1. Home
  2. Cruise Lines
  3. Princess Cruises
  4. Pacific Princess Review
  5. Pacific Princess Cruise Reviews

3 Princess Pacific Princess Holiday Cruise Reviews

Day 1 Check in was supposed to be between 12 and 3 with sail away being at 4pm. We arrived at about 12:45. There was a hold up loading onto the boat, something about customs and coast guard where doing inspections. We didn't get ... Read More
Day 1 Check in was supposed to be between 12 and 3 with sail away being at 4pm. We arrived at about 12:45. There was a hold up loading onto the boat, something about customs and coast guard where doing inspections. We didn't get to check in till about 2pm. Check in was typically slow but smooth. Finally, we are onboard. The ship is quaint and lovely with a lot of dark wood and antiques. The perfect atmosphere for an adventure like the Amazon. Cabin is typical ship close quarters. We have been upgraded to a balcony, which I am really glad about. I am reminded of the reasons that I really should always book a balcony. The extra space and view is such an asset. Also, I really like the ability to leave the balcony door open and get fresh air. We are on the late dinner at 8:15. By this time we are a bit bushed, having to get up at 4:00 in the morning. Dinner selection was varied and it was quiet a decision making process. I settled on spring rolls for an app and Fettuccini Alfrado, which I requested a chicken breast be added to. They had no problem with my request. Love good food and good service. Sean had a seafood pate that he loved for an app and a crawfish dinner that ended up looking like a potpie. He also liked that but Sean is the least picky eater there is and would never complain. I figured that a table for six would give us a great opportunity to meet some people. The one couple was from Southern California and they are great. They engaged everyone else and really kept the conversation going. Enjoyed dinner very much. After dinner we were just too tired and skipped the show. Which was too bad it was a comedian and we wanted to catch it.... always next time. Day 2 This is a day at sea. There is quite a swell and the boat is swaying. Slept in ...yeah! Missed breakfast but headed to the buffet for coffee. Sat outside on the stern of the ship. Ended up sitting with the nicest lady. She was so interesting, on the ship by herself. She lives in a golf community in Orlando and has traveled everywhere. She was like a one woman travel show, mention a well know destination and get a first hand play by play. Everywhere from a safari in Tanzania, Machu Picchu, Angkor Wat, Egypt, Europe and a less than inspiring trip to China. She spoke of visiting Tuscany in September and the wild animals of Africa with such passion that I wanted to start booking trips. That is one thing I have noticed about this cruise, the people on board are avid travelers and there is constant talk and comparison of cruise lines and destinations. Lunch was amazing. They had a Chinese buffet, complete with dragon ice sculpture. The food was excellent and I though Sean was going to OD on sushi. After lunch the sway of the ship got the better of me. I headed to the room for a little time out. Ended up having to put a seasickness patch on, kind of feel like I gave in but I don't want to be unable to enjoy the cruise. We did make it down to the art auction. They are always so interesting to watch but I think a lot where thinking like us. There were many people watching but no one buying. Formal night tonight but we have decided to opt out of the formal dinner. The dinning room is at the stern of the ship and I was worried the motion of the boat would be bad. Not to mention that Sean really didn't want to dress up. Day 3 St Maarten St. Maarten is a lovely island, from what we saw a little more forward and Americanized than some islands. There was a very nice shopping area right where the ship docked. The town of Philipsburg was a short 10 min walk or a very reasonable water taxi ride ($4 one-way, $6 return). We walked to Philipsburg and took the water taxi back. Philipsburg was very nice, with a boardwalk along the beach. The next street into town was Front St. Both areas are chock full of shopping. They had everything from typical island wear, upscale brand shops, jewelry and more jewelry. There was even a very cute candy store owned by a former Canadian. We bought a mask to add to our mask collecting, just a little cute on but our wall is getting full. I think a lot of future masks will have to be on the small size. We stopped at one of the many beachside bars. The one we stopped at had a pirate theme and old guns hung on the wall...which just seemed appropriate. I had my usual Heineken and Sean had a mango margarita. After a good rest in the bar we got a couple of beach chairs and longed on the beach. The beach chairs appeared to be owned by various bars. You paid for the chairs, an umbrella and drinks all in a package. It was a very busy beach with each chair right next to the chair beside. We spent a few hours there relaxing and reading. Back on the ship we grabbed a snack and bided our time until dinner. Our dinner was very good and the company was great. After dinner we took in the show. It was a comedian; he was okay, got a few laughs. Day 4 St. Lucia In planning for St Lucia we really didn't think there was much for us to do. We had just been to St Lucia a year ago and had rented a car, so we saw lots of the island. However, once in port we started talking to a taxi driver and decided to tour some of the areas we missed. First stop was Diamond Falls, with included a botanical rainforest. It was beautiful, species of flowers and trees that I had never seen before. The falls make a great photo op. Sean even found a giant caterpillar! On our way to our next stop we chatted with Anthony our driver. We told him we had stayed at Ti Kaye Resort last year and he told us about the snakes in that area. According to Anthony the area is well known for snakes...boa constrictors and 3 poisonous varieties. Pretty scary; I might have to Google this when we get back and I have better Internet. Next stop was the sulphur springs and volcano in Soufriere. It is the only collapsed volcano in the world that you can drive up to. It was super cool. Steam was coming up through crevasses and the water was boiling. It did have a very strong sulphur smell. We decided not to go into the sulphur baths but I was so glad we saw the volcano. Our last stop was Marigot Bay, which is totally beautiful. We stopped at a little restaurant overlooking the bay and had a beer. Then took a trip right down by the bay and walked around. It was more modern that a lot of areas in St Lucia and by the looks of the huge yachts it is frequented by the wealthy. There was a beautiful resort there called Discovery at Marigot Bay, I think I might look into that resort if we return to St. Lucia. Which is quite possible as St Lucia is probably my favorite Caribbean island. I learnt something very interesting from our tour guide Anthony. Rasta is a type of religion. The religion involves a pureness of heart. Typically a true Rasta will be a very kind person. They do not believe in the use of combs and mirrors, hence the long dreads. They are also vegans and do not eat any meat or