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506 Princess First-Time Cruisers Cruise Reviews

This was our first cruise ever so we went in with eyes wide open not knowing what to expect. We booked our cruise through a local TA over a year and half ago and kindly forgot about it until February of this year when we paid for the ... Read More
This was our first cruise ever so we went in with eyes wide open not knowing what to expect. We booked our cruise through a local TA over a year and half ago and kindly forgot about it until February of this year when we paid for the cruise in full with our tax return. After some searching I found CC and began the quest for all things Princess. After finding all the great threads and reviews on this site I had somewhat of an idea of what to expect. We live in Northern California so we decided to make the 10 hr drive to Seattle. Weute were traveling with my parents who were cruising to celebrate their anniversary. Saturday morning arrives bright and early and we leave, 4 am! We arrive in Seattle at about 5 pm and after checking into our motel we decide to drive to the pier and do some recon for the next day. The pier is easy to find and it is impressive to these massive ships for the first time (I believe the Star was docked when we were there on Sat)! Sunday finally arrives and we head to the pier about 9:30 in the morning. We get to the pier and drop off our luggage and go to park. We thought we were going to park at the terminal in the lots there but we were directed to another lot on armory way. We left my wife and my mother with the bags at the terminal thinking it would just be a minute, after about 20 minutes we get parked and Dad and I hop the shuttle back to the pier, couldn't be easier. We used Seattle Cruise and Park. Checking in and embarkation are run very well. We were through security and had our sail cards in hand in about a half hour. After reading on here that staggered boarding times are not really enforced we wanted to be in line and ready to board at 11 am. They started boarding at noon we snaked our way through the lines and walked the gang way on board in about 15 minutes. Once on board I was immediately struck by how grand the ship is. Beautiful hardwood accents, marble flooring in the piazza, live music just gorgeous! We decided to skip our embarkation picture and head straight to our state room. We booked an inside room an the Aloha deck (12). I was concerned because it is right next to the panoramic lift and right under the Calypso pool on Lido. There was no noise from the lift what so ever, but we did hear running and chairs being moved above us. The noise lasted until about 11 pm when things start to shut down on Lido. It never woke us up once we were asleep. The room itself was bigger than I expected and clean. My wife and I are big people and that shower was a tight squeeze! Our room Steward met us in our cabin and introduced herself to us and let us know how the door tag worked for turn down service. She did an awesome job of keeping our room nice and tidy for us all week long. A note about the beds here: they are hard as a rock! If you don't like sleeping on a sheet of plywood then ask for an eggcrate topper right away. We waited and although I was fine with the bed my wife had a hard time getting rest until about the third night when our steward was able to put one on her side of the bed. Our first meal was at the International Cafe. We got a sandwich and some salad, all very good. We met up with my parents and toured the ship for a little while. The Golden is in great shape. I had heard that she was starting to show some wear and tear but I couldn't really find any. I think that it needs to be recognized that she is a sea going vessel with no downtime. There will be rust, areas of chipped paint. I think the crew does a great job of keeping her clean and "ship shape". After a few hours of wandering and getting familiar with our surroundings we headed back to our room. Our bags were in our cabin waiting for us when we got there. We unpacked and had to as for extra hangers which were promptly delivered to us. It was then time for Muster! This kinda got my wife a little freaked out because she has never been on the ocean and because Titanic! The drill couldn't be easier, once they call for muster just grab your life vest and follow the signs. All muster stations are on deck 7, ours was in the explores lounge. There are plenty of crew in hats that say muster on them and wearing a life vest that will direct you where to go. After the drill its time for sail away! We headed back to our room to stow the vests and headed up to the sun deck to watch us leave! When we got up there the Oosterdam was docked next to us and was leaving just as we got up there, kinda neat to see another ship leave the dock. After they clear and start north, it's our turn. Due to noise regs in Seattle there is no loud fanfair, just a quiet push off the dock and away you go. Our first sit down meal was in the horizon court. I was not overly impressed by the selection, but it's a buffet and serves its purpose. We decide to eat on the terrace aft of the ship. I was told to wait and purchase soda cards until after sail away to avoid taxes in port, so we purchased ours from the bar in the terrace. This turned out not to be true as my parents purchased theirs first thing and were not charged any tax. No big deal just putting it out there. After a while more we decide we're hungry again and decide to check out the MDR. I got the prime rib It is good but not great. The service was excellent and prompt. The next day is a sea day and also the first formal night. The dress code was not strictly enforced but in no way was it let down for our good time. We did run into a guy later in the cruise who was denied entry to the dining room because of his dress, he was wearing shorts and a tee shirt. I wore a suit for formal and anything from khakis to jeans any other night. I never felt out of place and was never the least dressed one for dinner. Food was good for the most part but the wife and I agreed that it just seemed to lacking something. We could never pinpoint any one "bad" thing but I guess it was just a little bland. There are plenty of pics and reviews of the food on this site so I'll just leave this to others to debate about. We never had a bad meal but nothing really spectacular either. The staff on board were always friendly and greeted us throughout the whole of our voyage. Our steward always greeted us by name and had the room made up and turned down while we were out. toiletries were well stocked and we never had to ask for more. The ports of call were Ketchican, Juneau, and Skagway with a few hours in Victoria. It rained every day we were in port but that was ok by us. Where we live was 115 when we left and 115 when we got back! All of the ports were pretty, but all of them pretty much had the same stores selling the same stuff. We didn't do any excursions so can't comment on that. We saw all of the animals on our list in Ketchican, eagles, a bear and we saw whales while at sea. Creek street in Ketchican is very picturesque and is not to be missed. Our favorite was Victoria, very awesome city I thin we would trade Juneau for more time in Victoria to be honest. Towards the end of the cruise we did start to see some maintenance issues creep up. A lot of the elevators were not working and we could smell raw sewage when out on the promenade deck. All in all it was a great cruise on a great ship. We had the time of our lives and would do it again tomorrow. Along with the maintenance issues described above I would also like to add a note about selling on board the ship. Princess was constantly trying to sell something to us the whole journey. I understand that's how the keep fares low but it's a little much to be honest. They even have sales in the MDR during off hours. We went to a couple and were surprised to see dollar store items! We thought it was a little ridiculous. The entertainment on board was good. We went to British Invasion, we thought it was a good show and were pleased with it. We also saw the comedian, Sarge. he was hilarious. Get to the show early because it fills up fast! There is always something to do so check your patters! Disembarkation was a breeze. We opted for walk-off so we could get an early start to our drive. We had all our luggage packed and were off the ship by 7:45 am. No fuss no muss. Caught our shuttle back to the parking lot and were off!   Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
My wife and I decided to get a last minute cruise to Alaska for our June vacation. We looked at availability and found the Star Princess, which had Seattle for embark/disembarcation, and did Juneau and Glacier Bay, two of my desired ... Read More
My wife and I decided to get a last minute cruise to Alaska for our June vacation. We looked at availability and found the Star Princess, which had Seattle for embark/disembarcation, and did Juneau and Glacier Bay, two of my desired locations. Having never been to Alaska, i was excited for any destination. First impressions: Embarkation at Pier 91 wasn't terrible. We stayed at the Arctic Club downtown so took our cabbie 15 minutes to get us there for 16 bucks. Reminded me of Army days, of hurrying through one section to wait in another. All told, a little over an hour to get on board and get to our cabin, which hearing some horror stories seemed good to me. Cabin: We had an inside cabin, Caribe deck 10, C728 as it was a last minute travel agent rate, so no upgrades or freebees. The cabin was nice. We opted for the queen, in retrospect my wife and should have gone with the twin set up to get a little more space inside the room. It was clean, comfy bed, nice closet space. The only thing missing was a clock somewhere in the room, in an inside room, there is no way to tell the time in the dark unless you do a wakeup call. As we spent a lot of time on deck and attending games and enjoying the nature, we didn't spend a whole lot of time inside, so the lack of a window or balcony made little difference for us. Dining: we had anytime dining which is usually in the Capri dining room except also in Portofino after a certain hour. Menus were generally good, solid service, and overall decent experience. The buffet we found enjoyable. Different items every night, (my fav, suprisingly was the Kashmiri Korga dish with chile, lime, and yoghurt). The only negative is breakfast was the same all days. There are two sides to the buffet, if you see a long-line at one, walk around to the other. There is a pizza grill on the lido deck that makes some good pizza and a short order line immediately adjacent. there is an ice cream shop that does soft serve and shakes (for a 2.50 upcharge) There is the 24-hour international cafe in the Piazza with a good coffee bar and sandwiches/desserts the entire day. Buffet room servers were wildly inconsistent as far as service went. Sometimes eager to help other times wandering around. The Ship: Easy to navigate, lots to do, great areas to sit on the lido deck and stern pool./ The movie under the stars on the lido deck is awesome. they have a 300ft movie LCD screen that shows movies during the day and evening. On alaska runs they offer blankets, which you'll need. But awesome to watch. Lots of movies every day. Constant events the entire day round. Captain did a good job keeping us informed. Easy to remember the two main theaters, Princess forward on deck 7, Vista Lounge aft on 7. With nothing to compare it to, i enjoyed the layout and found it really easy to navigate, Port calls: Juneau was good. We privately booked a whale watch through Orca Adventures (125/pp) and did our own trip to Mendenhall glacier. for the glacier it was 18//pp roundtrip on a shuttle bus that they sell at all the boths. Ended up saving us over a $100 off the ships cost. The humbacks were bubblenet feeding and we saw it at least 10 times, great tail shots, best sighting we ever have ever had on whale watches between alaska, cabo, and provincetown. juneau town has jewelry and souvernir stores and not a whole lot else. Skagway was a small town, here we did a ship expedition that was called Glacier Point Wilderness Safari. We left skagway, took an hour boat ride to an island near Haines (seeing several whales along the way) landed on the island, geared up, hiked to the canoe point, and then canoed (31 ft long wide canoe) to the Davison glacier, where you could walk around the bottom of the glacier and take some amazing photographs. After this, a brown bag lunch, another boat ride back to Skagway, stopping at a huge sea lion rookery along the way. Total trip 6 hours. 