality. The acoustics in the dining room were so noisy that my poor father, who wears hearing aids, couldn’t have them turned on so missed out on conversations in the end we had buffet dinners. Also when did you go to a fine dining restaurant and have Purcel squirted into your hands as you entered??? No free bottled water??? Even on the trains in Europe you get a free bottle of water, also free in every hotel - no Princess wanted USD $7 for a bottle of water !!! We have decided that as a family we are never going on a cruise again Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
We have cruised frequently but this was the first time on a smaller ship. We were on the Pacific Princess and we loved it! The ship was intimate and luxurious in an understated way. We had cabin 327 (ocean view porthole) and we found our ... Read More
We have cruised frequently but this was the first time on a smaller ship. We were on the Pacific Princess and we loved it! The ship was intimate and luxurious in an understated way. We had cabin 327 (ocean view porthole) and we found our cabin very comfortable. We liked the ease with which you can move around a smaller ship and how uncrowded it felt. The only drawback was the lounge where the entertainment was held. It was hard to see because of the lack of slant. The best kept secret was the lovely lounge on the 10th floor forward. It had very few passengers in it and was a great place to meet friends and play games. We flew into Rome early and utilitized Romecabs (www.stefanorometours.com). They were great - they picked us up at the airport and delivered us to our hotel. The next day they drove the group of 5 of us to Tivoli for Hadrian's Villa and Villa d'Este. The fountains at the Villa d'Este are spectacular and well worth visiting. The following day, they picked us up and delivered us to the port. The drivers were all excellent, timely, and knowledgeable. I highly recommend the use of this company. They were also reasonably priced. Our first port was Sorrento. We independently took a ferry over to Capri which is a lovely island. We enjoyed taking a taxi to Anacapri and taking the gondola up to the top of the mountain for the view. After taking the ferry back, we enjoyed walking around Sorrento for a brief time and wished we had spent a little more time enjoying Sorrento. After 2 days at sea, our next port was Istanbul. I had made arrangements with Daily Istanbul Tours (www.dailyistanbultours.com) for a private tour for each day that we were there. On the first day, we visited the Hippodrome (too much detail from the guide - should have been 10 min at most, guide spent about 45 min), Blue Mosque, Hagia Sofia, Topkapi Palace, had lunch at a great place, Underground Cistern, and Grand Bazaar. Our guide was very nice and very knowledgeable but not flexible and was on his own agenda. We would have liked to have spent more time at the Grand Bazaar. The next day we requested specifically to see the Dolmabahce Palace and it was worth every minute. This is the most spectacular palace we have visted ever (beats Versaille). It is absolutely amazing that this is not on every tour of Istanbul. We think it is because the Turkish government is embarrassed of it as the building of it bankrupted Turkey and created the fall of the Ottoman Empire. Anyway, the rooms are opulent, full of the original furniture and the Grand Ballroom literally took our breath away. They don't allow pictures and I tried to buy a picture in the gift shop but there was no representation of it worth buying. After the Palace, we did a tour of the Bosphorus (if you are doing the Black Sea, don't bother as you will see the exact same thing from the ship). We then went to the Egyptian Spice Bazaar. This is great. We wanted to go back to the Grand Bazaar but our guide drug his feet so we didn't get to go. Unless you want a lot of commentary, I would say go to the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sofia, & Topkapi on your own. They are all close together (easily walked). I think this place would be relatively easy to do independently as long as you are comfortable taking a cab. But don't miss that Dolmabahce Palace whatever you do.Our next port was Nessebar - very easily walked. Not much to do but a pleasant historical section, lots of shops, and lots of very attractive restaurants. Costanta, Romania was a complete waste - very broken country with infrastructure breakdown. The Peter and Paul Cathedral was beautiful. We elected to not take the ship excursion to Bucharest because of the long bus ride but we wished we had. Odessa was a lovely city - lots of greenery. We used Odessawalks@gmail.com for a guided tour and had a very pleasant, knowledgeable guide. We had an excellent lunch in a nice restaurant and we paid extra for a tour of the Opera House which was worth it. We used this same company for our guided tour in Yalta and had a great guide and a wonderful tour which included the Orthodox church, a view of the Swallow's Nest, tour of Vorontsov Palace, tour of Livadia, and an outside walk around the grounds of the Massandra Palace. Our guide was able to get us in and out of these places efficiently. Volos was wonderful for seeing the Meteora Monasteries - We used info@taxiinvolos.gr and they were great. The Meteora Monasteries are well worth seeing. We then ended our cruise in Athens. We had arranged for athenstourgreece.com to pick us up at the port, give us a tour of Athens, and drop us at the airport to catch our flight for Santorini. They were great and it all worked out well. We thoroughly enjoyed our weekend in Santorini before flying home. I hope these links are helpful to you. A review like this would have saved me hours of time! Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
