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26 Princess Europe - Eastern Mediterranean Cruise Reviews

We chose this cruise because of the itinerary . My husband and I took our children, spouses and grandchildren (party of ten) on the 7 day cruise. My husband and I had gone on a previous cruise on another cruise line a few years ago and ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary . My husband and I took our children, spouses and grandchildren (party of ten) on the 7 day cruise. My husband and I had gone on a previous cruise on another cruise line a few years ago and wanted to take our family to see some of these places. We booked 3 balcony rooms and 2 rooms across the hall. We were very disappointed in the cruise. The food was just o.k. - not as good as the food on other cruise lines that we have been on. There were no extras such as making animals out of towels, ice sculptures, waiters dancing like we have had on previous lines. We have always loved the waiters and cabin personnel on other cruises and hated to leave them. We met no one we felt that way about on this cruise. We found the crew members indifferent and not very friendly with the exception of the girls handing out plates & silverware in the buffet dining room. The cabins were very nice and the public areas. Most of the excursions were excellent. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
We chose this cruise because we sailed princess in 2013 and really enjoyed the food and entertainment. We waited for the Royal because the balcony rooms have sofa beds and we were traveling with our son. Positive:lots of movie ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we sailed princess in 2013 and really enjoyed the food and entertainment. We waited for the Royal because the balcony rooms have sofa beds and we were traveling with our son. Positive:lots of movie choices in stateroom, gym not crowded (not sure if this is because no air conditioning for several days), you don't have to sign for towels, usually could find a chair by the pool later in the day. Two of the comedians were outstanding, wheelhouse band was great but wished they played longer than 11:30 , some of the shows were very good (Colors of the World), DJ Niki tried to play to the crowd most nights and was successful. Did two princess shore excursions they were both good. Negatives: Ports: only negative would be duplicate ports (Naples and Montenegro) and too short a duration in port . Also the port lecturer was a little hard to understand Very rocky and cold last day heading to Barcelona. Stateroom: carpeting was so dirty, I didn't want to walk on the floor, floor not vacuumed, beds were hard (had to try and use an extra duvet as cushion), lack of storage, bucket was so old and dirty but was replaced the day we left, International Cafe: only place to get regular coffee in the morning and understaffed for the size of the ship. Horizon Bistro: most ice machines under maintenance, transit days breakfast closed early, same choices every morning and afternoon. Tacos every afternoon. Have to wait until 5:30 for different choices Breakfast dining room: limited choices and only two on the menu and usually what is in the buffet Front desk: understaffed, took 2 weeks to followup on a first damaged and then lost shirt. Had to ask for a supervisor to get a form signed after 4 visits to the front desk and still no resolution. Had to keep repeating the situation over and over. No documentation system but a paper form and they lost the form so had to start over. Maitre'd: not sure why we were assigned the dining room on the opposite side of the ship from our room. Also assigned a table for 3 when requested 6-8. Luckily my son met teens his age the first week. HAL does a nice job with assigning table mates. Second night my son was behind us entering the dining room and was stopped at the entrance for a dress shirt and dress shorts. He asked if he could tell his parents he had to go change but was denied. We wondered where he was for 30 minutes and started to get concern and was going to go look for him. Our room was on the opposite side of the ship so it took some time for him to change. Many people were in jeans that evening and the gentlemen next to us was in shorts and sneakers. The policy should be the same for everyone. Please inform the parents when turning away a passenger. We spoke with the Maitre'd and the supervisor and there was no followup or explanation. Captains circular party: only for elite and platinum members at night for 1/2 hour and drinks only served for about 10 minutes. If you are ruby or emerald you receive drink coupons during the day and a chance to be entered in a drawing for elite the week of your cruise. 18-20 year olds: Only club 6, this age still likes to have more than a club to hang out. Should have xbox or something for them to do during the day especially when the weather is bad. Crown grill: don't bother ordering the lobster because it isn't Maine lobster. Looked like a small piece of shrimp. Ordered the lamb and it was 2 small pieces and had to order a second because I was still hungry (additional charge). The sides are limited and served family style. Again not a great dessert selection. I heard from other passengers that Sabatini's was better than the Crown Grill. Gym: Complained of gym having no air conditioning and they told me because there was too many people in the gym. There was 5 people in the gym. They finally turned the air conditioning on a few days later. Food: biggest complaint and the reason we moved from RCCL to Princess was the food. Last cruise with RCCL the food was poor. Dining room food was really disappointing. Food is a big part of cruising. Service really slow because of being understaffed. Not enough choices, meat has lots of fat (should have to spit out your food), hamburgers are overcooked and tough. Food was very salty. Food wasn't served with items on menu. Ordered veal with lemon butter sauce and got veal with brown gravy. They would run out of items. We had to order multiple items to make a regular size dinner. There was never a good dessert to pick on the menu unless you like cheesecake or creme brulee. We would end up ordering ice cream most nights. Apple pie, apple crumb anything with a fruit didn't have apples more like an apple paste. Why can't you make a simple brownie or chocolate cake, real apple, blueberry or lemon pie? pie. If I checked into a hotel with a dirty room, hard bed, poor food and slow service, I would not stay. Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
when you make a complaint, you expect to be listened to? 1) boarded on the Saturday and balcony area and glass were dirty - at first I thought the glass was frosted??!! 2) rear deck on boat (deck 17 ) was filthy - a day at sea and ... Read More
when you make a complaint, you expect to be listened to? 1) boarded on the Saturday and balcony area and glass were dirty - at first I thought the glass was frosted??!! 2) rear deck on boat (deck 17 ) was filthy - a day at sea and noticed stained decks and loungers. 3) formal night - we chose not to attend as ive had more black tie events than I care to mention and didn't want to cart my tux around in a case on holiday. however regular restaurant was poorly staffed with no clean tables and crockery/cutlery ( ironically we heard later on that the formal dining was in fact a shambles as they had not prepared for the uptake of so many people....really?? ) 4) door lock failed and despite maids master key could still not gain access to cabin - was told the supervisor was busy and would get there later. this was the final straw and I proceeded to "throw my toys out of the pram" at client services. no apology and no reply or update for the rest of the cruise - they didn't give a toss evidently. I then wrote a letter to princess highlighting all the issues and got a stock response basically saying " oh dear that's a pity - better luck next time" ive been with this lot before and was pleasant but this time it was bad, but what really rubbed was that they weren't really bothered!...NCL next time thank you very much! Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
Have done tens of long European cruises with Princess in the past and this one has me rethinking in the future. The ship was shiny and new which was great. Problem is that allot of the choices in building make this a ship to avoid. ... Read More
Have done tens of long European cruises with Princess in the past and this one has me rethinking in the future. The ship was shiny and new which was great. Problem is that allot of the choices in building make this a ship to avoid. We did a Mediterranean cruise and given this ship was created for the Asian market there were allot of Asian people on board. I mention this because it didn't seem as if allot of the items geared towards the Asian people were even being used by the Asians much less anyone else. Karaoke rooms cost an extra fee to use them and yet I never saw one person in any of the Karaoke rooms the entire cruise. A conservatory takes up a large portion of the ship and is billed as a meditation space, the only people I saw in here all cruse were about 5 Brits watching a soccer game. High End Duty free shopping also takes a large amount of space. Most people under the age of 60 have access to the the internet and now these shops had hardly any customers. The most crowded they got was when the ships staff had a private event to buy g-shock watches. The dancing at night is held in the indoor pool area. Nothing like sipping on few drinks with the smell of chlorine permeating the air. Its as if the local YMCA had a dance. The rest of the entertainment was nothing to write home about either. Typically below the standards of a theme park. The pool at the back no longer exists and instead an odd outdoor workout area is there. Never saw anyone use it. The staff was pretty confused most of the time and very curt. Hardly personable and by the far the worst staff on any princess ship. We tried multiple extra fee restaurants and the only one that was not subpar was the Crown Grille but it still was a much worse experience than other Crown Grilles on different princess ships. The staff was not rude but not pleasant either, we waited 45 minutes past our reservation to get seated and the food was no delivered correctly. The other restaurants are not worth a visit and no better than mediocre restaurants in a medium size city. I would avoid. In fact I would avoid this ship all together. If it wasn't for it being a new ship and being clean I would have given it a terrible rating. Avoid this ship. Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
Decided to to take the cruise to accompany my wife's sister for her 70 Bday. Shouldn't have. Have cruised on perhaps 7-8 different lines so I have some comparison. First the positives. The ship was clean and the staff worked hard ... Read More
Decided to to take the cruise to accompany my wife's sister for her 70 Bday. Shouldn't have. Have cruised on perhaps 7-8 different lines so I have some comparison. First the positives. The ship was clean and the staff worked hard to please. The stateroom well done. 1) The food was mediocre at best. One could tell that the beef, aside from the steak house, was not American. One of the wait staff told me to order my steak well done! Most items were precooked and over done. The selections were limited. They seemed to want everyone in the buffet area-the dining room was closed for lunch. Coffee was dreadful even the espresso and cappuccino which were extra. The wine list was basic- no vintages listed. 2) The ship: Too large, walking everywhere. No stairs. All elevators. NOISY. Everywhere music was blasting. It invaded the so-called quiet areas. The central atrium was all marble and glass-deafening at times. The music was on before 6 AM on deck. As large as it was there wasn't a quiet bar with music and dancing. The library was half as large as a 500 passenger ship. 3) Tours. Short bus rides into towns were $7-8. They really discouraged taxis or public transportation. A tour to Delos was $160 but we could have taken it by public transportation and admission for $36! This ship seemed geared to young, inexperienced people. The The passengers were anything but-perhaps average age 65+. Trying to nickle and dime seemed the norm. Save a little more and take a better cruise. In the long run you'll be happier. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
Our fourth cruise, all with Princess, and our second this year, booked fairly late with a decent deal for a balcony room, but what a disappointment! This review comes on the back of a fabulous trip on the Star Princess around South America ... Read More
Our fourth cruise, all with Princess, and our second this year, booked fairly late with a decent deal for a balcony room, but what a disappointment! This review comes on the back of a fabulous trip on the Star Princess around South America in March so there will be comparisons that perhaps aren't fair if Princess are choosing to phase out the pleasant experience we're used to. But it's my review so there. Firstly, the good parts: the itinerary, the ports and excursions, embarkation and disembarkation were all fabulous. Kotor and the trip to Delos during the Mykonos stop were especially wonderful. Ship decor and condition was very good too. But the bad parts far outweighed the good. To start with there's the ship design: Club 6 is a poor replacement for Skywalkers with no sea views and acting as a corridor part of the time when the theatre show kicks out. The SeaWalk looks interesting for five seconds until you spot its flaws: privacy and views are ruined; you can see straight into several decks of cabins whilst they get an obscured sky thanks to its position above them; if you want to stand on it at night and look down at the sea then you're out of luck because the lights reflect off the glass. The Crown Grill's specialty status seems to be devolving into just a pub restaurant; brighter, more open, barely disconnected from the Wheelhouse Bar. Ambience destroyed. And it's not the only place. We've loved sitting in Crooners at the top of the piazza in the early evening, maybe listening to the piano, relaxing with a Martini or two. Well, not on the Royal where the oversized piazza is constantly filled with a racket of whatever is going on below bellowing up and completely destroying the atmosphere. Pleasant walks around the promenade after dinner are a thing of the past now too because there isn't one. Drinks orders were being taken on tablets which slowed down the process ridiculously. Stewards scrolling through lists to find the drink rather than scribbling something down to get that across to the bar is a disconnecting experience, removing the personal touch and to some extent the responsibility as well. So, we didn't like the design but we could have accepted it as just one of those things because it's a different ship. What we couldn't accept was the level of service; when it wasn't downright rude (customer services desk assistant rolling her eyes at us when we tried to explain something she'd misunderstood) it was perfunctory at best. We experienced being ignored around the Retreat Pool by a steward more interested in gazing out to sea, and generally indifferent order-taking and supply throughout the week. The contrast between this trip and the Star Princess couldn't be more marked where our names, card numbers, and drink preferences were known by friendly, smiling, entertaining staff within a couple of days in March. The only staff members who stood out were those who were barely doing the job we had come to expect of them. There was no turn-down on our last night. A night-time experience to see the stars was wasted because of a problem on the bridge preventing them from turning off the lights for the 70+ of us gathered; you can't help problems like that occurring but you can communicate that to the staff trying to host the event rather than letting them phone back and forth a half-dozen times leaving a load of us standing around for 30 minutes. So, Europe: we'd like to do more of it, definitely, as it's not somewhere we've really travelled despite living so close. However, we won't be travelling on the Royal, Regal, or Majestic Princess because the layout doesn't suit us, and we've come away questioning our future loyalty to Princess if the state of the staff training for this cruise is anything to go by. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