200//pp. Totally worth it to walk on the lower part of the glacier where it meets the water, As for the rest of Skagway, walk down Broadway and have some great microbrew at Skagway Brewing Company. Glacier Bay was simply awesome. lots of fog and low visibility entering (the Westerdam was ahead of us) so for safety reasons we weren't able to make it to Margarie glacier, instead we entered the bay over where Lamplegh? glacier and one other was. We got some great shots as the weather cleared and it was simply stunning to be there seeing such beauty, and not having to pay extra for it! Ketchikan was short. We walked around on our own. found a nature park, the totem pole heritage center, creek street, the fish ladder (salmon arent ready to climb until 2 weeks from now) and bought some coffee and a trinket. Back at sea enroute to Victoria, which was beautiful. best bet is but the 9 tickets for the shuttle into town from the excursion deck, but if not, there are many cruise shuttles there who offer roundtrip to downtown for 10 bucks. We found a great bar/restaurant along the waterfront, had some local microbrews, and then went back to the ship early. Some people did excursions in every port. We tried to limit it to stuff we could find for less (in juneau and ketchikan) and opportunities like Skagway do ship excursions. Saved us some money overall. If you plan on booking private whale watching in Juneau, Orca Enterprises and Harv and Marv's are two of the most popular, book as far ahead in advance. Dislikes: The entertainment shows were maybe a step above a high school production. there were four main singers and a group of male and female dancers and they did revue shows every night. The male singers were good, a few dancers were always a beat ahead or behind. Its a good way to pass 45 minutes, but dont expect Vegas level shows. On the positive, we also saw Carlos Oscar (comedian) twice who was very funny, and Matilda the Jamaican puppet ventroliquist act by Patrick Murray, also entertaining. The rest was silly game shows, bingo. There was lots of excellent music at the small lounges, including one piano player who always had a huge crowd. Some nice string music in the piazza. Service: Totally inconsistant. some language barriers, but depending on the day upstairs at buffet you either got great service or wildly indifferent service. Main dining room was good, but if you are a couple who doesnt like sharing expect a table near a host stand. Cabin service was friendly. BUY ME! SPEND THIS!: One thing that surprised me, and shouldnt surprise any veteran cruiser is the numerous attempts to get you to buy clothes, special wine tastings, jewelry, spa packages, vitamins, etc. Everything seems to have a price tag attached. a beer was 4.25 plus automatic 15% service charge, with an additional gratuity line. Alcohol is where they will get you. The 25 upcharge pp for the Sabatinis or Crown Grille was not warranted given the menu, and there were always open tables, so obviously others thought so. Every time you turned around someone was taking photographs they would try to sell you on deck 7 starboard hallway. Disembarkation: We did the carry it yourself disembarkation. In 14 minutes we went from the Vista Lounge, to the gangplank, to the custom hall, through security and into a cab. It was almost surreal. If you can self-disembark and arent arranging for transfers to the airport and plan on doing it yourself, its crazy quick. All in all, we got great value for the price we paid. Having no expectations going into this experience, i was impressed by Princess in many ways and would definitely do a cruise again. Having my first time being Alaska, and the stunning beauty associated with it, made it that much better.   Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
As a first time cruiser with my husband, we had a mostly positive experience with the Star Princess. Check-in Yes, there were lines, but not horrible. We arrived by noon as we figured let's just get started. First step - drop off ... Read More
As a first time cruiser with my husband, we had a mostly positive experience with the Star Princess. Check-in Yes, there were lines, but not horrible. We arrived by noon as we figured let's just get started. First step - drop off luggage, go to enter line to get to security, up the escalators, go through security, go into another line to get cruise cards, from there, go enter into a line to get on the boat. Once on the boat - smile - time for a photo. This process took about an hour, lines were always moving (think Disney with the creative line development). Enter elevator, go to your floor, see room, and off to get lunch. For lunch, we went straight to the buffet, we didn't see that pizza and burgers were available if we would've turned right vs. left on the deck. Lemonade is provided at no cost (we didn't learn this until day 4) - not all bars have lemonade, but those on the lido deck do. Luggage was by the room by 2-3pm, unpacked, and explored some more. Ice cream - Cones are at no cost, milk shakes cost $2.50. Evening Dining - We did timed seating at 5:30pm so we could see the shows at night. First night, there was a line as the waiters show you to your table (listed on your cruise card), after that, you just walk to your table. Waiters do try to upcharge with bottles of wine (which they will hold for you and bring back to you the following night). Offered specialty coffees and tickets to wine tasting ($25/per person). The Crown restaurant was very good, you do have to pay the upcharge of $25/per person. Food was excellent. Ports of calls - Expect lots of jewelry and t-shirt shops. Onboarding and off boarding were pretty uneventful. Lines to get food on the boat before exiting to Juneau started up around noon or so. Trip was very good, we would do this again (also, balcony was worth the charge, weather was nice, we used it quite a bit). Only hiccup occurred on last day on board. We received our invoice and we were charged $25/per person per bag for the Ez checkout (you put out your luggage the night before, and you see it again at your home airport). Both of us were not to be charged by the airlines for our bags due to frequent flier status. When we were charged, went to see princess personnel, they said I had to talk to the airlines. I spoke with the airlines, they said they didn't charge us, had to speak to princess. By this time, we were off the boat. Did send an e-mail to princess the following day with verification of frequent flier status (photos of bags listed as premier members), and 2 days later received a call from princess that we would be refunded the expense. After looking at the travel boards of similar situations, I would really highlight on the EZ checkout documents if you are exempt from paying luggage fees. Others even printed out information in advance, and stapled it to the documents to avoid the same erroneous charging from occurring to them, and the run around of who to seek reimbursement from. Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
Wow wow wow. What an experience. princess you certainly run a smart operation. I couldn't fault it. From the time we arrived for boarding till the time we disembarked at Whittier 7 days later it was a great trip. we didn't have ... Read More
Wow wow wow. What an experience. princess you certainly run a smart operation. I couldn't fault it. From the time we arrived for boarding till the time we disembarked at Whittier 7 days later it was a great trip. we didn't have too many expectations. It was our 25 anniversary, so we booked the deluxe package. That was really great and we both felt added to our experience. Champagne on the balcony, bathrobes, champagne glasses to keep. Deluxe phot package with a frame. A visit to the bridge . It was great. We chose a mini suite. And although I read lots of reviews on cruise critic,saying it was not worth it. We felt it was well worth it. We spent a lot of time out here. The weather was surpurb. We had packed a couple of small lightweight blankets just in case. We had merino wool long johns and tops and a goose down jacket, hats and gloves. These were only needed on the days in glacier bay when we were out the front of the ship otherwiseThe weather was fantastic. We made use of the lotus spa, great service, a big shoutnoutnto the international cafe for breakfast and great coffee. I think we only used the buffet once. Just too much food and choice for us. We chose any time dining. In the Boudreaux dining room. Service and staff fantastic. And very efficient. Two formal nights. As we had traveled a long way from NZ we hired a formal suit to be waiting in our cabin. It was and fitted himself perfectly. Loved dressing up for dinner. It's such a rare occasion for us, so made it that much more special, they have formal night photos, so we have some great photos to take home. The hot tubs were well used by us , it was so hot on the cruise we were in shorts and tee shirts quite most of the time. We had pre booked our excursions and really enjoyed being looked after. Princess certainly now how to look after their passengers. The bus /coach drivers were also our tour guides and had a wealth of local knowledge that they shared with us. We did the dogsled at dog base camp on the Mendallhall hall glacier.It's was a highlight. So much snow up there and blue sky day as well.they were in tee shirts. Zip line team at Ketchikan were very professional and safety orientated.this was great despite the only rain we saw in the rain Forrest ,so you would expect it. We had booked an after cruise tour. This was also good. We preferred the train to lots of buses. However the bus drivers were great. The three princess lodges. We preferred the mt McKinley lodge and recommend a couple of night there. It just very restful and the hot tub was also great. All in all a great first time introduction to cruising. Have booked another with Coral on the strength of our experience to the panama. We tried bingo. Lets just say I gave a donation. Same can be said for the casino. We enjoyed talking to other Passengers in the dining room. There were plenty of American and Canadian on the cruise . Who all had New Zealand on their bucket list as we had Alaska on ours. Many cruisers we met were repeat Princess customers . I would recommend this cruise and the Coral Princess. We did not feel at Any time there were too many people it was very spacious. We felt that all the crew were actively engaged with enhancing the passengers experience. Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
We departed June 1 from Whittier and arrived Vancouver June 7. It was supposed to be the trip of a lifetime and it truly was! The ship was spotlessly clean, the crew was amazingly friendly and the food was great. We enjoyed every moment ... Read More
We departed June 1 from Whittier and arrived Vancouver June 7. It was supposed to be the trip of a lifetime and it truly was! The ship was spotlessly clean, the crew was amazingly friendly and the food was great. We enjoyed every moment (save for one) and would do the entire trip again beginning to end. The aft suite was incredible - and we enjoyed the various perks that came with it. Because we had done a land tour, having the free laundry service was fantastic. Being able to order room service off the main dining room menus was a huge perk. This allowed us to keep our eyes glued on the phenomenal scenery. Having a suite overlooking the wake was just lovely. It wasn't loud and could only be heard if you opened the balcony doors. And even moving at a speedy for a cruise ship 22 knots, we could talk quietly on our deck and easily hear each other. We felt we had a private box and the best seats in the house during the scenic cruising and traveling the inner passage. Whales and porpoise were easily spotted playing in the wake. Our room steward, May, was a delight and really made our stay special. Our room was always spotlessly clean and she anticipated every need. One morning we passed May in the hallway and mentioned we were planning to walk around Ketchikan and skip our planned excursion. When we got back from breakfast, two umbrellas were waiting for us. She was like a friendly ghost - we never saw her come or go but we knew she had been there from all the little things she did. If we could request May with our next cruise, we would. We didn't partake in any scheduled activities or entertainment on board. Sitting in a theater watching a show seemed silly when the real show was happening all around us 24/7 courtesy of Alaska! We chose Anytime Dining which was very convenient for us. We only ate in 2 of the main dining rooms (Santa Fe and Savoy). The food was good, service was good, decor was good. Not a lot of window seating which made this style of eating less interesting for us. Main dining room food, whether delivered to our room or served in the dining room, was 3 to 4 star caliber. We ate at both Sabatani's and the Sterling Steakhouse. We opted for Sabatini's while for dinner the first night of the cruise as the extra fee is waived on this night for suite passengers. Easily 4 to 5 star dining from the caliber of the food to the amazing wait staff. This was the best way to start our cruise. We checked out Sterling Steakhouse and because it had huge windows and generous window seating, we decided we would eat here on our final cruising day. Sterling easily compared to Capital Grille, Morton's or Ruth's Chris. We did eat at the Horizon Court buffet a few times for lunch or to grab a quick snack. 3 star caliber food. It was a buffet - Nothing to write home about. I will say that the wait staff here was quick to get drinks, clean away dishes and prep tables. As suite passengers, we had access to Sabatini's for breakfast each morning. This perk is worth every extra penny paid for the suite. We enjoyed the wait staff tremendously and when we remember our cruise, we fondly remember our friends Jiovannie, Agu and Leo and hope we see them again. The fresh orange (mimosas!), and best mochaccino's ever plus fruit plates, made to order eggs and pastries were all fantastic but it is the wait staff here that makes Sabatini's truly special. Afternoon tea delivered to our room (another suite perk) was fantastic, fresh and I wish we had done it every day. Embarkation and disembarkation was easy and well organized. Luggage delivery and pick up at the port was simple and easy. The entire trip with Princess (we did a land portion as well) was simple, organized and easy. We felt well cared for and never had a worry. The key to the success of the Diamond is the crew - from the Captain to the folks in the laundry (yes we did the ultimate ship tour and HIGHLY recommend it!). Everyone is friendly, helpful and seem genuinely pleased that you are on-board. It was our first cruise and most certainly not our last. Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
