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408 Princess Southampton Cruise Reviews

This was our first cruise in the Baltic. The weather was perfect. We enjoyed all the ports. Our room was on the 5th floor, 301 with a small window. The room was great except that it is right over where you disembark for shore excursions ... Read More
This was our first cruise in the Baltic. The weather was perfect. We enjoyed all the ports. Our room was on the 5th floor, 301 with a small window. The room was great except that it is right over where you disembark for shore excursions so we always heard loud sounds on those days early in the morning. We also felt quite a jolt when they opened the door! The food was excellent. We had a birthday dinner in the Crown Grill which was delicious too! The ship was full and the shoes were often packed. Most were pretty good. The TV selections also were good. A highlight was the two days we spent in St Petersburg, Russia. We also had several wonderful speakers onboard. One discussed topics related to NASA and new findings. Another talked about our ports and he too was excellent. Boarding and disembarking were easy and smooth. The ship was clean and well taken care of. Would recommend this ship and cruise to others. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
Fantastic weather (13/14 hot sunny days), interesting places to visit, good company, good, food, excellent service. Who could ask for more? Well apparently some of the moaning minies who shared this trip with us. I have to wonder why some ... Read More
Fantastic weather (13/14 hot sunny days), interesting places to visit, good company, good, food, excellent service. Who could ask for more? Well apparently some of the moaning minies who shared this trip with us. I have to wonder why some people bother going on a cruise when all they want to do is find fault (and most of it unjustified). Just let me get this out of my system. I have never found any Princess staff unhelpful or rude- quite the opposite. Even the deck hands say hello. The only rudeness encountered is from some fellow cruisers. The ship was not dirty or threadbare. Wherever you go on the ship you see people painting, polishing, hovering, and clearing up- often late at night or early morning when the moaning crew are still asleep. My cabin was clean and well appointed and the steward Daniel attentive and always happy to stop and chat. I read about the burger served on a formal night. What the reviewer fails to mention is that this is always on the menu, among at least 10 other delicious and sometimes unusual dishes, for those who prefer plain food. Before readers think I have rose tinted spectacles or am being paid by Princess, there were a couple of below par aspects of the cruise experience. Firstly embarkation was in a different location and was not as smooth or as comfortable as previously experienced. Secondly, as others have commented, the entertainment was patchy. This in my view was down to the cruise director, who should have retired and left the job to his more enthusiastic helpers. Creaky comedians, too much repetition, and not enough variety in the bars were my problems with this aspect of the cruise. Other than that we had a fabulous time. The port stops on this cruise were varied and interesting. There was no need to use Princess organised trips in any of the ports. We went with Alla Tours in St Petersburg and were happy with the organisation and itinerary at a fraction of the Princess charge. (300 dollars each). There are lots of independent firms out there. Just look at people's reviews. Overall I would rate this as a great choice of itinerary at a reasonable price, with an above average cruise line. If you want to spend your holiday moaning there will always be something to moan about, but while not everything was perfect, surely life's too short to be negative. Get out there and enjoy! Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
Having read a number of less than positive reviews about Carribbean Princess I was very pleasantly surprised. While looking a little tired in places overall we found her in pretty good shape. We were in a Window Suite on deck 6 and enjoyed ... Read More
Having read a number of less than positive reviews about Carribbean Princess I was very pleasantly surprised. While looking a little tired in places overall we found her in pretty good shape. We were in a Window Suite on deck 6 and enjoyed the space and suite extras such as breakfast at Sabbatini's. Embarkation went smoothly and our room was ready when we boarded. Our cabin attendant while we did not see a lot of him did all that was needed. This cruise the focus was really on the ports and they lived up to expectations. We used TJ Travel for our 2 day tour in St Petersberg and they were excellent. We also did tours in Helsinki and Tallin with them and also excellent there. Princess give the impression on their website that doing a tour with anyone other than them is not a good idea. Totally disagree as our experience was very positive. We did not go to many of the shows but the ones we did were enjoyable. Food good though we avoided the buffet not because of the food but the lack of space to sit down. Overall a really enjoyable cruise. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
Lovely ship - International Piazza and Alfredo's Pizza superb. Cabin very good and clean - thankfully larger balcony than Britannia. Staff in restaurants etc very helpful and friendly. Good cabin steward. Food in restaurant ... Read More
Lovely ship - International Piazza and Alfredo's Pizza superb. Cabin very good and clean - thankfully larger balcony than Britannia. Staff in restaurants etc very helpful and friendly. Good cabin steward. Food in restaurant was ok - no cheese or biscuits selection - cost cutting! Service was excellent - waiters very friendly and efficient. The dress code in dining room for dinner was not apparent - as some males wore caps and a few other passenger - shorts. Entertainment was very good and most enjoyable. Quizzes were good but sadly, on sea days, there were no lectures which would have been appreciated by passengers. Overall a lovely ship but cost cutting was obvious. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
