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41 Princess First-Time Cruisers Cruise Reviews

We cruised to New Zealand in February 2013 aboard the SEA PRINCESS for 13 Nights.Before going on this cruise I searched all cruise reviews to see if they offered any information for 1st time cruisers but could find little to help me. Here ... Read More
We cruised to New Zealand in February 2013 aboard the SEA PRINCESS for 13 Nights.Before going on this cruise I searched all cruise reviews to see if they offered any information for 1st time cruisers but could find little to help me. Here is an insight to our cruise that I hope will help other people who have not cruised before. Once on board the excitement of our 1st cruise really set in. On the advice of other people who had cruised before, we paid our Cabin Steward A$50.00 BEFORE we sailed and told him there would be another A$50.00 at the end of the cruise if he looked after us. What a great idea this was.Every day our cabin was cleaned spotlessly with our our bed turned down every night with chocolates on the pillow.Even if we had a sleep during the day our bed would be remade ready for us to sleep in at night.On Valentines Day the cabin steward took the time to roll our towels up into the shape of hearts with extra chocolates on the pillow. A nice touch. For those who are thinking of doing their Laundry on board you can almost forget about it. There are a TOTAL of 6 Washing Machines and 6 Dryers on board which is ridiculous considering the amount of people on board. Unless you are prepared to spend a couple of hours watching your laundry being done, you will be in in for a shock. If you leave your Laundry unattended, other people will come along and take it out of the machines and throw it on the floor to get their washing done. The price of having your laundry done for you will send you bankrupt. We worked out that it would cost over A$100.00 for one load to be done for you. You would be better off to take more clothes or wear the same clothes twice as we did and so did about 75% of other passengers. The sea air will camouflage any smell from wearing the same clothes twice!!!!The alcohol prices on board are VERY VERY EXPENSIVE. Beer will cost you between A$7.00 and A$8.00 per bottle (Corona and Crown Lager) and spirits are about A$7.50 per glass. We did NOT tip the bar staff as we learnt that a 15% gratuity fee was factored into the price of drinks. Food on board was average but adequate. We ate on our shore excursions to break up the boredom of the ships food. A nice steak or a meat pie tastes really good after the food you have on board. On the last night of our cruise we ate on board at the Sterling Steakhouse. For a cover charge of A$20.00 per person, you can have a 3 Course meal. The steaks they served were the best I have had in a long time. You have to make a booking for this so get in early. Well worth it. For those who travel WITHOUT Travel Insurance are crazy, particularly those with a PRE EXISTING medical condition. Unfortunately one of the people we travelled with had a pre existing medical condition and had to be evacuated off the ship for hospital treatment. Her out of pocket expenses were over A$10000.00 (A$7000.00 for the ships hospital treatment), so be very careful when taking out Travel Insurance and if you have a pre existing condition, declare it to your Insurers and make sure you are covered for EVERYTHING and read the terms and conditions of your policy before it becomes a very expensive lesson.The shore excursions offered on board are once again, VERY EXPENSIVE. In every port there are tour operators on the wharf who offer your the same tour that the ship does for half the price. One tour on board was A$339.00 and the same tour offered by one of the operators on the wharf was A$86.00. Organise your tours on shore for you will save quite a lot of money and you can customise your excursion to do what you want to do. Apart from the above, we had a great time on this cruise and the hospitality shown by ALL the crew was wonderful. I am currently looking for a second job to pay for this great time we had. I hope this review will help a lot of other 1st time Cruisers. Read Less
Sail Date February 2013
Let me begin by saying that I am now a fan of cruising and will cruise again in the future, but will most definitely cruise on different lines / ships until I find one that exceeds my expectations. With that said, the Crown Princess did ... Read More
Let me begin by saying that I am now a fan of cruising and will cruise again in the future, but will most definitely cruise on different lines / ships until I find one that exceeds my expectations. With that said, the Crown Princess did not meet my expectations in some areas (based on pre-cruise marketing materials and information directly from Princess, and the on-board experience) and exceeded my expectations in other areas. Embarkation: Exciting process for my first cruise and walking onto the ship for the first time was wonderful. Princess greets you with a smile! When first arriving, read the signs carefully, especially the very small ones that are hung in difficult to find locations. If you do not, you will most likely end up lugging your luggage to your own stateroom or lugging it back down the stairs to find the drop off. Don't be afraid to ask questions of the staff, but be prepared for the staff member to not know the answer. Staff have been assigned specific duties and may not know all the duties, so may not be able to answer your question. (Please ask nicely - they are there to help you and make your journey special - I noticed so many passengers treat the staff negatively - their work is important and passengers are not superior to staff.) Embarkation was efficient and Princess knows how to move passengers quickly. Room: Choosing a mini-suite was a financial challenge, but I am very thankful that I did. In this area, the room exceeded expectations. The bed was comfortable, lots of counter space and storage areas, two televisions, spacious closet space, large bath, desk, couch, chair, table, perfect space for 7 nights. Maybe a smaller room would have been just as nice, so I hope I haven't spoiled myself for future cruises. If money is not an issue, choosing a mini-suite is the way to go. It is perfect for two people and it was nice to return to at the end of the day. Having a large bathtub/shower may have been worth the extra dollars. Not sure if the smaller rooms have a refrigerator in the room, but this was a nice amenity. On the other hand, I spoke with another passenger that cruises often and always books the cheapest room because she does not spend much time in the room and still receives all of the same activities/dining as mini-suite passengers. A shout out to our Cabin Steward - he was attentive, always had a greeting and smile, and promptly provided when asked. The balcony - a wonderful amenity and used often. The blue mat was prickly, so wear your shoes/slippers on the balcony, but thankful for the relaxing experiences / views from our balcony. Dining: This was the most disappointing aspect of my cruise on Crown Princess. The literature, the marketing materials, and reviews all led me to believe that the food and experience would be something special, even 5 star quality. That was certainly not the case. The food lacked in overall quality, taste and presentation. One night I ordered a Pear-Stilton Salad and what I received was, picture this, a white salad plate with small pieces of chopped canned pear and small scraps of Stilton strewn about the plate with a few pecans for color. It was at the most maybe 1 piece of canned pear and 1/2 ounce of Stilton. It was a joke - literally laugh out loud plating - that I took a photo and may post. If you like cheese though you will always have the opportunity to eat a square of Cheddar or Edam as it was served at every buffet meal. I saw asparagus once on the entire cruise and then I only received 3 small stalks (which were overcooked). Never saw a bit of crab, but did have lobster one night - just a small tail, but at least it was served. As for the steak don't expect it to be a good cut or cooked properly. The staff of the Horizon Court Buffet were always helpful, but the Horizon Court Buffet is not open 24 hours, so if you think you will have a buffet open to you around the clock this is not true. However, you can get cookies, pre-mixed meat or seafood salads (chicken, tuna or other) or paninis (don't bother) 24 hours in the "International Cafe." One night the Horizon Court Buffet was closed, so all passengers were directed to the Cafe Caribe. We were not to happy having to wait in a long buffet line. No explanation was provided - this may have helped - many passengers were "disgruntled." Our party chose the "Anytime Dining" option and we appreciated the opportunity to eat when we wanted. We enjoyed the "Bier-fest" themed night - the food for this special evening was delicious. Lotus Spa: If you are a spa person - lower your expectations. The spa is co-ed, lacks solitude / quiet, and is truly an "up-sell" experience. If you order a 50 minute facial, expect 20 minutes of discussion (skin type, product sales) and only 30 minutes of mediocre facial work. I cancelled my massage because the facial was so disappointing. I also did the Go Smile teeth whitening process and purchased the up sell. I would suggest skipping this experience and save the $400 for something that is more meaningful. If you can get the spa to give you a DIY (Do it Yourself) body scrub, the Orange Vanilla was spectacular. I took it back to my room and enjoyed a hot shower and the scrub. Get two if they will give it to you. If you are a sensitive, large woman/man, be prepared to hear spa staff openly talk about how "soft" most passengers are. It was certainly something I did not expect to hear, or appreciate, and was quite offended. TIP: The spa robe was nice, so I would suggest getting a robe from the Spa to use in your cabin (just remember to return the robe to the spa on your last day.) Excursions: We enjoyed all of the excursions. The literature was different from the experience, but that was ok - we were on an excursion, in a foreign county, experiencing something different and so went with the flow and enjoyed it all. Our tour guides were all fantastic. Our next trip to Cozumel we plan to not do any excursions, but simply enjoy walking