We had heard such great things about cruising, that we finally broke down and decided to belatedly treat ourselves to a 25th anniversary cruise. It was our maiden voyage and we were prepared to like it, love it, and want more of it. ... Read More
We had heard such great things about cruising, that we finally broke down and decided to belatedly treat ourselves to a 25th anniversary cruise. It was our maiden voyage and we were prepared to like it, love it, and want more of it. Unfortunately, this was another case of the hype outweighing the substance. It started out wonderfully with a long weekend in San Francisco prior to setting sail for the Inner Passage. TIP: If possible, arrive at your departure port at least a day early to avoid flight hiccups and last minute rushing. On embarkation day, Pier 35 was bustling with activity and excitement. We got there around 11am for a 1pm boarding. TIP: If you get to the Pier early, hunt down one of the Princess agents and see about early boarding. That's exactly what we did, and they ushered us right in to get the onboarding process started. You don't ask, you don't get. From there getting settled was pretty smooth. They had crew members on each floor at the elevator banks directing guests to their cabins. TIP: Have either a big breakfast or lunch before boarding, because it seems that the first thing people do is head to the buffet. No other restaurants are open, and the Horizon room is a crowded mess of chaos inhabited by many people who act like they haven't eaten in a week and look as though they belong in "People of Wal-Mart" parodies. The first 2 1/2 days were very rough seas. So much so that the captain announced a cancellation of our first port, Juneau. There was so much noise overnight with all the booming of the stabilizers and rocking of the ship that we got hardly any sleep for almost 48 hours. This did not set a very nice tone, although things got better as the weather did. TIP: The Alaskan scenery is stunningly beautiful. Take the opportunity to get off the ship in ports, but know that the towns are tourist traps. How do they support so many jewelry stores?! There are plenty of activities to occupy your time, from movies, board games, live music, and lectures, to casino gambling, live production shows, a spa and fantastic fitness center. Note that the casino allows smoking and it stinks to high heaven in there. It even wafts out to the stairway nearby.TIP: Carry your "Princess Patter" with you. No matter how good your memory may be, you won't remember all the activities and their time slots. Our state room was called a mini-suite. It was a well-appointed comfy room with a balcony and had just enough room that we weren't tripping over each other. The food. This is where they really need improvement. All I've ever heard is how wonderful food is on a cruise ship, but this was not the case for us. The Horizon Room was like a floating Old Country Buffet. We avoided it as much as we could, but even the DaVinci and Michelangelo dining rooms didn't deliver anything that wowed. Everything was plated and presented beautifully, but with the exception of only a couple dishes, food was bland and forgettable. The standouts that we liked: breads, most of the pastas, and coc au vin. TIP: Ask your waiter for recommendations. Ours had some great suggestions. Also, if you give them 24 hour notice, you may be able to request off-the-menu special dishes.There were no "name" entertainers, but the entertainment was better than I expected. We saw all the production shows performed by the Princess Singers and Dancers and they were top-notch. The musical performances were also top-notch and could be found in the Piazza and various lounges around the ship. There were also trivia contests and other fun-filled things done by the crew. Getting off the ship was easy-peasy. You get assigned a color designation and a waiting lounge. TIP: You have to be out of your rooms by 8am, so get up early and get whatever coffee/breakfast you want as soon as you can, because you will again be dealing with herds of grazers everywhere. Allow yourself enough time to be able to return to the state room for one last freshen-up before heading to your wait lounge. So, as you see, there were good and bad things about this cruise. I think my expectations were set a little high, because I feel like we paid for a mid to upper-level champagne experience only to come away with a low-end beer. I'm thankful I was able to experience this, but I will not be rushing out to book another cruise anytime soon. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
First off - WELL DONE PRINCESS!! Fantastic cruise. We did the suite, on the sun deck, and it was well worth the extra money! Flowers in the room, free champagne on embarkation, canapes every day, free this, upgrade that - WOW. I'll ... Read More
First off - WELL DONE PRINCESS!! Fantastic cruise. We did the suite, on the sun deck, and it was well worth the extra money! Flowers in the room, free champagne on embarkation, canapes every day, free this, upgrade that - WOW. I'll never cruise again unless we can afford a suite - they spoiled us. We never waited in a line, just said "suite" and were taken to the front - very cool. Age of the cruisers was all over the place - so I don't understand why other complained - and there was lots to do each and every day (and night). The ship is immaculate, clean, and modern. People were always walking around cleaning something and everyone on the crew seemed to genuinely want to please us.And the food - wow!! Since we had a suite, we got to eat in Sabatini's for breakfast, and they even made stuff that wasn't on the menu for us! We also got to order anything off the dinner menu for room service (suite perk) and had lobsters while watching the world go by. We booked everything thru Princess and got big savings on the Air fare and went non stop. We also arrived a day prior and stayed 3 days after in Seattle and the Westin (booked thru princess) gave us a free upgraded deluxe room with a view of the water. The transfers were also thru Princess, and they were all on time and professional.Only issue was with the Lotus spa - I'd wait to book things till I got to the boat, vice in advance like we did - they offer specials. We did excursions thru princess, while some seemed pricey, we enjoyed each one. Dog sled in Juneau was the best, and they still didn't notice my wife stole one of the puppies (kidding!!).And the last port of Victoria was rushed, so we just partied on the boat!I can't say enough good - Princess won us over! Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
My hubby and I took our first cruise ever for our 30th wedding anniversary. We decided to head to Alaska since we had always wanted to go. We were not disappointed with any part of the cruise.The food was great whether we ate in the ... Read More
My hubby and I took our first cruise ever for our 30th wedding anniversary. We decided to head to Alaska since we had always wanted to go. We were not disappointed with any part of the cruise.The food was great whether we ate in the Horizon Court or in Bernini's restaurant or the international cafe. We chose anytime dining and only had to wait one night for a table. All of the waiters were excellent and made us feel like royalty. We purchased a coffee card on the first day and really enjoyed the specialty coffees. They also have several virgin drinks available in any of the lounges, and since we really don't drink much it was a real treat.The entertainment was top notch! We made a point to catch all of the shows taking place in the theatre and were impressed with all of the productions that the princess singers and dancers put on. We also spent time in the lounges, kind of hopped around between them and got a chance to hear some great entertainment and kick up our heels! Wow! What a great time we had burning off some calories!I had researched anything and everything about the ship for several months in advance, however nothing can compare to our first glimpse of the Piazza! So beautiful! We spent as much time as we could in the area, taking in the entertainment and relaxing with coffee or drink from the bar, or just people watching. I have to say that when Princess talks about the Piazza being the heart of the ship, in my opinion, it truly is! I can't think of a better way to relax and unwind. It is my favorite part of the ship. We had such a great time in each of the ports. We were not disappointed with any of the excursions we chose. We went to the Totem State Park and Lumberjack show in Ketchikan. We went to the Mendenhall Glacier, Museum, and Rain Forest Garden in Juneau. Our favorite was the White Hill Summit railroad trip in Skagway. We also took a city tour while in port and then did some shopping downtown before returning to the ship. Victoria is such an gorgeous place! We took a tour of the area and went to see the Craigdarroch castle. What a treat! The Tracy Arm Fjord is a absolutely beautiful place! We live in Wyoming and spend time in the mountains, but there is something special about being so close to such magnificence! The water was pristine, and the water falls were innumerable. I remember telling my husband, since we did not want to purchase a whale watching tour, due to the expense, that the only thing that could top everything we had already seen and done, was to see some whales. Well we got our wish on the sea travel between Skagway and Victoria. We were on the port side of the ship on our balcony and we were traveling in a channel that is well known for Humpback Whale. We spent about an hour watching with our eyes and our binoculars about 15 or 20 humpbacks. They showed us their dorsal fins and their tales! We also saw Orca earlier in the voyage. They are awesome creatures.I have to say that this will not be our only cruise! We would like to go back to Alaska, but we have already reserved a cruise on the Royal Princess in October 2014 to Canada/New England. I so wish I could go on another cruise between now and then, but have to thankful I can go again at all.I have read other reviews making comments on the age of the Golden Princess. I think she is beautiful! They have taken very good care of her. I would like to cruise on her again, it would feel like home!Princess cruises really takes care of you, the cruiser, and would not hesitate to recommend them or an Alaska cruise to anyone that will listen! Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
As a first time cruiser I didn't know everything to expect but The Star Princess exceeded my expectations as the saying goes. Staff and crews were excellent. Cruise director Sammi was fun and very informative the whole week. Food was ... Read More
