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506 Princess First-Time Cruisers Cruise Reviews

Made it out of JFK smoothly, despite NY's snow. Princess transfers at airport were fast and easy, and embarkation was just about effortless. We stopped by the cabin to drop off hand luggage, then had lunch at the Lido level ... Read More
Made it out of JFK smoothly, despite NY's snow. Princess transfers at airport were fast and easy, and embarkation was just about effortless. We stopped by the cabin to drop off hand luggage, then had lunch at the Lido level buffet that first day, one of the few times we ate there. Luggage arrived in afternoon and meanwhile we explored the ship. As an ice-breaker, the crew had handed out cards for a raffle to be held at sailaway. To enter, you needed to visit and get check-offs from different venues on board. It seemed like a good way to familiarize passengers with the ship. Ship seemed very large at first, but eventually became almost homey as we figured out the layout. The public venues were mainly on levels 5 through 7 and above level 15. Our cabin was on level 5 (Plaza) aft which was very convenient, and we were never disturbed by noise from either the theater (on 6 and 7) or any of the music in the public or gathering areas on 5, 6, and 7. (On the other hand, we were at the very front of the ship and did at times hear what sounded like navigational noises from ship machinery, but not enough to make me regret the cabin choice.) Cabin had twin beds with a table between, a desk/dressing table area, and then a separate closet area by the bathroom. The cabin -- and the ship in general -- seemed faultlessly clean. Our porter serviced our room at least twice a day, and gave us fresh towels every day (or maybe even more often), even though we didn't ask for them. In the public areas, the moment one put down a dirty plate or finished a drink, the table was cleared. Passing through the Plaza late one night, we saw that some cushion covers had been removed for cleaning, and there were frequently people vacuuming the carpeted areas. Bathrooms through the ship seemed spotless. We mainly breakfasted and often lunched at the International Cafe at the Plaza level, just down the hall from our room. Breakfast generally consisted of croissants, muffins, pastries, muesli, or an egg/cheese/ham breakfast sandwich. Starting at lunchtime, there was quiche there each day, as well as vegetable and other salads, shrimp, and basic sandwiches, as well as really delicious ice cream/gelato and fresh-baked cookies. Food there was free except for the ice cream, for which there was a nominal charge. We picked anytime dining, and ate most of our dinners in one of the main sit-down dining rooms. Dining room food was very good, and it was often hard to decide what to get. The dining room staff was very accommodating and friendly. Everyone seemed intent on pleasing. One night we ate at the Crown Grill, which had a $25 up charge. I enjoyed the food and atmosphere there a lot, but we ate there only for variety rather than because of any lack in the other food operations. Occasionally, we had pizza or ice cream from the pool side area on 15. Never made it to the burger grill on that same level. A nice afternoon tea was served every day, though we only went once. One of the highlights of our cruise was participation in the Chef's Table dinner, which we had read about here. We called to put in our names for that as soon as we boarded, and two mornings later found a letter under our door inviting us to meet with the Maitre D' to discuss our interest in participating. That meeting essentially addressed whether we had any food allergies that would affect the menu. A day later, we were thrilled to learn that we were invited to the Chef's Table, which turned out to be an 11 course extravaganza, starting with a galley tour, champagne and appetizers in the kitchen, and a multi-course meal at an extravagantly appointed table. The meal featured a beef carpaccio napolean, lobster risotto, a three-meat course featuring beef, pork and veal flamed at table-side, a pallette clearing bloody-mary sorbet, and then a really delicious stilton mousse with port wine reduction, followed by cointreau mousse on a blown sugar plate with three dimensional cookie adornment -- as well as a plate of handmade chocolates that was decorated with a gorgeous blown sugar dolphin. The women at the table received roses and a copy of the Princess cookbook too. We started with white wine (wasn't paying attention to what), then red, then homemade limoncello, and finally a sweet dessert white. Every penny of the $75/person up charge was worth it. We only hit four of our five port destinations, missing Princess Cay because the waters were too choppy for tender on January 6 when we were due to stop there. Because that wasn't a port that I had been intent on visiting, I didn't miss the stop, and enjoyed the extra sea day instead. We did stop at Dominica, Barbados, Antigua, and St. Thomas, and I enjoyed them all. Rain forest aerial tram on Dominica was enjoyable, but not remotely worth the $99 excursion cost. The rain forest may be home to 170 types of birds, but I don't think we saw more than 5 birds total, if that. Driving on Dominica roads is almost a thrill-seeking activity itself. Hairpin turns, steep drop offs and few guard rails. On Barbados, the Taste of Barbados and Scenic Drive was also fine, but not worth its $79 price-tag. Didn't see that many of the picturesque sites, and lunch at the Sunbury Plantation was tasty but not luxurious. There was a fair amount of waiting around -- including when the bus broke down afterwards and a replacement had to be sent. On Antigua, we did the Antiguan Island Highlights tour ($59) but probably should have done the Nelson's Dockyard and Shirley Heights tour ($49) instead. The difference was that the former also had a stop at a site to watch a not-particularly-gripping multi-media presentation about the island's history. The tour of Nelson's Dockyard -- given by a Park Service docent, not by the excursion company -- was disappointingly short and general. One of the highlights of the museum there is that it has Admiral Horatio Nelson's own telescope as well as wood from the HMS Victory. In response to a direct question, the guide said that she didn't think the telescope was at the museum -- wrong. The Views of St. Thomas excursion ($39) was the most cost-effective of our excursions, even though our particular guide told us very little, explaining that he was a last minute sub for the regular guide who had to babysit that morning. But the sights were lovely, and we enjoyed the ride up the gondola to Paradise Point with its vantage over the city and port. The tour also stopped at the Botanical Gardens. The driver offered to drop us off downtown by the shopping area, and we took him up on that invitation. If you want to shop for jewelry in particular, this is the port to do it. I lost count of how many jewelry stores there were. We went to the shows almost every night and enjoyed them all. It seems that experienced cruisers may be irked by reappearances of shows they had seen before, but everything was new to us and we were impressed by the singing, dancing and staging/sets of the production shows (Motor City, Destination Anywhere and a couple of others). The magician did a great show at the Explorer's lounge and we are still puzzling over how he did some of the tricks. It's helpful to get to the Explorer's venue at least 15 minutes before show-time, because there are limited seats and they fill up early. We also enjoyed the piano music at one of the bars in the evening. Movies Under the Stars was a bit less successful because seats were often at a premium and the screen was hard to see from some angles and the soundtrack often hard to hear. And of course, if it was cold or windy or too sunny, that made it less pleasant to stay put for the duration of the movie. Saw a couple of movies in the theater too. Enjoyed the various trivia contests and other game-type activities, especially the Newlywed and Not-So-Newlywed game. Daily puzzlers at the library were also fun. Also a lot of fun was a "cook-off" between the Executive Chef and the Maitre D'. The former demonstrated some really delicious looking dishes and the latter was over-the-top goofy. New Year's was fun out by the pool on the Lido deck. Lively music, a nice vibe, confetti, and champagne (although you had to buy your own). There was a balloon drop inside for those who didn't want to brave the elements. Most of the shows and many of the activities were introduced by the Cruise Director Ron Goodman and the Deputy Cruise Director Stuart Mac. They were warm, and funny and had a great rapport with each other. They genuinely seemed to enjoy their jobs and the passengers and added a lot to the cruise. Disembarkation was easy. Labels were distributed to cabins identifying which disembarkation group each person was in (which seemed to depend on flight time, and other factors. We were asked to put our main bags in the hallway outside our cabin around dinner time the night before disembarkation with our group's labels, and we reclaimed them the following morning at the ship terminal. Overall, we had a great time. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
For a first-time cruiser, I had high hopes for this new adventure on the Crown Princess out of Fort Lauderdale, with ports in Grand Cayman, Roatan, Cozumel and the Bahamas (Princess Cays). Unfortunately, the all mighty drive for corporate ... Read More
For a first-time cruiser, I had high hopes for this new adventure on the Crown Princess out of Fort Lauderdale, with ports in Grand Cayman, Roatan, Cozumel and the Bahamas (Princess Cays). Unfortunately, the all mighty drive for corporate dollars and some crew members' poor attitudes cast a shadow over an otherwise enjoyable week upon the seas. First, I'll comment on the brighter side of this cruise. Embarkation/disembarkation were expedient and well organized. Interior stateroom was roomy, comfortable and well-equipped. Room steward was extra friendly and seemed to always be close by, if needed. 8:15 dining room options each night were good, yet not memorable. Food on Princess Cays was easily accesible and seemed to be perfect for beach fare (jerk chicken!). Now, for the not-so-positives. I purchased a $29 "soft drink card" for the week but was let down when I realized that this meant only soda options and not any other non-alcoholic drinks (OJ, tomato juice, etc.). In addition, the "soft drink card" was not accepted on Princess-owned Princess Cays. None of this was explained to me when I purchased the card, which would have been nice. I experienced four (4) instances of crew members with unacceptable behavior (bad attitude) towards myself or members of my party. What happened to the customer is #1? Clearly Princess doesn't adhere to this time-tested concept. On Princess Cays, our last port for the week, our entire group was harassed when we chose beach chairs that were in the $30-only group of beach chairs! The lounge chairs we chose had sun shades or "clamshells" attached to some of the chairs, but not all. So let me get this straight: it's a Princess-owned island and you CHARGE ME FOR A LOUNGE CHAIR? The explanation was that the "clamshells" were for rental and therefore, so were the chairs in that area, regardless if you wanted shade or not (which we didn't). The "free" chair area was a considerable walk to the other end of Princess Cays. How convenient. Needless to say, we didn't pay for the un-used "clamshells" and eventually, the beach staff went away. Ultimately, our group had a good time aboard Crown Princess but personally speaking, I wasn't impressed enough to cruise with Princess again. Maybe I'm just not a "cruiser" or perhaps, Princess needs to focus less on profits and more on the overall satisfaction of their customers. Just one man's opinion! Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
November 2010 we boarded the Sun Princess, we were a bit concerned while waiting to board as the average age of passengers appeared to be high and a lot of wheelchairs However once on board this was not the case, except for the ... Read More
November 2010 we boarded the Sun Princess, we were a bit concerned while waiting to board as the average age of passengers appeared to be high and a lot of wheelchairs However once on board this was not the case, except for the wheelchairs, these appeared to increase as the cruise progressed. Several appeared to be part time! not able to walk during tours ashore yet capable of maneuvering around the buffet, having to wait while a large person is priority loaded on and off tour buses then watching same person get up and walk when back on ship with food in view, very annoying to say the least. This need to be addressed by the cruise line Entertainment top class, plenty of variety something for everyone. Theme nights the weather was against Hawaiian nights in the cold and rain did not work. Pre cruise advice re themes would have been nice Food excellent, could not have asked for better. Dinning arrangements were a problem, fixed dinning at 1745 meant that you missed the ship leaving port, important to a photography buff. So had most of our meals at the buffet. Next cruise have booked anytime dinning to cover this. Cabin was clean and well appointed, small hotel room with en-suite, balcony a must to prevent that closed in feeling, plus nice to relax in private sometimes and watch the sea Had our Wedding anniversary on-board, truly special event, Staff made the day memorable Did not book tours though cruise line, went online myself and did own research and booking, better value for money. Cruise run, very expensive in comparison Would recommend Sun Princess to anyone the staff were top class could not have been anymore helpful, pleasant and polite Have already booked next cruise with Princess Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
This was my first time on a cruise ship. I always wanted to go to Hawaii so I decided to go. I paid for 2 people but I was the only one in my inside cabin because I did not find someone to go with me. My cabin was at the very rear of the ... Read More
This was my first time on a cruise ship. I always wanted to go to Hawaii so I decided to go. I paid for 2 people but I was the only one in my inside cabin because I did not find someone to go with me. My cabin was at the very rear of the ship on deck 12. The motion of the ship at sea was noticeable but not uncomfortable. The weather to and from Hawaii was sunny for the most part. Movies Under The Stars is a great attraction on the ship. On the Golden Princess the movies is on deck 14, midships. Some other ships have it at the very rear. Also on deck 14 was the Horizon Court buffet so that was nice as well. I did not do any specialty dining but I could have. The food in the buffet was good with a good variety depending on the day. That means everyday was not the same food. There were a lot of sea days so if you go, be prepared for that. After the ship left Los Angeles, it takes the rest of that day and 4 more to get to Hilo, Hawaii which is the first stop out of 4 stops. The sport deck is nice, lots of sports to do. The newsletter you get everyday tells you about all the activities so that was helpful. Inside cabin on deck 12 very near the rear of the ship. The safe in the closet is small but very secure. Good water pressure in the cabin. Lots of hot water available. The bed was okay in comfort but the covers where very good. Pillows where fine and comfortable. Lots of lighting in the room should you like that. The TV was up high, wish it could be lowered. Lots of mirrors in the room, did not care for that too much. Room service available all day everyday. And only 1 level from the Horizon Court 24 hour buffet area. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
I was looking for Mediterranean cruise in April 2011. This cruise popped up and the price was irresistible, booked the cruise 10 days advance only. We had an ocean view cabin 244 on Plaza deck, or 5th floor. Check in at Xin ... Read More
