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506 Princess First-Time Cruisers Cruise Reviews

Island Princess: Voyage of the Glaciers. Northbound. May 23-30, 2012. Pre-cruise: Our trip began with a cousin's reunion and two very rainy days in Vancouver. We stayed with my cousin who lives near Science World and Chinatown. ... Read More
Island Princess: Voyage of the Glaciers. Northbound. May 23-30, 2012. Pre-cruise: Our trip began with a cousin's reunion and two very rainy days in Vancouver. We stayed with my cousin who lives near Science World and Chinatown. From there we walked to Granville Island then returned by Sea Bus. The Japanese Udon bowl from the food court area on Granville was very welcome on such a wet day! The next day we explored the Anthropology Museum at the University of British Columbia, the nearby and exquisite Nitobe Memorial Garden, and the Van Dusen Gardens. Evening was dinner at Carderos in Coal Harbor followed by a drive along the Stanley Park sea wall. Cruise: On the advice of cousin we arrived at Canada Place for embarkation at 11:30 am. The luggage was quickly taken from us and we proceeded very efficiently through security, cruise card issuing, and onto the Island Princess (During this process water and orange juice were provided by Princess.) Our cabin was ready and after dumping hand baggage, calling the Dine Line for a 5:30 Anytime Dining table for two, we explored the ship. The smell of pizza on the lido deck quickly decided us that it was time for lunch. At the bar next to the pizza grill we purchased a coffee card and an insulated Princess mug. Massages were booked and we returned to our cabin for a snooze. Robert, our steward, welcomed us and made sure everything was to our liking. Sail-away was delayed by two hours due to a late flight with many Island Princess passengers. I thought this was highly considerate but it threw off our roll call plans of celebrating a 4:30 sail-away on the secret forward balcony on Baja deck. Some of us did meet and chatted until the drizzle forced us indoors. We arrived early at Muster Call, cruise cards were scanned, rules gone over, and life jackets were put on. Very smoothly done! The Dine Line reservation got us quickly into the Bordeaux dining room to an ocean view table and we had our first delicious meal of the cruise. Portions were just right for us to have an appetizer, main course, and dessert. The bread rolls were among the best I have ever had... Sail-away occurred while we were eating but we managed to get in some great shots of the sun on Vancouver while rain showers were all around. On returning to our cabin (D709) we felt lots of vibration from the engines and wondered if it would be like that throughout the trip so we took Bonine (just in case), put out the doorknob hanger order for room service breakfast and immediately went to sleep. The next morning the vibrations had calmed down and we spent a leisurely day exploring the ship, watching the coast, and reading. I even got to see a whale breach as I was scanning the sea with binocs. This was the first formal night. I did not pay much attention to who was specifically wearing what except that a comment from someone on CC popped into my head about the mode of dress being more "church or business than formal". I wore black Travellers pants and jacket with a sparkly top--DH had a black jacket, slacks, shirt and tie. DH would have been fine with just a shirt and tie. Ketchikan: I knew before we began that Ketchikan was the place that I would want to spend more time. We had a fabulous excursion with Lois Munch (Classic Tours) in her '55 powder blue and white Chevy. It was a glorious sunny day that allowed us to explore stair streets, totems, eagle nests, and plants. Lois directed us to Howling Wolf art gallery where we met a local artist who signed his prints for us. I learned so much with he and Lois about native culture and art. On the way back to the ship I had my first Alaska Amber beer--what a treat! Juneau: We awoke to pouring rain so out came the raincoats and we headed off to sign in with Orca whale watching before going to the Alaska State Museum in time for opening at 8:30 am. It was a Saturday so my plan of stopping for coffee did not work out as none of the coffee shops en-route opened until 9. The museum folks directed us to the grocery store behind the museum that had a great coffee bar and donut place. Orca picked us up at the museum at 10 and we went whale watching with Captain Larry. We saw several whales and finally one dove deep and showed his flukes? We continued on to Mendenhall in the Orca shuttle and went to some of the photo points--some of the group walked out to Nugget Falls but we were content investigating the visitor's center. As it was still raining Orca dropped us near Taku Smokeries store to pick up vacuum-packed salmon and jerky --delicious; Next-Door was the Twisted Fish restaurant where we had a small Twisted Fish pie pizza and another Alaskan Amber ale. Skagway: Train Day!!!! More drizzle than rain. We had arranged our day with Chilkoot Charters who picked us up after the security point on the dock for the short ride to the train. There were 9 of us in the front coach of the train. It was spectacular! The open-air parts at each end of the coach made for great photos. We were met in Fraser and went by small coach (seated about 24) to the Yukon. After stops for black bears, Dall Sheep, Mountain Goats, and Lake Bennett, lunch was at Caribou Crossing--very tender BBQ chicken, roast potato, coleslaw, rolls, and homemade donuts--yum... On the way back to town we stopped for lake views, a desert, waterfalls, and Ptarmigan (the Alaska state bird). Our guide was excellent and ensured we had a personalized memorable day. We chose to be dropped off near the center of Skagway and wandered through the town before heading back to the ship. Glacier Bay and College Fjord: The scenery was stunning! We spent most of our time watching from our balcony or the aft balcony in awe. We saw brown bears on the way into College Fjord as well as sea otters and sea lions. The only critter left on my must-see list was Moose! Whittier: Disembarkation was very smooth and efficient. You are assigned a group based on what you are doing post cruise. We were in the Red group that was going to Anchorage airport for early flights or car rental pick up. The rain was blowing sideways when we got off the ship but Princess had mostly covered walkways. Our driver gave us lots of info about the area as we drove into the city including the "hooligan" run that was occurring (it's a smelt like fish caught in hand nets) with the Bald Eagles lined up on the edge of the bay. Post Cruise: Rental car was picked up, ULU Factory visited, and the next phase of our adventure started. We chose to stay at the Alyeska Hotel that is between Anchorage and Whittier; it has a beautiful setting. On the way there we stopped at the Wildlife Conservation Center and had fun seeing a training session with a Kodiak bear playing with antlers and Brown Bears eating fresh salmon. They had a large gift shop with good prices on t-shirts. Our big treat that evening was to eat at the Seven Glaciers restaurant at the top of the Tramway. The next day we went to Seward and visited the Sea Life Center--still rain showers. I had arranged for the Puffin Encounter where to we had a behind the scenes tour and went into the Avian exhibit to feed the sea birds--oh my! Sea lion "teenagers" were playing in the bay as we left and on our way back we saw my last critter in the wild--Moose in a meadow! The next morning we awoke to sparkling snow and brilliant sunshine and headed off to Palmer where we would meet my second cousin and her family. On the way we stopped along Turnagain Arm and at Elkutna to see the spirit houses. Glenn Highway was magnificent in the sunshine and the drive to our final overnight location at Sheep Mountain Lodge was amazing. Our last night was spent over a delicious meal of fresh halibut at the lodge restaurant celebrating with the Alaska cousins. After a full breakfast we slowly drove back to Anchorage stopping for a hike by the Matanuska Glacier and a tour of the Musk Ox farm. After an early meal at the Alaska Brew House we headed to the airport and the overnight flight home. It was a great trip! Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
EMBARKATION This cruise was out of Vancouver, which is a great city with a beautiful port. Canada Place is wonderful, modern and scenic. There were three cruise ships in port the day our cruise began, and embarkation was a mess. ... Read More
EMBARKATION This cruise was out of Vancouver, which is a great city with a beautiful port. Canada Place is wonderful, modern and scenic. There were three cruise ships in port the day our cruise began, and embarkation was a mess. Princess provided transfers from the airport by bus. But the terminal was so crowded with passengers, the buses could not approach. Instead, they stopped the buses in a "holding area" about 1/2 mile from the ship. Our bus was packed full, and on a warm day it had no air conditioning. So the bus was hot sitting there, as we waited permission to approach the terminal. People were overheated and complaining. My partner and I got out of the bus (against the advice of the driver) and walked to the ship. Despite the distance and getting lost on the way, we beat our bus to the terminal. After getting to the terminal, embarkation was smooth and efficient. The lines were long but moved quickly. Everyone was friendly and doing their best to deal with 10,000 passengers arriving nearly at once. Getting on the ship was a breeze, and we were warmly welcomed. Our suite (aft, Caribe 757) was clean and spacious. However, it looked lived-in. Colors were kind of dingy, fabrics a little bit frayed, and the carpet lumpy, but otherwise very nicely appointed and quite clean. For an Alaska trip, I recommend an aft cabin with balcony (or a suite like ours). It was the perfect location. More on that later. We left about two hours late because the terminal was so crowded. THE SHIP This is a big ship that holds 3,000 passengers, but the only time it feels crowded is when you want to get food. The lines at the Horizon Court buffet were always long, and there were rarely any tables available. The anytime dining was crowded with long lines, as well, but we always got a table. The wait for food in the dining rooms was sometimes very long. Otherwise, the public spaces never seemed crowded. We loved Movies Under the Stars (MUTS), though we read a lot of complaints about it. We only saw one movie in MUTS, but the experience was a blast, despite it being really cold outside. We just bundled up, and they brought us popcorn, food, snacks and drinks. It was a lot of fun. :) The spa is nice, but the technicians are young and inexperienced. THE CREW If there is a jewel on the Diamond, it is the crew. They were almost universally fantastic. Incredible, even. Friendly, enthusiastic, and they work very, very hard. We saw a lot of self-entitled passengers being rude or abusive to the crew, and where I would have killed such a passenger where they stood, the crew was amazingly patient, tolerant and helpful, to even the rudest of passengers. They do, however, have a term they like to use for rude passengers. The term is "FOCUS," and they will say it like, "Sir, you need to FOCUS." FOCUS, it turns out, stands for "F*** Off, Cuz U're Sh**." I heard them joke about it, but never heard them actually say it, even to a really rude passenger. I have to give a shout-out to Peter John, the Captain's Circle Host. First, he's gorgeous. That must be said up front. :) And when you get past his good looks, he's terminally friendly, with boundless energy and enthusiasm. What a great man, and he goes out of his way for absolutely everyone, and does it with wit, charm and grace. He's the best thing on the Diamond (though I hear his current contract will expire soon). There is a waiter in the lobby bar named Edwin. He is incredibly friendly, always wears a smile, and will go above and beyond the call of duty to make passengers happy. Fantastic man. There is also a waiter in Sabatini's named Christian. As suite passengers, we were allowed to have breakfast in Sabatini's. One day, the main dining rooms were serving blueberry pancakes and my partner wanted some. She asked for them in Sabatini's and was told they were not offered there and she could not have them. But Christian actually went to the main dining room and got her some blueberry pancakes and brought them back to Sabatini's for her, even after she accepted that they weren't served there. It was a great surprise, unexpected, and a real treat. I've heard that they will often do this for passengers, which is a testament to the crew's dedication to their jobs. They do things when they don't have to, and they do it with grace, style and flare. FOOD The food sucks. There's no other way to say it. We ate in every venue, and universally it was terrible. Oh, there was a nice dish here and there, but overall the food was cafeteria quality. I understand that they have to cut expenses somewhere to keep fares low, but the food has really gone down the tubes. It's really bad. Sometimes they make a nice presentation, but it's still terrible food. We couldn't wait to get off the ship because of that. At the last performance of the cruise, the cruise director joked, "You're going to have to start cooking your own meals now," and the crowd actually cheered this. That's how bad the food was. The Sterling Steak House was okay, but iffy. A filet was good, but a porterhouse was tough. A potato was good, but a vegetable bad. It was very hit and miss. Sabatini's was the best food. We especially liked having breakfast there just for the fresh squeezed orange juice. Elsewhere on the ship, the orange juice was from concentrate, with about three times too much water added. It was so weak, it was little more than orange colored water. And that's kind of how the whole food experience was. Like they were trying to feed 3,000 people with 1,000 people's worth of food, and cutting corners everywhere. When we got off the ship at the end of the cruise, we ate at the hotel at Canada Place (the Pan Pacific) and the food there was AMAZING compared to the Diamond's food. We swooned over simple scrambled eggs, when comparing the same basic dish to the Diamond's version. We marveled at how hard the Diamond must work to make the food as bad as it is, because no one can do that badly without some effort. So, am I getting my feelings across about the food? ;-) PORTS OF CALL We took no excursions, but instead went out on our own. Now, a caveat about my comments here. There are people who love the cruise experience of being on the boat and then getting off to shop in stores (which we found out are mostly owned or controlled by the cruise ship companies themselves) or to take some bus excursion to a glacier and salmon bake or some such thing. We are not among those folks. We are less "tourists" than "travelers." We like to immerse ourselves in a destination, not merely hit a few stores for some mass produced trinkets and then grab a drink in a tourist bar. So, if you are one of those people, then ignore these comments. SKAGWAY. What we found was that most of the ports were little more than excuses to get passengers to spend more money with the cruise line. For instance, Skagway is a fake town. It no longer exists except for cruise ship season. Skagway has had three "booms." The