As a first time cruiser I didn't know everything to expect but The Star Princess exceeded my expectations as the saying goes. Staff and crews were excellent. Cruise director Sammi was fun and very informative the whole week. Food was about what I expected it would be. Dining room was somewhat better than the buffet, but that was expected. Plenty of activities going on all the time while onboard. The excursions we booked through Princess were great. Whale watching and Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau were both exciting and well planned. The Skagway White Pass train ride up to the Yukon is an unforgettable event (complete with lots of snow). The Salmon bake in Liarsville was over the top in quality, taste and great entertaining fun after lunch. We weren't rushed and even provided a chance to do a little gold panning there too. Ketchikan was a short stay but a town we'd like to hang around for days and shop. A lot of ideal and unique places to see there. We've never see so many Jewelry stores in all our lives than in all of these ports of call.Final stop in Victoria, B.C. was the only disappointment since it was so late in the evening and it was getting dark by the time we made it to downtown. That is such a unique and storied town, it would be worth at least a 6 hour stay there to enjoy the many sights and gardens they have to offer.Would we go again to Alaska and on Princess? Absolutely. Savings have already begun for the South Pacific/Hawaii trip we'd like for next year. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
Since we had never cruised before, didn't know what to expect except what we had read. It was certainly better than expected! The staff of Princess Cruises love to help out the first time cruisers. Never felt so taken care of and ... Read More
Since we had never cruised before, didn't know what to expect except what we had read. It was certainly better than expected! The staff of Princess Cruises love to help out the first time cruisers. Never felt so taken care of and didn't want for anything. The cruise tour started off with freezing weather because the day before we got there it had gotten colder than it had been since 1928. It's Alaska, never know what to expect. Fairbanks riverboat and tour was wonderful even though it was freezing, there is coffee and donuts. In Denali had to switch rooms because of frozen pipes but Princess gave us each $25 vouchers for our trouble. Luggage was transported from spot to spot although a little late coming sometimes. Went on tour by Princess into park and saw a couple of Moose. Was beautiful and informative. In McKinley, the lodge and the mountain was beautiful. They say only 30% see it, it usually has a ring of clouds around it but not on the day we were there. For about an hour, it was clear.Took a bus to the train to get to the ship in Whittier, our float trip was cancelled because the river was frozen.Boarding ship was a breeze and so exciting for us. The weather turned out to be beautiful the whole trip. Cabin was great, steward friendly and helpful as were all of the staff. Danced until we couldn't dance anymore. Had great luncheon on deck when we went to glaciers. All Alaskan food! Ports we stopped in were interesting, but a lot of shopping. Our favorite was the the helicopter ride and a stop to walk on a glacier in Juneau or maybe it was the Whitepass railway in Skagway. Too many favorites to count!Disembarking in Vancouver went very smoothly because Princess was there to direct us all the way.Food was very good on the buffet but in the Anytime dining room, it was delicious. No problems eating at 6:00pm every evening, I even lost 5lbs eating fish every night while hubby gained 8lbs. We really enjoyed the wait staff and their great smiles.We would do this trip again in a flash. And we are planning our next cruise to the Panama Canal on Princess. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
We spent one night in Vancouver and departed on May 25th for seven day cruise to Whittier. We were a bit overwhelmed with the size of the ship and trying to find everything. The little Scavenger Hunt game is a clever way to force you to ... Read More
We spent one night in Vancouver and departed on May 25th for seven day cruise to Whittier. We were a bit overwhelmed with the size of the ship and trying to find everything. The little Scavenger Hunt game is a clever way to force you to explore. Our cabin on Baja deck was quite nice. Our steward was perfect; efficient and professional. The balcony is a little more private because of no overhang. And, since the weather was unusually clear, we tended to use the balcony. Port side is nice for long afternoon sun. By the way, no one ever told us, but the carpets on Port side have a pink border. This helps getting out of elevators to find the correct side.We booked our own air travel and chose to book our own excursions on port days. We ate one evening in Sabbatini and it was quite good, but I'm not sure that it was worth the extra charge. The other restaurants only seem to differ in location and ambience..the menus looked identical. Other than one grumpy waiter, service was cordial and friendly. Breakfast buffet in the Horizon Court is more food than I needed. Twice, we simply ordered room service. Luggage and transfers were handled flawlessly. We can only compare to the comments of others. But, thumbs up from us. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
This was my very first time on a cruise and I booked the Western Med knowing something about the countries but my main aim was to see if I liked the idea of cruising. I did, loved it but this was my first and now acts as a benchmark for ... Read More
This was my very first time on a cruise and I booked the Western Med knowing something about the countries but my main aim was to see if I liked the idea of cruising. I did, loved it but this was my first and now acts as a benchmark for what I look for in the future. First of all the very positives. Princess Cruises for me are first class for cleanliness, food, staff attitude entertainment, drinks and for the whole experience. Yes they are trying to empty your wallet with sales etc but that is up to you. I took advantage of the jewellery and duty frees, but my partner helped me to keep within my limits ...ha ha.. There was plenty to do if you wished, plenty of relaxing if you didn t.I loved that, I like dressing up and "going out" it was the perfect holiday. Formal night, ... I think its really the men who have issues here with the Tuxedo etc, but hey they looked great!! and if you don t want then there were plenty who did n t bother. It seemed to confine itself to the restaurants,shows and bars and the Atrium ( a fab area for people watching and decent coffee).There were many who were just dressed "smartly" and went to the buffett . So I needn t of stressed over that. The ports of call ..well... I was a bit disappointed there, but its where I chose to go. Its a big ship so it has to go where it can. Barcelona, ... nice enough city, Monaco, did n t fancy the choppy sea on a lifeboat in the rain...Livorno. ok ...Civviatchio or Rome, Florence... and Naples ..Yuk!! If I hadn t of been to Italy these ports would of put me off going.. However, there are opportunities to go on tours, which we did a couple of times. Loved Corsica and Gibralter. But like I said it was the cruising experience that was paramount for me this time. Its great stopping at all these different places, just will be more choosy over my stops next time. Now the downside. I wanted to go from Southampton so I could be there without flying and not have to weigh in my suitcases. Although some people moaned at the queues.. Get a life, !!! It were n't that bad,there were a lot of people to embark onto the ship. I shall probably be shouted down for my next winge...but ... some times I felt I was in a care home. For some reason there were more people in wheelchairs, with walking sticks and zimmer frames, that people that were able to get about on their own two legs. Why this was I can only put down to the fact there seemed to be super disabled facilities onboard and it was going from Southampton.Their needs are not mine, and more than me and my partner remarked on this. Just leave it that their holiday has different requirements to mine and I did get a bit fed up of being pushed aside by the big wheeled chairs, being squashed in lifts, tripped up by walking sticks and walking snail pace everywhere and having to give way to some people who just expected it. Although it did n t really bother me that much, not having a window in our stateroom left us sometimes wondering what time of day it was. Also, it could of been an escape from the wheelchairs and zimmers, or just a place to chill if we had of had a balcony. But again, this was my first time. The final consideration for next time is the Bay of Biscay. The journey back was horrible, and it was almost 3 days of rocking and rolling and feeling queazy. So there you have it.. Next time I know what to look for, and yes I will do it again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
We embarked in Sydney and found the process easy and quick. It was a sparkling Sydney day, and it was a public holiday (Easter Monday) so it seemed everybody on and off Sun Princess was in holiday mood. There was a minimum of waiting in ... Read More
We embarked in Sydney and found the process easy and quick. It was a sparkling Sydney day, and it was a public holiday (Easter Monday) so it seemed everybody on and off Sun Princess was in holiday mood. There was a minimum of waiting in line and the staff were helpful and ultra pleasant. We must have received 20 "Welcome Aboard" and "Enjoy your cruise with us" by the time we reached our state room. We had been up-graded from a Balcony to a Mini-suite! Nobody could tell us why, but it was a great way to start our cruise. Our bags were lost on embarkation and there was an anxious wait leading up to departure and beyond, when the bags failed to turn up. The staff were helpful however and the bags had lost their i.d. tags in handling. They were waiting for us at Customer Services on Deck 5. No problems. The seas were flat all the way. The food was beyond our expectations. In the Regency Dining Room the staff were first rate and the company on our table of 8 were a diverse bunch and we enjoyed their company. We conversed with anybody and everybody on board and found our fellow cruisers always pleasant and helpful. The range and quality of food in Horizons, the Pizzeria and the Poolside food outlets (ice-cream and hamburgers, or sundaes and hot dogs) was all fabulous, and except for a few small gripes, we were very happy. Will I mention the small gripes? OK - American honey tastes like golden syrup, the espresso coffee was variable quality depending who made it and where you got it - small things really. We didn't make use of most activities, but I noticed that every day could be filled with activities if you wanted it that way. We were more content to laze by the pools, walk the uninterrupted boardwalk of Deck 7, read and laze about in our luxurious room. We did go to a show one night and the singers and dancers were energetic and pretty good. The casino was a good diversion on a couple of occasions and coincidentally, the machines were good to us. The outdoor movies were great and we enjoyed alternating between pool, spa and lounger in the balmy tropical air. Mid-night snacks, high teas, long lunches, ice cold beer, prompt and affordable room service were on tap. What a life! In Darwin, disembarkation/embarkation was from Port facilities and went without a hitch. In Benoa, Bali disembarkation was via lifeboats after anchoring in the bay. This process is not so smooth. It took over an hour to fill the large catamaran tour boat and the process of getting on an off the lifeboats appeared chaotic and fraught with waiting and leaping over a lurching deck. The elephant ride excursion was filled before leaving port, so that was disappointing (tip: book tours when you book the cruise). The Highlight of the cruise was the quality of the staff. They were intent on making us comfortable, especially the Dining waiters and Room stewards. The pre-port talks and information on ports was entertaining and accurate. Much appreciated. Improvements could be made to the captains log information on the TV - there is a minimum of information provided, and no weather reports. I would like to know the names of the islands and land masses that can be seen ashore. Cruisers who want more should take an atlas or maps, but that's just me I suppose. I personally don't like plastic mugs for coffee and lemonade. They do keep liquids hot and/or cold however, it gave the feel of a nursing home or hospital. I personally did not like JJ Ulrich, the Cruise Director. He was never seen except when speaking with Ships Officers and on TV daily reading the list of the days activities. He is brash, hard to understand and his sense of humour, if that's what it is, is just smart arse and rude. It was an outstanding holiday. We were impressed with the loyalty program and the benefits for repeat cruisers. We will go again because the cruising is a complete package and good value too. Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
This was our first cruise but had been many years in the planning as a special trip to celebrate our forthcoming Silver wedding. We had a 3 night pre cruise stay at the Shangri La hotel on the river side which was beautiful and spent 3 ... Read More
