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41 Princess First-Time Cruisers Cruise Reviews

We really wanted to do the Alaska Inside Passage Cruise. We booked Princess as they seem to fit our needs the best. We booked a mini-suite, as we preferred a certain side. If you are considering an Alaska cruise, a balcony is a must, as ... Read More
We really wanted to do the Alaska Inside Passage Cruise. We booked Princess as they seem to fit our needs the best. We booked a mini-suite, as we preferred a certain side. If you are considering an Alaska cruise, a balcony is a must, as with the Alaska Cruise, you miss pool-lounging time around the pool, due to cold temperatures. We enjoyed whale-watching from our balcony. With the exception of the excellent food and service at Sabbattinis, we found the anytime dining a bit underwhelming. We often chose the buffet so we could pick and choose our needs. The buffet at breakfast was my favorite. In reading reviews leading up to our cruise, Princess shows were not highly regarded, however, we thought they were most excellent. They do a rendition of the Voice which was very fun. For the most part, staff was also a bit stuffy. Our steward was fine, but some diner staff and customer service staff missed the mark, as it appeared they would rather be doing something else. This included a little 'exchange' with a customer service deskperson about adding an addition water pkg to our room. When we requested to see a Supervisor because his unwillingness to offer a solution, he accused us of making him feel like a cockroach. All in all we really enjoyed the Cruise. The beauty of Alaska added to that. This was our first cruise and perhaps it's a lesson in expectations. We look forward to cruising again, perhaps on a warm weather cruise that offers more things to do on the ship. There were times at sea where I was a bit bored. I also wish the gym opened earlier - 7am is late for me. Read Less
Sail Date May 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
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
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
Are all cruise ships this boring? This was our first cruise and we really did not know what to expect. Before we left, our friends went on and on about all of the on board activities and the food. Our travel agent assured us we would ... Read More
Are all cruise ships this boring? This was our first cruise and we really did not know what to expect. Before we left, our friends went on and on about all of the on board activities and the food. Our travel agent assured us we would not be bored—wrong! The food in the dining room was very good, and the service was excellent. We had Anytime dinning and we only had a long wait (40 minutes) on one night. Please note that we always asked to share a table. I do wish that priority was given to those who actually signed up for Anytime dinning. Many of the traditional dinners like to crash our room to the point that there were two nights that we were taken to the traditional seating dining room because it was virtually empty. Now for the activities....Were there any besides the floating infomercial about art, health, beauty, jewelry or photography, and/or activities designed for you to spend additional money like bingo or the casino? Okay, there were trivia games--good luck getting a seat near the game. There were movies under the sun/stars, and there was a nightly "show" which you needed to arrive 45 minutes before to get a decent seat. If you arrived much later you might be lucky enough to nab a single seat between two strangers. I was thankful for the shows since they provided some much needed entertainment; although, they were nothing special or memorable. Shore days seemed to be loaded with great on board activities, which made no sense since the majority of the passengers got off the ship. Out of desperation I went to a line dance class that lasted less than 20 minutes. Unfortunately, it was not very fun. We even tried to listen to a music group in one of the lounges while having a night cap. The group was actually very good, but we did not arrive at the right time since after 3 songs they took a 30 minute break. Several of the other couples we spoke to mentioned how board they were on this cruise. One man said he had already read 3 books because there was nothing else that interested him. On a positive note, I did enjoy the Theater Tour and the Kitchen Tour, but could not understand the crew member who gave the navigation talk. We loved 2 of our 3 shore tours. Rio Secreto, a tour on the Cozumel stop, was the highlight of the trip. It was worth every penny, and budget an additional $40 to $80 (depending on your negotiation skills) for the photo CD. The lunch served was very good and they offered us free shots of anise flavored liquor. This tour saved the cruise for us, and immediately changed our attitude about cruises. Our second stop was Honduras where we opted for Gumbalimba Park (bring $3 for a locker rental) and Tabyana Beach. Both were fun, and we got great photos with the monkeys and parrots, and enjoyed swimming in the warm Caribbean water. The lunch that was included was excellent, and there was ample security at the beach. If we return to Honduras, we will either do a beach day or snorkeling. Our last stop was Belize and unfortunately, we selected the wrong tour for us. We took the Altun Ha Maya Site and a River boat tour. It was a long hot day, and our guide, Marcela, did not have the energy or sense of humor of our previous guides; however, she was knowledgeable and passionate about her country. I tired quickly of her bringing in “helper” guides who wanted to be tipped but did not add anything to the tour. In all, I think there 10 people who we were asked to tip. The most glaring example of unnecessary guides, was Raquel, who repeated word for word a script Marcela had given earlier. To make matters worse, the lunch served was the worst meal we had on the entire trip; however, I did appreciate the bottled water and bottled soft drink that was included. If we return to Belize we will do the zip line and cave tubing. I was very pleased with our Baja deck 11 balcony cabin, and our steward, Richard, was very attentive. There was a constant "vibration" in the bathroom and throughout the cabin, but we got used to it. In addition, the ship did sway and list more than we thought it would. The TV in the room had 3 movies channels, a couple ESPN stations, and re-runs of the Love Boat. Our remote was hit and miss, and the reception on the TV was not consistent, but I did not take a cruise to watch hours of TV in my cabin. There was someone smoking nearby since when we would open up the balcony door, the smell would fill the room. Richard, the steward had stopped by for some reason and asked if we were smoking in the room. I invited him in and said it was a daily occurrence, but that I could not determine where the smell was coming from. He went out on the balcony, but also could not see where the smoke was coming from. He said he would report it and they would look into it further since smoking is not permitted on the balcony or in the cabin. On disembarkment day, we were delayed into the Port of Houston due to high winds—no fault of Princess or the crew. We had been told that our cruise was the first is several weeks that left the port on time, so it was not a huge surprise to be arriving back late. This meant that our 8:05 AM disembarkment group was moved to after 3:00 PM. Once the ship docked in port at 12:30 PM, we were asked to leave our stateroom which meant all of the public areas were very, very crowded. Thankfully for us, we were driving home, and not flying, as many of our new friends missed connections. If you booked your airfare through Princess, they paid for and arranged all ticket changes. If you booked airfare on your own, then you were out of luck, and Princess seemed very unsympathetic. Many complained that they were forced to buy internet minutes or incur large phone bills to try and rebook while still aboard the ship. Others lamented that the airline ticket change fee might be as much as they paid for the cruise. Lesson to the wise— book your airfare through the cruise line, buy trip insurance or refundable/changeable tickets, and/or add a day or two onto the trip to ensure a stress free flight home. Although we found the ship itself very boring and lacking in quality activities, we thought our cabin steward, dinning room staff and food were outstanding, and we enjoyed meeting new people, and the land excursions so much that we are already planning our next cruise—most likely on another cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
My first cruise and I did not want a bill after leaving the ship. Bought the all you can drink package and was still charged, several times for my drinks. Bought mom the beverages and more package, but was sad to find out the restrictions ... Read More
My first cruise and I did not want a bill after leaving the ship. Bought the all you can drink package and was still charged, several times for my drinks. Bought mom the beverages and more package, but was sad to find out the restrictions for that package only after on board. You must provide a credit card to board, they do not deny charges, as I had asked, but want to charge you for everything using your cruise card. They accept cash at the desk but not at individual points of purchase. I was not bothered by he large number of children on board, the kids were well taken care of and out of site much of the time. They gave the children a nice stuffed penguin as a Christmas gift, while I was getting an unnecessary charge removed from my bill. Check your account regularly! They use deceptive language, gift credit, not a gift, it was MY money for prepaid tips. Took a day to figure that out. Room service 24 hours, yes if you want sandwiches, very limited room service menu, breakfast only in the morning with your door tag menu. Mini suite was nice, worst balcony as all above can look directly down to your balcony. Food was voring but they tried to recycle and change things up. Very limited choices for ethnic flavors, restaurant service was good, minor waits wi anytime dining. Crown Grill upcharge of $25 was a nice change from the other options. Rough ride returning to San Francisco. Shows were nothing to write home about, but did entertain. Lectures are mainly sales pitches with limited information. Art auction was horrid, people bidding on lots with little to no descriptions. Please buy your art directly from artists. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
The ports of call on this cruise were great. Our experience on the ship was just ok. This was the first cruise for my husband and me, so perhaps our expectations were too high, but we both thought some things could have been so much ... Read More