around, shopping and eating local cuisine. The excursions were a bit overpriced for what you receive, but it was an easy way to see the countries and not have to research on our own. Activities: Bingo: four games, expensive, crowded and predictable. If you have the "free bingo card" coupon - expect to purchase the most expensive pack to get your one free card. Daubers for $1.50 make a great souvenir - as they have a picture of the Crown Princess on it. Casino: Fun entertainment - don't expect to win anything and you will enjoy the entertainment; electronic poker table was interesting; loved the Caribbean stud and open face blackjack. All of the dealers were professional and friendly. Games: Always something to do - trivia, tv game shows like games etc. Fun - cruise staff very bubbly and make the experience enjoyable. Don't forget to check out the small putt putt course. Movies Under the Stars: I was looking forward to this activity the most and found myself highly disappointed - I guess I set my expectations way to high on this. The pre-cruise email from princess stating the movies that would be shown during our cruise was incorrect - we never saw any of the movies promised, but they did show "Breakfast at Tiffany's." If you like soda, popcorn and candy while you watch a movie, bring your own soda and candy (you can purchase candy in the giftshop) or get some cookies from the international cafe. A small bag of popcorn will be provided if you ask. The screen is big and the lounge chairs comfortable. We had no problems hearing the movie either. Get there early if you want to sit next to your loved one. Try not to sit behind/near the hot tub or you will get sprays of water often. Unfortunately for us during one evening movie, the ship staff decided to do something with the sewage, so we were subjected to some pretty awful odors. Not sure what that was about and hope if doesn't happen to you. Entertainment: Spectacular! Don't miss the crew show - lots of fun! The Princess Theater was spacious. Arrive at least 15 minutes early to get a seat or 25 minutes early if you like a certain spot to sit. Suggestion: Move to the middle of a row so that others can fill in and not have empty seats. Don't leave a single seat between you and the party beside you - sit in the chair next to your fellow passenger - it is polite and leave more seating room for those that arrive one minute before show time. Enjoy this part of the cruise - we did and Princess does this right. Disembarkation: Easy process. We packed the night before and were ready to go in the morning. We chose the Easy Walk-Off process and it was easy. We left the ship and 7:30am and were in our car on and the road by 9:00. Again, Princess has highly structured/efficient people moving process that works. Follow the instructions and your experience will be smooth. TIP: Get a copy of your account statement the night before. The line can get long, so if you see a short line at customer service desk - jump in the line. I feel very blessed for this opportunity and I thankful for the vacation. I am now a cruiser and will cruise again. Will I choose Princess again - maybe. Read Less
Sail Date February 2013
We sailed from Los Angeles to four Hawaiian islands, then to Ensenada in Mexico, and then back to LA. Four and a half days each way across the Pacific was a long time to be on the ship. Since it was winter, most of the time it was too cold ... Read More
We sailed from Los Angeles to four Hawaiian islands, then to Ensenada in Mexico, and then back to LA. Four and a half days each way across the Pacific was a long time to be on the ship. Since it was winter, most of the time it was too cold to enjoy on-deck activities like the outdoor pools or deck chairs. Eight or nine days without any ports of call is also more than enough time to exhaust all of the entertainment on board and the various free movies and other TV programming offered by the ship. I was grateful to reach the Hawaii and get off the ship on the way out, and even more grateful to reach LA and get off the ship for good on the way back. The food was surprisingly uneven - some days it was quite good, other days nearly inedible. The worst food was from the special holiday menus, which I found pretty surprising. The pizzas and hot dogs were the worst - completely disgusting. The first thing I did when disembarking in Hawaii was make a beeline for the nearest fast food. Normally I don't like fast food, but it was a refreshing treat after the fattening, repetitive fare on the boat. Also, because food quality was so variable, it was nice to know for a change what to expect in my meal. On the positive side, room service was 24 hours and at no additional charge for most items. It was nice to be able to get a club sandwich or PBJ any time of the day or night (especially after an unsatisfying meal in one of the main dining rooms). There is also a handy continental breakfast service - you can order several different items like pastries and juice in the evening, and it will show up at the time of your choice the next morning at your door. Even though it was an "all inclusive" cruise, soft drinks and alcohol are billed separately. The way the ship handles this is really annoying - you have to present your ship card each time you order a drink, and sign a receipt each time too. With large groups at a bar or at dinner this can be very cumbersome and annoying. They should come up with better, less disruptive methods, like portable card or finger print readers. Paperless options would also be nice. Service on board was all over the map. Most of the staff was very helpful and attentive, but sometimes it was impossible to get assistance, particularly in the early or late hours in the self-serve buffet. Also, our room steward never responded to pages and was seldom to be found. When he could be found, he was fairly unfriendly. (In contrast, some friend staying just down the hall had a different steward, and they claimed they've never received better attention or been better taken care of.) Some of the crew did not speak English very well and I had a few awkward misunderstandings as a result. The ship had a modest sized gym / work out facility, but its hours were limited from 7AM to 10PM. Many guests complained about this and indicated that other ships or cruise lines have 24 hour gyms. Because a lot of people on the cruise were morning people and were from several time zones further east, the gym was always overcrowded in the morning. There were lines to get any cardio or workout equipment. The only way to ensure getting equipment was to go to the gym later in the evening, but at the cost of missing out on a dining slot or evening entertainment. Also, some of the cardio equipment was in poor repair. I had a lot of fun hanging out with friends on the cruise and going on excursions, but overall this was not an experience I would want to repeat. I never felt any sort of luxury at all. Instead, I felt like I was staying in a second-rate hotel in the middle of nowhere. The long ocean crossing contributed to this feeling, and maybe I would have enjoyed the cruise more if it had less time at sea and more ports of call. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
We were very excited to do this as well as all the excursions. Paid mucho dinero $$$ for the expeditions that were average and now, in hindsight very overpriced! I feel ripped off by Princess. Did the 12 day cruise-tour. First night at ... Read More
We were very excited to do this as well as all the excursions. Paid mucho dinero $$$ for the expeditions that were average and now, in hindsight very overpriced! I feel ripped off by Princess. Did the 12 day cruise-tour. First night at Hotel Captain Cook in Anchorage which was very nice, great room with views of water and town (corner room), eating at a local pub called Humpy's which now in hindsight was THE highlight of our meals in AK over all, including the cruise ship fare. Second and third nights at the McKinley Princess Lodge was just an average, boring place, including the restaurants. The uninspiring decor could have been anywhere. I did not feel as if I was in Alaska. Boring, plain rooms. In fact, I can't even recall a single detail about them. Mt McKinley showed it's face for about 20 minutes. Rain, Rain, Rain. Our first very overpriced excursion was the horseback riding trip with very, very nice wranglers and horses that were kept in really awful quickly built cover, not worthy to be called a stable. Nice new trails, but I longed for a bit of cantering and galloping as I am an experienced rider. This is ALASKA! Where are all the animals????? Saw nothing other than the horses. Next days overpriced excursion was the Devil's Canyon Jet Boat trip. Rainy, but enjoyable, very nice staff, but saw 2 bald eagles and quickly, 2 young moose running away from the rivers edge. 130 miles and WHERE ARE ALL THE ANIMALS? Ate at the 20320 restaurant twice and the staff were clearly overwhelmed and clueless asking us twice on 2 different dining occasions if we wanted anything else before the check when we hadn't even received our meals yet. Went into Talkeetna and ate at a very nice Cafe (something Brewing Company) which was delicious!!! (better than Princess food) Next two days at Denali Princess again: rain, rain, rain... and overpriced food, especially at the King Salmon restaurant with a King Salmon entree for $46-$48 which was just so-so. Ongoing disappointment, thus far with Princess and their price gouging. The Lodge was much better than McKinley in terms of ambiance and projecting that you are actually in Alaska, the river views below were lovely, but I longed to get on the ship for my very first cruise! Our "included" Denali History Tour advertised for a 6+ hr tour was just about 4 hrs and was on a cold school bus. The guide was informative, friendly & funny. Again: WHERE ARE ALL THE ANIMALS? FINALLY...ONWARD TO THE SHIP! I was excited and the 9 hr train tour to Whittier was very nice and went by quickly thanks to a nice older couple from Florida and the very knowledgeable guide on board. Our first night on board was nice and the anytime dining option chosen was fine. We were eager to sit with others at a shared table as we are friendly. Our room steward Bonifacio was very attentive and helpful from the start. No problems with him at all, exceeded my expectations here @ Princess. The Horizon food