Our cruise on the Island Princess should have been terrific. After all, we were visiting some interesting Caribbean and Central American ports, and going into the Panama Canal (a bucket list trip). But the cruise was a disappointment for ... Read More
Our cruise on the Island Princess should have been terrific. After all, we were visiting some interesting Caribbean and Central American ports, and going into the Panama Canal (a bucket list trip). But the cruise was a disappointment for many reasons. First, we were advised that there had been an outbreak of norovirus on the cruise that just ended, causing widespread diarrhea and vomiting. They advised us that they were doing an extra thorough disinfection, which we found reassuring. But when we got on board, they had done more than just disinfect.
They removed all the interior shelves from the stateroom refrigerators, along with the metal racks in the fridge doors that hold drinks. They never explained this, and never returned the shelves and racks, which made the small fridges even less useful.
Also in the interest of hygiene, passengers were not allowed to serve themselves at the buffet. Anything you wanted – from an orange to a dinner roll to a spoonful of scrambled eggs or a pastry – had to be pointed out to one of the crew, who would put it on your plate. This extended to salt and pepper packets, ketchup, tabasco sauce and other condiments. You couldn’t touch anything. You had to stand in line to have a crew member pull a glass of water or iced tea. You had to have them pull your cup of coffee and guess at how much cream to put in. It made the process slow, irritating and chaotic. At the pool grill, you couldn’t put ketchup on your own burger or fries. You had to wait for someone to put pepper flakes or oregano on your pizza slice.
Then there were the dining rooms. The ship was recently (2017) refitted with additional staterooms, adding up to 300 guests (was the resultant overcrowding one reason for the norovirus outbreak?). But they didn’t add any dining rooms to handle the extra guests, so there was a 45 minute wait for a table every night at the ONE restaurant with ‘anytime’ seating.
That jamming in of additional passengers speaks to another annoyance. They have found a way to squeeze extra money out of every single aspect of your cruise. The waiters constantly push you to buy more drinks. The photographers are constantly snapping photos and videos to sell you. The dining room menus have inserts trying to get you to ‘upgrade’ to steaks at additional cost. The chef and maître‘d put on a cooking demo and then try to sell you a cookbook. Bottles of water to take on your shore excursions are $2 each. Of course, soda pop and alcoholic drinks cost extra, and the first few days crew work hard to sell you a cruise-long ‘beverage package’ which comes out to about $689 per person including 15% bar gratuity, which means you’ll drink 6 alcoholic beverages a day to break even. On the bright side, drink anything over 6 and you’ll come out ahead (although your liver may not).
In short, every day and every meal or activity seemed to bring one more little annoyance. After a while, they just started to add up and suck some of the joy out of what should have been a lovely vacation. The ports we visited were great; but unlike the old slogan, ‘getting there’ was NOT half the fun.
Our last two cruises were with Regent, which cost more initially (it's all-inclusive and a bit more luxe), but which always delivered excellent service that seemed to anticipate our needs, instead of looking for ways to capitalize on them. We tried Princess to save some money. In the end, the savings simply were not worth the aggravation. Read Less