The ports of call on this cruise were great. Our experience on the ship was just ok. This was the first cruise for my husband and me, so perhaps our expectations were too high, but we both thought some things could have been so much better. To begin with, whenever we passed a crew member on the ship, they completely ignored us, giving us not so much as a nod or greeting of any kind. Only the greeters at the buffet and our cabin steward were cheerful. The captain was not personable at all and bordered on rude. On the one formal evening where he was supposed to "meet and greet" the passengers, he hid near an elevator speaking only to his officers and studiously kept his back to all passengers. When one lady asked if she could have her picture taken with him, he rolled his eyes, stood there while his picture was taken, and then turned his back again to his guests. His welcome speech literally consisted of "Welcome to the Island Princess. I hope you have a nice voyage." and then he left the room. Needless to say, we did not feel very welcome. The Passenger Services desk was staffed only occasionally, and not at all when most passengers were on shore excursions, so if you had a question, you had to wait until it was open and then stand in a long line to get help. Sometimes you got a cheerful answer, sometimes not. We reported a problem of no hot water in our stateroom bathroom; they said it would be addressed, but it was not. Only once was I able to get a helpful answer from someone on the Shore Excursions desk (also only open a couple of hours a day, usually during dinnertime). We had booked a Princess excursion to Cinque Terre, but they cancelled it more than 24 hours in advance due to "high seas." The day it was supposed to take place dawned with calm waters, but the excursion remained cancelled. We tried to book a Princess excursion in Venice, but 5 out of about 8 were cancelled (including the one we wanted), so we went ashore on our own. (Most of our excursions were booked through another shore excursions company for the same tours at about half the price. They were very good, but required walking a little further to reach the van or bus.) The night before disembarkation, we had to have our luggage outside our door by 9pm. That early requirement made our last night on the ship very inconvenient, not having access to everything we would normally need for the night. A time requirement of 11pm or midnight would have been so much better and still given the staff an entire night to collect and sort luggage for our pickup at the port. We chose Anytime Dining. The food was reasonably good (although I would not recommend any of the beef dishes -- too tough), and often the food in the buffet was better, or at least as good as, the food in the dining room. The wait staff was excellent, meals were delivered correctly and hot, and only occasionally slow. We often were seated with other passengers and enjoyed talking with them over dinner. We would go on another cruise if it was the best way to get from port to port, as this cruise was. We would not, however, choose to cruise again if we just planned to stay on the ship. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
Princess changed our port days and times, which in Istanbul, turkey on their highest holy day of the year. Naturally, this found business closed and limited available shore excursions. No explanations given to passengers on why this was ... Read More
Princess changed our port days and times, which in Istanbul, turkey on their highest holy day of the year. Naturally, this found business closed and limited available shore excursions. No explanations given to passengers on why this was done. We felt the shore excursion office was awful! Rude staff, misdirections given . In turkey on our shore excursion booked thru princess, I was one of several guest with mobility issues who were left behind on the pier! First time I have ever been discriminated for being handicapped! I told Olga (the assit manager over shore excursions) that I didn't travel half way around the world to be left on the pier. When booked we were to have dinner for two in a speciality resturant. No coupon waiting in our cabin. We went to customer service and Lawrence (assit manager) had no record of it. He made a copy of our booking that stated we were entitled to this. Several days later we received an invitation to eat there. Made our reservation . Got to the Itilian speciality place and we were told we only had been granted dinner for ONE! After showing our unhappiness, we were told we could BOTH eat there that night. This will be our last Princess cruise! Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
Before I start it’s maybe good to know that this was my first cruise ever. So I don’t know if my expectations are maybe too high. For me I compare this 5* ship with an at least 4* hotel. I travelled together with my brother who was ... Read More
Before I start it’s maybe good to know that this was my first cruise ever. So I don’t know if my expectations are maybe too high. For me I compare this 5* ship with an at least 4* hotel. I travelled together with my brother who was cruising years ago with Costa. The embarkation was very smoothly. On-board they told us that the rooms were not ready yet, but if we wanted to lunch we may use the buffet restaurant. This, I found very kind of them. For me the interior of ship was good enough, although it certainly can use some refreshments. On the eye it was clean. I found the ship itself very stable and sailed very comfortable. I was very afraid to become sea sick (as I become already sick from a canal boat), but thankfully no sick at all. The tour which we made was very wonderful. We were blessed with very good weather. All ports were very nice. And at all ports there was good transportation options for to go to the main city (hop on/off bus, shuttle bus etc.). Everywhere we met very nice and interesting people. We only booked for St. Petersburg a 2 days excursion, what was very nice and good. As most of the excursions by Princess cruises are very expensive, I found the price of those two very reasonable. The service on board was very poor. Staff was not always well willing and the security staff was very unfriendly and even sometimes rude. Customer service is a laugh, they don’t solve any problems. When you lay on the sundeck it takes a while before a waiter is coming. Even sometimes (after waiting for over more than an hour) you go by yourself. Used glasses/plates etc. stay laying there. In the buffet restaurants it also take a while before somebody came for to pick up the orders for drinks and to take the plates from the table. The buffet restaurants on the ship looks indeed like a canteen (incl. plastic plates). The diversity of food was very simple, cheap and not prepared well. Although in the evening it was much better than in afternoon. Even the canteen at my work offered much better meals than on the Caribbean Princess (they also have to prepare meals for over more than 3000 people). For us the breakfast buffet was very disappointing. If you like sausages and eggs, you will be satisfied. Positive aspect to mention: they bake the bread daily fresh and the croissants are excellent! For us it was also frustrating that you always have to walk with your food, as there was most of the time no free seats in the horizon court, from one to the other buffet. This because the assortments on both buffets was not the same. We had traditional dinning (2nd seat), the food was not always prepared well and taste was very flat. We missed the love of the Cook (finesse in the dishes). All food on board was ok but certainly not excellent (and this we expect on a 5* ship) The only menu which was excellent, was the 50th anniversary menu. Entertainment on board was to us good enough (some performing’s are wonderful and some not), but this is very personal. Pools and Fitness area are very good and in good/clean conditions. The prices of the internet on board is way too high and should be even offered for free (as extra service on a 5* ship). We had the whole time the feeling that Princess more care about making as much as possible profit from the guest on board than about giving services. To find out if my expectations are indeed too high, my next trips will be 1x by a 4* ship and 1x again on a 5* ship. My next trip will be with my 2 teens daughters, so any suggestion are welcome. For me I will definitely not going anymore with Princess cruises as they don’t care about good quality and good services. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
This was our first ever cruise, this exact ship, date and route chosen purely to catch up with a dear old friend who was going on the round the world trip. I mention this because average age on this cruise *apparently* was 75yo and hence ... Read More
This was our first ever cruise, this exact ship, date and route chosen purely to catch up with a dear old friend who was going on the round the world trip. I mention this because average age on this cruise *apparently* was 75yo and hence activities were structured with this demographic in mind. we are aged early 40s FYI. (We kind of knew this when booking, but others unfamiliar with this ship may not be). I will try to be as comprehensive as I can. Embarkation: Very smooth process-already received SMS advising check in from 12:30 (based on deck 10), only waited several minutes in check in line, and then the security line was about maximum 5-10minutes through X-ray etc and we were on the gangplank around 12:30. Welcoming staff greeted us onboard and we were directed to elevators to our floor and found our room. We had received a free upgrade from a Balcony room to a MiniSuite with Balcony, mid forward, so we were Superimpressed with or room (who wouldn't be!) we took photos of our room before we made it look untidy, then dumped our hand luggage and we were in the buffet having lunch by 1pm! (our suitcases were in our room around 4pm) steward introduced himself and brought our complimentary champagne! Muster Drill: The time will be on your Princess Patter, ours was 4:15 or 4:30 and the location is on the back of your door...basically 30% was about muster drill and life jackets and the other 70%was really a chance to tell a captured audience what you should and shouldn't put down the toilets and other such etiquette! Took quite a while so if there is a seat try to take one! Dining and Food:  First the important thing-COFFEE! I had been told coffee is fairly average but I found it to be fine. It was very annoying being offered the Coffee Card approx (no exaggeration) 13 times at the lunch time buffet, especially in the first ten minutes of entering the buffet area. I figured out they want you to buy it before you try the machine coffee and discover it's not too bad! There are 3 jugs of cold milk ie skim, full cream and a jug of cream! There is also decaf and a hot water urn with LOADS of tea bag choices including herbal but no hot choc sachets (we brought our own). You may also want to know that at afternoon tea there is just normal tea and coffee (can't use yr coffee card as far as I could see). At the buffet there was a bar and coffee Barista area. Formal dining room was standard coffee and tea only (but they often brought hot milk for my partner and we used hot choc sachet). Around the Atrium area there are levels 5,6,7 that are comfy chairs and tables and you will have to PAY for normal tea and coffee here eg cup of tea is $1.50..but glass of tap water free so we pretty much drank that most places! This atrium is COFFEE CARD city! Okay, Food! Quality was very high, both at traditional and buffet. We mostly dined in formal dining room (5:30 sitting) as we found better for our portion control for a start, plus it is always better with food cooked to order rather than sitting in a Bain Marie for a period of time. Breakfast and Lunch was free seating rather than assigned table, and as we were a party of 3 we asked for a table of 4 each time and pretty much got it to ourselves each time. I heard some were annoyed they could not get a table for two but to be honest there were VERY few of these.  