fish. Also a true Rasta will not have any piercings, which is a way to tell a true Rasta from an imposter. They do however frequently take part in the wacky tabacky (as Anthony called it) but do not drink. We got back to the ship at 5pm and we were hungry so we decided to skip the dinning room at 8:15 and eat at the buffet. Sean thought it was great, I thought it was okay. Then back to our cabin for movie watching and relaxation. Day 5 Tobago We arrived in Tobago with no plans. Thought we would go on shore and then get an idea of what to do. Sean really wanted to go SCUBA diving but I had forgotten my PADI card at home. Also, the short notice seemed to be an issue with getting a diving excursion arranged. Our second option was a rainforest tour. So we asked about that. We were directed to tour director Harris McDonald. We met up with Harris and he told us we needed a change of clothes (for the rain) and that my flip-flops weren't really appropriate. So back to our cabin to get better equipped. I wore running shoes but ended up renting a pair of Wellingtons. I am really glad I did. Harris passed us over to his colleague Curtis. Curtis was a great tour guide, very knowledgeable. Curtis was also a policeman, so we felt very safe. The rainforest is gorgeous. The trees huge, some of the biggest bamboo I have ever seen. Curtis told us that particular type of bamboo grew 6 inches every day. When it reached 60ft it stopped growing and then it would flower. Once it finished flowering it would die. We saw many types of birds. There were parrots flying over the canopy and we could hear them but only catch glimpses. We also saw these amazing little ants. These leaf cutter ants could be seen wandering along carrying pieces of leaves that were 4 times their size back to their nest. There wasn't a lot of wildlife but the scenery was amazing. As we came out of the rainforest there was a man selling ice cream. We decided to indulge. I am still wondering if that was a good idea. The man couldn't speak well, so we aren't sure what flavors he had. He did give us a spoon of each to try. The first was vanilla; the second was a mystery fruit, but quite good. We both choose the mystery fruit. When we asked how much it was he could tell us. So Sean held out the money he has in his hand, a $5 bill and four $1 bills (USD). The man took all the money! And wouldn't give us any back. So our little one-scoop ice creams in cups cost $5 each! That was more expensive than the gelato we got in St. Maarten from the trendy ice cream shop on the boardwalk. I guess that is the price you pay for rainforest side service. The town of Scarborough was our ship docked wasn't the nicest for tourist shopping. It was a typical busy Caribbean town center more suited to the locals than to tourists. This town like so many in the Caribbean involves all the senses, beautiful bright colors, the warmth of the sun, the constant sound of music and even the smells. There is a hustle and bustle but everyone is happy. It always make me think.... many people assume that money will make them happy, what really makes people happy is a simple, easy life. The locals might not have a lot but they are very friendly and happy. Not only to the tourists but even to their friends and acquaintances that they see along to way. This was our last Caribbean island of the trip. It will now be very interesting to see how South America compares. Day 6 Day at Sea Waters are a bit rough and wind is up. It feels as if our ship is traveling on a slant, with an added in wobble now and again for good measure. The staff reassured us that this is unusual for this ship; that the weather is the culprit. Walking around the ship takes a bit of balance and the sparse areas of the ship would indicate more than a few people are spending time hiding out in their cabins. We spent our morning sitting with the very interesting, world traveling women from a few days ago. It was a wonderful chat, and she is so full of knowledge and insight. We ended up chatting for quite a few hours and she was no end of insight. She even taught me something about Disney that I didn't know (and I really thought I was somewhat of an expert there). It is possible to go diving in the aquarium in Epcot. I think that would be amazing fun and will have to look it up when I get home. Being on this ship is a lot like speed dating. We keep meeting new great people; yet only spend a short time with each. We decided to take in some wine tasting...not for the faint of heart when it is on the 10th floor in weather like this. It was tremendous fun. Every Princess cruise I have been on has had two wine tastings. An initial tasting of some basic wine and general information for a nominal fee, in this case $9.00. Then a more elaborate tasting for those interested in some better wines and more detailed information for a slightly higher charge, in this case $25.00. This particular tasting was the later. The tasting occurred in the Italian Specialty restaurant Sabatinis. We were seated at a table for 4. The other couple were from Ohio, and very nice. Their preference was towards reds, Sean is more into whites and I waffle back and forth depending (not sure what it exactly depends on...maybe my mood). I am a wine pairings nightmare. I like both red and white, however never pair them with food, more with my mood and the weather. The wines we got to taste were a champagne from Reims, France, Heidsick Monopole Blue. I don't particularly like champagne or sparkling wine, even to the point of giving away bottles I acquire. I have to say this was the best champagne I have ever tried. Not that I would go out of my way to buy it, but definitely the best. The next wine we tasted was Poully-Fuisse from Burgundy. France. This chardonnay was excellent; it was very light and very clean tasting. It had hints of fruits but nothing too over powering. It fit well with my pairing of weather and would be an excellent chilled wine on a hot summer day. This is a wine I would buy. The next wine was Cuvaison Chardonnay from Napa Valley. It is unbelievable how two chardonnays from two different parts of the world could taste so different. This chardonnay was a much heavier wine; the aroma and taste reminded me of fruit, in particular bananas. With its legs and texture it almost reminded me of a light red. On to the reds. First up was a Meritage from Murietas Well in Livermore Valley, California. I am a big fan of Meritages, done right the wine make can perfect a great balance of grape varieties and make a very easy to drink wine. If unsure on a menu, I will often go to a meritage. The one was good, not the best meritage I have ever tasted but more than drinkable. I find whenever traveling that Canadian wines are completely overlooked. They could replace this meritage with the meritage from Vineland Estates Winery in Vineland, Ontario and then they would have a wine to showcase. The next two reds where excellent and exuded quality, however, even just sniffing these wines they screamed to be decanted. The staff putting on the wine tasting new that both these wines would taste their best decanted so I have no idea why they didn't for the tasting. The first was a Tuscan wine, Luce Della Vite, a mixture of merlot and sangiovese grapes. It was a full-bodied wine