court was average to below average and we tried not to eat here much unless hurried or if only for breakfast. Food was fine for breakfast, but "eehh" for other meals, in my opinion. Fruit and desserts were always good however here. Not crazy about the main courses. As far as the Bordeax anytime dining room, the staff were good and the food was anywhere from just okay to good. Never anything great or fantastic. The room itself is quite large and well appointed. Spa services: $19 for a nail polish change!!!!! I did it as my nails were a mess after the land excursions. At home in NYC metro area, one of the priciest places in the USA, same service for $6. I pre-booked a Swedish massage for the second to last day and was happy to change it for a lower priced "special" advertised the night before. Still, I can get a better price at home. As far as all of our land excursions off the ship in Scagway, Juneau and Ketchikan, again, while they were nice and the staff were excellent and friendly, Princess prices again were overly inflated for what we actually got. Just way too over the top price wise for the actual product. Suggestion: look into booking privately to save big bucks. As we are first time cruisers, we just took the whole Princess package as we didn't know better. We spent ~ $1200 on all of our excursions above and beyond our cruise costs. I do not feel that any of them were worth that kind of money NOW IN HINDSIGHT! Another issue: the Spa staff are heavily attempting to sell, sell, sell you overpriced products you don't need or can get at a fraction of the cost elsewhere. My spouse coined the phrase "Prince-sell" cruises. The FINAL insult was the 14 hr layover in the Vancouver, BC airport to fly back to NYC on the red-eye at 11:00pm. Thankfully, Cathay Pacific was wonderful and short and sweet. Our flight on Delta to Seattle before transferring to Alaska Airlines has sworn me off Delta for life. Overall, in hindsight, I would not do the land part before the cruise as there was little of value for me. In conclusion, I feel taken advantage of by Princess with price gouging of the optional excursions and Spa services. As a now "experienced cruiser", I would pack less, (people were very informal), I would make my own land tours with a independent company ashore and probably NOT use Princess again IF we cruise again. I can't stand all the waiting around and time wasted. We travel all over, but without formal tours; I do all the planning and work and our best travel has been this way. If you are considering a trip to Alaska, there are far more superior National Parks in the USA. Yellowstone is AMAZING as are the Grand Tetons. Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Arches, Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks are all far superior to Alaska, IMO. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
As a stone cold cruising rookie, I really did not know what to expect from this adventure so my expectations were pretty low. So, here are my "likes" and "dis-likes" about this cruise: Likes: Weather was perfect ... Read More
As a stone cold cruising rookie, I really did not know what to expect from this adventure so my expectations were pretty low. So, here are my "likes" and "dis-likes" about this cruise: Likes: Weather was perfect Slept like a baby in my tiny stateroom Scenery and ports on the cruise were outstanding Wildlife viewing was outstanding Most (but not all) tour guides were very good and seemed to enjoy their jobs Excellent service from a few (but by no means all) of the ship staff In general, the games and onboard programs were good. Some were quite fun. Dis-Likes: Food was only "OK". REALLY got tired of the upsell on everything from soft drink cards to health remedies. Was not aware that this was part of the cruise environment. And what is the deal with the jewelry sales onboard and in ALL ports of call? Don't get it. Service from the majority of the ships staff was marginal. The good ones stood out. Spa services were over-priced compared to what you would pay anywhere else. Drinks were over-priced and all carried that automatic 15% gratuity That being said, the cruise overall was enjoyable. Saw lots of neat things that I had never seen before and will probably never see again. And did I mention the great weather? Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
EMBARKATION This cruise was out of Vancouver, which is a great city with a beautiful port. Canada Place is wonderful, modern and scenic. There were three cruise ships in port the day our cruise began, and embarkation was a mess. ... Read More
EMBARKATION This cruise was out of Vancouver, which is a great city with a beautiful port. Canada Place is wonderful, modern and scenic. There were three cruise ships in port the day our cruise began, and embarkation was a mess. Princess provided transfers from the airport by bus. But the terminal was so crowded with passengers, the buses could not approach. Instead, they stopped the buses in a "holding area" about 1/2 mile from the ship. Our bus was packed full, and on a warm day it had no air conditioning. So the bus was hot sitting there, as we waited permission to approach the terminal. People were overheated and complaining. My partner and I got out of the bus (against the advice of the driver) and walked to the ship. Despite the distance and getting lost on the way, we beat our bus to the terminal. After getting to the terminal, embarkation was smooth and efficient. The lines were long but moved quickly. Everyone was friendly and doing their best to deal with 10,000 passengers arriving nearly at once. Getting on the ship was a breeze, and we were warmly welcomed. Our suite (aft, Caribe 757) was clean and spacious. However, it looked lived-in. Colors were kind of dingy, fabrics a little bit frayed, and the carpet lumpy, but otherwise very nicely appointed and quite clean. For an Alaska trip, I recommend an aft cabin with balcony (or a suite like ours). It was the perfect location. More on that later. We left about two hours late because the terminal was so crowded. THE SHIP This is a big ship that holds 3,000 passengers, but the only time it feels crowded is when you want to get food. The lines at the Horizon Court buffet were always long, and there were rarely any tables available. The anytime dining was crowded with long lines, as well, but we always got a table. The wait for food in the dining rooms was sometimes very long. Otherwise, the public spaces never seemed crowded. We loved Movies Under the Stars (MUTS), though we read a lot of complaints about it. We only saw one movie in MUTS, but the experience was a blast, despite it being really cold outside. We just bundled up, and they brought us popcorn, food, snacks and drinks. It was a lot of fun. :) The spa is nice, but the technicians are young and inexperienced. THE CREW If there is a jewel on the Diamond, it is the crew. They were almost universally fantastic. Incredible, even. Friendly, enthusiastic, and they work very, very hard. We saw a lot of self-entitled passengers being rude or abusive to the crew, and where I would have killed such a passenger where they stood, the crew was amazingly patient, tolerant and helpful, to even the rudest of passengers. They do, however, have a term they like to use for rude passengers. The term is "FOCUS," and they will say it like, "Sir, you need to FOCUS." FOCUS, it turns out, stands for "F*** Off, Cuz U're Sh**." I heard them joke about it, but never heard them actually say it, even to a really rude passenger. I have to give a shout-out to Peter John, the Captain's Circle Host. First, he's gorgeous. That must be said up front. :) And when you get past his good looks, he's terminally friendly, with boundless energy and enthusiasm. What a great man, and he goes out of his way for absolutely everyone, and does it with wit, charm and grace. He's the best thing on the Diamond (though I hear his current contract will expire soon). There is a waiter in the lobby bar named Edwin. He is incredibly friendly, always wears a smile, and will go above and beyond the call of duty to make passengers happy. Fantastic man. There is also a waiter in Sabatini's named Christian. As suite passengers, we were allowed to have breakfast in Sabatini's. One day, the main dining rooms were serving blueberry pancakes and my partner wanted some. She asked for them in Sabatini's and was told they were not offered there and she could not have them. But Christian actually went to the main dining room and got her some blueberry pancakes and brought them back to Sabatini's for her, even after she accepted that they weren't served there. It was a great surprise, unexpected, and a real treat. I've heard that they will often do this for passengers, which is a testament to the crew's dedication to their jobs. They do things when they don't have to, and they do it with grace, style and flare. FOOD The food sucks. There's no other way to say it. We ate in every venue, and universally it was terrible. Oh, there was a nice dish here and there, but overall the food was cafeteria quality. I understand that they have to cut expenses somewhere to keep fares low, but the food has really gone down the tubes. It's really bad. Sometimes they make a nice presentation, but it's still terrible food. We couldn't wait to get off the ship because of that. At the last performance of the cruise, the cruise director joked, "You're going to have to start cooking your own meals now," and the crowd actually cheered this. That's how bad the food was. The Sterling Steak House was okay, but iffy. A filet was good, but a porterhouse was tough. A potato was good, but a vegetable bad. It was very hit and miss. Sabatini's was the best food. We especially liked having breakfast there just for the fresh squeezed orange juice. Elsewhere on the ship, the orange juice was from concentrate, with about three times too much water added. It was so weak, it was little more than orange colored water. And that's kind of how the whole food experience was. Like they were trying to feed 3,000 people with 1,000 people's worth of food, and cutting corners everywhere. When we got off the ship at the end of the cruise, we ate at the hotel at Canada Place (the Pan Pacific) and the food there was AMAZING compared to the Diamond's food. We swooned over simple scrambled eggs, when comparing the same basic dish to the Diamond's version. We