For the 5:30 seating we had emailed Princess twice prior to cruise, explaining just for the Syd-Fremantle section we want to be linked to our friend so as to sit on the same table (they were on world cruise , also 5:30 seating. The emails went unanswered and unacknowledged, and on the first afternoon of the cruise we went to the dining room approx 2pm, as we had been sat on a different table to our friend...waited over an hour to meet with the maitre d' (there about 30 or more other people, we were given numbers according to who had arrived first). The first two nights they asked us to come to door 5:55 as by then they would knw who had arrived and which seats would be free. By the third night we got a slip of paper under the door advising of new assigned table FYI. We mostly used the buffet for lunch where we could get a plate of food and take it outside on the deck ie level 12 or 14 and sit round the pool or just enjoy the ocean view and air, sometimes there is lunch time entertainment too. The Riviera Grill was great for a chicken burger or hamburger with salad , although be forewarned they use raw onion in your burger : ) plus they will automatically add the fries (in case u need to save room for afternoon tea!) Now..time for afternoon tea! No, the food opportunities just do not stop! This is served 3:30-4:30, it was on Level 5 on our cruise, had a choice of about 5 small sandwiches/savoury croissants. Bread was a bit dry on the sandwiches. Other than that, scones w jam and cream was yum, and they had different pastry or cake items each day, plus small biscuits, and offered tea&coffee. My partner drinks hot chocolate so they brought him a pot of hot milk or mug of hot milk, and he was able to use the hot choc sachets I stored in my handbag : ) Port days: Usually on the Riviera Grill and buffet were open for lunch FYI. English pub lunch: bizarrely this was held in the Italian themed Cafe Corniche (Pizzeria) area, only two english pub lunches offered on our 7 night cruise (didn't go) Cafe Corniche/Pizzeria: pretty good pizza, plus you can have half and half, design your own toppings, size is roughly a dinner plate. They have a strange policy where you cannot take pizza back to your room. You can order it via room service and pay $3 though! (you can take food from buffet to your room though-good for late night cheese platters hehe) Room service: we had breakfast once when we wanted a quick breakfast..they missed a couple of items on it but other than that was fine. The only "hot option" tho is a bacon and egg muffin...as someone on our table mentioned, not exactly a romantic/luxurious room menu option but I guess they can't offer everything! A lady on our table brought a small thermos with her and that way she could make hot drinks in her room, thought that was a good idea. Tender: we were given ticketed numbers when we walked into the designated meeting place...be prepared for waiting times, we waited 45 minutes ie got into room 0915 and boarded tender 10am, boarding started at 0700 that morning (port of Busselton). Priority is given to people who are doing tours (rightly so)- the lifeboat tender was used to take us to Buesslton, our friend was on a walking stick and was able to navigate onto the boat.  Entertainment/Activities: it was great having the 5:30pm seating because we were generally finished by 7:15/7:30 and then went and got a seat for the 7:45 or 8pm show. It meant we could also see the 9:15pm /9:30pm show. The Princess theatre filled up pretty quick and I think is better seating. Vista lounge very cold (they were trying to fix heating issues) and kind of lounge bar seating, not as many seats FYI. We had some great singers for the night time shows, and the general area entertainers were of high quality, but especially the Sun Down duo who regularly sang at the Wheelhouse Bar, poolside, just brilliant.  Activities is where improvements could be made however near in mind the demographic has an impact...but between say 0930-1200 and the afternoon, I made my own fun by pounding the promenade daily walking, discovering the ship, people watching, spending time on our balcony...I was not interested in hoop throwing, carpet bowls etc. These activities were right at atrium staircase, meaning not a big area and hence not too many people could join in anyway. Would have played shuttle board on the deck but there was no sign displaying the rules, no organized time for this. I had been looking forward to the rumba class but it was 0900 every second day, right in the middle of breakfast, so breakfast won out! There were some talks and lectures but a lot had a commercial edge to them. I had already paid enough for the cruise and I disliked all the selling orientated tv stations, lectures, stall tables etc! The Ship: pretty impressed by the ship itself, the rooms, facilities, decor. There are always going to be things that need improving like areas of rust, worn out parts of carpet etc but I tried to ignore these as best I could. The complimentary bathrobe for our room (you only use it for yr stay, not to keep) was as thin and worn out as could be but our bathroom towels were nice and thick, we had them replenished twice daily as needed, there was a dispenser of shampoo and dispenser of body wash. I had previously read reviews of sewage smells on the ship and I must admit I also smelt this through the ship on the first two days, which did not help my sea sickness but then it either went away or I got used to it. My partner said only vaguely smelt it... Photos: take advantage of the photo portrait settings and the many backgrounds offered on the Formal nights, they are very experienced photographers and will help you pose and stand in most flattering way, and have professional lighting, mostly all around the atrium. we chose some lovely shots from the night (fairly expensive at $30 ea and no discount for multiples) and no you can't take photos of the photos! Medical room: ...we knew someone who had to visit medical centre out of hours ie mid afternoon, had to receive a few stitches to the head, little bandage, panadol, cost was $750aud..just FYI. Other: I suffer from some motion sickness on land (eg from elevators in tall buildings) so it was no surprise when I was sea sick within a couple hours of sailing ( going through the Sydney heads is known to be rough too). My husband is usually pretty good on boats, but he too was ill. Thankfully we had packed the Stemetil and he was fine from then on -in hindsight I should have taken something an hour or so before sailing. The night was rough and I was still sick the next day, lasted about 24hrs then I got my sea legs (and took Stemetil each night before bed) and we had further rough days and nights, where I thought I would be rolled out of bed, but it is funny how your ears/brain adapts! I would strongly suggest taking sick bags you can purchase from pharmacies with you-the paper ones the ship supplies on each stairwell when it is rough are not very strong and can split easily! The pharmacy ones have a strong plastic rim like in the hospital. Disembarkation: we received a letter two days prior advising when to have our suitcases outside door (they need to be put out early evening the night before) and a letter asked us to confirm whether we preferred earliest time off the ship ie between 0700-0800 or after 0830 (we chose After 0830 ) and we got a note back advising to meet in the Vista lounge 0830. We had an early breakfast and got to Vista Lounge where we basically sat around for 20 mins or so.  I guess they have a time so that people are collecting their suitcase in a timely manner from the shed but in hindsight i dont think it would have mattered if we had got off 30 mins or so later as there was no name ticking off or anything like that. We then walked off and located our suitcases waiting for us in the security area of the shed. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
So this was our first and last cruise. I found if you like to wake up, eat, walk about a boat, eat again, walk some more and then eat while looking for stuff to do then a cruise is ideal. We were bored most of the trip, we don't eat ... Read More
So this was our first and last cruise. I found if you like to wake up, eat, walk about a boat, eat again, walk some more and then eat while looking for stuff to do then a cruise is ideal. We were bored most of the trip, we don't eat like grazing cows, we don't gamble and we like to explore. Also we don't drink like we are just out of high school so having to pay $3.75 per bottle of water was crazy to me. The days we were at port, two were great. Mostly all day excursions which were far cheaper booked off the boat. However two days "or a few hours I should say" were nearly pointless. There is too much to see and do with only four hours off the boat. Our room was nice, we had a balcony room, and our stateroom steward was awesome! He took very good care of us, he had what seemed like unlimited knowledge of the boat and ports we were visiting. Most of the crew on the crown princess was this way. My biggest issues with the cruise came when the trip was over. I enrolled "or thought I did" in a service called EZ Check. This service is supposed to transport you and your luggage from the ship to the airport. As with everything on a cruise ship it was an additional fee. Due to the amount of people trying to get off the ship I figured it would be a good idea, I was charged a fee and figured everything was set up. Morning came, instructions were followed for leaving my luggage outside my stateroom for crew pick up and transport. We received our ride from the ship to the airport and were waiting for our flight when I got a phone call. The call was from the transport company saying my luggage was in their possession at the airport and she was asking where I was currently. I advised I was waiting at the gate to bored my flight and I explained I had enrolled in EZ Check, I was assured this was an oversight and my luggage would make in onto my plane. I think it is important to note that I had plenty of time to go pick up my luggage, take it to the airline check in, "which was pre paid" and get back to the gate prior to take off. However being confident in the service which I paid for I did not. Well the flight was on time, we landed and went to claim our luggage. It was not there, and of course this was on a holiday weekend so three days pass before I'm contacted by princess cruises. I'm told I did not enroll in EZ Check and only enrolled in transport of myself from the ship to the airport. I'm also told it would be an additional charge of just over $90.00 dollars to get my luggage sent to me via FedEx. So here I am five days after my cruise which was nearly $5500 dollars for the two of us, plus the additional money spent on board and I still don't have my luggage. A cruise may be great for some but for us, we will never go on another. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
For our honeymoon we decided to get a glimpse of another part of the world with the comfort of a cruise. Princess had both the itinerary and timing right. The ship came directly from 10 days in dry-dock but not a word was mentioned ... Read More
For our honeymoon we decided to get a glimpse of another part of the world with the comfort of a cruise. Princess had both the itinerary and timing right. The ship came directly from 10 days in dry-dock but not a word was mentioned about any improvements. It did however look to be in very good condition. From talking to the crew we understood that during dry dock the casino had been completely replaced and expanded. This had in turn demanded the office space of the shore ex manager - a fact she mentioned during several port lectures. Activities aboard were plenty but after 3 days at sea we felt that is was very repetitive. Other guests told us that they had been doing the exact same pop choir practice on 3 different cruises with Princess. As a consequence we're a bit wary to travel with Princess next time. The Enrichment@Sea lectures were outstanding. Housekeeping did a brilliant job but waiters were hit and mostly miss. Some of them were very busy selling wine tasting, wine packages, special restaurants etc. As a result we had one dinner where we waited 20 minutes while our waiter tried to explain the fine details on how you can't split a 12-bottle gold wine package between two cabins. At other times our dinner was kept in sync with other couples that we didn't even share a table with. Which brings us directly to dining (we had Any Time). After 2 days the Horizon Court became very crowded as many of the Asian guests gave up on the dining rooms. This made it easy to get a table - even without sharing. Sapphire Princess have 5 dining rooms but they all serve exactly the same. The menu changes daily and while you can be sure to find "Jus" with most dishes, words like "Local", "Season", and "Organic" aren't in the vocabulary. If you order wine be sure to order mineral water as well. The water is safe for drinking but it will do no good for your taste buds. With port visits in both Bangkok and Saigon we decided to use the expensive "Best of" tours in both cities. Due to the size of the ship we berthed 2-3 hours away from both cities. The Bangkok tour was 11 hours for just 2 sights. With 22 buses doing the same tour it was the worst cattle herding ever. Avoid! Saigon was a completely different story - great guide, great itinerary, and they shuffled the buses around making each site less crowded. The laundrette was a cultural experience. There are no instructions and no info on temperatures used. You need to be American or ask one to avoid costly mistakes. Luckily we did. To disembark we needed to pick up our passports. That ended as a complete meltdown. We stood in line for 90 minutes with no information, and no refreshments. Just a very long queue. Other guests had to stand for 2.5 hours! This was all due to bad organization on the crew's behalf and not a single officer stepped up to handle the situation. Which brings us to the conclusion. Cruising is great. You see so many happy couples and the eloquent travelers add to the atmosphere. Cruising on a large ship provides for smooth sailing but when all included restaurants serve the same, the berthing takes place hours away from the places you want to visit, and the number of guests completely flood the sites, it makes for a less than satisfactory experience. There will be a next time, but it will be on a smaller ship. One final note. For the Jewish, the Passover wasn't allowed to take place in a part of one of the 5 restaurants. The cruise director assigned some tables in the cafeteria opposite the shellfish restaurant. It doesn't get much less Kosher. For the Christians - well, we didn't get a single decoration or activity for Easter. No eggs, no bunnies, no menu, and no prayers. Are all Princess ships this heathen? Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