first was the gold rush. The second was World War II, when it was a military priority. And currently it is in the midst of a cruise ship boom. When cruise ships come into port, the "town" comes alive, and when they leave, it folds up shop. When the last cruise ships leave in September, so do almost all the town's "residents," many of whom spend the season living in temporary quarters like RVs and little shacks, only to return to their real homes when the ships leave. The excursions are almost all run for the profit of the cruise ship companies, and they are largely fake excursions. What I mean by that is that they run people by train and bus to other places that exist only for the cruise ships. Specifically, the White Pass and Yukon Railway to carcross, and then the passengers get on a bus that takes them to exciting places like Caribou Crossing, where they get a "famous" BBQ chicken meal and a chance to see a wildlife exhibit. We rented a Jeep and went to those places. Carcross has not a single person about or a single door unlocked when there are no trains full of cruise ship tourists about. But when the train comes in, it's as if the actors don their costumes and put on a show, collecting as much money from the tourists as possible, and then the town closes up when the tourists leave. At Caribou Crossing, there are no caribou and there is no crossing. The "wildlife" exhibit is a goat and a burro. The "famous" BBQ chicken is frozen chicken parts that are microwaved, then tossed on a grill with some canned BBQ sauce, and served to the tourists with 1/2 a plain baked potato. There's nothing "famous" about it. It's terrible and cheap, and in fact we watched them preparing it for the tourists that arrived by the busload. For this excursion, the tourists paid >$200 apiece. We, on the other hand, rented a Jeep from Green Jeeps for $180 for the day, which came with a cooler full of snacks and drinks. Expensive, but a far better expense than the terrible phony $200/pp excursion that we got to see the "behind the scenes" of. With that jeep we followed the same path that the railroad took and got to see all the same things, and we were able to go lots of places that the tourists could not. One thing we did was to drive to the historic Chilkoot Trail and hike the same trail that the gold rushers did. That was cool. And free. And real. We also met and talked with many of the "locals," who all confessed to us that most everyone lived somewhere else when cruise ships were not in, and that Skagway had really only one reason for existing: to sell trinkets to cruise ship passengers. That's why I call Skagway a "fake" town. If a town exists only to sell trinkets to cruise ship passengers, and would not exist if the ships didn't stop there, then it's a fake town. Skagway is a fake town. Now, some excursions are worth the money. If, for instance, you took the excursion to Haines (a real town) to visit the bald eagle preserve, that would be worth the money imho, because you get to see something real and interesting. But most passengers do not do that. They ride the railroad or shop for trinkets, and give even more of their money to the cruise ship company. JUNEAU is a real town, but you have to get away from the harbor to find it. The cruise lines have bought up most of the property near the harbor, and when passengers think they are buying souvenirs from local businesses, they are really buying more junk from a store owned by the cruise lines. To find a locally owned store, you have to really look for them. Almost invariably, they will post a sign in the window or indicate in some other way that they are locally owned. No sign = owned by the cruise lines in most cases. Juneau is very touristy these days. I spent a lot of time there 30 years ago, and it was a different town then. Amazingly, lots of tourists thought that Sarah Palin still lives there, and they all wanted to know where she lives. Goodness... There are some good whale watching excursions out of Juneau, but are pretty expensive, as the companies have to pay a percentage to the cruise lines (if they are not owned by the cruise lines, themselves). But rather than take an excursion to Mendenhal Glacier, you can catch a city bus for $1.50 each way. Or if you want to be taken directly to the visitors center, you can pay $16 round trip for buses that come and go ever 30 minutes. Much better than $200 for a bus trip excursion that then tacks on a (really awful) salmon bake (again owned by the cruise lines and not authentic Alaskan), imho. KETCHIKAN is a real town. It has the mandatory cruise line owned stores near the harbor, but there is a real town there to enjoy behind them. We blew off the excursions again, and opted to rent a car and explore on our own. We ended up hiking in the mountains, taking a 6.5 mile round trip hike to Lake Perseverance. We were all alone. With 10,000 cruise ship passengers in port, we saw only one local couple the whole time we were out there, and not another soul. And we saw the "real" Alaska of Ketchikan. And it was absolutely stunningly beautiful and unspoiled. Then we went back to town and did some touristy things on our own, like visit the totem pole village and do some shopping. It was hard, but we managed to find some true one-of-a-kind Haida and Tlinkit jewelry, but to do it we had to wade through a lot of pricey mass produced junk marketed to the cruise passengers as authentic. So, if like us you want to see the real ports and not just the facade that the cruise ships use to separate you from your money, you can do it, but it takes some effort. The effort is well worth it, though. We saw some truly stunning scenery and wildlife that the vast majority of cruisers missed out on. What surprised us was that most cruisers weren't interested in finding that. They were happy to be aboard the ship, and then to get off for a couple hours to sit in the Red Dog Saloon or buy a trinket or two before returning to eat at the Horizon Court buffet. That's not what we were after. Most were into the cruise ship experience. We were definitely destination travelers, and being one of those on a massive cruise ship takes a little effort and dedication, but it can be done. And cheaper than doing the typical cruise stuff. ENTERTAINMENT We thought the entertainment was universally terrible. Bad comedian. Bad magician. Bad dancing and singing shows (though the performers were giving it their all for tepid crowds). Bad string trio. Bad pianist. We didn't find one good performer. I am comparing it to Sitmar cruises to Alaska of 30 years ago, which provided top, if aging, entertainers. I recall cruising and mingling with Mel Torme, Harry James, Buddy Rich, Marilyn McCoo and others who had real star power in their day, and who brought their own professional back-up bands and singers. No headline acts these days. They market these shows as "Vegas style," but the design, choreography and execution are not very professional, and they have young but eager "talent" doing their best to make a show of it, and not succeeding very well. I did not like the entertainment. SUMMARY Some things were GREAT! The crew topped that list. The ship itself running just behind. And the destinations were amazing if you took the trouble to find them under the commercial cruise company veneer. We liked MUTS, too. Other things were truly awful. They were the food, the entertainment, and the aforementioned commercial veneer. Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
This was our first cruise and apparently we had jumped in head first according to the many other passengers we spoke to on the cruise who had all completed a number of cruises prior to this one. After reading much online about cruising in ... Read More
This was our first cruise and apparently we had jumped in head first according to the many other passengers we spoke to on the cruise who had all completed a number of cruises prior to this one. After reading much online about cruising in general and specific reviews of the Crown we still were apprehensive about whether we had chosen wisely for our first taste of cruising. My husband and I have quite differing interests and tastes so we did not know which of us, if either, would really get the most out of this experience but it turned out that we found enough aspects to keep us both happy. We opted for a more port intensive intinerary as that was our main reason for choosing a cruise holiday and as much as we generally found things to occupy our time on the sea days we found that 4 days at sea was more than enough for us. CABIN:We were both impressed with our balcony cabin from the start. Yes the bathroom is tiny as I have read numerous complaints about, but hey, it's a ship! The small space was so well designed that we were always very happy with it anyway. The large wardrobe area was fabulous and we never had any issues with where to store anything. Our steward 'Mar' was wonderful and always did a fabulous job of keeping our room beautiful without ever intruding on our privacy. Mar even took my shoe to be mended when I had problems. Nothing was too much trouble for him. Also we slept so well on the incredibly comfortable bed that we would love to have taken it home with us! The ship as a whole is very impressive, it really is beautiful. After reading some reviews about the ship looking tired I was surprised to find nothing at all in that area that disappointed us. DINING: We chose to have room service breakfast every morning which was simple but adequate for us even though it proved pretty much impossible to ever get hot water for our tea.Eventually we realised it was better to just walk downstairs to the cafe and get boiling water in a take out cup. The menu is extremely basic and limited but that was enough. We tried the buffet one morning but did not enjoy the 'Battle' to find food and decided to stick to having it in our room. Lunches we generally enjoyed from the International cafe as we really liked the simple soups and sandwiches on offer there as well as the best quiche I have ever had. We tried some of the little cakes and pastries and enjoyed a few of the yummy cookies each day. Dinner was enjoyed in the main dining rooms each night except for one when we were too tired after a long day onshore. THe service was generally without fault and the food superb. I loved that the servings were usually small enough that I could try something from each course and still be able to fit into my clothes at the end of the cruise. I found the variety of the nightly menus to be exceptional too and could not fault our enjoyable nightly dining experiences.We met so many interesting people at dinner each night by opting to share a table rather than request a table for two as I would usually prefer on a holiday. ENTERTAINMENT: We enjoyed a couple of the comedians on board and tried the stage shows but really found them a little too outdated for our tastes. We LOVED Michael Minor , the comedian/ventrilloquist/singer - he was simply the highlight of the entertainment for our entire trip. There really was not as much to keep us entertained as we had expected so we were very glad we had our comfortable balcony stateroom to relax and enjoy the television if we felt like it. SHORE TOURS: We did all ships tours, except for Mykonos where we wandered in the rain on our own, as this was our first cruise and we were worried about running late back to the ship so this seemed the safest way to go. These were generally pretty good although some had guides that left a little to be desired.One thing that tended to irritate us like crazy was the ships photographers trying to take our photos every time we stepped on and off the ship - it was like trying to avoid the annoying vendors in Egypt. We have a camera, Thank you!! We had a blast learning to do the Merengue one sea day but that was the only time any ball room dancing lessons were offered over the entire cruise. That really disappointed us as it was one thing we had both been looking forward too. The seminars on offer were interesting until the 'hard sell' began and I always had to quietly sneak out at that stage. Overall this was the most amazing experience and we really did relax as well as enjoying the sights. Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
My friend and I booked our first cruise with Princess because we had heard good reports about them. All started well but then we were informed by other passengers that the trip to Rhodes had been cancelled, no information from Princess. ... Read More
My friend and I booked our first cruise with Princess because we had heard good reports about them. All started well but then we were informed by other passengers that the trip to Rhodes had been cancelled, no information from Princess. Rhodes and Santorini were the two most important islands which made us book this trip. The trip to Santorini was a total waste of $55 dollars, my advice to future passengers on this cruise is do your own thing, you will see far more of the island, we saw nothing. You are more than encouraged to buy a 'coffee card', if you want what they call speciality coffees you have to pay for them, the card costs $33 and then you can get a cappacino or latte, great. The food in the main restaurants was excellent but there are two restaurants on board that have a cover charge if you use them, one of $25 and one $20. At the end of the cruise we were supposed to have a tour of Rome with time for lunch and shopping before going to the airport, this did not happen we were taken to the airport at 10 a.m. for our flight out at 17.20 p.m. 7 hours to wait with luggage in the airport, NOT GOOD PRINCESS. I have written twice to the company about these items but they have not had the decency to even write and say they are looking into our concerns. TWO PEOPLE WHO WILL NOT BE TAKING ANOTHER PRINCESS CRUISE. Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
This eleven day tour of scandinavia and the baltic region with Princess was a great experience. All of our expactations were met and exceeded. Pre cruise concerns...sea sickness, lack of interest in drinking, gambling, dancing amounted ... Read More
This eleven day tour of scandinavia and the baltic region with Princess was a great experience. All of our expactations were met and exceeded. Pre cruise concerns...sea sickness, lack of interest in drinking, gambling, dancing amounted to nothing. There were heaps of things for us to do both aboard and ashore. I loved the art history and gem lectures, jewellery shopping (excellent prices for amber), art auctions, scenery, tour of the galley, variety of dining experiences, quality of food. We had three full days at sea...one unexpected as we couldn't land in Oslo due to a general strike and seven ashore days. We were disappointed in missing Oslo but actually appreciated the day (first day of cruise) to explore the ship and recover from our jet lag. On two of the shore days - Aarhus and Tallinn - we did our own thing and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. On the other five days we did Princess shore excursions. All of them were managed brilliantly. They were exhausting days but absolutely brilliant. Of 3200 passengers only 11 were children. There were people from all over the world but mostly Americans. Many people we talked to were seasoned cruisers...quite a few had clocked up over 10 cruises many with Princess. The food, service and entertainment were much much better than I expected. Don't use " The Love Boat" as a reference guide! We used the specialty restaurants, Crown Grill and Sabatinis for formal nights. Other nights we did Anytime Dining in Michaelangelo and Da Vincis. A couple of times we had room service. We had breakfast at Horizon Court most days. All of the food was high quality and the service was excellent. We hardly felt any boat movement...mostly we had calm or mild seas. We will definitely cruise with Princess again! Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