just full of potential. However, you could smell the tannins coming off it and all the swirling I could do wasn't going to change that. This is a good wine, which would be a great wine decanted. I would drink it any time and I usually stay away from Sangiovese, but as I experienced in the Chardonnay, one particular grape can give you such different experiences. The last was from the tried and true Robert Mondavi in Napa Valley. Anyone who likes wine knows that this is a winery that will always be sure to please. We have the pleasure of trying the Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2005, again a full-bodied easy to drink wine. Loved the texture and taste, would of given anything to try this wine after a bit of decanting. Another great dinner tonight. I am really enjoying our tablemates, there always seems to be no end of good conversation. I look forward to getting together over dinner and sharing ours day's adventures. Tonight the meal was excellent. It was an Italian themed dinner, complete with Procuitto from San Danielle, this holds special meaning for me as my father is from San Danielle and my parents have an apartment there. We are hoping to make it there this summer, but that is for another blog. I had spaghetti and meatballs for my main course and I think it might have been the best spaghetti I have ever had. It was the roughest night so far. All through dinner the boat was leaning from one side to the other. I have never been on a ship with such large movements. There was supposed to be a Broadway (singing and dancing) type show tonight but because of the movements of the ship they changed it to a comedian. We thought about going to the show, but would of had to wait around for a while, so we opted out. One thing I have noticed on this cruise is that the entertainment doesn't seem as good as other cruises. Maybe being a smaller ship with fewer passengers affects the talent they can book. Day 7 Well, that sucks! We were supposed to go to Devil's Island today but because for the winds and swells it is too dangerous for the tenders. So, it is another day at sea. Which will make 4 days at sea in a row before we hit our first port in Brazil. I had read about this happening in some of the reviews. Makes me wonder if it happens often. Many of the passengers are doing the round trip and will head back this way. I hope they get a chance to visit the island. We did take some pictures from the ship. I thought it looked beautiful, lusher and tree filled then I expected. The sea around the island was very interesting. It had very obvious changes in color from brown, to blue, to black. We tried to take some pictures, so I hope they work out. It must be a change in depth along with sandy bottom that makes the color changes. Sean and I did play some trivia this morning. We were supposed to work in teams of 6, and everyone already had preset teams from previous trivia games. So, Sean and I played as our own team. We were not as good as I thought we would be. All I am going to say is the knowledge obviously does come with age! Day 8 At Sea.... again! We are starting to get into a routine. Each morning we have coffee and a bit of breakfast on the back deck. This deck of the rear of the buffet and at the back of the ship is becoming one of our favorite places. We really enjoy sitting out here to enjoy our breakfast and also meet up with people we know. Today we sat with the same lady from a few days ago. She has traveled extensively and is so interesting. We ended up spending hours chatting with her and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Off to trivia again this morning. We teamed up with a couple from the UK. Thank goodness we did, all the questions seamed to be from very old British history and our new team was very good at coming up with the answers. We ended up winning! No thanks to Sean and I, what a bit of fun. Much of the rest of the day we spent in our stateroom. Sitting on the balcony reading...we really are an exciting couple! For dinner, instead of the regular dinning room, we thought we might try the Bistro. The Bistro is in the buffet area but instead of the buffet they seat you and you order off a menu. The menu had a lot to choose from, Sean had a roasted garlic soup and seafood pasta, I had a chicken Caesar and lasagna. The chicken Caesar was excellent and I think I would choose it as a main course. We were both amused by a lady sitting next to us. She ordered the lasagna but with no cheese! When the waiter came back and said that the lasagna could not be done without cheese...duh! She proceeded to tell him there was nothing else on the menu that interested her. There is no pleasing some people. I had not known about the bistro till today. It is an excellent dinner option if you don't want to have to dress up or eat a certain time. I am very happy we found out about this option. Day 9 At Sea (or river, as the case may be) Much more of the same thing. Except today it Christmas day, so the say thing with lots of Merry Christmases mixed in. Breakfast was again in the same area, just of the back of the boat. Today because it was Christmas we splurged on the expensive coffee. Which is pretty much the same as the regular coffee just comes out of the pot and you have to pay for it. We entered the Amazon today and then had to wait for the authorities to clear us so we could continue up the Amazon. Well, this ended up taking until 4 o'clock in the afternoon. So we basically spent all day anchored in the middle of the river. The Amazon River, for anyone who doesn't know is chocolate brown! I got a great book from the onboard library the other day. The library is excellent. I wasn't sure really what to expect but it has a lot of recent books and best sellers. Now, I just need to read every chance I get, so that I can get the book back before we leave. There was a holiday brunch today. We had a look at the menu, which looked really good but maybe too much this early in the day for us. It turns out that the rest of our tablemates at dinner had taken advantage of the brunch and they say it was excellent. We had another wonderful dinner. Being Christmas it was formal night. I love seeing everyone dressed up; I think how people dress for formal night says a lot about a person. Some people are quite flamboyant and so interesting. I must say our table was very middle of the road, everyone dressed nicely but no one was over the top. I saw one young girl in a full-length gown. She was absolutely stunning. Day 10 Santarem I think by this point everyone was quite anxious to get off the ship and the fact that we were finally in Brazil and on the Amazon made it even more exciting. There weren't a lot of tours offered, so Sean and I decided we would just get off the ship and see what we could find. As soon as we were on the dock there were taxis available. They spoke English and had a large sign with the tours available. Sean and I decided on the zoo and then to be dropped off in town. This would cost us $35 USD. We also hired an English-speaking tour guide for $15. The highway we started off on was a regular paved road but when we turned off for the zoo we were on dirt roads, which looked to be made of a red clay. The zoo is quite small and run by the local university. They take in