This is my 3rd cruise on Princess and I have been on 2 cruises on Royal Carribean. I think I will seriously reconsider going back to Princess cruises for a very long time. I felt discriminated against because my family was Asian (although ... Read More
This is my 3rd cruise on Princess and I have been on 2 cruises on Royal Carribean. I think I will seriously reconsider going back to Princess cruises for a very long time. I felt discriminated against because my family was Asian (although we were born in Toronto, Canada). They were really cheap with water and tried to milk every dollar for every opportunity. ------------------- Key Happenings: My fiance paid for a bottle of Dom Perignon and chocolate covered strawberries to be delivered to our room on our first day as a surprise. I didn't get anything until he told me on my 4th day when I finally touched base with him. The reception insisted there was no such order. Then suddenly the strawberries came and it looked like they threw the plate over to us, the strawberries were in disarray all over the plate. After a lot of argument and back and forth, the Dom Perignon finally arrived but with two glasses instead of three. I asked for another in which the deliveryman replied "I can't get that for you, just call your state room attendant" So we waited another hour to get in touch with our stateroom attendant to get another glass so the three of us can have our Dom Perignon. I was in the elevator, which was cramped (every time). This drunken British passenger got on and exclaimed "Does ANYONE SPEAK ENGLISH HERE?", I guess to let everyone know there were too many Asians in the elevator for his taste. ------------------- Before the Trip - Athens: We arrived the day before our embarkation in Athens. We had some time to tour the area and the ruins. Unfortunately Athens is not in a good economic state and we found that the ruins were not very well taken care of. Some historic sites were closed even though it was to be open. They hiked up the price of Temple of Zeus by two fold in the past month. We stayed in the Intercontinental Atheneum. It had a beautiful view of Acropolis from the patio at the members lounge. There were a lot of other guests from Princess cruises staying there. However, I found the hotel out of the way and there was not much around in terms of food/activities. ------------------- Embarkation: Embarkation went smoothly. I think this was the best part of our trip. It just got exponentially worse. Once we got to the ship we did the muster drill. My brother had really bad knees and we were on the 15th floor. A crew member stationed at the top of the stairs instructed us (more like herded passengers like cows) to the emergency stairs. I asked her if we could take the elevators due to my brother and his knee pain, to this she replied "THIS WAY TO THE STAIRS" - me: yes, but my brother... Crew: "THIS WAY TO THE STAIRS", me: yes I understand but he is in pain I'd like to take the.... Crew:"THIS WAY TO THE STAIRS!". Rude. Once we got to the muster station it was a mess, very disorganized. The muster 'leader' kept yelling and pointing at other Asian passengers. Its not their fault they are not fluent in English. The passengers were earnestly trying to follow. It was a sad sight. ------------------- Cabin: We had a mini-suite with the three of us (my mother, brother, and myself) with a balcony. We read the reviews and the balcony was indeed very small. Overall it was OK. Our room attendant was nice but he didn't do any special touches like leaving towel animals etc. He kept not leaving us water bottles despite us filling out the form saying we are purchasing water ($3.50 per big bottle I believe). We purchased a few bottles every day. It wasn't even Evian, some generic brand. ------------------- Ship: This is the worst ship I have been to. The communal areas are cramped and you are bumping into people all the time. Didn't help that the passengers were also extremely rude. There would be long lines and disgruntled passengers being herded like cows, left and right. It felt like there were not that many areas to just relax like other cruise ships. One area would be the 'sushi bar' and if you didn't have sushi it felt like you couldn't sit there so a bunch of chairs would just stay empty through the whole cruise and the crowds would be more intensely concentrated on areas where you wouldn't be strong-armed to buy $2-a-piece mediocre sushi. We sat next to the pool for 5 hours and watched as NOT A SINGLE pool server came by to us to ask what we wanted to drink. They were busy bees running around for other white passengers though. Finally I flagged one down and asked for a Caesar and slipped him a $5 and obviously it was not a problem afterwards. Money really talks on this ship. I lined up to grab a quick sandwich in the "Piazza" and the chefs were so annoyed with the passengers, they were yelling at us. Relax, its just a sandwich. ------------------- Pool Area: Pretty disappointing. The "movies under the stars" was a good concept but not good in execution. When you sit next to the pool the sounds are a mix of dance music - children screaming - random movie playing in the background. I don't mind dance music - children screaming but with a movie playing in the background it was really odd, also doesn't help only 30% of total passengers could see the screen. We eventually moved to "The Sanctuary" but not the paid part. I saw a few Chinese ladies have a fun conversation with each other in Mandarin, around them were other passengers having fun/laughing in English. This British lady randomly got up of her lawn chair and yelled at the Chinese ladies to keep the noise down. But they were really just conversing in Mandarin. Oh and yes, the pool servers didn't come to us or the Chinese ladies over the course of 5 hours. In the evening, movies would be playing but I hardly saw any passengers watch because it was really windy and cold. The ship didn't have a shaded jacuzzi/pool area either like other ships. ------------------- Entertainment/Activities: I never felt this on previous ships but this time around I felt like everything was a money grab left and right. They had 2 for 1 drink deals and there would just be a massive crowd heading over to one specific bar on the side of the ship (Crooners), which I don't understand because they couldn't accommodate everyone so why not have this deal throughout the ship? They heavily advertised crab shack at the buffet but it sat empty most of the time. Royal Caribbean had sushi for free at their buffet and it was great. This ship had 'sushi' on the last day but it was terrible. The servers outside of Horizon Court usually gave a frown if you asked for a cup of water. ------------------- Dining: They kept pushing us to buy bottled water at the buffet. Servers were nice but wow, I have never eaten so often on PLASTIC PLATES and CUPS before. Buffet is 100% on plasticware. They have these placemats that were so dirty. They were so busy they never wiped down the mats they would just turn it over or just re-use the same mat over and over again. It was unhygienic. We were tired of the crowd and decided to bring our food to our room. When we asked for cutlery they instructed us to just grab a few off the tables next to us. The ship didn't have a toaster for cruise passengers to use, so we were left to have stale, pre-toasted bread that would be sitting under a heated lamp. Either that or we had to flag down a chef to make toast for us, which was an unnecessary hassle for both parties. The food was OK. There was always a selection of Indian curry (I guess to accommodate for all the British Passengers). A few pastas, cold bars, roast meats, the usual. We tried the anytime dining and I found the food wasn't as fresh as the buffet. My shrimp came on a very wilted piece of lettuce. ------------------- Ports/Excursions: This was my first Europe trip and most of the ports were accessed by tender. Overall, the ports were great since a lot of the cities were ones I haven't visited before. I would've skipped excursions for Santorini and Kotor though, the port is already beautiful and there were lots to do around the port. ------------------- Disembarkation: This was great since I got to get off and away from the ship! ------------------- Summary This experience has turned around my overall expectation of cruising. I may never cruise again. It was a horrible experience being trapped on board in a cesspool of bigotry. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
This was our first ever holiday on a cruise ship, we choose Princess because it had the timing and visits we wanted. We choose a balcony room and paid full fare. I will keep this simple: A Cruise to us is nice food and entertainment ... Read More
This was our first ever holiday on a cruise ship, we choose Princess because it had the timing and visits we wanted. We choose a balcony room and paid full fare. I will keep this simple: A Cruise to us is nice food and entertainment 1: We were refused entry to the intermediate restaurants on formal nights (2) even though we dressed in the best we brought with us (Black suit and tie required) So ended up in the Buffet which was inconsistent in quality. (One night they counted 5 cherries per plate no lie) 2. The "Love Boat" theme is way past old - continues screening on one channel of captain stubbing and crew was just lame. 3. The timing of activities on the boat overlapped so after watching one show going to another event meant late arrival no seats or show ending 4. The cost of the on board photos is extreme way beyond a reasonable cost 5. On departure we were left at Rome without water in the sun and a 4 hour wait because of offloading time allocation. Good or better: 1. Staff are excellent they work there "guts" out for a pittance and 9 months servitude on contract 2: The at cost restaurants ($25) are what we should have had all along in quality The ship looks a little tired We will not be spending our money on cruising again based on this experience Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
From the moment we stepped onboard Emerald in Istanbul there was a complete lack of elegance and sophistication we had found on numerous cruises before aboard the Princess line. The ship was tired, the crew burned out and there was a ... Read More
From the moment we stepped onboard Emerald in Istanbul there was a complete lack of elegance and sophistication we had found on numerous cruises before aboard the Princess line. The ship was tired, the crew burned out and there was a complete lack of concern. The bedding looked like they had cleaned the floor with it and the bathroom towels were ragged and tattered. We have cruised Princess several times before although it had been three years ago this time and the difference was shocking. For those of us who enjoy the late seating dining this unbeknownst to us eliminated the evening shows. Show times were 6 and 7:30 instead of the traditional 10 PM show after a nice dinner. The entertainment was nonexistent. The Princess Employee Talent Show are you kidding me you could hear the dogs barking 60 miles away in Istanbul. The first full day was a day at sea and we tried to go up to one of the pools but there were no towels left so we got to sit on the dirty deck chairs and watch the unsupervised children strangling one another as the played some version of "King of the Mountain". Jumping, diving, screaming and carrying on it was a complete free for all. The toilet in our stateroom stopped working and the list continued. We were in shock as I began to think that somehow I wound up on a Carnival ship. I wrote a letter and emailed it to Princess corporate. About 48 hours later I received a telephone call from the Customer Services Director stating that he had heard from the home office and want a meeting with me. With nothing to lose and hopefully something to gain I agreed. We discussed the aforementioned issues along with horrible food both overlooked and undercooked, the free for all buffet on the Horizon Deck and the fact that you had to just about beg to get a glass of lemonade from the staff. There were people complaining every time we turned around. These were legitimate complaints and for the many that tried to speak with someone on staff they told how they were ignored and dismissed. At the end of my meeting the Customer Services Director requested that I meet with him again the second week which I agreed to do and I never heard another word from him. We decided to purchase a photo taken on one of the Formal Nights and as usual we saw the $19.95 sign but when I went to pay for the picture I was charged $24.95 and when I asked why the increased price the response I got was that it was a portrait. Seriously? How about the dry cleaning that came back in a ball of wrinkles? The ship is due to go to the yard in October which is probably about 6 months later than it should have. They requested that we complete a post cruise survey and as you can probably imagine I was more than happy to respond albeit not what they wanted to hear. I even attached a letter elaborating on our experiences leaving the door open for some type of resolution but all I got was a telephone call from someone in California identifying himself as the people in charge of dissatisfied passengers thanking me for my input. Are you kidding me over $10,000.00 spent and I get a "have a nice day." In a nutshell the cruise was a disaster and Princess completely dropped the ball this time. I cannot begin to tell of the frustration I feel with this cruise and this company. If your considering a Princess Cruise don't until they get straightened out if they get straightened out. Simply put we got ripped off! I will never ever do another Hop On Hop Off "Medley" cruise again and I'm very doubtful we will set foot on another Princess Cruise due to their give a heck attitude. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