This was my first time on any cruise ship, and I loved it. I am generally very easy to please as I feel all vacations are what you make of the them. Passengers: Lots of older folks and families. Though my friend and I are in our ... Read More
This was my first time on any cruise ship, and I loved it. I am generally very easy to please as I feel all vacations are what you make of the them. Passengers: Lots of older folks and families. Though my friend and I are in our mid-20s, the dearth of folks our own age didn't really bother us. We did meet a handful of people our age and really enjoyed meeting plenty of people who were twice our age. The only place this mattered was in the club (one5) which was rather empty when we wanted to go dance. The silver lining was that we had plenty of room on the dance floor, the DJ played all of our requests, and the fabulous bartenders in there were all ours. We went every single night. Crew: Amazing. Everyone was incredibly friendly and accommodating. We had the same waiters each night who treated us like royalty. Bartenders remembered our names after the second day. Cruise director's staff were all very fun and good at encouraging passengers to participate in activities. Room and Food: We had an inside room on the Aloha level. I liked being able to take the stairs up one floor to get to the Lido deck instead of having to wait for the elevators that seemingly take forever. I was told the higher up you are, the more you feel waves (and therefore become seasick), and though I was very aware of rocking, I never felt sick (and I am EXTREMELY susceptible to motion sickness). The shower was tiny, but it's just for a week. One warning: there is no clock in the room. Next time I will pack one from home since I don't wear a watch. Food: I was overall pleased with the food. Was it the most amazing I've had in my life? No. People who criticize the meals must forget that they're cranking out THOUSANDS of meals every single day. And when all else fails, there's always pizza and desserts! The two "pub lunch" days were my favorite. I really enjoyed the option of fish and chips. Onboard activities: You can really do as much or as little as you want. We did trivia constantly (usually twice a day), which became a great way to win free alcohol (winning team typically received a bottle of champagne). I also got a free martini at the martini demonstration. Pool games were always funny and reminded me of summer camp in the best way. We went to bingo once, and my friend tried the line dancing. The themed evenings were always fun for us. They had a 50s night, a 70s night, and a mo-town night (which was very loosely defined..). Again, plennnnty of room on the dance floor but no need to feel self-conscious. Have a couple of drinks and enjoy dancing. You're never seeing these people again. Entertainment: We went to the British Invasion show and thought it was very entertaining We also went to the Do You Wanna Dance show which, in my opinion, verged on laughable. At one point, a singer walked onto the stage, stood in one place for three minutes, and sang "Danny Boy" at a show entitled Do You Wanna Dance. Come on. We tried to see the comedians on two occasions but got there too late to get a seat. Movies under the Stars is a great idea. My only suggestion would be to play some classics. They were all movies from within the last year which I had seen recently. I would've loved to have watch Jaws in the pool! Ports: We didn't arrive in San Juan until late in the afternoon and didn't have time to get out of the port area. This was, of course, extremely touristy. The blue cobblestones and old building facades were neat, but that's about all I can say. St. Maarten was my favorite port. We took a taxi to Orient Bay which we really enjoyed. The beach is absolutely stunning, and the water is amazing. Easy to find a chair and plenty of places to eat. No need to reserve a taxi to take you back to the port because there are plenty lined up waiting for cruise passengers who are ready to return. St. Thomas was also beautiful. We took an open air taxi up a mountain road to get to Maegen's Bay which was much quieter than the beach in St. Maarten. You do have to pay a few bucks to enter the beach, and the beach can also be kind of narrow. One plus is that there are lots of trees to shade you there. The water was pretty chilly but felt refreshing after heating up quickly in the sun. Princess Cays is not as beautiful as the other two beaches but it's a lot of fun having the beach just for you and your fellow passengers with a band, beach volleyball, barbecue, etc. I wish someone had warned us how ROCKY the sea floor is there because I would have brought water shoes. All in all, the ports on the eastern Caribbean route were really nice and I would definitely do a repeat of the exact same cruise were it offered! I am completely satisfied with my experience on the Grand Princess and would recommend it to anyone. Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
Although I have been on other cruises (one's that the entire ship is grey with white number's on the side of it) This was my first cruise on a cruise ship. My wife and were spending our 24th anniversary on the Golden Princess 14 ... Read More
Although I have been on other cruises (one's that the entire ship is grey with white number's on the side of it) This was my first cruise on a cruise ship. My wife and were spending our 24th anniversary on the Golden Princess 14 day cruise to paradise (Hawaii). The night before we sailed we flew from Spokane Washington to Los Angeles, took the Super Shuttle to the hotel in San Pedro. The hotel was the San Pedro Inn & Suites. The next morning we took the hotel shuttle to the pier where the Golden Princess was, this was about 10:30 or so, we gave our luggage to the porter and started the check in process. At about 11:30 we were in group 2 to embark the ship and was in our stateroom by noon or so. The stateroom was perfect size for the both of us, and was very clean. We had anytime dinning which was great. We only ate in the dinning room once and was seated right away with no waiting. The food was great in the dinning room and in the buffet. For a quick snack before bedtime Trident grill for hot dogs and hamburgers, and for desert either the International Cafe or the Sundries on the 14th deck was great. We were really impressed of the food choices and places to eat. As for entertainment on board during sea days it was what you made of it. We went to bingo, we watched movies under the stars, went to the casino (The slights were a little tight), went to different activities that I can't remember them all, but the bottom line is we were never board. The shore excursions that we took on all of the Islands were fantastic. We booked all of the shore excursions through the ship for security purposes. Over all We really enjoyed ourselves, and loved it so much, we placed a future cruise deposit. We have booked the same cruise and ship to Hawaii in December 2012. Princess really did a great job, and I want to say we did "Escape Completely. Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
We celebrated our 30th anniversary by taking our first cruise and it was with Princess. After reading all the reviews and getting as prepared as we could, we went on this adventure with an open mind...just wanting to enjoy the experience. ... Read More
We celebrated our 30th anniversary by taking our first cruise and it was with Princess. After reading all the reviews and getting as prepared as we could, we went on this adventure with an open mind...just wanting to enjoy the experience. The Island Princess did not disappoint! It was the most relaxing, exciting and awesome experience we could have had. We thought everything was excellent! We discovered when we got there, that we had been upgraded to a mini-suite which was wonderful. Our room steward, Nestor was excellent...the waiters(Dajan and Rodney) were awesome, we chose anytime dining and made reservations when we wanted to dine, it was a great choice as we met and dined with wonderful new friends, Marc and Sue. The bar tenders (especially in the wheelhouse bar, Herman and Felix)were super...we took in a couple of Princess excursions and they were great. We did the ultimate ship tour, absolutely worth every penny!! We really enjoyed the tour. Of course the Panama Canal was wonderful and we were only a few doors down from the "secret" door on deck 10 so were there bright and early. All of the entertainment staff, assistant cruise directors and the cruise director...the wake show, the photographers, we could go on and on...all was just terrific. We found the food excellent, we were never disappointed, if there was something we didn't like, there was no problem changing it. We tried all kinds of different food. We also tried both specialty restaurants and enjoyed both but missed our regular waiters. The staff is what makes the cruise, all the amenities were wonderful and we took full advantage of them all, the ship was awesome but we were treated like royalty and that made the difference for us. We liked it so much we put a deposit on another cruise..... for all the newbies...don't worry, go have fun, enjoy and relax! Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
This was my 3rd cruise, but first with Princess. Also on this cruise was my boyfriend, and this was his first ever cruise, and my parents, who have a few cruises under their belts to say the least! Getting to the port from Fort ... Read More
This was my 3rd cruise, but first with Princess. Also on this cruise was my boyfriend, and this was his first ever cruise, and my parents, who have a few cruises under their belts to say the least! Getting to the port from Fort Lauderdale Airport was a bit of a mess ... the layout and traffic flow leaves a lot to be desired, but we eventually got in there! We paid for a transfer through Princess from the Airport to the port, but I don't think a cab would have cost any more money. We made independent arrangements coming home because we were going to a hotel for a night before our flight home. Getting on the ship was easy enough, no big lines and our luggage got to our room just after dinner (we had the early seating). Overall impression was good. We had a fantastic time. Our room could not have been better, we were right need the elevators, had a fabulous balcony room on the 14th deck and just loved the view! My parents also had a balcony room a few decks down midship (but we liked ours better). Our Room Steward was very pleasant and always greeted us by name when he saw us and would stop and chat for a few minutes, we really enjoyed him. He took great care of our room and we never had any problems. I would suggest to future cruisers that if you know what shore excursions you want to do, you book them even before getting on the ship. Virtually ALL of the shore excursions in ALL of the ports were Sold Out before we got on the ship, which was disappointing because there were some that we would have done if they had been available, so Princess lost out there in my books. The entertainment on the ship was also pretty good. We didn't get to all the shows but did enjoy the ones we did go see. Our favourite was the comedian, Rollin' Jay Moore ... he had us laughing and crying from almost start to finish! We enjoyed the Casino (really liked the Smoke Free Nights), would have liked to see the Texas Hold'Em on a real table with a live dealer, we don't play video poker. We took a few of the beginning dance classes and watched a few. All of the entertainment in the Piazza was wonderful and you would stop to watch or listen. There were a lot of choices for watching movies which was really nice, we did watch War Horse under the stars, but couldn't really hear the movie and we watched the Descendants in the Princess Theatre and it was quite good. The food was a plenty to say the least. We had a formal dining room reservation, but didn't go that much, I would say only 3 of the nights. We just found the menu to be too over the top for us, maybe we are more simple, but we couldn't pronounce half the stuff on there, let alone know what it was. They only had a steak one night (last cruise I went on it was on the menu 90% of the time). We also thought there would have been more seafood offered, and they did have fish almost every night, but it was just so "fufu fancy" that it didn't appeal to us. We ate most of our meals in the Horizon Court or Caribe where it was simplified and buffet style and it was quite good. All the food was good, don't get me wrong, but a lot of the dining room items were just over our head and not appealing to us and what we are used to. Our Ports were fantastic! We went to Princess Cays and tendered in and didn't have any issues. We bought a soda package and were disappointed that we could not use it on the Princess Cays, which stuck us as odd, since it was owned and operated by Princess, but that was our only real "complaint" about our experience there. The water was a tad on the chilly side, but I don't think Princess had any control over that .. LOL! The beach was beautiful and people seemed to enjoy themselves. Curacao was my favourite place I have ever cruised to ... we just fell in love with it! The people were super friendly. We didn't book any tours or excursions in any of the ports, instead we just got off the ship and walked around, finding very quickly a 2 hour tour in an A/C van that hit all the tourist attractions and then dropped us off at the beach for the afternoon. Our guide was good, gave us a lot of information about the Island, its history, its current way of life and we had lots of time after the tour to go to the beach and then hit the town and check out the local vendors. This is definitely a place we will return to! Aruba was our final destination, and it was also a beautiful Island. We did the same thing as we did in Curacao and got a 2 hour tour with a beach drop off ... both of which were only $20 per person .. which we found very economical for the 2 of us and really gave us a chance to "see it all". The beaches were gorgeous and the water was warm. We wanted to buy some of their coin currency before getting back on the ship from the local vendors, but none of them would sell us any which we found as odd and disappointing and by that time the bank was closed. Overall, Aruba was beautiful and all of the Islands were hard to say goodbye to! The ship itself was very nice. Our only complaint is that we tried to go up to play the mini putt a few times and there were never any balls to play with, but overall it was a very nice ship, easy to get around. We went on a kitchen galley tour which was pretty cool and their kitchen was in impeccable shape and very, very clean. We also tried to watch one of the movies "Under the Stars" but we could not hear the movie, so we only tried that once, but they had plenty of movies running throughout the day for entertainment. We did not travel with any children this cruise, but there were plenty of them on the