local species and try to rehabilitate them. I most consisted of birds, small reptiles and small monkeys. Although small, we did find it very interesting. However, I am not sure it would be for everyone. The English-speaking guide really helped because we could ask a lot of questions and have them translated. The monkeys were the best. The spider monkeys were very tame and would put their arms and tails through the cage to touch us. I was held on to by one monkey the whole time we were there. There tail is quite strong and they do definitely us it as another appendage. He did try to steal my necklace and sunglasses when he got a chance and did once hold onto me by my hair. Not in a mean way and he didn't pull, he just held on. I loved him and Lesley (our amazing pet sitter) and Kirsten (our vet) should be very glad that I couldn't bring him home to add to our menagerie. After the zoo, we headed into the main part of the city. It was very interesting; different than any of the Caribbean cities we had been too. I also found it very dirty. The gutters were full of garbage and not very pleasant looking water. Also, Brazil is very hot. The city was a bustle of activity and we saw stores that sold everything, even a tack store! ` Day 11 Boca De Valeria I really wasn't sure of what to expect from Boca De Valeria. I had read mixed revues on the various boards. Many people felt that there wasn't much to see and I even had heard it called "bucket of Malaria". In the elevator we even ran into a man who's wife wasn't going to Boca de Valeria because she was afraid of the mosquitoes!! Seriously, who spend a tremendous amount of money to book a trip to the AMAZON, then not want to go outside because of mosquitoes!?! Well, we loved Boca de Valeria. When we got on the tender there were boys with little sloths, they passed them to us to hold and take pics. Then we gave them a dollar.... we went through a lot of dollars in Boca de Valeria. There was pretty much a dollar price tag on everything. The houses were basically wooden shacks up on stilts; even their gardens were up on stilts. There were lots of animals to get your picture taken with, sloths, monkeys, caymen, capybara, iguanas and other various bugs. At first I was enthralled by these interesting animals that I got to interact with. Then I met the dogs, they were skinny and flea infested. I felt really sorry for them, especially because they were extremely fearful. If you tried to approach them, they gave you this come any closer and I will bite you look. There is something about a place were you can hold and pet all the wild animals but the pet dogs are afraid of people. We took a short boat ride, which was very cool except for the fact that the canoe was very wobbly. I kept think about the fact that the brown murky water underneath me contained both piranha and caymen. I had to keep reminding myself that I was on a river in the Amazon and this was, really, really cool. So, we didn't fall out of the canoe and it was excellent. After the trip up the river, Sean and I wandered along a path that went up a hill and by the last of the houses. Then it got much smaller and went off in to rainforest. We just kept walking along this path that leads into the rainforest, with no idea what was in there and were it would leave. It was amazing! To actually be walking somewhere in the middle of the Amazon rainforest. The thing that you notice the most is the noises. The forest is so incredibly filled with life and you might not be able to see it but you can hear it. It was truly an amazing feeling. So, I really have no idea why people who would choose a trip to the Amazon would not like Boca de Valeria. Sean and I both thought that this is what it is all about and wished every stop were more like this. Day 12 Parintins We were only in Parintins for a few hours. Sean and I hadn't booked a tour, but we were finding that we liked the option of organizing something when we got to the island. It was much more relaxed to not have to stick to a timeline and decide once we got to the destination and could have an idea of what it was like. There wasn't much when we got off the boat in Parintins, a few booths set up selling local wears but not much else. They do have tricycle taxis, so Sean and I decided to take a tour of the city by tricycle. The tour lasted about an hour and a half and gave us a great overview of the city. Our driver/rider/guide didn't speak much English, so it was more a case of Sean and I watching as the city went by. It was like a smaller version of Santarem. There were not many cars and people got around either by bicycle or motorcycle. Every year in June, Parintins hosts the Festival do Boi-Bumba. This huge festival is the second largest in Brazil each year, only Carnival in Rio is bigger. The festival celebrates a local legend about a resurrected ox. It is a flamboyant show that consists of signing and dancing in a competition between two teams. One team is red and the other is blue. Supporters of each side dress in the appropriate color and everything in the town seems to support either red or blue. They hold a smaller version of the show for tourist during other times of the year. This show was an option from our cruise. Many people chose to go to the show and had a great time. They said it was very entertaining and the costumes where awesome. Day 13 Manaus We are very sad to be at our last port. I would love to come back and explore more of the Amazon. I feel like we have come all this way and just barely scratched the surface. Our Brazilian Visas are good for 5 years, so who knows, maybe we will get a chance to come back. Still trying to stay away from the ship organized tours we went onshore to look for our own tour. The first tour company we found was already booked up for the day by our ship. However, they were able to direct to someone else that could help. We ended up booking a boat tour for 3 hours. The boat was a large motorized canoe type boat. It would hold about 20 passengers. We had a captain who manned the boat and an English speaking, tour guide. Our first stop was a floating gas station, which I found very interesting, if not very environmentally friendly. I have been thinking that a lot of the 'save the Amazon' efforts could possibly start a little closer to home. The water around the floating gas station went from the usual chocolate milk color of the Amazon to a strong tea. I just figured that couldn't be a good sign. From there we went through the meeting of the waters. Right at this point we saw a few freshwater dolphins popping out of the water. We never got a really clear view of the dolphins and it was next to impossible to get a good picture. Our guide had us put our hands in the water as he drove from the darker water to the lighter. I couldn't believe the temperature difference. There had to be a 10-degree difference between the two waters. From here we went on to park the boat at a floating restaurant. There was a wooden walkway that ran along side the restaurant and off into the jungle. The elevated walkway was a little precarious. That along with our guide saying "Watch out for Anacondas here" made for the whole brave, Amazon explorer experience. The walkway ended at lake January and a beautiful view of the giant lily