Firstly I can not complain about the staff on the Ship they all worked very hard, Allthough some staff did have difficulty in having 100% command of English. I am not a fan of American beers and was shocked at the absence of british beers, ... Read More
Firstly I can not complain about the staff on the Ship they all worked very hard, Allthough some staff did have difficulty in having 100% command of English. I am not a fan of American beers and was shocked at the absence of british beers, The vast majority of persons on the cruise were British . Secondly when ordering a drinck I had no idea of the actual cost as this was not displayed. Last year my wife and I went on a P&0 cruise and were basically spoilt by the entertainment and indeed the quality bar service. On the princess my wife and I could not find a sun bed as they were not enough to go round,Also the pools were full of children so I could not swim. The entertainment shows lasted 30 mins . Allthough I was very impressed with Comedian John Martin who was excellent. Afternoon tea was a disaster due to the staff not really knowing how to conduct this service. Sandwiches were mixed with scones and cakes put on the same plate. Before finishing the sandwiches. As I mentioned The vast majority of passengers were British and have different tastes to American services. I personally will always book with P&0 I do feel when it comes to customer service they are the best . I am a proffessional Tour guide and always put the guest first, Making sure that everyone is treated the same this was not the case on the Carribbean princess. Simon Entwistle top hat tours Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
I have travelled with Princess for 30 years often defending and promoting this company as times & cruise expectations have evolved & changed. I booked a 2 week cruise from Istanbul to Barcelona. I received 2 one week cruises ... Read More
I have travelled with Princess for 30 years often defending and promoting this company as times & cruise expectations have evolved & changed. I booked a 2 week cruise from Istanbul to Barcelona. I received 2 one week cruises with food, entertainment, in-room entertainment and public announcements duplicated from one week to the next. Different ports of call but the exact same onboard mediocracy. Oh, and noro-virus (the ship went to 'RED' status). The ship is in rough condition with mold and mildew growing around the whirlpools, elevators not functioning, decor pealing, burned out lights and an "EFFY Store." As an Elite passenger, we were greeted with an obviously dirty toilet with skid marks. As the sun entered the room, we could also see the antics of a previous passenger splattered on the artwork hanging on the wall. The table on the balcony did receive a cleaning 12 days into the cruise and the room was vacuumed once. We did of course receive our invitation on week one for the Captain's Party. No handshaking as the virus was throughout the ship. We also received a second invitation to a Captain's Party (same Captain's name on the invite) the following Thursday. However, we did not attend because the Captain disembarked for a 2 month vacation and a new Captain took the helm that very day. We are still curious why we received the second invite from a Captain and a system that must have known he was leaving. The system is broken. I felt we were simply a credit card number. Minimum effort by a system needing a radical examination & overhaul. I compliment the staff (not the head-office, not the accountants, not the system analysts & definitely not the senior management) in trying to provide a great cruise experience to each and every passenger but are handicapped by a dysfunctional, antiquated corporate culture. After 30 years, the question arises if I will travel on the Love Boat again (....by the way, the episodes were repeats & repeated too!)? Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
As a family we like to try new ships particularly large ships. We have sailed about 10 cruises in the last 8 years including large ships such as NCL Breakaway and Epic, Carnival Breeze, Celebrity Silhouette, Liberty of the Seas. We booked ... Read More
As a family we like to try new ships particularly large ships. We have sailed about 10 cruises in the last 8 years including large ships such as NCL Breakaway and Epic, Carnival Breeze, Celebrity Silhouette, Liberty of the Seas. We booked last minute and got a very good deal . I had sailed once before many years ago on Princess in the Caribbean and enjoyed it but on a much smaller ship. For us the destinations were not that important as we had visited all the locations before. It was the ship we wanted to experience and visually it is beautiful. We had two cabins one of which was a balcony for three and one an inside cabin for two. The inside cabin was very suitable for two while the balcony cabin was very tight for three. As we don't spend much time in the cabin that was not important to us. Bathroom was tight but acceptable.Air con was just about acceptable. We only could find one plug in the cabin so charging phones ipods etc was always a battle. Our cabin steward was excellent. I thought the overall layout of the ship was very poor and does not just work well. Toilets were very hard to find and not signposted and lifts were always busy. However for me the biggest disappointment was the centre atrium area that takes in decks 5, 6 and 7.This is the hub of the ship with numerous bars on the various floors. My biggest issue was that if music was played on deck 5 for example that you didn't like you could not avoid it on any of the other decks above. For example I don't particularly like classical music if performed by a small quartet of musicians. It feels too much like a hotel lobby piped music and this was regularly the entertainment that was supplied in this area. Later on a piano guy performs in Crooners but after one or two nights you were hoping someone else would take his place to give a different night but it never happens. They have a second piano guy in another pub area near the grill restaurant but he is a replicate of the first with the same boring melodies.Overall entertainment is very poor on this ship except for a few shows in the theatre that were actually quite good. I spoke to staff about this and they all said we generally have an older crowd in their 60s. While there were a lot of 60+ on board there were also a lot of people under 50 and 40 and younger. Anyway people in their 60s grew up with Elvis, Beatles and the Stones so I don't think this argument on music holds up. Also we are in the middle of the summer season with many teens kids etc on holidays. The entertainment programme should change to accommodate this. Food was good but not exceptional . I was not impressed by the look of the main dining area compared to every other ship I was on. No glamour at all.We booked any time dining but generally had to wait for 15 /30 minutes to get a table. If booking now I would book a fixed time dining and if that didn't work on a particular day all you need to do is join the any-time diners queue. The two paid restaurants were good and I thought the Italian was slightly better. Pool area was nice but they often used movies during the day to entertain you on the big screen. While this is okay late at night for the non drinkers I think it is inappropriate during the afternoon. They also showed some live concert movies including Pavarotti during a sea day. Needless to say that took the fun out of the area very quickly. However they also showed a few other livelier concerts but nothing beats live upbeat music on that pool area. While live music did happen a few times it might only last an hour before the next movie would be on.The front of the ship had a nice pool area for adults only if you wanted to get away from the movie. Casino was okay with one or two high rollers in operation. Churchills (smoking area) seemed to be full must days. Nightclub was empty most evenings. All staff were excellent but every cruise ship I was ever on appear to have good well trained staff. So overall we were not impressed with the Regal Princess. It was boring for people like us that like to have a bit of party time on a vacation. We were regularly wandering around looking for some fun but to no avail. On the other hand if you want to get off the ship early at every location and want to get to bed by 11 this is probably a good choice. I assure you wont be kept awake by any noise on board.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
Well-trained and consistently-trained staff. Unfailingly (apparently) happy in their work and with good people skills.  Good sense of humour (necessary to rebuff the complaints about the food). Relentless up selling of drink options. (I ... Read More
Well-trained and consistently-trained staff. Unfailingly (apparently) happy in their work and with good people skills.  Good sense of humour (necessary to rebuff the complaints about the food). Relentless up selling of drink options. (I don't WANT your "special" marguerita - I want an ordinary one!) Poor organisation in breakfast buffet, though with all waiting staff either assigned to drinks duty ("More coffee, sir" , every three minutes, even when cups still full) or to cleanup when the under-managers were on the prowl (three separate mornings when NOBODY came by our table to ask if I wanted juice or any other drink, I was reduced to pouring it for myself, which of course led to protests from the staff member who noticed!). Wouldn't it make more sense to have some staff assigned to each duty type at all times? Food in main dining room (8.15 sitting) bland and uninspiring. I was tempted to attend the culinary demonstration in order to find out how they managed to remove any flavour from what were (presumably) reasonable-quality ingredients. The highlight was the fried sushi rolls, which were inventive and imaginatively-presented. The lowlight was the food on the Italian night (for some reason scheduled on Halloween, some five days after we had left Italian waters), where great skill had been applied to the desiccation of both fish and meat main courses. The evening entertainment in the theatre varied from reasonable (Siobhan Phillips - beautiful and unusual voice), through adequate (Freddie Mercury tribute), to pathetic (the "other" David Copperfield). Some people seemed to enjpy Copperfield, to judge by the laughter (unless he had a backing tape set up), BUT I have to say to my US co-travellers that this was not "wacky British Humour" - he simply was not funny! The nightclub appeared to be patronised largely by off-duty members of the entertainments team, but was a lively place to relax with a post-prandial marguerita. Adagio was altogether more refined. We just didn't like the lack of atmosphere in wheelhouse, explorers, or crooners, but plenty of other people did. Daytime entertainment appeared to be focused on separating guests from their money (Casino, Art etc). Except, to be fair, the various musicians who played in the Piazza. Special mention should be made of the Atomic party band, who were able to turn their hands to many different styles, but were at their best when allowed to rock! Room was comfortable (inside, Riviera deck), very quiet and supplied with all necessities. I found it strange, though, that a US-dominated boat appeared to have no shoe-shine facilities, nor did our steward seem to understand what should be done to clean and shine a pair of brown leather shoes.  Only ended up taking one tour. The staff member assigning us to buses failed to notice the important words "guiados en Espanol" on our tickets, leaving the guide at Olympia to make some hurried phone calls to get us out of the English-language group from bus 11 and onto the Spanish group from bus 14. The other tour we booked was cancelled, so we instead did Ephesus on our own, as for most of the other ports. The guests were split 1500 US, 500 UK, 500 Aussie and 500 "other". Ages ranged from one year to about ninety, the median being around fifty. The US folk seemed to stick together, but the non-US mixed well (and I include the Latino Yanks in "non-US" here - it was the Anglo-Yanks who seemed to be the most stand-offish). The itinerary was great (Greek Isles, Venice to Rome), but I don't think we will be back on the Ruby in a hurry.   Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
I have travelled on many ships in my life and was looking forward to our 12 day Mediterranean cruise with Princess, having previously travelled with Costa, Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Cunard and P & O and thoroughly enjoyed all of ... Read More
