This was our first Princess cruise. We chose it because we are booked for the 2019 World Cruise on Sea Princess, and this was a kind of "dry run" -- if one can have a "dry" run at sea! We are pleased we did it, as we ... Read More
This was our first Princess cruise. We chose it because we are booked for the 2019 World Cruise on Sea Princess, and this was a kind of "dry run" -- if one can have a "dry" run at sea! We are pleased we did it, as we learned a lot.
We joined the Cruise Critic message board for this cruise, as well as the World one, and are so pleased that we did. At the meet and greet, it was great to fit faces to names, and have people to wave to in the corridors.
We called ourselves the three C's -- Cool Christmas Cruisers -- and the three CCCs certainly fitted this ship -- though I am going to add more. It was Cool (the AC worked overtime, despite the cool weather), Clean (sparkling, in fact), and Colossal (it took us four and a half minutes to walk the corridor from our cabin the bow to the sternmost exit, which was the only way to the Allegro restaurant). It was also Confusing. By the 12th day people were still getting lost, myself being one of them. This can be blamed on a very poor interior design. The Piazza should be the heart of the ship, as the Atrium is on most ships we have sailed, but instead it is an impediment. It is also very noisy, as loud classes, such as Zumba, have to be held there, for lack of entertainment space. And the shops are not in an arcade, but scattered like an airport duty free area, making it very hard to walk through, when there is a crowd. I don't think they were doing much trade; I certainly didn't pause to browse.
And then there is Culture -- lack of, that is. There is no card room, and the "library" is a set of shelves in the internet room. Bridge boards and bidding boxes were kept in the entertainment department, and put out in restaurants on sea days, for guests to use, unhosted. Games were played on the dinner tables, on top of the tablecloths. There was also a market held in a restaurant. I have strong reservations about this, which I have reported to the head Princess department in the US. Norovirus is the bane of cruise ships, and carrying publicly used material into the place where food is served is very risky indeed. There was little else of cultural interest. Two theatres, but no enrichment lectures. Each show is performed three times, two night sessions and the next in the middle of the day. I felt sorry for the entertainment department. It is a very hard ship for them. On the other hand, the internet is excellent, with an affable and helpful young man in charge of the internet cafe.
Surprisingly, it was CHINESE! There must have been a big promotion in mainland China. If they were expecting a tropical cruise, they were disappointed. The Chinese from Australia and New Zealand were equally amazed, especially as everyone assumed they could not speak English, like their mainland counterparts. So that added to the fun. One night we shared a table with a lovely family. Their daughter, who lived in Melbourne, translated freely, but it was easy to "talk" as her mother had such an expressive face. I was informed that the ship was designed for the Chinese market, which explains a lot, including the interior design (very like a top Chinese restaurant in Beijing), and the double signage.
The worst aspect was Cost. The cruise itself was a promotional bargain, but the accounts department is a disgrace. On disembarkation day everyone was talking about how they'd had to fix their accounts. One dear old lady with a cane said she had been charged $299 for a spa treatment! We drink only moderately -- and cut down even more when we found that two single Scotches (blend, not fancy) with water on the side cost $38. We only found this out when we checked our stateroom account, as this is the first ship we have ever experienced where there is no spirits menu, with prices, and where there is no chit presented to be signed in any of the bars. Chits are presented in the restaurants, but even though I added the price ($10 per glass on the menu) to the chit before signing, I was consistently charged $12. And, while it is cheaper to buy a bottle, to cover the next two or three dinners, the bottles seem to be very easily lost somewhere backstage.
And now comes a strong warning. I used a debit card linked to my checking account, to avoid the surcharge that comes with using a credit card. The my horror, when I checked my bank account after getting home, I found that while the total on my shipboard account had been taken out on disembarkation day, throughout the cruise TEN other charges had been made, ranging from $8.62 to $130.47. None of them seemed to relate to the actual shipboard account -- the figures simply didn't match. All ten were "pending" so when I phoned my bank, I was able to freeze them. Then I phoned Princess, as the bank officer urged me to do, and was told that these were "holding" charges, and that I would be repaid after the next five working days. Well, I shall be watching my bank statements, meantime, and unfreeze the card if what I was told turns out to be true. But a checking account is an everyday one, with other charges coming in, which makes the reduced balance a problem. Worse still, if this happens during the long world cruise, this double billing is going to really snarl up the finances back home. It is a crazy policy, as it means that we will be doing as little shopping as possible, and definitely cutting down on drinks. Meantime, I will inquire further. If this double-billing does not happen with credit cards, then I will change from debit to credit, and swallow the extra cost.
Unfortunately, as my husband says, it has soured our experience on Majestic Princess, and made us nervous about the next one. I am glad to have Cruise Critic to air our concerns, and strongly recommend their cruise roll calls, with their friendly and useful message boards. Read Less