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506 Princess First-Time Cruisers Cruise Reviews

In case the title didn't give it away, this was the first cruise that my wife and I had ever taken. In fact, this was the first time we'd ever even been to the Caribbean. We had done months of research leading up to this. Where ... Read More
In case the title didn't give it away, this was the first cruise that my wife and I had ever taken. In fact, this was the first time we'd ever even been to the Caribbean. We had done months of research leading up to this. Where did we want to go? What activities were important to us? Compared cruise lines, and just about every other thing you can think of we looked into it. I had actually spent years looking into this stuff as I had spent the last two years trying to convince my wife this was something we should try. Once I finally convinced her, here is what we ended up doing. Against the better advice of most people, we flew down to Fort Lauderdale the morning of our cruise. Most would suggest you not do this, and I would have to agree. We did this simply because it saved $200CAD per person on the flight ($400CAD for both of us combined), but it was a relatively stressful way to start the trip and I suggest going down the night before if you can. After receiving some advice from a travel agent friend we opted not to take the airport transfers offered by Princess. By doing so, we saved ourselves about $50CAD on arrival and on departure. The cab driver on the way down was great and got us there is plenty of time, but the port is jam packed on weekends. The cab driver ensured us we had plenty of time, but as we sat behind hundreds of cars waiting we were somewhat concerned. When my wife and I talked about it afterwards we decided that the savings were great, but again, piece of mind may have been a better choice in the long run. When we arrived at our terminal things seemed a little busy, and at first we weren't quite sure where to go. In the end, we left our bags at the bag drop and then proceeded pretty quickly through the various aspect of checking in (going through security, filling in a short form, and then actually checking in at the registration desk). When you look at the number of people your first thought is that it will take forever, but in the end the whole process took us no more than 30 minutes. After that, it was off to the ship! When we got on board we went straight for our cabin. We obviously wanted to put down our bags and get settled in, but I was really interested in seeing what it looked like. I had heard they were very small, so to be prepared. Our room (Deck 9 Dolphin, D729) was amazing! Unlike what had been described to us, it really wasn't much smaller than a typical hotel room. We had two twins pushed together to make a king sized bed, a sitting area with a love seat and table, and finally a small desk that my wife used to get ready most of the week. The bathroom was the only part that was small, so this desk was handy for her. The room was aft facing with a larger than normal balcony, so if you plan to cruise on the Regal Princess book this cabin! We ate most of our meals at the buffet, though we did eat once in the main dining hall, once at the Crown Grill steakhouse and once at the Alfredo’s Pizzeria. I found the buffet to be hit and miss for dinner, but breakfast and lunch we always spot on. For dinner they had these great daily themes to the food like Asian, Italian and Mexican. Some were spot on, but I wasn't impressed by all. That being said, Alfredo’s and the Crown Grill were phenomenal! We paid a small up charge for the Crown Grill, but it was well worth it! We also spent an hour or two each night at Vines or Bellini’s, the two bars in the Piazza. The drink selections were quite good, and the live entertainment was incredibly relaxing. Just the right touch to get you settled for a nice evening. Our days were filled with various things depending on whether or not we were in port or at sea. In the Bahamas we booked an incredible dune buggy tour through Princess. I know you can save bundles by booking elsewhere, but this particular one was well worth the price! It was approximately two hours and we drove a few miles in the dune buggies. We were treated to parts of the island that you’d never see otherwise. And when they decided to give us an extra 15 minutes at the end because we were the final tour of the day it was nice to know the ship wasn’t going to leave without us because we were on an affiliated tour. I guess the last thing to talk about are the activities on the ship. We did everything from laying around by the pool, to interactive TV style shows, as well as comedy and magic shows. I have to say, I was beyond impressed with the entertainment on the ship. The people who were brought in like the magician and comedian were excellent, but the actual Princess staff that kept us entertained by the pool were equally good. I know this is quite a detailed review, but I hope it helps to serve another first time cruiser well. Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
This was our first cruise, so it was all new to us. Having read previous reviews of this ship we did wonder if adverse comments were true. More of that later. We are an early 60s British couple recently retired, travelling with a ... Read More
This was our first cruise, so it was all new to us. Having read previous reviews of this ship we did wonder if adverse comments were true. More of that later. We are an early 60s British couple recently retired, travelling with a relative. The cruise was 16d/15n from Los Angeles to Fort Lauderdale via the Panama Canal, with stops in Guatemala, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia and Aruba. The ship was built in 2002 and refitted last year, with extra cabins added at the rear of Deck 7 Promenade. It is one of two built to Panamax size to suit the Canal, although larger ships can be taken when new locks and channels are commissioned later in 2016. Standard of fit out and furnishing was excellent, with much polished and varnished wood, chrome and marble. Maintenance continued throughout the voyage, and at each stop crew were on shore painting out rust and tug marks on the hull. Previous posters complained about the addition of cabins in the 2015 refit, cutting off the stern part of the Promenade Deck. This wasn't a problem for us when walking , as you could either turn around and walk a long U shape, or cross a landing to do full circuits. There were also comments about crowding in public areas, but we only found a problem in the breakfast buffet in Horizon Court at peak time. The answer was to order hot drinks, cereals and fruit from room service, then to have a cooked breakfast when the crowds had subsided. A daily news letter listed activities, talks and shows, with extra information sheets on destinations. There were also regular deliveries and reminders about "enrichment" (shopping) opportunities. It was irritating how Princess constantly tried to squeeze more money out of the passengers, through on-board shopping, wine tastings, photos and DVDs, the casino, and exorbitant behind the scenes tours at $150 each. Although we only saw a few shows they were varied and good quality. The food was varied and of good quality. Our dining option was the late sitting of fixed time, which gave time to relax and have a drink before dinner, especially after shore excursions. Although we three had asked to join a table of eight we were on our own for the first two nights. The Maitre D' then placed two other couples on the table with us after they changed their options. We like to think that he was proactive to ensure compatibility. The dress codes, including formal nights, were generally adhered to and enforced. Most passengers were American, with some Brits, Germans and Canadians, and generally older than us. Although there's a teenagers' area we only saw one young person and one toddler. Previous reviewers said that some staff were rude. Without exception, all staff were friendly, attentive and efficient. The only rude people we met were some passengers, who talked to staff as though they were inferior beings. Some vocabularies don't include "please" and "thank you". Doors to decks had stiff closers for obvious reasons, and when holding them open for passengers some didn't thank or even acknowledge me. It was irritating on shore excursions when passengers had loud conversations when guides were talking. A "sailaway" party was planned for departure, but was cancelled as we sailed away four hours late following a faulty software update on the ship's control systems. There were four sea days before the first stop at Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala, which gave us time to familiarise ourselves with the ship and to get over jet lag. A shore trip took us to to a coffee plantation and Antigua, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Both were worth seeing. At the next stop in Puntarenas we visited a rain forest where a modified ski lift takes passengers above the canopy. Tours started late as another cruise ship was moored at the same pier, and space was limited for coaches to reverse to the ships. The walk around Panama was interesting, when we anchored off Fuerte Amadore and were tendered ashore. At Cartagena and Aruba we decided to do our own thing. The cruise dock at the former is in a commercial port, but there's a shopping centre a short walk along the dock. Check out the emeralds, and haggling can reduce the marked price. Aruba's pier is next to the city, and there are plenty of shops, bars and restaurants to visit. The short time in port meant that some trips would have been rushed. Due to a late return flight to the UK we booked a disembarkation tour at Fort Lauderdale, cruising the Intercoastal Waterway before transferring to Miami airport. The coach driver and guide were confused about where to drop passengers for Virgin Atlantic, and dropped us at the furthest point. We then had a long trek through the airport with our luggage. It is worth paying to use an airport lounge, with drinks and snacks, as the catering provision in the airport is awful. Our cabin was one of only 8 mini-suites on the ship, with the same area as balcony cabins. There was some shuddering when sailing into heavier seas, and there was noise when docking due to being directly above the bow thrusters. In their wisdom Princess have put all laundromats at the stern, so the round trip from a bow cabin like ours to wash or iron was 500 metres. Given the number of sea days we paid for the all inclusive drinks package, which was value for money. If you tot up specialist coffees, bottled water for the cabin and excursions, cocktails before dinner, glasses of wine with, and liqueurs after it is worth it. Don't order bottled water from room service as you still have to pay for it. My wife lost a crown during the trip and I asked the front desk if treatment could be arranged during one of the stops. They never got back to us. We will definitely cruise again, and probably with Princess around the UK or to the Baltic, so the ships will be different. Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