This was our first cruise but had been many years in the planning as a special trip to celebrate our forthcoming Silver wedding. We had a 3 night pre cruise stay at the Shangri La hotel on the river side which was beautiful and spent 3 days exploring Bangkok and the surrounding areas doing trips independently booked through Viator. Our embarkation in Bangkok was faultless as Princess had organised pre booking the evening before at the hotel and all our luggage was picked up from outside our hotel room and taken direct to the ship. This meant that although our assigned time was to be 3pm we left the hotel just after 11.30am on the Princess transfer and were at the ship and on board by about 1.30pm with no queuing up required. Had booked a balcony originally but were upgraded to a mini suite which was on the Dolphin deck. The cabin was spotless and very roomy and the balcony was very large. It was overlooked from above but that did not bother us as there was plenty of room to sunbathe. The bed was one of the most comfortable that we had ever slept in and we never experienced any sea sickness and the majority of time you forgot you were actually moving apart from a slight vibration. We had a great room steward called Ramone who tended to our every need. There was always ice and fresh towels replenished daily without even asking and he was very tolerant to us being late dinner goers so preparing our cabin for night time was probably always the last to be done. The Diamond Princess is a beautiful ship and I found it to be in very good condition and very clean. You never felt that it was crowded and there was always somewhere you could retreat to for a quiet time. Hand sanitizers were always available before entering the Horizon court and all the other restaurants. We ate Anytime dining and found this to be ideal. The food was excellent and a good choice was available. Any waiters/waitresses that served us were lovely and attentive and we were always served promptly. I had pre purchased 4 bottles of Champagne before boarding at a reasonable price of $27.00 each because I worked it out that if you took on more than the two bottles per couple that you were allowed at no extra charge then with the $15.00 corkage that Princess would charge you for any over and above this meant that it would be very doubtful that you would get a bottle of Champagne for $12 or less that would taste that good. I expected them to be in the cabin on embarkation but what Princess do is leave you a card per bottle that you can either request room service to bring you a bottle or you can produce the card in the restaurants and they then get it for you. As no further corkage is added we chose to have it in the restaurants. Also like the idea that you do not need to drink it all in one sitting and the waiters will store it till the following evening. We took the opportunity to eat in the Sterling Steak House one evening and although it lacked a bit of atmosphere it certainly didn't disappoint with their steaks. Cooked to perfection and cut like butter. We went with another couple we had met on board who were also celebrating their Silver Wedding for a joint celebration to the other fee pay restaurant Sabatini's and had a great night. Food was fantastic and the waiters entertained us all night and presented us with a cake and serenaded us which was a lovely touch. Had afternoon tea on 3 occasions and had our cups and plates constantly refilled. Went to the theatres shows a couple of nights and the ones we saw were more than acceptable. We really enjoyed the end of Cruise Crew Talent show. Also liked 'Movies under the Stars' although had seen most of the films on offer but that's only because we go to the cinema all the time at home. There was always plenty of sunbeds available even although the weather was lovely and hot for the majority of the cruise and we expected there to be a shortage. Lots of different deck areas to go to and the pools were great. One of our favourite things to do was to be on deck once the sun went down and it was almost deserted and then we had the hot tubs to ourselves. Enjoyed the three formal nights and the majority of passengers dressed up for the occasion. This was a perfect cruise for the balance between sea days and port days. Thoroughly enjoyed all the ports we visited opting to do our own thing in Singapore, Hong Kong and Shanghai. We took organised trips arranged through our Cruise Critic Roll call in the two ports in Vietnam and Nagasaki and these were all excellent both for value for money and the itinerary offered. The only Princess tour we did was in Busan as it was only a short day and we wanted to visit the Haedong Temple and were doubtful of managing it on our own in the time. All in all it was a fantastic cruise and made all the more special by the people we met and the Crew we had dealings with. I have read many reviews before I went on the cruise and kept an open mind to the negative comments and my feelings are that you get back what you give and witnessing certain passengers attitude to the crew and lack of respect for them we are of the opposite nature treating them with courtesy and showing genuine interest in where they are from and a cheery hello and how are you today pays dividends in the way they then interact with you. As I have said it was our first cruise so we have nothing to compare it with and perhaps if you have been on several cruises over the years there may have been changes in certain things but it more than met and surpassed my expectations and I would have no hesitation going on another Princess Cruise. On disembarkation at Beijing we spent a further eight days doing the Princess Land Tour and Yangtze River boat cruise. From start to finish we stayed in the best hotels and were taken to many of the amazing sites in China and the whole tour went like clockwork. So many happy memories of both the Cruise and the Land Tour and all the lovely people we came into contact with made it well and truly a holiday of a lifetime. Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
What a fantastic experience!  Flew Heathrow - Beijing on KLM, via Amsterdam - excellent service and comfortable-ish for long haul cattle class. In Beijing, stayed at the Marriott City walls, which was lovely, although the food was poor ... Read More
What a fantastic experience!  Flew Heathrow - Beijing on KLM, via Amsterdam - excellent service and comfortable-ish for long haul cattle class. In Beijing, stayed at the Marriott City walls, which was lovely, although the food was poor value. Princess offered us several trips, which we took, as they seemed good value (I have reviewed the trips separately on Trip Advisor if you are interested.) Acrobatic show, Great Wall (foggy and cold, sadly), Summer Palace, Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, all with great restaurants and local guides(especially the Peking Duck!. We had a 2hr drive to the port to meet the Diamond Princess.) She is beautiful and I can't fault her - service was great, public areas never crowded, shows excellent, and food good (we had anytime dining which gave us more freedom to eat where we liked)Our cabin on B deck was good (I wouldn't have liked lower decks, as they were overlooked, and not undercover from the downpours we had. Mind you, they were better for sunbathing) Catherine our steward was lovely, and when my husband said his back was stiff, she found us a comfortable topper for the mattress. We enjoyed our days at sea. Captain Bilton coped well with problems - an engine played up, a poorly crew member had to be airlifted off the ship at midnight, and Shanghai was too dangerous to dock in due to bad weather.(We had an extra day in Hong Kong instead - yippee!)The port talks by Elizabeth were excellent, and very funny Our first port of call was Busan, South Korea - beautiful city, with fantastic markets (and they don't hound you to buy either!). Nagasaki next, again beautiful and very welcoming - little children came on board to sing and dance. In Hong Kong we had to be tendered on the first day from Junk harbour, but everything was smoothly organised. Leaving Hong Kong, the ship sailed slowly through Victoria Harbour just as the 8pm laser show began - brilliant! In Vietnam, we had 2 port stops and again, we did the organised trips, which we thought were mostly good value, and more relaxed. Loved the country, very interesting -especially the CuChi tunnels, and War zone Singapore was beautiful, although we thought the Botanic Gardens trip would have been easier and a darn sight cheaper to do ourselves. Ended up in the Long Bar at Raffles. Time was wasted in Singapore due to the long immigration process. We disembarked in Bangkok (PhuMi), and did a city and temple tour on our way to the Four Seasons hotel, where we stayed for 3 nights - wonderful. Bangkok is easy to get around so we 'did it ourselves' - what a great city! In all. a fabulous experience - we have just booked for 2015 with Princess on their South America cruise (Rio to Santiago) - can't wait. The ONLY downside were the small groups of whingeing passengers who were vocal about the pettiest things (0ne woman had her passport on a string round her neck, and was reluctant to give it up, as she said she needed to know she would get home - dead or alive!), too little ice/too much, chopsticks in China and Japan - they even asked for forks!!), complained about missing out Shanghai (safety first!) and the very worst were rude and abrupt with the crew members, which is unforgiveable. Carpe Diem and stop moaning! Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
My wife and I had decided to take a retirement trip and although she had done a trip to the pacific islands, I had never been on a passenger ship, despite having been a deep sea captain for over 40 years. We found the ship to be very clean ... Read More
My wife and I had decided to take a retirement trip and although she had done a trip to the pacific islands, I had never been on a passenger ship, despite having been a deep sea captain for over 40 years. We found the ship to be very clean and we had paid a little extra for a mini suite, which was a good choice. It isn't a huge difference in size, just an extra seating area with a 3 seater settee and chair and table, but it seems to make the cabin much more liveable. The balcony is adequate but it does get overlooked by everyone above as it is further out on the ships side and has no cover, on the plus side, we could look straight down the ships side to watch the pilot boats and tenders coming and going. We also got a bath/ shower but only used the shower. You can see the insides on many You Tube videos for more details. We did bring a couple of bottles of wine onboard at Sydney & Darwin. Never questioned when they X-Ray the backpacks so good for a quick drink on the balcony.We picked the early dining option which gave us more time to go to various venues after dinner, but we tried other dining venues on several occasions.Get in early for shows and movies in the Princess Theatre as it is usually packed for the first week or two. The extra spend on dining venues such as sabatini is well worth the money. Get a good lounge early for movies under the stars as they are almost always taken, rugs and popcorn are free.The forward end has a great private child free area which is worth the money. The forward pool is almost always lightly used and feels like more luxury. There are a few mini lounge/ bar areas which were always empty when we went in if you want privacy.The ship has about 2700 passengers but it doesn't feel like it most of the time onboard but on two occasions in Japan & Korea, there were block long lines waiting for up to 40 minutes for coaches back to the ship, There were lots of coaches but also lots of pax and crew filling them up.All in all, we had a wonderful time. The crew were all fantastic and did everything they could to make us enjoy the trip. If we had any real gripes, it was that there was so much to do everyday, we couldn't do it all. Sometimes towards the end of the voyage, we were glad to get back to the cabin.We never took a ships excursion but found plenty to look at walking around by ourselves after the shuttle bus dropped us. They had a lecturer give a lecture in the theatre before every port and this is repeated on the TV.2 ports not mentioned in the port reviews section, were Kagoshima in Japan (which was a very small port in the extreme south of Japan. They are very close to a volcano which is still active On some days, if the wind is blowing from the volcano, it pushes volcanic dust over the city. There is some good shopping department stores and restaurants but we had some problems getting coaches back to the ship.We also went to Taipei which is in free China, We took a taxi with a few others and it was very good. Saw lots of places and the driver looked after us well. Bought our currency in Hong Kong and changed it back onboard.After Japan, we went to Busan in Korea, Lots of shopping and good street markets. More trouble with long lines for the shuttle bus.We then went to Shanghai in China, Lots of history here. Another town with the "Big Red Bus", Took one to the west side tour, then changed to another route taking in the shopping district. Had a great time here as well but not much time ashore so had to cram it all in quickly.From there to Dalian, not much here.. some architecture, maybe should have taken the tour. The department store was very expensive but got some silk scarves. Got an early bus back.Last stop was Beijing where we ended the trip. We had a tour guide company to take us off the ship to our hotel which was the Novotel Peace. It takes 3 hours to get to Beijing from the port. This hotel is within 3 blocks from the forbidden city, close to the big pedestrian shopping street. We got a top floor (9th) with a suite. If you are on the 8th or 9th, you get a free lounge to relax in from 1800 with free snacks and booze and free breakfast each morning. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