I was looking for Mediterranean cruise in April 2011. This cruise popped up and the price was irresistible, booked the cruise 10 days advance only. We had an ocean view cabin 244 on Plaza deck, or 5th floor. Check in at Xin Gang (Tian Jin) was smooth, nice and new passenger cruise port terminal. No shop, nothing to buy or shop, just coffee and tea counter provided by the ship. The new terminal is a bit far off, we took the High speed train from Beijing at around 13.30 pm. Got there in slightly over an hour. Beware, buy the train ticket in advance, or you may not have a seat. From the train station, we took a cab, they over charged us slightly, but no big deal, understandable because the port is middle of no where. Taxi fee was 100 Yuan. One bad point is no direction to port or terminal at Princess website, nor provided to us by Princess agent in Thailand. A bit difficult to find the port info from Google. The ship departed 2 hours late due to heavy fog and highway accident that clogged the traffic. Passengers were arriving late. The lounge is nice, 3 storey of shiny brasses, glasses and chandelier. The cabin is ok, slightly old. But for foul smell at the fridge. Cabin layout is ok , we liked it. Sheet, mattresses, blankets are ok. Bed cover a bit old. No bed bug. Our cabin attendent is Ronald, a Philippino, he provided good service throughout the cruise. Toilet and toiletries are ok. The toilet flush broke down once , but was repair in a jiffy after a phone call. Food in the buffet is not that good,choices are vary enough, but quality is barely passing. The morning eggs are terrible. Buffet is available 24/7, good point. Coffee is just barely passing, tea bags choices are great. Available 24 hours at the buffet cafe. Dining rooms are nicely decorated, food quality, food choices, service are great. Most dishes are good, but for few. Wine choices and price are OK with us. But fellow passengers complained about the wine price. I love the morning and afternoon waffle, afternoon burger, and soft ice cream. Shows are great, both the stage and performance. Gym and workout facility is OK. Spa is good. Port visits are well organized, courtesy buses at most ports. Except for very bare and dull Phumy port in Vietnam, otherwise all ports are good. We visited Pusan, Nagasaki, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Thang Long, Phumy, Koh Samui, Laem Chabang, Singapore. We are independent travelers,so we didn't buy any port excursion. I would say if you are experienced travelers, been to Asia, you don't need to buy any for these ports of call, but may be Phumy if you wished to visit Ho Chi Min. Or Laem Chabang if you wish to visit Bangkok. It is a bit far off. If you are not familiar with China, cannot communicate in Mandarin, I suggest shore excursion for Shanghai as well. Beware of Shanghai Taxi, very bad indeed. Disembarkation in Singapore is very slow, but not ship fault. Probably due to two ships calling at the same time, and the terminal is very crowded and congested. Taxi queuing line is long. Plenty of taxi though. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
I'll try to use the same format that I found helpful in other reviews, and break things down by section: PRE-EMBARKATION: We flew into San Juan the day before our cruise left, and were glad for it. Our hotel was the El San ... Read More
I'll try to use the same format that I found helpful in other reviews, and break things down by section: PRE-EMBARKATION: We flew into San Juan the day before our cruise left, and were glad for it. Our hotel was the El San Juan, which is a Waldorf-Astoria Property (Hilton Hotels). The lobby was grand, and the pools were nice. They also have a private beach, which seemed to be a theme with most of the hotels in San Juan. However, the room was run-down and most of the white furniture looked used and dirty. We probably wouldn't stay there again. EMBARKATION: Spent the morning at the pool and had a leisurely breakfast. Picked up supplies (sunscreen, aspirin, etc) at Walgreens. We headed for the cruise docks at around 3pm. There is a very nice duty-free liquor store inside the building, once you've turned in your checked bags and have put your carry-on bag through the X-ray scanner. BUY YOUR LIQUOR THERE. The prices were excellent, and you can put things in your carry-on to bring on board. We bought a bottle of wine, one bottle of champagne and a 1L bottle of vodka. The vodka went in the carry-on; the others we put in the store's bag. Check in was very easy. The whole process only took 15 minutes. We were on the ship by 4pm, which included 45 minutes spent in the duty-free store. They did ask about liquor as soon as we boarded, but they only checked the plastic store bag, and were fine with us having the wine and champagne. I bought my Coca-Cola sticker as soon as we boarded (there were tables everywhere on the ship) and my partner bought his coffee card. We later found 2 coupon books in our room (FYI - we found out not everyone gets them), and it had a Buy 1-Get 1 coupon for coffee cards. We went down to the International Cafe on Deck 5, gave them the coupon, and they gave us a 2nd coffee card! That was a $27 savings right off the bat. We went to the buffet that evening (it ranged from good that night to just OK on other days). Oddly, they had lobster claws on the buffet that first night, but they had no tongs to help you crack them open. I asked a waiter for some, and they said they didn't have any. I had to wrap the claws in my cloth napkin and smash them with my hand. I saw several other people doing the same thing -- Princess needs to get a clue and just provide the necessary tools to eat lobster. The sail away party was fun and we had a good time being out on the Lido Deck for the music and the treasure hunt giveaway. SAILING: I'll review the ports separately below. DINING: We had Anytime Dining and ate in the main dining room every night except the very first one. Overall the food was very good, with a couple of little exceptions. I had veal the 3rd night, and it was very chewy. Another night I had the Orange Roughy fish with lobster sauce. It tasted so fishy it was almost inedible. I will say that the desserts were outstanding! The Limoncello Sorbet and the Strawberry/Lemon Sorbet were some of the best I've ever had. My partner had the New York Cheesecake one night which was also excellent. The Pasta e Fagioli soup on Italian night was memorable, as was the Veal Ravioli on the 5th night (not sure why the just plain veal wasn't good -- who knows?). We learned to order extra of what we liked and to try something else if we didn't like what we got the first time. Most nights we also ordered a small side of Fettuccine Alfredo (excellent pasta!) to share, and they happily brought a small bowl of it out for us. Another word to the wise -- have the ESCARGOT on night 6! It was one of the best things I ate the entire trip! It will not be on the menu -- the waiter tells you about it at the start of dinner and you have to remember to order it. As for Anytime Dining, we loved it. The first night we opted to eat with others, which was very interesting. There were 2 other couples at our table, one middle-aged and one older. The middle-aged wife and the older husband got in a debate over a conversation topic, and the older couple left very abruptly after dessert. We asked for a table for 2 every night after that. Despite the often huffy attitude of the Maitre D' in the Island Dining Room (Deck 5), he gave us our table quickly every night. Only one time did we get a "beeper" and were asked to wait 10 minutes for a table. Our other favorite dining tip is to use the International Cafe on Deck 5. We went there every single day, and often it was virtually empty at 9 or 10am. They have lots of good things in the display case (pastry, muffins, quiche, etc) and it's all included. It changes from breakfast items to lunch/snack items later on, which are also excellent. I ate several of the mozzarella & prosciutto paninis for a quick afternoon snack after coming back from an excursion. And the pizza on Deck 15 by the pool is every bit as good as everyone else says it is. We had some at least every other day. ENTERTAINMENT: We only went to one production show, "Caribbean Caliente". Great dancers, pretty excellent singers, but yet it was very cheesy for our taste. Everyone said the hypnotist was great too, but we missed him. He gave a 2nd show late in the week that was in Spanish. The first night we caught The Juan Carlos Show in Explorer's Lounge (Deck 7), which was fun, though he told most of his jokes in Spanish, so they were lost on us. We met other gay couples on board and ended up making some good friends. Our favorite thing to do was to meet up after dinner for drinks either in the Wheelhouse Bar or Skywalkers. Both always had plenty of space available, though the music in Skywalkers can be very loud and you really feel the ship bobbing up and down from there. The ship did host 2 GLBT get-togethers, one on the 2nd night and the other on the 4th night. Paul, an Associate Cruise Director, was our host both times. He provided free champagne the first time, and we got to meet some nice people, including one couple that ended up being part of our social circle for the rest of the cruise. STATEROOM: We had a balcony room on Deck 14 (Riviera). It was terrific! LOVED having the balcony for evening sailaways and for just sitting out there to have coffee and pastry in the morning. We both highly recommend getting a balcony if you're thinking about it. Also, Deck 14 was the near perfect location. While Caribe Deck (Deck 10) has the biggest balconies besides suite rooms, you can look down at everyone else and see what they're doing. The Lido Deck (Deck 15) hangs all the way out over Deck 14, so we had complete privacy from above. The bathroom was very small, but perfectly adequate. I'm 6'1 and I fit in the shower just fine -- no complaints. There was also more than enough closet space. In fact, there was much more than we were expecting. Our room steward was Bryan from the Phillipines. He was nice, but quite shy. We also thought he was a bit thrown by our request the first day to have the beds pushed together. However, by the end of the cruise he would chat with us in the hallway and he always said hello and goodbye when we saw him. He did a great job keeping the room neat and tidy all throughout the day. CASINO: I was there almost every night. My partner only spent about a total of 15 minutes in there as he is not a gambler. I had fun, but beware, the odds are even tougher than a normal casino. If you like Blackjack, be careful of the "Fun 21" table. The rules seem very liberal, but they take all of the queens out of the decks, leaving far less 10's than a usual 8-deck Blackjack game. This means the dealer frequently does not go bust, meaning you lose a lot more hands. Some guy did win $60,000 at Caribbean Stud Poker during our cruise by hitting a Royal Flush. Bottom line -- you CAN win on the ship, but you probably won't. DISEMBARKATION: Very smooth and well organized. We put our big bags out the night before, and the morning of disembarkation, we went to the Int'l Cafe for breakfast. Got our food and waited at our assigned exit lounge. They called our group about 5 or 10 minutes after the scheduled time, and we walked off. They had the luggage in a large building that was grouped by your tag color. We had our bags in under 5 minutes and customs was a breeze. Princess did a great job with this part. SUMMARY: Our overall impression was a very good one for this being my first cruise. The food gets high marks for most nights (although the buffet was never "great", usually just "good" or "average"). Sometimes the dining room staff was a bit cold, especially the Maitre D' in the Island Dining Room. The casino dealers were very friendly and knew my name within a day or two. Our steward was good, and the bartenders and roaming waiters around the ship were great -- particularly in the Piazza on Deck 5. We had no trouble finding people our own age to hang out with, and the ship never felt crowded until the very last day, which we spent at sea. I would recommend Princess to my friends. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
We are loyal Royal Caribbean cruisers. Prices seemed to be a bit high on their ships this fall so we booked on Princess where the pricing was much more affordable. We normally cruise at least twice a year. We had some apprehensions ... Read More
We are loyal Royal Caribbean cruisers. Prices seemed to be a bit high on their ships this fall so we booked on Princess where the pricing was much more affordable. We normally cruise at least twice a year. We had some apprehensions about booking the Crown Princess because two of the couples we sailed with are in their mid twenties and love RCCL for the Royal Promenade, the flow rider and the pub style bar. While on vacation we really vacation. We have theme nights like 80's nights, toga parties and crazy hat nights. Generally we do not do the formalities. Formal night means long pants, unfortunately, with open shirts, crazy hats and lighted jewelry. Other passengers either think we are trashy yet most love to party with us. When entering a dining room for dinner, we get applause. I don't get the whole formal, snooty thing people have about cruising, but I respect it. I wish some passengers would mind their own business. We are not lewd, loud or obnoxious. We basically stick to ourselves unless you want to party with us then you are graciously accepted into the partying. Now that you know where we are coming from I would like to say that we all were very pleased we booked on the Crown. Princess and this ship lived up to most of our expectations. Our only gripe is that the pools and hot tubs are not open all night. We are kind of used to that. Normally w are the last ones up. The nightclub, Skywalkers was great! DJ Emotion was fabulous! Being 57 I am not crazy about listening to techno dance remixes but dancing to it was a riot. We enjoyed his mixes very much. Abi, one of the bar servers, was really attentive and a partier. We drink a lot and he was there whenever we needed him. He is also a great guy. The rooms are larger than on RCCL. This is a plus. The beds were very comfortable although I was not in it much. Our porter was great. We had an inside room, as usual, as again we are very seldom in the room and like th darkness it provides in the morning. The Crown has a beautiful Atrium where you can get great coffees, chai and teas, along with finger sandwiches and pastries. The food in the dining rooms was very good. We had everything from great tenderloin filets, lobster and beef wellington to fried calamari, french fries and watermelon soup. The food all rally is of high quality for a cruise ship. The buffet on the lido deck wa also very good. They had everything from crab and lobster claws to reuben sandwiches. Again, all of high quality for a buffet. Pools were great as were the hot tubs. Clean and never overly crowded. Just wished they stayed open longer. Pools games were th same they have on every other ship. They are always fun. The outdoor movie screen is a great idea. We watched a Monday night Football game and a couple of late night movies. Better than the rock wall on RCCL, in my opinion. Some of the bars were stuffy but we avoided them. The large theater was very warm and the seating was tight so we did not frequent it much. There were many other comedians, bands and entertainment in other venues on board. There as always something to do or you could make your own party in the nightclubs or on deck. Embarkation and and debarkation went smooth and tidy. We really loved the ship. We really loved the itinerary. We do a day pass at the Wyndham Cozumel resort. Really fun times there. All the food and drink you can ingest plus swim up bar and a fabulous beach. Princess Cay is a bunch of fun and very pretty, a great stop. We were all a bit concerned about Roatan, as none of us have been there before and none of us really enjoy Costa Maya which is a similar port. Roatan is beautiful and has fantastic beaches and amenities. We only went to the beach, so I can't comment on the rest of the island. Clean and really a lot of fun. 7 mile beach in Grand Cayman is a must do if you are in to sun and sand. Overall this was a terrific cruise. The Crown Princess should be a ship to consider if you are planning a cruise. We highly recommend it, just keep the darn pools open later. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
This was my DH's 1st time cruisng and my 1st time on a long cruise (4-day Bahama cruise). Embarkation went very smoothly although we did sit in the waiting room for quite awhile but not knowing what time we could board we were over ... Read More
This was my DH's 1st time cruisng and my 1st time on a long cruise (4-day Bahama cruise). Embarkation went very smoothly although we did sit in the waiting room for quite awhile but not knowing what time we could board we were over early as we were very excited! We boarded quickly and very efficiently and we were shown to the elevators and told which floor to go to. We weren't in our room too long before our room steward Marco, introduced himself and gave us the "lay of the land" Loved the balcony on the Caribe deck. Had read on the write-ups here on cruise critic that these were the largest and you were right. Half covered which was nice as we could sit under cover and not get dressed and no one could see us. Worked out really well as our friends were almost above us and we sure didn't want them to see us all the time lol. Anyhow we went exploring and lunch at the buffet. Lots of food, lots of variety. I can't see where even the pickiest of eaters would have a problem with the food....come on now there has to be something there that you like!!! We had early dining with our group of 10 of us and our waiters Robert and Roy were just wonderful. Upon seeing that we were all friends and yacked away at supper time and took awhile to eat, they suggested we come in at 5:30pm so we wouldn't be rushed. Worked out great to as we had a special needs food person so she got hers at the same time as we got ours. The food was good...I enjoyed having the "permanent left side of the menu" that you could order from if you didn't like the choice of meals that night. They always had a standard salad and main course. The desserts were to die for and we really enjoyed them every night!!! Any wine left over (which was rare lol) was put away with your name and table # on it so you got it the next night. That was very nice as sometimes we ordered a 2nd bottle and would have it the next night. They did not like it if you didn't order a main course though...my husband tried to just order the pate and the soup as he was so full and the waiter brought him a plate of pasta also as he didn't think he would be full enough...we laughed at that one. No way you could lose weight on this cruise.Lots of entertainment if you wished to take part. The "British Invasion" was debuted the night before we disembarked and is a great show. The band "Indigo" that appeared mostly in the Explorer's lounge was a really wonderful and versatile band. Tried to listen to them as much as possible. Lots of activities during the day if you wanted to partake such as scavenger hunts, trivia pursuit each day, etc. Lots of lounge chairs and there were chair hogs but not too many that I saw. It was very windy most of the cruise on the open pool area but was nice in the closed area. I was surprised that they did not close the pools a couple of days as it was very rocky....a family of kids were actually using their boogie boards to surf the pool as it was very wavy and they had a ball doing this. Very fun to watch on a pool.Whomever says you won't feel the boat because of stabilizers should have been on our cruise. Lots of high wave days and one day the "barf bags" were up and around taped on the walls. Yay for my ear patch..never got sick and almost never got queasy.The only thing I found that was negative about this cruise was there were so many scooters, wheelchairs, etc. that a lot of times either they or we were waiting for the elevators for quite awhile. I have never seen so many of these in 1 spot as I did on the Golden. I head there were over 350 disabled using some type of aide. The scooters took up a lot of room in the elevator and there were a lot of times of waiting.Cannot say enough about the staff...all were just wonderful. I have seen at resorts where the staff will answer a question and then turn around and talk to one of their own people and are sullen and you know they are talking about you or complaining. I didnt' see this once....everyone was very friendly and helpful and so nice to deal with!!WE enjoyed the 4 days over to Hawaii as we were excited and newbies to sailing and Hawaii and looking forward to getting there. I guess we found the 4 days back a bit longer. We didn't get off in Encenada. We would definitely go again and would we do that cruise again...yes we would as it was very relaxing. Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