This was our very first cruise ever; friends and family could not believe we were really taking a cruise as we do not fit your typical cruise profile, although we are retired. We had no preconceived ideas about what to expect, and I ... Read More
This was our very first cruise ever; friends and family could not believe we were really taking a cruise as we do not fit your typical cruise profile, although we are retired. We had no preconceived ideas about what to expect, and I thought it might be like spending seven days trapped in an enormous floating apartment building. We were more than pleased, actually thrilled, with all aspects of our trip. Embarkation was a breeze, as we were traveling with platinum members who had special access to walk on embarkation process. We found our interior cabin plenty big, with lots of storage space, drawers, shelves, and a perfectly acceptable bathroom. Our room steward was on top of everything and I am convinced he tidied our room three times a day. The mints on the pillow every night were a nice touch. My only complaint is that nowhere did they inform you that in order to keep the lights on in the cabin, you need to leave your cruise card in the slot whenever you are there. As a result, we spent a few moments in pitch dark trying to figure out what went wrong. It is quite dark in an interior cabin with no light whatsoever. Every single employee, throughout the cruise, when met in a hallway or anywhere else always greeted us with a polite "good morning" or whatever greeting was appropriate. All staff were extremely courteous and polite whether handing out towels or serving a meal. The food was top notch, with such a wide cross section of options that there could be no room for complaint. We splurged one night and ate in the Crown grill, and were very pleased with the food, felt it was a bargain considering the meal we got. As a gluten free/lactose intolerant person, my pre registration of dietary needs were noted at every meal by our wait staff, especially when we chose the same dining room for dinner each morning and night. There were no problems finding appropriate food for these dietary restrictions. We found plenty to do every day, from a morning workout on the track each day to trivia, show presentations, dance classes, the string quartet, and the fabulous piano/comedy musician at the Crooners bar. We also watched a few movies, and attended a comedy routine one night. I had two sessions at the spa, a facial , and a sea weed massage treatment. Both were excellent, although the pressure to buy very expensive products used by the staff was off putting to me.When they forgot me for one scheduled treatment and left me sitting alone in a waiting area for 45 minutes, I went to the desk in a very poor mood, to put it mildly, and was comped the treatment. I used the adults only area and pool, and found it wonderful. Towel service is excellent throughout the ship with as many as you want or need offered; pools and hot tubs clean and appealing. We took excursions at every stop, although one was cancelled on Grand Cayman due to rough surf. NO problem, we simply disembarked and found a local woman with a van tour business offering to take us wherever we wanted. We got to go to the turtle refuge and other spots, narrated by a local anxious to share history and facts with us all for only $20/apiece. Well worth it, and cheaper than the equivalent offered by Princess. The other excursions sponsored by Princess were excellent, staffed by attentive, informed, and engaging staff. On one, we got to climb a Mayan pyramid and visit other Mayan ruins after an incredible lecture on the bus beforehand. We would return to each of the ports again and participate in other excursions! If you like specialty coffees (lattes etc.) buy the coffee card- it is worth it and if you don't use it up, it is good on future cruises. You can also buy gelatos with this card, and specialty tea. We plan to return to Princess for another cruise in the future. The sooner the better! Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
We didn't pick this cruise for our first cruise. My family picked it and we decided to tag along. It was a nice ship, the staff were super, and I did enjoy it. But 5 days at sea were a little long for me. My sister thought it ... Read More
We didn't pick this cruise for our first cruise. My family picked it and we decided to tag along. It was a nice ship, the staff were super, and I did enjoy it. But 5 days at sea were a little long for me. My sister thought it wasn't long enough, so it is a matter of personal opinion. Overall, I had a wonderful time and would like to cruise again. The embarkation process was very easy, even for a newbie like me. We were directed to a line, which was moving very quickly to register and received e our cards. We then sat in a large room and waited for our boarding party to be called. I don't think we were sitting for 10 minutes. We had received a card saying the staterooms wouldn't be ready until after 1 and our bags could take a couple of hours. Our stateroom was ready as we approached with one suitcase sitting outside. The second arrived within 15 minutes. All in all, very easy. Disembarking was even easier. Due to the early hours of our flight, we were walking off. Scheduled for 7:45, we were actually in a taxi speeding our way to the airport by 7:30. Thank you Princess. We had the early seating in the Botticelli Dining Room. Although the selection of menu items wasn't large, I always found something I liked on it. One thing I didn't like was the temperature of the soup. It was lukewarm at best. I had steak on several occasions and always order it rare. It usually came medium rare, hence the reason I order it rare. A couple of time, we passed on the dining room because the men wanted to keep their shorts on (not allowed) and had dinner at the Horizon Court. Lots to choose from there. I walk a lot and was happy to see the walking track on the Promenade Deck. 2.5 times around for a mile. The first couple of times I used it were fine, but then the smokers came out. Why would they put the smokers area on the walking track? Poor planning on their part. Along the same vein, the casino needs a better ventilation system. I was only in it for a short period of time since the smoke was hanging. Loved the crew. Everyone was so helpful and efficient. They did sometimes seem overworked and my family (the experienced cruisers) said they usually see a lot more deck attendants and wait staff than we saw on this cruise. I hope to cruise again but not necessarily on Princess. Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
My parents treated me to my 1st ever cruise...a 7 day Mexican Riveria cruise from L.A. We had a mini-suite (Dolphin Deck - deck 9, and mid-ship) so it was a great location for a cabin. I was so not sure of what to expect, I expected to ... Read More
My parents treated me to my 1st ever cruise...a 7 day Mexican Riveria cruise from L.A. We had a mini-suite (Dolphin Deck - deck 9, and mid-ship) so it was a great location for a cabin. I was so not sure of what to expect, I expected to feel the motion of the ship way more than I did. Anyway, the ship was really nice, the cabin was great, big enough for 3 people, but would have been better for just 2, but anyway, the ship was nice, the food was amazing and the crew was friendly, attentive, helpful and always eager to please. Here are the negatives, at least for me: first, we went on Presidents Day weekend, AND it was also Valentines Day, so as a single, it was all families and couples - so BOO to that, nothing for a single girl to do. Second, the first 2.5 days we were at sea, that was brutal, there was nothing fun to do in the way of things I like, like there was no pool table, bowling alley, karoke bar, not even a big slide for the pool. What there was however, was a art auction (snooze), movies under the starts (played almost ALL kids movies), bingo, line dancing, knitting group meet up, etc, all stuff for old people (and I am 47), but c'mon. The casino was the only saving grace, but they allowed people to SMOKE in there ! Ew - really ? The shows were not really interesting enough to even go see, except the comedian, but he was only on for like 40 minutes. Overall, the boat was nice, the crew was great, our cabin was pretty big, but if you are a single person, this is probably not the cruise line for you. I will most likely not cruise again, or maybe go with friends and not for 7 days. ***Side Note*** for those of you who do not know, cruise ship employees work about 91 hours a WEEK! I have a friend who is a Cruise Ship Director and that is what she has told me, so if you go - please try to remember that and treat them nicely. Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
We'd been interested in cruising for a while and some friends recommended Princess for a quiet cruise with good food and not too many party animals! When this came up at a very good price for the 7 nights (Singapore-Ko Samui-Laem ... Read More