I have travelled on many ships in my life and was looking forward to our 12 day Mediterranean cruise with Princess, having previously travelled with Costa, Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Cunard and P & O and thoroughly enjoyed all of them. We boarded Ruby Princess in Venice with our two teenageers and within 24 hours had experienced some very arrogant behaviour by a Restaurant Manager who kept us waiting for Anytime dining for over 30 minutes with no explanation or apology. When he was approached for information regarding the wait , he brushed off saying it wasn't his fault a lot of people had come at once. As a travel professional I suggested that it might have been good service to explain to customers there might be a wait and give some sort of indication how long. He blamed his staff and said it was their job not his and offered no apology and or resolution. After 45 minutes (total) we went to the buffet missing out on a more formal dining experience for which we had dressed. I contacted Customer Services on a number of occasions regarding this matter and some 48 hours later they offered an alternative restaurant. Following that, we were woken daily, when in port (nine days in total) by shipboard announcements at 7am with details of how to disembark etc. After each announcement, in a number of languages, it was impossible to get back to sleep. by day 6 of a 12 day cruise I was besides myself with tiredeness and asked if they would stop. The disembarkation information is available through a number of different means and when awoken with this sort of information you can not take it in so it is of little value.. Additionally, I spoke with other passengers who felt the same. The customer Service Manager admitted there had been complaints but couldn't do anything about it unless the ship's managment agreed. Nothing was done and I returned home exhauseted and unable to appreciate any of the good things about the cruise. I have written to Princess Cruises and had to chase their response (28 days after writing). The eventual response was evassive and said that my comments would be passed on, etc Whilst there is nothing Princess can do to make good an expensive two week holiday that was ruined, I had hoped they would realise how serious sleep deprivation can be for some people. Their response does not indicate it is an issue they are concerned with. I have found some of their responses to cusomer service issues, both on board and off, to be somewhat arrogant and would wish to advise anyone who values sleep to check beofre travelling as to the policy on early morning announcements. I would certainly not have booked with princess had they made me aware and am still cross that they would not listen to me or other passengers. They had every opportunity to put this right on board but chose not to for reasons I still cannot understand. Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
I have thought a lot about my experience on board the Royal Princess, let it digest and settle in for a couple of weeks before penning a review. I will say that, compared to how I felt getting off the boat, my negative impressions have not ... Read More
I have thought a lot about my experience on board the Royal Princess, let it digest and settle in for a couple of weeks before penning a review. I will say that, compared to how I felt getting off the boat, my negative impressions have not mellowed with time, although my acute irritation has tamped down somewhat. To sum up the experience: beautiful ship and if it had been my first Princess cruise, I would never have considered returning to the line. The good: This is a BEAUTIFUL ship, to look at. No plastic brassy Sopranos-esque splendor this. Woods and granites and polished steels, as well as wide open spaces and broad areas make the ship a joy to be in. Automatic doors and wider entryways everywhere are wonderful. It feels like a luxury resort hotel on the water, which is really what all cruise ships should be in my opinion. The public spaces are bigger and grander than I have seen on Princess ships. Despite almost 4000 passengers, there really wasnt any problem with getting a place to be or a place to sit wherever you wanted to go. That was a wonderful new experience, especially during busy times where there were a lot of people out and about. The new Ocean seafood bar is a great, if pricy, experience. Ossetra caviar set up in the perfectly traditional way with plenty of fixings (egg, onion, crme fraiche, the whole schmear) is a joyous experience and we thoroughly enjoyed the splurge. Note-- -get a vodka martini straight up, NOT a shot, if you like vodka with your caviar. The pour is bigger and more cost effective. The sushi here was also wonderful, with unusual offerings like tuna poke for the Hawaii-philes amongst us. They do not do rolls, however, which is a bit of a lack, but if you charm the staff they will work with you regardless of the official offerings. This was one of two areas where the staff and service simply shined. The boutiques are better stocked and have broader breadth. A particularly nice addition, to me, was the cosmetics boutique dedicated just to fragrance, cosmetics, and body products. The prices were really good, too. Bravo! Horizon Court is vastly better and improved. From the space and layout to the variety and quality of the food-- A++++. The bad: I read someone else describe this as a teething situation. Yes, this ships staff is collectively a cranky fussy baby that does not know what to do with itself. Without cataloguing in a super boring way the serious and ongoing shortcomings: dining room service is slow, incompetent and belligerent about its incompetence (no I DID bring you the right bottle of wine, oh really, cause I can read my account number on the previous bottle which is not this); bar service is hit or miss at best never even a waiter to be found in the casino and only three times over 13 days in the aft smoking section; room service is an unmitigated mess--- deliveries an hour early, consistently missing items (like milk for cereal), fruit orders are an absolute shuffle (heres your bowl of kiwi, wait, I ordered everything BUT kiwi) and on and on and on. More than once I was brought the wrong drink, and once told "just drink that its close enough." The ship is new and the staff has no experience with each other, and boy does it show. The best example of this was standing, for a full five minutes, trying to get a simple Diet Coke, listening to the lone bartender argue with a server at the bar about how the server had taken an order, with the server arguing back that he had done it correctly to start with. Aside from our STELLAR cabin steward, the service got a D- grade consistently. The staff are pretty clear, universally, that they are there for their own reasons and purposes. Providing service or experience is definitely not high on the list. I got particularly sick of the entertainment staff strutting and shoving around the ship--- even crowding and shoving in line at the buffet--- as if they owned it. Its too big, period. Everything and everywhere is a hike. This becomes really tiresome after a while and its just wearing to walk a football field to get anywhere. Dining choices and especially the wine list have taken a serious turn towards the uninspired and mediocre. When coupled with the "service" the Dining Rooms really left me cold, which was sad since on our other cruises I loved the Dining Room experience nightly. The fountain show is lame. Perhaps a better pool would have been a better call. The ugly: Its a profit maximizing situation, only, for Princess and thats how theyre treating it. It starts to stack up in an annoying way. They are charging separately for soda in a mixed drink. They actually have fewer and less nice amenities throughout when compared to other ships--- laundry room is top loader and old washers and dryers; no game room/area; the pools (see below); the library is several shelves with a single conference table; steam rooms and spa amenities are co-ed and costs $49.00 per day; etc. etc. The idea was clearly to cram as many people as possible onto this pretty tub with the minimum amenities they could get away with. Two pools for 4000 people. Yes two. No aft pool area which was awesome on other ships. No indoor pool. Basically, if you want to wade into Manhattan rush hour type crowds the pools are great, otherwise the pools are unusable. I found this situation unforgivable. Our cabin, while beautiful, was ridiculously badly insulated, poorly installed and the tradeoffs Princess made, bluntly, suck. Our balcony on a mini-suite was a joke--- teeny tiny. Compared to the Island Princess where it was basically another room on our mini-suite, the Royal Princess balcony frankly just made me mad. Two chairs crammed in and no room to move. There were ottomans underneath the deck chairs that one could not get out without taking the whole mess inside, and nowhere for them to be. The balcony was basically useless and unusable. I could not find a comfortable way to sit, ever, and every time I tried my legs fell asleep. The suites were also balcony-deficient. The noise in the cabin was outrageous and was a lot like being inside a boiler room--- crashes, bangs, shudders, groans. A TV fell off the wall at one point. Ugh. For a laugh--- whoever designed the bathrooms clearly never poops. Toilet paper was IMPOSSIBLE to get to or use and everyone I spoke to had toilet paper sitting in a roll on their counter for this reason. While this is just dumb, it gives you an idea of how they treated the ship and comfort of the passengers--- i.e., not at all. The verdict: All in all, we had a great trip because of the itinerary in the Mediterranean and the wonderful people we met. The Royal Princess itself was not something that made the trip better, and I will never sail it again.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
Having read a previous review about this same holiday and the fact that they too did not receive a reply to their letter to Carnival House decided me that I must add my comments. We were at least informed about Rhodes, several months ... Read More
Having read a previous review about this same holiday and the fact that they too did not receive a reply to their letter to Carnival House decided me that I must add my comments. We were at least informed about Rhodes, several months beforehand, although they couldn't/wouldn't explain why. This was one of the main reasons we booked the holiday - to meet up with friends. We should have taken this as a sign and cancelled our booking. After arriving after midnight, with no food or drink offered (except for a cold sandwhich and a hot drink that had to be paid for) when we embarked we were given a cabin (and this was supposed to be an "upgraded" cabin according to their emails to me prior to the holiday) that was grubby and had many stains all over the carpet which resembled blood. On requesting a different cabin we were told all cabins were taken and that it wasn't blood, it was hair dye (who on earth dyes their hair on holiday!!) anyway, they knew about it and unfortunately it couldn't be removed as it was now a permanent stain. I said that we wouldn't sit looking at stains on the carpets at home so why would we pay all this money to look at someone else's stains. A shrug of the shoulders was all we got. The next day we returned to our cabin, which was full of chemical odours. The purser agreed that it was not fit for purpose and particularly as I explained that I have a medical condition which was exacabated by being near any sort of chemicals/paint etc. After sitting on the stairs for 4 hours, we were finally found another cabin which was for a family = bunk beds against the wall making movement very difficult around the cabin. This was temporary we were told as a family had failed to arrive. All our clothes and belongings were bundled up and taken into our 'new' cabin. We lived out of suitcases then for three days before we noticed our name was now on the door. Not even the courtesy to say we were going to stay there. Some staff on board were clearly fed up, they were moaning and talking about one another in the top restaurant on several occasions, within our hearing, particularly about 'dreading' the next trip as 'kids' would be on board. Certainly we also felt that the food was not as good as Sea Princess, nor the staff. I agree with the person who wrote regarding Rome, being dumped there for a couple of hours and then having to sit in the airport for hours on end. Not a thought to your passengers Princess Line - get us off the ship and that's that! I could go on and on unfortunately. However, suffice to say that I wrote to Carnival house and enclosed pictures of our first cabin and how our holiday was spoilt in an unsuitable cabin - living out of suitcases. I also mentioned the above and other things that indicated that Crown Princess needed to be monitored as it certainly put us off travelling with them again - such a shame after an excellent holiday on Sea Princess. Needless to say, we too didn't receive a reply. I left it for nearly a month and wrote again - this time informing them that I had registed the letter. Within a week I received a very unsatisfactory reply - clearly the letter had been glanced at and most of the complaints were ignored. They offered us £300 between us off another trip with them. (As if we want to!!!) What a nonsense and what a terrible reputation for them to have, because I for one, intend to tell as many people as I can how Princess treat their passengers once booked and paid for. We were not alone in our views of this ship, many people were voicing their disappointment - but may not all feel that they can review. Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
We are loyal RCL crusiers, before this summer we have complete 7 cruise with RCL. In Europe and Carribean on various ships. Well it was time to try something new. Not really a good idea, you just compare what is in front of you to what ... Read More
We are loyal RCL crusiers, before this summer we have complete 7 cruise with RCL. In Europe and Carribean on various ships. Well it was time to try something new. Not really a good idea, you just compare what is in front of you to what you have had, really not fair to the ship. But it is also good to see what another cruise liner is offering. I would breakdown our cruise into three parts; ship, food&wine, activities/shore start with the good Food excellent, why lots of variety, always available, very good, bad, we had anytime dining which was more like line-up and wait. most nights it was an hour long wait to get seated, whether you had reservation or not...and the Matilde was very very rude. I complained multiple times to just be left standing even longer. If I want a buzzer ed and wait in line, I'd rather go to the cheese cake factory.. Wine, if you like American wine, sure lots of variety, no wine deals like on RCL, only on expensive wines they cant sell...did we drink lots of wine, yes was it good yes but hell to get! Ship, small, tight closterfobic, it felt crowded at the time, our room had double hanging bunks. we were only 2, why. i broke my shoulder, head on them daily, never again. room was also smaller than RCL.getting off the ship was a nightmare, it was the most poorly organized group ever...they just dont gett eh fact that we are on vacation and they should be taking care of us. We may try another Princess cruise, but the Star is not for us.... Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
Just got back from a Venice to Barcelona Cruise on Ruby Princess. This was our first on Princess but our fifth cruise. I will just go through the points as I do not mean this to be a rant. Cabin - We had a Vista Suite. For the same money ... Read More