Pros,We loved the size of this boat, big enough to have a selection of everything on larger ships (entertainment, fitness etc.), great back deck, and much easier to move around ship and meet people.We loved the itinerary, Israel and Egypt ... Read More
Pros,We loved the size of this boat, big enough to have a selection of everything on larger ships (entertainment, fitness etc.), great back deck, and much easier to move around ship and meet people.We loved the itinerary, Israel and Egypt were the highlights, nice amount of relaxing sea days, food was good.Food and beverage and stateroom staff were very good. Security was good.Princess tries hard to please.Cons, - the boat is getting old and badly needs an update, particularly in staterooms where beds were very marginal, balcony door didn't work well etc..- the front desk and excursion desk staff were terrible (just wanted to get rid of you, no port knowledge) there was obviously a management problem in this area.- wifi outdated and slow and expensive (I get better wifi flying on airplanes in the US), this seems to be a problem throughout the industry.- we stopped in our first Israel port on the sabbath, everything closed, not good planning, plus it would have been better to stay in Ashdod for 2 days to let us access Tel Aviv, Haifa is not a great place to see. If you were not on a Princess tour the staff were not helpful at all.Conclusion,I would look for this ship size in a more updated ship, with modern electronics.Cruise lines need to cater a bit more to passengers getting off on their own in ports of call, better advice and maps, not just leave us to using Rick Steves (which is good but not always the best if you have only one day). Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
We chose this sailing to fulfill a dream of cruising the Holy Land. It was a packed itinerary and physically exhausting to see so much in 12 days. I'm sure there's a method to Princess Cruise Lines madness of putting 2 days of ... Read More
We chose this sailing to fulfill a dream of cruising the Holy Land. It was a packed itinerary and physically exhausting to see so much in 12 days. I'm sure there's a method to Princess Cruise Lines madness of putting 2 days of Israel and 2 days of Egypt back to back but it would have been nice to have a sea day in between. That would be my only complaint about the itinerary. We flew into Venice the day before embarkation and stayed at Hotel Arlecchino. This hotel fit our needs very nicely and we were able to catch a cheap bus from the airport to Piazzale Roma and walk to our hotel. We were also able to walk to the cruise port with a little help from Venice's people mover. Once off of it, Princess had a bus to take us on into the port area. Very easy to do. Embarkation was extremely quick with no lines while we were there. My husband and I have cruised 5 times, twice taking our kids and the other 3 alone. My youngest was concerned about this being a smaller ship and not having all the activities of the larger ships. It was not an issue on this port intensive itinerary. The Pacific Princess library is wonderful. A lovely room with so many books to borrow while on board. We also enjoyed the available board games as a family. We enjoyed the on board trivia a few times. One daughter enjoyed the spin classes in the exercise area and another enjoyed line dancing activities. I also attended the chef's demonstration and the kitchen tour. It was really nice to see how clean everything was! This was our first small ship experience and it did not feel "small" at all. It has a large ship feel and the only time I noticed how small it was, was in the buffet! The lines were never too long nor was the clamoring for food as unorganized as it sometimes gets on the big ships. Also, I was concerned about motion sickness being worse on the small ship but I noticed no difference. My usual triple threat against it worked: Meclizine, ginger, & pressure point wrist bands added during extra motion times. We tried to eat in the main dining room most evenings. We chose the late seating, 8:15, due to accommodate our tours and port times. I don't usually like eating late but it really worked out well on this trip. We found the menu selections to be a wide variety although there were some strange combinations in my opinion. Of course I'm just a country, home cook and many of the menu items had things not even available in my area! It was fun though, to try new foods and my 14 year old picky eater ate things I never thought she'd try! We found most of the food to be delicious and beautifully prepared. We did not use luggage space for formal wear so did not plan to participate in formal nights. Princess highly suggests on formal nights to participate or eat elsewhere so we did not go to the main dining room the first formal night. Our waiter, Lucio, was very disappointed and encouraged us to attend the 2nd one even though we had no formal clothing. We did and were certainly under dressed and in the minority but not the only ones. Lucio was happy to see us though and that's all that mattered to me! He and his helper Alesander were excellent. We ate in the buffet restaurant numerous times as well. The food area was clean and there was always a very good variety of food. We especially enjoyed the wonderful salad bar area with the vast array of very nice selection of fresh fruit. A nice extra on the last sea day was the chip, salsa and guacamole bar set out by the pool area. It was delicious. We are not alcohol drinkers so I can't say anything about the drinks. We did by a coffee card for cappuccinos and lattes. It was $29.00 for 20 drinks. We did not purchase a soda card although probably should have because several family members had one or two a day. We did not go to any specialty dining rooms. We had room 7055 & 7043 both inside cabins. We are very happy with insides because we all sleep better in dark rooms. The staterooms were very roomy with nice storage