ship! Getting off the ship was pretty easy, we had one of the later times to get off, but it was a pretty good process and the only hiccup was actually getting transportation out of the port. There was a big lack of taxis (cars and vans) getting off and we had to wait quite a while to actually get a taxi that we could fit into. Cost about $40 to get to our hotel (which I found a bit steep) and from there we flew out the next day to Tennessee. So, overall we had a great vacation. We really enjoyed ourselves, had plenty to eat and drink. We LOVED our room and the ship was great. We didn't care for the formal dining room menus, had too much on it that we didn't know what it was and the menu just wasn't that appealing to our tastes in food. The staff in the dining room were good, just not very personable, friendly yes, personable no. We just felt they came off stiff, they didn't talk to us much other then to get our orders and deliver our food. My boyfriend expected to see more seafood options on the menu then there was and I would have liked to see steak, more then the 1 time it was offered. I do have to say that I had the very best Cheese Ravioli on the dinner buffet that I have ever had! It was also a nice treat to see Biscuits and Gravy on the breakfast buffet 2 mornings, made my boyfriend feel a little more at home. Our overall impression of the crew was ok. Alina in the Casino was very good with the customers and was the most interactive with the passengers. Our Room Steward, Richard, was also very enjoyable and friendly. Outside of that, the crew was there, but just "stuffy" ... I just didn't get a real "fun atmosphere" feel from them ... I just didn't get a real vacation vibe from the crew in general. I have previously cruised with Carnival and Royal Caribbean before and the general vibe or feel on those ships were just very different ... Princess just seemed to lack the "fun feel". Would have liked to see an Alcohol Drink Package offered and a Drink of the Day ... would have made it feel more like a vacation. Their unlimited Soda package for $49.00 (unlimited sodas, juice and mocktails) was a great value. The coffee on the ship was awful ... no matter how much sugar and cream I put in it, I still couldn't choke it down, however we did have a few fancy coffees and they were quite good! So, would we sail with Princess again? Probably .. would they be my first choice? Not for our next cruise probably. We are looking to book Alaska for 2013, so I am starting my research now. My parents who were on the cruise with us have sailed with Princess previously and had the same thoughts as we did, especially about the food and coffee. I believe they will be sending Princess a personal review. Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
OK, so I'm back. Day 3 and I still feel like I'm on the ship. (Will this feeling ever go away?) Back to the reality of daily life. First let me say the service was fantastic. The crew/staff really go all out to make sure that ... Read More
OK, so I'm back. Day 3 and I still feel like I'm on the ship. (Will this feeling ever go away?) Back to the reality of daily life. First let me say the service was fantastic. The crew/staff really go all out to make sure that your experience goes smoothly. The shows: I was expecting sort of a H.S. type "Glee" thing, I was shocked- BROADWAY AT SEA. I made a mental note of names because I expect some time in the future to see a few of these performers make it to dry land and really make it BIG. TALENT like you wouldn't believe! OK, now onto food. I ate my weight in smoked salmon. My next life I am coming back as a bear. Fabulous. All in all, food was alright, not all of it to die for, but if you found a favourite like I did you make a meal of it. Bars/Drinks: Explorers- ran across some surly staff there- guess it's because when I realized I was paying gratuties EVERYDAY my BIG tipping slowed down ALOT. Crooners- lovely. Old charm. Felt like I was in a 40's movie with my martini listening to the piano player. Wheelhouse- very dark, not as nice as Crooners. Gatsby's the casino- no time spent there I could never get a shot at the machine that pushed coins off. One lady seemed to live at that machine! Speakeasy- the smoking room. Wow, I met some really great people in that area. Down to earth, fun, and willing to chat when I came in to sit down for a smoke. Now I have some cons to this trip. I went with 'mother' while I love mom to death I was dissapointed when I read in the Patter there was a singles and solos meeting and when I got to where it was (15 minutes late) I didn't see anything that let me know I was in the right spot and the ukranian guy I asked didn't seem to know anything. (much less english!) I was expecting someone from the ship to be there and see people wearing name tags to let me know who's who. I would've liked to have found someone who was in the same position as I was that I could've hung out with and done some excursions-like zip lines, dolphin swimming-My 75 yr. old mother couldn't do any of those things! I did enjoy the iguana farm in Roatan. I also loved seeing Tulum in Cozumel. And here is my biggest beef with Princess- Mom took a fall at 4:30 am the 3rd day out. She tripped over that little ledge to get in the bathroom- Please Princess, put SOMETHING on that ledge to let the old folks remember to step up!! Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
Every Year we have traveled to All inclusives throughout The Caribbean, and Mexico, so we thought we would take the plunge into the Cruising world for a change. Friends of our have recently returned from the Crown Princess and raved about ... Read More
Every Year we have traveled to All inclusives throughout The Caribbean, and Mexico, so we thought we would take the plunge into the Cruising world for a change. Friends of our have recently returned from the Crown Princess and raved about their experience so we decided to give it a try. The Ship itself was very nice and very large. I really thought we would feel trapped on a ship, but never felt that way at all. Our room was a little scary at first, we were not used to the condensed room-styles that cruise ships offer, but once we unpacked all of our luggage, it seemed that there was room for everything. We were absolutely amazed by the cabin stewards, they seemed to magically appear when we left the room and when we returned the cabin was spotless. We were so used to having hotel maids banging at our doors, or having to chase after them in regular hotels, so this was a very unexpected and welcome surprise. The food was actually very good. We ate all over the ship and experienced every type of food and service that the ship had to offer. Our favorite was the Steak house and Sabatinis. We enjoyed the buffet on the days that we wanted to just relax and just dress casually. We were a little alarmed by the cover charges, but quickly learned that they were well worth the extra expenditure. We quickly found that the major difference in land based all inclusives and the Cruise ship experience was definitely the entertainment. Most All inclusives provide very lack luster, low budget entertainment. We found the entertainment to be fantastic the majority of the time. We were not too fond of the Singing and dancing revues so we opted out of those. There were a pair of comedians~Alfred and Seymour who we really enjoyed. The highlight for us was the Hypnotist Fernandez. We watched the first show, loved it and returned for the later show. My husband volunteered and was hypnotized. I honestly laughed until I cried. It was brilliant. We really enjoyed the ports of call, it was really nice to be as busy or as relaxed as we felt in each destination. We love to snorkel and dive and found plenty of great areas to do this. Our favorite spots were Grand Cayman and Cozumel. We have our own gear, so we just arranged our dives locally. There was one ship tour we were interested in, but it was sold out and extremely expensive so we were not really disappointed that we missed it. All in all we really loved our first Cruise and will probably become more avid cruisers in the future. We did feel that we needed a holiday after the holiday as we were so active throughout the cruise. Next time we will book a few days after the cruise to wind down. Bravo Princess~Fantastic crew, Fantastic experience. Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
Just finished my first cruise on the Emerald Princess and we had a great time. The room was a fine size and the balcony made it perfect. We are both average size people so we had no trouble with the shower, which can be a little small ... Read More
Just finished my first cruise on the Emerald Princess and we had a great time. The room was a fine size and the balcony made it perfect. We are both average size people so we had no trouble with the shower, which can be a little small for larger folks. Most of the food was really good, some nights the menu read better than the food tasted, but the deserts, well you just have to experience them for yourself. The fish was kind of fishy tasting no matter how it was prepared, but the lobster and escargot were delicious. The activities were varied and something was going on all day long. The coffee and ice tea were fine, no I didn't buy a 70.00 drink cup, that I thought was a bit much. Our room was tended to all the time, and our waiter was so helpful with suggestions and wine recommendations. There was music going on at all times and the dance lessons were great. The only thing I can say that could be improved are the mattresses. Our steward did put a foam cover on the bed for us, but it didn't help. The mattress was just worn out and really should have been replaced. The gym was wonderful, the classes were great that they offered and the pay for pilates and yoga classes were priced pretty much like home. I would recommend this cruise to anyone Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
My wife and I decided to go on our first cruise to celebrate our fifth anniversary, and after lots of research and investigation on the internet, we decided that Princess was the best for us. We are in our 30s, but are not big partiers or ... Read More
My wife and I decided to go on our first cruise to celebrate our fifth anniversary, and after lots of research and investigation on the internet, we decided that Princess was the best for us. We are in our 30s, but are not big partiers or power drinkers, so we were looking for a line that was a little less nightclub and a little more focused on relaxation. We feel like we made a very good decision, and on the whole are happy with our first cruise experience. We will cruise again, but I don't know whether it will be with Princess or not. In some ways they did exceed our expectations, but in other ways they fell short. We booked our cruise through an internet travel agency and flew into Fort Lauderdale having booked flights on our own. We stayed at the Courtyard Marriott Ft. Lauderdale Cruise Port (wonderful staff, highly recommended) the night before embarkation. We decided to wait until the afternoon to head to the cruise port to embark, and while we missed lunch on the ship, we were very happy with walking right up to check in at the terminal. Once on board, we immediately sought out our steward to make a couple specific requests for our room. Some - egg crate for the mattress, removal of drinks from the fridge, extra flat sheet for the bed - were done by the time we checked back into our room after the safety muster. However, some of our requests were not met. We never did receive bathrobes for our use despite multiple requests. I also requested distilled water (required for medical reasons), and was made to wait until after midnight that night (more than an hour after our second requests, and some nine hours after our initial request) before it was delivered. This experience set the tone for our interaction with the staff on the ship over the course of the week - it was very hit and miss. We often had long waits before being served drinks in the Horizon food court, and this seemed to be the case regardless of what meal we were having. We found service in the main dining rooms to be very inconsistent as well. Sometimes service was exemplary, sometimes it was rather slow and not very welcoming. We chose Anytime dining, and didn't experience any problems with it except for the nights we forgot to make reservations for a two top (our problem, not theirs). We had a very poor service experience at the Crown Room. We made a late reservation (9.30), hoping the restaurant would be quieter and service would be better. Well, the former was true, but the latter was absolutely not. I arrived early while my wife was looking at the picture gallery. Not knowing what time it was, I simply stated that we had a 9.30 reservation and I just wanted to know how early we were. I was very shortly told the time, followed by a stern proclamation that we were very early for our reservation and couldn't be seated yet (in spite of the three-quarters empty restaurant behind the greeter). I reiterated the fact that I just wanted to know what time it was, and left to find my wife. We returned promptly at 9.30, and were made to stand at the front entrance for ten minutes for reasons I don't understand. It can't have been for lack of empty tables. Once seated, we waited a further ten minutes before seeing a server. Once we were first visited, things got better, although they stayed confused due two two separate servers helping us during the meal. The food was absolutely fantastic, no doubt about that, but the poor service took something from the meal. If they don't want to have seatings that late, then don't offer them. Better to do that than offer late seatings and treat people they way they treated us. The multiple tables around us of staff members having dinner, some loudly, didn't help either. Not being big drinkers, we didn't befriend a bartender as we didn't visit one often enough. And, just like the staff in the food courts and dining rooms, we found them to be inconsistent. Some were very nice, some very indifferent, and a couple were rude. As for the rest of the cruise, we've very few complaints. We were very happy with the food, including in the food court. We were expecting it to be a little more 'cafeteria' quality, but it was absolutely just as good as the offerings in the format dining rooms. Big thumbs up for the food. The milkshakes were pretty poor, and the pizza crust was a little thin, even by New York style standards, but it was always hot and available, so it's hard to complain about it too much. Our trip was wrapped up by two more service issues. We had the lights go out in our stateroom one evening, and it took nearly three hours for them to be restored. We were told it was as simple as a circuit breaker having tripped (we had nothing on in the room at the time but the television, so I don't know what tripped it), which made the amount of time to fix such a simple problem even more perplexing and frustrating. Finally, there was the fiasco that was our disembarkation. We followed the instructions to the letter, and arrived at our appointed location five minutes before the time listed on the schedule. We were specifically instructed not to show up more than five minutes before the listed time, so that's what we did. Upon arrival, I found that my grouping had already been released to disembark and that we, along with the other people that had followed instructions and showed up when asked to, would have to wait until after the next group was released because our group had already left. We were confused and frustrated, and asked the staff member why our group had left already, and she said it was because they were all there already. We reminded her of the instructions we received, and she simply shrugged her shoulders and said our group was already gone. After strongly expressing our frustration for the fact that we were being punished because we followed the directions provided, she allowed us to leave ahead of the next group (i.e., when we should have been allowed to leave in the first place). I don't want to give the impression that we didn't enjoy ourselves or find our first cruise to be very enjoyable. However, in light of Princess's promises to be a "Consummate Host," we found on balance that their service was woefully short of this promise. Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