Just got back from a Venice to Barcelona Cruise on Ruby Princess. This was our first on Princess but our fifth cruise. I will just go through the points as I do not mean this to be a rant. Cabin - We had a Vista Suite. For the same money we had a suite twice the size on Norwegian and had champagne every night and a Butler, so that was a disappointment. However the cabin was kept well by the steward and everything was in working order. On other cruises, canapes were brought every night without fail. On Princess you had to fill out a card that had be left on the door handle if you wanted them, and there were times that the card was not given to us or times that the card was left and filled in, but either we did not receive them or the arrived after 8 PM when we had no interest in them. We were given a whole bottle of champagne and glasses for the first day which was more than the published glass of champagne. Food - In a word - disappointing. All the food looked and tasted as if it were prepared for 3000 people, even in the specialty restaurants. Some of it was so bad I had to send it back, and I am one of those kind of people that will usually just pick at the food if it not to my liking rather than raise the fuss. Sabatini's was the strangest. They served everything as a tasting menu, which meant once you were there once, there was no reason to go back as you had had it all. We usually opted for the a la carte method and only ordered the dishes we wanted. The food was good but not great and unimaginative. We went there a few nights but one night we went for my Birthday. I was looking forward to a good bottle of wine, only to discover that they had a smaller wine list then the other food venues on the ship and it was not possible to order anything not on the list from another dining room. Then there was the strange availability rules. One night we were there and another table of 5 was eating their dinner and finished as we received our entrees. A group of four walked up with no reservation and was turned away. They had the table and the staff, why would they turn them away. We tried one night to go without a reservation and were turned away as well though there were many empty tables. The food in the main dining room was worse, as there is where I received meals I had to return because they were just awful. One meal was so salty that I had to spit it out. Another had vegetables that were so overcooked they were mush. Since we had a suite we could breakfast at Sabatini's. I ordered eggs Benedict and you could tell they had been under heat lamps for hours as the Hollandaise had cooked into a solid. Food at the Crown Grill was decent as long as you avoided the awful wine reduction sauce the put on everything. It was bland and muddy and did nothing to enhance the meat. I recommend the Black and Blue Onion soup, and if you want lobster, get it here as Sabatini's cooks it in some sauce that overpowers the subtle taste of lobster. The ship - It had the usual amenities. The only thing it had that was special was the giant screen over the pool where they showed movies and the world cup on. The pools were small which made it hard to get in as people congregated at the edge all the way around and you had to squeeze by to get to the pool. Ended up using the even smaller pool aft as it was less crowded. Ports - The biggest complaint amongst all the passengers was the early arrival times to all the ports and how the excursions were returning up to two hours before sailing even if it meant that sites on the tours were shortened or skipped altogether. The was a tour that was supposed to go up the Tower of Pisa and they did not due to time constraints. Yet these same people sat on the boat over an hour prior to sailing time that could have been spent in the tour. AVOID the ELITE tours. The only difference which Princess will not tell you (yes I called and asked for details and they were not able to tell me what was included in the elite tours that was not in the regular tours) was there were 25-30 people per group as opposed to 40-45 on the normal tours and you got a better lunch, but not better enough to warrant the $200 price difference. Princess as a whole - I found that the information given by the representatives on the phone at Princess was almost always inaccurate. Information on tours, times and the cruise were never correct. I booked an extra night in Barcelona, and also booked a tour. I asked what time I could expect to be at the hotel so that I could schedule the tour. I was told no later than 9AM. Well, once on the ship we were given the excursion tickets and included was the ticket for transportation to the Hotel. It stated that we were to meet at 10AM, we did not actually get to the hotel till after 11AM. Three hours different then what I was told. Which meant we missed out on 2 hours worth of a day tour as it was my error in booking it based on the time I was told. Needless to say I will never sail Princess again. Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
Since our return , my wife and I have have debated if cruises really are for us.So I have tried to give an honest and balanced view of our hols. What did we expect ? Our expectations were high.Expecting a 5 Star floating hotel ,excellent ... Read More
Since our return , my wife and I have have debated if cruises really are for us.So I have tried to give an honest and balanced view of our hols. What did we expect ? Our expectations were high.Expecting a 5 Star floating hotel ,excellent service ,first rate facilities and a wide variety of entertainment , with relaxed and informative shore excurtions . Did this meet our expectations? Overall no ! So here is a brief summary. Embarkation was fine , 3pm.Then had to wait until 8.45pm for our luggage.I fetched it myself after the cabin stewards politely refused as they were "busy". Was told there was no need to book a table that evening only to have to que for one.Ended up with the staff clearing up and moving tables around us for the next morning.They just wanted us out of the way. The next morning 9 am , we left our room armed with life jackets for the drill , only to be met by our "cabin steward" who then told us it was at the 3pm without an apology.So our morning trip to Venice was off.The drill was actually 2.30pm. We had evenings at Sabatinis and the Crown Grill , but got the same lines of insincere conversations from the staff as we did at the other restaurants. Be careful, as a table for two might mean 2 inches away from the next table for two.The food throughout the ship was fine , but not outstanding. Mykanos , Rhodes , and Santorini are beautiful , but not with 3500 plus cruise passengers swarming around them .Mykanos was a farce. We were expecting " West End style productions " ....there were none ! I love football , but not in Sky Walkers night club when people can view the game on a superb screen as big as your house on deck. I have no issue with the items on my account , but we were promised the summary on our doorstep on or prior to the morning of debarkation.It did not arrive , so they blamed children for "swapping the accounts about in the corridors ".Believe me this was not the case at all .Any children on the ship were very well behaved.The "discetionary" 264 dollar tip had been automatically applied to our account.I promptly removed this as we had tipped staff individually and paid the automatic gratuity applied to every bar bill.Believe me , we spent a fair amount. The entertainment was drab at best throughout the cruise , apart from the pre arranged deck party towards the end of the trip which was an uplifting experience and should have been repeated.Passengers were crying out for more of this atmosphere. We visited Crooners bar where the " Internationally acclaimed " pianist was repeatedly asking for requests.To assist , I asked for Sinatra's' , The Tender Trap.His blunt reply , "never heard of it !" Now this guy was about 60 , and we are talking Sinatra.He was more intent on publicly announcing he couldnt wait to leave the ship , in not so many words , and counted down the days each time I heard him. On our sea day they decided to try and liven things up......with a " gents sexy legs competition " ...it was cancelled due to lack of interest.Was this Butlins ? The bars and theatre were physically outstanding but with little or no atmosphere .People , including us , often walked in and straight out again. On the plus side , the ship itself was outstanding , with wonderful facilities and first rate comfort and decor.But what is the point of having all this with empty bars and no atmosphere.Our stateroom with balcony was faultless , and the cleanliness of the entire ship was 5 star . The ships excurtions were very good , coupled with informative and entertaining guides. The on deck bar staff were a delight , but the majority of staff gave the distinct impression of not wanting to be there. Believe me , we are open minded people with a broad taste in entertainment and interests , but when I pay good money I expect a good return , and was disappointed . In summary ....A 5 Star Ship with a 2 Star atmosphere . Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
Emerald Princess February 4, 2008 By Host Joe My first impression of Emerald as we boarded is what a beautiful ship it is. The furnishings and themes are gorgeous. As we toured the ship we became more impressed with her immense size, ... Read More
Emerald Princess February 4, 2008 By Host Joe My first impression of Emerald as we boarded is what a beautiful ship it is. The furnishings and themes are gorgeous. As we toured the ship we became more impressed with her immense size, however a little disillusioned with the layout as it is a little hard to get around (and we have cruised a lot on many ships!). With 19 decks it is a real adventure to get from one part of the ship to the next. All in all, though, Emerald is a an amazingly beautiful ship with many amenities. As the passengers boarded, it became increasingly crowded, which was kind of a shock to us. It was like being in a popular mall the day after Thanksgiving! At most meals at the Horizon Court you stood in long lines followed by having a very hard time finding a table to enjoy your meal. On many occasions I saw people standing up eating their meal, unable to find a table. That is just unacceptable! Princess has done a disservice to the beauty of the ship and to all of her passengers by packing it so full of people. It seemed that almost every time you wanted to go somewhere onboard you were in a herd of people, which gets very annoying. According to guest services, the ships regular capacity is 3070 passengers; however the maximum including triples and quads is 3700. They informed me that we had 3700 aboard on our cruise. Our table mates had been onboard for the past two sailings and they reported that the crowds had been the same each cruise. This leads me to believe that they must pack it at the maximum on most cruises. The food and service onboard was good. Once you got to the food at the Horizon Court (and found which station was open out of the 4 stations!). I was impressed with the staff at Horizon Court and how eager they were to offer you a beverage which was nice. We had late traditional seating as we always do and the food and service there were quite good and we enjoyed it very much. Our wait staff team was great. I am very happy that we did not have anytime dining because we heard endless comments on how the large church group that was onboard had taken up all of the anytime dining slots from 6pm to 8pm and it was a nightmare. Sabatini's, the Italian themed specialty restaurant onboard, is absolutely wonderful. The $20 service charge per person is definitely worth it in my opinion. Once seated they tell you to only pay attention to choosing your entrEe, as they bring the rest of the menu out for you to sample! They kept coming by with little samplings of everything and it was out of this world. The service was flawless and this was a truly wonderful experience. We both had the sea bass as our entrEe and it was fantastic. Our experience at the other specialty restaurant onboard was not very good. The service charge was $25 and in my opinion was not worth it at all. The appetizer and salad were good but it went downhill from there. We had a filet mignon and a porterhouse steak as entrEe's. The porterhouse was over half fat and grizzle and average in flavor. The filet mignon was a little dry and not very good quality. The worst part was the desserts. Both of our desserts were fluffy and had little flavor. The service was very sub-par as well. Our waiter could not even remember who got what at each course and there were only two of us! I am sorry, but when I go to a specialty restaurant and pay an extra fee, I expect it to be special! The Crown dining room did have very nice furnishings and was decorated very well. We heard others say that they had a good experience there, so maybe we had just an isolated bad experience. They put the internet cafe (the only one onboard for some reason!) all the way down on deck 5. It is small and adequate, but most passenger cabins are on upper decks. Our cabin was on deck 12, so you had to trot down 7 flights of stairs to get to it. There is no wireless in the rooms, so you must go to a public area such as the atrium to get access to it. If you are Platinum or Elite as we are, the internet package does not include wireless for some reason and you must use the computers on deck 5 only. A ship this size should have another internet cafe located mid ship, higher up like most others do. A true design flaw is for people that are somewhat tall (6 feet or above) that want to use the gym equipment. I use an elliptical for exercise and was shocked when I found that they made the ceiling height too low in the gym to use it unless you are shorter. When I got on the elliptical I instantly hit my head on the ceiling, unable to stand straight up. I did one workout in the gym and ended up with a back and neck ache from having to slouch and duck my head while exercising. I saw several other taller men having the same issue that day, a couple just walking away shaking their heads. What on earth were the designers thinking? Our stateroom was A633, which is a standard balcony cabin. It was very nicely appointed. The furnishings and the duvet were great. The flat screen TV was a nice addition. I loved the walk-in style closet. When it came to the bathroom, though, the shower is the worst I have ever experienced. Not only is the shower small and you have the cling-on shower curtain, but the shower head was too low like an old 70's hotel and there was no room to store toiletries, etc that you use during showering. Overall I was very pleased with our stateroom. We loved the itinerary of our 10-day cruise. The first stop was Princess Cays, which we enjoyed a wonderful BBQ lunch and swam in the ocean. Next we had a day at sea. We found most