We booked our cruise with Princess after reading and researching all we could about the different ports and cruise lines. This was our first cruise, and Princess did not disappoint us! The Star Princess is beautiful, and after a few days, ... Read More
We booked our cruise with Princess after reading and researching all we could about the different ports and cruise lines. This was our first cruise, and Princess did not disappoint us! The Star Princess is beautiful, and after a few days, we really knew our way around pretty well.The Lotus Spa membership was a treat that we are so glad we gave to ourselves.After a hectic day of excursions, it was sheer heaven to retreat to the lovely and calming atmosphere of the Spa. We went to the Horizon Court quite a bit, and also ate a lot of our dinners at the Capri Dining room. Food was very good, only one complaint, my hubby thought the coffee at Horizon Court was awful. He enjoyed the International Cafe coffee much more, and didn't mind paying extra for it. The entertainment on board was top notch....several different productions throughout the cruise. The piano singer,Sammy Goldstein, had a funny, enjoyable show every evening. Our cabin was an upgrade and while my Hubby wasn't thrilled with hearing the deck chairs being moved around early in the morning, I was happy with our location. We had an oceanview, and all we did to get to the Terrace Pool was go right out our cabin door and up one set of steps. The Horizon Court was just as convenient, being just beyond the pool area. Our excursions were one adventure after another..the worst happening in Cairo. Our driver,from Ramses Tours, took a short cut and ended up in a very nasty part of town.After several near-misses in the very narrow streets, we finally make our way down to get on our Nile cruise.The only Princess excursion we booked was in Istanbul, and it included lunch with a Bosporous cruise. Even the carpet demo was pretty interesting, and done quite well. Unfortunately, we lost our guide and group when we arrived at the Topkapi Palace.There was a backup at the ticket scanner, and by the time we entered the grounds, our group and guide were out of sight and earshot. The other excursions we booked were with private tour companies. Some were okay, others were outstanding! We had two extra days in Rome, and we were treated to a private tour of all the ancient sites by an archaeologist named Daniella, from "Eyes of Rome" tours. This was the best tour of our trip! We have had a wonderful experience with the Star Princess. The embarkation, and disembarkation were handled very well, with a speeding entry and exit and no confusion, either! We can't imagine a lovelier, more elegant ship. Our steward, Sandrei,was simply the best! We found all the crew to be friendly and helpful. Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
We used the transfer from LaGuardia airport to the Brooklyn Pier. Very fast, friendly and efficient. The Princess rep was waiting for us at baggage claim. It took a little longer than expected to board, as the cruise before had an outbreak ... Read More
We used the transfer from LaGuardia airport to the Brooklyn Pier. Very fast, friendly and efficient. The Princess rep was waiting for us at baggage claim. It took a little longer than expected to board, as the cruise before had an outbreak of NoroVirus, and had to be disinfected. Once we were on the ship, we immediately felt relaxed! Our Mini-Suite was wonderful and our room steward, Benjamin, did a great job. Going above and beyond by getting us an egg-create (recommended) for the bed and also getting me an oscillating fan (need the noise). I loved our veranda, the only small issue was the fact that everyone above the 9th floor can look down on you. A must, that we enjoyed so much with the balcony, was viewing the millions of stars at night! Simply gorgeous! Formal night was very hot and hectic. It's fun getting dressed up, but not when all other 3098 fellow passengers are doing the same. This was our first cruise, so we wanted the experience, but next time (and we are definitely going again!) I think we are going to skip all of the hoopla and have a hot dog by the pool (Best hot dog EVER, by the way). If you want a table for two when dining, and have anytime dining, call VERY early in the morning to get reservations. They go fast. But don't be afraid of sitting with new people. We ate in the dining room five or six times, and always had great conversation. Also, don't be afraid to try something new. I LOVED the watermelon and feta cheese appetizer I tried. Who would have thought? Bermuda had the clearest waters. We did the shore excursion to Horseshoe Bay and loved every minute of it. Our driver also acted as a tour guide, so it was almost like getting a two for one! The two days at sea were a little rough, sunny weather the whole time, but a lot of motion, especially in the dining areas and in the fitness center. Many people had the motion sickness patches behind their ears, but luckily we did not need them. St. Lucia was Heaven. We did the shore excursion to the plantation, drive thru volcano (very high sulfur smell), and then a catamaran ride with swimming from soufriere. This was an amazing full day journey and we highly recommend it. There was not a lot of vigorous walking, so I believe most should be able to enjoy. When we swam (jumping from the catamaran, if desired) we paid a local $5 to snorkel, and saw so many neat sights! From swimming, we sailed to Marigot Bay - Breath Taking! When you go to St. Lucia, try all that is offered to you. We had fresh coconut water and meat, cocoa seeds (DON"T SWALLOW!) tried all natural coco butter, smelled amazing coco powder, even chewed on sugar cane! Hint: There is a Coca Cola plant on the island, so if you want a REAL Coke, with sugar and not corn syrup, St. Lucia is the place to get it! The Piton beer was also a hit with my husband! Antigua was nice. We had a beach day excursion. VERY HOT!!! and we loved it! We bought a rum punch from a local and it was OUT OF THIS WORLD! If you find him, he will say "Let me take you to Disneyland!" I wasn't looking forward to St. Thomas, as all I had heard about the island was SHOPPING, SHOPPING, SHOPPING. SO not true! We went on the Bones Pirate Schooner. SO MUCH FUN!!!! Jason was extremely knowledgeable on underwater sea life and Mango was such a great host! The rum punch was fantastic, and our cups never went empty. We went to Turtle Cove, and just as the name suggests, we saw TURTLES!!! in their natural habitat! After our great time on the pirate ship (we all got temporarily-tattooed) we took a taxi/truck to the shopping district and had a scrumptious cheeseburger at the Big Kahuna (where we also got BOGO drinks from the woman in the information booth just outside of the restaurant). Our last port was San Juan, which was also our disembarkation day. One way Princess could improve, is how they get the passengers off the ship when disembarking. We literally were on the FLOOR, waiting on our number and color to be called. Once we were off of the ship, we had to wait in the customs line for over an hour, and then once we loaded the bus (transfer from ship to airport-excursion) we were off to the airport. 1/4 mile from the airport (airport in sight), the bus breaks down!!!! We had to unload the luggage, and walk to the terminal! Not so bad, though it was 90 degrees! Once in the airport, a very helpful, fellow passenger, noticed we did not have the USDA approval stamp on our luggage. There are no signs for this inspection (that we saw) and this inspection must be done BEFORE checking your bags. ALL bags are checked, and stickered. All in all, we had a wonderful time. The weather was perfect and the crew tried very hard to get everyone involved with the ships activities. I competed in the Princess PopStar Karaoke contest, and my husband tried out for the Sexiest Legs contest, both being beat out by "older" men! But it was all in fun! The Food was nice, sometimes a little TOO fancy, sometimes lacking. Again, the hot dogs on deck 15 were awesome! We purchased the unlimited soda cup on the first night, and with it, got a sticker for our card. Towards the end of our cruise, we realized we could use the cup AND the card, separately, and both get soda, with no one ever asking twice. Room service was OK. Some nights we would be on hold for 20+ minutes, other nights, they answered right away. One morning room service failed to be delivered (every night you can fill out a card and place it on your door, ordering breakfast for the next day). The Movies Under The Stars was fun, but if it was a good sporting event or movie, get there early, 'cause seats are hard to come by. The movies that ran, typically, are to be released onto DVD within the coming weeks. We watched Grown-Ups, A Team, Toy Story 3, Karate Kid, and SEX and The CITY 2 (played in the Princess Theater) Also, I enjoyed a lecture in the theater on how the ship functions and how the bridge navigates. Very informative on a slow day at sea. We are so excited to plan our next cruise, and there are no reasons why it shouldn't be with Princess again! Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
Just return from our first cruise we went on the Grand Princess were on Caribe deck. had a lot of worries before we went due to some reviews but we had a very good time.The first 4 days were a bit horrid as we had no idea what we we doing ... Read More
Just return from our first cruise we went on the Grand Princess were on Caribe deck. had a lot of worries before we went due to some reviews but we had a very good time.The first 4 days were a bit horrid as we had no idea what we we doing or where we were going but after that it was fab. The food was varied and tasty and the staff couldn't have been more helpful and pleasant Cabin was clean and comfortable the cabin steward kept it clean and tidy ( was tempted to bring him home he was so good )lol This ship is due to have a refit next April 2011 but that didn't spoil our holiday Weather was great couple of nights a bit rocky but as we were in the middle of the ship didn't worry us. Every one made sure we were 100% happy. The usual problem with people saving sunbeds which seems to happen every where not the ships fault but a few more soft beds away from the pools would be nice.   Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
We are first time cruisers and chose a back to back 14 day cruise on Princess going to both Eastern and Western Caribbean. We were celebrating our 10th Anniversary and wanted a vow renewal as well. We got that, and MORE. On the advice of ... Read More
We are first time cruisers and chose a back to back 14 day cruise on Princess going to both Eastern and Western Caribbean. We were celebrating our 10th Anniversary and wanted a vow renewal as well. We got that, and MORE. On the advice of our travel agent we booked a "guaranteed" room, obstructed view. It's a bit of a gamble as you might get an upgrade, and you might not. The worst that can happen though is that you get what you reserved. We got lucky and were given a HUGE upgrade. Perhaps it was also the vow renewal package we purchased, I don't know, but whatever the reason it made our first cruise amazing! We stayed at the Embassy Suites the night before embarkation. I was disappointed to find out there is no shuttle from the airport to the hotel. NOWHERE on their website did I find that information and for such an "upscale" hotel I expected better. I could have stayed at the Day's Inn and gotten a shuttle. I was also disappointed in the "buffet" breakfast. It took forever to get your food, and then there was nowhere to sit. However, this was the last thing in which I was disappointed, although one other event I'll discuss later happened, but like the hotel it was not the fault of Princess. From hotel to stateroom was all of maybe 30 minutes? Princess has certainly figured out how to move people quickly and efficiently. Once you are through the terminal and check in process and board the ship, they reserve all but one elevator both forward and midships to move people with their luggage and have an attendant giving you directions. Our luggage arrived about 3 hours later, but as we were off having drinks and meeting friends this wasn't a big deal. Our stateroom was on Lido deck (deck 15), right up at the front of the ship, one level above the bridge. We had an amazing view at every port. The first week we stopped at Princess Cay, then a sea day, then St. Maartin, St. Thomas, and Grand Turk, a sea day and back to Port Everglades. The second week was Ocho Rios, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel. (Also a 2nd stop at Princess Cay.) At Princess Cay we shared a cabana with friends although we ended up spending most of the day in the water, so I'm not sure the cabana was necessary. The lunch was "bar-b-Que" - pork spare ribs, burgers, hot dogs, sausages and all the trimmings. It was QUITE good. They have a nice covered area with picnic tables and a nice breeze was blowing making it rather pleasant. The beach right at the dock is mostly sand. The beach down by the cabanas is mostly big round rocks making entry and exit from the water rather difficult. We heard several people fell there, but none of us had a problem. Mostly that was sheer luck I think. Tuesday was a sea day, and we had received a letter in our stateroom the day we sailed that our vow renewal was scheduled for 4:30 pm. This was just fine with us - we didn't care when, just that it happened. Several of our friends from Cruise Critic came which we appreciated. My husband's brother emailed us a song he wrote for us and if we'd let the crew know ahead of time they could have played it from my iPod. Instead, we solved the problem by bringing my laptop and using it. The Captain was very tolerant of all this as well. After his little "set" piece for a vow renewal, he gave us the time to say things we'd planned. I wrote a poem for my husband, and he had a memory he wanted to speak about - it was a very sweet moment. Afterward we returned to our stateroom to find a lovely bottle of champagne and some delicious chocolate covered strawberries. The flowers the ship provided we placed in the champagne bucket and they stayed nice all week on our window ledge. Later, we had dinner in the Crown Grill to celebrate. In St. Maarten we wandered around and shopped a bit, then met friends at the Blue Bitch Bar for a drink. My husband and I have dogs, so the name of this bar was hilarious to us. Right across the street was a small band that ad libbed lyrics about the tourists and people at the bar. We very much enjoyed them. Their sense of humor was very funny. In St. Thomas we took a Princess tour - the Catamaran sail to Turtle Cove. This turned out to be "the" excursion for us although we enjoyed them all. We saw lots of turtles and marveled at their grace and beauty in the water. Somehow the idea of "turtle" and "grace and beauty" don't quite go together til you see these animals up close. And our tour boat crew made sure we did, however, they warned us the animals are very protected and there is a huge fine to even touch one. It was difficult not to reach out, but I hid behind my camera and took lots of photographs instead. The turtles for their part were remarkably unconcerned about all of us hovering over them and would surface very near us. I watched one bob up, then