in the room and bath room for toiletries. Jose and Arnold, the stateroom stewards, both provided excellent service. I really applaud cruise ship employees, especially the waiters and stateroom stewards. They work endless hours for months at a time and have to keep a smile on their face. We are always happy to give them a little extra at the end of the cruise. We enjoyed the television channels that were available in English and a few of the movies they would show. Also, Port Lecturer Joe May was very helpful, both at his desk on the 4th deck to answer questions, and on his television shows that were shown about the ports on the day before docking at each one. The ship overall was beautiful and tasteful traditional style. It looked to be in very good condition. I've seen expressed in other reviews that it was time for a refurbishing but I liked it and did not think it was run down at all. The pool deck was ample for the ship's size but on sea days it was crowded at times. My family enjoyed sunning on deck chairs some but I don't think anyone ever got in the pool. It is a smaller pool and not set up with slides, etc...for kids although they could certainly swim in it. This was not important to us. We usually enjoy the on board entertainment every night on cruises but with our late dinner seating, we were too exhausted on most nights to attend a show at 10:15. My husband did enjoy listening to Kathy Phippard occasionally. We also enjoyed a couple of shows featuring The Pacific Princess Singers and Dancers. I'm sorry I can't remember the names of the male and female lead singers but they were very good. We also heard Christopher Riggins second show on the ship. Wow! He is excellent as well. I can't end the ship portion of my review without commenting on the laundry room! As a mom of multiple kids, I know laundry! With new airline restrictions, we limited each to one suitcase each for the 16 days we were gone. All I can say is thank you Princess for having a self serve laundry! It was a madhouse on sea days so I suggest everyone try to work around those days! With our cabins being just down the hall it was very convenient for me to do laundry when I needed and to avoid the crowds. It takes about 30 minutes to wash and 45 to dry and was $2.00 for each. The machines take American quarters only which are easily available on the 4th floor reception area. (The workers there are also very helpful and polite.) They sell soap and other items but I found the convenient Purex Complete 3-in-1 laundry sheets purchased online before cruising to be extremely effective for travel with no mess involved. Our first two ports were Ravenna and Dubrovnik. My husband and I had already been to both so we did not join any tours here. We walked around Ravenna and toured the mosaic churches and enjoyed a nice lunch at a sidewalk cafe. Princess had a free shuttle from the port to the town of Ravenna. This was the only time it was free. In Dubrovnik, a few of our family walked the wall while the others walk through the old town. We then took the cable car up Mt. Srt where the views are amazing. In Patmos we got off the ship and hired a taxi just a few steps away to take the 5 of us to the Cave of the Apocalypse then to John's church. He dropped us off at each, gave us a pick up time and left. He came back and took us to the next place, returning us to the port. We then ate at a cafe with wi-fi and walked around and shopped a little. The next 4 port days were intensive! The first was Haifa and then Ashdod in Israel. With a family of 5 we just did not want to spend the extra money on ship's excursions. I'm very well aware of the benefits of them, mainly not getting left if you don't make it back before the ship sails, however most tour guides are very well aware of this and make it their goal to get you back on time. We hired Dina Horn as our tour guide. Due to my error, Dina was unable to pick us up on the first day but had her friend and guide Shraga Rosensaft escort us on that day through the Galilee area. His knowledge and pride in the history of the area was extremely good. He took us to a nice place on the Sea of Galilee to have a lunch featuring St. Peter's fish and a wonderful array of fresh salads with pita bread. We enjoyed our day with Shraga. Dina met us at the port just as Shraga dropped us off to check that we enjoyed our tour. She picked us up in Ashdod the next day and took us to Jerusalem and the surrounding areas. After lunch, we chose to go into Bethlehem over going to the museum. It was slightly intimidating going through all the security. Once past that and the small crowd inside the gate, we were swiftly escorted into cars by our guide. It is set up that the guide takes you on the tour and then you go back through Johnny's Souvenier shop to spend your money. We knew all of this ahead of time to help us make our decision to take the tour. We could have hired another private guide and avoided this but we were only there a couple of hours so I didn't think it was necessary. Let me say now that the sales people are extremely pushy in both Egypt and Israel; both in the stores and private vendors. We knew going into Johnny's that we would purchase something because the store supports some of the Christians remaining in Bethlehem. We purchase more than we intended but they did come off the , price around 30%. (Also, it is important to know that most private guides get something off of anything you purchase from the places they take you.) I can't remember our guides name in Bethlehem but he was very nice and informative and did make it possible for us to avoid the hour long line at the church of the nativity. I would have like to have had another day in Israel and highly recommend Dina Horn and Shraga Rosensaft. Next was Port Said and Alexandria Egypt. We hired Ramses tours and had Mohamed Khamis as our