marveled at how hard the Diamond must work to make the food as bad as it is, because no one can do that badly without some effort. So, am I getting my feelings across about the food? ;-) PORTS OF CALL We took no excursions, but instead went out on our own. Now, a caveat about my comments here. There are people who love the cruise experience of being on the boat and then getting off to shop in stores (which we found out are mostly owned or controlled by the cruise ship companies themselves) or to take some bus excursion to a glacier and salmon bake or some such thing. We are not among those folks. We are less "tourists" than "travelers." We like to immerse ourselves in a destination, not merely hit a few stores for some mass produced trinkets and then grab a drink in a tourist bar. So, if you are one of those people, then ignore these comments. SKAGWAY. What we found was that most of the ports were little more than excuses to get passengers to spend more money with the cruise line. For instance, Skagway is a fake town. It no longer exists except for cruise ship season. Skagway has had three "booms." The first was the gold rush. The second was World War II, when it was a military priority. And currently it is in the midst of a cruise ship boom. When cruise ships come into port, the "town" comes alive, and when they leave, it folds up shop. When the last cruise ships leave in September, so do almost all the town's "residents," many of whom spend the season living in temporary quarters like RVs and little shacks, only to return to their real homes when the ships leave. The excursions are almost all run for the profit of the cruise ship companies, and they are largely fake excursions. What I mean by that is that they run people by train and bus to other places that exist only for the cruise ships. Specifically, the White Pass and Yukon Railway to carcross, and then the passengers get on a bus that takes them to exciting places like Caribou Crossing, where they get a "famous" BBQ chicken meal and a chance to see a wildlife exhibit. We rented a Jeep and went to those places. Carcross has not a single person about or a single door unlocked when there are no trains full of cruise ship tourists about. But when the train comes in, it's as if the actors don their costumes and put on a show, collecting as much money from the tourists as possible, and then the town closes up when the tourists leave. At Caribou Crossing, there are no caribou and there is no crossing. The "wildlife" exhibit is a goat and a burro. The "famous" BBQ chicken is frozen chicken parts that are microwaved, then tossed on a grill with some canned BBQ sauce, and served to the tourists with 1/2 a plain baked potato. There's nothing "famous" about it. It's terrible and cheap, and in fact we watched them preparing it for the tourists that arrived by the busload. For this excursion, the tourists paid >$200 apiece. We, on the other hand, rented a Jeep from Green Jeeps for $180 for the day, which came with a cooler full of snacks and drinks. Expensive, but a far better expense than the terrible phony $200/pp excursion that we got to see the "behind the scenes" of. With that jeep we followed the same path that the railroad took and got to see all the same things, and we were able to go lots of places that the tourists could not. One thing we did was to drive to the historic Chilkoot Trail and hike the same trail that the gold rushers did. That was cool. And free. And real. We also met and talked with many of the "locals," who all confessed to us that most everyone lived somewhere else when cruise ships were not in, and that Skagway had really only one reason for existing: to sell trinkets to cruise ship passengers. That's why I call Skagway a "fake" town. If a town exists only to sell trinkets to cruise ship passengers, and would not exist if the ships didn't stop there, then it's a fake town. Skagway is a fake town. Now, some excursions are worth the money. If, for instance, you took the excursion to Haines (a real town) to visit the bald eagle preserve, that would be worth the money imho, because you get to see something real and interesting. But most passengers do not do that. They ride the railroad or shop for trinkets, and give even more of their money to the cruise ship company. JUNEAU is a real town, but you have to get away from the harbor to find it. The cruise lines have bought up most of the property near the harbor, and when passengers think they are buying souvenirs from local businesses, they are really buying more junk from a store owned by the cruise lines. To find a locally owned store, you have to really look for them. Almost invariably, they will post a sign in the window or indicate in some other way that they are locally owned. No sign = owned by the cruise lines in most cases. Juneau is very touristy these days. I spent a lot of time there 30 years ago, and it was a different town then. Amazingly, lots of tourists thought that Sarah Palin still lives there, and they all wanted to know where she lives. Goodness... There are some good whale watching excursions out of Juneau, but are pretty expensive, as the companies have to pay a percentage to the cruise lines (if they are not owned by the cruise lines, themselves). But rather than take an excursion to Mendenhal Glacier, you can catch a city bus for $1.50 each way. Or if you want to be taken directly to the visitors center, you can pay $16 round trip for buses that come and go ever 30 minutes. Much better than $200 for a bus trip excursion that then tacks on a (really awful) salmon bake (again owned by the cruise lines and not authentic Alaskan), imho. KETCHIKAN is a real town. It has the mandatory cruise line owned stores near the harbor, but there is a real town there to enjoy behind them. We blew off the excursions again, and opted to rent a car and explore on our own. We ended up hiking in the mountains, taking a 6.5 mile round trip hike to Lake Perseverance. We were all alone. With 10,000 cruise ship passengers in port, we saw only one local couple the whole time we were out there, and not another soul. And we saw the "real" Alaska of Ketchikan. And it was absolutely stunningly beautiful and unspoiled. Then we went back to town and did some touristy things on our own, like visit the totem pole village and do some shopping. It was hard, but we managed to find some true one-of-a-kind Haida and Tlinkit jewelry, but to do it we had to wade through a lot of pricey mass produced junk marketed to the cruise passengers as authentic. So, if like us you want to see the real ports and not just the facade that the cruise ships use to separate you from your money, you can do it, but it takes some effort. The effort is well worth it, though. We saw some truly stunning scenery and wildlife that the vast majority of cruisers missed out on. What surprised us was that most cruisers weren't interested in finding that. They were happy to be aboard the ship, and then to get off for a couple hours to sit in the Red Dog Saloon or buy a trinket or two before returning to eat at the Horizon Court buffet. That's not what we were after. Most were into the cruise ship experience. We were definitely destination travelers, and being one of those on a massive cruise ship takes a little effort and dedication, but it can be done. And cheaper than doing the typical cruise stuff. ENTERTAINMENT We thought the entertainment was universally terrible. Bad comedian. Bad magician. Bad dancing and singing shows (though the performers were giving it their all for tepid crowds). Bad string trio. Bad pianist. We didn't find one good performer. I am comparing it to Sitmar cruises to Alaska of 30 years ago, which provided top, if aging, entertainers. I recall cruising and mingling with Mel Torme, Harry James, Buddy Rich, Marilyn McCoo and others who had real star power in their day, and who brought their own professional back-up bands and singers. No headline acts these days. They market these shows as "Vegas style," but the design, choreography and execution are not very professional, and they have young but eager "talent" doing their best to make a show of it, and not succeeding very well. I did not like the entertainment. SUMMARY Some things were GREAT! The crew topped that list. The ship itself running just behind. And the destinations were amazing if you took the trouble to find them under the commercial cruise company veneer. We liked MUTS, too. Other things were truly awful. They were the food, the entertainment, and the aforementioned commercial veneer. Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
My friend and I booked our first cruise with Princess because we had heard good reports about them. All started well but then we were informed by other passengers that the trip to Rhodes had been cancelled, no information from Princess. ... Read More
My friend and I booked our first cruise with Princess because we had heard good reports about them. All started well but then we were informed by other passengers that the trip to Rhodes had been cancelled, no information from Princess. Rhodes and Santorini were the two most important islands which made us book this trip. The trip to Santorini was a total waste of $55 dollars, my advice to future passengers on this cruise is do your own thing, you will see far more of the island, we saw nothing. You are more than encouraged to buy a 'coffee card', if you want what they call speciality coffees you have to pay for them, the card costs $33 and then you can get a cappacino or latte, great. The food in the main restaurants was excellent but there are two restaurants on board that have a cover charge if you use them, one of $25 and one $20. At the end of the cruise we were supposed to have a tour of Rome with time for lunch and shopping before going to the airport, this did not happen we were taken to the airport at 10 a.m. for our flight out at 17.20 p.m. 7 hours to wait with luggage in the airport, NOT GOOD PRINCESS. I have written twice to the company about these items but they have not had the decency to even write and say they are looking into our concerns. TWO PEOPLE WHO WILL NOT BE TAKING ANOTHER PRINCESS CRUISE. Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
I thought getting on the cruise was a little confusing. No one really told us where to go, they just gave us a number. We got there early, 11am and there weren't that many people yet. Slowly the room started to fill up. There were ... Read More