down, then look back up and come up again as if to see what we were. The next day was Grand Turk where we had booked a stingray swim. For sheer grace these animals outshine the turtles but I wasn't so thrilled with them later. Our handler helped everybody that wanted to hold a stingray and touch one do so, which was very cool. We held one, then got a "stingray massage" and then if you wished you could kiss the barb. I don't kiss fish, so passed on that part. I more enjoyed the swimming around and watching the rays and taking pictures. Stingrays it turns out have a very oily substance on their skin that smells very, very strongly of fish. We took the handlers advice and scrubbed with sand, but when we re-boarded the Emerald I was suddenly overwhelmed by the smell. I got on the elevator and strangely, people moved away from me. I admitted it was me and got a laugh. But it took 2 washings and hubby scrubbing my back to stop smelling the fishy smell. Worth it, but when we did another stingray tour later I didn't touch them, just took photos. Saturday is a sea day, and we filled it easily. There is so much to do on the ship you could do nothing else all week and still be busy. We had dinner in the dining room with our friends who were leaving the next day, then gambled a bit in the casino and turned in rather early for us. Sunday we arrived back at Port Everglades. For those remaining on for another cruise you meet in one of the dining rooms, then the staff takes you as a group to the terminal, a visit to customs, then back on board if you wish. I heard later there were about 500 people remaining and from start to finish was a total of 35 minutes. I was extremely impressed. Monday we again visited Princess Cay, and this time we shared a cabana with another friend in The Sanctuary area - no children allowed. The beach there needs steps down to it, but at least not all of the entry area is rocks. It was much easier to get in and out. Again, we spent most of our day in the water so I don't know why we bothered with the cabana. However, there were way fewer people in the water at that end and so snorkeling was much nicer. I wasn't always running into people and saw a lot more fish. Tuesday, another sea day and this week we had arranged a couples massage, and then I had a Mani-pedi. Ohhh the decadence of it all. It was so fun to feel so pampered. Wednesday was Ocho Rios, Jamaica. I was up early and went to breakfast while my husband slept in. It was only 6:15 am and the humidity was really bad already so I decided not to take my planned tour but to stay on the ship and enjoy some quiet time. My husband went on the Chukka Canopy Zipline tour and positively had a ball. He enjoyed the jungle and saw some lizards fighting over territory in one of the trees. I'd never have been able to step off the first platform, so it was just as well I didn't go. However, I also did not leave the ship. I thought I might do a little shopping, but the security officer at the gangway told me I shouldn't go alone, so I went to the end of the pier just to see, then went back on board. I took a very long, luxurious nap though so didn't feel at all cheated. Hubby was hot, tired and sweaty when he returned, but I was relaxed and refreshed. I'll take the relaxing over hot and sweaty any day. Thursday we visited Grand Cayman. We again had a tour booked to visit the stingrays and also the dolphins. I remembered my last visit with stingrays however and instead of handling one I just snorkeled about the area and took pictures. I found a conch that was inhabited and quite large and brought it up to share with anybody else wanting to see it. The kids seemed particularly interested. Everybody who wanted to got to handle it and take pictures but I then made sure it was put back into deeper water by the crew. On the way back we stopped for one of the crew to dive for starfish - that was pretty neat. They brought it around for everybody to see and handle, then put it back in the water afterward. I liked this stingray excursion better. There were many many more rays to see. The dolphins are in a pen at Dolphin Cove, and are trained, captive animals. We were divided into groups and everybody got a chance to visit with the dolphins, but it wasn't...like the turtles or rays, so I ended up being a bit disappointed. I also didn't like that we couldn't take our own photos but had to purchase one if we wanted it. We elected to just take our memories and a couple of stuffies home with us. Friday was Cozumel, Mexico. Our booked tour was to visit the Mayan ruins at Tulum, which was a religious center rather than a residential city. It was still quite impressive. Our tour guide gave us a rather quick 45 minute or so guided tour and pointed out things we shouldn't miss and then let us explore on our own. The ruins sit right on a bay of the Caribbean sea and if we'd known we could have snorkeled for awhile. My bad for not doing my homework. It was fascinating and I was impressed with our guide's knowledge of the site. He told us, among other things, that the site is rapidly decaying since it's been cleared of the protecting jungle and opened for tourism. Good intentions gone awry. The Mexican government is doing what it can to restore and protect the site however so hopefully it will continue to be a place others can visit and enjoy. I will say though, it's a very very hot, long day. Very worth the time and discomfort of the heat. We were returned to Playa Del Carman by bus to catch the catamaran ferry back to Cozumel and this was where our ONE problem happened. The air conditioning on the ferry had stopped working. The crew boarded everybody, then waited another 20 minutes for one couple that was late and finally closed the doors and we left the pier, only to turn around to pick up the last couple and leave a second time. With over 400 people on the boat it quickly became unbearably hot. Most everybody was already dehydrated from the excursion. By the time the crew got permission from the captain to open the doors one man had fainted and shortly after, a woman. Quite a few people suffered from sea sickness. In all, a miserable trip. Thankfully a Spanish speaking nurse was on board and quickly gave instructions to the crew on how to help the ill. Nobody seemed in any great hurry however, which dismayed me. When we finally docked, the ferry crew had informed our ships medical staff we had "one" ill passenger. So the ship sent ONE medical team and ONE wheelchair. This was not their fault and they remedied the situation as fast as they could. Then, I was extremely dismayed by our fellow passengers more concerned with their own agenda who clogged the aisles trying to be off the ferry faster. This hampered the medical personnel and many of us had to keep yelling to "make a hole" so they could reach the ill passengers. It's one of very few times in my life I've been very very glad to have a rather LOUD voice and no reservations at all about using it. Princess staff lined the pier and ushered us as quickly as possible back on the ship. Later, we checked on the ill with the Purser's desk and were glad to hear all were recovering nicely. Princess's actions here were most impressive. Everybody on that ferry received a 50% refund of their tour fee, which honestly was the last thing on my mind. I did complain about the ferry crew however and I sincerely hope they are no longer part of the transportation offered. My complaint was more for my fellow passengers sake than my own as neither of us were more than uncomfortable from the heat nor bothered by the motion of the boat. Saturday was another sea day, and after all of our exertions of the previous two weeks we needed a nice day of rest and relaxation. We also spent a few hours pulling out the suitcases and buying a few last minute gifts to pack away. We had a lovely dinner in the Michelangelo dining room and said good bye to our wait staff who were awesome throughout the cruise. I want to detour a bit here and tell you about various things. The first is our room steward. That man worked so hard, and we enjoyed him so much. I don't know if he was aware of a little battle I waged with him or not because I never mentioned it. Apparently there is some rule somewhere that the room trashcan must be under the little table. I found that extremely awkward to use so every day I moved it where I wanted it. And when we left the room, even for just a few minutes, in would sneak Dani to put away anything we might have gotten out, and replace the trashcan under the table. I got annoyed with this once, then became greatly amused. So I tried putting the trashcan in various places just to see what he'd do. Every time it was back under the table when we returned. Our room was only less than immaculate when we left it. Any time we returned he'd have straightened it up again. I'd requested towel animals and every night but the one night he was ill I had some. I kept all of them and at the end of our trip I piled them all on our bed for a group photo. It was just silly how much I enjoyed them. Of all the wonderful crew on this ship, Dani was the most important to us. He never failed to fill our ice bucket, replace used towels, get me an extra pillow when I asked...no matter what it was Dani had the answer or the item I needed. I still haven't quite figured out how he did it, but when we wanted him he appeared, and other than that, we never saw him. I never paged him. He was just amazing and I've only been home a day and already I miss him. Some days we showered twice - once before leaving the room and once before dinner after our excursions, and never once did we have wet towels as he replaced them almost before we'd finished using them. The second thing I want to mention, as does everybody on a cruise I think, is the food. The dining options on board are nearly endless. Hungry at 2 am? Room service. Want to eat in your swim suit?? The buffet line, the pizza place, the burger or hotdog counter...all are available. Want to be waited on and dress up in your finest glitter? The dining rooms will fit the bill. Our first week we enjoyed the buffet for most of our meals. The second week we ate in the dining room every night. I'm not much for dress up, but found myself looking forward to choosing my outfit and jewelry to match. We discovered part way through the first week we could make a "standing" reservation for a table in the "anytime dining" dining rooms (there are 2) and we found a wait staff that suited us. There are 2 restaurants on board, Crown Grill and Sabatini's that have a surcharge for them and while we never made it to Sabatini's everybody we spoke to who did raved. I know we loved the Crown Grill. The last thing I want to comment on are the passengers. Many mornings tables were hard to find, so my husband and I took to walking up to a larger, partially full table and asking to join them. Nobody ever told us no, and we enjoyed talking with whoever we happened to find there about their week. We always enjoyed the conversations. We might then see these people later around the ship and stop to chat. 3000 people sounds like a lot, but we found it quite comfortable. The elevators were the most fun for me. One day I got on and found two people with plates with something gooey and chocolatey on them from the International Cafe. I went OOHHH and one immediately pulled her plate closer. So I turned to the gentleman who immediately surrounded his with his arms and told me to find my own. Everybody laughed. Another time we encountered an older lady in a gorgeous sequined wrap after dinner. My friend and I were admiring it and her husband piped up with "With the lighting in here, why don't you spin around and give us the disco ball effect." She stared right at him and without missing a beat said "But of course." And spun several times. His eyes were so big, and I thought I'd fall over laughing. Alcohol is abundant of course, but only once did we encounter what I'd call a rude drunk. It was so bad we left the pool. The pools are another joy we found. On the aft deck is the adult only public pool (not the Sanctuary one), and we discovered going there after dinner for an hour or so of just floating around in it was a very pleasant way to unwind. Another night we climbed higher and sat in a hot tub for awhile. Another night we watched a Tina Turner concert from a hot tub amidships and got in the pool once in awhile to cool off. Basically, there is fun to be had almost everywhere, even on elevators. Our disembarkation day arrived all too soon. Princess has this down to an art. From stateroom to airport was maybe 45 minutes. This being our first experience we had planned a later flight so ended up sitting at the airport for quite awhile, but we read and chatted and had some lunch so it wasn't all bad. We were able to check our bags at the pier too, so we didn't have to lug them all over with us, and the next time we saw them was our home airport. We're already planning our next cruise but we're having trouble deciding between the Eastern route again, or trying the Southern Medley for 10 days. I wish all our problems were so difficult. Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
We arrived in Southampton 7th August 11.45 and had luggage removed by porters (excluding hand luggage) We had brought along a wheelchair for my husband as he suffers from arthritis in legs as we thought it might come in handy on ... Read More
We arrived in Southampton 7th August 11.45 and had luggage removed by porters (excluding hand luggage) We had brought along a wheelchair for my husband as he suffers from arthritis in legs as we thought it might come in handy on excursions. When this was seen, they offered assistance in wheeling him to the ship as they said it would be rather a long walk for him so he took them up on their offer. The check in operation went very smoothly and we were on the ship within fifteen minutes. As my husband had assistance, we were shown to our stateroom E311 (Emerald deck) which was supposedly fully obstructed outside cabin. What a suprise when we entered. The lifeboat was below the window plus a bar or two going across outside of window but other than that, had a really good view. Obviously wasn't able to see below window, but when sailing and in ports, had great view so worth checking out when booking an outside cabin. I did enquire pre cruise with our T.A. how much extra we would have to pay for an unobstructed cabin and was quoted £300 each which i thought was a bit steep so opted for fully obstructed. I actually think some are more obstructed than others especially if you have a tender boat in front which i know some cruisers did and couldn't see a thing so something to think about when you book. Our friends that cruised with us had booked an inside cabin which seemed quite a bit smaller. The staterooms are quite adequate for two with a shower room with sink (lovely hot water!) nice dressing table area with large mirror although wasn't overly impressed by the lighting in the room, found it quite difficult putting makeup on but then i suppose my eyesight probably isn't what it used to be. Outside the bathroom is the wardrobe area with a rail in a recess. There were quite a few hangers there but try to bring some of your own as i found i had to leave some of my clothes in my suitcase (probably brought too many!) The bed was lovely and comfortable which we were pleased about as having read some reviews some cruisers ask for egg crates to be placed over mattress which apparently makes them softer - never heard of them before. After hanging up our finery, we headed for some food in the Horizon Court, deck 14 (aft) wow! what a selection. I'm a vegetarian but there was plenty of choice. We opted for traditional dining which we pre booked so had our evening meal most evenings in Botticelli. Lovely food 4**** but a bit too post for my husband who enjoys quite basic food. We chose 6.15 sitting with our friends (8 of us in all) and had our own table assigned to us. Waiters were brilliant and nothing was too much trouble. If you didn't enjoy what you were eating, they would offer you the other choice. We also went to Horizon some evenings especially when we were in Port and maybe get back late. Although the food was great in Botticelli there was only one choice for me being vegetarian so actually preferred to eat in Horizon (except for formal evenings!) The staff in Horizon are brilliant too. Just a tip, if your with a partner, find a table first and get the other partner to get their meal while you save the table otherwise you'll be searching for a table and your food will be cold. We had our breakfast in the Horizon every morning (full english) for me but without the bacon and sausages being veggie, but i do eat eggs. They have such a selection that sometimes we skipped lunch as we were too full when it came to our evening meal at Botticelli. The evening shows were very entertaining in the theatre with a good variety. They only went on for an hour but after that we would go to another lounge area where there would be alternative entertainment. We went on two ship tours, Rome, Naples - (Sorrento and Collosium) lovely tours and well worth the money. The rest we did our own thing. Monaco was a tender and we did our own thing there. Got a local bus to the palace for 1 euro each and entrance in to the palace was something like 11 euros each but well worth it. We found a reasonably priced cafe to have a coffee. Barcelona is a fun place and we walked Las Ramblas full of street entertainers which you can have your photo done with them for a few coins. Lots of pick pockets in Barcelona so be aware! Ajaccio (Corsica) very pretty place, well worth the visit. There is a little tourist train that takes you round the town and up the hill to see the statue of Napoleon (his birth place) Gibralter, we caught the local bus to the cable car to see the monkeys. Can't remember the entrance fee but again, well worth the visit. Make sure you don't carry any food whilst taking photographs as they will grab it. A little boy was eating a bag of crisps and the monkey jumped at him and grabbed the crisps, he was very upset. This is the place to get your alchohol and cigarettes, so much cheaper! I have so much more to say but as time is limited i will close. If you would like anymore info on the Grand please don't hesitate to ask. Sue Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