Our group consisted of my 70-something year old parents (who treated the rest of us to this cruise), my husband & me (in our 40s), our 2 sons (ages 10 & 12) and my brother, a single 40-something. I had cruised once 20+ years ago ... Read More
Our group consisted of my 70-something year old parents (who treated the rest of us to this cruise), my husband & me (in our 40s), our 2 sons (ages 10 & 12) and my brother, a single 40-something. I had cruised once 20+ years ago and my parents had cruised several times but never on Princess (RCL and others). We chose this cruise simply because it worked with everyone's schedule. Overall I highly recommend it, especially for a large group. Everyone could do their own thing. Sometimes we'd do things together but we always knew we'd meet up for dinner. The service was exceptional. We felt like we were at a 5-star hotel. From the moment we got on board, the staff was always asking us if we needed something. One night we ordered room service that never came but we forgave them because every other interaction was so wonderful. Food: The food was much better than I expected it would be, especially the sit-down dinners. We did the early seating sit-down dinner and had our own table. Our waiter was warm, friendly and attentive. For breakfast we mostly did buffet (we did a sit-down one morning that was meh), lunches we ate burgers or the delicious fresh wood-fired pizza on deck, but every single night we did the family dinner which was a great way to end a day/begin an evening. We never tried the other restaurants because we enjoyed "our" table so much. Rooms: My husband & I had a balcony room and our kids had an inside cabin directly across from us. (Baja deck, B419 & B421) The idea was to put 1 adult & 1 child in each room (that is how you have to book it) because we thought there would be no WAY we'd let them be in a cabin by themselves. They are barely 10 and 12 and we tend to be worriers! But after less than a day on board, we felt so comfortable and safe that we let them sleep in their room by themselves. It certainly made it more of a vacation for us! (By the way: Getting 2 rooms was only a little bit more expensive than putting the 4 of us in 1 room, and cheaper than a family suite.) My parents had a balcony room next to us with a gate that opened so we could go back and forth. My brother had a view room a couple decks away (Emerald) which he found ideal. (Tip: You can call and ask for an "obstructed view" room that does not have a lifeboat in front of it, giving you a view room for an obstructed view price.) My dad was afraid the elevators would be noisy but nobody heard a thing. The beds and pillows were super comfy and I'm picky. The only complaint was the first night, the engine was so rumbly I couldn't sleep but the rest of the trip was fine. The TVs had tons of great first-run movies (including plenty for kids) and lots of other channels including repeats of the Love Boat! Activities: There was a schedule every day but we didn't do a ton of them. We mainly hung out around the pools & jacuzzis, reading, playing cards and chatting. The movies on deck were fun. Excursions: In Cabo we did the Dolphin Swim which was great, though we had to wait a long time before our group was called. Had a GREAT lunch at Solomon's Landing afterwards, walking distance from the dolphin center. In Puerto Vallarta we did the zip lining which my kids are still talking about. We got pictures both places, which are expensive but worth it. (We booked both through Princess.) Ensenada was a complete waste of time: dirty, seedy, boring. Next time I wouldn't get off the boat. Speaking of getting off the boat: that was easier than I thought it would be. But I had expected to wait forever and be highly annoyed so the wait didn't seem bad! Kids Club: My kids didn't want to go and I didn't make them. But on day 4 they met some kids on deck that had been in kid's club and from that point forward, they hung out with Kid's Club kids. If parents ok it, kids can leave the club and walk around the ship. (They could go to the sport court, play shuffleboard, get food, etc.) Amazingly, my husband and I agreed to this and the kids LOVED their independence. I can't believe we felt comfortable enough to let them do that, but the ship really felt that safe. I could criticize some things but there was nothing that ruined the trip. For example it would have been nice to have a "funner" pool for the kids like Disney (which of course is 3x price), the entertainment wasn't memorable (except one guy in the lobby who was great), and not everything I ate was stellar. Expect some waiting around to get on/off the boat and get that first buffet meal. But overall whenever I think about that cruise I smile. Would definitely do it again. My husband did NOT want to go in the first place but is now telling everyone how great cruising is and can't wait to go back. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
Travelled from the UK for our first cruise, Stayed 3 nights in Miami Beach Resort & Spa (See Trip advisor review) before transfer to FL on Sunday Very easy embarkation lots of people to help you first impressions of ship was excellent, ... Read More
Travelled from the UK for our first cruise, Stayed 3 nights in Miami Beach Resort & Spa (See Trip advisor review) before transfer to FL on Sunday Very easy embarkation lots of people to help you first impressions of ship was excellent, room steward was very helpful and gave all the answers we needed. Room very nice very clean and tidy, beds were very comfy. no problems with anything in the room during cruise. Waiting staff were very friendly and mostly helpful in all the restaurants and bars. The shows and entertainment were great with lots to do on board and the Lotus Spa although expensive was very good. Entertainment staff were the best we have seen on all holidays we have been on. Especially Dave from england. The cost of all the alcohol on board is quite expensive at around $6 per bottle of bud. Gratuities are added to all alcohol prices. There is a standard gratuity charge of $12 per person per day added to your account but this can be waived if required by requesting at customer services on the ship and you just tip the persons that have looked after your during your trip. Photos are taken all the time but you don't have to purchase but they at very expensive at $24.99 per picture. If they were $10 each then we would have purchased a lot more. All the islands visited we very nice with great beaches and views. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
This was my wife and I first cruise and it met every expectation that we had. I am not sure what cruise line some of these other people sailed on but if they had complaints, then they probably complain about everything!!!! The ... Read More
This was my wife and I first cruise and it met every expectation that we had. I am not sure what cruise line some of these other people sailed on but if they had complaints, then they probably complain about everything!!!! The embarkation day went very smooth, got to Port Everglade about 1100 and it was a bit of a wait but nothing to get to excited about. After they check you in you will wait in a large waiting area and you should receive a number and this is how you will board. They did run out of numbers but we were able to board at the end and we still were on board to our room by 1200-1230. Our room was waiting for us and our luggage showed up about an hour or so later. All of the restaurants were open for lunch. They give you a card to do a scavanger hunt to acquaint you with the ship. Fun but not necessary. We did the anytime eating and this suited us fine. For the first and last night you can eat in any restaurant in a relaxed dress, shorts, t-shirts. All other nights are a semi formal, long pants, collared shirt: NO SHORTS! The food was good and met our expectations, it is not a 5 star level but we werent expecting it. If you want to reserve a table for that night at one of the restauants, you must do it early or you will have to wait in line, which we did and the wait was only about 15 minutes, nothing you wouldnt expect at a restaurant in a city. We did spend the extra $25.00 each to eat at the Grill and it was well worth it. They will bring you one of everything on the menu, we had 16 items and could hardly walk out and only cost us $50.00. Thanks to Gabriella, our waitress, she ensured outstanding service! The room was great, we had a larger deck which was nice. The bed was fine and our stateroom stewart, Fern, C Deck was great. Knew our names and went above the normal service to make us feel comfortable. If you love the old show, Love Boat, you will love the TV channels! Entertainment was good, a great comedian, mind reading show and live musical shows. All well done. There are plenty of sun chairs/beds on deck but if you get up there before 9 you can have the area you want. The back of the ship is really nice. The ports of call are OK, they all sell the same things, diamond jewellery, watches and gems. Not very good for anything else. We missed the first one at Princess Cayes due to rough seas, but enjoyed 2 full days in the sun, getting burnt! The beaches are beautiful and you can expect to pay for the use of the sun chairs and umbrellas at St Thomas and St Marrtens. They range from $7-20, depending on where you sit. Grand Turks was great, nice relaxing day, the beach is right in front of the ship, and no cost to sit on the beach. We ordered food and drinks from Margartita Ville and it was brought out in a timely manner. You can expect to pay for all pop, which is $4.50 per day and it is unlimited, a good deal! The pizza is great for those mid day snacks or lunch. Disembarkation was smooth, we chose to take our own luggage off due to flight timings and we departed the ship at 0720 and were in a cab to the airport by 0745. Really fast!!! Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
This was my husband's first ever cruise and my first with Princess. I have cruised many years ago. I only know the if anyone has complaints, it's not for Princess' lack of trying - we have no complaints. Sailed out ... Read More
This was my husband's first ever cruise and my first with Princess. I have cruised many years ago. I only know the if anyone has complaints, it's not for Princess' lack of trying - we have no complaints. Sailed out March 10, 2013 and were delayed in Embarkation due to the prior cruise's sudden illnesses the night before. (It later turned out to be a probable contamination/ virus from Grand Turk, so we did not stop there - went to Nassau instead, which was nice instead of an extra day at sea.). We met Aris, the DJ, in the terminal and he was just awesome. Talked to us and several others for 30 minutes. He remembered us all throughout our cruise and was one of many, many people who were very special. Embarkation was easy once in process. Lovely night, a little rocky, but no major motion. Seemed unusually rocky in the sea the first part of the trip. Day 1 was Princess Cays - gorgeous beach. Very relaxing, yes, not the grand barbecue, but just fine. Drinks and music were good - drinks a little pricey, but no more than any other vacation spot. I have some digestive issues, so that afternoon, I began experiencing a little troubles and our waiter noticed this. (We had 6 pm seating in Boccelli - best way to go!). Jorge immediately contacted one of the main waits and he took care of my dietary needs - each night I previewed the menu and he prepared all my meals lactose free and made me a special dessert each night. I was so surprised by that detail to care. Food was delicious, tried new things, and we ate one night in the Crown Grill - worth the extra. The service was impeccable and food outstanding there. We did a kayaking excursion through our travel agent on St. Maarten - ok, but St. Maarten is not my favorite place. Crowded, dumpy in areas, and the taxi drivers are crazy. Total chaos getting a taxi. Once there though to Simpson Lagoon, it was a great experience. Our guide Megan was very knowledgable. We rode back with the RC Oasis of the Sea group who had a nice bus. St. Thomas was a trip to Meghan's Bay - we loved the relaxing and the taxi drivs were super. Nice, funny, and polite. Organized, too! We stayed on the ship for the Nassau port and loved it. Very light on the passengers, so you had the ship almost to yourself. Sun seemed to shine always after lunch! Overall, we loved it. Princess treated upswell, our cabin steward, Reggie, was moved to our area and was new but really did a great job. Room with balcony awesome, clean, plenty of room. I brought a pocket compartment hanger I got online to hang in the shower with our shampoos, etc, and it was perfect. Suitcases all fit under your bed. Or bed was good, but by Friday, I wished I had asked for the padded mattress cover. We would definitely go back. Before we sailed though, I read a lot of reviews and found the positive ones most helpful. The negative ones I really don't undstand afttere our trip. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