pads. Next stop was a little house on the water. Inside were three children, one with a Caymen, and one with a sloth and a little girl with a huge Anaconda. For a few dollars you could take your picture with the animals. There were no parents in sight only the children, I wondered if this was the Amazon equivalent of a lemon aid stand. Another stop, another walkway to Lake January. This time we saw a couple of Caymen in the water. Our guide also took us to see a huge tree, a Kapok tree (Cieba pentandra). He said that natives would use these huge trees to send messages. The noise from banging on the tree could be heard for long distances. After returning from our tour we wandered around town. Manaus was definitely the biggest city we have visited, with a population of about 2 million. It is the eighth largest city in Brazil. Downtown, close to the port was crazy. Vendors lined both sides of the sidewalk and both sides of the street as far as we could see. We wandered up and down streets and there was everything you can imagine for sale. From food, to hardware to underwear, it was like being in the world's largest dollar store. Close to our ship, there were two jewelry stores that offered free shuttles to their stores. Both located in the Tropical Manaus hotel. We took the shuttle out to the hotel, they told us about 20 min, but it was more like 40 min. The hotel was a beautiful change from what we so far had experienced in Manaus. We did enjoy a slightly overpriced, yet very good coffee in one of their restaurant areas. They had a great shopping area, which included a really good selection of stores. Probably the highlight of this hotel is that it contains it's own zoo. The number and quality of animals in the zoo pleasantly surprised us. Not what you would really expect from a hotel. Day 14 Manaus This is our last day in Brazil. Actually, since we are leaving at 6 am, it isn't much of a day. It has been a wonderful trip. We have learnt so much and I am so glad to have seen the Amazon River and rainforest in person. I do hope to make it back to Brazil in the future; there is still so much I want to explore. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
Renaissance Cruises operated eight little ships with unglamorous names (R1 to R8). Renaissance went bankrupt approximately ten years ago, when the former P&O Princess Group purchased R3 and R4. These ships became "Pacific ... Read More
Renaissance Cruises operated eight little ships with unglamorous names (R1 to R8). Renaissance went bankrupt approximately ten years ago, when the former P&O Princess Group purchased R3 and R4. These ships became "Pacific Princess" and "Tahitian Princess" (now renamed "Ocean Princess"). The Group also acquired R8, which sailed from the UK as "Minerva II". R8 subsequently joined Princess Cruises as "Royal Princess", and has now returned to the P&O fleet as "Adonia". At this stage, I must admit to bias. I love the R-class vessels, having enjoyed cruises on Pacific Princess (R3), Tahitian / Ocean Princess (R4), Azamara Journey (R6), Azamara Quest (R7) and Royal Princess / P&O Adonia (R8). These little ships can enter smaller ports and are ideal for "special" or "exotic" itineraries. Because they carry no more than 700 passengers, they offer a more intimate cruising experience. However, they cannot provide the same range of facilities as the latest "mega-liners". Quality is more important than size and I am happy to enjoy low-key entertainment in a cabaret lounge, as opposed to lavish shows in a glitzy theatre. I do not mind that the ships have only one main restaurant with fixed sittings (plus a self-service buffet and two speciality restaurants) -â€" and the bathrooms are rather small. The cruise itinerary, service and value for money are more important aspects. My wife and I had to choose between two similar cruises to the Holy Land and Egypt -â€" on Pacific Princess or Azamara Quest. However, Azamara had cancelled all visits to Egyptian ports, so we opted for a twelve-night voyage on Pacific Princess. We flew to Rome on October 6th and stayed four nights at the Hotel delle Muse, before boarding Pacific Princess. The hotel is ideal for a reasonably priced city break. Please see my review at www.tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowUserReviews-g187791-d205063-r120533599-Hotel_delle_Muse-Rome_Lazio.html#REVIEWS. It is very easy to travel in and around Rome. However, you cannot purchase tickets on buses or trams. You should purchase your tickets from a newsagent, tobacconist or vending machine before you board the bus or tram. Then, you must insert your ticket in the yellow validation machine on the bus or tram. Ticket options include: B.I.T €1. Standard one-way ticket - valid for one Metro ride or 75 minutes on all buses and trams within Rome. B.I.G. €4. Daily ticket, valid until midnight for unlimited Metro, bus, tram and train travel within Rome B.T.I. €11. Three-day tourist ticket, valid for everything listed above. C.I.S. €16. Weekly ticket You can also purchase regional versions of these tickets, for travel within and outside the city. For instance, a B.I.R.G. one-day regional ticket for Zones A & B is excellent value at €6 and will take you from Rome to places such as Frascati, Grottaferrata, Albano Laziale, and Tivoli. We had explored many of the historical sites during previous visits to Rome. This time, we wanted to see some of the surrounding towns and villages. I have penned the following summary of our visit to Rome and the subsequent cruise. October 7th. We travelled by bus and train from Rome to Ostia Antica to see the archaeological site, which is noted for the excellent preservation of ancient buildings, magnificent frescoes and mosaics. It was well worth a visit -â€" and the layout reminded us of Pompeii. EEC Citizens, aged 65+ are entitled to free admission upon production of their passports. October 8th. We went by bus and train to Frascati, a hill town known for its white wine. We visited the cathedral, explored narrow streets and admired magnificent views towards the City of Rome. Then we travelled by bus via Grottaferrata, Marino and Albano Laziale to Castel Gandolfo, where we saw the exterior of the Pope's summer residence. The countryside is beautiful and Lake Albano, which is located in the flooded crater of an extinct volcano, was the base for the canoeing and rowing events of the 1960 Summer Olympic Games. We returned to Rome by train. October 9th. We travelled by bus to Tivoli and visited Villa Gregoriana. The ruins of the ancient villa aren't spectacular. However, the landscaped gardens on the hillside were constructed 200 years ago by Pope Gregory XVI and are blessed with wonderful scenery and beautiful waterfalls. Visitors from the UK are entitled to free admission, upon production of National Trust membership cards. Later in the day, we visited the palace and the incredible gardens at Villa d'Este. Both villas are listed as UNESCO world heritage sites. October 10th. We travelled by train to Civitavecchia and boarded Pacific Princess. Our cruise departed at 6 pm. October 11th. Sorrento (a tender port) Having visited Naples and Sorrento on previous cruises, we did not want to travel to Pompeii or the island of Capri. This time, we decided to explore the Amalfi