We enjoy traveling by ship so that we can unpack once, have a/c in our rooms (unlike most of the European hotels), have a great selection of food and entertainment all the time, have medical facilities onboard, know that we are a priority ... Read More
We enjoy traveling by ship so that we can unpack once, have a/c in our rooms (unlike most of the European hotels), have a great selection of food and entertainment all the time, have medical facilities onboard, know that we are a priority for the cruise lines (unlike booking in certain locations and hotels separately). We do not have the headache of car rentals and knowing which side of the road to drive on, and we know what to expect for the optional tours booked through the cruiseline (they have done the research and know what their customers want to see and do)--these are just a few of the pluses. We have traveled several different lines (Carnival, Disney, Viking) and really enjoyed the Princess cruiselines for the 2 cruises we have taken with them. (We also did the Alaska land and sea tour out of Vancouver with Princess.) The 2 ships we have been on did have facilities and activities for children and teens (i.e. the teen room, swimming pool, sports center, etc.) but seemed to cater more to the adults, which we appreciated. Our ports of call in The Channel Islands, England, Ireland, Scotland and LeHarve (Normandy/Paris), France were great and exactly what we were looking for this cruise, along with the optional tours we took to the interior of the countries. (We used only Princess Tours for this trip as they will hold the ship if a tour gets back late, and they will reimburse in full for any cancelled tours if done by 6pm the evening before.) Going this time of year and seeing the Military Tattoo in Edinburgh, Scotland is a must! We felt it was the highlight of our trip! Princess surprised us with an upgrade (at no additional charge) from a suite to a mini-suite (both balcony suites) this trip, which we really appreciated as it gave us extra room with a sitting area and a bathtub/shower combination, in a better location on the ship. The negatives this trip with Princess was that the previous cruise had cases of norovirus and we had a huge delay while they were cleaning the terminal and cruiseship before we could embark. (Although we certainly appreciated them taking the time to do so and cannot complain about that other than we had to purchase an additional meal and walk around a mall area with nothing to do, waiting on them to allow us to board. We felt that they should have offered us a meal voucher for our delay there, and had a better boarding process thereafter. FYI, the embarkation process in Vancouver for our Alaska trip was fast and easy.) The balcony area on this ship was smaller than on our cruise to Alaska, but still doable. Costs of the tours this trip were greater, but the tour times were also longer (some 8 or 9 hours). Since we were so close to our ports most of the time, the casino was not open enough for our use (due to port restrictions). And, due to the weather and size of the ship, we could not make port in Dublin as was expected. This was disappointing, but they did refund the cost of the tour we had reserved. We used the laundry facilities once while onboard, and it was fine except that the token machines did not work on every floor and people were needing to make a trip to other floors for this reason. The tenders to some ports, although necessary, added to time taken away from our shore time and, in rough weather, were a little uncomfortable. The Royal Princess is a huge and beautiful ship, and we enjoyed exploring the ship as well as the variety of food venues and entertainment offered. The skywalk was fun and really pretty at night with the colored lights. We opted for 'anytime dining', as we did on our Alaska trip, and feel this is the best option when dealing with tours, etc. When using this option, one can still have a normal sit-down dinner, when desired, in addition to using the quick buffet line. Room service is always an option, of course. All in all, my husband and I enjoyed the trip, ship and venues, and we will definitely use Princess again for future vacations. Cruise tip: Fly in to your destination a day early!! This helps reduce jetlag so that you can immediately enjoy your cruise, and is a precaution in the event that your flight is delayed or your luggage is lost (this has happened to several people we know). Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
Embarkation- Absolutely horrible!! The ship had a norovirus issue on the prior trip so had to go thru a thorough cleaning prior to boarding which was delayed +3-hours and our actual departure was delayed 4-hours. There was no attempt ... Read More
Embarkation- Absolutely horrible!! The ship had a norovirus issue on the prior trip so had to go thru a thorough cleaning prior to boarding which was delayed +3-hours and our actual departure was delayed 4-hours. There was no attempt to organize the check-in other than allow every passenger to just get in line and wait. The line to check-in took 2-hours and wrapped 1½-the length of the cruise terminal. Muster- Our muster station was in the art gallery where there was no seating which is the 1st time we had been required to stand for muster. The muster lasted +30-minutes as the Captain chose to lecture the new passengers on norovirus for several minutes prior to the actual muster information. There were many very old people and families with young children so the whole experience at muster station was the worst I have ever experienced on Princess. I expressed my concern to one of the leaders at our muster station and was rudely told “there just