First, let me say thank you to all of you for the posts you provided. The information was so helpful to us! This was our first cruise. We were traveling as one couple in our late 30s, a woman in her late 70s in a scooter/wheelchair and a ... Read More
First, let me say thank you to all of you for the posts you provided. The information was so helpful to us! This was our first cruise. We were traveling as one couple in our late 30s, a woman in her late 70s in a scooter/wheelchair and a woman in her 50s. The ship We loved the Sapphire. On our cruise you could spread out and always find a spot that didn't feel too crowded. It looks a little las vegas-y or 1980s, but I think that is just how many cruise ships look. It was extremely clean. The service I travel every week and have stayed at various Ritz properties, Four Seasons, etc. The staff on this ship provided service equal to or above that level. I knew we were not on a luxury ship, however I felt as if we were by the service. Our steward, Rod, cleaned both of our rooms every time we left (several times a day). He provided us anything we asked for. We only tipped after service. My grandmother tipped ahead, and we saw no difference in service - to settle the great debate on this board. Food Every night we put a sign on the door with what we wanted and it was always delivered on time, sometimes ahead. We tipped about $2 per time. We wrote in times for delivery if we wanted it delivered earlier (as early as 5:30 am). I wrote in bagel, cream cheese, even salmon, and it was delivered. We did the champagne breakfast one morning (32 for two) and it was great on the balcony during the Tracy Arm part of the trip. Really enjoyed this. We did anytime dining and only ate at the buffet a couple of times. We all agreed that buffet was mediocre at best and quite a pain. We avoided it at all costs. That being said, we made reservations at different restaurants each morning and always got a reservation. We ate at Vivaldi, Savoy, Pacific Moon, and Santa Fe. We ate breakfast and lunch at International. We liked Santa Fe best overall. The food in the dining room is good, not the best we've ever had, but they try really hard and all in all, it is quite good. The buffet, however, we found quite poor. Friday night was lobster night and we had Baked Alaska as well, really enjoyed. Again, not the best we'd ever had, but pretty good. We purchased champagne, wine, mixed drinks. Very fair prices. For example 70 for a bottle of Veuve Clicquot, which is 40 at the liquor store, pretty fair restaurant price. Service was usually very good. The rooms We were in A306, while the rest of our family was in A302 (a handicapped room for her wheelchair). Lots of storage, very surprised. Great tip to put suitcases under the beds! Also great tip on the clothes pins for the shower. In our room, the non-handicapped room, the showers were very small and we found the clothespins helped. The balconies definitely had room for 2 chairs and a table. A302 had room for 4 chairs (do not reserve this, please, unless you need a handicapped room). Excursions We reserved all with the ship because of my grandmother in a portable wheel chair. We thought big groups were best. This really worked well for us. We thought they were all great. Ketchican - we did a city tour, which included saxman, salmon, something else? For this one, I would suggest you take the free shuttle or a taxi and go see these yourselves. I really didn't see a huge benefit to the tour and they were all wheelchair accessible. We took a cab afterwards and went to a great restaurant/lodge with a view, took a $2 tram down to the city and then shopped. We walked back to the ship. In Juneau, we did whale watching and salmon bake. We enjoyed both. The whale watching was a do not miss. We probably saw 50 whales! There was an indoor area for my grandmother where she could sit. In fact, many did. We even saw eagles, and a sea lion eating a fish, eagle stole the fish, flew away and dropped fish! Really amazing. Salmon bake was cute, but identical to the one we did the next day in Skagway (we would've skipped one, I think). In Skagway, we did the deluxe city tour which included the train (amazing), salmon bake, and brothel (just OK). I would highly recommend the train. Our bus driver, Thomas, was great. Victoria - we just walked around. It was a little cold in the evening for my grandmother. Traveling with disabilities Everyone on this trip was amazing with my grandmother. She is mobile and actually in very good shape. However, due to an injury, she has some issues standing or walking any distance, so she needed a way to get around on excursions, the boat, and some assistance in the shower (since she can't stand well). We reserved a scooter from Special Needs at Seas. Well worth it! She used it every day. We brought a portable wheel chair which we used to get her on and off the boat and on tours. Someone always helped her on/off the boat and they did it well. We always tipped them. Every bus, shuttle, etc. was very helpful and took her portable wheelchair. She can walk a few steps, so not all these tours are wheel chair friendly. I wouldn't recommend the brothel for someone with disabilities. There were stairs and it was quite taxing on her. She did it, though! The bathroom in her room was ideal with a fold down seat and lots of room. One issue was that she couldn't go everywhere on the ship on her own, like the buffet or pizza or grill, because the deck doors did not open unless you physically pushed them and she couldn't. Packing We did not use bug spray. We were very covered up so didn't really see where they could bite us! We did bring rain coats, very good idea. We definitely got some rain. For people who are older, bring lots of layers, winter coats, etc. My grandmother did get cold, but fortunately, between her coat, several sweaters, she was OK. The damp air makes it feel colder, I think. Entertainment None of us enjoyed the musicals. We thought it was really sub-par talent. Then again, we've never been on a cruise, but nothing as good as what we would pay for at a theater. One comedian was awful (we walked out due to all the burp and fart jokes his dummy made - my 7 yr old nephew would have liked it). One was hilarious. Lots of jokes about the cruise. Misc With a wheelchair, boarding the ship was a breeze. We were on quickly and got our luggage quickly. We packed 6 bottles of wine in a back pack, no problem. We had a driver from the Marriott waterfront and we used him again on the way back, Usef. He made it a breeze. Disembarkation was easy as well. Based on your room level/floor, you are dispersed to different lounges. You wait there and then you get off at the assigned time. Ours was navy, so we were 9:30, I think. We just put our bags out the night before with the tags they provided, went to bed, ate breakfast in the dining room and went to the lounge. We just left the scooter in the room for special needs at sea. Very easy! We had someone help us pick up our bags from luggage claim. They were all right there. We gave him a few bucks a bag, and he helped us to Usef, our driver. All in all, it was a wonderful trip. We highly recommend the Sapphire and the trip! Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
This is our second trip from SF to Alaska on the Sea Princess. The first time was 2010 had a scenic cruise through Tracy Arm Fjord and this time was through Glacier Bay (highly recommended!). We didn't go on the train excursions and ... Read More
This is our second trip from SF to Alaska on the Sea Princess. The first time was 2010 had a scenic cruise through Tracy Arm Fjord and this time was through Glacier Bay (highly recommended!). We didn't go on the train excursions and did not go through Glacier Bay which is much nicer. So I decided to use my cruise travel points (saves us $200) I went to the Princess website and their prices were quite high. Expedia had a great deal with an additional $200 in credits, but I can't use my cruise points. I told my wife and booked it and she was a bit surprised it was the same ship. It seems like SF is quite picky on which ships can dock on its ports. I. Overview: My first time on the Sea Princess the general feeling was how it represented the classic cruise experience. For a ship that is mid size, the atrium felt very grand and classy. There are traditional tea times and many activities and shows for the passengers. Sea Princess Fellow Passengers Unlike Carnival with more party goers, Spring break frat boys and first time cruisers or Norwegian with more serious, experienced cruisers, Princess passengers are more mellow. The demographics are mostly seniors and families. Not too many kids and hardly any teens. Very friendly and mellow people. Sea Princess Dress Code: It is mostly smart casual with two nights for formal nights. Gratuity: Like all cruises, Princess deducts $11.50 per person per day for tips and also have the option for us to provide additional tips at the end of the cruise. The crew is very nice and helpful and I would recommend providing additional gratuity in a discreet fashion for the wonderful services. Sea Princess Cabins: Like all cabins, it is small for the average big man. The steward kept it very nice and clean. They don't fold a towel like a stuffed animal like all cruises since the demographics are more senior. Since our second cruise was a last minute deal and a savings of 40%, we had an obstructed view. The window shows the tender ship and we see the crew members preparing it. No complaints from me. Rating is an 8. Dining: Traditional restaurants the Rigoletto and La Traviata are very classy. My only complaint was how low the ceilings are compared to other cruises. Service was great. Breakfast and lunch are for anytime dining. For dinner it can be anytime or a set time. Our second cruise, we had to share our table. This maybe awkward for folks to share the same dinner table for the whole cruise, for lunch and breakfast we only shared a table once and people are generally very happy to be on vacation. Rating for the dishes is a 9. THe pizza cafe has thin crust pizza and a limited number of choices for lunch. Dinner has pasta and desserts. Sometimes the pizza may be a bit soggy due to the thin crust. I would rate the food a 7. Horizon buffet is for breakfast, lunch and dinner and is not 24 hours. They shut off a side of the buffet for dinner for the steak house which has a cover charge. Unlike other cruise ships, the tables are set up in a very classy manner, however there are limited space to sit and I find myself sitting outside by the pool area most of the time. Mostly a mix of European, classic America and Asian food with a bit of Mexican cuisine. There are not too many dessert choices and no ice cream. There is a sundae restaurant by the pool and it is open for a limited number hours too. We skipped the buffet most of the time to go to traditional dining. I would rate the food a 7. The Riviera Grill is outside of the buffet and has grilled food and a drink station. Perfect area to sit by the pool, eat lunch, watch a movie and the view. Rating of 7. Entertainment: There are movies, music numbers and comedy/music acts at the Princess Theater and the Vista Lounge. We really enjoy the friendly crew when they performed and had a talent contest for the passengers. Rating of 8. Public Areas: The Atrium is the best part of the ship. The shopping areas are good and the watch store is not too big and does not have enough selection. That is my only complaint. Overall an 8. The photo gallery is nice to buy pictures. The library is nice, but a bit small. There's the internet cafe, however cruise speeds for the net is slow. The Razzmatazz nightclub is big but narrow. We played XBox Kinect there. The pool is not too big and has a children's pool. No water slides. There is an additional pool area for adults to relax. A few hottubs and an additional hottubs by the spa. A plus is the movie theater by the main pool. What better way than to enjoy a movie in a pool. Rating of 8. Spa and Fitness area. Not the biggest gym compared to other cruise ships. There is an extra studio for classes and I was able to use it to practice karate and other passengers used it for stretching and special exercises. There's a salon for manicures, teeth whitening and other stuff. Rating of a 7 since it's too small. Family Accommodations: The childcare center for youth is great with many games and activities. The hours are 9AM-12N, 1P-5P (yes!) and 6-10P. The teen area is not really used since there's hardly any teens there. On my first cruise a few teens just sat there playing Guitar Hero. Rating is 9. There is a kids pool, ping pong tables, ball court. No water slides. Scenic: The depart from SF is very nice as we sailed by Alcatraz and under the Golden Gate Bridge. The scenic cruise to Tracy Ford is limited (6AM-10AM). This time to Glacier Bay (6AM-3P) had many glaciers and park rangers to answer our questions. Alaska: Juneau is the capitol of Alaska. Had many stores. The prices are quite high. I would recommend the excursion to see the glaciers when you are there. Skagway is an old town. I rented a mountain bike last time. This time the whole family went on a train ride. It was through the mountains. The price is less if we had purchased it from the train stop. Ketchikan is a small town with nice stores. Most people recommend the helicopter ride over the glaciers. Victoria, British Columbia We were there from 9A-1:30P. The city reminds me of an American city, has a downtown area, a mall and Chinatown. Free wifi for the downtown area. A few Starbucks, but the most charming thing were the mom and pop stores. There was a street with 3 competing comic book stores on the same block next to each other. It's nice to see stores that sells cool stuff you don't find in the malls. Overall it was a great trip. The ship is not the most modern or spacious of all the new ships. I give it extra points for the service and the style which is very classy and traditional. Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
We are annual all inclusive land travellers and have never taken a cruise because of the large expense involved. Our financial picture has steadily improved over the years and have visited all of the affordable caribbean locations over the ... Read More