places outside on the decks to be fairly loud with either the Movies Under The Stars or the pool band. Next was St. Thomas, where we went to Coki beach on our own. The cost was only $9 per person each way for the taxi. The chairs on Coki were $5 each and there were bar and food servers everywhere. We snorkeled, swam and enjoyed laying in the sun. Dominica was our next port, where we were booked through the ship for the Champagne Reef snorkel. This was one of the very best ship-sponsored snorkel tours we have ever done. We usually avoid them, but we were very pleased with did this one. We had over 2 hours in the water and the snorkeling was very pleasant. The Champagne part is where the bubbles come up from the old volcano crater and shimmer like diamonds in the water. In Grenada we decided to just go in on our own and walk around. We were only in port until 1pm. We walked around for a couple of hours, buying lots of spices. I can understand why they call this the spice island, as there was the smell of spices everywhere! The spices were offered at very good prices, too. Next up was Bonaire. We arrived at noon, and booked passes to Klein Bonaire (little Bonaire) through the ship for $29 per person round trip, including a beverage on the island. We did this on our own last year and paid $20 per person round trip but the transportation was a rickety old boat that was packed full and uncomfortable. I will gladly pay Princess the extra $9 for the nice boat we went over to the island on! Klein Bonaire is strictly a beach with no amenities and some of the best coral reef that the Caribbean has to offer! We walked down the beach towards Bonaire and watched for a break in the reef, which is just a few feet from shore. We entered the water in that little break and did a drift snorkel along the edge of the island back towards where we were dropped off on the beach which is where the reef breaks again. The current is fairly strong and provides a very nice pace as you go along the outside edge of the reef. Below you is the DEEP big blue of the ocean! The fish are huge and abundant and the coral is amazing. I repeated this snorkel process three times, taking up our whole afternoon on the island. What a day! On our last two days at sea we found a wonderful slice of heaven onboard Emerald Princess. The sanctuary is located all the way forward on the top deck. They charge $10 per person for a half day, and reservations are taken day of only on a first come, first serve basis. Both mornings I went up mid-morning and reserved the afternoon session for us. At first the thought of paying $10 to use a section of the ship made me a little angry, but once I enjoyed it I understand. First of all, you choose a seat inside, under a series of shades or outside directly in the sun. The chaise lounges are heaven, with really thick pads. You are greeted by a who shows you to your chair, fills a glass full of ice water that is infused with citrus fruits and a cool towel. The stewards come around regularly, refilling your ice water all day long as well as offering fresh cool towels. Talk about being spoiled! They also have a menu that you can order from so that you don't have to join the 3700 other passengers trying to have some lunch! Both days were pure bliss for me. I sat and listened to my Ipod and gazed out at the ocean (you can have your chaise lounge face the ocean). If you do not have an Ipod, they offer the use of theirs that are accompanied by Bose noise-cancelling headphones. If you feel like a dip in the pool, the spa pool is one deck below the Sanctuary, and is easily accessible. The new debarkation that is very similar to what Celebrity has been doing for quite some time worked pretty well. We were scheduled to meet at 8:40am in Michelangelo and we left there about 9:10am. All went smooth from there. We were booked on a sister ship to Emerald for next year but cancelled it before we departed the ship, rebooking on a Celebrity cruise. I will always consider a Sun or Island class aboard Princess, but this is the last Princess mega ship for me. The interesting thing was that we talked with many people onboard, and inevitably the comments would start flying about how crowded the ship is and that this will be the last Princess for them. I am very sad by this, as I have always enjoyed the Princess product and I am afraid they are ruining it with these mega ships being packed too full. We would love to go on Emerald again as she is such a beautiful ship, however the memories of the crowds everywhere will stop me from booking it. Read Less
Sail Date February 2008
My wife and I sailed on the Star Princess in mid-October out of Venice through the Greek Isles with stops in Athens, Croatia and Ephesus, Turkey. It was a beautiful ship. The accommodations were very comfortable and the staff, for the most ... Read More
My wife and I sailed on the Star Princess in mid-October out of Venice through the Greek Isles with stops in Athens, Croatia and Ephesus, Turkey. It was a beautiful ship. The accommodations were very comfortable and the staff, for the most part, quite helpful. We were very satisfied with the ship's tours: they were well arranged with excellent guides. We took this cruise because of the locations offered and came away well satisfied with with where we went and what we saw. This was all to the good but not everything was. There were 2600+ passengers on board and although the ship obviously had room for all of them, there was a constant sense of crowding. Moreover, we and our group --- we travelled with 4 other couples --- were part of the 8 PM Dinner Seating. At least three times during our cruise, this seating started late, once almost 15 minutes late while everyone waited in the halls and on the stairs. Even when we were seated on time, there was a constant sense of being rushed as waiters hurried by trying to serve everyone. More than once we were obliged to leave before dessert so that we could make the 10:15 show. The best we could say for the food is that it was ok, nothing more. As one of our group described it one night, "This is like eating in a cafeteria." We made sure to get copies of our ongoing bill every few days from the Purser's Office and I recommend strongly that anyone cruising do this. The very first print-out contained a charge that was incorrect: we were charged for using a water taxi from the ship to Venice on the morning of our sailing. My wife went to the Purser's Office to contest this. They told her that they had placed two water taxi tickets in our room and unless they were returned, you were automatically charged. She pointed out that l) we had never seen the tickets and 2) how could we have been in Venice that morning when we were on a ship's tour of Murano! The charge was removed but not on her first visit. They insisted that she search our room for the tickets and return them. When she returned the next day with no tickets and insisted that the charge be removed, it was removed finally and reluctantly. The people in the next cabin had the same problem. Don't miss the method the ship was using here: they leave you the tickets and presume you use them unless you return them. Is this any way to do business? Now we come to what constitutes the heart of this cautionary tale. A few days into the cruise, I was returning from a tour and, following instructions from Security, placed my camera on the X-Ray belt. The person in front of me was wanded and while I was delayed 30 to 45 seconds, my camera was stolen from the belt, presumably by a fellow passenger. This was bad enough but how it was handled by the ship's personnel made matters much worse. The immediate response of Security was, "We didn't do it" and "Go to the Purser's Office and fill our a Loss and Damage Report." I did that. There is no "Stolen Property" report. The following day, the manager of Passenger Relations contacted me and through her, I received the loan of a digital camera for the rest of the cruise plus the assurance that the ship would develop the pictures gratis. (They did). I told her that I had asked at the Purser's Office for someone from Security to contact me and no one had. She arranged for that to happen the following day. The Security person who called me at 8:15 the next morning told me that they were reviewing the tapes of the incident to see if they could determine who had taken my camera from the belt. That evening the Passenger Relations manager called me with a request from Security: Security had determined that I had reentered the ship 2X on the day of the theft and wanted to know at which time the camera had been stolen. This question told me that when the Security person said in the morning that they had been reviewing the tapes, he had not been telling me the truth. It was more than 48 hrs. after the incident and only now was Security trying to ascertain when the camera had been stolen. I will cut to the chase here. The "Loss and Damage" Form I filled out on the ship made it clear that no further action would be taken until I returned home and either called, faxed or e-mailed the company's "Loss and Damage Department." I did call the phone number and the extension number on the letter from the "Loss and Damage" Form and was told by the young woman who answered that she was a reservationist, that "Loss and Damage" Personnel never spoke directly to customers, that I needed to write a letter regarding the incident and follow it up with a phone call. Then she or some other reservationist would put me on hold and check with the "Loss and Damage" personnel regarding my situation. Ultimately I received a letter from the "Loss and Damage" Department denying my claim and pointing out that Princess was not legally responsible for the loss of my camera. The lesson here is that if you take a Princess Cruise you will do well if you do not have any problem along these lines. If you do, the attitude of this cruise line is to convey the impression that they would like you to go away and stop bothering them. What can you say about an organization that tells you in writing that even after filling out a "Loss and Damage" Report nothing further will happen unless you contact them and when you do you discover that they will not talk to you directly but only through one of their reservationists. This is a company that has a lot to learn about customer service! Read Less
Sail Date October 2007
This is my first review. We have been on four other cruises including Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, and MSC. Forgive my blunt and concise nature, but I read USA Today. Our cruise was from Venice to Rome aboard Emerald Princess We flew into ... Read More
This is my first review. We have been on four other cruises including Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, and MSC. Forgive my blunt and concise nature, but I read USA Today. Our cruise was from Venice to Rome aboard Emerald Princess We flew into Rome, stayed the night (Hotel Aberdeen - recommended by Rick Steves was overpriced, dirty, but conveniently located. Best Western Hotel Universo was a better bet as long as expectations are low since they promote themselves as a 4 star hotel) and then took the Eurostar to Venice and stayed the night there before boarding the following day. Do not pay extra for 1st class on the Eurostar for this trip since that only gets you a plastic cup of Fanta served by an irritated steward. I do not recommend the Venice hotel, "Locanda Sturion" as it is overpriced at 260 euro (if you use Venere.com you will be tempted by the offer of 180 euro, but if you are taller than 5 feet, you will not be able to stand upright in the "attic room" that is covertly attached to that price) We did not utilize porters since we packed lightly with only one carry on sized bag each. We walked to the port. There is no signage directing one to the port. Hindsight being 20/20, we learned of a free shuttle to the port. Princess should make this known to future passengers. I doubt this will happen. The Room: (Deck 11 - balcony #B306 port side) was nice because it was new. The steward, "Niphon" was very much on the ball and should move to a better cruise line. The flat screen TV would be more remarkable if there were other stations besides the blue and black generic princess screens for every other channel. The only live feed was CNN. Commentary from the port expert could not be heard through the TV speakers when departing from each port because of a volume limiting problem. The hallway noise heard in our room was irritating and unacceptable for a new ship. We complained about the constant slamming of the service door across from our room. The Princess solution was to tape a towel to the door latch of that door. It did help, but made the hallway look like a Motel 6 under renovation. The Food: Breakfast: Be prepared for zero variety in both buffet and dining room. If you like steam trays full of runny scrambled eggs, Dolly Madison quality pastries, milk in juice boxes with the straw attached, pancakes like hockey pucks, maple syrup in a "7-11 nacho cheese pump", and Folgers coffee served from a "tap"...then you will love the buffet! The juice options include orange and cranberry. A request for grapefruit, apple, or tomato will set you back at least 15 minutes, but you can always drink it on your way out. The dining room is the exact same food with longer waits but different plating style. Lunch: Ate lunch in port all but once (at sea day) so I cannot give an honest review here. Dinner: Princess promotes their two premium restaurants daily in the Princess Patter. We ate at both Sabitini's ($20 extra per person) and Crown Grill ($25 extra per person). Yes, by paying extra you can eat dinner in less than 3 hours (since there are no other people in these restaurants) but you get pretty much the same food!!! The only advantage is that you can actually order an overcooked 4 ounce lobster tail rather than wait for it to be on the dining room menu two days later. The coffee in the dining room is as bad as the buffet. Even the pay-per-cup coffee at the coffee bar($1.75 per cup) is poor quality. Yes, I live in Seattle, but I'm not that picky about coffee! Snacks: Burgers at the Trident grill were decent. I am unsure what to make of the practice of "refrying" the french fries after being under the heat lamp - but they actually tasted good and extra crispy! Pizza is not worth your time unless you have no other option. The sauce is tomato paste with water. The ice cream bar is a rip off considering you can get a nice gelato for less money in any port. Entertainment: Quite disappointing. Having been on MSC (great entertainment, horrible food) perhaps I am biased. Norwegian and RCCL had better entertainment and food than Princess. When the venue/theater is more interesting than the