My mum had dreamed since she was a little girl of going to Hawaii but could never afford it and so I saved for 3 years, in order for us to go for her 60th birthday, so that she could fulfil this dream. At £4500 for the two of us, it ... Read More
My mum had dreamed since she was a little girl of going to Hawaii but could never afford it and so I saved for 3 years, in order for us to go for her 60th birthday, so that she could fulfil this dream. At £4500 for the two of us, it was, for me, a very expensive holiday to save for, especially as I am disabled and on a low income. Many people had told us that cruising was a superb holiday and having previously been on river cruises, my mum and I thought cruising would be a better way of seeing all of the islands. We flew to Los Angeles where we boarded the Golden Princess - a ship we had been told was superb. We found our room to be very basic, with the beds so hard that I ended up at my GP on my return for painkillers due to the pain in my spine from them. Although the cleaner came in twice a day, the bedding smelt stale and sweaty and we had to request for the duvets and pillows to be changed. Even after this was done, it made no difference. The reception tried to say it was because of feather pillows, but I have feather pillows at home and they certainly did not smell like that. In less than 8 hours of being on the ship, I had chronic diarrhoea and sickness. I had had a sandwich on the ship when I got on but nothing else. I was confined to the room for 24 hours, given injections and 3 different types of medication. After leaving my room 24 hours later, I found that the cafes and buffet restaurants were serving all foods in one tray - meat, fish and vegetarian. As a vegetarian due to having a meat protein allergy, I was horrified to see the food being served this way. I was more horrified when I saw the waiting staff serving the food using just one utensil for all. I reported my concerns of food poisoning and allergy risks to the Head Chef of the International Cafe. He passed my concerns on to the restaurants. He got the waiting staff to separate the food, but even though the meat, fish and veggie stuff had all been touching in that one tray, he didn't get them to make fresh food. Instead they just put the different foods in different trays then continued to serve using the same utensils. For two weeks, I ended up just having salad as it was the only food that was kept separate with separate utensils. I was disgusted that a so-called 4 star cruise liner had such unhygenic practices when it came to food hygeine. I have never witnessed this in any other 4 star establishment. The veggie sandwiches had pine nuts on as well and so this would pose to be a risk for people with nut allergies. The entertainment was advertised as big production style shows. Having seen the Princess website and having seen shows about cruises on the Travel Channel, both my mum and I were expecting the shows to be similar to those in the West End or Vegas style shows with the glamourous show girls. Instead, we got staff karaoke. There was little participation for the passengers. It seemed the entertainment was more the staff's own entertainment. In gale force 9 winds, the pool area was flooded and so most people were desperately trying to find things to do inside the ship. Apart from a couple of games of bingo, there was little else to do. The elderly people were playing cards, board games or knitting, but for people between the ages of 20-60 there was nothing to do, day or night, on this ship. With 10 days at sea, many passengers were going stir crazy. The ship was nothing special - certainly not how we had envisioned it. In fact, it looked like it was in need of redecorating. There were not enough seats or sunbeds for everyone either. The lifts were constantly out of order as were some of the toilets in the public areas. One of the engines had problems and there was an almighty din where it was grinding and so we had to sail back slower from Ensenada. With poor food and poor entertainment, we were glad to get off the ship in Hawaii. The Hawaiian islands were truly beautiful. We took a helicopter on the Big Island over the volcano, and I would highly recommend this trip to anyone. The scenery is breathtaking. In Oahu, we swam with the dolphins and spent the afternoon at Waikiki beach. If we had the money to do so, we would have found a hotel there and flew back from there if it meant we didn't have to get back on the disappointment that was the cruise, but we were not in a financial situation to do that unfortunately. We had booked Hollywood in Hawaii in Kauai. However, 20 minutes into what should have been a 6 hour trip, the bus broke down. We were stranded at a waterfall for 3 hours until a bus came to take us back to the ship. We were disappointed as we only had 4 and half days out of a total of 18 on the Hawaiian islands and in Mexico. The ship offered us $89 refund each. The trip had cost $149 each. I complained stating that we should be entitled to a full refund but the ship refused to give us more than the $89. La Haina was absolutely stunning. A beautiful, if not the nicest of the towns. But then we had to go back onto the ship. Four more days of bad food, bad entertainment, hard uncomfortable beds that stank. The worst £4500 I have ever spent on a holiday. We were looking forward to getting off in Ensenada, Mexico, even though it was only going to be for 4 hours. The day before docking in Mexico, the ship issued warnings about muggings and drug crime in this location and recommended that we didn't get off the ship unless we went on their excursions. So what was the point of stopping in Ensenada? Most people stayed on the ship. The other thing we had check regularly was our ship tab. Many times there were charges on our tabs for things we hadn't had and we had to question the bill several times. It doesn't leave a passenger with much trust of the company when they do these things. We were glad to see Los Angeles again, and Princess had arranged for people on the later flights to have a day in Long Beach. A coach load was dropped by the aquarium but it didn't take us all long to realise that we had 8 hours in Long Beach and there was nothing to do there. The aquarium and the Queen Mary were both expensive for admittance and the local town didn't have a shopping centre safe to walk around (we saw people carrying guns). We were too far away to go to Disneyland, Hollywood or downtown LA. It was as though this whole cruise had absolutely no thought put into it. We had booked this 'holiday' 2 years ago and so we were not happy when we found that Princess had not even booked their passengers with seats together on the plane. Given my fear of flying and that i needed my medication, this was very inconvenient for me having to keep getting up to find my mum. The plane was full and fellow passengers, who were flying alone, wouldn't even have the courtesy to swap seats with us. It didn't help that on one occasion when i went to get my medication, the foreign gentleman in the seat next to mine, lifted the arm between the seats and sprawled out on my seat. I could not wake him and nor could the steward as he had been drinking heavily and was out for the count. I was stood for 4 hours although the steward did let me sit in the stewards seats for short spells. I was talking to 4 people who were from Essex who had been on the same cruise as we had been on. They had gone on the cruise as a group of 15 and all of them were separated. They said it was their 10th cruise and it was not only the worst cruise they had ever been on, but it was the worst holiday they had ever been on. All of us found it was one of the most expensive holidays we had all been on as well. They, like me, were going to complain on their return home. I have complained to Princess Cruises on returning home and we got the remainder of the $149 each we had paid for the Kauai trip that didn't happen, but this should not have been questioned in the first place. They also offered my mum and I £250 each compensation although, they haven't taken into account the medical bill of $151.89 I had as a result of possible food allergy from the way they were serving the food. They also do not seem to have taken into account that my mum and I, and all the other people on the Kauai 'trip' missed an entire day's holiday given we were taken back to the ship as they didn't have time to run the trip by the time another bus came to pick us up. Out of an 18 day holiday (2 days flying), one of the Hawaiian days was spent sorting things out with the ship's reception trying to get our money refunded. There were no trips at the dock when we were returned as all of the trips were full day ones, so we ended up staying on the ship that we so desperately wanted to get off. They also do not seem to have taken into account that i had salad for 2 and half weeks. If I were to buy that at home, it would have cost me £30 for two weeks not £4500, and so I found their offer insulting to be honest. I would suggest that if you want to go to Hawaii, stay on the islands in a hotel. Waikiki, LaHainia and Kauai (from what we were told by other people) are all beautiful and have some stunning hotels. Avoid this ship at all costs as it was not an enjoyable holiday, it was not relaxing, it was overpriced, you have to check everything, the ship is dated and uncomfortable and the food is disgusting and unhygenic. Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
After sailing the Crown for our anniversary last year, I chose the Crown again for our second cruise with a similar itinerary (Western Caribbean) as it had changed somewhat and we had only visited two of the four ports the first time ... Read More
After sailing the Crown for our anniversary last year, I chose the Crown again for our second cruise with a similar itinerary (Western Caribbean) as it had changed somewhat and we had only visited two of the four ports the first time around. Due to work schedules, we flew from Chicago to Fort Lauderdale the morning of embarkation. It was a non-stop flight and we utilized the Princess transfer. We were very fortunate in the timing of our flight and were able to board the transfer coach within 15 minutes of claiming our checked luggage. Due to the Grand and Crown both sailing that day, our Princess transfer was for both ships and the process was very smooth with visiting two different piers at Port Everglades. We arrived at our pier at approximately 12:45 and were able to proceed directly to an agent to check in and obtain our cruise cards. We only had a wait of 5-10 minutes to get onboard (due to all of the Bon Voyage photos being taken). We were able to proceed directly to our stateroom to deliver our carry on bags. The stateroom was clean and ready for us and our steward arrived within minutes of us and introduced himself. At that first meeting, he asked my husband about our preferences for the room (i.e., ice daily, extra pillows, etc.). He was very personable and was always available for anything we might want. We chose Anytime Dining as it worked well for us the first sailing. I called ahead and made reservations for the first evening in the MDR. We were willing to share a table and were able to get a seating at exactly the time we requested. This ended up being the only meal we ate in the MDR as we chose the casual atmosphere of the buffet most evenings. Our meal in the MDR was very good and it was nice to meet fellow passengers. The buffet food was average buffet food and we felt the choices were not as plentiful as they were last year. We made reservations for the Crown Grill for the last night aboard and it was magnificent! Well worth every penny!!! As far as activities on board (when not visiting a port), we mainly relaxed on our balcony, the decks for sunbathing and attempted MUTS (Movies Under The Stars). Unfortunately, we had rain several evenings and the movie options on the clear nights weren't movies we would care to watch. (Yes, we were VERY lazy on this trip!) We elected to utilize the EZ check program again and found it to be worth the $20/person fee instead of lugging those checked bags along with us on disembarkation day. Because we bought very few souvenirs this year, customs was a breeze and the Princess transfer back to the airport was very smooth. Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
When it was time to plan a vacation for our one year anniversary, I knew my wife would want a relaxing beach vacation. But the task of finding one awesome beach resort in the whole Caribbean became daunting. So, I thought, "Hey! ... Read More