guide. Both he and our driver, also Mohammed were excellent. The entire ship population going on excursions that day proceeded away from the port in a convoy that seemed more like a parade. Quite impressive actually however, once in heavy traffic everyone got separated. We chose to stay overnight at the pyramids at the Mena House Oberoi. It was excellent. The traffic in Cairo was unbelievable but our driver expertly weaved his way where he needed to go. The pyramids and the Egyptian museum were all greatly enjoyed by our family. I will add that our 2nd day in Egypt we had an armed escort in our van. I'm not sure if it was because we were on our own or because we were American. I have heard it is the latter reason. I highly recommend Ramses Tours. In Kusadasi, we hire Ertunga Ecir as our guide for the day. He was excellent as well and we enjoyed our day in Ephesus. Our last port was Athens where we hired Paul's taxi service to take us to the many sites. Paul's son Dimitri was an excellent guide. While they are not licensed guides they are very knowledgeable and get great reviews online. They drop you off to see the sites on your own. We stayed an extra day and had Dimitri take us to Corinth. Early the next morning they also picked us up from our hotel, the Hotel Amalia, and took us to the airport. I would recommend any of the above guides and services and would not hesitate to use any of them again. All of the vehicles were nice and air-conditioned and non-smoking although not advertised as non-smoking. I didn't even think to recommend this but am glad it worked out. Our family loved this trip; both the ship and the itinerary. Disembarking was a breeze with no problems. I was a little nervous, with the political climate, about visiting some of these ports but all was well. Happy Cruising Everyone! Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
This was our fourth cruise, though the first aboard a smaller ship (680 ish passengers vs 2,500+ on the first 3 cruises with Costa and Celebrity). We are a family of 3, parents in the mid-40s with a six year old daughter. We embarked out ... Read More
This was our fourth cruise, though the first aboard a smaller ship (680 ish passengers vs 2,500+ on the first 3 cruises with Costa and Celebrity). We are a family of 3, parents in the mid-40s with a six year old daughter. We embarked out of Athens (Piraeus) flying in the night before. Having been to Athens previously, that removed the need to visit Athens prior to embarking. This enabled us to enjoy a nice dinner with a friend on Friday night and the hotel services (with a rooftop view of the Acropolis) as well (Athens Imperial - Eur 99 for a triple which we thought was a good deal. Embarking - We had heard that the embarkation process on a smaller ship would be quite easy. We even arrived during the recommended time (after 2pm). However, the "check-in" and security lines were longer than expected and we did not receive the expedited service treatment we received from other lines for having a younger child. Then the power shorted out while in line to board the ship resulting in an additional wait while that was sorted out. Other than that.... Passengers - Being a longer cruise (12 nights) visiting a non-standard area (Black Sea), the passenger make up was a bit more mature than we were used to (as the comedian joked, it gave 70s night at the lounge a whole new meaning). Median age was probably 65 or so, reduced by a large contingent from the Dominican Republic. Crew - Overall very friendly. Helped by the small size of the ship plus what I assume is Princess's policy of allowing the crew to mingle with passengers, we got to know a few of them pretty well. Our waitstaff was quite attentive making our daughter feel like the center of attention (thanks Ronald and Jeffrey). Our cabin steward (Nat) was also quite helpful keeping track of our varied schedules. Food - Overall, we were somewhat disappointed as the food quality was mixed. Sometimes quite good, other times quite bland. While not a huge pepper fan, I would ask for a lot to be sprinkled on to add some flavor to certain dishes. Would have liked to see more themed meals tied to our port as well, though the Mexican themed lunch was quite good. Kids Club - As a word of warning, this ship (as well as probably other smaller ships at least in the Princess line) only has Kids Club when there are more than 20 kids on board. A number that was not reached until about our month prior to sailing (adding a bit of stress). The Kids Club also did not operate while we were in port. So she was disappointed to learn that she needed to accompany us for all port excursions definitely impacted the tours we signed up for to keep flexibility). Otherwise, our daughter loved it and cried when we left the ship because she was going to miss it so much. Entertainment - One positive about a small ship is that the shows are a lot more intimate for the audience, a definite plus. However, we also noticed that the quality of the shows themselves were definitely mixed. The comedian and magician were pretty good, but we found ourselves leaving a couple of the other shows early. Also, alternative entertainment besides Sammy, the piano player, was either non-existent or non-attended (bearing in mind the mature nature of the passengers). Besides at times the slot machines, the casino was a very sparsely utilized area. Activities - We were impressed with the number of activities on "At Sea" days as there always seemed like there was something to do, should one choose to do so (from bingo, port lectures, pool volleyball, dance lessons, etc.) Other Items - Kudos to Peter the Port/Excursion guide. Very helpful, though his desk hours should be expanded. However, this was more than offset by his volunteering to stay later and did not seem to mind our interrupting multiple meals and one workout