We'd been interested in cruising for a while and some friends recommended Princess for a quiet cruise with good food and not too many party animals! When this came up at a very good price for the 7 nights (Singapore-Ko Samui-Laem Chabang-Phu My-Singapore) I couldn't resist. Overall, I was very impressed with the Sapphire Princess and her crew. Embarkation and disembarkation were easy and efficient; staff were helpful, competent and friendly; the ship was very clean; they obviously took hygiene seriously, with plenty of reminders about hand washing and insisting people used the hand clean before getting food in the buffet; our stateroom had a comfortable bed (although pillows were lumpy) and enough storage; and most of the food was very good. We liked the anytime dining option, and used it for 6 of the 7 nights. The staff in the Santa Fe seemed the most efficient, we didn't have to wait as long for a table as we did in the Pacific Moon or Savoy, and the service was better. The only real disappointment was the meal on the last night when we had overcooked mussels, and third-rate frozen deserts. To be fair, when we mentioned this to the Maitre d', he was very apologetic and offered to get us alternatives. Other than that, meals were good enough that I couldn't resist 3 courses when I'd normally just have one. We ate in Sabatini's (extra US$25pp) one night, also very good, particularly the lobster. Drinks were restaurant/bar prices, which with the poor AUD and 15% gratuities made them expensive, although it wasn't worth our while to buy the beverage package. I gather that's much the same as other cruise lines. We didn't drink a great deal, but we do like a beer before dinner and a glass of wine with it... the occasional cocktail... which ate up a fair bit of our onboard credit. Breakfast in the buffet was reasonable, with excellent omelettes. However, when we discovered the breakfast in the International Dining Room was better we realised we should have taken that option all cruise. Will know next time! Speciality coffees were very good at the International Cafe (we bought coffee cards) and the cakes/pastries were delicious. I should have asked for the recipe for the gluten-free pineapple fruit cake. Or maybe not. Still a few kilos to lose... We only came across one grumpy staff member (he was in the International cafe) all cruise. Our cabin steward, Jay, was excellent - always available when we needed him but not intrusive. The shore days were a mixed bag. We're not into organised sightseeing so didn't go on any tours. We'd prefer to stay a few days in a place, amble around and get to know it so one day was always going to be unsatisfactory for us. On the plus side, we had a pleasant walk and good Thai lunch in Ko Samui, and we found out we didn't like Pattaya without committing to a longer holiday. Vietnamese New Year restricted us in Phu My. Although it was interesting to see the market in Ba Ria (delapidated free shuttle bus to/from ship put on by the town!) not much else was open. We had a look at some of the shows on the boat (music, some apparently disconnected song-and-dance compilations, and a magician) but we weren't attracted by them enough to stay and watch. Not sure if this was sub-par or they just weren't our type of show. Next time I'd pay more attention to the enrichment activities, though, because they one I did get to (Head Chef/Maitre d' cooking demonstration and galley tour) was good. They were very polished and I learned a few things about dishes I thought I knew how to cook! The gym was well-equipped and, together with using the stairs rather than lifts, probably saved me from looking like a beach ball by the end. We did 5 work outs!!! So, we'd cruise Princess again. I'd do another cruise to Asia if I could get this good a deal, but plan on staying on the boat for shore days unless there was something I really wanted to see. What I'd really like to do now though is cruise Alaska so I can see the wildlife and that scenery :) :) Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
From the moment we set eyes on Sapphire Princess we new we would have a great time Been 67 and 72 years old we coud not fault anything, The food was fantastic - the buffet great selection of foods - at night we chose to eat at Savoy ... Read More
From the moment we set eyes on Sapphire Princess we new we would have a great time Been 67 and 72 years old we coud not fault anything, The food was fantastic - the buffet great selection of foods - at night we chose to eat at Savoy and Santa Fe. Our favourite Santa Fe with waiters Antonio and Dwi made a great evenings dining. The entertainment very professional musicians- our cabin A340 beautiful with a balcony and cabin steward Georgi on the 12th level. All staff very friendly and attentive. The swimming pool areas great for a lazy time on the many deck chairs watching a movie or enjoying a swim. so many activities for the young and old. Met people from all over the world - only 300 Aussies on board - 75% Asian/chinese as lunar new year and also Canadians, Americans and British The ships decor was exquisite and a walk on the promenade for relaxation recommended. The tours a shore were good. we had visited Bangkok, Koh Sumai and Ho Chi Mingh many times before but still enjoyed returning for memorys. Congratulations on a great cruise and we hope to return next year definately with Princess. Every day so well organised Thankyou Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
This was the first cruise for my wife and me, though we're generally seasoned world travelers and we've been to the Caribbean several times before (and whether it counts or not, we've stayed aboard the Queen Mary in Long ... Read More
This was the first cruise for my wife and me, though we're generally seasoned world travelers and we've been to the Caribbean several times before (and whether it counts or not, we've stayed aboard the Queen Mary in Long Beach). We're people who feel like we know what we're doing when we travel, and what to expect. We'd done a lot of research on this cruise before embarkation, and had seen some of the negative reviews of this ship after its recent drydock. Thankfully, we had no real complaints. Oh sure, if we had to nitpick every little thing, we might say the in-cabin water was a little warm for toothbrushing, the photographs too expensive or the shows were a little short. But come on - is that really going to affect your enjoyment of your vacation? Do you *want* to be miserable? We had a great time, and that was despite some less-than-ideal weather. The ship was rocking and rolling the first night, but we loved our food in the Da Vinci dining room and were happy to see we'd have a table for two for the duration of our cruise. The food was fantastic every night, with the notable exception of the desserts, which were visually beautiful but lacked flavor. I did enjoy the creme brulee (though it was always cold), but most desserts tasted like something you'd get out of the freezer case at the supermarket. We were usually too full by then to care, though, and the other courses were always really tasty and varied every night. Never once did we think it was worth springing for one of the extra fee restaurants. We booked our shore excursions in advance and they were really some amazing memories I know we'll have for a long, long time. We chose to go snorkeling with the stingrays in Grand Cayman and ziplining through the Jamaican rainforest in Ocho Rios. The latter was actually quite strenuous, but we needed the physical activity after 3 days of lounging around doing not much other than eating and drinking. Definitely don't book this if you're not in good physical shape, though - one poor guy on our excursion had to drop out. Service was always cordial at worst, friendly and efficient at best. Our cabin boy Raymond was great, and always fixed up our room (mini-suite D730 on D deck) twice a day. He also brought us welcome glasses of champagne on day 1, and made towel animals for us every morning. Our main waiter in the dining room was obviously experienced and had a real seaman's personality - occasionally I got the feeling he disapproved of my menu choices, but I'm a New Yorker, we expect that sort of thing. The one real service hiccup we had was just prior to disembarkation, when we were assigned to the wrong transfer bus - it took some time and some back and forth to get that corrected, but we finally did without too much fuss. The ship itself is beautiful and we were never left wanting for something to do. We both thought it was logically laid out as well, although any big ship probably takes a day or two to get accustomed to. For some reason we couldn't figure out how to get to Skywalker's Lounge until the last night, but otherwise everything was easy to find. I was a little disappointed that the bow is only accessible on the small covered promenade deck walkway - there's no open-air walking around the bow area. I was a little surprised that just out of drydock, there was still a lot of wear and tear visible on our balcony, and some areas of the ship were still being touched up (the terrace pool at the stern was closed to be repainted and stained until day 3, for example). But again, these are fairly minor issues on a ship this big with this much to see and do. We'll definitely cruise again, and while I can't say we'll definitely take Princess or this specific ship, if we do another cruise line it'll just be because we want to vary our experiences, not because we had any real problems on this cruise. We loved it. I know I can speak for my wife when I say we can highly recommend this ship. Don't get hung up on small stuff. Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
My first cruise, just wanted a short, relaxing getaway to see if I would enjoy it. Used EZAir and Princess Transfer, which were very smooth despite my flight getting cancelled and replaced by another. I was on the ship within 90 minutes ... Read More
My first cruise, just wanted a short, relaxing getaway to see if I would enjoy it. Used EZAir and Princess Transfer, which were very smooth despite my flight getting cancelled and replaced by another. I was on the ship within 90 minutes of landing at LAX. There were plenty of helpful staff at the airport and the cruise terminal and almost no lines anywhere. In general the ship was very nice, clean, did not feel crowded (except for maybe the Piazza), and easy to navigate. There were plenty of friendly and helpful crew around. The other passengers were to my liking: friendly and not too rowdy. Entertainment was okay: a comedian whom I found hilarious and a nice dance show, but the comedy/juggling act one night (called Team Rootberry) was shockingly bad. Food was good and plentiful. I am a vegetarian and ate well for the most part, though I think my head waiter could have been more helpful with dinner choices (I've written a separate review with pictures here http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?p=49150111). Pizza was good, but I don't know why it's been called "the best pizza at sea" unless pizza on other cruise lines is just bad. Room service was good, though I wish they had more vegetarian choices, and the room service breakfast, while simple, was prompt and nice to be able to eat on the balcony. I didn't participate in many excursions as I just wanted to relax on the boat. The tour to La Bufadora in Ensenada was nice. I also didn't attend many enrichment activities onboard, except one health seminar that was more an advertisement for a detox program offered by the spa. I had a nice massage, but probably not worth the cost just to have it on a boat. Disembarkation was good, although less smooth than embarkation. Again, I was at the airport within 90 minutes of my disembarkation time. Princess requests that passengers not arrive at their assigned meeting place for disembarkation early, so I arrived two minutes early only to find that my group had already left. For some reason crew is scant during disembarkation and I couldn't find anyone to ask where I should go. Not a big deal but a little frustrating. Overall, a relaxing cruise with good service for a reasonable price. Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