This was a 17-day repositioning cruise from Ft. Lauderdale to Venice. It was also the last cruise before six weeks of extensive refitting, which explains some of the problems. This cruise attracted primarily Americans. There were ... Read More
This was a 17-day repositioning cruise from Ft. Lauderdale to Venice. It was also the last cruise before six weeks of extensive refitting, which explains some of the problems. This cruise attracted primarily Americans. There were some Canadians, a few Brits, and a sprinkling of other nationalities, but we did miss the international contingent we found in cruises to South America and Australia/New Zealand. I suspect this will be true of most such repositioning cruises. We do our own shore excursions or join ones organized by Cruise Critic members. In Madeira we did a van tour with 6 other Cruise Critic members. In Barcelona, a Fat Tires bicycle tour (recommended). In Rome we took the bus to Tarquinia to visit the Etruscan necropolis and wander around. It’s a lovely town and connections by bus/train are easy. Just get to the train station (by foot or bus from the cruise terminal). If you’ve not been to Rome you’ll probably want to go there, but if you have been there Tarquinia is a fine option. In Naples, we were going to catch the ferry to Ischia but the weather was inclement so we settled for walking around the city. As several previous reviews noted, there was an annoying sewage odor at times. For us, it lasted for the first half of the cruise. Not overpowering — but also not pleasant. I presume that will be fixed in dry dock. Unfortunately, the renovation will add about 100 cabins, eliminate a major lounge, and cut off the back part of the promenade deck. Princess is apparently doing this because Venice is restricting larger cruise ships and the Island Princess is just under the limits. The added cabins will make the ship less pleasant, I think. The ship’s itinerary could have been better. It was a repositioning cruise. However, we got to Madeira and Barcelona at about noon, making for abbreviated visits in those lovely ports. Surely the ship could have steamed slightly faster to give more time in port. Our first trip as elite members (in possession of the much-desired benefit of free laundry) didn’t turn out so well. The ship lost a lot of our laundry. Never showed up. Apparently we’ll be reimbursed. Then there is the matter of sniffles. I think cruise ships are like kindergarten — remember when your kids began to go to school and were sick for a semester, passing the various minor infections on to you? Cruise ships seem to be the same. A large percentage of the passengers were sniffling and sneezing, myself included. Norovirus is relatively rare on ships, even if it does get a lot of publicity which it shows up. Colds are much more common, and can last a week or so. On both this and our previous cruise, we could hear the neighbor hacking away through the wall. There isn’t much cruise lines can do about this — but my advice is to pack every cold remedy you find helpful. You may need it. And the on-board store charged $3.49 for a SINGLE antihistamine tablet! Be prepared. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
The regal princess is a beautiful ship. It has a lot of great amenities including movies under the stars, two seperate pools- one more child friendly than the other, and the food was incredible. We ran into a few issues however on this ... Read More
The regal princess is a beautiful ship. It has a lot of great amenities including movies under the stars, two seperate pools- one more child friendly than the other, and the food was incredible. We ran into a few issues however on this cruise line. The largest of the issues was the fact that this ship is NOT FAMILY FRIENDLY. There are no changing tables in ANY of the public bathrooms on this cruise line and there are very few childrens' activities for younger kids. Also, prior to booking this cruise, I made it very clear that we would need a crib for our daughter in our stateroom (she was 1 1/2 at the time) and when we arrived to our stateroom we were told they had no record of this and that cribs on the cruise ship were limited. I showed the concierge the paperwork showing that reservation and he had to make arrangements. What we ended up with was not a crib- but a playpen with no padding. We had to make due buy getting a comforter from the concierge to make for softer bedding for our daughter. This was truly disappointing. We felt that with the premium price paid for the cruise that we really should not had to have "made due" with the options we were given. Also, there are several crew members that are downright rude- especially the young woman that was handling the icecream station by the pools. While I understand working on a cruise ship cannot be an easy job- especially being away from their families for a long time, I at least expected the crew members to be cordial! All and all the destinations were beautiful and the cruise ship is decorated in a way that can really only be described as "regal". We did have a good experience, but I would not recommend this ship for families traveling with younger children. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
This was my first experience cruising and as I type this I am not sure if I will ever venture on another cruise but I am sure it would not be with Princess Caribbean. The ship itself was nice. I was impressed with the size and how, even ... Read More
This was my first experience cruising and as I type this I am not sure if I will ever venture on another cruise but I am sure it would not be with Princess Caribbean. The ship itself was nice. I was impressed with the size and how, even for the amount of people on the ship, we never found a crowded room. We were upgraded to a fully obstructed view from an IR, however there was a light shining on the life boat outside our window all night long, so while we expected some nice natural light during the day, the artificial light at night really was annoying. That's fine though, we learned to close the shades. I was not prepared for ALL the activities aboard the ship to be geared towards the elderly. All day each day it was bingo, Sudoku, art auctions, karaoke, knitters club, more bingo, trivia, etc. So my DH and I had nothing to do each day but eat, drink, and sit by the pool. Normally that would be fine but the bartenders were overwhelmed at times and downright indifferent other times. The drinks were weak, and I found myself ordering a specialty drink, then ordering a shot to add to it. Both my DH and I got the all inclusive drink package, but we saw people getting lesser packages and getting free gifts (like a travel mug or cup) but there was no free gift for our drink package which I felt was ridiculous. If I'm going to spend the most why cant I have a cup too? SMH. The food was mediocre at best. The burger and pizza places were as expected. The buffet was bland and the menu was not clearly posted. The MDR was slow and stuffy and the food was hit or miss. I was served a fruit compote which was just a few slices of canned peaches, one canned fig, and one slice canned pear. I ordered a lobster bisque that was horrible and another guest at our table ordered the Rum Infused Pina Colada soup which came in a daiquiri glass with a straw and she said it was lukewarm and weird. I was also disappointed in how the shows overlapped with dinner. The only time of the day when we had something to do (go to the MDR, or see the early show) so we had to choose carefully, and being our first cruise, we missed out a lot. Also, the late show overlapped with the night club opening. And since Skywalkers was only open from 10am until about 1am, we learned to sleep in late (cause who cares if we miss bingo?) so that we could try to enjoy ourselves more at night. That being said, we were also upset that EVERYWHERE we went, they were trying to get us to spend more money. Bingo cards would cost us, watch sales, jewelry sales, souvenier sales, etc. etc. crowded the piazza. Art auctions and the casino.   Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
We took the 5/4 Back to Back cruise (Cozumel & Costa Maya, then back to Ft. Lauderdale, then Grand Turk). As this was my first cruise, I hoped for great things. Since we are no strangers to travel (Europe, Canada, Jamaica, across the ... Read More
We took the 5/4 Back to Back cruise (Cozumel & Costa Maya, then back to Ft. Lauderdale, then Grand Turk). As this was my first cruise, I hoped for great things. Since we are no strangers to travel (Europe, Canada, Jamaica, across the US), I think I have reasonable expectations. I expected clean accommodations, friendly staff, good food with good variety and an adequate amount of entertainment. Since I booked with the cruise line that bills itself as "The Consummate Host', I crossed my fingers and hoped I was right. 