of his. He was a wealth of information, willing even to follow up for us and call our stateroom when he found out the answer to a question. One annoyance was the Captain's announcements. On our first At Sea day (while we were planning to sleep in) he provided at least a 20 minute dissertation on the Dardanelles crossing. While I would imagine some folks who were up quite early appreciated it, this information at 8am was not welcome in our cabin. At least on other days, the announcements did not start until after 9am. Was also somewhat disappointed by the Princess Patter. In some cases, the information was quite dated (FX rates, for example). Quality control, in terms of spell check, was also a bit lacking. On other cruises, we have been accustomed to receive daily news updates. While I realize the Pacific Princess is a smaller ship, would think that a standard news page could be generated across the fleet for distribution to passengers. Ports - As these are not listed in the toggle boxes below.... Constanta - One of the reasons we selected this cruise was the opportunity to visit many new countries, including Romania. That said, this has to be the least interesting port of any we have been to. Not tourist friendly. Not much of anything to see in town and was dangerous to get around due to the lack of sidewalks, windy streets and somewhat maniacal drivers. The beach was okay (actually water was nice, but beach itself was hard, wet sand and pretty dirty). "Splurge" for the rickety beach chairs so you do not have to sit directly on it. While we were definitely charged tourist prices, 3 chairs and 2 umbrellas were still only 10 Eur or so. Mamaia (sp?) is supposed to be a much nicer resort beach, but requires a taxi and was wall to wall people (we were told). As for the ship excursions, we did not hear that we missed much. Odessa - Very pretty town. Again, we did this on our own. Very walkable as long as in reasonable shape. Long,tree-lined boulevards, nice architecture and parks. Again, with our 6 year old, went to the "beach" in town (go to Arcadia, not the local beach as nothing to speak of). Otherwise, a very enjoyable day. Yalta - Did Livadia and Alupka palaces on a ship excursion. Livadia is very worthwhile if you are interested in history. As I am, I enjoyed it. My wife, less so and our daughter, not at all. Alupka on the other hand was very worthwhile, with absolutely stunning views (could have spent the whole day here as there is a big park, with walking trails, shopping, and the requisite beach). As this was only a half day tour, I was able to spend a few hours wandering around Yalta, a very enjoyable town with a nice cathedral, lot of shopping and long promenade by the sea with all sorts of vendors, games, food, etc. Disembarkation - Was a breeze. We showed up about 4 minutes late, were informed our group had already left, so were free to go. Walked right off the ship, immediately found our luggage and were on our way. Overall, we enjoyed the cruise. However, we did notice the 1/2 star (vs Costa Concordia/Magica) and 1 star difference (vs Celebrity Equinox) Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
Pacific Princess Performs We have just returned from a 12-day cruise on Pacific Princess, sailing from Athens to Venice, with calls at Volos, Varna, Constanta, Odessa, Yalta and Istanbul, ending in Venice and including 4 sea days. We had ... Read More
Pacific Princess Performs We have just returned from a 12-day cruise on Pacific Princess, sailing from Athens to Venice, with calls at Volos, Varna, Constanta, Odessa, Yalta and Istanbul, ending in Venice and including 4 sea days. We had not sailed with Princess Cruises since February 2008, opting instead for Silversea and Oceania, mainly because we have been fortunate to have sailed pretty much all the itineraries offered by Princess that are of interest. Our last 2 Princess cruises were on large ships and we have decided that these are not for us. This imposes a further restriction on choice when it comes to selecting a cruise, as there are (currently) just 3 'small' ships in the fleet, reducing to 2 next year when Royal Princess follows her former namesake to P&O in the UK. As is our custom, we had stayed for 2 days pre-cruise in our port of embarkation, just in case our luggage had failed to keep up with us, which has happened on 3 occasions, either outbound or on our return. Our choice of hotel was the Holiday Inn Attica Avenue, only around eight miles from the airport, for a couple of reasons. First, many of the Athens hotels are in the Omonia Square district, which research had warned is no longer a good area, a point confirmed by our taxi driver. Secondly, the hotel has a half-hourly interval free airport shuttle. The downside is that there are no restaurants close by, although a suburban railway station is a short walk away, which links into the city centre. The hotel is quite modern and very presentable. Our room had all the standard amenities of a European hotel of this category and was comfortable and quiet. It appears to be primarily a short-stay place for people flying into/out of Athens, who are staying a night or two before onward travel. Breakfast offered a reasonable selection in typical Continental style, whilst the dinner menu was adequate for the occasion, not particularly cheap but the Greek salads were good at the end of a hot day, if not constituting a hearty meal. Meal service was generally not with a smile. We partook of the good-sized swimming pool and sauna in the basement. We would stay here again. Reliant on postings on Cruise Critics, we booked George Kokkotos, originally a New Yorker who returned to Greece after 25 years, to provide "the best taxi service in Athens" for a day trip to Corinth and then a transfer from hotel to pier the following day. Despite efforts personally by George and us, we failed