Coast, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site, famous for its scenery and little villages, clinging to the cliffs and hillsides. We travelled along the coast by local bus via Massa Lubrense - and explored Amalfi town. Our next stop was Positano, before we returned on the bus to Sorrento. We planned this trip in advance, using timetables provided by the very helpful tourist information office at Sorrento. A one-day bus ticket costs € 7.20. Although the roads are very narrow and twisty, we experienced no problems. However, I would not recommend independent travellers to attempt this tour during the summer months, because traffic congestion can cause serious delays. October 12th - At sea. A beautiful sunny day. October 13th (afternoon) - Patmos, Greece This is a small island in the Dodecanese. It has no airport, and is more suited to island hopping than mainstream tourism. We shared a taxi and went to the hill-top monastery of Hagios Ioannis Theologos (Saint John the Theologian) and its museum, followed by a visit to the Cave of the Apocalypse, where St. John is reputed to have written the Book of Revelations. The monastery and cave are UNESCO World Heritage sites. October 14th - Kusadasi, Turkey Having visited Kusadasi, Ephesus and other archaeological sites on previous cruises, we spent a leisurely morning in town -â€" avoiding shops that advertised "genuine fake watches" etc. However, I did purchase a pair of cheap plastic beach shoes, to protect my feet during our subsequent visit to the Dead Sea (see below). October 15th - At sea. Another warm and sunny day October 16th - Haifa, Israel PacificPrincess should have called at Haifa on October 16th and Ashdod on the following day. However, Princess Cruises became concerned about safety issues at Ashdod, so the Captain decided to remain in Haifa for two days on October 16th and 17th. We went ashore with friends, Merlyn and Roger, who had booked private shore excursions through "Guided Tours Israel" (based upon good reviews on Trip Advisor - www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g293983-d1946663-Reviews-Guided_Tours_Israel_Day_Tours-Jerusalem.html). The tour company was very efficient and agreed at very short notice to re-schedule our excursions, to reflect changes to the ship's itinerary. On our first day in Israel, we travelled to Jerusalem by minibus -â€" with visits to major Jewish and Christian sites (Western Wall, Via Dolorosa, Church of Holy Sepulchre, etc), followed by panoramic views from Mount Zion/Olives. Our visit coincided with the Jewish Holiday of Sukkot, so the old city of Jerusalem (listed by UNESCO as a world heritage site) was very crowded. Our knowledgeable tour guide, "Moshe" was truly excellent with a great sense of humour. In the afternoon, we travelled to the Dead Sea, which is the lowest point on earth. I nearly lost my plastic beach shoes, which became stuck in the muddy shoreline. Floating in the warm and murky waters was a memorable experience, but not one I want to repeat. October 17th - Haifa, Israel Once again, our guide was Moshe. We toured Northern Israel with visits to Nazareth, Capernaum, Tabgha, the Sea of Galilee, the Mount of Beatitudes and Yardenit, the baptismal site on the Jordan River. Upon our return, we had insufficient time to explore the City of Haifa, because the ship's revised schedule required an early departure from Haifa. However, we did pay a brief visit to the impressive Bah''í Gardens, yet another UNESCO World Heritage site. TIP. There is a duty free shop in Haifa Cruise Terminal. Liquor prices were very attractive -â€" and much cheaper than the duty shops at Kusadasi, Santorini and Athens Airport. October 18th - Port Said, Egypt We usually prefer private shore excursions. However, we felt it would be safer to book a ship's tour to the Pyramids at Giza and the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities in Cairo. The authorities delayed our departure. Then, the convoy of coaches travelled to Giza with an armed escort. At the Pyramids and the Sphinx, we were attacked by hordes of souvenir vendors who were so aggressive that we were glad to escape. After an adequate buffet lunch at Le Méridien Pyramids Hotel, we saw evidence of recent conflicts, including the burnt-out National Democratic Party building, next to the Egyptian Museum. Our visit to the museum was far too short -â€" and curtailed, because the ship's tour also included a compulsory visit to a souvenir shop. Yet another reason to avoid expensive ship's excursions! However, we saw Treasures of Tutankhamen and other exhibits. The Museum provided headphones but unfortunately, our guide seemed incapable of using the microphone properly, so most of her commentary was inaudible. Driving standards in Egypt were appalling. Vehicles travelled nose to tail in dense traffic at breakneck speeds, swerving without warning from lane to lane. We saw two serious collisions - and I am amazed there weren't more. October 19th - Alexandria, Egypt Having booked a car and English-speaking driver for the day, we visited the main sights of Alexandria - including Fort Qait Bey, Pompey's Pillar, The Catacombs / Kom al-Shoqafa, Abu al-Abbas al-Mursi Mosque, a drive along the Corniche to Montazah Palace Gardens, the Library of Alexandria and the Roman Amphitheatre. We had a thoroughly enjoyable day! However, Port Said, Cairo and Alexandria were absolutely filthy - and garbage had not been collected for many months. Consequently, there were piles of refuse everywhere. Vendors were far too aggressive and even the Tourist Police demanded baksheesh. Egypt is certainly not our favourite country for a vacation! TIP. It is virtually impossible to avoid paying baksheesh. Upon arrival, obtain a small supply of Egyptian one-pound coins or notes -â€" which are worth approximately 17 cents (US) or 11 pence (UK) and much cheaper than tipping with dollar bills. Keep your Egyptian currency separately - and don't let anyone see that you also have foreign currency. Carry a supply of antiseptic hand cleanser and/or baby wipes -â€" for use after touching anything. October 20th - At sea. We attended a superb luncheon for the "most travelled passengers" - and were invited to sit at the Captain's table. October 21st - Santorini, Greece (a tender port) We had arranged a round trip tour of the Caldera by traditional wooden boat. We booked the excursion through Pelican Travel Services (www.mysantorini.com/Santorini-caldera-round-trip.html). The cost was very reasonable at €28 - plus a €2 admission fee to the volcano. I recommend this excursion as an option, for anyone who has visited the main island previously. However, Santorini becomes very busy in summer, when the crowds become unbearable, if four or five large cruise ships have anchored in the Caldera. (You can check cruise schedules at www.cruisetimetables.com/cruises-to-santorini-greece.html.) Fortunately, Pacific Princess and the Wind Surf sailing ship were the only arrivals on October 21st, so we had less than 20 passengers on our tour. I doubt whether it would have been so enjoyable in the summer heat, if we had needed to share the excursion with 100 other passengers. Our guided tour visited the dormant volcano on Nea Kameni, where we climbed to the rim of the crater. The crater was