When it was time to plan a vacation for our one year anniversary, I knew my wife would want a relaxing beach vacation. But the task of finding one awesome beach resort in the whole Caribbean became daunting. So, I thought, "Hey! Cruising would be a good way to see several islands and relax on several beaches with all of the amenities of a world class resort escorting you around." So, we book this Ruby Princess cruise out of FLL. We were very excited, though I had hesitations and wondered if I shouldn't have booked with someone else (like Celebrity). But I opted Princess for the what seemed like a superior itinerary and no stretch of more than 1 day at sea. Embarkation: Whatever you do, don't show up at noon. The lines move fast, but they're LONG. This took roughly an hour, and I think if you follow the cruise line's advice to wait til 2:00 PM, the process would be much faster and fewer people would be in line. Otherwise, not much to it and goes by fast. Ship: Very impressive and very fancy. Wife has been on a Carnival cruise and she commented on how fancy it look compared to Carnival ships and how the staff at Princess were much friendlier and more helpful. Day 1: Our stop at Princess Cay was cancelled. Needless to say this was a major bummer due to the fact that it is a Princess owned resort and we would have been right at the beach with food included on the island for lunch. As a result of the cancellation, we spent two back to back days at sea, not happy as this was my reason for booking this cruise (no back to back days at sea). Day 2: Another sea day. I'm not a big pool person, so without that, I found myself bored during the afternoons. There is a lot going on, but not a lot I was personally interested in. Would've been more tolerable had we stopped the day before like scheduled. Day 3: St. Marteen. Let's just say this began the process of shattered expectations. We pull in along 5 OTHER CRUISE SHIPS. When you reach the end of the pier, you're in a cruise village type shopping center that ends with an area to catch a taxi. No, you don't need a taxi to get to the closest beach, but yes, no one tells you this. So we got suckered in. It is a bit of a walk, as we did walk back, but it beats paying $4 per person for the taxi that takes you less than a mile away. We got to the beach to find every inch of it covered in chairs and umbrellas, all for rent. We didn't plan on renting so we settled down in an area and used the umbrellas we brought with us. Didn't take any time at all for the locals operating the renting business to run us off as we were "obstructing" the view of his customers. LAME. We were also offered drugs multiple times, but they quit when we showed no interest. There is a nice open air bar that we spent a majority of our time in. We never made it to the French side, but later on we found out from others that it was much more desirable. Go there and pay the taxi driver to take you as it is multiple miles away. Probably about $9 per person taxi fare. Day 4: St. Thomas. Again not what we expected, but we were the only ship. Still had to take a taxi which is frustrating. Went to the downtown area which was closest ($3-$5 per person), and walked around. Before our taxi even stopped, we were mauled by local tour operators. It was so aggressive at first we thought we were being mugged. However, ironically we wound up with an incredible tour and tour guide. Roy Sheridan, a veteran tour guide of 30+ years and voted by the local Chamber as best tour operator. He told us it gave him privileges to take us to see things that others weren't allowed to go. This ultimately meant Blue Beard's castle complex, which was kind of neat. This guy was so knowledgeable and the tour so comprehensive that we finally did consider ourselves lucky to run into Roy and enjoy a nice tour. $25 per person. Excellent tour. Day 5: Grand Turk. Didn't arrive until later in the day, but finally a port that we walk down to the pier and were right at the beach. Chairs were free, plenty of shade under palm trees, and a beautiful day. Also, Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville is right at the pier and has excellent atmosphere. This was the best stop by far, keeping in mind we never made it to Princess Cay. Day 6: At Sea. By the time you are at Grand Turk, you are already half way back to FL, yet you have a whole day and whole night to get back according to the schedule. The ship was going so slow as to avoid arriving before scheduled, which means we should have stopped at Princess Cay on the way back. There is no reason we could not have stopped and still had plenty of time to cruise back to port on time. This would have been such a good idea, but it obviously didn't occur to anyone in charge. Disembarkation: Easy enough. Wanted to do express walk off where you take all of your own luggage off yourself and get to go first off the ship, but we had so much time to kill before our flight that we opted to do our assigned time so we could 1) eat breakfast and 2) kill some time. Other worthy notes: Use Avis rent-a-car if you need to get around. They have a shop across from the Port at the Hyatt and a shuttle that runs for free from the ship to their shop and vice versa. Make sure you pay attention to how much gas they give you though and get it in writing, as I got screwed later by the store in Miami Int for not bringing it back full when I received it with only a 1/4 tank. Go see the comedians. Miguel is especially funny. See David Cats the Illusionist. Very good. The variety shows aren't the greatest, especially the one about the dream... it was so weird and incomprehensible. Dining hall is great, much better than the buffet. But dining hall, buffet, pool deck grill and pizzeria were all good and satisfactory. Lots of people on these reviews complain of the food being poor quality, but I never encountered something that was undercooked or anything. Yeah you may not like something, but there are plenty of options to get something you do like. We loved the experience, though we probably won't do this itinerary ever again. We have very little to complain about with Princess, but being young, we will probably try other lines too. Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
With an unusually cold winter in Alaska, we decided to do our first cruise. I wasn't sure how the bidding wars went on websites, so I did the safe thing and booked directly with Princess. They were great to work with and answered ... Read More
With an unusually cold winter in Alaska, we decided to do our first cruise. I wasn't sure how the bidding wars went on websites, so I did the safe thing and booked directly with Princess. They were great to work with and answered any questions I had along the way. We booked the shuttle pickup at Miami (that's where Alaska Airlines lands) with Princess & were picked up right away and taken to the Sheraton Ft. Lauderdale Beach Hotel (associated with Princess). We had a wonderful beach view and nice infinity pool to swim in and beach walks along the sand--to get us unwound from the -60 temps we came from. We were loaded on a bus and embarkation went very quickly, hardly a line. Then we were on our first cruise ship! Our Mini-suite was a good space. My 6'1" husband could stretch out on the couch, had a coffee table and a chair. The balcony had very nice reclining chairs with stools that we used quite a bit. For this trip, our Dolphin Port side cabin was great to watch the ports of call come by us. Beautiful views off our balcony. The bathroom had plenty of space to store the necessities on shelves and under the sink. The closet and shelves for clothes, again, plenty of space and I had 2 huge suitcases of clothes (and one for shoes :) George, our room steward, came and went cleaning up and adding towels and ice. He served us a glass of champagne when we arrived and quietly did a great job all week. All staffing we saw and talked to said a friendly hello and some stopped to chat a little. Went to a Cruise Critic Meet and Greet. It was so nice seeing the folks who had been on the chat board. Nice folks and some of the crew was in attendance. Thanks Barb for setting this up! We had anytime dining and really liked it. We ate each night at Michael Angelos. On the first night we had Bebe, our head waiter. He was wonderful for me, as I have severe shrimp, crab, lobster allergies and have a very difficult time dining with cross contamination in the kitchens. Bebe worked with me each meal and I didn't have one allergy issue! He suggested wonderful wine and the food was always good. I wouldn't say excellent, but very good. We also had Pizza at Alfredo's and it was excellent. We loved the deli with the desserts and had tea served to us in the Atrium in the evenings. Internet access was sooooo slow. I bought a package, but was so annoyed with it, didn't use it all. Entertainment was quite good. It has to be difficult to put on a production like they do. Billy Hygate was the Cruise Director and his sidekick Dave, I think. Both were a lot of fun. As far as bands, Opus played the Sail Away, which was fun on deck. Opus was a great party band with great songs. We went to a deck party and tons of people were dancing, went to a 50's/60's dance in Explorers and they had everybody dancing. Just made for a great time and we haven't danced for a few years. Last stop was Princess Cays. I thought we'd be bored, but we got a clam shell (get one!) and laid in the shade and cooled off in the water all day. It was a nice day to end our trip. Overall, cruising is different than what we are use to. We fly and drive all over the place (Europe, New Zealand, Hawaii, etc) I probably won't be the once a year cruiser, but I will definitely cruise again. Read Less
Sail Date February 2012
We took our first cruise Mid-February 2012. Must say, it was very nice. Our cabin was nice. We were on the Lido deck. I was really nervous about being so high and potentially getting seasick, but had no problems. We were really ... Read More
We took our first cruise Mid-February 2012. Must say, it was very nice. Our cabin was nice. We were on the Lido deck. I was really nervous about being so high and potentially getting seasick, but had no problems. We were really convenient to the pools, the gym and the buffet. Our room was nice appointed and our cabin attendant was diligent in keeping the room neat and tidy. Every time we left the room he was refreshing towels/soaps/straightening the bed. All the staff were extremely friendly and would chat with you (if they had a lull in their work schedule). I found it fun to speak with folks from all over the world and hear of their experiences. We're not exactly world travelers, so this was a nice novelty for us. My husband's highlight of the trip were the art auctions. We didn't buy anything, but he liked to listen to the history of the works of art and about the artists. We couldn't tender at Princess Cays because of weather, but Curacao was lovely. We took the walking tour excursion and then did a bit of shopping and had a nice lunch at a cafe in the town square. At Aruba we did a beach excursion and island tour. Also very nice. Overall, I was satisfied with the ship, the cleanliness and the staff. Being a first time cruiser, I wasn't sure what to expect, but I definitely enjoyed the experience and the lovely people I met. Read Less
Sail Date February 2012
I have learned so much on the CC site I thought I would try to give back by posting a thread about our recent cruise on the Caribbean Princess. I am going to try to keep it in perspective of the first time cruiser and leave out some the ... Read More
I have learned so much on the CC site I thought I would try to give back by posting a thread about our recent cruise on the Caribbean Princess. I am going to try to keep it in perspective of the first time cruiser and leave out some the gory details about each port and excursion. A little about us -- we are both right at 40 years old. We have been married for 7 years, no kids, live near Madison WI and are fiscally conservative and socially liberal, and found Dave Ramsey (quick shout out) several years ago. The cruise is our out of debt celebration and we have been planning it since April 2011 (for the Dave Ramsey fans - we are now on Baby Step 6). I have spent inordinate amounts of time on CC and elsewhere doing research and planning. We happened to book all of our excursions through Princess. We are pretty conservative and liked having the guarantee if an excursion was late (one of which was!) Hear goes: Friday 2/17/12 -- Park and Fly in Chicago. We stayed at the Hyatt Rosemount for our flight on Saturday at 7:30 am out of O'Hare. We live near Madison, Wisconsin and you never know about winter weather... Went smoothly -- beautiful hotel and well worth the price (parking included). Saturday 2/18/12 -- Travel day to San Juan, PR. Woke up to take the 5 am shuttle to the airport. Were at the gate by 5:50 AM -- smooth sailing through O'Hare. Arrived in Charlotte NC via US Airways for flight to SJ. Mechanical problem with original plane and they now downgraded to a smaller plane (from 767 to A321 I think). The smaller plane does not have as many seats, nor does it have a Row G. Anyone who is in Row G is now out of luck. There are several irate passengers who are embarking tonight from SJ and have one member of their party who doesn't have a seat. Note to self -- seat in rows A-F for return flight. Flight is a little late, but arrive in SJ with no issues. Collect luggage and find Princess staff member and they lead us to a large charter bus which drives us to our hotel. We booked a pre-night at the Sheraton Convention Center and were pleasantly surprised. Got checked in and then took a cab to a restaurant called Waikiki nearby. Had a nice dinner outside. Walked the Condado area for a while and then took a cab back to the hotel for an early evening. Overall it was a very easy travel day, and we were totally relaxed and stress free! Sunday 2/19/12 -- Embarkation Day! Up early because we are excited. We are told that we can place our Princess luggage tags on our luggage and leave it in our room @ the Sheraton and it will magically appear outside our stateroom later than day. I am very skeptical and double check with several staff members -- I am assured this is normal. So we hail a cab for OSJ around 9 am and cross our fingers for our luggage (we are pleasantly surprised later when it's delivered to our stateroom around 4 pm). We walk around OSJ on Sunday -- there is lots of shopping and even a protest about a gas pipeline to watch. We basically people watch and walk around until about 2 pm. At 2 pm excitement overtakes us and we head to the boat via a cab. We arrive at the boat and make through check in and to our stateroom in about 15 minutes. We are pleasantly surprised! Luggage shows up around 4 pm. We head back into dock area and buy some soda and water to bring on board. We had chosen anytime dining and were pleasantly surprised by eating with 2 other couples that night. We never had to wait for dining, but we were also willing to share (which turned out to be one of the best parts of the trip). We took a nap in the early evening so we could stay up for sailaway. We were glad we did! Monday 2/20 -- St. Thomas -- We booked the Catamaran Sail and Snorkel through princess. This is run through http://thevicat.com/ We had a GREAT time and really enjoyed this excursion. This was formal night and we ate at Sabatini's -- which we really enjoyed. Tuesday 2/21 -- Tortola -- Did the Cane Garden Bay beach day from Princess. Frankly we were pretty disappointed by this one. The beach was VERY crowded. We found out that we had to "rent" the lounge chairs for $5 each when we got there....and they were packed in side by side with maybe 4 inches spacing. The people working here just seemed disinterested. Ordered food at Myett's Garden Grill (the drop off point) 1 hour before leaving and 45 minutes later our food still wasn't out. We left hungry. This was a low point on our trip, but future excursions made up for it. This was the only one we wouldn't do again. Managed to get an anytime dining table for 2 this night. Also caught Miguel Washington's comedian show -- which we enjoyed. Wednesday 2/22 -- Antigua -- Spent the morning by the pool on board (we aren't pool people really, but it was very nice). Did the eco kayak and snorkel tour in the afternoon. This was really a blast and we really enjoyed it! We ordered room service this night and were pleasantly surprised! Thursday 2/23 -- Dominica -- Did some shopping in the morning. Lots of pushy people trying to sell tours in this port. This day we had chosen a tubing excursion through Princess. http://www.hibiscusvalley.com/ We really enjoyed this tour -- even though the water was low. The guides were GREAT and we had a great time. Due to some road construction and low water, we got back after all aboard, but because it was a Princess tour -- they were awaiting our arrival. Saw a voice impersonator that night in Princess Theater -- enjoyed it a lot. Friday 2/24 -- Barbados. This was a very commercial port, more of a shipping port than anything else. The ship was docked and we took a bus to the terminal. This day we had arranged for a zip-line excursion, which we enjoyed very much too. A bit crowded, but overall very fun. This night we tried to get into the Crown Grill, but couldn't get a table. We went to the Cafe Caribe buffet which was