to book in advance a Corinth Canal cruise; the cruise company didn't seem interested in our business. After a drive of about 80 minutes, we arrived at the canal, which provides a maritime connection between the Aegean and Ionian Seas. Its construction involved a deep cut through the landscape and the sheer walls and narrow width make for an unusual sight. Time was then spent wandering through the remains of Ancient Corinth before a tour in our car, driven by Jimmy (whose English was excellent), round modern Corinth. After crossing the canal at the locks at the entrance to the Ionian Sea, Jimmy recommended a restaurant overlooking the sea, which was popular with locals. After walking round the ruins of Ancient Corinth, the iced water was most welcome! On the 7th, Jimmy collected us for the 20 minute run to Piraeus where we boarded Pacific Princess at noon. As usual, the 'preferred guests' line was longer than for first-timers and we were one of the first on board. We had already made 6 trips on one or other of the 8 former Renaissance R Class ships, including Pacific Princess herself in 2006, so it was familiar territory to walk aboard on Deck 4 in Athens. By virtue of travelling with friends, we opted for a Deck 8 mini-suite in order to offer more space for entertaining; previously, we have had standard balcony cabins on these R Class ships. The mini-suite is quite spacious, has plenty of wardrobe and drawer space and a bath/shower. The settee is bigger than in a balcony cabin, 3 chairs that could be used when dining en-suite and four balcony chairs (2 recline a little), together with balcony table and occasional table in the cabin. Overall, we were impressed with our accommodation, though there should be a hair dryer in the room, not just the wall-mounted one in the bathroom, as has been provided by Oceania on its ships. There were no obvious changes to the ship since our last cruise on her in 2006 and the general condition was very high. Having sailed on the equivalent R Class ships now run by Oceania Cruises, the substitution by Princess Cruises of the original teak furniture for meals outside the Panorama buffet, devalues the ambiance. There are also the typical Princess sun loungers (Oceania provides teak loungers with cushion pads, which have white covers that are changed daily, and white towels in-situ). Both these features cheapen the product. The swimming pool is filled with sea water, which is replaced almost daily, much better than fresh water pools that end up full of the sweat and sun cream of inconsiderate passengers who don't bother to shower before entering the water. Service by the crew was as good as we have had on a Princess cruise for a long time. This was especially so in the Panorama buffet, where the "you'll have to go to the dining room for that" was replaced by "I'll go down to the dining room galley and bring it up for you; - shades of Silversea. The ship's executive chef was highly visible during breakfast and lunch here, something we had not seen previously. Dinner was taken in the main dining room. We were told there was a 100-long wait list for second seating, a disadvantage if one takes a late availability deal. We had booked a year ago, so had no problem. We do not as a general rule like fixed seating dining of which you have no option on Princess's three smallest ships, however if you have a "good table" it is a bonus and we were very fortunate to strike lucky and our table companions were delightful and the table gelled in a few days. Waiter service was excellent, though the one morning we took open-seating breakfast here, the service was indifferent, and very slow. With one exception, the food was also approaching the standards of Princess of decades past; it was served hot and even fish dishes were not overcooked. Gone are the threadbare themed menus - French, Italian, International and the two gala dinners - where we could recite the items without reading the menu. Desserts especially have become more appealing, though our waiter made no attempt to serve soufflEs out of the china bowl. The one black mark concerns the cheese course at dinner because the cheese comes straight from the fridge and is consequently far too cold to be enjoyable. Other cruise lines manage to serve cheese at room temperature, so why not Princess? We had to suffer the princess tradition of the Baked Alaska parade. Isn't it time this farrago was dropped, not least because I didn't see our waiter serve any of it to any of his tables. We did not try any of the 3 dining options where a cover charge applies. An innovation to us, however, was the use of the Steak House restaurant on most nights as a cocktail bar for Elite, Suite and Platinum passengers. On days when the facility is offered, there is a cocktail of the day at a reduced price and an appetiser. We only availed ourselves of the facility once, when Sandemans 20-year tawny port was offered for $2.99 (plus 15%), with, appropriately, Stilton cheese as the appetiser. We later saw the port on a dining room menu for $7.25 a glass. Entertainment was the usual mixed bag in terms of both variety and quality. Ironically, one of the best appreciated was provided by J J King, the cruise director, on the last night, when he sang and performed an Elvis impersonation as part of a 30-minute set. This was followed by the cruise staff performing "If I was not upon the sea", a cruise ship classic, sadly rarely seen these days. Regrettably, there were only about 20 in the audience, the lure of an evening in Venice or the imperative of packing being counter-draws. We were surprised to find a much lower percentage of Americans on board than we are used to, though on a Silversea voyage in April round Arabia, there were only 10 USA citizens travelling! In round numbers, of the 681 on Pacific Princess, 360 were American, 160 British, 100 from Dominican