We are annual all inclusive land travellers and have never taken a cruise because of the large expense involved. Our financial picture has steadily improved over the years and have visited all of the affordable caribbean locations over the past 6 years. Our most recent was the Mexican Mayan Riviera...5 star Bahia Principe. Because of the swine flue scare, we got an amazing deal for 2 weeks in August 2009...$3000 (for 2) approx ALL IN! We have heard nothing but positive things about cruising and knew that the next islands we want to go to are on the eastern and western legs of the cruise so we decided to cruise so we could check them out. We arrived at the terminal of Ft Lauderdale and our first experience of service was excellent, not much different from the conferences we have both been on in the past. Check in was very efficient and we were able to go immediately to our room and check it out. It was nice...but not a WOW for a suite (no coffee machine and empty fridge)...imagine what an inside cabin is like... The ship is beautiful and most definitely has Wows everywhere. We went for lunch at the buffet and was somewhat surprised as it was small, little selection and nothing really special. I knew that we were going to have to pay for non-alcoholic bevs but thought they would be included with your meals but no...The bus personnel in the dining area are sales people as well, they sell you your non-alcoholic cards $29 and if you want juice, coffee...its only $50 per person per week. We only took the non-alcoholic bevs... The next morning we went to the breakfast buffet (not knowing that you can be served in the restaurant)and it was jammed packed. We couldn't find a seat (3000 people on the ship with 1000 crew)and had to sit at a table on the deck which wasn't very comfortable. I ordered coffee and when it arrived I understood why they were trying to up-sell us with the coffee...its garbage! Its syrup coffee not ground. Its the coffee you can store in the freezer frozen...fast food restaurants use it. You have to go half coffee and half hot water to kind of enjoy one cup for the day! very disappointed! The buffet was ok but fortunately we discovered that you can be served in the restaurant for breakfast, lunch and dinner (of course)which we did for the next 2 weeks. There is no water in your room and if you want it you can either buy a big bottle for $3.50 and fill it every day and refrigerate or use the tap which is only warm water. You mean to tell me you can't supply water???you have to be kidding me! My wife and I have worked in food service for approx 25 years and have very high standards and of course a cruise is going to deliver? The first night featured prime rib. It was excellent as was the service. We selected any time dining and chose to sit with others for dinner. It was excellent. Dessert is excellent at all times so if you are a dessert eater you will love it. We aren't, but we always had some and it was fabulous. I quickly discovered the soup is the same broth every night (2 wks) with a different name (ingredients) each night (7 dinners). Come on, get chef Ramsay in that kitchen. I know I could rotate 3 different soups through the menu. At least put some ingredients in the soup. I love soup and considering the cruise kitchen is head up by a Chef (so they say)you would think there would be some great tastes for dinner. The only other night to look forward to was the lobster and shrimp dinner. Now the ship features 2 other restaurants which you have to pay for $25/person. The Crown Grill is suppose to be an experience! They were suppose to pamper you for over and hour and a half and just stuff you with all the amazing items on their menu. The server we had (there are only 2 in the restaurant) had an attitude and was training someone else. I waited for her to take the ball and just WOW us. Giant Black Tiger Prawns was an entree as well as all the steaks and lobster. I asked if I could have the prawns as an appetizer and then have steak (rib eye med rare) and lobster as a serf and terf for main course. My wife ordered lobster only and an appetizer (can't remember). My Giant Black Tiger Prawns arrived on a bed of rice. They were lg cocktail shrimp (16-18 cnt), the lobster and shrimp night had giant black tiger prawns (which were amazing)and you are serving me this! The server said that they were Giant Black Tiger prawns...sorry...then came my steak! It was in some wine sauce which was horrible, half my plate was full of blubber/fat when I was done pulling it away from the meat. The lobster was good. My wifes potato was suppose to be twice baked...not! Don't waste your money people. Liz the shopping girl...please don't be rude, we pay you to have this job. My wife and I were in the theater for her shopping presentation which she tapes. She was preparing the audience to respond in a certain way prior to getting started. Someone in the crowd responded out of turn and she scolded the person to not do that when she is taping. Get your head out of the clouds, who really watches the show on TV anyway and isn't this our show not yours! Finally, make the prices cheaper for drinks. Waiting till 8pm just doesn't cut it ($2.99 after 8pm). This is our vacation where we are suppose to "escape completely" for triple the price! I don't think we will ever cruise again! Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
I booked this cruise to travel in August with Thomas Cook on line but would do so independently next time, arranging a overnight stay in embarkation port and arranging my own flight. We travelled on the Grand Mediterranean cruise Venice to ... Read More
I booked this cruise to travel in August with Thomas Cook on line but would do so independently next time, arranging a overnight stay in embarkation port and arranging my own flight. We travelled on the Grand Mediterranean cruise Venice to Barcelona for 12 nights on Ruby Princess. The airport transfer was excellent and embarkation was very proffessional and all completed in less than half an hour. We were shown to our stateroom which was on deck 10 room 309 which was fairly centrally located. The room was excellent and spotlessly clean with a fairly large balcony. We then disembarked the ship and took the shuttle provided by Princess into Venice and stayed until about 9.00 going for lunch in the Horizon Court restaurant as I had got traditional dining first sitting. I would definitely go for anytime dining next time as the early dining option means the trip feels like you are in a hamster wheel, returning onto the ship at about six in order to maximise very limited time in port then having to rush a shower and hurry down to Boticelli's restaurant which is not easy to find. The next day when I got up and showered I noticed that there was no European plug socket, a fact that I had not noticed in any of the literature or been notified of by Thomas Cook, so I could not use my hair straighteners which would have been a major disaster for me as my hair is very unruly. I went down to the pursers deck to ask if they had an adapter and he said he thought they had all gone but checked and came back with the very last one which I had to leave a 50 dollar deposit for. Unfortunately the very next day the eve of the formal night when good grooming is essential the adapter turned out to be faulty. returning to the pursers desk I was informed that there were no more on board and that they were not sold on board the ship. Panic set in at this point but I decided to ask my steward who very kindly borrowed one from a colleague for me for the rest of the trip. The room steward was excellent and very friendly and so were all the other staff who cannot do enough for you. All the bar staff are excellent especially in Crooners bar where they ensure that the atmosphere is very good and friendly. The ship is amazing and has so many different facilities. Fist impression was WOW. The food was excellent in every venue but was superior in the main dining room Botticelli's where we ate most evenings. The Sushi was amazing in Vines wine bar and the Sushi chef and wine waiter were very nice. We were very disappointed with the entertainment. It is very repetitive. The singer/pianist in Crooners bar is very good but sings the same material every night moving to other venues throughout the cruise but singing the same material in these so it gets very boring. The singer in the wheelhouse bar has a very limited range, again doing the same material every night and the bar was empty every evening with passengers using it as a walkway, or only staying for a few minutes. We went to a few shows, the violinist and the crew show which was quite good and we saw a comedian in another bar on one evening. We spent quite a lot of time in vines wine bar or in the atrium where the entertainment was good, although again very repetitive. We only went on one organised trip, to Athens as the other were too expensive and it was easy to arrange your own transport to the other ports. Rome and Florence can be easily reached by train, a shuttle bus provided in Livorno in order to catch the train which is about 10 euros return to Florence. Rome is also easy accessed after a short walk off the shuttle bus to the train station. We also went to Capri, catching a ferry from Naples which is very easy to do as the ship docks right in the port. Mykanos is also easy to access and Princess provided a shuttle boat to drop us in the harbour where we walked over the hill to little Venice had a beer waterside then went swimming on a small beach for a couple of hours. I enjoyed the cruise but found it very exhausting due to the travel to different places, and our early dining time. Princess cruises are also very expensive with a surcharge of 10.50 dollars fifty added per person per day to the bill, which can be removed if so wished(which we didnt as all staff do such a good job and are not well paid) but what I really objected to was the fifteen percent surcharge also added to to bar bill. I think if I went again I would not book with princess and would do my homework with regards to the bar charges and the entertainment. The disembarkation was also very good and arrival at Barcelona airport was good, but do not go through passport control too early as if you are at gate ten there are no shops and only one cafe and once through you cannot return Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
We were first time cruisers on board Grand Priness from Southampton doing Western Med. Travel to Southampton on Eavesway coaches, no problem, fast boarding and comfortable journey. Embarkation, no problem, in cabin within one hour of ... Read More
We were first time cruisers on board Grand Priness from Southampton doing Western Med. Travel to Southampton on Eavesway coaches, no problem, fast boarding and comfortable journey. Embarkation, no problem, in cabin within one hour of getting off coach. Cabin, not in pristine condition but absolutely nothing that affected the comfort of our stay. Beds and pillows perfectly comfortable, bed clothes fine. Plenty of wardrobe and cupboard space, shelves in toilet to hold toiletries, three large suitcases fitted under beds. Perfectly acceptable fridge and safe in room. Two 110Vac sockets at dressing table, no 230V sockets available. I had a US to UK travel plug adaptor and all of my chargers (phone, PC, ipod) and hair straighteners all worked off the 110V. The condition of the ship was excellent, any small worn areas did not affect at all the enjoyment of the cruise. We went to the pursers desk on the first day to remove the automatic tips, this was no problem. We tipped everyone who gave us good service. We did feel a bit guilty about this as 98% of the staff were very helpful and pleasant. The drinks were just as expensive as we had expected. This was a big negative as normally if we go for a night out to see a show or have a drink we would have six or seven drinks each. This would have amounted to around $75 per night which is not sustainable throughout the cruise, plus I grudge paying this price. When on Gibraltar I could have bought 1Litre of good vodka for the same price as one vodka drink onboard. This was probably the biggest negative of the cruise so if you are the type that can go to shows or sit at bars without drinking then you would not experience this problem. We did take onboard a bottle in our checked luggage this went through no problem. I think that Princess are OK with this as it normally does not replace the drink that you would buy onboard. We would have one before dinner and one before bed, we still bought in the bars exactly the same number of drinks that we would have bought if we did not have the cabin supply. We also did agree that if the drink was taken from us then we would not buy drinks at the bar as a protest and we would try different ways to get drinks on at the ports. I think common sense prevails as long as you do not abuse the drinks rule. Another complaint was the smoking in the casino, so many people were complaining about this that I am sure change must come. On the two non smoking nights the casino was very busy and all other nights the casino was populated mostly by non smokers (complaining). The smoking sports lounge was about 20 feet from the casino, I am sure that the smokers could have could have made the short walk and allowed everyone to breath easily. We made a point of only playing on the non smoking evenings. Whilst in this mode I will get the third and final complaint out. It was bit depressing having to get up at 8.00am to get a sunbed. Sure you could come at 10.00 and get one in the shade but what's the point. Also the comfortable ones with the mattresses were positioned around the pools and occupied by children who would have been happy with the more uncomfortable plastic ones which were located around the adult areas. After a few complaints the attendants enforced a 30minute rule where belongings were removed if a bed was not occupied for a period of 30 minutes. This was a popular ruling. The food was good although a few times we decided not to go to the main restaurants as the menu did not match our tastes. This happened a few times as we did not fancy snails, frog legs, fish, meat in a wine sauce, ...... we could have chosen the standard steak, salmon or pasta offerings which we did a few times but the choice and quality of the food in the Horizon Court buffet meant that you could eat there and have an excellent meal in more relaxed conditions. The buffet was excellent for breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner. Always a great choice and the quality was excellent. The only issue was that normally you had to sit outside at the pool areas as the main seating was full. The only times that this did not occur was before 8.00 in the morning, between 4.00 and 6.00 in the afternoon and after 10.00 in the evening. We are a couple who like our own company so we chose Anytime Dining and always asked for a table for two, the Maitre d' did always try to push us to join a larger table but we always stuck to our guns and requested the table for two. We only once required a pager, at all other times we were given a table within minutes. We had a meal in Sabbatinis and this was our best night, the food was excellent and the waiting staff were pleasant and made us very welcome. You get a continuous stream of hot and cold appetisers, then pizza, then pasta, then you have to choose your main course and dessert. Needless to say that it was an uncomfortable walk to the cabin. It cost us around $90 for the meal, wine and tip but was worth every cent. We only did the Princess Pompeii tour which was OK, we made our own arrangement for the others. Malaga, Barcelona, Monte Carlo, Naples, Ajaccio and Gibraltar were all within walking distance and all were enjoyable. This post is already too long so I will not go into the details but will be glad to answer any questions about the ports. The entertainment was pretty poor, the only one that was acceptable was Dianne Cousins and she was okay for one night, the others either couldn't sing or couldn't tell a joke. David Copperfield started off well but fell away in the second half of his act. In summary we thoroughly enjoyed the cruise but we are not sure that cruising is for us. We like to relax on holiday so getting up at 8.00 to reserve a sunbed, then having to rush breakfast within 30 minutes to make sure that your towel is not removed, then sit at your dinner when service is slow worrying if you are going to make the show. Also we like to enjoy a drink when out at night and we could not afford the $1000 that it would cost to have a drink every night. None of these issues is the fault of the cruise companies it is just that our nature is probably not compatible with cruising. We spent £3500 ($5000) for our 14 days in an inside cabin including $1000 onboard spend, we feel that we can get better value elsewhere. If you are a different nature and enjoy different pastimes and activities from us then I can see why cruising is so popular and why people have a whale of a time. So please do not take any of our complaints as criticism, it is only our personal opinion. Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
On arrival at the quayside Grand Princess looked impressive, clean and stood out from the crowd. Once inside, after a quick photo for your security pass, the kids were met by Youth organisers and we were met by smiley staff, a great ... Read More
On arrival at the quayside Grand Princess looked impressive, clean and stood out from the crowd. Once inside, after a quick photo for your security pass, the kids were met by Youth organisers and we were met by smiley staff, a great start. Sign up for a soda package for the kids we were encouraged, well our kids don't drink much pop (they climb the walls) but you can upgrade the package to cover ice creams, shakes the whole lot of kids options. Well we bought into the soda package and glad we did! Once up on deck we found a seat by the pool, the kids were straight in splashing around and the band played, the drink flowed, what a great atmosphere. Into the evening, found some bearings in this huge ship. We had changed into casual clothes for the restaurant, all our bags had been delivered into our reasonably sized inside cabin. The food in the Da Vinci restaurant was good, the service was excellent. This standard was kept up for the entire two weeks. The only food I could be critical of was the souflets (more like hot bread pudding!) the rest was good, bordering on very good. In the Horizon self service had different offerings, the standard of a very good canteen, but great for the kids to eat before finding another club to go to leaving my wife and I do dine in peace and the Da Vinci! Around the pool or in the bars there was always a waiter to get a drink, things were always 'maximised' which is something we are not used to, to get more cash out of you, but once you get used to it, it becomes a game. The trips organised by Princess at the ports were more expensive than if you organised them independently but, we all thought they offered value for money as all transfers from boat to inland town/city were seamless with well briefed guides. There were no signs of the previous viruses , there were hand cleansing stations all around the food areas, it was down to the individuals to use them. Movies under the stars was excellent, as we had warm evenings. The shows in the main theatre started off average and gathered pace through the cruise, the last shows were excellent. The only show of poor standard was by Syd Little. I went more out of self daring, I knew what was coming but still went, my own fault! Could not sneak out as I was in the front row, unlike the rest of the audience that evacuated to the bar after five minutes!!! Poor old Syd, (nice to hear the fat one is doing OK though!) The ship may be being refitted next year, however the crews work tirelessly to keep it clean and looking good, so I couldn't fault this. Although cannot compare with other cruise lines, I can comment that our holiday was excellent, good value for money and will come back Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