entertainment, it's a problem. We walked out on one show and two comedians. Two comedians doubled up on material almost verbatim. Customer Service: - What is that? Bring quarters for the laundry room if you wish to wash clothes as the change machines are just a tease. Don't bother calling from the phone in the laundry room to have the machine restocked with quarters. Don't even bother calling 7 (yes seven) times. After the 4th call I was just amusing myself. Just go wash your clothes in the sink and save yourself $3. If you choose "any time dining" and are told the room is full, don't take the pager. Just go to the other dining room or step back in line and wait for another host/hostess. Don't expect the front desk to be forthcoming with information about where you disembark. If you disembark in Civitavecchia DO NOT BE SUCKERED INTO BUYING A PRINCESS TRANSFER TO ROME. Take the train. If you don't want to walk to the station, spit a cab with fellow passengers. Princess will tell you that there is limited taxi service. Bull! Ports: Do not take a Princess sponsored shore excursion in Kusadasi. Shame on Princess for turning it into a "hard sell Turkish rug bonanza" at the end of the excursion. They should PAY passengers to go on ANY tour in Kusadasi that includes an unexpected and unwelcome herding into a rug store. Get to Ephesus on your own by taxi and hop on one of the cruise ship charter buses on the way back but step out of line when they try to herd you in a rug store at the end. Don't let Princess nickel and dime you to death when you get to a port. They always want extra money to actually get you to where they say they are docked - Venice, Olympia, Mykonos, Rome, Dubrovnik, etc. Do your own research. You can get to Rome for 4.50 euro by train if you are willing to walk 15 minutes to the train station in Civitavecchia (free shuttle from ship to edge of port). Princess wants $75. The local taxi wants 20 euro just to get you to the train station. Room Service: If you fill out the form for daily fresh fruit, expect it about 2 days later. Run of the mill orange, kiwi, and banana. Pears were quite good. Room service was timely despite VERY limited menu selection. Internet: Never worked so it was "free". Flights: Avoid Air Canada if you are over 5 feet tall or not a contortionist - especially if you fly Toronto to Rome as they have packed more seats into a Boeing 767 like no other airline I have been on. My wife is 5 feet 4 inches (I am 6 feet 4 inches) and have NEVER heard her complain about leg room on an airline flight until Air Canada. I stood most of the flight as did the 6 foot 9 inch basketball player who plays in the Italian leagues. Be aware that it is habit for Air Canada flight attendants to restock/unload the beverage/trash cart while it is lodged between the lavatory doors in the rear of the plane. Be prepared for an argument if you have no choice but to use the first class lavatory because of this. Or, be prepared to squat in the isle and do your business. Also, if there happens to be a row of empty seats on the way from Rome to Toronto, don't expect to be able to use them. Instead, expect the flight attendants to be napping there. Best Values: 1 - Scooter rental in Mykonos (10 Euro for the day) 2 - Jeep in Santorini (35 Euro for the day) 3 - Metro in Rome (1 Euro will get you anywhere) 4 - Public water bus in Venice (1.20 Euro will get you anywhere) 5 - Knock off belts in every port (2-3 Euro) 6 - Wine tasting in Santorini 7 - Pay toilet in Ephesus (worth the 0.50 Euro just for the photo of the sign) 8 - Kumquat and Pomegranate liquor in Rhodes 9 - Local wines (when purchased at supermarkets) Biggest Rip-Offs: 1 - Princess shuttles (especially Civitavecchia to Rome transfer but second only to Venice water shuttle service) 2 - Venice "Tourist Pass" 3 - Princess "Sanctuary" 4 - Rugs in Turkey 5 - Lemonade in Capri (hydrofoil from Naples) at 6 Euros (i.e. always inquire about price before ordering ANYTHING. 6 - Art auction 7 - Dubrovnik city walls entrance fee 8 - Pay restaurants on board, food in Dubrovnik Biggest Pleasant Surprise: 1 - Despite trying, never was pick-pocketed (though watching them in action at the Spanish Steps in Rome was a hoot!) Biggest Disappointment: 1 - Ruins in Olympia Biggest pain in the butt: 1 - Public bus in Capri Overall: For the money paid this was a horrible cruise value. Tips for Future Passengers: 1 - Request a room far from the service door 2 - Avoid Princess shore excursions - buddy up with fellow passengers - FUN! 3 - Ask for the "good" robes 4 - Avoid the pay restaurants Read Less
Sail Date April 2007
My husband and I, along with 9 other people, sailed on the Emerald Princess on its maiden voyage from Rome (Civitavecchia) to Venice. We picked this cruise because we were very interested in cruising the Greek Isles and this itinerary ... Read More
My husband and I, along with 9 other people, sailed on the Emerald Princess on its maiden voyage from Rome (Civitavecchia) to Venice. We picked this cruise because we were very interested in cruising the Greek Isles and this itinerary offered absolutely the best itinerary we had seen. None of the people in our party chose to fly through the cruise line, as we all found that we could do much better on our own. Those who booked independently found that they saved about $500/person on the flights offered by the cruise line. We found the embarkation process extremely easy and were looking forward to an equally satisfying cruising experience. Our outside cabins were wonderful - fresh and new. By comparison to our many other cruises, they were spacious and amenity-filled, even the bathroom which seemed positively huge compared to most cruise lines. The closet had plenty of space for everything we had brought. Our cabin steward was fantastic and was always at our beck and call quickly and with a smile. After settling in, we made our way up top for the sail-away, which was nothing special - considering that this was the first voyage of the Emerald Princess. No free specialty cocktails, no free glasses of champagne. We were surprised, considering what we have been treated to on other sailings which were ordinary and not a major event, as this voyage was touted. We were not able to enjoy the beautiful sail away from the port, as we had reservations in the main dining room at the early seating and we anticipated a wonderful meal. Were we ever wrong!! This was just the first of many MAJOR disappointments in the cruise and I must say that I don't believe I was sailing on the same ship as the other reviewers. This was the most awful dining experience we have ever had on a cruise ship and it continued that way for 12 days straight. Food arrived cold, over or under-cooked, and one time as a blob of pasta, hard as a rock. There were major problems in the kitchen and these were never addressed. Our waiter and his assistant were highly embarrassed but there was nothing they could do. They couldn't get the food out quickly enough or hot enough and on more than one occasion, the Captain visited our table and all the other tables in our area to apologize for the problems and to see what the major complaint of the night was. We heard from many passengers that they experienced the same thing, night after night. The buffets didn't offer much better, as the food was uninspired on the entire ship. Those who did the dining at any time found the restaurants crowded and the food poorly prepared. The specialty restaurants were poorly rated by those in our party who went. To put it mildly, the food was absolutely HORRID, all the time. We loved every port we visited and had marvelous weather. We arranged our own private tours and these were exceptional in every way. Our private tours were cheaper than the ship's offerings and from talking to other passengers, we got a much better feel for all ports and were not subjected to large buses and herd mentality. I highly recommend private tours. The entertainment was OK but not phenomenal. The first night's comedian was abominable and not fit for children. We were worried that the other nights would only get worse. That was not the case. The big review nights (tributeto Motown and the Beatles night) were fabulous. A comedian brought onmid-cruise was hilariously funny and totally clean. A magician was right up there with the best of them. Of the 12 nights of entertainment, there were really good ones, 3 mediocre ones and 3 real snorers. All in all, the itinerary was outstanding, with amazingly beautiful and interesting ports of call. We toured Pompeii and climbed Vesuvius, two things not to miss. We had a fabulous tour of Santorini that left us breathless with the beauty of this tiny island. Ephesus was another highlight and boggled our minds beyond belief. We rented a car in Kotokolon and drove to the ancient site of the Olympics and those in our party who did not, missed a gorgeous place. Dubrovnik sparkled and was full of history both ancient and modern. I would repeat this itinerary in a heartbeat but NOT on board a Princess cruise. In summary, we will never sail Princess again because we found it to be disappointing in so many major ways. The ship was beautiful but the dining experience ruined it for all in our party. The service was good but not exemplary. The parade of Baked Alaska was a joke (fake cakes with electric candles – come on!!!) and the tower of champagne was another big bore. These two nights were so highly promoted that we couldn’t believe we had been so shortchanged. In addition, every time we turned around, they were charging for something. There was no free ice cream in the ice cream bar – how did that happen? The only time ice cream was free was from 3:00-4:00 PM and then you couldn’t get close to it to get any. Never was a free drink offered (except at the Captain’s Cocktail Party) and that was another joke. The internet didn’t work EVER and they finally gave up and refunded all the charges they had written to the passengers’ accounts the first 2 days. We ended up finding internet cafes at each port. Horrendous in every way to treat passengers like this – maiden voyage or not. Did I sail on a different ship? Read Less
Sail Date April 2007
First, a little background. This cruise was meant to be the cruise of a lifetime. It was the most expensive cruise I have ever taken, and was a great disappointment in several ways, although my friend and I had a great time. This was my ... Read More
First, a little background. This cruise was meant to be the cruise of a lifetime. It was the most expensive cruise I have ever taken, and was a great disappointment in several ways, although my friend and I had a great time. This was my fourteenth cruise, first on Princess. I have cruised four times on Royal Caribbean, three each on HAL and Celebrity. Once each on Carnival and NCL. The chances I will sail again on Princess are slim. Now, for the good stuff first. We took the pre-cruise package, Under the Tuscan Sun, with two nights in Milan and two nights in Florence. All arrangements were very well planned and well-handled. Not one, but two Princess reps met us at the airport in Milan! The hotel, Melia Milano, was very luxurious and not far from a Metro stop that allowed my friend and I to tour on our own the first day - we went to La Scala, the Duomo, and window shopped the Galleria area. On tour we saw Leonardo's Last Supper! The next two nights were in Florence at the Anglo-American hotel, with the world's smallest elevator! But the rooms were nice. The hotel restaurant was very expensive...one martini was nine Euros - about $14. The highlight of this tour was a lunchtime visit to an old winery, with a five course meal and wine. The countryside was lovely, the food was outstanding, and the wine was great! The next day we took the train to Venice to embark, and that is where things began to decline in quality. When we arrived at the ship, after a delay on the train and a very slow embarkation process, we were immediately aware of a lack of sparkle and excitement. I thought we were on a floating Motel 6. Our cabin, Category BA, was very bleak and less attractive than a college dorm. We needed a cabin with two twin beds, what we got was a cabin for four with two beds in the ceiling. There were no bedspreads or duvets on the bed, just sheets and blankets. There were no pictures on the wall. There was inadequate storage space, few drawers, no bedside tables, just a hole in the wall by the head of the bed. The beds were like lumpy marshmallows. There was some wasted space that could have been filled with nice little shelves. My friend and I, both females, had packed very lightly - thank goodness! And even so, we were cramped for places to put our stuff. The balcony was very large, but furnished with four plastic chairs and a plastic table, no lounge chairs, although there was room for them. Our steward was barely adequate and had to be reminded to bring ice and fruit. We never did get the robes we had asked for on line. And a water jug was not available. The balcony arrangements on this ship are just absurd! The more expensive mini-suites were just below us, and their balconies were completely exposed to the sun and the view of the balconies of the three or four decks above them. Had I paid the extra for a mini-suite I would have been livid! Balconies, to me, are to be private and shaded for at least part of the day. The buffet on the 14th deck was always crowded, and poorly arranged. The food was about the level of a Hoss's Restaurant. No waffle bar, no omelet bar, no pasta bar. Just cafeteria food every day. The pastries were not of the quality, variety and quantity of the other cruises I have enjoyed. We ate in the dining room as much as possible. The service was leisurely, but courteous and friendly, and the food was better than the buffet. The one time I had steak - a filet mignon - the steak arrived cooked like a hockey puck though I had asked for rare. The waiter brought me another, which was mostly gristle. So no more steak for me on this cruise. The pizza bar and the hamburger bar were terrific! The entertainment was so-so, but the musicians were great - lots of them, and all over the ship. The other cruisers were wonderful - lots of Brits, Aussies, Kiwis, and some South Africans, as well as Canadians and US. I enjoyed meeting lots of these fine folks, and miss the pick-up Trivia team we developed. In my conversations with them I discovered that many were experienced Princess cruisers, but were universally disappointed with this ship and this cruise. One good thing: the shore excursions I went on were well-planned and we had excellent tour guides. I do deplore that when a shore excursion runs late, that time at the attractions is sometimes curtailed, but shopping time never is. I am not a shopper, and would welcome