inactive, except for warm rocks and a few jets of sulphurous steam. However, stout shoes are essential and you must be reasonably fit. Then, we had an opportunity to jump into the sea and swim to the hot springs (33°C / 91°F) at the adjacent island of Palia Kameni. Next, the boat sailed to the little harbour at Ormos Korfu on the island of Thirasia - a sleepy village with a beach and a few tavernas. After a two-hour break for lunch (not included in the price), the boat stopped briefly at Oia, before returning along the coast to the old harbour at Fira. October 22nd - Athens We disembarked at Athens and transferred to the airport for our flight to the UK. The transfer was provided by Princess Cruises and included a short, guided tour of Athens with views of the Parthenon etc. As a result of ongoing civil unrest in Athens, we saw piles of refuse in parts of the city. Not as bad as Egypt but this was probably not the best time for a vacation in Greece! However, the city tour was an unexpected and welcome bonus. Our Cabin Facilities in our cabin (#6046) included adequate hanging space, plenty of drawers, a refrigerator, a flat screen television and a small, en-suite shower room. The range and quality of the toiletries was impressive and our cabin steward was excellent. We are on the Elite tier of the Princess Captain's Circle, so our refrigerator was stocked with a selection of complimentary drinks. Laundry facilities were also complimentary and we had Wi-Fi access to the Internet, with a free allowance of Internet time. TIP. Cabins 6030 to 6046 and 6033 to 6049 on "R class" ships have "obstructed views". The view from some of these cabins is so restricted that there seems little point in paying a premium for an outside cabin. However, cabins 6036, 6039, 6046 and 6049 offer reasonable views -â€" whilst cabins 6030 & 6033 are virtually unobstructed. Entertainment The itinerary included only three sea days, so daytime entertainment was limited. Pacific Princess provided the usual mix of competitions, quizzes and other fun and games. The ship offered entertainment every evening. However, our cruise itinerary included some long and very tiring shore excursions so after dinner, I did not attend many performances. Entertainment in the Cabaret Lounge featured: ' The Pacific Princess Singers and Dancers and the Pacific Princess Showband, who provided standard cruise ship fare. Five production shows were "Bonsoir Paris", "Shake Rattle & Roll", "Words & Music", "Tribute" and "Dance". ' Christopher Riggins, a vocalist who described himself as a "Pop operatic" tenor. No match for Pavarotti and far too loud (although that might be a problem with the sound system in the Cabaret Lounge). His performances would have been more enjoyable, if the sound engineer had turned down the volume. ' John Ware, a comedian. ' Dain Cordean, comedy magic. ' An Egyptian folkloric show (local performers from Alexandria) ' Port Lecturer, Richard Detrich ' Evening or Late Night Movies -â€" "Unknown"; "The Fighter"; "The Conspirator"; "Source Code" and Pirates of the Caribbean - on Stranger Tides. The Casino Lounge and the Pacific Lounge included: ' Dancing (various) ' Musical sounds of the Cruisetones ' Music through the night with David Crathorne ' 50s & 60s Sock Hop ' Country and Western Hoe Down Party ' Latin Night ' Champagne Waterfall Party Shore excursions Cruise line shore excursions tend to be over-priced -â€" and we prefer to explore alone or in small groups. Consequently, we only booked one of the ship's excursions. The Princess Port Guides were well written and unlike port guides on some other cruise lines, they provided a lot of useful information (not merely lists of shops that had paid for inclusion). Food and Drink Cuisine is an important aspect of any cruise. My wife must adhere to a gluten-free diet and avoids anything that contains wheat, rye or barley. For breakfast, gluten-free toast was available upon request. The headwaiter in the Club Restaurant presented lunch and dinner menus in advance, so my wife was able to order modified options for the following day. Our head waiter ensured that all her meals were gluten-free and she also received a freshly baked roll with dinner every evening. Our waiters in were brilliant and we really enjoyed our meals, which were always attractively presented. The size of the portions was "just right" and the choice and quality were truly excellent (with the possible exception of the duck a l'orange, which tends to be disappointing on Princess ships). However, I wish Princess would improve the quality of their standard coffee, which is made from liquid concentrate and is disgusting. Fortunately, passengers can purchase cappuccino, espresso and other specialty coffees as an alternative. TIP. If you prefer real coffee, save money with a coffee card, which you can purchase from your waiter or from any of the bars. The Panorama buffet restaurant was very good -â€" and far better than the Conservatory buffet restaurant on P&O Adonia (a sister ship to Pacific Princess). The Panorama offered an extensive selection of hot and cold items for breakfast and lunch -â€" and attractive salads at lunchtime. Breakfast options included freshly made omelettes. Lunch menus always included a hot carvery option. It was so difficult to choose and the displays of fresh fruit were simply amazing. At Haifa, the buffet also offered filled sandwiches and bread rolls for passengers who wanted a snack for the long day ashore. Princess ships cater primarily for the American market so for breakfast, the Panorama restaurant serves American crispy bacon. However, the breakfast display also included ham steaks and English bacon, for passengers who might prefer their bacon less "well done". Orange and apple juices were available at breakfast -â€" and passengers can enjoy iced tea or delicious cold lemonade at other times. Coffees and a selection of different teas were always available. The Panorama restaurant remained open until 11 pm every evening for a buffet dinner and/or bistro/pizzeria. However, we opted for waiter service in the Club Restaurant. We did not try either of the specialty restaurants. Service So what were the best -â€" and "not so good" aspects of Pacific Princess? Most aspects of our cruise were exceptionally good. Food in the buffet and main restaurants was outstanding -â€" and much better than our recent cruise on the P&O ship, Adonia. Loyalty benefits of the Platinum and Elite tier of the Captain's Circle are superior to the equivalent tiers on P&O Cruises. And the complimentary laundry service provides a massive incentive to sail with Princess, in preference to any other cruise line. Princess was as good as or better than P&O in most areas -â€" so the following aspects are little "niggles". Many passengers have complained repeatedly that ordinary coffee on Princess ships is dreadful. I wish Princess would follow the lead of its sister company in the UK (P&O Cruises) and install coffee machines that consume real ground coffee. However, Princess Cruises have ignored that criticism for many years, so I am not hopeful that the coffee will improve. Another annoyance was the absence of hot (or cold plates) in the buffet restaurant. Sometimes, the plates were so cold that hot food had cooled, by the time you