I thought getting on the cruise was a little confusing. No one really told us where to go, they just gave us a number. We got there early, 11am and there weren't that many people yet. Slowly the room started to fill up. There were seats, so at least we were able to sit down. We got a group 1 number so after the elite and gold members boarded, we were able to get on. We were super excited as not that many people got on before us. We ran to our room right away and called the dining line in the hopes to get on the chef's table list. The room we got was on the Lido deck, room 238. We wanted to be on the floor with the pools, buffet, where things were happening. It was a cozy room, comfy for 2 people and our 2 huge suitcases. Having a balcony is a must. It's nice just being able to sit outside, it also made the room appear larger. My complaints would be the shower, it's tiny. I'm 5'2 and 100 pounds, I can't imagine a taller, larger person trying to take a shower in there without getting stuck. My boyfriend is 5'8 and 155 pounds and he thought the shower was small. I also wish they changed the shower curtain. The white curtain was gray on the bottom which kind of grossed me out. Shower itself and bathroom was clean. The two double beds pushed together was comfy. My problem was with the goose down pillows. I kept getting stabbed in the face with feathers that would poke out. Perhaps thicker pillowcases would help this problem. The fridge stayed cold, I read some people had problems, but ours was fine. I would say do not leave chocolate on the top of the ref, it gets hot and even though the ref is in the cabinet, the wood gets hot. It melted my chocolate! I brought my own blowdryer, didn't like the one in the room.       Enough about the room...Food, food is important. I love to eat good food. Living in Chicago, I've gotten spoiled on huge portions and good food. We paid extra and tried the Crown Grill one night. An extra $25 a person. We both ordered a ribeye and also got lobster tails, a side of mashed potatoes and cream of corn. We also got appetizers and soup. Appetizer, I can't recall what I got, so it must have been okay. Soup, I got the shrimp bisque, didn't care for it at all. Ribeye, I ordered medium and my boyfriend ordered medium rare. My steak came out as medium rare and his came out rare. I sent mine back, I couldn't eat it. My boyfriend sucked it up and ate his. Flavor was good. Lobster tails, you get 2 and they are pretty small, but they are good! Sides, I highly recommend the cream of corn, it's incredible! They put parmesan cheese on top. We also ate at Sabatini's one night. Wow, it's a lot of food and it's good! It's an extra $20 a person. You got cold apps, hot apps, option soup and salad which we said no to. Then you get a pasta dish, your main course and then dessert. Cold apps, you get cheese, olives, arugula and prosciutto. Hot appetizer you get fried romano cheese with sun dried tomato which I loved...calamari and fried zucchini which was also very good. Pasta dish, cheese and mushroom ravioli with a truffle sauce which was incredible and a fettucini. For my main course, I selected the seabass which was pan fried and topped with bread crumbs. It laid on a bed of asparagus with a lemon cream sauce. Wow, fantastic! Food in the dining rooms were pretty good, buffet was all right. Pizza, I did not like at all. Burgers at the grill was okay, nothing great. My boyfriend did purchase the all you can drink soda for $40 and we shared. He'd just grab me a soda when he'd get a soda. No one said anything. Beers, well my boyfriend drank quite a bit and it adds up. He bought a few buckets. 5 or was it 6 beers for $20 or so. 1 beer was about 6 bucks.       Spa, we got a couples Swedish massage in one of the cabanas. Was nice and relaxing. We did that on one of the sea days. I felt relaxed. My only complaint would be that they tried to push products on us and made us feel bad for not buying them.       Activities and shows. Umm, not really for us. We are a couple in our early 30's. This cruise we were on was filled with a lot of older people. We felt out of place. Not a lot of people our age. The nightclub was filled with seniors and they would play oldies music. The only shows we went to were the comedy shows. We enjoyed the comedian from Canada a lot, his name I believe was Scott? He was funny! The other comedian was Al Katz. He was also very entertaining. We didn't care for the impressionist, I forgot his name. He was practically begging for applause. The comedian/magician Joe was not funny at all. He didn't even really do any magic. He also kept looking at his watch to see if it was time to get off the stage. What we did to pass the time was either gamble at the casino or play cards. Good thing we packed cards. We also did movie under the stars one night to watch Red. That was nice. The reason why we took this cruise is it was recommended for couples, didn't really seem romantic to us at all. Not many activities for people our age. We were so glad that this cruise had 6 ports, we had a lot of fun exploring different islands. I think if we cruise again, we will try Royal Caribbean. Hoping for a better mix of people and more activities. Read Less
Sail Date March 2011
I feel obligated to let you all know my experience on the Crown Princess the week of Feb 12, 2011. As a travel agent, I escorted a small group of eight cabins with people of various ages, cruising experiences, and disabilities. I am ... Read More
I feel obligated to let you all know my experience on the Crown Princess the week of Feb 12, 2011. As a travel agent, I escorted a small group of eight cabins with people of various ages, cruising experiences, and disabilities. I am very disappointed with the experience we had on the Crown Princess. I read many reviews prior to our cruise. I was hoping all along that our experience would be different. It was not. This was very disappointing. I have never wrote a review before and I am a new member. I feel very obligated to tell our experience with this ship and cruise line. I will divide the review by sections. Dining - We chose Anytime Dining. I was advised that we could make reservations for the week for my group only to find out that you can only make reservations one day at a time the day before and because of the size of my group I was given either very early or after 7:00 PM reservations not the 6:30 PM my group wanted. This was very frustrating. There did seem to be a line if you just arrived and requested a table. The food selections were limited. The menu that they had available everyday included fillet medallions which were very low end. Normally we look forward to dinner. There was only a few nights (mainly formal nights) that dinner was worth looking forward to. The lobster was very good. The pork tenderloin was awful. Desserts were just ok. The service in the dining room was hit and miss. The first couple of nights we had terrible service. The wait staff did not understand English very well. They seemed preoccupied with what was going on around the dining room and did not seem to focus on the guests at their table. When we did find a waiter and asst. waiter that we liked, we requested them the remaining nights. This is not how it should be. Everyone should experience good service in the dining room. I don't expect 5 star at budget prices however I expect good service. It was very confusing to figure out who was suppose to take your drink orders etc. because other wait staff would show up at your table other than the traditional waiter and asst. waiter. It would take so long to get drinks refilled that you would end up asking two different people for a drink refill just to hope that one would respond to your request. We enjoyed the Pub Lunch on sea days, it was very good. We also visited the Crown Grill. The food was very good. My fillet was excellent as was the other steak and lobster meals that my party ordered. The main complaint we had about the Crown Grill was it took 3 hours. We did not plan on spending that much time but it seemed that we had to wait 20 minutes for our coffee/tea and then we waited a long time for our check to come at the end of dinner. It was not very crowded that night either so we don't understand what the hold up was. They do tell you in the beginning that everything is freshly prepared so we were patient waiting for appetizers however, there was too much time wasted between the other courses. International Cafe was very nice. I wish they had complimentary beverages available there but the food is very good. The cookies are great and the pastries/donuts/etc. in the AM are very good also. Breakfast buffet was very limited and we found the eggs to be cold. Overall the buffet seemed limited even for lunch. The tables were preset with silverware. Drink service at the tables was okay. There were a few times we had to hunt staff down to clean off table or to retrieve drink orders. We visited the buffet for dinner one night only to find a very long line, only one section open and it was single file. There were no stations. There were pre made salads, the selection was awful, and people were complaining like crazy about the single file line. If you wanted seconds, forget it you had to stand in line another half hour. There really was nothing you would want seconds of. We opted for a late night pizza snack because we left the buffet hungry. I thought the pizza was good, I would have to say better than the other cruise lines we have experienced. Room Stewards - None of my group had any complaints about the room stewards. Most did their job. Nothing outstanding. No towel figures which the children and my first time cruisers would probably have enjoyed. Gratuities - The automatic gratuities are a problem. There is no incentive for good service. We opted to have our gratuities removed so we could reward personally for good service which was few and far between in the dining room. Disappointingly, we eventually found out that even though you personally hand an envelope of money to these people they must turn that in to be put in a pool and divided among everyone. Again, there is NO incentive for good service. The staff that perform poorly get the same amount that the outstanding staff receive. Casino - There were no $5 blackjack tables. This was very disappointing. I asked why and was told that passengers do not want them. I don't believe this. I think that they should have a few available. By the way, it is possible to get $200 from the slot machines without paying a fee. I read a previous post regarding this and I think some people thought you were getting $200 just free period. Free means no 3% surcharge or transaction fee that you would normally pay with ATM or using your card at one of the gaming tables. Shows - The comedians were good and the hypnotist was entertaining. The other shows were not impressive. Wheelchair request - One of my guests requested a wheelchair two days in advance to use in Cozumel. The request was lost by passenger services and the wheelchair was never delivered. I had a meeting with the Maitre D and the Manager of Passenger Services for 45 minutes regarding all of the disappointments we experienced on this sailing. I told them I am embarrassed to have invited my guests on the Princess Crown and I feel I need to apologize to my guests. I should not have to do this. Princess was always rated close to Royal Caribbean in my opinion. Not anymore. I will be personally be sailing Royal Caribbean and will strongly hesitate to recommend Princess to my customers. I hope that my recommendations and complaints were heard at my meeting. That is all I can do. I also thought it was important to write this review. It is harder writing a review than I thought. I hope it is helpful to you all. Read Less