excursions that do not dump me out at a shopping venue. I am somewhat limited as to mobility and I walk with a cane. I chose the E-Z versions of shore excursions and was not disappointed except for the E-Z one in Marseilles. The shore excursion office recommended I do this one because the others involved some serious stair climbing to get to Notre Dame du Guard. Well, guess what? The E-Z tour took us to Notre Dame, and there was the same stair-climbing involved. I stayed on the bus. There was really very little to see in Marseilles, at least on this tour. Princess advertises something like: large ship with small ship feel. The way they do this on Grand Princess is to have a lot of little, cramped, dark public rooms. There were no two-story dining rooms. The dining rooms are dark - the curtains are always drawn, and there are tacky metal ceilings with little lights in them - sort of like a 50's idea of twinkle. The Princess Theatre was also one deck only, and was no where near large enough to seat every one who wanted to go to a particular show. There was usually an alternative show event in another lounge, but again, all the lounges were small, low ceilinged, and dark. Why do they draw the curtains all the time? I had intended to send out laundry but found the prices high. And there is no by the bag service as there is on HAL. Our balcony served as a drying rack for stuff we washed out by hand- I know this is a no-no, but after seeing drying laundry on every apartment house balcony we saw, I guess we were trying to go native. Drinks were not too badly priced! A double martini in the Promenade Bar was $8.50 with a 15% surcharge. A bargain after the experience in Florence. And nicely served by my favorite bar waiter, Narciso. I also bought -bar packages- through room service. A 375 liter bottle of Jim Beam with three cans of Club soda was $17.00. One could NOT order just the booze, but had to take the soda. I purchased a bottle of gin at a Duty Free ashore, put it into my pocketbook, and went through check-in on the ship without any problem. There were 21 kids aboard, and I never saw them except when I wanted to use the hot tub. One notable exception was a toddler who enlivened the whole dining room one day at lunch. When her parents were good and ready, not before, she was removed, kicking and screaming. Disembarkation was at 5:00 am for us. The port of Barcelona does an excellent job of moving luggage out swiftly and on carousels. We arrived at the airport by 5:30 am. Air France would not allow us to check in until about 9:00 am for a 10:30 am flight. Then we stood inline - it was glacially slow - why in this age of computers cannot this be speeded up? This was for check-in, not security! Our flight to Charles De Gaulle airport was smooth, and on time. Our connecting flight was about 55 minutes after that. Almost everyone on our flight was connecting to US flights. What a boondoggle! When we arrived, we were told that we would have to be shuttled to an area 45 minutes away, and that we would not make our flights. Then began the interminable process at a ticket line to re-schedule flights. WHY did Air France schedule our connecting flights at impossible times? Didn't they know that there is on-going construction at the airport? Did they care? Anyway, my friend and I were lucky to get tickets on a plane the same day, leaving at 4:40 pm. We were shuttled to the Terminal where US flights depart - really about a 45 minute ride. And then the security procedures were most rigid - everyone was patted down and all handbags and carry-ons thoroughly investigated - X-ray was not enough. So, OK, the alert level was high and in the long run I don't object if everyone is examined. When our flight was called for boarding, we were put aboard shuttles once again and bused to some area very remote. I am not sure if this is because of security, or has to do with the ongoing construction and expansion at the airport. But I will most likely not want to fly on Air France again. Overall, it WAS a great vacation, and I am not sorry we went, but next time I will do a little more homework on the cruise line and the configuration of the ship, as well as airline schedules. We chose this cruise because of the itinerary, and because my friend had sailed on Princess and recommended it highly. Next time - and there will be a next time - we will most likely go with HAL or Celebrity. Read Less
Sail Date September 2006
This was the first and last cruise my wife and I will take with Princess. Our view of Princess is not entirely negative, but the problems were bad enough that we would caution others to avoid the Grand Princess and Princess Cruise Lines as ... Read More
This was the first and last cruise my wife and I will take with Princess. Our view of Princess is not entirely negative, but the problems were bad enough that we would caution others to avoid the Grand Princess and Princess Cruise Lines as well. As you will read in others reviews...there was a charge for everything on this ship. We really felt like Princess was nickle and diming us the whole time. On the second day we learned (only from our waiter in the dining room) that we could purchase a Coke sticker for your Cruise ID Card...that for a one time fee ($55/person, including gratuity) you could drink unlimited soft drinks. This option was not addressed in any of our cruise documents or in our stateroom...only by the dining staff and word of mouth. The $55 is not prorated based on the day of purchase. If you get it at the beginning of the cruise it may very well be worth it...but 5, 6,or 7 days into the cruise...you would still be paying $55...and only have 5 or so days to get your moneys worth. In addition to completely missing two ports of call due to mechanical/engine problems (Istanbul and Kusadasi), our Athens port of call was moved up a day, which resulted in the cancellation of everyone's Athens tours - no one was available that day to honor them. Princess offered a $400 refund per passenger *for onboard expenses*, but did not offer a penny off the cruise price. Princess also provided Complimentary shuttles from the ship port into Athens as well as complimentary shuttle service from our port in Venice into town. Under normal circumstances...you would be paying Princess for this service (about $10 each). Shuttles were free on RC. Stateroom Our problems began almost immediately upon embarking. We had an interior stateroom (without an oceanview). We had no hot water in our stateroom for 24 hours. After several entreaties, the problem was addressed 24 hours later. Suffice it to say that we didn't smell very good at the time. Additionally, the drain in our shower did not function properly; we had to shut the shower off halfway through our shower to let the water drain. Our shower overflowed several times during the trip. Finally, the door to our stateroom didn't close properly. We figured out a way to make it close, but after our experience with the hot water problem, we decided to either live with the stateroom we had or address problems on our own. Dining The dining on the ship was hit and miss. We only ate in the dining rooms for dinner, although breakfast and lunch meals were offered. We ate Breakfast at the Horizon Court buffet, which was decent. We also visited the Horizon Court for "bistro" dining (after midnight) on many occasions. This was decent too. At several points during the cruise, a large menu advertising the offerings for "bistro" dining appeared in Horizon Court. Suffice it to say that the menu offerings and the actual offerings were widely divergent. We had several excellent dinners in the dining room. We also had several dinners that were not very good. We chose Personal Choice dining, which means that we could eat at any time, as opposed to a particular time each night. We received different information from several different Princess employees when we asked about reservations in the dining room. On one night, the host told us that we didn't need to make a reservation one hour in advance. He told us we could return in an hour and be seated immediately. I asked him to confirm this assurance since we had waited on other nights for a table for two (our cruise was fully booked). When we returned an hour later, we were told we'd have to wait 10-15 minutes. Forty minutes later, we were seated. I don't think the Grand Princess dining room can happily accommodate its passengers (wishing to dine alone) on a fully booked cruise. We don't mind sitting with and meeting others, but we were on our honeymoon and did want to dine (just the two of us) on occasion. There is a designated place for ice cream. Passengers must pay anywhere from $1.50 to $3.75 for ice cream concoctions. Princess claims that it only gets its ice cream from fine Italian gelato makers, but this claim is highly suspect. You can order milkshakes, sundaes and mix-ins (sprinkles, Reeses, etc)...but what is advertised as hot fudge is simply warm Hershey's syrup. On a positive note, the pizza at Poseidon (on the 14th deck) was excellent, and I heard pretty good things about the adjacent grill as well with a lengthy selection (including bratwurst). Entertainment The Cruise Director. Though he was a nice and friendly guy...he was totally cheesy - I do, however, think this is pretty common among all cruise lines. It was fun at the beginning...but after about 8 days he became increasingly annoying. There were several shows (performed by the same group of soloists and dancers) that were simply fantastic - the choreography was amazing! The shows appealed to a wide variety of audiences, and included both older and more modern music. The comedy routines on board were pretty good. The ship had a couple of comedic jugglers and comedic magicians who were a bit cheesy, but the actual comedians themselves were quite good. The ship also had a pianist (David Williams) who played on the promenade late at night; Williams was also fantastic. The ship had several bands that left a lot to be desired. The music was cheesy and the bands (with the exception of the last night) seemed disinterested. My wife and I played bingo often. Despite the increasing number of players throughout the week, the prizes (with the exception of the jackpot) remained the same throughout the week. This was not the case when we sailed with Royal Caribbean. RC gave prizes based on a fraction of the total income derived from the participants. On Princess, if you won the first game you got $100, second prize was $125, third was $150, 4th was $225...and the fifth was the jackpot (but because of the conditions of the game was not won until the last day) at $2200. And, if there was more than one winner you had to split the pot. Towards the end we just bought the Jackpot cards...because splitting a pot of $100, $125, $150 and $225 was not worth it. Princess also put on a Princess Pop Star (kind of like an American Idol) competition, which was highly entertaining. Princess also tried to put on several game shows, with varying degrees of success. The "Newlywed, Not so Newlywed" game was entertaining, but other attempts flopped. I also spent quite a bit of time at the Casino, which offered Texas Hold 'Em, Blackjack, and Slot tournaments. The casino was great. Dealers were very professional and fun. Ports of Call As I mentioned before, we missed our ports of call at Istanbul, Kusadasi, and our trip to Athens was moved up, but the tour operators could not accommodate our revised itinerary. As a result, our trip to the Acropolis was not very meaningful. The night before Istanbul our ship sat idle for 6+ hours while the engineers "checked" one of the 6 engines. Later that evening (about 12am) the captain announced we would not make our port of call in Istanbul...but they (Princess headquarters in LA and the Captain)were trying to find another port to stop. The next day we were pleasantly surprised with our unscheduled stop in Samos, Greece. Certainly not Turkey but it was a very charming Greek Island with great food...friendly people neat little shops. We were there from about 9am to 5pm. Later that evening (about 9:30pm), after the Captain announced that a second port (Kusadasi) would be missed - and instead of one day at sea before Venice...we would have two. Some passengers staged a mini-revolt on the promenade. Passengers were yelling and demanded the Captain to appear. Some appeared to commandeer a microphone to voice their displeasure. Security had to be called. While it was somewhat amusing, it certainly wasn't what we envisioned on our honeymoon. If you ask me...I am sure everyone would have liked to cut our day at Samos in half if there was a question of being able to reach Kusadasi on time the following day. I won't offer my perspective on each port of call. The only thing I will say is that you should (as much as possible) try to book tours independently from Princess or try to do the ports of call on your own. The Princess-arranged excursions (while well-organized) are overpriced and underwhelming and slightly inflexible. One example is the Gondola Ride in Venice...we originally booked this through Princess for $90 each (total $180)...which included a 30-40 minute ride, shared with 2-4 other people. We ended up paying $80 total for the same thing on our own - and just for the two of us. Many of our tour guides (where shopping was an attraction) steered us toward particular stores and restaurants. It was clear that the tour operators and guides were receiving kickbacks from these very same restaurants and stores. As a result, we missed out on a lot of good dining at the ports of call. On one occasion, we paid $139 each for a Capri tour (which included lunch). Much to our chagrin, we ended up eating at a Best Western hotel. There is an on board Tour Guide (Dave) who is available to assist passengers with on shore questions. We found him to be abrasive and not very helpful. When my wife asked him for a local map of Venice...he flat out said no...you don't need a map in Venice...you need to just wander. He ended up being right, but the fact is she wanted a map (he had several copies on his desk) and he said no. On a separate occasion she asked where our boat would be docking in relation to where the shuttle buses were taking us...he did not answer her question, but instantly...and very rudely said "this is not a boat...it is a ship." On another occasion, I approached him with one of the maps Princess provided in our stateroom...I proceeded to ask him a question...he then said...that the map I had was rubbish and I should throw it away - not even providing us with a "better" map. So, here we have Princess giving us a map...and a Princess employee saying it is rubbish. You figure it out. Read Less
Sail Date August 2005
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