As first time cruisers with a 7year old disabled child and a 16 year old drama queen, I would highly recommend a cruise holiday. From the moment we reached the terminal, car and bags were wisked away and escorted to check-in in under 10 ... Read More
As first time cruisers with a 7year old disabled child and a 16 year old drama queen, I would highly recommend a cruise holiday. From the moment we reached the terminal, car and bags were wisked away and escorted to check-in in under 10 minutes, wow thats a good start. Staff, right throughout the ship were friendly, and very professional both on and off board,if we bumped into staff off ship, they would say hi and ask were we ok and were to go to eat, shop etc. Travelling with a disabled child is awarkard, but we had no problem if fact a great weight was lifted off us, we could relax and have our dinner in peace knowing she was in great hands with the staff in the kids club and they got her to participate in all the activities going, she was not left to one side which has happened when we travelled before to hotels in spain and tunisia. As for the drama queen (16 years) we only had dinner with her twice inthe whole 2 weeks, she made friends in the older kids club, and was constantly running around going somewhere, dont know where she got the energy from. In the whole 2 weeks, we still did not get to do everything on board as there was soo much to do and everyting was different each day from the food to the entertainment. Currently, I am cruising around looking for a cruise holiday for next year, as my daughter said it was the best holiday ever, which is a good compliment from her. The Scully family loved our first cruise holiday on the Grand Princess. Malaga - ok Barcelona - lovely Monte - Carlo, loved it - would have loved to see it at night. Rome - dident like it way too hot Naples - nope, wont go back Adjaccio - loved it. Barcelona - great for shopping. Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
We sailed on Golden Princess to Alaska on 10th July 2010. We are a group of six people from Hong Kong: my father and mother-in-laws both over 70s; my sister and bro-in-law near 45s, myself and DW near our 40s. This was the first cruise for ... Read More
We sailed on Golden Princess to Alaska on 10th July 2010. We are a group of six people from Hong Kong: my father and mother-in-laws both over 70s; my sister and bro-in-law near 45s, myself and DW near our 40s. This was the first cruise for the rest but the fourth cruise for me and DW. We sailed before on Princess, NCL America and Celebrity. We flew in one day early to Seattle so mom and dad could visit a friend. We stayed with them for one night. On the day of the cruise they took us to Pikes Market for a visit before sending us off at Pier 91. Boarding was easy. We arrived at Pier 91 at about 11:30am and boarded the ship at about 12pm. Thanks to the tips by people on this board we went to Donatello and were served lunch there. A good start. DW and I then bought a coffee card, $27 for 15 coffees. We think this is a bargain. As the ship sailed towards Juneau on the sea day we experienced quite rough weather. I think this was the roughest I have experienced on a cruise ship as I was rocking in my bed. Weather was not fine but somehow Princess thought it was a good idea to show the Soccer World Cup Final at MUTS. So all the soccer fans braved the weather on deck to watch the game. After the final whistle everyone left as soon as they could for some hot drink. The day before they showed the third place game in Vista Lounge. I wonder why they couldn't do the same for the final? My dad and mom-in-laws played the slot machines in the casino while we watched the soccer game. Princess now has this play with your cruise card facility which is ok but quite tricky (too many steps) for older people to use. It will be better to just allow people to play with cash. The sea day was also my bro-in-law's birthday. Despite my repeated efforts to get some balloons on his stateroom door, including calling at the service desk, nothing happened. Next day as we arrived in Juneau we had much calmer waters and actually we thought we saw an orca as we sailed in. At Juneau we just bought a $14 per person return bus ticket locally to visit Mendenhall Glacier. Then we went to Tracy's King Crab Shack, just next to the library for some delicious crab bisque and crab leg. The crab bisque there is unbelievably good! Princess was not to be out done and served up crab leg for appetizer at dinner. Next day we got to Skagway. We joined the "Experience the Yukon" tour offered by Princess ($99). When we left the ship our tour bus was full, so they sent us on to another tour bus which I believe was for Diamond Princess passengers, as both Golden and Diamond were in port on the same day. The driver/guide is a college student who grew up here, he is studying in Utah but lives here in the summer and drives the bus as a summer job. He has a good deal of local knowledge and we enjoyed the tour. Carcross in Yukon is quite interesting. When we last came in 2005 we took the train to Fraser and back without getting off, that was quite fun but we agree this tour is much more interesting. At night we ate at Sabatini and it was such a good dining experience. Next day was Glacier Bay. Weather was gloomy with light rain. In 2005 we went to Tracy Arm but we did not get in far enough to see the Sawyer Glaciers. This time we chose to go Glacier Bay based on most board members advice. We arrived at Margerie Glacier at about 9am. As it was raining and we didn't have rain coats, I took some of the board members' advice to view the glacier from deck 7. It was a good move as it was much less crowded and the above deck sheltered us from the rain. We saw some calving and the ship spent an hour there. Then the ship moved to Johns Hopkins Glacier. But it stopped someway away from it and did not get close, offering us only a distant view. As the ship sailed out of Glacier Bay in the afternoon, some humpback whales were there and everyone climbed on deck to see them. Next morning we got to Ketchikan. We did not join any tour and walked the short walk to Creek Street by ourselves. After that we took the bus to Wal-Mart and bought some souvenirs there. The prices there were much better than those in town. For example, the same "Deadliest Catch" T-shirt sold for about $17 in town but only $12 in Wal-Mart. We left the port at about 12pm. On the last day, we sailed towards Victoria for the whole day, we booked early dinner at 17:30 so we could then go ashore at 20:00. We bought the $7 bus transfer to town. Here both US dollar and Canadian dollars are accepted at 1:1 exchange rate. We took some photos, visited the night market, bought a few souvenirs then returned to the ship. Next morning we had breakfast in the dining room before disembarking at 8:30am. My sis and bro-in-law were staying in town for one night before flying home, while the rest of us were flying to San Diego at 1:30pm. We all left for my sis' hotel (Quality Inn) from the port. We took two taxis for the six of us and both taxis together it costed us about $23 only. We dropped our bags at the hotel then walked to the Space Needle for a visit. We took a taxi from the hotel at 11:30am to go to the airport. It costed $45 for all 4 of us including luggage, not a bad deal and much cheaper than using a Princess transfer. All in all, a very good cruise. Golden is a very nice ship, my in-laws all enjoyed the experience very much. But I would not recommend the Seattle return itinierary. If you have to do a return itinierary, choose Vancouver even if you have to go there by bus from Seattle. Not only will you sail east of Vancouver Island, where the route is much calmer and more scenic, you also avoid visiting Victoria at dinner time. Victoria is nice but it is not Alaska and you cannot do the town justice by visiting it at dusk for 3 hours. I personally think the Zuiderdam of Holland America has the best return itinierary from Vancouver. It not only visits Glacier Bay but also Tracy Arm because it can strike Victoria off its ports list. Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
This was a first cruise for my daughter and myself so we weren't sure what to expect. We found the Golden Princess to be a great boat, the crew was friendly and helpful and Alaska was amazing! I took over 400 pictures! We arrived in ... Read More
This was a first cruise for my daughter and myself so we weren't sure what to expect. We found the Golden Princess to be a great boat, the crew was friendly and helpful and Alaska was amazing! I took over 400 pictures! We arrived in Seattle a day early to take in the sites. We stayed at the Travelodge near the Space Needle. I would highly recommend this area. We walked about 3 blocks to the Space Needle and then took the monorail to about 3 blocks from Pike's Place Market. Travelodge provided a van to the pier for about $7 per person. Seattle is a very friendly city and I wish we had more time there. The process of getting onto the boat (around 1:00) was very organized and took about 45 minutes. Everyone we encountered was friendly and helpful. We were directed to our cabin and found it easily. Our cabin steward, Allen, was fabulous! He answered our many questions and provided us with a lot of helpful information. He took care of all our needs. We were in a mini-suite with a balcony (the balcony is a must in Alaska!). I stayed with my two adult sisters who slept in the twin beds, I slept on the pull out couch and my teenage daughter slept on the upper birth. When the pull out couch was open, space was very tight but when it was not there was plenty of room in the cabin. The bathroom and closet were larger than I expected and we had enough room for the the 4 of us to store our belongings. We choose anytime dining and only had to wait twice for a table at dinner. I would do this again as some nights we had a light lunch and wanted to eat early and other nights we were in port late and had a late dinner. We ate a wide variety of appetizers, soups, sorbet and entrees such as salmon, sea bass, scallops, lobster, lamb chops and beef. The desserts were amazing with chocolate decorating the plate. The breakfast and lunch buffets were great. The Alaskan and the Asian lunch buffets were excellent. We also took advantage of the free room service and ordered breakfast twice. We had croissants, fresh melon, juice, tea and coffee. As a first time cruiser I was concerned about seasickness. I took dramamine(less drowsy formula) and my daughter took bonine. We were fine. Our first full day at sea was rough with high winds and we heard that some passengers were seasick but my guess is that they did not take any medication. We took the medication every day but this one day was probably the only day we needed it. The weather was in the low 60s with clouds most days, light rain in Glacier Bay. We wore jeans, a t-shirt and a light jacket on our days in port. If I had it to do over, the thing I would do differently is pack less and have more room to bring souvenirs home! We loved all the Alaskan ports but Glacier Bay was my favorite day. Although we had light rain (it even snowed for a few minutes so that fleece, rain jacket, hat and gloves were essential!)it was still spectacular! I was up on deck at 6 a.m. (with coffee!) as we entered the Bay and saw whale spouts and sea lions. The boat spent about an hour in front of the first glacier and it calved 3 times. Be up on the top deck at this time. We spent the rest of the day on our balcony but I would recommend being back on the top deck as the boat leaves Glacier Bay as we missed some whales that were on the other side of the ship. Our day in Juneau was great. We went on a whale watch and saw many whales, some sea lions and eagles and a harbor seal. We then went on a rain forest hike that was very interesting and we hiked out to Mendenhall Glacier. (Don't miss this glacier!) It was beautiful. Our guide was very interesting and shared personal information with us about living year round in Alaska. We took the tram to the top of the mountain, the clouds had cleared and the views were spectacular. This was pricey but a once in a life time experience. There is an injured eagle that cannot be released into the wild. Seeing this amazing bird up close and taking fantastic pictures was worth the price to me. We also had time for some shopping. Skagway was my favorite port. It is very quaint and had interesting shops. My daughter and I went to the dogmushing camp and loved it! We took a ride being pulled by 16 dogs. There was a talk about dogmushing and the Iditorod and time to interact with the dogs and puppies! My two sisters took the train ride. Although they thought it was a little long they enjoyed it and said the views were amazing. Ketchikan was an interesting town. Skip the stores near the ships, they are the same ones that you saw in the other ports. Walk over to Creek Street. We saw salmon jumping in the stream and the stores were much more interesting. We bought most of our gifts for others in Ketchikan (smoked salmon and homemade jams to name a few.) Also don't miss Saxman village and the totem poles for some culture. I wish we had more time in Ketchikan as we felt a little rushed getting back to the ship by noon. My daughter and I did not get off the ship in Victoria but my two sisters took a 2 hour tour and found it interesting and enjoyable. Getting off the boat was also very organized and quick. Our group met at 8:30 (we had a 1:15 flight) and we were off the boat and had our luggage by 9:00. All in all, a fabulous trip that I would highly recommend aboard the Golden Princess. Alaska is amazing and not to be missed. I will be back. Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
We were a unique group, I'm sure. My 90-year-old mom and her 75-year-old boyfriend (yes, she's a proud cougar), my sis, brother-in-law and myself (hovering around 60) and my 20-year-old son who is developmentally disabled. We ... Read More
We were a unique group, I'm sure. My 90-year-old mom and her 75-year-old boyfriend (yes, she's a proud cougar), my sis, brother-in-law and myself (hovering around 60) and my 20-year-old son who is developmentally disabled. We chose traditional dining, which was a great decision since we'd all head out to pursue our own cruising style but we always knew we'd reunite at dinner if we didn't run into eachother elsewhere. My mom and her boyfriend had a room designed to acccomodate her scooter. It was really quite big and my BIL noted he'd ask for a handicapped room in the future. I reminded him that would be like parking in a handicapped zone and did he really want to be a jerk. My son and I shared an obstructed view room which was comfortable but I have to say I prefer both beds to be "hugging" the walls. In our case, one was rather "out there" and it felt a bit peculiar to be at risk of rolling out on EITHER side. The bathroom was nice, the shower roomy enough. The closet space was amazing! Actually more than enough there - perhaps the space could be better used by adding some drawer in the closet. As noted, we all had different interests and needs. My mom and her bf enjoyed watching the comings and goings in the main area, listening to the revolving musicans and having coffee. And napping. My sis and BIL liked gambling and dancing. They had a great time. My son and I enjoyed the onboard activities and tried to pack in as many as possible. If you were on that cruise, you'll probably remember us as always being there: dancing lessons, trivia games, art auctions. The staff were outstanding! Our server Carlos quickly learned our preferences and was so attentive we completely forgot that we weren't his only table. Seriously. It felt like we had his complete attention. Now, my son has special needs including oppositional defiant disorder (I know, no fun) but Carlos handled him VERY well and they became best buddies. By the end of the cruise, my son wanted to apply for a job so he could stay and work with him. Our steward Roderio was fantastic and when my son specifically asked about towel animals, Roderio made a point of making one every night, even though he didn't have time to do that for all his folks. He's even wrote my son notes every night: "See the monkey?" Roderio was so wonderful we gave him a bonus tip. The entertainment staff quickly got to know my son as well. I have to say, to be honest, they weren't all super thrilled, but they maintained a postiive connection with him that my son was very happy about. In a strange way, I think they got a bit tired of seeing him show up at every "event" (and frequently winning) but these were the highlights of my son's cruise, the whole reason for being on a cruise, so, so be it. I know some people are squeamish around people with special needs, don't like little kids, don't care for old folks etc. But if you're going to be on the entertainment crew you'd better like everybody and not have any hangups. The food was fantastic. I'd just been on a Norwegian cruise to the Bahamas in May so the comparison was pretty fair. Norwegian food tasted and looked like it had just come out of a frozen food box. Golden Princess food was exceptional. My son got to try caviar, crab and lobster (good luck getting that at home, buddy). Presentation was always very special. We did have an incident when my mother's boyfriend went MIA. We were concerned because he's 75. When I reported a missing person the response wasn't quite as urgent as I expected. I mean, cripes, we could have had a man overboard at that point - move it people! Instead she alerted the night "guy" whoever he was and apparently he and he alone went looking. After an hour and a half we found Al ourselves lost on a cabin floor but I have to say I was very disappointed at the ship's policy on missing persons. No real sense of concern at all. The big showroom wasn't used nearly enough. Only one major production. After that there was a magician, a comedian, but only one big number. I seem to remember more shows on a previous Princess cruise. But overall, considering we had some unusual situations to deal with (elderly, special needs, etc.) we felt Princess provided a fun, delicioius, clean, adventurous week - and the weather was FABULOUS. We missed stopping in Victoria due to wind, but the staff rallied together and set up additional activities on board to keep the passengers occupied. I took a cruise to the Bahamas on Norwegian in May and the comparison between the two is remarkable. Norwegian has a huge disappointment. The emphasis on marketing was enormous. Even though Princess did some of their own, they were subtle about it and even enquired as to whether or not the passengers felt it was too pushy. Norwegian didn't really care, I'm sure. I didn't care for "free style" on Norwegian. The traditonal dining made the experience so much more special and I'm glad to learn that Princess is going to keep that tradition. Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