First time cruising on the Princess line so I decided to go with my friend on their newest ship, the Ruby Princess. This was my lucky 13th cruise. Here are a few of my impressions: Embarkation: Total chaos. Neither definable lines ... Read More
First time cruising on the Princess line so I decided to go with my friend on their newest ship, the Ruby Princess. This was my lucky 13th cruise. Here are a few of my impressions: Embarkation: Total chaos. Neither definable lines nor instructions issued by Princess port personnel. My friend decided rather than join the mass of people, we would sit down until the terminal was almost empty then get on board -- finally around 3:30 PM (we arrived at the terminal at 1:00 PM thinking there wouldn't be a crowd). We both concluded this was a one off situation and were pleased that Princess acted speedily to sanitize the ship. Cabin: Was located on the Emerald deck forward. For being an "obstructed view", there was IMO no obstruction -- window view was beautiful. Cabin steward, Georgy, was attentive and kept the ice bucket filled plus the extra towels requested were available. Dining: Horizon/Caribe buffet - who designed this area? Considering the number of passengers, they were the smallest buffet areas I ever encountered and people were frequently bumping into each other. In addition, for some odd reason they ran out of silverware and napkins frequently and by the time they appeared, the food was cold! I did like being served as it cut down on any potential disease but I did not return to the buffet area until almost the end of the cruise. MDR (Da Vinci) good service and good food. Had very nice tablemates. I loved the English Pub fish and chips and the International Cafe for a great sandwich and cappuccino. I tried the beignets and they were great! I did go to the MDR again for lunch a couple of times and again the service/food was good. I have to agree -- the pizza was wonderful! Entertainment: The best assistant cruise directors ever. The Cruise Director, Sam, has a good staff. Dave, Aris, Angela and Tatum were always courteous and patient, especially when I tried the line dancing and the trivia contests. The deck party was really good. I don't remember the name of the singer, but she had a fantastic voice. The stage productions were very entertaining and I liked the way the theater was designed because it cut down on interruptions from the bar service. What's the point of the Sanctuary? There were lots of areas around the ship that were quiet where you could sit down and read a book, nap, etc. The Wheelhouse bar had an area to the side that was comfortable and quiet. Most of the decks had chairs and depending on the side of the ship, not too windy. Ports: Princess Cay was enjoyable. St Maarten was the best for the ocean and beer. St Thomas -- just walked around then went back to the ship. The Captain made a good call in diverting to the next port, Nassau, rather than stopping at Grand Turk due to reports of food and/or water contamination. I got the chance to visit the Atlantis resort again and loved the aquariums. I haven't visited Nassau for over 5 years and I was amazed at how big the straw market has grown. Same touristy stuff just more of it. Liked the Kalik beer. Just a note: my friend was a past passenger, her 4th cruise on Princess, thus she attended the Past Passenger party. She told me she received a voucher for one free drink and no hors d'oeuvres were served. Huh? I've been to past passenger parties on the other cruise lines and there were choices of beverages plus the goodies. Debarkation: Thankfully, my friend suggested self-debarkation and it was the 1st time I got off a ship so rapidly. All went very smoothly and we were off the ship and out of the terminal in record time. Beats searching for your luggage in the hanger-type terminal. Overall, I would give Princess another try. All the staff I met were friendly and helpful. The Ruby Princess gave me a workout going from one venue to another but considering the size of the ship it was easy to find your way. As most of us have said before, any day at sea beats the daily grind at work. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
We flew from Canada to L.A. the day before embarkation,I would recommend doing this as it cuts down on the stress of last minute arrival. We had to go from our hotel back to the airport to get our prepaid shuttle to the Cruise Center. I ... Read More
We flew from Canada to L.A. the day before embarkation,I would recommend doing this as it cuts down on the stress of last minute arrival. We had to go from our hotel back to the airport to get our prepaid shuttle to the Cruise Center. I probably wouldn't do that again as the hotel has a shuttle to the Cruise Center. that way you wouldn't have to drag your luggage back and forth. They were efficient getting us onto the buses but we did have to stand in line for 30 to 40 minutes. Once at the Cruise Center there was more waiting in line, a total of about 90 minutes. then we were on board and our luggage was delivered in about 60 minutes then the stress was off. The stateroom was very nice, we had a balcony stateroom and we wouldn't have a room without. The room was clean and neat it had a large closet a very comfortable bed, an in room safe,and all the amenities of a regular hotel room. We were near the center of the ship so there wasn't much motion or noise. We used the balcony alot even though the weather wasn't the greatest. There was a great diversity of things to do on board, they were at different times off the day so that one could get to see most things. The service by anyone we dealt with was excellent, they were all friendly and smiling and very helpful. Our excursions were a bit of a disappointment as it rained and blew alot. There wasn't much sunshine so it was always cool and when one got wet it wasn't very comfortable. the trip from Ensenada to L.A. was so smooth that we didn't know that we were on a ship. Disembarkation was quick and stress free. We traded our pass to the airport for one that took us to Long Beach for the afternoon and then to the air port,as we had a late flight. We got on the plane and headed back to winter. We will cruise again, I don't know when or where,but we enjoyed this one very much. Read Less
Sail Date February 2013
My wife and I first decided on Princess 14nt Hawaii cruise, then decided to also invite my wife's 90 yr old mother along as visiting Hawaii was a bucket list item for her and because the cruise was round trip out of LA thus requiring ... Read More
My wife and I first decided on Princess 14nt Hawaii cruise, then decided to also invite my wife's 90 yr old mother along as visiting Hawaii was a bucket list item for her and because the cruise was round trip out of LA thus requiring limited air travel, which is difficult for her due to limited mobility. Our 3 person cruise then expanded to 12 people as my wife's side of the family decided this was a golden opportunity to share a family vacation. I have to give Princess the highest marks for embarkation and disembarkation. The process was efficient and quick. The cabin was spacious and the bathroom surprisinglyy roomy. Over all the ship looked well maintained and was clean. We had a 5:30 booked diner reservation in the Vivaldi dining room and although towards the end of the cruise the meal selections was getting repetitive the food was good and the service pleasant. We also dined on occasion in the Horizon Buffet and I was impressed again with the planning and staff efficiency as we never had to wait in line ups and could always find a table. Again the food was good. The ship's entertainment was very good. We looked forward to the nightly entertainment in the Princess theatre and although we did not take advantage of most of the nightly entertainment in the various lounges there was always something interesting going on. Important to note is that this entertainment went on till well after midnight not the usual 9/10pm, which was a very pleasant surprise. Another unexpected surprise was the quality of Kids programs. We travelled with 3 children ages 8, 10, and 12 and had to "book" time with them, as they were reluctant to leave the programs provided to them by the excellent staff running the kid's zone program. Well done!!! Okay on to a few negatives. When booking the cruise as mentioned above , I had booked a mini suite for my wife and I which would have been great. When we decided to include my mother in law , I contacted the cruise line and informed them of our decision they happily helped us out, informing us that our best option was to upgrade our cabin to be able to include a third person.( Because of her mobility issues, my wife thought it best if we shared the cabin so that she could more easily assist her mother) This upgrade plus adding a person cost us an additional $2600.00 This would have been acceptable except that the spare bed was an old pull out couch ( comfort was not an option) so I ended up on the couch and my wife and her mother in separate beds. Why am I mentioning this. Well I would have been very grateful if the booking agent had informed me that the pull out beds were not very good and that we could have booked another separate cabin across the hall for $800.00 less than the cost of our upgrade, thus giving us an actual bed good bed and an extra bathroom. NOT IMPRESSED with booking agent!!! Although this ship is classified as handicap friendly we found the corridors leading to the cabins were a bit narrow when the staff had there service carts out which was usually in the mornings as we were heading for breakfast and in the evenings when we left for dinner and returned after the show. The last negative, which is just a personal peeve of mine, is how cruise companies take great pains to create the illusion that they are " competitive to an all inclusive vacation " yet once aboard you are informed that Yes , although coffee, tea and water are free you have to go to the buffet on the 14 deck to access these free amenities and if you which to get a coffee, tea or water any where else there is a charge or you have to purchase a coffee or soda card. So you purchase a coffee and soda card which you use but since now that the beverage is "free" the server is not getting a gratuity, which makes the service, although friendly, much more shall we say reserved, not very pleasant. Even the beverages including the bottled water in the rooms have a charge. Now all this would be fine except that they charge for these products as if you were ordering them in the middle of the Sahara Desert. For having "duty free" ship there is no need to charge $3.00 for a can of pop or similar sized bottle of water and I won't even mention the cost of the cocktails. In conclusion we enjoyed the cruise, loved the openness of the ship, especially the pool areas but were a little disappointed with the add ons. Aside from the embarkation and Kid's club staff who were exceptional, the service staff were competent but reserved, only doing what was expected, and needing to be asked if something needed replacing or if assistance was require, and although we still tipped over and above the daily amount tacked on to your room, one wonders if the disbursement of these daily charges are not really going to those who are "doing the work" but are rather disbursed in hierarchy fashion, which would probably very much create a "why should I do more than required attitude of reserved friendliness" Read Less
Sail Date February 2013
We cruised to New Zealand in February 2013 aboard the SEA PRINCESS for 13 Nights.Before going on this cruise I searched all cruise reviews to see if they offered any information for 1st time cruisers but could find little to help me. Here ... Read More