Sail Date February 2011
For a first-time cruiser, I had high hopes for this new adventure on the Crown Princess out of Fort Lauderdale, with ports in Grand Cayman, Roatan, Cozumel and the Bahamas (Princess Cays). Unfortunately, the all mighty drive for corporate ... Read More
For a first-time cruiser, I had high hopes for this new adventure on the Crown Princess out of Fort Lauderdale, with ports in Grand Cayman, Roatan, Cozumel and the Bahamas (Princess Cays). Unfortunately, the all mighty drive for corporate dollars and some crew members' poor attitudes cast a shadow over an otherwise enjoyable week upon the seas. First, I'll comment on the brighter side of this cruise. Embarkation/disembarkation were expedient and well organized. Interior stateroom was roomy, comfortable and well-equipped. Room steward was extra friendly and seemed to always be close by, if needed. 8:15 dining room options each night were good, yet not memorable. Food on Princess Cays was easily accesible and seemed to be perfect for beach fare (jerk chicken!). Now, for the not-so-positives. I purchased a $29 "soft drink card" for the week but was let down when I realized that this meant only soda options and not any other non-alcoholic drinks (OJ, tomato juice, etc.). In addition, the "soft drink card" was not accepted on Princess-owned Princess Cays. None of this was explained to me when I purchased the card, which would have been nice. I experienced four (4) instances of crew members with unacceptable behavior (bad attitude) towards myself or members of my party. What happened to the customer is #1? Clearly Princess doesn't adhere to this time-tested concept. On Princess Cays, our last port for the week, our entire group was harassed when we chose beach chairs that were in the $30-only group of beach chairs! The lounge chairs we chose had sun shades or "clamshells" attached to some of the chairs, but not all. So let me get this straight: it's a Princess-owned island and you CHARGE ME FOR A LOUNGE CHAIR? The explanation was that the "clamshells" were for rental and therefore, so were the chairs in that area, regardless if you wanted shade or not (which we didn't). The "free" chair area was a considerable walk to the other end of Princess Cays. How convenient. Needless to say, we didn't pay for the un-used "clamshells" and eventually, the beach staff went away. Ultimately, our group had a good time aboard Crown Princess but personally speaking, I wasn't impressed enough to cruise with Princess again. Maybe I'm just not a "cruiser" or perhaps, Princess needs to focus less on profits and more on the overall satisfaction of their customers. Just one man's opinion! Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
I booked this cruise to travel in August with Thomas Cook on line but would do so independently next time, arranging a overnight stay in embarkation port and arranging my own flight. We travelled on the Grand Mediterranean cruise Venice to ... Read More
I booked this cruise to travel in August with Thomas Cook on line but would do so independently next time, arranging a overnight stay in embarkation port and arranging my own flight. We travelled on the Grand Mediterranean cruise Venice to Barcelona for 12 nights on Ruby Princess. The airport transfer was excellent and embarkation was very proffessional and all completed in less than half an hour. We were shown to our stateroom which was on deck 10 room 309 which was fairly centrally located. The room was excellent and spotlessly clean with a fairly large balcony. We then disembarked the ship and took the shuttle provided by Princess into Venice and stayed until about 9.00 going for lunch in the Horizon Court restaurant as I had got traditional dining first sitting. I would definitely go for anytime dining next time as the early dining option means the trip feels like you are in a hamster wheel, returning onto the ship at about six in order to maximise very limited time in port then having to rush a shower and hurry down to Boticelli's restaurant which is not easy to find. The next day when I got up and showered I noticed that there was no European plug socket, a fact that I had not noticed in any of the literature or been notified of by Thomas Cook, so I could not use my hair straighteners which would have been a major disaster for me as my hair is very unruly. I went down to the pursers deck to ask if they had an adapter and he said he thought they had all gone but checked and came back with the very last one which I had to leave a 50 dollar deposit for. Unfortunately the very next day the eve of the formal night when good grooming is essential the adapter turned out to be faulty. returning to the pursers desk I was informed that there were no more on board and that they were not sold on board the ship. Panic set in at this point but I decided to ask my steward who very kindly borrowed one from a colleague for me for the rest of the trip. The room steward was excellent and very friendly and so were all the other staff who cannot do enough for you. All the bar staff are excellent especially in Crooners bar where they ensure that the atmosphere is very good and friendly. The ship is amazing and has so many different facilities. Fist impression was WOW. The food was excellent in every venue but was superior in the main dining room Botticelli's where we ate most evenings. The Sushi was amazing in Vines wine bar and the Sushi chef and wine waiter were very nice. We were very disappointed with the entertainment. It is very repetitive. The singer/pianist in Crooners bar is very good but sings the same material every night moving to other venues throughout the cruise but singing the same material in these so it gets very boring. The singer in the wheelhouse bar has a very limited range, again doing the same material every night and the bar was empty every evening with passengers using it as a walkway, or only staying for a few minutes. We went to a few shows, the violinist and the crew show which was quite good and we saw a comedian in another bar on one evening. We spent quite a lot of time in vines wine bar or in the atrium where the entertainment was good, although again very repetitive. We only went on one organised trip, to Athens as the other were too expensive and it was easy to arrange your own transport to the other ports. Rome and Florence can be easily reached by train, a shuttle bus provided in Livorno in order to catch the train which is about 10 euros return to Florence. Rome is also easy accessed after a short walk off the shuttle bus to the train station. We also went to Capri, catching a ferry from Naples which is very easy to do as the ship docks right in the port. Mykanos is also easy to access and Princess provided a shuttle boat to drop us in the harbour where we walked over the hill to little Venice had a beer waterside then went swimming on a small beach for a couple of hours. I enjoyed the cruise but found it very exhausting due to the travel to different places, and our early dining time. Princess cruises are also very expensive with a surcharge of 10.50 dollars fifty added per person per day to the bill, which can be removed if so wished(which we didnt as all staff do such a good job and are not well paid) but what I really objected to was the fifteen percent surcharge also added to to bar bill. I think if I went again I would not book with princess and would do my homework with regards to the bar charges and the entertainment. The disembarkation was also very good and arrival at Barcelona airport was good, but do not go through passport control too early as if you are at gate ten there are no shops and only one cafe and once through you cannot return Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
I booked my first cruise aboard Grand Princess, on a 14 day West Meditteranean cruise departing from Southampton 19th June 2010. On the day of departure 4 large cruise ships were boarding at the same time causing traffic congestion leading ... Read More