Republic (DR), 25 from Spain, 10 Australians and a total of 38 declared nationalities. Those from the DR were not travelling as one party but, when combined with passengers from Mexico and elsewhere, Spanish was to be heard frequently, though this league of nations rubbed along well. The DR contingent seemed to bond as a group and kept the nightclub alive well into the small hours. Otherwise the ship was pretty well dead after the post-dinner show had finished. Low onboard spend per capita on the 3 small ships in the fleet is rumoured to be behind the impending transfer of Royal Princess to P&O and one wonders for how much longer Princess will keep the other two. There was a roughly equal divide amongst the passengers between those who prefer the large modern 'resort at sea' ships and those who prefer a traditional cruise ship environment on a smaller ship that does not entail a half-mile walk to get anywhere. As might be expected, the Captain's Circle lunch, held in Sabatinis, for the top 40 most travelled passengers, was almost exclusively a US/UK affair, with the top three cruisers being from the UK, USA and UK respectively. This lunch is a nice touch, with each table being hosted by an officer (like old times!), with top-notch food and the presentation of the head chef and his galley team. We are very satisfied with the Princess loyalty scheme for past passengers, the free laundry being especially welcomed by my wife! Turning briefly to the ports of call, in Volos we hired a cab for 50 Euros for a round trip to Makrinitsa 17 kms away (half an hour each way), a delightful hillside village, with views of the bay and our ship, though now something of a tourist mecca, especially on a Sunday. Our cab was able to drive to the village, whilst the ship's tour buses had to park some way off because of access issues. The cab waited for our return. We sailed through the Bosphorus in the early evening, with the plethora of ferries taking workers from the European side of Istanbul to suburbs on the eastern side in Asia. A commentary from the port talk lecturer accompanied the transit. Varna (Bulgaria) was a pleasant surprise. We negotiated a 10 Euros taxi ride to the cathedral at the topside of the town, mingling here with some of the ship's tours, who were told they couldn't go inside for no obvious reason. After time spent in the cathedral, we crossed over the pedestrianised area that led eventually along the main shopping street, very wide and with a Parisian feel. After about a mile from the cathedral, we reached McDonalds, always handy for a complimentary 'rest room'. Then it was a right turn and a continuing downhill stroll through the Sea Gardens and back to the ship. We enjoyed this short taste of a Bulgarian city. Constanta (Romania) provided an interesting contrast to Varna; both in two former Communist countries but subtly different. Whereas Varna's shopping area at least had the air and feel of a degree of affluence, neither the size nor architecture of Constanta could rival its Black Sea neighbour. The main street was unprepossessing and the solitary modern shopping mall had at least 25% of its outlets vacant and the remainder offering large discounts. A free ship-to-shore shuttle bus was provided and we caught it part-way back to the ship to the city museum, housed in a lovely, but crumbling building. Continuing downhill in the unbroken searing heat, which lasted throughout this cruise, we visited the St Peter & Paul Cathedral before reaching the waterfront, with a derelict, 1920s-built casino, a reminder of more prosperous times. Whereas Varna had a commercialised beachfront, Constanta did not, but it was good to stroll along the promenade to a modest lighthouse, donated by the Genoese (Italy) in the 19th Century to mark the links between the two places over past centuries. The lighthouse has been moved in recent times and is adjacent to some municipal buildings. Whilst Constanta was far from the most interesting place we have ever visited, it was certainly worth seeing because of the insight it offered on past and current life in Romania, which is why we travel. Of all the four Black Sea ports visited, Odessa was definitely the grandest and retained an air of affluence and grandeur. Ascending the Potemkin Steps (reached via an elevated roadway across the dock rail system and maybe 200 yards from the ship) by the free funicular (unventilated and pungent with less hygienic locals) we walked a block into town to a main thoroughfare, turned left and (with some local direction) left again to reach the Opera House. This, like so many of Odessa's buildings is very attractive. Strolling through gardens parallel to the sea and the boulevard we had first walked along, brought us back to the Potemkin Steps. We had arranged a private tour in Yalta with Sergey Sorokin an ex history professor at Kiev University. None of the ship's tours offered both Sevastopol and the Livadiya Palace in Yalta but we fitted both into a packed day, which also included the battlefield at Balaclava, scene of the charge of the Light Brigade. Sevastopol's Panorama Museum, depicting the Crimean War battlefield in 1853 ranks as one of the best we have seen anywhere. The scene is illustrated in a 360-degree painting, where the aspect is from an elevated position above the town and surrounding hills and sea. Sergey fitted in everything we wanted and was highly informative. Having visited Istanbul previously, we opted first to take a local ferry to the Asian side and saw Hydrapasa railway station, gateway to the east in the last century and Kadiköy. To get to the Karaköy ferry terminal, in the shadow of the Galata Bridge, was about a 15 minutes stroll from the cruise terminal. We returned to the Eminönu ferry terminal on the opposite side of the Golden Horn, being closer to our visit to the subterranean Cistern, reached by a 