We cruised to New Zealand in February 2013 aboard the SEA PRINCESS for 13 Nights.Before going on this cruise I searched all cruise reviews to see if they offered any information for 1st time cruisers but could find little to help me. Here is an insight to our cruise that I hope will help other people who have not cruised before. Once on board the excitement of our 1st cruise really set in. On the advice of other people who had cruised before, we paid our Cabin Steward A$50.00 BEFORE we sailed and told him there would be another A$50.00 at the end of the cruise if he looked after us. What a great idea this was.Every day our cabin was cleaned spotlessly with our our bed turned down every night with chocolates on the pillow.Even if we had a sleep during the day our bed would be remade ready for us to sleep in at night.On Valentines Day the cabin steward took the time to roll our towels up into the shape of hearts with extra chocolates on the pillow. A nice touch. For those who are thinking of doing their Laundry on board you can almost forget about it. There are a TOTAL of 6 Washing Machines and 6 Dryers on board which is ridiculous considering the amount of people on board. Unless you are prepared to spend a couple of hours watching your laundry being done, you will be in in for a shock. If you leave your Laundry unattended, other people will come along and take it out of the machines and throw it on the floor to get their washing done. The price of having your laundry done for you will send you bankrupt. We worked out that it would cost over A$100.00 for one load to be done for you. You would be better off to take more clothes or wear the same clothes twice as we did and so did about 75% of other passengers. The sea air will camouflage any smell from wearing the same clothes twice!!!!The alcohol prices on board are VERY VERY EXPENSIVE. Beer will cost you between A$7.00 and A$8.00 per bottle (Corona and Crown Lager) and spirits are about A$7.50 per glass. We did NOT tip the bar staff as we learnt that a 15% gratuity fee was factored into the price of drinks. Food on board was average but adequate. We ate on our shore excursions to break up the boredom of the ships food. A nice steak or a meat pie tastes really good after the food you have on board. On the last night of our cruise we ate on board at the Sterling Steakhouse. For a cover charge of A$20.00 per person, you can have a 3 Course meal. The steaks they served were the best I have had in a long time. You have to make a booking for this so get in early. Well worth it. For those who travel WITHOUT Travel Insurance are crazy, particularly those with a PRE EXISTING medical condition. Unfortunately one of the people we travelled with had a pre existing medical condition and had to be evacuated off the ship for hospital treatment. Her out of pocket expenses were over A$10000.00 (A$7000.00 for the ships hospital treatment), so be very careful when taking out Travel Insurance and if you have a pre existing condition, declare it to your Insurers and make sure you are covered for EVERYTHING and read the terms and conditions of your policy before it becomes a very expensive lesson.The shore excursions offered on board are once again, VERY EXPENSIVE. In every port there are tour operators on the wharf who offer your the same tour that the ship does for half the price. One tour on board was A$339.00 and the same tour offered by one of the operators on the wharf was A$86.00. Organise your tours on shore for you will save quite a lot of money and you can customise your excursion to do what you want to do. Apart from the above, we had a great time on this cruise and the hospitality shown by ALL the crew was wonderful. I am currently looking for a second job to pay for this great time we had. I hope this review will help a lot of other 1st time Cruisers. Read Less
Sail Date February 2013
Let me begin by saying that I am now a fan of cruising and will cruise again in the future, but will most definitely cruise on different lines / ships until I find one that exceeds my expectations. With that said, the Crown Princess did ... Read More
Let me begin by saying that I am now a fan of cruising and will cruise again in the future, but will most definitely cruise on different lines / ships until I find one that exceeds my expectations. With that said, the Crown Princess did not meet my expectations in some areas (based on pre-cruise marketing materials and information directly from Princess, and the on-board experience) and exceeded my expectations in other areas. Embarkation: Exciting process for my first cruise and walking onto the ship for the first time was wonderful. Princess greets you with a smile! When first arriving, read the signs carefully, especially the very small ones that are hung in difficult to find locations. If you do not, you will most likely end up lugging your luggage to your own stateroom or lugging it back down the stairs to find the drop off. Don't be afraid to ask questions of the staff, but be prepared for the staff member to not know the answer. Staff have been assigned specific duties and may not know all the duties, so may not be able to answer your question. (Please ask nicely - they are there to help you and make your journey special - I noticed so many passengers treat the staff negatively - their work is important and passengers are not superior to staff.) Embarkation was efficient and Princess knows how to move passengers quickly. Room: Choosing a mini-suite was a financial challenge, but I am very thankful that I did. In this area, the room exceeded expectations. The bed was comfortable, lots of counter space and storage areas, two televisions, spacious closet space, large bath, desk, couch, chair, table, perfect space for 7 nights. Maybe a smaller room would have been just as nice, so I hope I haven't spoiled myself for future cruises. If money is not an issue, choosing a mini-suite is the way to go. It is perfect for two people and it was nice to return to at the end of the day. Having a large bathtub/shower may have been worth the extra dollars. Not sure if the smaller rooms have a refrigerator in the room, but this was a nice amenity. On the other hand, I spoke with another passenger that cruises often and always books the cheapest room because she does not spend much time in the room and still receives all of the same activities/dining as mini-suite passengers. A shout out to our Cabin Steward - he was attentive, always had a greeting and smile, and promptly provided when asked. The balcony - a wonderful amenity and used often. The blue mat was prickly, so wear your shoes/slippers on the balcony, but thankful for the relaxing experiences / views from our balcony. Dining: This was the most disappointing aspect of my cruise on Crown Princess. The literature, the marketing materials, and reviews all led me to believe that the food and experience would be something special, even 5 star quality. That was certainly not the case. The food lacked in overall quality, taste and presentation. One night I ordered a Pear-Stilton Salad and what I received was, picture this, a white salad plate with small pieces of chopped canned pear and small scraps of Stilton strewn about the plate with a few pecans for color. It was at the most maybe 1 piece of canned pear and 1/2 ounce of Stilton. It was a joke - literally laugh out loud plating - that I took a photo and may post. If you like cheese though you will always have the opportunity to eat a square of Cheddar or Edam as it was served at every buffet meal. I saw asparagus once on the entire cruise and then I only received 3 small stalks (which were overcooked). Never saw a bit of crab, but did have lobster one night - just a small tail, but at least it was served. As for the steak don't expect it to be a good cut or cooked properly. The staff of the Horizon Court Buffet were always helpful, but the Horizon Court Buffet is not open 24 hours, so if you think you will have a buffet open to you around the clock this is not true. However, you can get cookies, pre-mixed meat or seafood salads (chicken, tuna or other) or paninis (don't bother) 24 hours in the "International Cafe." One night the Horizon Court Buffet was closed, so all passengers were directed to the Cafe Caribe. We were not to happy having to wait in a long buffet line. No explanation was provided - this may have helped - many passengers were "disgruntled." Our party chose the "Anytime Dining" option and we appreciated the opportunity to eat when we wanted. We enjoyed the "Bier-fest" themed night - the food for this special evening was delicious. Lotus Spa: If you are a spa person - lower your expectations. The spa is co-ed, lacks solitude / quiet, and is truly an "up-sell" experience. If you order a 50 minute facial, expect 20 minutes of discussion (skin type, product sales) and only 30 minutes of mediocre facial work. I cancelled my massage because the facial was so disappointing. I also did the Go Smile teeth whitening process and purchased the up sell. I would suggest skipping this experience and save the $400 for something that is more meaningful. If you can get the spa to give you a DIY (Do it Yourself) body scrub, the Orange Vanilla was spectacular. I took it back to my room and enjoyed a hot shower and the scrub. Get two if they will give it to you. If you are a sensitive, large woman/man, be prepared to hear spa staff openly talk about how "soft" most passengers are. It was certainly something I did not expect to hear, or appreciate, and was quite offended. TIP: The spa robe was nice, so I would suggest getting a robe from the Spa to use in your cabin (just remember to return the robe to the spa on your last day.) Excursions: We enjoyed all of the excursions. The literature was different from the experience, but that was ok - we were on an excursion, in a foreign county, experiencing something different and so went with the flow and enjoyed it all. Our tour guides were all fantastic. Our next trip to Cozumel we plan to not do any excursions, but simply enjoy walking around, shopping and eating local cuisine. The excursions were a bit overpriced for what you receive, but it was an easy way to see the countries and not have to research on our own. Activities: Bingo: four games, expensive, crowded and predictable. If you have the "free bingo card" coupon - expect to purchase the most expensive pack to get your one free card. Daubers for $1.50 make a great souvenir - as they have a picture of the Crown Princess on it. Casino: Fun entertainment - don't expect to win anything and you will enjoy the entertainment; electronic poker table was interesting; loved the Caribbean stud and open face blackjack. All of the dealers were professional and friendly. Games: Always something to do - trivia, tv game shows like games etc. Fun - cruise staff very bubbly and make the experience enjoyable. Don't forget to check out the small putt putt course. Movies Under the Stars: I was looking forward to this activity the most and found myself highly disappointed - I guess I set my expectations way to high on this. The pre-cruise email from princess stating the movies that would be shown during our cruise was incorrect - we never saw any of the movies promised, but they did show "Breakfast at Tiffany's." If you like soda, popcorn and candy while you watch a movie, bring your own soda and candy (you can purchase candy in the giftshop) or get some cookies from the international cafe. A small bag of popcorn will be provided if you ask. The screen is big and the lounge chairs comfortable. We had no problems hearing the movie either. Get there early if you want to sit next to your loved one. Try not to sit behind/near the hot tub or you will get sprays of water often. Unfortunately for us during one evening movie, the ship staff decided to do something with the sewage, so we were subjected to some pretty awful odors. Not sure what that was about and hope if doesn't happen to you. Entertainment: Spectacular! Don't miss the crew show - lots of fun! The Princess Theater was spacious. Arrive at least 15 minutes early to get a seat or 25 minutes early if you like a certain spot to sit. Suggestion: Move to the middle of a row so that others can fill in and not have empty seats. Don't leave a single seat between you and the party beside you - sit in the chair next to your fellow passenger - it is polite and leave more seating room for those that arrive one minute before show time. Enjoy this part of the cruise - we did and Princess does this right. Disembarkation: Easy process. We packed the night before and were ready to go in the morning. We chose the Easy Walk-Off process and it was easy. We left the ship and 7:30am and were in our car on and the road by 9:00. Again, Princess has highly structured/efficient people moving process that works. Follow the instructions and your experience will be smooth. TIP: Get a copy of your account statement the night before. The line can get long, so if you see a short line at customer service desk - jump in the line. I feel very blessed for this opportunity and I thankful for the vacation. I am now a cruiser and will cruise again. Will I choose Princess again - maybe. Read Less
Sail Date February 2013
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