This was our 1st cruise and overall it was very enjoyable. The voyage began in Fort Lauderdale, took us thru the Panama Canal and ended in Los Angeles. Our room was very comfortable with lots of storage. The food and the service were ... Read More
This was our 1st cruise and overall it was very enjoyable. The voyage began in Fort Lauderdale, took us thru the Panama Canal and ended in Los Angeles. Our room was very comfortable with lots of storage. The food and the service were very good. The shows were entertaining and things were very well organized when it came to getting us on and off the ship. Watching movies under the stars was fun. The staff were very professional and attentive. The aspects we least enjoyed: - the constant vibration in our room from the ship's engines (Deck 11, room B737) - the extras we had to pay (soda, bottled water, juice, classes in the gym, cover charge for specialty dining rooms). We felt "nickeled and dimed". - two nights of rough seas (very uncomfortable and unsettling) - the passengers were generally older than we are, so not too many onboard activities appealed to us (e.g. bingo, playing cards, art auctions) - the daily sales pitches (ship's newspaper and announcements) to buy their jewelry and art. - wait lines for "any time dining" - crowds at the bars for "happy hour", service was slow (drinks were excellent) - crowds at the theatre (had to line up early to get in, 30-40 minutes) - not being able to walk the skip's outdoor decks for exercise purposes. The addition of over 100 rooms in 2015 means common spaces have been reduced and the upper decks are chopped up so you can't walk uninterrupted from one end of the ship to the other. - broken equipment in the gym and no staff to report issues to. - small shower, stained shower curtains that stick to you as you turn around in the shower Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
I am a 23 year old male, single and a full time student. Decided to treat myself to a little holiday, and started to research cruising. I took the plunge and booked myself on the Golden, for a short row over the Tasman from Auckland to ... Read More
I am a 23 year old male, single and a full time student. Decided to treat myself to a little holiday, and started to research cruising. I took the plunge and booked myself on the Golden, for a short row over the Tasman from Auckland to Melbourne. To be completely honest with you, after experiencing a cruise - I will never go back to land based holiday's. Embarkation in Auckland was fantastic and smooth. I arrived at 11.00, dumped my luggage and proceeded to the passenger area. Filled all my forms in, and sat there with my heart pounding for the next 20 odd minutes, until we were given the all clear to start boarding. The process was smooth and easy, and I was on board, in my cabin by 12. It certainly was overwhelming, travelling on such a big ship as my first cruise. It seemed to take forever to walk from one end to the other down the "never ending corridors" but I didn't mind the long walk - gave you chance to burn off the 15 times you'd eaten during the day. The ship was presented beautifully. I especially fell in love with the Piazza, having my morning coffee at the International Cafe. The Piazza was also host to a lot of social gatherings, and certainly had a lot of fun here. The food I thought was fantastic. I only ate in the MDR on one night, and unfortunately missed out on booking at table at the Crown Grill, so ended up eating in The Horizon Court buffet for the rest of my dinners. I found the food in the buffet to be fantastic - everything was cooked perfectly and seasoned to perfection. I also thought the redesigned layout helped the flow of passengers and having only one entry and one exit kept everyone in an orderly fashion. I also particularly liked Prego's Pizza - traditional American style pizza which was delicious. The Trident Grill, was, OK. The entertainment was, again, fantastic. I enjoyed Pearson & Harvey, who were a comedy duo from Australia. Combining a range of performances from song, to instrumental and of course comedy - contributed to a brilliant show. They performed twice, each time with different material. I also thoroughly enjoyed the International Crew Talent Performance on the last night ... definitely a must see! Unfortunately I didn't get chance to see the production show Motor City. The staff throughout the ship were amazing. Ever so polite, attentive and ready to help you with whatever you needed. My cabin steward, Dindo, was my knight in shining armour during my cruise. I was also impressed that it didn't take long at all for the bar staff to know what you drink! Cruise Director Neil and Assistant Cruise Director Corey ensured we all had a great time. My only gripe is the fact that you get penalized when you travel solo. Having to pay double is ridiculous and quite frankly a rip off, however I am not going to let that discourage my from my next cruise! Overall, a brilliant and fantastic holiday for me. I was so sad when I disembarked, and am thinking about my next cruise while I write this review. Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
On the January 30th 2016 cruise this was truly the cruise from hell. First the cruise was late getting to port from dry dock and left the port 90 minutes late. At this time there were no pools or hot tubs. Some rooms had no operating ... Read More
On the January 30th 2016 cruise this was truly the cruise from hell. First the cruise was late getting to port from dry dock and left the port 90 minutes late. At this time there were no pools or hot tubs. Some rooms had no operating toilets or A/C. Some had sinks that would not drain. Some, like me, had sinks that had hot water coming out of the cold tap. Many of the casino slot machines were either not operating or having issues. The ship was not pristine, but dirty in places. On Sunday they had an issue with one of the thrusters and had to stop in the ocean for repairs. This took a couple of hours. Then at 3 am Monday we lost a propeller. This took 14 hours to fix and we missed Cozumel that morning. We finally made it to Cozumel at 7 pm and stayed until 5 pm the next day. We did not go to Roatan. We did not go to Costa Maya due to bad weather. We got the pools and hot tubs on Tuesday. On Wednesday I lost hot water in my shower, but it was back the next day. Princess gave everyone on the ship a 50% credit based on the base rate everyone paid for their rooms, but only $27 for the taxes. Nothing was refunded on the port fees, even we did not go to 2 of the ports. This was basically a cruise to nowhere. Many of the public restrooms were inoperable. Some complete floors had not A/C for much of the cruise. Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
My husband and I and my daughter in her twenties cruised to Eastern Caribbean for 7 days with Emerald cruise embarked on Jan 30th 2016. We had a fantastic time. Our steward Edward was very polite and efficient. We didn't see him ... Read More
My husband and I and my daughter in her twenties cruised to Eastern Caribbean for 7 days with Emerald cruise embarked on Jan 30th 2016. We had a fantastic time. Our steward Edward was very polite and efficient. We didn't see him much, just a few times in the hallway, but our room always got cleaned in the morning and the up bed was put down for us in the evening. We were amazed how he knew that were not in the room and got everything done so well. Our waiter Narisak, who is from Thailand, was very fast and knowledgeable and considerate, took his job very seriously. Food was good, service was unbeatable. Neal, the cruise directer, was on TV everyday, and showed up on the performance in the theater each evening, he was really funny, had us laugh a lot. The beach at each port was beautiful. We didn't book any excursions, just got off ship whenever we were ready and took a taxi to tour the island ourselves. Of course, we payed much more this way. We had a good time for our first cruise, will cruise often with princess in the coming years. Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
I could not have been happier with our cruise on Sapphire Princess which departed Singapore on 27 Jan 2016. The quality of the ship was first class and all bars and eating areas were different in their own way. The meals were excellent ... Read More
I could not have been happier with our cruise on Sapphire Princess which departed Singapore on 27 Jan 2016. The quality of the ship was first class and all bars and eating areas were different in their own way. The meals were excellent and even though many people avoid buffets we ate at Horizon Court for dinner about half of the time (usually after day trips when we couldn't be bothered dressing up a little more) and we were pleasantly surprised with the quality and variation. Always plenty of seafood and even heaps of lobsters one night. The dining rooms were also great. Our cabin was getting close to a refresh, in terms of carpet replacement and some work in the bathroom but it was still great and the beds were as comfortable as any I have slept in on my travels. Shore excursions were great and we were offloaded very quickly. Drink prices on board I thought were reasonable and the entertainment and other on board activities were varied. The service at the Passenger Service Desk was good except on one occasion when the bloke I dealt with couldn't have cared less. Other occasions, the staff were great. I could not of been happier and I am missing the ship since we left. Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
Didn't know what to expect from this cruise as i was a first timer & afterwards would probably not go on this ship again. Not that it was aweful but having to tell staff how to do their job when your trying to relax on vacation; i ... Read More