1) The staterooms were clean, easy to navigate, and well maintaned (Aloha 403 and 407). The room steward (Samuel) was pleasant and other than one request for additional towels, I never needed to contact him again. I consider this a good experience with the room staff anywhere I travel. The showers leave a lot to be desired, but I've stayed in hotels in Paris where they weren't any bigger, so I wasn't surprised or put off by this - it's just a fact. If you are over 6'2" and 250 lbs (like my hubby), you WILL find this challenging to negotiate - LOL. 2) Friendly staff. Here is where Princess failed me - and in a BIG way. Other than the room steward, our best experiences were at dinner in the Palm Dining room. Charlene and Remo were very good - after the first couple of days, they began anticipating our habits and were overall very pleasant to engage with. Hector was a pleasure and added some enjoyment to dinner. Otherwise, I felt disappointed with the rest of the staff. The bartenders in the Wheelhouse Lounge were good, elsewhere, mostly rude or abrupt. The Calypso bar was the worst. After 8pm, they were doing us a favor serving us most of the time. I also do not understand why purchasing an unlimited beverage package for kids meant they could only get drinks at the bar. Once the bars closed at 11pm, I had to go to the Skywalker's Lounge (21+ only) to get soda for them or else pay room service $2 per soda. Since my kids are 15 and 17, this was a nuisance, to say the least. Why they don't put a self-serve soda machine that gets activated by swiping your room card or something, I have no idea. The morning crew in the buffet dining rooms and on the pool deck were hit & miss about bringing coffee, juice, silverware, etc. Some days, I just got it myself. If they bring you coffee, they put the cream in for you and it's not enough. If you ask for more cream, they are exasperated or rude. (Perhaps they were rationing it - LOL). Once, my daughter and husband encountered the captain and another crew member while waiting for the elevator (just the 4 of them) - they were never acknowledged. We had multiple issues with the room cards having to be re-done (no, I didn't have them with my cell phone - we left them home...just some glitch, since it was only the first 2 days), and the member services personnel got them screwed up when they re-made them so that my son's ID was no longer attached to his room card (a rude discovery when you're trying to disembark at a port of call). Someone at Member Services entered my son's CC info with the wrong expiration date when he pre-paid for his gratuities & beverage package, creating a huge issue whereby I had to call the bank, only to have them inform me it was the cruise ship personnel's error - which took 2 members of management to explain to the representative in front of me, who kept insisting he needed to switch to using my account. My husband called and made reservations for 3 of us to go to the special Crab Shack dinner; when we arrived at the time we were given, the maitre'd informed me we had no such reservation and did not want to seat us. Since we had to pay extra and the place wasn't even half full, I didn't see why it took him 10 minutes to agree to seat us. None of these issues by themselves are dealbreakers, but taken as a whole, I just felt like I spent a lot of time on minor aggravations each day, and isn't that why we go on vacation in the first place - we have enough of that already? 3) The food. Dinner was great - while I am something of a foodie and thought some dishes were a little bland, that is purely a personal preference thing. I gave the dinner menu a 10. There was great variety, and every dish was prepared well with quality food and as it should be. (Steaks ordered medium rare came that way, etc.) The desserts were excellent - in fact, one of the items is on my personal "top 5 best desserts" that I've ever eaten. The buffets had a large variety catering to a wide group of nationalities, so there was something for everyone. People IN the buffet line frequently lacked buffet etiquette (ping ponging back and forth like they were in a pinball machine), but that has nothing to do with the cruise line. They do like to take up the breakfast buffet a little early in the Horizon buffet - sometimes 25 minutes before closing you couldn't get some items refilled, but otherwise, no real complaints. The pizza place and the popcorn/milkshake stand are quite good, also. If I had to criticize, it would be the International Cafe. There is a VERY limited selection and it doesn't really change - same 4 sandwiches, same 2-3 salads, rotating desserts. Since this is your only 24-hour choice, you can get tired of these options pretty quick. Room service is fairly limited also, but prompt. Most hotels we've stayed in have larger selection, though. 4) Entertainment - We saw the comedian, he was funny and clean. The kids even enjoyed him. There were a lot of art auctions and "sales" that we weren't interested in, but there was also some cute trivia games and a couple of shows. The guy singing in the Piano bar was very good and drew a large crowd. Movies under the stars was cute, they had all the NFL games satellited in, which was great, and I didn't go to be constantly entertained, so I was totally good with relaxing a lot, reading, etc. The jacuzzis weren't hot, though - lukewarm at best, and the deck attendant mumbled his explanation to me twice so I quit asking why. The destinations were fine - we enjoyed them all -- especially Grand Turk. If you've not been to the islands before, you might be a little put off by the catcalls, sales pitches and general "pushiness" of some of the vendors hawking their wares -- just ignore them and keep walking...they're used to it.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
I went on my first cruise on the Grand Princess to Alaska in July 2014 and overall had a very good experience. However, the cruise fell short in a number of really important ways so for our next cruise we will try another line. We left ... Read More
I went on my first cruise on the Grand Princess to Alaska in July 2014 and overall had a very good experience. However, the cruise fell short in a number of really important ways so for our next cruise we will try another line. We left from Seattle on July 6th and the embarcation process was flawless. From the moment we arrived at Pier 91 until we were in our cabin, things were organized and even enjoyable. We found our balcony stateroom in good condition and felt welcomed by staff. So far, so good. Our first hiccup came at dinner. The Grand Princess has two main dining rooms for "anytime diners"; the Da Vinci and the Michelangelo. The "green jackets" in the Da Vinci dining room seemed really grumpy and unwelcoming. (I think the green jackets were the head waiters.) I can understand if someone is a little grumpy once in a while but this caught us off guard BUT we decided to give them the benefit of the doubt. However, their treatment of guests was consistent throughout the cruise. We started going to the Michelangelo dining room whenever possible and had just the opposite experience; head waiters and all staff were friendly and fun to be around. I have no idea what was going on behind the scenes but it colored our cruise experience considerably. Here are some favorable observations of the Grand Princess cruise to Alaska: --The on-board naturalist (Mark) was magnificent. His commentaries really added to cruise experience. --Shore excursions were well organized and reasonably priced. --Our experiences at each port of call was very, very good (easy on, easy off); this cruise stopped at Kechican, Juneau, Skagway, and Victoria. --The food was good in the dining rooms, at the buffet, and at the other venues. --Front line staff were excellent all around the ship. Here some areas where the cruise didn't measure up: --Head Waiters in the Da Vinci dining room. --Constant sales pitches for wine tastings, refillable drink containers, coffee packages. (They even enlist the wait staff to try to sell you things during your meal!) --Constant interruptions to take your picture with ridiculously costumed characters. --Too much paper! Every day we had a stack of papers in our stateroom "mail box". This has to be costly for the cruise line and very wasteful. As I said, I'm a first time cruiser so maybe this is the way all cruises are run but I'm going to check out some other lines when planning our next cruise. Good luck and Happy Sailing! Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
A reasonably enjoyable cruise for hubby and I, although sea sickness prevented me from enjoying the first few days. Fortunately, the nice Nurse gave me a needle in the butt that sorted me out. Loved the food (formal dining was very ... Read More
A reasonably enjoyable cruise for hubby and I, although sea sickness prevented me from enjoying the first few days. Fortunately, the nice Nurse gave me a needle in the butt that sorted me out. Loved the food (formal dining was very 'try-hard' but the buffet was great and loads to choose from) and we could not fault the impeccable service. The organised tours were unexciting and very average. One was cancelled leaving us to roam Noumea in the dark for 2 hours. Formal and theme nights were good and even better were the Donna Campbell shows on board - she was the highlight of our cruise! Incredible! We also got formal pics taken by a pro photographer that we would not normally do and spent $2000 on that. She was lovely and it was a very positive experience, one that I would recommend. Our mini-suite was dated but very roomy and the spa was a bonus. The balcony was divine. Although there was an Art Auction and a few art lectures on board there was nothing else that seemed remotely culturally stimulating except perhaps Pilates and yoga classes. Playing Bingo, the excessive drinking of alcohol and the gorging of food don't quite cut it for me. But don't get me wrong. I enjoy the odd slice of cake and red wine. But, I have never seen so many obese, seemingly starving and incapacitated (due to their size) people in one space in my entire life and if this is in any way an example of the cross section of the Australian community, then we are in big trouble and it's very sad. Fortunately, the passenger friendly factor on board was high. Would we go again? Probably not. But it's definitely an experience that everyone should try at least once in a lifetime. Different courses for different horses.   Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
Just a bit of background info on me and my cruising experience. I'm 44 and my wife is 39. We also traveled with our children, my son is 15 and daughter is 14. We have been on most of the major cruise lines including Carnival, Disney, ... Read More
Just a bit of background info on me and my cruising experience. I'm 44 and my wife is 39. We also traveled with our children, my son is 15 and daughter is 14. We have been on most of the major cruise lines including Carnival, Disney, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, and now Princess. This was our first Princess cruise. I booked it primarily because I wanted to try a new cruise line and really didn't know much about Princess. I guess the best place to start a review is at the beginning. Keep in mind, that this review is all based on my own personal opinion and experiences. My ratings are simple. 5 star is the best and 1 the worst. EMBARKATION: 4 Stars We got to the port pretty early (around 11:30 AM). The check-in process was relatively simple. I did ask the counter guy to hole punch the cards for our lanyards. Surprisingly, he said he didn't have a hole puncher. He told me to go to the boutique once I got on board. CABIN: 2 Stars We booked a really cheap inside cabin R732. I selected it primarily because of its location to a small pool on the back of the ship called the terrace pool. When we arrived at our cabin (we were pleasantly surprised when we were told it would be ready as soon as we boarded), the room steward was in the cabin working on it. We walked in just to set our bags down and encountered the first issue of the cruise. The beds were in a twin configuration and I told her that wasn't going to work for us. I explained that we were a married couple and we slept together. She proceeded to call her supervisor. The supervisor told her he would meet us at 1:00 pm. We checked out the ship and came back at 1:00 pm. We waited for about 15 minutes and nobody showed up. At that point, I proceeded to rearrange the beds myself. We unpacked and left the cabin. A few hours later we came back to the room and the supervisor happened to see us. I asked why he wasn't there at 1:00 pm, and I was told he had an emergency (thanks for communicating that fact to me at 1:00). He said that typically Princess had its passengers sign a safety waiver before pushing the beds together, but I didn't need to worry about doing that. He explained it was no problem and left. Overall the cabin was about as tight and cramped as any cruise ship that we've ever been on. The only place to sit down was the bed. I don't expect much from an inside cabin, but this cabin was more like a closet. One other note that seemed to agitate me more as the cruise progressed....the room steward kept her cleaning trolley parked outside my room for most of the cruise, which meant having to squeeze beside it and look at it the entire time. Ships Appearance and Cleanliness: 2 Stars This might have been my biggest