Asian night. Then watched a show in the Princess Theater -- a piano/comedian. Good times. Saturday 2/25 -- Day @ Sea. This was our only sea day, and not being ones to lounge around the pool, one sea day was enough. The pool areas were very crowded and we were glad to have our balcony. We had a wonderful dinner in the MDR with 2 other couples, one from Tulsa OK, and the other from Toronto, Canada. We really enjoyed both the food and conversation. Sunday 2/26 -- Disembarkation. The ship was late getting into port. We were supposed to be in around 6 am and I think we tied up right around 7:45 am. We had arranged for a rain forest tour through Princess, which they adjusted the times due to the delay. Disembarkation was smooth and we put our luggage in a large truck prior to the tour. The rain forest tour was OK, but we mostly did it to kill time since our flight wasn't until 5:30 PM. Got to the airport around 2 and had some overpriced airport food. All our flights were on time, but we didn't make it back to Chicago until 11:30 PM. Then had to find the car and drive north into Wisconsin. Got home around 3:45 AM realizing we had been up for 24 hours -- would not have done that again as the drive home was brutal despite being fine weather. Things I learned, or just random thoughts in general: - The best advice I read before leaving -- "Bring half the clothes you think you'll need and bring twice the money" -- that advice was dead on. We packed almost perfectly for this trip. One more day and I would have needed to do laundry. - Despite being told that it was relatively quiet, I was surprised at how much the ship moves. Toward the end it was moving enough that people were walking down hallways like drunks, and the curtains were swaying. Not a big deal, but just surprising for a first timer. Others told me it's not rough until the glasses slide off the table at dinner. - I never used my jacket -- I was always warm. - We had a strange phenomenon in our room if we left the sliding balcony door open, it was as though the hallway had a huge negative pressure and the air was sucked through the cabin door vents making an annoying whistling sound. Could have used a small fan in the room just to keep the air moving. - Coffee -- we brew our own coffee (~$9/lb) every morning and consider ourselves to be picky. I didn't find the ship's coffee objectionable and we had it every morning with Breakfast. We did treat ourselves twice to a Latte at the IC which was nice... - We started this cruise evaluating whether or not a balcony was worth it for us. It definitely was. I would cruise half as much if I had to, just to get a balcony. We enjoy our quiet time though, so this is likely specific to us. - Cruise Length -- We thought 7 days was perfect for us. At the end of the 7 days, we were almost ready to go home. We had explored most areas of the ship. Ports were starting to blur together. - Excursions -- We enjoyed staying active -- and the excursions were good for that. We liked the variety and the convenience of booking through Princess. I know we could probably book cheaper on our own, or just take taxis to random places, but it's not as much our style. We had ample time either before or after to explore the ports. - Jewelry -- It's amazing how many jewelry stores are in the Caribbean ports -- not our style -- but crazy how much jewelry is being sold. - Food -- I think the food was above average in the MDR. We consider ourselves foodies and I would rate it a solid 7 or 8 out of 10 on most nights. The buffet was pretty average, but not bad. Sabatini's was really good. - Staff -- The staff overall was extremely friendly. We were impressed overall. - The ship itself -- we found it to be in good condition. Some have asked about overall condition as it ages -- we didn't find anything too objectionable. The stateroom bathroom was starting to show a little age, but nothing egregious. - Seasickness -- Right after Embarkation I got a little dizzy. I put on some sea bands and it went away. I was surprised later on in the trip how much the boat moved when we had "moderate" seas. People were having some difficulty walking in a straight line, towels were swaying in the bathroom, pools were sloshing over...etc. I didn't have any troubles until I got *off* the ship and it took me two days to feel normal again. - Small bills -- we took lots of $1, $5, and $10 bills -- came in handy when negotiating for things. That's all I can think of for now -- any questions, just ask! -Mike W. Read Less
Sail Date February 2012
Three friends and I recently did the 7-day Classic Southern Caribbean aboard the Caribbean Princess. Ship Info: The ship itself was always kept sparkling clean. Despite others comments on the ship showing its age, if you're not ... Read More
Three friends and I recently did the 7-day Classic Southern Caribbean aboard the Caribbean Princess. Ship Info: The ship itself was always kept sparkling clean. Despite others comments on the ship showing its age, if you're not microscopically analyzing things, there were no issues. Any time we were on the promenade deck, there were always workers painting and/or varnishing the wood railings, benches, deck etc. The ship is fairly easy to navigate. There was a good mix of ages on board as well. Very few young children, a hand full of teens, and a good balance of young-mature adults. The ship offers something for all ages. Embarkation: We landed in San Juan at 11:30 and weren't through customs etc. until approx. 1:30 (there was a bit of a line up and only 2 customs officers working). We had pre-paid transfers and met the attendants at the exit of the airport that took us directly to the pier. Once at the pier, check-in was a breeze. We were in our room no later than 2:30. We spent the remainder of the day exploring and getting used to the ship. Stateroom: Firstly, I will NEVER cruise without having a private balcony. This was the highlight of our room. Nothing beats waking up to a different view each morning or having breakfast out on your balcony first thing. It was also just nice to sit out and have a few drinks at night. We were on Aloha Deck 12 (up high). You were able to look down on other people's balconies from where our room was. So if you're looking to have more privacy, book a room on deck 12 or higher. Our room was the perfect size for three passengers. I think cramming 4 people in the room might have made it a bit tight. However we were three girls travelling together, that's 3 luggage cases worth of clothes! We were quite comfortable for the week. We had two twin beds and the fold down bunk from the ceiling. The bathroom was small but manageable. There was lots of closet and cabinet space as well. The only thing that could be improved on is the number of outlets to charge cameras/cell phones etc. This was lacking, but not a huge problem. Service: Overall, the service on the ship was good. We had a fantastic room steward (Marcos; on Aloha Deck) who was always somewhere down the hall greeting you with a huge smile as you left for the day's excursion. He ALWAYS had our room fully stocked with whatever we needed. I don't know when the guy sleeps to be honest...he was great. We met a lot of the crew who were all very friendly and always willing to share a good story or two as well. Dining: the food on the ship was surprisingly good. Lots of options for picky eaters, so I'm not sure about some of the negative food comments on here...you have to be VERY picky in order to not find something that's to you're liking. They'll cook you pretty much anything. There were a few items on the buffet that were iffy, but what buffet doesn't have those "questionable" items. You could buy a coffee card to get the fancy lattes but we just drank the coffee from the buffet. It was always available...even if the buffet was closed, just walk in and pour yourself some. It's not grade A coffee, but it served just fine for the week. Orange juice, water, and iced tea was also free. As for alcohol, it's expensive on board but you're allowed to bring your own wine on (limit according to Princess is 1 bottle/person...we brought more than that, just make sure you're not bringing the entire liquor cabinet on board with you). 24hr room service was great! Our food was always at our door in under 30 min. Loved having 2 pots of coffee brought to our room in the am!! In the dining rooms, the three of us only had to share a table once the entire week. Quite honestly, I wish we had shared every night! You meet so many interesting people that come from all over the world. There were only 2 formal nights. We saw a few people dressed in gowns but for the most part it was simple cocktail dresses. Even though there were two scheduled formal nights that didn't mean you had to get dressed up. Formal wear was required only when dining in specialty restaurants and the common dining rooms. You could still eat at the buffet/by the pool wearing your casual wear. Shore Excursions: we booked all of our excursions through Princess online prior to sailing and they were all well worth the money. I'm sure there's cheaper ways of going about shore excursions but this was our first time to any of these islands and we felt we'd rather have structure than waste time figuring out what to do once in port. We visited Paradise Point, did the tram ride, visited the Mountain Top and spent some time on Magen's Bay in St. Thomas, took a ferry ride over to Virgin Gorda and visited the stunning waters of Devil's Bay and the Baths while in Tortola (absolutely gorgeous location!! wish we had more time there), spent the day in Antigua at Rex Halcyon Resort on a private beach that included lunch on the pier (which was excellent!, lots of people trying to sell you things on the beach though) visited the Emerald Pool and Mero Beach in Dominica (beautiful, probably the prettiest island of the entire trip), and did a catamaran sail and snorkeling with sea turtles in Barbados (all you can drink on board was an added surprise). Disembarkation: on our particular voyage, the ship encountered a technical problem (? not sure what it was), that made us late coming into San Juan. Aside from that set back it was very easy getting off the ship, finding your transfer back to the airport etc. Very organized. Overall: We were VERY pleased with Princess Cruises and really enjoyed our trip! Considering we were three girls all under the age of 25 travelling together, we always found something entertaining to do on board and off. Hands down, this trip was worth every penny spent. We disembarked ready to sail again! Read Less
Sail Date February 2012
Being first-timers, we have nothing to compare it to, but we found our cruise on the Emerald Princess to be very enjoyable. Embarkation and debarkation were smooth and quick, not at all the chaos we'd been led to expect. The staff ... Read More
Being first-timers, we have nothing to compare it to, but we found our cruise on the Emerald Princess to be very enjoyable. Embarkation and debarkation were smooth and quick, not at all the chaos we'd been led to expect. The staff were excellent, the food was great and so was the entertainment. We visited six ports and enjoyed them all. We had a bit of rain and rough water, but that's hardly Princess' fault, and, unlike some horror stories we'd heard, nothing went wrong with the ship and no one got sick. We had an inside cabin, which would have been boring had we spent any time in it. However, we just slept there and spent all our time on deck or in the various lounges, so I'd recommend an inside cabin as a good way to save money. The cabin was large enough, and very queen (refreshed twice daily.) There was individual temperature control, which worked very well. We took four tours booked with Princess, and one we found on our own. Advance booking is less trouble, but on-the-spot is cheaper. I think next time we'd book fewer tours in advance and more on the spot. The "official" tours were all as advertised and quite satisfactory, just a bit overpriced. We travelled to and from Fort Lauderdale on Southwest -- right on time, friendly and efficient. We stayed for one night at the Marriott Cruise Port/Airport hotel before boarding the ship. I think everyone there was going on a cruise. The place is fine but there's no other reason to stay there. Read Less
Sail Date February 2012
On February 4Th we flew from upstate NY to Ft. Lauderdale, FL and stayed the night at the Ramada Inn which was about 10 minutes from Port Everglades. Our motel provided transportation both to and from our ship at a minimal cost. Being ... Read More
On February 4Th we flew from upstate NY to Ft. Lauderdale, FL and stayed the night at the Ramada Inn which was about 10 minutes from Port Everglades. Our motel provided transportation both to and from our ship at a minimal cost. Being winter we felt getting there a day earlier would lessen the stress of getting there in time in case of a snowstorm. Due to the Norovirus, our boarding the Ruby Princess was delayed as they were thoroughly cleaning the ship. We registered and waited in the convention center which was no big deal. Everything was very organized and boarding went very smoothly. I want to commend the staff of the Ruby as NO ONE became ill on our voyage from this virus due to their diligent work of keeping everything clean. Each dining area had a hand sanitizer station which was required for anyone entering to use, someone was standing right there to make sure of this. Our food was served to us at the buffet to deter germs also. The food was delicious! A new menu as well as a standard menu was available every night in our assigned Botticelli dining room. Our wait staff, Edwin & Rainier went above and beyond when it came to making our dining a pleasurable experience. They did this even though we had the late dinner seating of 8:15. We would always stop at the Crooners lounge for a nightcap. Frankie was our favorite waiter there - he remembered you and what you liked to drink and got it ready for you right away. He was very personable also. While there we would listen to piano music with Bert Stratton - he was wonderful plus he kept us laughing with his humor. Our favorite port was Grand Turk - absolutely gorgeous! We booked an excursion through our travel agent to a private resort, it was like being in paradise! Lunch was included and was just delicious. We hated leaving there. In St. Thomas there were taxi drivers with 27 passenger vehicles ready to take you on a 2+ hour tour for only $25 each, this was less then the cost of the ship's excursion and much, much better then the one in St. Maarten. The one we used was Martin Celetine's taxi service. The driver was very knowledgeable about the island and brought us all the way to the top of the island for spectacular views. He was very accommodating, when the tour ended, some people wanted to shop, some wanted to go to the beach and some back to the ship. He brought everyone to where they wanted to be. He gave a time of where to be for pick up after shopping and then went to the beach to pick up the others to bring back to the ship and did not charge us extra. Every evening a newsletter was put on your door letting you know of every activity available the next day. This was wonderful as you could plan your day and not miss out on anything you wanted to do. It had everything from beginners Zumba, pool games, Trivia, art auctions, shows & more. Disembarkation was made smooth by needing to have our bags packed and outside our door by 11:00 p.m. the night before. We left out what was needed in the morning and just packed that up in our carry on luggage. Also, we were given different colored tags and numbers and reported to one of the lounges at the assigned time.They kept the breakfast buffet open until 9 a.m. so everyone could have breakfast who wanted it. We had pre-booked a ride to the airport at the Ft. Lauderdale motel we stayed at, we were given stickers to wear so they could find us. If you have time when your cruise ends I would recommend staying in Ft. Lauderdale one more day as the airport was ridiculously crowded due to the fact that at least 5 ships docked that day - there was not one seat to be found in the airport! We can't wait to go on our next cruise, we really hated to see it end. We had a fabulous time! Read Less