Didn't know what to expect from this cruise as i was a first timer & afterwards would probably not go on this ship again. Not that it was aweful but having to tell staff how to do their job when your trying to relax on vacation; i would try another ship if i ever do again. I purchased a drink package & wasn't fully expalined what it entailed( a pamphlet would be a good idea) & then being told by a hospitality supervisor i could't have milkshakes when other staff were serving them to me no worries. I nearly had more than one argument with different staff because they were either unaware or too stupid to realise what my drink package sticker meant. The cabin cleaners i must say did a fantastic job & were very polite & professional. The deck attendants also can't fault them along with the Captain & his crew & the directors staff. Didn't even know who this guy was that approached me at the gym but by the way he was acting anyone would have thought he built the ship haha trying to tell me how to use equipment that i already knew how to use & stressing cos i brought my kid along, nvr went back in there after that thanks fella. Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
This was my first time on a cruise although not my first time in New Zealand. Was looking for a relaxing no-fuss holiday and this pretty much fit the bill. I'll start by noting that towards the end of the trip we were alerted to a ... Read More
This was my first time on a cruise although not my first time in New Zealand. Was looking for a relaxing no-fuss holiday and this pretty much fit the bill. I'll start by noting that towards the end of the trip we were alerted to a gastro outbreak on the ship that made the news once we disembarked. The crew were very professional, gave regular updates and did everything possible to manage the spread of the virus - most notably no more self-service in the buffet and extra cleaning. Unfortunately some passengers didn't follow directions and apparently left quarantine (rather inconsiderate of them) or failed to report they were sick. Service was great. The room steward kept everything clean and tidy, food service was generally very good with some waiters making jokes and chatting to passengers and maintaining good cleanliness. The crew manning the activities had a great attitude and seemed to enjoy what they were doing. We initially had traditional dining but found the time inconvenient (we had selected 8pm for dinner) and so switched to anytime dining. Parts of the menu changed daily so there was variety but we probably split our dinner between the dining rooms and buffet at Horizon Court depending on what was on the menu and how much time we had to eat (it takes longer to eat in the dining room than the buffet). I sometimes found the dessert in the dining room better and the food is fresher. However the buffet has enormous variety and also changes daily with different nationality themes. I also liked the Trident Grill and Pizzeria which I went to for lunch when on the ship. Food was fantastic and you can definitely eat too much. We had an interior room which was fine for us since we spent little time in it and didn't miss the balcony. Being near Horizon Court meant food/water was only a short staircase away from our rooms (very convenient). The room had a power point that accepted Australian equipment so no adapter was necessary. There are plenty of different activities for those so inclined (even on shore days) such as trivia, demonstrations, games, dance/ukelele/singing groups. On the second last day some of the groups performed. There are many more other activities and a daily newsletter lists all of them. They showed maybe 2-3 movies up on the deck every day of different genres and I enjoyed quite a few of them. There were various musical performances in the bars and atrium. Each night there were performances either by the Princess singers and dances or guest performers. The Princess productions were a bit too loud and hyper for me, I'd say Bravo is the only one that was really good and not to be missed. For the Princess cast shows, we had to get there almost 30mins before the start to get a seat. The guest performers were a bit of a hit or miss but I think a lot of it is just down to different tastes and preferences. If you're a book worm I suggest bringing your own books as I didn't find the library had much to offer (but does have lots of board games). For those wanting a slower pace there was usually space out on the open deck and lots of corners in the various bars to tuck yourself away. I found the walk around the ship on level 7 very pleasant and quite a few people did daily laps. So how you spend your time on the ship is really up to you. My friend packed her day with activities and met lots of people whereas I tended to look for solitude whether watching a movie on deck or just gazing out at the ocean and walking around (with a few activities sprinkled here and there). You will probably meet and bump into people a few times over as depending on your group size you might share a table during meals. The destination/port lecturer we had (Linda) was fantastic and if she's on your cruise I recommend going to her talks (they also put them on the TV). We stopped at Auckland, Tauranga, Wellington, Akaroa/Christchurch, Port Chalmers/Dunedin, Fiordland National Park (cruising). Fairly good selection of ports and luckily the weather was with us so we made it to all of them and had fairly stable cruising. We mostly did our own thing rather than organised shore excursions however the ones we did do were well organised (Hobbiton and Antarctic Centre). Christchurch CBD is still very much under construction with lots of vacant buildings. Dunedin is very small. Some of the touristy places took NZD, AUD and USD. Bring a lanyard so you can wear your cruise card around your neck and not lose it. Bring a secondary government ID (e.g. driver licence) as you need it to get back on the ship (if you don't want to take your passport on shore excursions). A lot of the public areas in NZ had free wi-fi. The ship wi-fi is expensive but worked pretty well. All in all it was a good experience for a first cruise. Good value considering transportation, accommodation and food is all included. You are somewhat restricted by time/port location but it was a worthwhile trade-off in this instance. Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
My husband and I are both first time cruisers so were not sure what to expect. We got on in Auckland, we live there so just got dropped off, embarkation was so smooth, we were on the ship in half an hour and our bags delivered within the ... Read More
My husband and I are both first time cruisers so were not sure what to expect. We got on in Auckland, we live there so just got dropped off, embarkation was so smooth, we were on the ship in half an hour and our bags delivered within the hour. We had an interior room in the middle of the ship. Perfect, no rocking. Ours was slightly bigger as we had the wardrobes at the end of the room. Bed made with fresh sheets every day, turned down at night, towels changed 2x day. Service from all the staff was amazing, so polite. One waiter we had was a bit grumpy, think he needed to move on and get off the ship. Photos - if there is a package deal take advantage of it, - we did and ended up with amazing photos, formal and casual. We did anytime dining so got to meet new people every meal. Once we had dinner in the main dining room when it was our anniversary, we got a cake and they sang happy anniversary to us. Excursions, we did our own thing except my husband did the weta workshop tour thru the ship in Wellington. In Dunedin we did do the Larnoch Castle tour which also included a hop on hop off ride around the city. That we went to the information site and booked. Entertainment, we went to a variety. Check your daily patter and highlight what you would like to do or you will miss out on things, We went to the Crown Grill and Crab Shack - both which you pay extra for $25pp and these restaurants are well worth the money. Disemarkation day - again so quick and simple. Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
We loved the cruise. After 5 nights in Santiago, we took turbus for $8 each to Valporaiso for 3 nights before our embarkation. ( hotels were Galerias and Cirilo Armstrong respectively. Wonderful stays) Embarkation was easy, but ... Read More
We loved the cruise. After 5 nights in Santiago, we took turbus for $8 each to Valporaiso for 3 nights before our embarkation. ( hotels were Galerias and Cirilo Armstrong respectively. Wonderful stays) Embarkation was easy, but involves going to the passenger terminal a few miles from the ship. Then once you are checked in, Princess transports you to the ship which is docked at the container port. We were able to enter cabin immediately upon hoarding. Lunch at horizon court and then got to know the ship. Princess Star is very well maintained and beautiful. We had a balcony cabin aft port side on deck 10, caribe. Extra large balcony with 2 chairs that recline with footrests and a table. We enjoyed the balcony to the fullest, even when the weather turned cooler as we went farther south. We just put on our jackets and brought out our coffees our cocktails/ wine. The entertainment was fabulous. Both cultural events and historical lectures were held almost everyday. Tango lessons, tango orchestras, line dancing south of the border style, port lectures, historical/cultural lectures, you name it, these activities abounded. And we went to almost all. The movie entertainment was top notch. Under the stars got chilly a few nights, but blankets were brought out. And movies were also shown in the Vista Lounge. Dancing music was throughout the ship at several venues everyday. We love the Piazza. And the International Cafe. That brings me to food. Delicious!!! We had anytime and were able to get a table for 2 every night. Loved it. Great wait staff throughout. Great choices on the menus. We also used room service frequently for coffee, juice in morning on our balcony. Excursions were enriching and lots of fun. We chose Princess for every stop except Stanley, and Montevideo In Stanley we took the public bus to gypsy cove for $20 each to see a few penguins. In Montevideo we walked the ciudad vieja on our own and had lunch in Puerto Mercado/great grilled steaks. Beautiful beach and we even saw a few emperor penguins. We felt that value wise, Princess delivered a great excursion at every stop. Punto Arenas had to be skipped because of the weather. We disembarked easily, feeling refreshed, rejuvenated, and culturally enriched. We remained In Buenos Aires for a week more in a condo I found on flip key. Great place, "Hollywood condo." Then went to Colonia in Uruguay for 3 nights on buquebus. Stayed at Poada Don Antonio and loved every minute. Ended trip with 5 days back in Montevideo at My Suites Boutique hotel in Pocitos. Great little hotel We loved our whole trip and the Princess Star cruise made it all the better. Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