issue on the entire cruise. We felt the ship was just dirty. Missing end caps on rails, windows that looked like they needed to have windex, carpet that was frayed, little pieces of trash in various places on the ship. The most eye opening event was the "Ultimate Deck Party". The deck was trashed...covered in food trays, beer bottles, etc. and it STAYED that way until the next morning. I know of no cruise line that wouldn't clean up at the completed of a party event. Several other passengers were heard commenting that the ship just seemed dirty. One person even said she felt like she needed a tetanus shot. The odd thing is that the ship is only 10 years old and just came out of dry dock two weeks ago. It just doesn't make sense unless the employees aren't cleaning as they should. Outside of the cleanliness, the ship seemed very pedestrian to us. It did not have the opulence of any ship that we've sailed on. It just seemed very plain to us. FOOD AND SERVICE: 4 Stars We felt the food was very good for a cruise line. We greatly enjoyed having the buffet open until 11 pm. The servers were very friendly and would ask it you needed water or tea almost immediately. Another strange note about the bar service...we never once had a waiter ask us if we needed a cocktail. We found it very strange. We don't like Carnival's pushiness on the drinks, but we really would have liked someone to take our drink order. Perhaps the oddest food issue on the entire cruise is that chicken fingers were only available in the dining room or by special request. We had never been on a cruise line that didn't have chicken fingers available next to the hamburgers and hot dogs. Princess also pulled up all the upper deck loungers at 8 pm. It was frustrating. ENTERTAINMENT: 2 Stars Almost non-existent or very poor. Clearly this wasn't a party cruise, but it seemed the average age was around 60 and most preferred to watch the "Movies Under the Stars", which was heavily promoted. The lack of music was astounding. It was much too quiet for our tastes and several guests made the same comments to me. The performers in the main Princess theater were so bad that we didn't stay throughout the performance. On a positive note, Skywalkers was very cool. We had hoped for an 80's music night, but it didn't happen. Princess seems to cater to the older crowd and I'm sure most on the board already knew that, but I didn't. OVERALL RATING 2.5 Stars There were too many issues for us to consider a cruise with Princess for a while. Maybe in another 20 years, I'll be ready to curl up under a blanket each night for a movie, but not yet. I need to hear a little pitbull, I need to feel that cruise vibe. The buffet lines were too small, the ship was cut up in a way that made it feel small to us. We just didn't like the ship....oh and btw, where were my damn towel animals? :)   Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
Just got back from a 4 day costal cruise (LA, Catalina, Ensenada) Boy has the cruising industry changed. 3rd trip on Princess, 9 cruises over 35 years. I once thought Princess was the best line I had been on. I'm now rethinking ... Read More
Just got back from a 4 day costal cruise (LA, Catalina, Ensenada) Boy has the cruising industry changed. 3rd trip on Princess, 9 cruises over 35 years. I once thought Princess was the best line I had been on. I'm now rethinking that. In Fairness Not the worst cruise I have ever been on, but that cruise line is now gone. Embarkation with a wheelchair for my father, went smoothly. First meal on board, Horizon Café. Marginal at best. Hometown buffet food is about the same. Service at the buffet was great. all the waiters were very attentive. but the food was dry, overcooked, either bland or mis-flavored. Everyday, even in Mexico they had some sort of Asian food intermingles with their Mexican food. (Miso Ramen, Sweet and sour fish, 5 spice fish, Thai something.) Don't get me wrong, my wife is Chinese I love Asian food. This food was awful, overspiced, anything fried was dry, In 4 days at lunch I never had "Good" food at this buffet. It was OK, but nothing special. Anytime Dining, and Auto charge Tipping: It is clear that because wait staff is guaranteed tips, there is no real effort to wow the customer anymore. Even my last cruise 9 years ago on Princess, they still provided a dining experience, Not so on this cruise. We had a party of four, and tried all four "Anytime" restaurants. Not a single dinner was served complete. We were always missing someone's second appetizer, or the Shrimp was left off the Surf N Turf plate, or three out of four of us would get our non alcoholic drinks ( they never missed a drink they could charge for). Complete Paranoia over brining alcohol on the cruise. My father had no problem brining his 6 inch knife, but they searched my luggage and threatened to charge me if they determined I had brought more than the 1 bottle of wine that was in my luggage. ( you are allowed 2 per cabin but they had to verify I did not carry any more on). and again in Catalina, they were more worried about alcohol than sharp items. Entertainment: Production Show was very good. Comedians, were not my liking. Both were Black comedians who make fun of fat, or mentally handicapped, or gay, or white, or Asian, or someone in the audience. Neither worth the time. Typical Ghetto humor. Disembarkation What a joke, The cruise is over so they don't seem to care how much trouble they cause you. Yes, I am very angry about this. We pre-ordered wheelchair assistance for my father for embarkation and disembarkation. When they delivered the groups for disembarkation they assigned us to a carry your own luggage, non-assisted group. The Service desk was helpful and changed our group told us to arrive at the assigned lounge 15 minutes early so we could have a wheelchair. This is where the lack of training and "It's not my problem" attitude comes in. Staff at the lounge says you have to go to another location. When you go to that location the staff says no, you are OK where you are, we will send a chair all they have to do is call. Go back to the original location and they refuse to call saying they will get in trouble, and their supervisor told them not too.... Now angry that my father who needs a wheelchair to get off the boat has been bounced around like a ping pong ball. I request the supervisor, a request that is twice denied. and I'm told to go to the service desk for a supervisor, again denied. Trying to keep this story short unless someone from Princess wants to hear it. Basically the crew member said It's not my problem when we pointed out that we did exactly what the staff told us and it was not what she was told. there is no effort on the staff to do the right thing. and just help the passengers when it comes to the end of the cruise. What a way to leave a bad taste. Just in case you are thinking...I did not misunderstand, as I was not the only group misdirected by the desk and other locations about the wheelchair access. The crew's inability to take responsibility and fix the problem with the least passenger impact is enough to make me rate this cruise experience poorly. Will I cruise again with Princess, Probably. But they need to prove themselves to me again. Short Summary: Cruise staff is poorly trained at providing an excellent passenger experience. Food Quality has decreased. Service experience has declined. We only received our full order on 2 out of 8 sit down meals At the end of cruise, they clearly don't want to be bothered by you, their customer, the customers that pay their wages, by taking a cruise.   Read Less
Sail Date March 2014
We have cruised with Princess many times before, upgrading each cruise from inside to oceanview to balcony, to mini-suite and finally to suite. In general, we have enjoyed every Princess cruise and have had few bad things to say. This was, ... Read More
We have cruised with Princess many times before, upgrading each cruise from inside to oceanview to balcony, to mini-suite and finally to suite. In general, we have enjoyed every Princess cruise and have had few bad things to say. This was, by far, the worst Princess experience we’ve ever had. This cruise started off a little poorly when Princess changed our flight way back in September from the 9am flight down to the 7:51am flight out of Chicago, which meant we were bound to wait at the airport or at the terminal. EZAir charges extra fees for booking. On the United site, our airfare was listed $99 less than charged thru EZAir. Day 0 – Saturday, embarkation at Port of Houston It felt strange to hand our luggage over to a truck not marked in any way as Princess affiliated. When we arrived at the port of Houston, it was pretty easy getting in initially to obtain our boarding passes since we were both Platinum and Suite passengers. Once checked in, however, we were informed that the ship had gotten in several hours late due to fog and we would not be embarking for a minimum of 2-3hrs. They offered us shuttles to Kemah Boardwalk and told us the shuttles would be constantly running throughout the afternoon. My husband opted to wait in the terminal, a very uncomfortable setting with no food or water, but mercifully out of the weather. My son and I decided to go to Kemah. Getting to Kemah Boardwalk went smoothly, and we settled down to eat at Bubba Gump. I called my husband for an update on boarding(this is < 45min later) and he was already in the cabin (He told me that Princess offered us complimentary reservations at Sabatini’s to make up for the long wait. This was NOT a concession since Suite Passengers get dinner at either Sabatini’s or Crown Grill on embarkation night already) We ate quickly and arrived at the queue to get on the next shuttle. There were already over 100 fellow passengers who had been waiting for about 45min in 40degree/windy weather. 30min later I called the Princess 800# and asked them where in the world the shuttle buses were. 5 minutes later another passenger made a second phone call to Princess. 10 minutes later, 4 shuttles of varying sizes showed up to take us back to the port of Houston. We had been told that since we already had our boarding passes, we would have little or no line. NOT!!!! It took an additional 3-45minutes just to get through security a second time. My son was in shirt-sleeves and he caught a nasty cold. Passengers in the “normal” line were wrapped around twice, so their wait had to be at least one hour. There appear to be only 2 screening stations for 3000 passengers to pass thru, hence the long, long lines. 