We started with the land portion of our cruise in Fairbanks. Did the Riverboat cruise there which was very interesting and fun. We also had time to check out the Georgeson Botanical Gardens there which were beautiful and only had a $2 ... Read More
We started with the land portion of our cruise in Fairbanks. Did the Riverboat cruise there which was very interesting and fun. We also had time to check out the Georgeson Botanical Gardens there which were beautiful and only had a $2 admission fee. Gorgeous! From there we went to Denali which was also interesting. We saw moose, bald eagles and beavers. Most importantly, we saw Mt. McKinley! The Wilderness Lodge was very nice. Went to the Denali Dinner Theater which was ok, but a little pricey. The Natural History Tour was great, and we had time to take in the dog mushing camp and also walked a trail where we saw more moose. I don't think we would have enjoyed the longer version, although I've read here it's wonderful. For me 4 hours on an old school bus was enough! On to Mt. McKinley Lodge next. The views were incredible, but not as much to do here as there was at Denali. I was surprised to learn that some of our group spent 2 nights at the Denali Lodge and 1 at McKinley, and some the other way around. We were glad we had 2 nights at Denali. Next was on to Whittier to board the Diamond Princess. Embarkation was super easy and well done. Glacier viewing was incredible! Lots of calving and just amazing and awesome to get to see. Skagway we took the Helicopter tour landing on Meade Glacier. Scarey! But again, incredible. The guides were so great at making us feel comfortable walking around on the uneven surface. What an awesome thing to get to do! We also did the Dog Musher's camp in Skagway which was lots of fun and interesting. Loved seeing the dogs, including a litter of 8 day olds pups. Juneau was Whale Watching. We saw lots of whales and it was very interesting. Our only complaint was a family with young kids including a dad who was annoyingly saying he wanted to give away his kids. We also did a Salmon Bake in Juneau. This was our only excursion we felt was a tourist trap. The food was just ok and there was a woman playing guitar and singing and trying to push her cd's which she had for sale. Would have rather spent the time doing something else. Ketchikan was just charming. Did the Lumberjack and Totem combo. The Lumberjack show was corny, but very cute and fun. The Totems were very interesting with a carver there explaining just how she works on the totems. Again there were unruly kids who ran around and whose parents were oblivious. I wish the guide would have asked them to take a seat, but it was still very good. Our cabin was great. We had a balcony and spent most of the at sea time on it. The food was very good, especially in the Savoy dining room where we had a super attentive server. Disembarkation was very well done as well with no problems. This trip has been on our "bucket list" for a very long time. It was everything we had hoped for and more! Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
Overall, I had a great time. There were definitely high and low points of the cruise. My family traveled with a group of 7 for my parents' 30th anniversary. I'm 23 years old and my boyfriend is 20. My sister and husband (both 37) ... Read More
Overall, I had a great time. There were definitely high and low points of the cruise. My family traveled with a group of 7 for my parents' 30th anniversary. I'm 23 years old and my boyfriend is 20. My sister and husband (both 37) and year old son and my parents (56 and 57) were also with us. It was a great occasion, except some inconsistent service. Embarkation: We got to the airport via Princess transfer. Very easy to find. The process went by fairly quickly and we had very little waiting time during the process and even to wait to get on board. We actually boarded a little early, around 11:30am. Cabins: We booked an obstructed oceanview gty and got upgraded to P311 oceanview. My boyfriend and I found this room to be great for the two of us and really enjoyed having a full view. The beds were very firm but we both enjoy that. We did end up getting the egg crate mattress topper to see what we liked better by just leaving our room steward a note. It was definitely more soft and just depends on preference if you need them or not. Our room steward, Daniel, was very thoughtful and very attentive. He was always easily accessible and very friendly. My parents had D408, a mini suite. The room was very nice and the open balcony was not an issue. If you can afford a minisuite, the balcony for Alaska is worth the cost! They unfortunately never met their room steward, which was a shame. My sister had an obstructed oceanview E702. It was disappointing that her husband and her had to sleep in two twins because I guess it is a fire hazard if you have the beds together and one of the pull out beds (for their son) open because there is no open walkway. The view was decent though. The bottom was blocked by a lifeboat but you still had an OK view. Their room steward was excellent and would come to put up the bed out of the ceiling when they woke up so they could have more room. Also, the bed does have a side rail if any parents are worried that their child might roll off and get hurt. Food: Our first day we did the buffet for lunch. I must admit, as many have said, the organization is terrible. The small enclosed area just cannot handle the amount of people on the ship. It was better after the first day since the entire ship wasn't trying to get food at one time. Also, you CAN eat in the formal dining room for lunch on Day 1 (International Dining Room) even though some crew lead you to the buffet. The food in the buffet was OK. Some of it was good, some not so good. I personally think buffets generally don't have high quality. Food in such a mass production is difficult to maintain high culinary levels. This is no excuse, just my opinion about any buffet. Also, it was difficult to get drinks. You can get water and tea yourself but servers must go outside the buffet to get soda or any alcoholic drink. If you sit in the back overflow areas for the buffet, good luck finding a server. We had formal dining at 5:30pm in the International Dining Room. Our servers were fantastic! Our lead server was Alejandro and our assistant was Phumsuwan. They remembered a lot of what we liked and didn't like and were attentive and friendly. Moreover, they made sure my nephew, 6, got his food quickly and often entertained him. The food in the dining room was much better than the food in the buffet. Every night had a wide variety of choices including salmon, chicken, beef medallions and fettuccine alfredo every night. You can order anything you want and as much of it. the last night they had a sirloin steak with green peppercorn sauce and my dad loved it so much Phumsuwan brought him a second one within minutes! The attire was varied through out the dining room. I wore a dress every night and my boyfriend wore slacks, dress shoes and button down. But I did see many people in jeans and even t-shirts for dinner. The Head waiter does not seem to enforce dresscode heavily at all. I think to each their own, I like dressing up so I was happy to do so. Our lunches varied. We ate in the International Dining room twice. I like the service and the food was very good. They have great burgers there as well as well as a variety of other choices like salads, sandwiches, soups and main courses. I would recommend the dining room for lunch if you are hungry between the limited hours of 12-1:30. There was a pub lunch 3 or 4 days but we never made that. The other days we ate in the buffet and once in a port. Again, the food was OK and I always managed to find something. We did afternoon tea once. It was nice but the lady at the door was VERY rude. If you have early dining, do not eat too much because I was so full I didn't really eat dinner that night. The pizza and burger bars by the pool on deck 14 are a great and quick option. The pizza is excellent and open from 11am-7pm. The burger bar is open from the same times and has beef burgers, chicken burgers, turkey burgers, hot dogs, french fries and some other choices. Sabatini's was excellent. The service was really great. Everyone starts with a wide variety of appetizers both cold and hot as well as bread and oil/vinegar. You choose soup or salad. Everyone gets 2 pastas. And you select your main course and dessert. I was so full by the main course I barely touched it. But you must try the tiramisu and creme brule. $20/person. We used room service once. We ordered a club sandwich and flan. The menu is limited but does the job if you are hungry. We got our order in 15 minutes and enjoyed it. We got the coffee card which was excellent for my boyfriend and me because we love lattes! The morning of the scenic cruising, I got 4 regular coffees, 2 lattes and 2 hot chocolates for 2 punches. So it was a great deal. My parents, sister and family all coke the Ultimate Coke Card which includes sodas as well as smoothies, virgin drinks and milkshakes for like $10/day. It's not worth it, unless you really use it. I only ordered like 4 sodas the whole trip which are like $2-3/each. For kids, I think it could be worth your while. But unless you are an avid soda drinker, It maybe cheaper to just stick to ordered drinks where you want them. Watch your alcoholic drink orders because it can get pricey. From 8pm-close there were happy hour specials for $2.99 which included certain bottled beers, Pina Coladas, Long Island Iced Teas and Singapore Slings as well as "well drinks". Entertainment: I went to two of the shows. The Piano Man was pretty good in my opinion. It was entertaining and featured songs from Billy Joel, Elton John, Liberace, Neil Diamond and others. The show repeats so everyone can see it. Get to the theater early to get seats. We made the mistake of coming only 10 minutes before and sat in the front but others came later and sat in the stairways. The second show I saw was a bit cheesier in my opinion. "I Got the Music" featured a wide variety of songs from Cher to Britney Spears. It was entertaining but nothing fabulous. Some of the dancers were great and the singers were OK. Although, I did think once of the female singers was really good. My parents saw one of the comedians (Kevin) and enjoyed him. They also watched the last production show something about dancing. They liked it because it showcased all types of dancing styles from hip hop to riverdance. It really just depends what you like as far as you being entertained. Arny G, a pianist and singer, was quite popular and played in the Crooners Lounge. Many of the other locations featured live music but I didn't check it out. As far as other things to do, make sure you check the Princess Patter they deliver to your room daily. For an Alaska itinerary, it was nice to have an indoor pool. Many people took advantage of this and on the warmer days some swam outside. There were all kinds of demonstrations and activities including fruit carving, ice carving, cooking, dance classes, lectures and workshops, shopping, Bingo, Wii tournaments (video games), tours of the galley and backstage the theater, movies in the Princess theater. My boyfriend and I did the couples massage class for $52/couple. We really liked it and got a free massage oil. I used the gym 5 of the days. There were surprisingly many people there. They do have a variety of classes available on seadays including stretching and abs classes and pilates, yoga and spinning for $12/class or $30 for three classes. They have freeweights, weight machines, plenty of treadmills and ellipticals. It's not a huge 24 hour fineness gym but you can get a good workout. Ports/Excursions: Ketchikan: My sister, husband and son went on the Bering Sea Crab Excursion. They LOVED it and would recommend it to anyone. They also bought the video since there was a camera man on board. We (parents, boyfriend and me) didn't prebook anything. We walked off the boat and ended up buying a tour for $48/person. We went to the totem park and drove most of the island. We also stopped and walked around some beautiful river areas. We returned to downtown to eat lunch at the Fish Pirate's Saloon. The food was decent. Mostly fried stuff like fish and chips, fish tacos, fried clams, ect. We then walked around the shops. If you like jewelry, you can find tons of it at every port. Tracy Arm Fjord: The scenic cruising was nice. We saw a lot of ice in the water. Didn't get so close to the glacier but it was beautiful. There was an excursion in which a small boat pulled up the side and took passengers closer. It was advertised in the Patter like the first or second day and was $200/person or so. We all gathered on my parents' balcony which was really nice. We also just ran up to the buffet and brought plates of food and snacks for everyone. Juneau: We went on the whale watching excursion through Princess. We had about an hour and half before and quickly walked around downtown to look around and peek in the Red Dog Saloon. Very cool place but so crowded because there were 7 ships in port! At 4pm, we hopped on a coach bus for a 20 minute ride to our boat. Juneau is the capital of Alaska and very beautiful. The government buildings and very small and you pass by the Governor's house. The whale watching was fantastic. We saw 4 or 5 humpbacks and started to return to the shore when we ran into an Orca (Killer Whale) pod. There were like 12 orcas, including some babies. It was really amazing. One of the workers was a little rude. My mom asked if there were any dolphins in these waters and she responded saying Killer Whales are dolphins in a haughty voice. That was annoying, but the wonderful sights far outweighed that little point. Skagway: I went on the Eagle Preserve River Float Wildlife Adventure that goes into Haines. I would not recommend it. It was nice but they do not tell you that it low time for Eagles. The high season is October. So we saw 3 eagles, 3 nests, 1 moose for $200/person and 6 hrs. It was fun but I think worth half the cost. The town was very quaint and quite lovely. We didn't walk around much because we were exhausted. My parents loved the area and shopped quite a bit. Victoria: Very beautiful. We just walked through the Empress hotel and around downtown. It's a bummer that the time is so short! 7pm-11:30pm is not the best time. If you want, there are a few organized tours, but we found walking around to be fine. Also, you take a shuttle from the ship for $7/person. The area was very crowded because the Holland America Oosterdam and NCL Pearl were in port. Disembarkation: We did the walk off because we had an organized tour of Seattle after. We brought our luggage to Club Fusion by 8:25am and they told us we were free to go. It took about 10 minutes from the ship through customs. Very easy. Overall I enjoyed the cruise. Some crew members were inattentive and others were superstars. Hopefully Princess will weed through some of the less friendly or attentive crew members and maintain a better staff. However, I honestly think some of it is due to staff cuts. It seemed in the Horizon Court many of the servers were overwhelmed because there were understaffed in the area. Please feel free to ask any questions. Again, this is my opinion and I am a first time cruiser. I would sail Princess again but I definitely want to try other lines as well. OH and we almost hit a whale! During our dinner one night we suddenly felt the whole ship shaking and then a sharp turn. All kinds off stuff was falling everywhere. The servers were running around to try and catch stuff. The captain came on to tell us he avoided a whale the was directly ahead. It was scary for a moment though! Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
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