Finally after waiting 12 months for this holiday we were on board, first time cruisers. Golden Princes from Melbourne to NZ Jan 2016.Balcony room in Caribe Deck 10 was spacious. Forget the shoe bag over the door idea. There is plenty of ... Read More
Finally after waiting 12 months for this holiday we were on board, first time cruisers. Golden Princes from Melbourne to NZ Jan 2016.Balcony room in Caribe Deck 10 was spacious. Forget the shoe bag over the door idea. There is plenty of shelving hanging space and shelf under basin in bathroom. Clip magnets a good idea, we hung our landyards and important papers on the wall. Bed made morning and during dinner. Nice to come back to a cleanly made room. Room service free including tea and coffee. International cafe is open 24 hrs but coffee and tea you have to pay for. We partook of the food offerings late took them back to our room and ordered room service for the tea and coffee! Entertainment was good. Magician and comedians esp the one from NZ was very funny and had tears running down throughout his performance. Nathan from Hi5 era was excellent. The crew review was funny but get there early as it was standing room only in the Princess Theatre. Not having another ship to compare to it was great though others did say it looked tired. Service was spectacular, waiters get to know you and your preferences fairly early. Could not fault the service. Food was amazing, far too much if anything!! Go on a diet before you cruise otherwise its so easy to put on the kilos, so take the stairs not the elevator, walk the deck on level 7. We have a 15 yr daughter and 17 yr old son. Daughter loved the remix area for teens and have kept in touch with them via social media. 17yr old was not interested. The tender ports are a pain, esp the waiting to return back to boat. Not pleasant if its boiling hot or raining as you wait outside in all types of weather. Excursions we did were Wellington Weta Movie tour. Hubby and daughter loved it. Son and I checked out Wellington. Hobbiton and Rotoroa the Luge. We rented a car from Rite Price rentals in Tauranaga, they collected us from the boat, short trip to their shop and we were quickly on our way to Hobbiton. Organised this on line. Highly recommend them. They then shuttled bus us back to ship. Great day though weather abysmal in Rotoroa. The luge fun though not so much because of the appalling weather. Nice hot chocolate in their shop though! Dunedin is a far way from Port Chalmers, where we docked. I pre organised a 4 hour tour from PC to Dunedin and back via back roads, picturesque scenery. Again booked not through the ship. Most of the time though just happy to walk around the towns. Gisborne a beautiful town. Kids did the Skydeck walk in Auckland, not for the faint hearted. The wharf there is well worth a walk around. But its mostly about the ship. If you want to see a lot of NZ then a cruise isnt they way to see it. Overall we as a family had a fantastic time. It takes a bit to readjust to beds not swaying! We would do it again in a heartbeat. Smooth waters all the way. We also bought the unlimited drinks package for son well worth it as he drank like a fish! Specialty coffee card also good value. Forget Lotus Spa far far too expensive even for a special treat I couldnt justify their prices. But each to their own. Getting a taxi back to the suburbs in Melbourne was a farce. Where are all the taxis when you need them. It took us an 1 and 30 mins to get a stationwagon to get us home. Hats off to Barry who rung the taxi companies tirelessly to try and get more taxis to come to the wharf. Maxi cabs were even more rare. Not the best way to end our time away. Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
I went on this cruise with my husband, children (12, 15), my parents and my sister. We were in consecutive cabins with interconnecting balconies on the port side, so had a fabulous view as we travelled anti clockwise around NZ. The scenery ... Read More
I went on this cruise with my husband, children (12, 15), my parents and my sister. We were in consecutive cabins with interconnecting balconies on the port side, so had a fabulous view as we travelled anti clockwise around NZ. The scenery was spectacular as you'd expect from NZ. Arriving in a new port was a cause for great excitement. But what made this cruise special were the staff, who were so cheerful and friendly. The cruise director and his assistant were hilarious and set an irreverent tone that delighted the Aussies on board. They were very hardworking too, providing daily updates of all cruise activities on the in-house TV station, as well as hosting many of the shows. The entertainment was often cheesy, but you expect that on a cruise ship and you have to go along with it. There was some great laughs with NZ's best comedian, and the stage show on the final night was hilarious, with various members of staff performing acts. Our kids loved the karaoke and the bingo (they won $90 each!). The food was about 8/10. Lots of variety at the different restaurants on board so you couldn't get bored with the menu. Who could complain about all you can eat and never having to do the dishes! There were only a few moments of boredom for the kids, which they filled with watching favourite movies on the in-room TV. Most of the time on board we spent going from restaurants and bars, to shows, to the gym, and back to the room to sit around and read and rest. What's not to like! If I had to complain I would say the décor is dated - think 90s salmon pink and brass. But it's all very clean and well-maintained. And perhaps the pools could be a bit bigger, but talk about first world problems! Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
Just got off the Regal Princess this morning after a week with DH. Embarkation: the “preferred” line at 11:00 to board the ship was at least 2x longer than the “regular” check in… Once the line started it proceeded ... Read More
Just got off the Regal Princess this morning after a week with DH. Embarkation: the “preferred” line at 11:00 to board the ship was at least 2x longer than the “regular” check in… Once the line started it proceeded quickly. Yes, the wine detail was out in full force and DH dutifully checked in his 2 bottles. Demographics: there could not have been more than 2 dozen folks under 18 on this cruise due to the timing of it. At the past pax events it was indicated that a majority of passengers were platinum or elite on the cruise with only a small percentage being first time Princess cruisers. Plenty of folks on B2Bs. Ship: she looks great with everything still having that “new ship smell.” In the “beaten to death category” of ship opportunities: 1. Lack of Mid Ship Stairs – oh my heavens, yes this really is a big design flaw as is the non-existent Promenade deck. 2. The sky walk protrusion – also a challenge if you are in a stateroom below. We were in a port side balcony on Baja deck and while sunbathing (in bikini) one afternoon a gent above on the sky walk decided to make a somewhat obscene gesture to me below. DH wasn’t amused. 3. Lack of seating for shows. It was standing room only for every show (except the “Art history seminar”) all week. Be prepared to arrive 30 minutes early or forgo the show. We chose the latter. Chair hogs – were alive and well. Quite possibly the worst I’ve ever seen. I even noted that there were NOT any signs about not saving chairs, or signs about personal items being removed, etc. There were literally chairs ‘hogged’ at 08:00am that were not visited until noon (or later). Food: the buffet is, as noted, EXTENSIVE. Definitely spend the extra few minutes walking around and taking in your options as there are many little nooks and crannies holding dishes that are not repeated elsewhere. (For example, there was spectacular Indian vegetarian dahls offered, but only in one section. At night there is a whole section devoted to just cheeses. Heaven.) Lots of healthy, as well as non healthy choices. Certainly you could take care of almost any dietary request or requirement easily at the buffet. DH enjoyed watching football on Movies under the Stars– and this one is a beautiful screen with good sound. The staterooms are well equipped and the in room flat screen tv offers a full range of movies that can be watched on-demand which was GREAT. Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
Embarkation went very smoothly. We thought it weird that you have to bring life jackets to muster drill. The buffet was one of the best we've experienced (we are huge royal Caribbean fans). The pizza everyone seems to love really ... Read More
Embarkation went very smoothly. We thought it weird that you have to bring life jackets to muster drill. The buffet was one of the best we've experienced (we are huge royal Caribbean fans). The pizza everyone seems to love really isn't that great. The service was very good. The main dining room experience comes no where near the royal Caribbean experience (only because of the food quality and selection). The service is good throughout. The shops onboard are a huge disappointment with both selection and cost. The only specialty dining we experienced was the crab shack which was terrible. The food was severely over cooked. The entertainment was ok. Movies under the stars was nice (including the popcorn and blankets which were very much needed in January). Overall, we would definitely recommend this cruise for those wishing to see Hawaii. But personally would not do again as there are way too many sea days that cannot be enjoyed because of weather. did our own shore excursions as the cruise lines gouge you on what is offered. Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
Positives: The Regal Princess is a beautiful ship. We had a Suite which was fabulous - lots of room, full size bathtub and shower, nice balcony, complimentary mini-bar, complimentary cover charge for Sabatini's restaurant on ... Read More