I booked my first cruise aboard Grand Princess, on a 14 day West Meditteranean cruise departing from Southampton 19th June 2010. On the day of departure 4 large cruise ships were boarding at the same time causing traffic congestion leading up to the dock entrance and into the terminals. Our coach became stationary waiting in a line of 6 coaches to off load passengers for an hour at the embarkation point. When finally leaving the coach passengers endured a further wait in a line of approx 1/2 hour to check in and board the vessel. We were due to sail at 4-00pm, we arrived at the Southampton teminal at 1-45 pm and were still boarding after 3-30pm I noticed a large number of children in the check in lines, discovered they had a free child place promotion for this cruise also with a 1/2 price teenagers deal. Resulting in approx 300 kids boarding, although it was school term time the parents took the kids out of school to take advantage of the deal..some schools levied a fine for taking the kids out during term time. One guy told me it was worth the £50 fine to get a free holiday for the kids...my reason for selection of this particular date for cruising was in the belief children had returned to school after half term holiday. I was to soon realise it was not a very clever idea, this particular cruise trip. Eventually on board and arriving at our cabin to discover the boat drill had started, by the time we located our lifejackets and attempted to make our way to the muster stations, it was all over, to find ourselves swamped by the returning passengers. This delay in boarding passengers right up to the departure time and the ships attempt to leave at its given time slot to my mind this was a serious safety issue, no attempt was made to ensure all late boarding passengers had mustered. As a former Merchant Navy engineer officer I am well aware of the importance of lifeboat muster and at a later time personally took my partner through the procedure to ensure she could locate the boat stations! The kids and their parents took over the upper pool areas making it an exceptionally very noisy place also the big screen TV-Cinema area became over congested all day and into the evenings. When the World Cupfootball games were showing you could not get a seat and all the sunbeds were claimed with towels from the early morning...Staff would not take on the reserving of seats issue, because of hassle from the passengers concerned..(A family were removed from the ship at Barcelona for misbehaviour). Albeit it was continually announced reseving sunbeds was not permitted, no attempt was made to deter the practice. I actually went into the 'Tranquility zone' early one morning and removed all the towels, placed out the night before, placed them in the changing room. Only to discover the attendant had brought them out again! Our stop at Alghero was supported by the ships tenders taking passengers ashore, when it came to leaving one of the winches to lift a tender aboard became jammed, resulting in an emergency repair situation to get the tender aboard, delaying our departure by approx 1 hour. We also experienced two power generator failures, with lifts and air conditioning being shut down, power was restored in a delayed sequence procedure, we were reasured by the captain everything was under control. However announcements were systematically being broadcast to an 'assessment party' to proceed to different locations around the ship. On one occassion encountered the Chief engineer in the company of two other engineers hastily running up the stairs past me! At Civitavecchia we were inforned a public service strike was in action, it was advised not a good idea to go it alone to Rome using the limited services available..because they might not be inclined to return to Civitavecchia. The ship took advantage and hyped up the story to get more customers on the organised tours..they were charging £100 per person. Livorna we were delayed leaving by 1 hour because 3 of the ships organised tour buses were late returning. After we sailed and into the early evening the ship experienced a further power black out which was more serious than the previous ones, all emergency lights in the accomadation failed leaving cabins in total darkness, air conditioning was off and it soon became uncomfortably hot, the lifts again failed leaving them stranded between floors with passengers inside. The captain made further announcements but I am afraid his apologies were abysmal..under the circumstancess I felt some form of compensatory offer was now long overdue! The ship is due for a refit at the end of the year, maybe it was due sooner and they had delayed it! At Barcelona we were advised a shuttle bus service operated from the ship to the port gates, checked out the situation at the tour desk and informed the walk to the port gates was approx 3 miles. A ticket for the bus was $5 each way, per person. On locating our bus discovered a local service also operated costing 3euros return, per person! On my return sat behind the driver and checked the mileometer, discovered the journey was only 2 kilometres distance. (easily within walking distance). I returned to the tour desk asking why the information regarding the local service was not communicated, to be informed 'you never asked sir' also why the distance was exagerrated, to be told 'sometimes it can be that far sir' I informed her manner was most unhelpful and misleading purely to generate take up for an overpriced service. In general,apart from the pursers/tour desk staff, I found in the main the ships staff to be very charming, well mannered most helpful and always available to assist your requirements. I became unwell with a viral infection which had me out of sorts for three days, the a/c played havoc with my breathing had to stay out doors to get relief with breathing..I visited the medical centre for medication to be told I must consult the MO first, this costing $60 to be told what I already knew! I had observed many passengers and crew were coughing in a similar fashion as myself. I suggested to the MO was it possible an epidemic was transmitting around the ship, my suggestion was dismissed, however I was informed the a/c however was creating humidity problems with my medical condition. (I would be curious to view the medical log sheets for this voyage to ascertain the number of recorded cases) Listening to other passengers who had sailed on the Grand Princess on previous voyages they said the company were cutting costs and noticed little cutbacks on certain things also the ship was becoming less formal and more casual. On a smart casual dining night noticed a passenger wearing jeans and training shoes. On the formal dress night also noticed male passengers without jackets and wearing open necked shirts! The captain I observed was unable to make an announcement without saying first this is the 'er' captain speaking, followed by pausing and 'er' every couple of words, it became a most irritating daily event.. I confronted him one morning out on deck and I bent his ear about the generator power failures, let him know I had been a former seafarer to attract his interest, said I felt his apology (which was abysmal) over the power failure could have been followed up with a form of compensation to passengers! He gave me a blank stare then looked at his watch and excused himself.. The cost of items to purchase were well over the top, drinks were very expensive, decided to buy some wine ashore to off set costs..The on board photographs were $25 a throw on cheap gloss paper, a crazy price to pay..considering all the non claimed pics, being displayed not many takers. If they had dropped the price they could have sold them all off..instead of being left with stacks of them only to be shredded at the end of the cruise, I suggested price dropping would probably generate more sales, to the sales team, but they were not interested in my proposal.. As a first trip found it a learning exercise, have taken some advice from regular cruisers I spoke with and if we take another cruise trip will try a smaller ship and another company. I definitely prefer the experience in ship transfers to airport check-ins. We loaded luggage at the coach station and never saw or touched it again until we arrived at our cabin. Same on the return left outside the cabin the night before, then collected at the baggage hall to load on the coach..We left the ship at 8-30 and were driving home at 9-15.. Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
We travelled from Scotland so were picked up at 4am, when we arrived in Southampton we waited in queue for well over an hour to board the ship. Which was very frustrating as we were all tired. Once on board, our cabin was okay, but ... Read More
We travelled from Scotland so were picked up at 4am, when we arrived in Southampton we waited in queue for well over an hour to board the ship. Which was very frustrating as we were all tired. Once on board, our cabin was okay, but definetly needing the refurbishment that is happening. We had been told by the travel agent that everything was included in the price except alcohol, our 15 yr old teenagers went for a coke and it was $5, went to the pursers desk (as has been said in previous posting they were the only staff on board who were not very helpful) was told they do not do all inclusive soft drinks so had to buy the package for both our children which cost $289 so not a good start to the day. We did go off at all the ports, only did Rome and Florence through Princess, which as it turned was faboulous, very well organised and it was worth paying a bit extra as it was our first time in any of these countries. We did the private train to Rome and were there in 40 mins 80 euro for adults and 60 for the children. Got the bus to Pisa had a look at the tower and then to Florence that was $320 for the 4 of us. The rest of the ports we did ourselves,Wedid ntime dining and ate in the Michelangelo every night. We do not do the sunbathing, but people we met on the boat were complaining about people putting towels on beds at the front and the in the next row for when the sun moved, which should not be allowed. The entertainment was not up to the standard I was expecting, thought the shows would be a lot more glamourous and exciting. I thought a lot of the staff were very ubhappy looking. The price of the alcohol is outrageous, a bottle of wine $28 then add on 15% gratuties takes it up to $32.80 it is a disgrace, The photographers could be a pest too, waiting to disembark to go to a port and they want you all to smile and charge you a fortune for it, as in a previous posting if the pictures were cheaper they would sell more. All in all it was a great holiday, very expensive so be prepared. Gibralter was great, taxi at the port will take you to top of the rock for 25 euro or 22 pounds, That includes entry into the caves etc Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
Review of Emerald Princess voyage May 9 to May 16, 2010 We chose the Emerald Princess for our first cruise ever because it was described as "a cut above" by our travel agent. Having just returned from the cruise, I can describe ... Read More