reached your table. Princess Cruises should follow the lead of P&O Cruises, and install electrically heated carts to dispense hot plates. At other times, every plate was hot -â€" even if you wanted a salad or cold dessert. P&O and some other cruise lines have installed tea / coffee making facilities in passengers' cabins (similar to hotels on both sides of the Atlantic). That would be a very welcome addition on Princess ships. Fox News and BBC World were the only television news channels on Pacific Princess. There were no domestic TV channels from the UK -â€" not even the European edition of CNN. (Contrary to popular belief, BBC World is an international channel, which provides very little British news.) We were delighted to be able to watch Sky News on Azamara Quest in November 2010, on Azamara Journey in January 2011 (cruising from San Diego) and P&O Adonia in August 2011. Princess sell cruises to many British passengers, so it would be helpful if they could add Sky News to the range of TV channels (subject to availability of satellite reception). Most cruise lines, including P&O Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises, deliver a daily newssheet to passengers' cabins. Editions from Headland Media include "Britain Today", "The Canadian" and "USA Times". The Passenger Relations desk on Pacific Princess told me that Princess Cruises have discontinued this service. That is a retrograde step, particularly as the range of television news channels is so limited. Pacific Princess played canned music around the swimming pool and sometimes, in the buffet restaurant. The music was intrusive and I would have preferred no background music in any of the public areas. Tastes vary and you cannot please everybody all of the time. That is why the cruise director on Azamara Quest responded to passenger feedback in November 2010 by banishing the music. He commented that passengers who like music around the pool should use an iPod or personal stereo. Princess Cruises in the UK arranged our British Airways flight from Athens to London. Princess added every passenger to a group reservation, which prevented anyone from selecting their seats, ordering special diets, or checking-in on-line. The problem could have been avoided very easily, if Princess Cruises had applied a different airline locator reference to each surname. Four cruise lines, Princess Cruises, P&O Cruises, Azamara Club Cruises and Oceania Cruises operate former Renaissance ships, which are virtually identical. I haven't sailed with Oceania, so I cannot comment on their ships. However, passengers would enjoy a really superb experience, if cruise lines could combine the best aspects of P&O, Princess Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises. In the meantime, Pacific Princess scores at least nine out of ten. Consequently, I would happily book another cruise on either of the Princess "small ships" -â€" provided the price and itinerary are right. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
"Pacific Princess" Mediterranean and Transatlantic Cruise 23 November to 22 December 2010 We know the "R" ships well, having sailed on Insignia, Journey and Quest, and we like the size and design. We were ... Read More
"Pacific Princess" Mediterranean and Transatlantic Cruise 23 November to 22 December 2010 We know the "R" ships well, having sailed on Insignia, Journey and Quest, and we like the size and design. We were not disappointed with Pacific Princess, the library had been left as a library, with a good selection of books, and somewhere quiet to go for a read, and plenty of space in the other public areas. The itinerary was : Athens, Santorini, Patmos, Kusadasi, Haifa, Ashdod, Port Said, Sorrento, Civittavechia, Livorno, Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Ceuta, Casablanca, Ponta Delgada, Bermuda, Fort Lauderdale. Rather than write a travelogue, I thought I would mention the high and low points of this trip, so here goes...... High Points: The main dining room was excellent, first class staff and the food of an unfailingly high quality. So good we did not venture to the specialist diners! Cabin service was also exemplary, from the routine through to specialised when I went down with the dreaded tummy bug. Medical services were also top rate. The Cruise Director, Sammi, and her staff we also good, organising and participating in many activities to keep us all amused. The resident entertainers, mainly young Australians, did an excellent job. Kusadasi and Ephesus - we booked a private tour with Ekol travel, truly wonderful! Guide and Driver were brilliant, we were able to wander through the site and the terraces at our own speed, so we really enjoyed the day. The design of the viewing platforms inside the Terraces site was superb, and our guide knew all the best vantage points from which to take pictures. Alexandria - Four of us took a taxi to the Library, which is stunning! We went downstairs to a variety of other demonstrations and exhibits, and explored the Museum of Antiquities Civittavechia and Tarquinia - Short rail trip North to Tarquinia, a walled town. Shuttle bus from the station to the Town gate, and a very unspoilt place for a gentle Sunday stroll. Livorno, Pisa, Lucca and Florence - we were lucky enough to hook up with a party using "RomeinLimo" for this trip, and again it was wonderful. Ponta Delgada, Azores - What a delightful surprise this Island is! We went walkabout on our own, and took advantage of the local tourist board staff who provided us with maps and advice as soon as we had disembarked. We speak no Portuguese, but the friendliness and courtesy of the local people made us feel very welcome. Low Points: We used a Princess organised tour to go to Jerusalem - mistake, it was poor! We saw very little, we seemed to hang around for long periods doing nothing, and the Guide was not good. The Internet service was appalling, expensive and slow. As an ex professional in that field I know it could, and should, have been better. Finally, the Front Desk staff, specially trained to pat you on the head (metaphorically!) and send you away without doing anything other than the simplest of tasks. For example, we were delayed by bad weather between Bermuda and Fort Lauderdale, and it was obvious that most of us would have to rearrange our onward travel. Whilst I accept that there is limited capacity on the ship - to - shore phone, that capacity could have been better utilised had accurate information been forthcoming. It took me five visits to the Desk and four hours of frustration before I was given the correct phone number for my airline. Further, it is now over four weeks since we landed and I am still, despite repeated requests, awaiting a copy of my final account. The disembarkation was also poor; the need to get us off the ship quickly sometimes overwhelming both front desk the shore side organisation. We did manage to get to Texas to stay with our family and spent a wonderful Christmas and New Year with them, and we are now back in the UK planning the next trip, though it will not be with Princess...... Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
Pacific Princess Ratings
Category Editor Member
Rates 4.0 4.0

Find a Pacific Princess Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click