Positives: The Regal Princess is a beautiful ship. We had a Suite which was fabulous - lots of room, full size bathtub and shower, nice balcony, complimentary mini-bar, complimentary cover charge for Sabatini's restaurant on embarkation day, fresh orchids and fresh fruit delivered twice during the 7-day cruise, wonderful room steward, other perks, etc.. We were "living large" for first-timers! The many people we met were very friendly and had been on multiple cruises so they gave us the lowdown on all the questions we asked. There were very few "20 somethings" and very few families with small children - I would say 75% of the cruisers were over 60 years old. Perhaps it's because we sailed the second week of January after the school year had started (?) We were considered the young ones in our mid-fifties! Food is great - traditional dining and buffets were plentiful. Room service food (especially hot breakfast) could use some help. Don't get the $50 a day booze drink card unless you drink a lot - lesson learned for me as I thought it was a good value, but I ended up only drinking a glass of wine on four of the cruise days. I don't know why I thought I'd drink more than I normally do at home, but whatever. Entertainment is great - we saw traditional shows with orchestra, singing, some dancing and these artists are just as talented as shows we've seen in large city- based productions. On board activities - there is something for everyone to do or you can ignore all the hustle/bustle and lay on a deck chair or sit on your balcony with a book. Shore excursions - St. Thomas: We did Magen's Bay/Blackbeard's Castle tour which was fun. I wish I could have spent all day at Magen's Bay - it was so beautiful. St. Maarten: We did a snorkeling/island tour/beach stop excursion. Weather was a bust, and the snorkeling was weak/crowded, but the boat tour was fun as the captain and first mate had cocktails, music, and knew some history of the island - plus they had great personalities which made it fun. Negatives: Our prepaid airport to hotel transportation package on the night we arrived was messed up - we waited for (40) minutes after our luggage pickup and the Princess bus still wasn't there (even after the rep called them 3 times) so we hoofed it to the Taxi pick up zone and spent $20 to get us to our hotel. The other people waiting for the bus were much older than us and couldn't easily walk to the Taxi zone so I don't know how much longer they waited for the bus. Once on board my husband discussed transport issue with the Princess rep, but was told it was our problem to resolve with our travel agent. Not cool. The Princess Cays port day was a bust for us. The weather was rainy and there are a bazillion people laying right next to you, behind you and in front of you on the beach. I guess we are spoiled being San Diego area residents in that I need my "bubble of space" around me at the beach. If you like the people cluster - go for it. Next time I will skip that particular port day or find something less populated to do. Something went haywire with the ship's PA system at 4:45 am on disembarkation day so we were awakened to the full blast "ding-dong chiming sound" for about 15 minutes straight until the Captain's crew turned it off. We heard they were focused on getting the ship into Ft. Lauderdale's port at the time, so they couldn't respond to PA system failure. It woke everyone up and people were starting to worry if it was an emergency or not. I kept looking down the hallways to see all the other women with robes on asking each other what was going on. Shopping is really promoted on the ship and in the ports. If you aren't really a shopper, it can be overwhelming with the brochures, activities, and PA system announcements that you are bombarded with. Don't get me wrong though - if I had the resources to shop as a hobby - I would be right there in port with those ladies of leisure! All in all,our positive experiences outweighed the negatives. Overall it was a good experience and I think we will go on another cruise sometime in the future! Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
This was our first cruise and so we can't really compare with anything else. The cruise was SE Asia in January 2016. Depart Singapore 8/01 arrive back in Singapore 19/01. Positives The ship was great. Spacious, lots of ... Read More
This was our first cruise and so we can't really compare with anything else. The cruise was SE Asia in January 2016. Depart Singapore 8/01 arrive back in Singapore 19/01. Positives The ship was great. Spacious, lots of different bars and swimming pools, cafes, clubs and dining options. Our cabin (with balcony) was great - very clean, relatively spacious and modern. The bathroom was small but functional. Shower was excellent. I loved lying in bed with the balcony door open listening to the ocean. The TV entertainment was good - a good selection of movies, live TV and programmes. The public areas in the ship were also classy -really sparkling and clean. Carpets seemed new. Food was very good. I'm a bit critical when it comes to food and really enjoy going to good restaurants but the food on board was great - particularly bearing in mind how many people the kitchens have to serve each day. One restaurant (Horizon) was buffet style. The first day was disappointing for lunch - I was a bit concerned about what the food would be like for the rest of the cruise. But after that things really improved - for example a typical night would have maybe twenty or thirty choices and all very good. There were also nights when the chefs would cook food from a selection for you - for example one night you could select from prawns, scallops and squid (the scallops were fantastic) on another, chicken, steak or pork (in addition to the usual 20 or 30 choices). And you could have as much as you wished. The other dining option was sit down formal - again great food. I had lobster one night which was beautiful and I had it twice! Similar for scallops. You could also pay a $25 cover charge per person and opt for a speciality restaurant -eg crab shack, steak house etc. these were great - with as much as you could possibly want. Great cakes were available just about constantly, noodle bars appeared at lunchtime and there were two good pizza places and a burger grill. So, I could not fault the food. apart from: why is it not possible to serve regular non- UHT milk for coffees? Surely if you can freeze lobster, mussels, clams and steak you can freeze milk???? Some people like UHT but on a 5star cruise liner?!! Drinks I felt were reasonable in price (apart from the issue below). Beer was about US$6 plus 15%. But no particularly stand out quality options (subjective I know but for me they were all very bland). Cocktails were about $9 plus 15% and I really enjoyed these. Probably a little too much. The buy one get another for $1 happy hours were good deals. Drinks package was a little steep - I think it worked out to over US$50 per day - we didn't buy into this although it could have worked if we were both heavy drinkers. Housekeeping was faultless - immaculate morning and turn down before bed. Cabin was spotless So if you were happy to just look after yourself I think the Sapphire Princess is excellent. Negatives The service. And I suspect the management. As others have said the service on this boat was very ordinary and not becoming of a 4 or 5 star establishment. I've listed some examples below purely so as to illustrate the overall impression - none of the examples given should be weighted more than any other: 1. Scarce staff when setting up sun beds - no one rushed to help. Some sunbeds were left strapped up during the day and getting one was a challenge. (Forward on sun deck near to sanctuary if anyone's interested) 2. No one came round to ask us if we would like anything to eat or drink when on a sun bed - ever. And yet staff will harass you for photographs and you'll get bombarded to pay for extras such as paintings via flyers (see below). Even when we paid extra to be in the Sanctuary no one came round apart from to give us afternoon tea. It really felt like self service. Whilst I don't wish to be disturbed constantly, once or twice every hour would have been nice. 3. We called the "dining bookings" line to book a table for the steak restaurant one day and were put through to 4 different people - nobody seemed to know what was happening and nobody took any initiative to find out and get back to us - it seemed to be "how can I get rid of this call" not "How can I make this customer's life easier?" 4. Not sufficient waiting staff at busy times. Downstairs in the atrium, 5 o clock (international cafe?) and only two waitresses. We waited 20 minutes for our order (two coffees) and had to remind staff 3 times. 5. If you buy a bottle of wine and don't finish it then the ship will save it for you - and you can get it wherever you eat on the following nights by stating where you purchased it. Sounds great! We did this and were told that it would be kept in the Santa Fe dining room and that we just had to say this to the waiter in whichever restaurant we were in and it would be retrieved and brought to the table. The following night we went to the Sterling Steak House ($25 cover charge per person) and told the waiter where the wine was. After 10 minutes wait the waiter returned to say that the wine wasn't there. This to me was really poor, almost juvenile service. What should we do? Say "well it is!"? ("It isn't" "it is" etc etc) We waited a further 10 minutes and I was about to go down 8 decks to find it myself (by finding the waiter who took it off me) when they finally found it. But we were faced with the potential scenario of having to argue whether we'd finished the wine or not. It was very unprofessional of the waiting staff to tell us it wasn't there (and possibly the Santa Fe dining room for not finding it) Meanwhile we had to wait for the wine before we ordered. Which leads me to.... 6. There is no mechanism for receipts and the system is open to abuse. Yes they will store wine for you but they should give you a receipt for it to prove that this happened - we had a lucky escape. And no receipts are issued on board - crew could double enter purchases and you would never know. 7. My wife was spoken to very rudely by a maitre d one night. I won't name the restaurant or the person but we complained and nothing happened for nearly two days. Personally I think there should have been a quicker turn round in this. But also - and this is debatable- the maitre d telephoned our room to apologise. I'm not sure whether this is appropriate - i think management should have taken some responsibility and spoken to us. The person who has been complained about calling the room can be very confronting. But I'll leave that to everyone else's judgement. 8. In the terrace pool and the sanctuary pool there are clear signs saying "adults only". Yet we saw, on a number of occasions, kids in the pools. Not one staff member said anything apart from one Australian life guard who did the right thing and asked them to leave on one occasion. On one day a uniformed person (green seaman's outfit with stripes (an engineer?) was watching his wife and kids in the "adults only" terrace pool (back of the boat) (leam chabang day, princess cruises staff if you're reading this). (How do we know it was a family? Because the kids were calling him "daddy".) This to me is in itself minor but it suggests a deeper issue with standards and leadership. And it places staff who try to do the right thing in a difficult position. (How to tell customer kids to leave when staff kids are in the pool??) 9. On one day about 3 days in, we could not get our hot water to work in the shower. We telephoned housekeeping and never heard back from them for the remainder of the cruise! 