Review of Emerald Princess voyage May 9 to May 16, 2010 We chose the Emerald Princess for our first cruise ever because it was described as "a cut above" by our travel agent. Having just returned from the cruise, I can describe it in one word ---DISAPOINTING! Following is a list of our many disappointments: Dining: On the first night in the Michelangelo room, we were pushed a hard sell on alcoholic beverages 3 times within the first 5 minutes. Once the waiter finally realized we were not buying, he became surly for the rest of the meal. Ice tea and water glasses were never refilled. The rest of our meals were in the Da Vinci dining room. The waiters were poorly trained. Why would a waiter reach over two passengers to clear plates when there were no obstructions around the table? Why is dress code not enforced on Formal nights? There were guests in tee shirts. Why were some passengers allowed to make advance reservations for future nights but not us? I was given 3 different false reasons by three different people before finally having the problem rectified by a personal conversation with your Customer Relations Manager. Most meals the food taste was average at best. The steaks were over cooked and tough. The minestrone soup tasted like a can of baked beans. The pasta fazzole tasted like dish water. The breakfast hash brown potatoes were the consistency of a hockey puck. The vegetarian dish one night had the consistency of ground gruel served at a nursing home. We found the menu selection to be very limited with too many repeats during the week and too heavily weighted toward seafood. Since we were in "anytime" dining, we ate with different people most nights. It was not just us. Many meals were returned by others. My wife's Hungarian goulash tasted like the top fell off the salt shaker but the meal was served anyway. Basically, most of the people we spoke to were dissatisfied with the meals. I will say that the presentation of meals was excellent. Only the content/taste was poor. Of about 7 or 8 waiters over the week, only 2 were truly friendly. Why were both sides of the Horizon Buffet closed when I stopped in at 10:20 pm on Tuesday when the hours are supposed to be until 11:00 pm? On Friday, at the Horizon Buffet breakfast, at about 9:15 am, there was no seating because dozens of tables were not cleared after use. When I asked a waiter to clear one by the window, he did so grudgingly after I refused to sit at an undesirable table he was just finishing in another area. Once seated, why did it take over 10 minutes to get beverage service? Why do you have passengers sign a waiver when ordering hamburgers medium, but the waiver is a plain piece of paper with no explanations on it? I am not happy signing blank chits. Entertainment: The entertainment in the Princess Theater consisted of the same comedian on 4 different nights, one floor show for 2 nights, and one floor show for 1 night. While the comedian's routine was very good on 3 of the nights, how about some variety in the entertainment. The floor show dancers were just plain bad (amateurish). Using video taping of their rehearsals might actually produce some synchronization. General Planning and Execution: There is a considerable lack of planning of events/demonstrations/etc.? Why is the Captain's champagne fountain ceremony held so close to the Princess Theater's first show that you cannot attend both (since you must arrive about 30 minutes early for first shows due to the limited seating? If you are going to have demonstrations in the Piazza, like the towel folding/flower arranging/food art, how about setting up some chairs so people can see? The mob scene in the area is not appropriate or conducive to a meaningful demonstration and viewing.. Why do you have symbols for meals on the excursion sheet legends, but not next to any excursion listed even though several include meals? Ship Condition: Many sections (about 6) of the main light fixture ant top of the Piazza atrium were burned out or inoperable. Many of the lights around the pools were burned out. Why such poor maintenance on a relatively new ship? Crew: To be honest, most of your crew appeared to be going through the motions with little sincerity. Two waiters and our cabin attendant, were the only ones to appear genuinely friendly. In conclusion, future cruises will be on other lines. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
This was our first cruise in more than 20 years, and I'm sorry to say I was disappointed. Missing Cozumel was a huge deal for us, we really wanted to see Mayan ruins - it was the largest factor in choosing this ship/itinerary. I felt ... Read More
This was our first cruise in more than 20 years, and I'm sorry to say I was disappointed. Missing Cozumel was a huge deal for us, we really wanted to see Mayan ruins - it was the largest factor in choosing this ship/itinerary. I felt sorry for the crew, they worked so hard but many people were really angry and upset. I never heard an explanation as to why we couldn't just arrive late in Cozumel and skip Princess Cay? Roatan was just a (bad) beach stop when the Cabana we'd rented was giving to Carnival passengers before we arrived. And Princess Cay was nice, but the end of the day was crazy with everyone having to stand in line forever to get on tenders. I was not impressed by the food, it was okay in the Da Vinci and the service was good but I would have liked better, fresher food on the buffet for some quicker meals. Very glad I got the coffee card, the coffee was often out at the buffet. I liked the MUTS, and some of the trivia games, and enjoyed the (pricey!) spa. I was upset to realize the theater show was PG-13 as I sat there with my children, we had to get up and walk out. The comic was good and we were very sorry we missed seeing the 2nd one, I guess he was to have boarded in Cozumel? The whole week's entertainment was thrown off, so we missed things and were generally unsatisfied with the shows. The last morning the water was cut off without warning while I was half done with my shower. And then were were hassled by Homeland Security about our lack of passports after we'd been assured by Princess that we didn't need them, the birth certificates would be fine. Sure, they were "fine" but the homeland security guy said our names would now be on the warning list and if we went again without them we could have to pay fines. I don't think I'm generally a crank or that I have lofty expectations, but I'm really happy we got a significant discount on the cruise (and nice cabin upgrades, we'd paid for BF and got BB) because I felt the value was much less than what I expected. We're not likely to cruise again anytime soon. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
Our first day on board started with immediate problems. This was the 4th Princess Cruise for my husband and myself but the first cruise for my children and granchildren. My son, his wife and thier twins were put into a room for 3 when my ... Read More
Our first day on board started with immediate problems. This was the 4th Princess Cruise for my husband and myself but the first cruise for my children and granchildren. My son, his wife and thier twins were put into a room for 3 when my husband and I booked and paid for a room for 4. The names on the booking manifest clearly showed 4 cruisers for a room for 4. When questioned, the purser told us that this was the way it was to be. They had no more rooms to offer despite the mistake. My children and grand kids stayed in a room designed for 3 with a roll away bed for my grandson with Cerebral Palsy. The room was a liability and a fire trap. There was no room to get out of beds but rather to crawl over each other!!!! When I spoke to Princess upon my arrival home, I was essentially told that a room with a roll away constitutes a room for 4! This is rubbish and I know it it is not correct. My daughter was taken ill last minute and was unable to come on the cruise, It was too late to get a refund. I boarded the ship and told them that I was requesting the use of her room for our disposal since we had paid for it. I was given a key. An hour later, the key was de programed and the room taken from us. The purser told us that the room belonged to Princess even tho I had paid for it. They were going to upgrade another passenger on MY DIME. This is reprehensible!! I have sailed 4 times with Princess and this was by far the worst. Our room stewart forgot bath mats and gave me a robe that was clearly stained with what looked like blood. We never saw him to make requests and had to leave notes. Our waiters got our food orders wrong. On disembarcation day in port, the hot water was turned off and no one could shower. The poolside music was not Caribbean and did not fit the theme of the cruise. They allowed the constant breaking of the ships rules. People were putting their towels on chaises to reserve and then walked off to return later. No reserving was to be allowed. We sailed into Roatan into a port that Carnival/Princess built and operated. Any money spent at this port goes into the coffers of Carnival/Princess. When they could not or would not sail out that evening due some breeze issues or so say they, we were forced to spend the night there, making us bypass Cozumel. Cozumel was to be the highlight of our trip. Upon my return home, I relayed this issue and told Princess that they consciously set this situation up to fail. This was NOT the first time this had happened. I made a point of telling them that tendering in was the resolve. I was told that tendering was not/is not an option due to some farce of a safety issue. The tendering would be far safer then the scenario of a squeezing a large ship into a bottle. My complaints were all listed in a letter to Princess upon my return home. I received a call over 4 weeks later from a young CSR who responded to my complaints in a rather well scripted manner. This scenario was the result of a well versed young lady prompted and practiced to feed me a line of Princess rhetoric. I truly did NOT expect this from Princess. I honestly thought that there would be some kind of restitution while not big, just something. I now have my travel agent working on trying to get this sorted out. Until and unless Princess does right by us, there will be no future cruises with Princess. I have sailed on Royal Caribbean and honestly.....they should have been the line that I was building credits with all along! Very Disappointing! Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
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