5pm – finally on board, champagne and canapés in our stateroom. Took a look at our balcony. The last time we cruised and booked the suite, we had a table and chairs to eat on the balcony. This cruise we had 2 chaises, 2 chairs and a tiny little table. The suite only had a cocktail table, so we couldn’t eat together when ordering room service, another suite “perk”. Dinner at Crown Grill – strip steak was tough, lobster tails WAY overcooked Day 1 – Sunday at sea, No significant issues, ship is really moving to make up for lost time. Dinner at the anytime dining Coral Dining Room was very good, no wait and very attentive wait staff. This however would not continue. The mini-cake tray that we couldn’t eat wasn’t delivered to the stateroom until Tuesday afternoon, very stale! Day 2 – Monday, late into port, late out of port Cozumel, everyone booked for an excursion was loaded onto one of only 2 ferries to the mainland, Playa de Carmen which made for very long waits. Finally boarded a bus for our excursion to Rio Secreto with 1hour 40min of shopping. This was a disaster!!! Road construction ate up ALL the possible shopping time, the 40 min bus ride extended 2-3 times normal. The town is not at all pretty. It reminded me of Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo over 20years ago, where there was very definite tourist area and the local area with mothers/children begging in the street. Rio Secreto – amazing tour, leave your cameras at the ship because they are not allowed. Charge for picture CD, $70; more if you want souvenirs Tried to eat in stateroom. One at the desk, one at the table, one at the vanity area Day 3 – Tuesday, late into port, left very close to on time Roatan, Because Princess did not offer intro scuba diving excursions, we had to book independently thru Scuba Roatan and they booked us a “trusted Taxi”. Princess, however, does not allow these taxis into the port area, nor do they offer a shuttle over the hill in the pouring rain, about ½ mile, so once again, we are soaked to the skin. Our “trusted taxi” had booked 2 parties and we had to wait even longer in the rain until the taxi admitted the other party was probably not coming(the other party was smart, they got into one of the 200+ taxis without prepaid riders RIGHT AT THE PORT! Again, now because of the long walk/wait, we couldn’t go on the 11am boat, but took the 12:3- and 2pm dives instead. That left us with @30min to shop at the port stores. It’s Funny how Princess lets the “trusted taxi” over the hill and into the port area for dropping off passengers, but not for picking them up. BAD, BAD POLICY PRINCESS. Finally tried the thermal suite. They used to provide flip flops, not this time. Many taps/etc missing. Dinner tonight there were several things forgotten on the order. Day 4 – Wednesday, into port on time, the sun finally came out Belize, Ship excursion, our priority tender passes were worthless because the excursion’s boat came directly to the ship instead of the pier so they came a little later. Sergeant’s Cay is very difficult snorkeling, deep water/high waves. They assign guides, but they are absolutely impossible to distinguish one from another once in the water. So we wandered pretty aimlessly. Still good snorkeling, but this reef is not as exciting as other destinations we’ve been to. Mediocre dinner service again tonight Day 5 – Thursday, at sea The captain’s cocktail party is pretty much nothing more than a Princess commercial. Dinner service tonight was better than the other nights since this was the second formal night and they were more attentive. Forgot my son’s pasta, so I gave him mine. Day 6 - Friday The ship is racing the fog to try and get into the Port of Houston before the fog gets in. We have reservations at Sabatini’s to celebrate the end of the cruise, and since we didn’t have any time at any port to go shopping, we used the money we saved to pop for the specialty restaurant. Sabatini’s, I must say was very patient and attentive, holding our various courses as we raced all over the ship trying to communicate with passenger services, dogsitters, employers, etc. Minutes after seating, announcements started about how the ship did not make it to Houston before the port was closed. Now instead of docking @midnight for disembarkation in the morning, it is estimated that the ship will not dock until 11pm Saturday and disembarkation won’t be until Sunday morning. All passengers are now given one complimentary phone call from their stateroom and 30 minutes of internet to try and make arrangements. This would be great if the ship could accommodate the thousands of phone calls and internet. It can’t. Not only that, we learn on Saturday morning, after dozens of tries that the directions given in the stateroom notebooks and from ship’s personnel, that the directions are wrong. Back to Friday night – Passenger services rebook our flight to 3:38pm Sunday, exactly 24hrs later, even after explaining the necessity to get into Chicago as early as possible Sunday because all 3 of us were scheduled to work Sunday. Princess also informed us that we would not be moved from Red 4 to Red 1, for transfers and possible standby. Day 7, Saturday After giving up trying to make phone calls, I tried the internet and made arrangements for 2 of us to work Monday in place of Sunday. I made all my changes at 8am and by the time I was through, there was a line 20 deep to get onto the computers. At 10am, passenger services announced that the fog had cleared sufficiently to get us into port at 11:30am. Nothing was said about them changing our air back to Saturday, so my husband went to check on these arrangements. He was told that passenger services would deliver our new air itinerary to our stateroom. They proceeded to check him out of our cabin. When I took the paperwork to check for accuracy, I found they had checked him out of the wrong cabin!!! It took another half hour to straighten this mess out, since someone at the desk decided that the crew member who had made the mistake had to correct it. At about 12:00, my husband called from the stateroom to see if our air had been changed. They verbally gave him the flight and confirmation number. They managed to get us a 5:29 flight to O’Hare. I felt lucky to get this flight even though we were scattered all over the aircraft. Next, I went to the internet café to print boarding passes. There were very few passengers there, but all of us had one goal: get our boarding passes. I tried signing in, but the system said our time had expired although we still had about ninety minutes and thirty more minutes of free internet to make arrangements. There was no Princess Representative in the internet café. It took some time, but someone finally came down after a few calls and got our boarding passes printed. Good move as it turned out! Passengers were informed that they could opt for self-handling of luggage for faster disembarkation, a necessity for anyone with flights leaving before 4pm. There were at least 500 people already in line to disembark this way. They finally started allowing passengers for the shuttle buses off the ship at about 2pm. There were several shuttles for: IAH, NOT United; only one for United airlines passengers. We sat on the bus, waiting for passengers to disembark since all United Airlines booked passengers were required to be on that one bus. We started asking about when we were going to leave at 3pm and were told at 3:20 we were still waiting on 20 more passengers. Many passengers missed their flights, since the bus didn’t pull out of the Port of Houston until 3:30pm, waited for a freight train to clear and pulled in at arrivals at @4:35. The only reason we made our plane is because IT was late arriving from Chicago. During the shuttle ride to the airport, we were finally able to contact all of our people in Chicago. In conclusion, we would NOT recommend the Western Caribbean sailing out of Houston. This terminal is much too small to accommodate any ship of size and this was the third time in a month that the ship was delayed because of fog.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
We have been on two older RCCL ships previously and were offered a decent deal on a balcony room on the new ship, Royal Princess. Most regular reviews highlight all of the nice parts of the ship. Here, I will list all of the odd or bad ... Read More
We have been on two older RCCL ships previously and were offered a decent deal on a balcony room on the new ship, Royal Princess. Most regular reviews highlight all of the nice parts of the ship. Here, I will list all of the odd or bad experiences on Royal Princess... 1) Elevators are always full, not programmed correctly, and broke down a lot. The capacity is 18 people per elevator, but if we had 10 people, it was tight. You couldn't easily go to top to bottom or from one end to the ship to the other, very confusing layout for all. 2) Dining-Fixed at 5:30pm. It took 2 1/2 hours to get through the first night's meal. The second night was almost as bad. 2 couples joined us in complaining and we received no apologizes only excuses until the next day from a mysterious caller who stated they received our complaint. Every night after that, it was pretty much 2 hours. The food was not very appetizing and the presentation didn't rise to the level of past RCCL ships. 3) Pools, only two small ones,. Hot tubs, only 4 small ones that might fit 5 people and were not very hot. 4) the temperature varied greatly in all parts of the ship, not very comfortable for an island cruise. 5) Entertainment was okay, but nothing to rave about. The magician was the worst and the comedian was very funny. A nice cabin overall. Not many drawers for clothing, but a large hanging closet. The view from the balcony was nice, a few levels above the tenders. In between the rear and mid-ship elevators made it a decent location. Our cabin steward, Esparanza, was very nice and always attended to the room. We would never take Princess again, 2/3 of the people on the ship were previous Princess cruisers. Many of them complained about the new ship. Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
We were first time cruisers, at least on a big ship. We?d previously only gone on windjammers, so our expectation of amenities was not that high. Service was a different story. We had been told Princess was top shelf among the cruise ... Read More
We were first time cruisers, at least on a big ship. We?d previously only gone on windjammers, so our expectation of amenities was not that high. Service was a different story. We had been told Princess was top shelf among the cruise lines. ARRIVAL: We boarded at Vancouver. The US Direct program was a big disappointment. Technically, we got through customs faster; however any time we saved, and more, was spent waiting for the coach. The actual embarkation process was smooth except for Security. I have stainless steel hips so I always get special attention. At least the TSA has optional body scanners. Only one of our bags made it to the stateroom. Due to the flimsy baggage tags Princess has its customers print and attach, I feared the other bag (mine) might be lost. We went looking for a baggage steward and found him amidships on our deck. He had a card, which would have eventually made it to our aft stateroom, stating that the bag was being held in Security. That area on Deck 4 is not accessible from the stern. Unfamiliar with the ship and trying to find Security, we were misdirected by a restaurant staffer to the Customer Service desk. After waiting in line we were escorted to Security where my bag had been held because it contained the allowed bottles of wine and had a TSA-approved lock. Did Princess personnel think I was trying to smuggle two bottles of vodka on board? LAUNDROMAT: Located near our stateroom, it contained irons, coin-operated washers with coin-operated dryers above, detergent and fabric softener vending machines, a TV tuned to Fox News, and a bill changer which said it accepted $1s, $5s, and $10s but really only accepted $1 bills. PUBLIC AREAS: The Plaza, where live entertainment the Captain's champagne waterfall took place, was pleasant, open space with the International Cafe on one side and Vines and Antonio's Pizza on the other. DINING: The Anytime Dining restaurants and Horizon Buffet were OK. We're not gourmands and we were not disappointed with the offerings, although we did not go on this cruise for the food. Service was good, including the beverage service at the Horizon Buffet, except for one instance at the latter where a server snapped at my wife when she renewed her request for hot tea at breakfast. At our first dinner, a helpful Peruvian waitress at the Santa Fe suggested a Premium Coffee Card when I ordered a cappuccino after our first dinner onboard, and it turned out to be the best extra I could have purchased. It entitles one to 15 specialty coffees (espresso, macchiato, cappuccino, latte, and various excellent iced blends) as well as unlimited regular or decaf REAL coffee at the International Cafe. (The complimentary coffee served at the Horizon Buffet and presumably the restaurants is made from a concentrate, one notch above instant.) If you're a coffee lover, get the Coffee Card. The International Cafe is supposedly open 24/7, although I did not put this to the test. Their snacks and deserts were quite good. ENTERTAINMENT & SPA: We did not partake of much of the entertainment. We watched one of the "Movies Under the Stars" and a show with chefs creating animals from fruits and vegetables. We also attended two of the naturalist's talks in the