10. General demeanour of staff was inconsistent. In the main it was positive and friendly but occasionally was brusque and cold. Someone in an earlier post mentioned nationality issues and I tend to agree - very generally speaking the most positive and friendly were from certain areas of the world and the cold and brusque from others. This i think again points to weak management and training. 11. Statement of account: we asked when a statement of account would be produced and was told by the passenger service desk that it would be delivered to our cabin on the evening of our penultimate day. By 11pm it was not there. By 8am on our final day it was (I assume it arrived over night) But get this, we were instructed to check out of the room by 8am on the last day AND the statement said that we had to query any issues BEFORE we disembarked because Princess Cruises would refuse to reimburse if we complained after we left. So essentially Princess expected us to stay awake until at least 11pm to receive our statement, then check it sometime between 11pm and 6.30am (at which point passenger services had closed for the night) and leave the ship by 8.00!! Goodness knows how this could work but it certainly wasn't very customer friendly. Other issues There was a really cynical approach to extracting cash from passengers. I felt that it was pestering - and had a negative impact on what should have been an oasis of relaxation after a day spent dealing with street vendors in SE Asian cities. Photographs in particular - everywhere we went on the boat or when leaving - someone was trying to take a photo of me for me to buy. And they were expensive (and constructed at a price point that encouraged you to buy more (e.g $49.98 for two photos but if you spend more than $50 then you get 3 free gifts; you couldn't spend a little bit more to get to $50 - it was significant). To give an idea of how much the company emphasises photos, one whole section of the starboard side was devoted to displaying photos. And in one newsletter (16th/17th Jan) the head of "photo and video" of the ship gave his views on life (the captain and other officers had a day each writing in the newsletter) and of course there were a couple of paragraphs encouraging you to buy yet more photos. I was interested in the captains views, and the chief navigator, even the executive chef - but the head of photo and video.....!?? Art galleries - I was absolutely fed up with receiving flyers and "personal invites" to art auctions. I'm on holiday. And I don't want to buy a Leica camera or a gemstone either. Bottled water - does the cruise line really have to charge $1 for a tiny bottle of water when leaving for a day ashore? They lost a lot of goodwill here. To me the boat should have been a 5 star hotel afloat. I've stayed in a lot of 5 star hotels but have never been pestered for photos or made to pay for the odd bottle of water. Gratuities: I appreciate that this is a geographical and cultural issue and is therefore controversial. It's also one that probably applies to all cruise lines but given the inconsistent service I didn't want to have $11 daily (each) added to my bill for gratuities "for my convenience". Either increase the prices to include decent wages for your staff (and let the market decide if your prices are still worth it) or let me decide who I want to tip. I tipped the housekeeping chap - he was consistently excellent and worked extremely hard. It seems that this is a real problem as an incentive - why should the rude and offensive guy in the restaurant get the same tips as the pleasant room cleaner? And why would people try to do their best for passengers when they're getting tips anyhow? The Sanctuary. This was an adults only area lounge at the front of the ship. It cost $20 per half day. I didn't mind paying this. What I did mind paying was the $3 delivery charge for food. This was again a cynical attempt at extracting extra cash. I'd already paid extra why should I have to pay again for a delivery charge for something that waiters should do as part of their job? In a hotel if I order food at the poolside I don't have to pay a delivery charge.... One minor one - "Sundaes" the ice cream parlour should be prosecuted under the trades descriptions act. It was soft serve ice cream in a cone. Chocolate, vanilla or both -no toppings. And not particularly nice. McDonald's is better. I ordered one bottle of wine during the cruise. It was a Chilean Sauvignon Blanc priced at US $27 and possibly the worst wine I have tasted since I was about 14 when I scraped a few coins together to get something cheap for a party. It smelt of sulphur, seemed to fizz on my tongue and left a metallic edge. Really dire and I was very disappointed that the cruise liner could serve this -.kind of affects the trust a bit. (And I wouldn't pay more than about $4 for this in a shop so God only knows what the mark up is) Information on days in port was weak. It came out in a newsletter about 10pm the night before docking and even then had patchy information - particularly if you wanted to do something independently. The really poor aspect was delivering clear information about how to get from the point of disembarkation to a central place where you could get a taxi or other transport. Shuttle buses were often provided but the context of this was poorly described. I formed the view that this was deliberate to get passengers to sign up to high price excursions (and at $240 for a Brunei day trip, some of these were extortionate) All of the above are relatively minor problems in themselves. But collectively - and they all occurred in a relatively short cruise of 11 days - they form an impression of a supposedly 4 or 5 star cruise. Other people we met on board complained about different issues - such as poor entertainment. This didn't bother us because we didn't go on the cruise to be entertained - we went to relax. But what appeared to be common to all was the general feeling of poor service - and "it's not my job". I think there's probably an issue with general organisational culture and management. Would I cruise again? Yes!! Overall it was a positive experience. I loved our cabin, the food and the physical aspects of the ship. Would I cruise with Princess again? From talking to other seasoned cruise people, probably not -.- I think there are better companies out there. Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
This was the first cruise my family took together - mum, dad, 2 kids plus grandma. Princess Cruises upgraded my mum's cabin so she can have one next door to us. That was nicely done Princess on a sold out cruise. I liked the ship ... Read More
This was the first cruise my family took together - mum, dad, 2 kids plus grandma. Princess Cruises upgraded my mum's cabin so she can have one next door to us. That was nicely done Princess on a sold out cruise. I liked the ship and the entertainment. Kudos to the performers in the Princess Theatre for perfect shows while the ship was rocking. Quite an art just to stand up yet alone dance in heals! Amazing :-) The bedding was super comfy. Movies under the clouds was an interesting idea :-) Photo opportunities were a hit with us. We were in the first group of people to take the tender over to the Busselton Jetty. Those tenders have a capacity of 150 but they are tiny and our tender had 61 people and it felt full to the brim. It was too many people! They should cap it at 40 or 50. It was a rough ride to the jetty and my 8yr old daughter threw up and there were no sea sickness bags on board. So it was lucky we had a spare plastic bag with us! Bags should be handed to each person as they get on especially when they know the ride will be choppy as they were thinking initially not to let anyone go over due to the roughness of the sea. The biggest let down for me was the food and everything to do with that! Before you can eat anything on board you must put some unknown solution on your hands. I don't know what is in the solution. So I didn't go near Horizon Court as the staff acted like Nazi's by the doorway. So since Horizon Court was out of the question we tried the Restaurant on the first night. There was nothing organic on the menu and I know better than to eat non organic meat or dairy, so I asked for a plain vegan salad. What I got served was literally just an iceberg lettuce cut in half drizzled with dressing. I should have taken a photo, but I didn't have my camera. I kid you not the restaurant served me an iceberg lettuce cut in half as my mains meal. I didn't eat it. Who even eat iceberg lettuce anyway which is tasteless and low in nutrients. Why don't they have rocket, cos lettuce, mixed lettuce, and put in some effort to cut it up and put it in a bowl with some cherry tomatoes and the like? It was shocking service and made me realise how much I love my home and how good I really have it at home where were all care about the quality of the food we eat and how it is presented. So we never went back to the restaurant. I discovered you can get bananas delivered to your room, so I ordered plenty of bananas and lived of them until until we got to Albany where thankfully there was organic food available everywhere. I ate two good solid meals in Albany and brought more as take away to bring back on board the ship which supplied me a nice lunch for the following day. We discovered that the pizza place makes nice vegan salads at dinner time and if you arrive before it opens you don't get the Nazi treatment! So we had dinner at the pizza place thereafter. It's a pity they don't have salad on the lunch menu too. There wasn't even any organic teas available which is rather shocking giving the high content of pesticides in conventional teas. I get the impression that most things on the ship is poisoned with pesticides and is genetically modified. I know it makes business sense for Princess Cruises to provide the cheapest crappiest food that people will eat, but surely they could also have a small fresh whole-food organic cafe on board which you can pay extra to eat at? So I wonder if I was the only person to get off the cruise lighter than when they got on? Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
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