5 Euro taxi ride from the ferry. The Cistern was built as a reservoir to keep Istanbul supplied with water during a time of siege. From here, the taxis wanted 20 Euros to return us to the ship, so we opted to follow the tram line back towards Eminönu until we reach the first tram stop, from where we caught the tram to right outside the cruise terminal at a fraction of the cost of a taxi. In the port notes provided on board Princess recommend 15-20% tip in each port for good service. This is ludicrous. In the areas visited, 5-10% is the norm for good service and the Princess figure is purely what would be expected in an American port. We have previously visited countries where any tip is regarded as an insult, so Princess needs to be more sensitive to local circumstances before recommending such a high blanket figure everywhere. We sailed into Venice, with superb views of the city, arriving in the cruise terminal at noon on the 18th. A water taxi service runs from here to St Marks Square, with a day ticket costing $15, which Princess Cruises provided. As we opted to stay on the ship, we were credited with the cost of this ticket. Next morning's disembarkation went reasonably smoothly, the only hiccup concerning our pre-booked airport taxi through Limousine Venice. We presented ourselves at the appointed spot outside the cruise terminal at 08.40 for our 08.45 collection. After 5 minutes, we located a guy from the company, who gave us a piece of paper with our name on it and he rang for a vehicle. This finally arrived at 09.05 and the trip to the airport took 20 minutes. With the HAL Nieuw Amsterdam also disembarking at the same location, one can appreciate demand for cabs was high at this peak time. Fortunately, we had built a contingency allowance into our schedule to reach the airport so there was no problem. By virtue of Venice being a popular turn-round port for many cruise companies this year, a contingency of 30 minutes is certainly advisable for private airport transfers. Limousine Venice charged 60 Euros for 4 people, whereas Princess Cruises wanted $54 (say 50 Euros) Per Person for a transfer. Passengers for our flight, who booked a ship's transfer, had to disembark an hour earlier than we did. In summary, this cruise has reinvigorated our flagging loyalty to Princess Cruises. The brand has edged upscale and the standard of service across all departments and dining room food (in particular) was as high as on more luxurious lines. The only issue for us is that Princess is currently far more restrictive in the ports of call when compared to other lines. Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
Being our first cruise on a small ship we weren't sure what to expect. Although it was a smaller ship at times it felt no smaller than the larger ships, apart from the fact that we had less stairs to climb up to the pool deck. With ... Read More
Being our first cruise on a small ship we weren't sure what to expect. Although it was a smaller ship at times it felt no smaller than the larger ships, apart from the fact that we had less stairs to climb up to the pool deck. With only one pool we did find it was overcrowded on sea days, especially with the large amount of children on board. We also had traditional dining, whereas we would usually opt for anytime dining. The dining staff were brilliant we got to know them all from the maitre'd and head waiter down to the drinks waiters. This was definitely an advantage as they got used to what we liked to eat and drink. My dd did miss the icecream parlour, although icecream was served in the buffet at 3pm in the afternoon. We were happy to see that the barbecue advertised was equivalent to the grill on the larger ships. Entertainment was disappointing, whether this was because we were on the Holy Land cruise and 1/3 of passengers were off the ship for 2 nights of the cruise we had 3 entertainers in the cabaret lounge, for the entire voyage. Kaitlyn Carr a Scottish singer & Ricky Jay comedian were brilliant. The rest of the time the Princess dancers and singers were the evening entertainment. Unfortunately, the choreography of the production shows wasn't very good and the content of the shows were disappointing. There was Sammy Goldstein in the casino lounge, pianist & singer who my dd thoroughly enjoyed and a duo also performed here. There was a group in the Pacific lounge. Unfortunately, due to the love of strobe lighting in the Pacific lounge by the staff we were unable to spend much time here. There was a large library with all types of books, puzzles & games for use. You could also swap your paperback books here as well. my other dd missed MUTS which would have been welcomed with the lack of alternative entertainment Due to the lack of childrens facilities I was surprised how many children were on board, some of which unfortunately were unruly. The cabins were decently sized we particularly liked the sofa in the room. Prefer the walk in wardrobes on the larger ships as when the door to the wardrobe was open you couldn't come in the main cabin door or in/out the bathroom. The shower curtain was a pain prefer the door on the larger ships. This ship overall was in good condition with lovely decor. Unfortunately my dd accidentally fell and fractured her wrist in Kusadesi she was taken to hospital for an operation and was unable to finish the cruise. Luckily this was on the last day. Princess aftercare was fantastic and they kept in constant contact with her during her stay in Turkey. The ship medical staff were brilliant keeping us informed of the situation, after making arrangements for her to be taken to the hospital and arranging aid assistance. Princess did a brilliant job. Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
Pacific Princess Ratings
Category Editor Member
Rates 4.0 4.0

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