theater. Despite including a pitch for her book, the talks and slides were informative. Glacier viewing was outstanding. I called the spa to take advantage of a "special" advertised in the Princess Patter and was placed on hold for a good while when Damkerng knocked. I hung up and didn't bother to call back. I see from other reviews that I didn't miss much. SHIP DEPARTURE AND LAND PORTION: Disembarkation was scheduled too early to enjoy a breakfast in the International Dining Room, our usual haunt. The bus ride to Princess Denali Lodge included a very early (10:30 ish) stop for lunch at a shopping plaza at which the best choice was the deli in a mega-mart. Arrival at the lodge was late enough that few excursions were practical. Departure the next day required bags to be packed, tagged, and outside the room before our return from breakfast, a major inconvenience given the size of the allowed carry-on. We learned that only the train from Princess Denali Lodge to Talkeenta (McKinley Princess Lodge) is limited to 17"X14"X4" for carry-ons. The coaches had ample luggage compartments for airline-sized carry-ons. Fortunately we hadn't booked any Talkeenta excursions as it rained all morning and the jet boat ride we would have booked would have been unpleasant. Our train table companions, hunters dubbed Hawkeye and Eagle Eye, spotted wildlife that others at the front of the car missed, which made the train ride from Talkeenta to Anchorage much more interesting. Their presence made up for having to ride facing the back of the train. Tip: Get to your train coach early if you want first choice of seats at your numbered table. Food on the train was OK; not gourmet but we had no complaints. FINAL NIGHT: The Captain Cook Hotel was excellent, and I would book there again in a heartbeat. Princess, on the other hand, gets a generous "C" for failing to inform us that the coach to the airport was canceled. I only found out when I visited the Princess desk in the hotel that evening (which I almost omitted, wanting to retire early) to inquire as to whether my carry-on would need to be tagged and available at 3:30 AM along with the two large bags. The staff did a fast shuffle and arranged for a taxi voucher to be slipped under our door in the early AM. The Captain Cook Porter's Desk was excellent, going so far as to confirm we had our taxi voucher, calling the taxi, and handling our bags with aplomb. CONCLUSIONS: If your schedule allows, arrive and depart a few days before and/or after your cruise. Book your own air travel (if necessary), accommodations, and transfers. For port calls, you can do better on your own, as another reviewer (danaruns) has pointed out. (EntryID=103243) This probably also applies to visiting Denali or Talkeenta. At least you'll be able to stop and stretch your legs, take photographs, or visit any interesting place along the way on your own schedule without the time spent getting on and off a full bus. If you do decide to Cruise Tour, choose one that includes more than one day at the lodge(s). Bottom line: If I/we ever cruise again (not a sure bet), I see no reason not to try another line. Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
As others have said, we took this cruise for the itinerary. Since it was our first cruise, we did not know what to expect. I booked our extra nights before & after the cruise in Copenhagen through the Radisson's website. This cost ... Read More
As others have said, we took this cruise for the itinerary. Since it was our first cruise, we did not know what to expect. I booked our extra nights before & after the cruise in Copenhagen through the Radisson's website. This cost half of what Princess would have charged so I don't know why anyone would book through them. We took a taxi from the airport to the hotel. Princess was going to charge us $120 to get to the hotel and we paid $40 on our own. There was a Princess table set up in the lobby & the woman told us to wait until 3 or 4 in the afternoon to board the ship after all the groups had checked in. it was great advice & we breezed through. The ship itself was grand. It was everything I expected. it was huge, well organized & super clean. Our mini suite with balcony worked great for the 4 of us. It was well thought out. I never felt cramped. There was plenty of storage so we were able to unpack everything. The bathroom was a good size - bigger than expected. We saw maintenance people working all the time. I had always heard people rave about cruise ship food so I was coming in with high expectations. I know cooking for thousands cannot be easy but really - can't they cut the rind off the pineapple before serving it? It took a lot of sawing to get it off with that butter knife. We ate mainly in the Horizon Court because it was convenient. We spent the extra $25 per person for dinner at Sabatini's & really should have saved our money. It was heavy on atmosphere & short on food. The menu was very limited with the pasta course being "chef's choice" which means zero passenger choice. I felt nickeled & dimed with the food. I wanted a Diet Coke one day & was asked for my room number so they could charge me so I skipped it. I had hot tea at no charge in the Horizon Court, dining rooms and through room service. I was surprised when I ordered tea at the European style cafe in the Atrium & they wanted to charge me! Ice cream was available at no charge near the pizza counter but if you wanted the "special" ice cream at the cafe, there was a charge. That said, the food was adequate & nobody starved. We loved the $3 flat fee for room service. The staff are very friendly & well trained. I found getting on & off the ship surprisingly easy. The only port I did not like was Aarhus. I cannot figure out why the ship stops there. I would rather have had another day in Stockholm. the ship docks in an industrial area with lots of commercial traffic so passengers are not allowed to walk off the ship into town. We had to wait for a bus to take us a mile into town. Plus it was pouring rain & we went back to the ship. St Petersburg was the highlight of the trip. We booked a private tour through SPb tours & it was fabulous. Because we were a small group, the tour guide was able to get us to the front of every line. it was expensive & worth every penny. It was hot when we went to Peterhof & my kids loved running through the fountains. I had read that we might have to wait to get off the ship because we were not on a Princess shore excursion but that was not the case at all. My 9 year old went to the kids club one afternoon when we were at sea. My 14 year old did not go at all. I know Princess is not really geared towards kids but Disney Pictionary for 13-17 year olds?? They were so tired from sightseeing that we watched movies or swam in our free time. Princess really pushes on-board shopping & art auctions. I think having shops on board with nice souvenirs is great but please don't clutter up the hallways with tables of stuff. And don't tell me not to buy souvenirs in Russia, that I should buy them on board. I wanted to buy a book or magazine but the selection was almost non-existent. The onboard travel guru was great until they started broadcasting his lectures over the PA system. The entertainment was pretty hokey although we enjoyed the crew talent show - they were very genuine. Overall, the trip went smoothly & we have great memories. Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
We had heard such great things about cruising, that we finally broke down and decided to belatedly treat ourselves to a 25th anniversary cruise. It was our maiden voyage and we were prepared to like it, love it, and want more of it. ... Read More
We had heard such great things about cruising, that we finally broke down and decided to belatedly treat ourselves to a 25th anniversary cruise. It was our maiden voyage and we were prepared to like it, love it, and want more of it. Unfortunately, this was another case of the hype outweighing the substance. It started out wonderfully with a long weekend in San Francisco prior to setting sail for the Inner Passage. TIP: If possible, arrive at your departure port at least a day early to avoid flight hiccups and last minute rushing. On embarkation day, Pier 35 was bustling with activity and excitement. We got there around 11am for a 1pm boarding. TIP: If you get to the Pier early, hunt down one of the Princess agents and see about early boarding. That's exactly what we did, and they ushered us right in to get the onboarding process started. You don't ask, you don't get. From there getting settled was pretty smooth. They had crew members on each floor at the elevator banks directing guests to their cabins. TIP: Have either a big breakfast or lunch before boarding, because it seems that the first thing people do is head to the buffet. No other restaurants are open, and the Horizon room is a crowded mess of chaos inhabited by many people who act like they haven't eaten in a week and look as though they belong in "People of Wal-Mart" parodies. The first 2 1/2 days were very rough seas. So much so that the captain announced a cancellation of our first port, Juneau. There was so much noise overnight with all the booming of the stabilizers and rocking of the ship that we got hardly any sleep for almost 48 hours. This did not set a very nice tone, although things got better as the weather did. TIP: The Alaskan scenery is stunningly beautiful. Take the opportunity to get off the ship in ports, but know that the towns are tourist traps. How do they support so many jewelry stores?! There are plenty of activities to occupy your time, from movies, board games, live music, and lectures, to casino gambling, live production shows, a spa and fantastic fitness center. Note that the casino allows smoking and it stinks to high heaven in there. It even wafts out to the stairway nearby.TIP: Carry your "Princess Patter" with you. No matter how good your memory may be, you won't remember all the activities and their time slots. Our state room was called a mini-suite. It was a well-appointed comfy room with a balcony and had just enough room that we weren't tripping over each other. The food. This is where they really need improvement. All I've ever heard is how wonderful food is on a cruise ship, but this was not the case for us. The Horizon Room was like a floating Old Country Buffet. We avoided it as much as we could, but even the DaVinci and Michelangelo dining rooms didn't deliver anything that wowed. Everything was plated and presented beautifully, but with the exception of only a couple dishes, food was bland and forgettable. The standouts that we liked: breads, most of the pastas, and coc au vin. TIP: Ask your waiter for recommendations. Ours had some great suggestions. Also, if you give them 24 hour notice, you may be able to request off-the-menu special dishes.There were no "name" entertainers, but the entertainment was better than I expected. We saw all the production shows performed by the Princess Singers and Dancers and they were top-notch. The musical performances were also top-notch and could be found in the Piazza and various lounges around the ship. There were also trivia contests and other fun-filled things done by the crew. Getting off the ship was easy-peasy. You get assigned a color designation and a waiting lounge. TIP: You have to be out of your rooms by 8am, so get up early and get whatever coffee/breakfast you want as soon as you can, because you will again be dealing with herds of grazers everywhere. Allow yourself enough time to be able to return to the state room for one last freshen-up before heading to your wait lounge. So, as you see, there were good and bad things about this cruise. I think my expectations were set a little high, because I feel like we paid for a mid to upper-level champagne experience only to come away with a low-end beer. I'm thankful I was able to experience this, but I will not be rushing out to book another cruise anytime soon. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
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