Sail Date February 2012
We were first time cruisers, so we had nothing to compare it to. We had great overall service. It was nice to be able to dine whenever, even though we had a set dining time in the dining rooms, we could come earlier and eat by ourselves ... Read More
We were first time cruisers, so we had nothing to compare it to. We had great overall service. It was nice to be able to dine whenever, even though we had a set dining time in the dining rooms, we could come earlier and eat by ourselves and not feel like we had to eat with the same people every night. We felt the food was top notch. They prepared everything so elegantly, which we appreciated. We enjoyed the entertainment from the shows, to comedians. They did cater a little more to 65+ or so, which was nice in the fact that this was a trip for just my husband and I, without kids, and we didn't see too many. In other ways though, there was a lot of the entertainment geared for the older generation. You can do as much or as little as you want. We thoroughly enjoyed the movies under the stars. Between that and taking many of our breakfast foods outdoors in the back area, we spent a lot of time outdoors. I should mention that during the trip, there was an outbreak of the Norovirus! They promptly notified all the cruisers via a letter in each cabin saying that they have quarantined those affected and would take measures to ensure no more. That just meant really, that at all the buffet sites, all the food would be served to you. They really did a great job at taking precautionary measures. We really had a great first time experience and would highly recommend the Ruby Princess. Read Less
Sail Date February 2012
One the advice of friends, that have used the Thomas Cook Cruise consultants before, we decided to try this service out. Unfortunately it was the most disappointing and expensive mistake we've ever made. We were very clear about ... Read More
One the advice of friends, that have used the Thomas Cook Cruise consultants before, we decided to try this service out. Unfortunately it was the most disappointing and expensive mistake we've ever made. We were very clear about the cruise we wanted. Hot, lots of sunbathing, smart, up-market and luxurious, fine-dining, where everyone dressed for dinner, children free areas & pool(s) and other likeminded travelers the same age as us. What we got was more of the cheap, bottom of the range, weekend getaways for the unemployed and elderly. A cheap, nasty, cold, draughty Dover/Calais ferry full of sick, elderly, WalMart shoppers. One of the staff described the ship as a "floating hospital". The morgue can hold up to 24 for a two week trip and was used while we were on board. Hardly the sort of thing one expects on a "luxury cruise" We only had three formal nights -- where formal attire consisted of a crumpled suit, white socks and trainers for the men and stretched, lycra, sweat suits for the women. The weather was appalling at sea, storm force for the first few days, pools closed, objects strapped down, people being sick. It was terrible. Once we arrived at the islands it did warm up but it could never be described as even remotely hot and or suitable for sunbathing. We purchased an all-inclusive food package but this too was a scam. There was a lovely Italian restaurant and an excellent Steak House but both had excessive surcharges. Depending on your location, on the ship, even Tea's and coffee's all had to be paid for. So much for "all inclusive" There was even a charge for pizza's that were delivered to the room. Over and above that were the scandalous additional taxes and the constant demand for gratuities. In hindsight we should have realised this thing was all a con. When we agreed to book the fly/cruise package we were initially told everything was fine but, little problem, there were no more direct flights. Instead we were expected to fly out of Heathrow, have two changeovers and fly back to Gatwick with another two changeovers which was ridiculous. If you are selling a fly/cruise package the least one expects, is to go direct and to depart and return from the same airport. Needless to say we had to upgrade our flights. We chose to stay overnight at the airport as the flight was so early the following morning. The hotel was very good and a huge contrast to the one that was booked for us in LA. This was dirty, shabby, run down, tired, very warn and damaged;- peeling wall paper, stained carpets, chunks of grout missing around the bath to mention just a few of the problems. There was no view of the sea, as advertised, our room looked onto the roof of the hotel atrium. The service with poor, the majority of the staff displaying a couldn't care less attitude. The hotel was in the middle of nowhere, with no local facilities, no shops, nowhere to even buy a bottle of fresh water (hotel was charging over $7 for 2$ bottle). Compared to the other hotels, which cruise guests stayed in, this was a complete rip-off. We had requested a room with internet access but on arrival was told our room didn't have it. No apology, staff didn't not give a d*m and despite the high cost of the hotel room breakfast was not included. When we arrived in LA we our expectations were again dashed. We had been told that there would be someone to meet us and take us straight to the hotel. What was not said was this consisted of a very harassed, if pleasant enough lady, escorting us out a taxi rank. We had to wait over 2 hours to take a "cruise authorised" taxi which was ridiculous after just coming off a long-haul flight and not what we had been told when booking the holiday. The lady that met us gave us an instruction sheet on what to do one the day of the cruise departure. We did everything as requested however, the person that arrived, to co-ordinate everyone, completely ignored us and then had the audacity to complain that we had not come to find her! Who exactly was the customer here? She was used to dealing with old, elderly, infirm passengers, that didn't argue, did as she told them to do and were happy to be shepherded and patronised. A younger clientele will not tolerate this sort of behaviour. We were very lucky in that we'd watched all the suitcases being loaded onto the bus and had noticed that ours were not there. The cruise rep insisted, quite rudely, that they were and that we had to board the bus immediately. While my sister discussed this with her I checked with the concierge and found out that they had forgotten to load them. Housekeeping thought they'd been left behind by mistake and had moved them into a storage room. If we had got on the bus we would have had nothing with us for at least 4 days. The rep made no apology, at all, for her lack of assistance and or support but she did ask for a gratuity. Once on board we discovered more discrepancies in what existed vs. what we'd been sold. There were only a handful of tacky shops, selling tourist junk, there was nowhere to buy fresh water, which was a chargeable item and not included in our full-board package. There was nowhere to buy good, fashionable, clothes, pull on, elasticated waisted shorts may have been ideal for the over 70's but not what we were looking for. However, there was a very tiresome, never ending "sales" drive on the ship --photographs, cookery books, cooking oil, the list was endless and the sales teams were relentless. I feel very sorry for the pensioners that got sucked in and felt obliged to purchase things, they didn't want, just to get away from the sales teams. We were also told to expect lots of exciting entertainment during the day and in the evenings. Napkin folding, bridge and bingo hardly qualify as exciting entertainment. There were no facilities for anyone other than pensioners. The outdoor movie screen was predominately dedicated to American football or other sports. The hot tubs were unavailable every day because of the obese occupants and, as mentioned the pools were closed for the majority of the trip. The one area that was quiet and calm was, of course, only available if you paid extra for it. The yoga and Pilates classes were far too small, only run once a day, very early in the morning, and were vastly oversubscribed. One person, that we met, that had managed to go, told us they were dreadful. Everyone laid out on mats in between all the people using the spinning bikes and other gym equipment. All very loud, hot and sweaty. Not what one expect from Pilates or yoga. She never went back. We were also advised to book any tours as soon as possible as there were very limited, 10-12, places per tour. We booked two. The first was a dolphin day and nothing like the description we were given. There were at least 100 people, all filed into a pool, told to splash the water, kiss the dolphin, smile for the camera - next. The cost of the photos, on top of the cost of the tour was a joke. The second tour, a snorkelling one, was charged at $99.00 per person; whereas it was under $10.00 in town, and was so bad we refused to pay for it. The ships tour department were deliberately, unhelpful and difficult maintaining we had to discuss this with the tour operator, who we'd had no contact with and didn't know. As we'd booked it as part of the holiday and not via a 3rd party we maintained it was their responsibility. They finally, agreed to help, but only because there were so many people complaining I don't think they had much choice. Regarding tours, I understand that Thomas Cook and the tour teams want to sell these at fastly inflated prices but it is reprehensible that guests are not given any options. No one tells you that you can arrange these locally, for a fraction of the cost, very easily. They don't tell you that there is an excellent local bus service that runs on every island that costs only one dollar. Considering the vast majority of your clients are elderly, and quite obviously not terribly wealthy, to constantly tell them to only use taxies is ethically and morally disgusting. Other points to note are, when we arrived, we had four chairs on our terrace, which we used every day. The day we arrived, at the first port, all the chairs were removed and replaced with new ones but, only two not four. It was real inconvenience, and took a lot of time to get the other two chairs returned. As the ship constantly advertises the fact that the balconies are the ideal place for drinks and dinner with friends it was completely unacceptable for them for them to remove these without asking. The one area where praise is due is the restaurant that we went to virtually every night. The two Macedonian waiters (Dragan and his boss) looked after us extremely well and the food really was first class. Sadly this is the only thing we could recommend from the start to the end of the whole trip. This was our experience and it was so bad because it was diametrically opposite what we'd asked for. The odd, very elderly (wheelchairs and oxygen tanks), guests we spoke to seemed to be enjoying themselves and those are the people the cruise line accommodates. If you are young, fit and healthy, beware of what your told.... We hold Thomas Cook fully responsible for this disaster. We will never set foot on another Princess Cruise and will make sure as many people as possible know just what it's really like. We will also never, ever use Thomas Cook again. Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
This was mine and the DH first cruise. We were recommended to princess from my brother-in-law. The initial booking process was very simple and after months of rescearch it made choosing what to do a snap. I won't talk about the trip ... Read More
This was mine and the DH first cruise. We were recommended to princess from my brother-in-law. The initial booking process was very simple and after months of rescearch it made choosing what to do a snap. I won't talk about the trip there becuase it has nothing to do with princess. Bording was suppose to start at 1, but when we arrived in san juan the princess rep said we should meet at 11 for they start bording early. Well, we beat the rush. It was only about 15 min at each checkpoint and hardly any line up. We were in our stateroom by 1 and when we looked outside the lineup was retartedly long. After running all over the ship for the treasure hunt we took a few tour to get to know the ship better. The crew was amazing. We eventually hit a routin which made the trip very enjoyable. Everynight we would get the princess patter (cruise newpaper) and mark off all the events we wanted to do. Next morning we would hit the buffett (didn't have time for a sit down breaky) Inital impression was that the buffet was very busy in the morning. But there were lots of employee around doing different work from cleaning tables to setting napkins with cutlery. After a quick bite of some good food we dashed back to the room to get our camera, sunscreen, waterbottles (PS... the water out of the sink it drinkable!) for our day in port. The stateroom attendants were already cleaning rooms and the hallways were busy. We were usually in port by 8 AM so everyone was out and about. We would leave for our princess tour and it was always easy to find our local tour guide with the system they have set up. After a fun day of running around, site seeing, shopping or swimming we arrived back at the ship. Getting on and off the ship was really easy with the card system they have. After a shower in the tinyest show I've ever seen we would get all smart-casualed up we would go for supper. It was very neat to see how organized everything was. The patter made it easy to plan your night so even the DH could get his fix of kereokee. Formal nights were good, but it was nice to also just get a burger if we didn't feel like dressing up (which was a lot) In the evening there was thousand of things to choose from to do. From fun Trivia games, to movies under the stars, to theatre shows and everything usually went to midnight. On our one sea day is when you could see the staff could not keep up, but I really couldn't blame them. We were up around 8AM and people would get up early to place thier towel and book on a chair and leave for breaky. To find an open space in the pool was impossible. We hardly drank becuase a foofooey drink was 7.50 plus tax (it was 17.95 for two drinks) and even though they were amazing, we had better places to put our money. We took the stairs everywhere because we were warned how good the food was and that usually you gain 1 lbs a day, but after being so active for a week I really felt like I gained muscle from all the stairs/acitivities/walking I did. This is definatly something we would do again. :D Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
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