isn’t room for all muster stations to have seating for passengers” to which I suggested it must be a design oversight followed by his reply “I don’t design the ships” which totally missed my point of taking the comments back to Princess management. Entertainment- The production shows were excellent. Singers and dancers performed well. Musical selection was relevant for the audience and very entertaining. The electronic set designs were fresh and added to the performances. Additional solo headliners’ performances were equally entertaining and provided variety to the entertainment schedule. Food & food service- The main dining room menu offering has a good selection to meet anyone’s taste. Table service has suffered from the removal of the sommeliers who previously handled all bar related orders. The assistant waiter has taken over those duties but appear to have no training or understanding of cocktails, beer and wine so we witnessed order errors and confusion of customers’ orders. This added task has greatly slowed the normal assistant waiter’s task of refilling water & rolls, clearing plates and bringing diners’ courses from the kitchen. The waiter and the assistant had to continually rush to try and keep up which results in a less-than-enjoyable dining experience. Nightly the area supervisor stopped by our table to check how we were doing and the 2nd night I mentioned this added responsibility for the service staff, he just smiled and thanked us for dining with them never even acknowledging my comment. As with other Princess cruises the waiters menu & food prep knowledge is limited to what is written on the menu. Princess has added two new dining options in the atrium area and neither were ever busy; Alfredo's pizza and short list of Italian fare at no additional cost and The Ocean Terrace Seafood Bar which is +$'s. The Horizon buffet is significantly better than on other class ships. It seems like there is more variety of food and the presentation in the cold food & salad area is much better. The dining areas are varied in their layout/design which makes them more appealing. A continuing problem is slow beverage service which has been exacerbated by the ship’s continuing norovirus problem from the prior voyage so the dining room staff has to be asked for salt, pepper, sugar and/or sweeteners. Frequently 1-2 packets are delivered when more are needed which adds more delay. Also because of the norovirus problem it appears the staff has been instructed to heavy clean all surfaces after use. The tables and chairs are left very wet including parts of the chairs that are not high touch areas. Frequently diners would dry the table & chairs to make them fit for use. Public Areas- All public spaces are clean and well maintained. The furnishings and décor are superior to other class Princess ships and seating much more comfortable. No problem finding a comfortable place to sit even during bad weather sea days. Disembarkation- Excellent! Getting off the ship was the absolute opposite of getting on the ship. It was extremely well organized and we were allowed to go early from our staging area and claim our luggage then depart the cruise terminal. This was among the easiest we have had. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
We have been regular Princess cruisers since 2011, mainly on longer cruises on the Dawn/Sea Princess, with a couple of cruises on the slightly larger Diamond and Emerald. The older ships (Dawn/Sea) are like a comfortable pair of old ... Read More
We have been regular Princess cruisers since 2011, mainly on longer cruises on the Dawn/Sea Princess, with a couple of cruises on the slightly larger Diamond and Emerald. The older ships (Dawn/Sea) are like a comfortable pair of old slippers and generally we now know many other passengers too. Boarding the Royal for the first time - and without knowing any other passengers, the first impression is of sheer size and almost overwhelming. Totally agree with previous comments that traffic flow is very poor, shown before we'd even left port and had to muster in the TV studio. Getting out again was just chaotic, with people in the narrow passageway going in both directions. On the positive side, our luggage was at the cabin before we were - and that is a first, but even as Elite passengers, the queue to board was extremely slow, with delays at check-in, X-ray and boarding. The tip here is probably to board later, when the mad dash to board has subsided. With 4,000 passengers, a queue is inevitable. We had an exploratory walk around and agree with the comments regarding the short jogging track, but as anyone who has travelled UNDER the open decks will tell you, early joggers or even lead footed walkers are a real pain. The cabin was no better than the Emerald and just more modern than the Dawn, yet no power socket on the bathroom side of the bed and no UK socket. In fact, two fewer power outlets than on the older ships. The TV set system is totally different, with about 6 'live' TV programmes (no Channel 24 sports), no map of the ships location, just a web cam and a sales pitch for the Reflections DVD. A positive however is that the TV is connected to the ship's entertainment hard drive, so you have 24 hour access to all programmes, rather than a broadcast schedule. The downside is that the simplified remote has no sleep timer, just volume and channel buttons. These can be a bit slow, so when there is an announcement over the speaker system in the corridor, by the time you have found the channel on the TV, the announcement is over anyway. The bathroom is just as cramped as all ship's bathrooms, but if you are unlucky enough to contract the noro-virus (my wife did on the very last night at 1am..., you'll be very grateful for the location and close proximity of wash basin and toilet pan! A bit of accidental ergonomic genius probably. Agree that no central staircase is a pain (we were C535) and it is a long, long walk from one end of the ship to another and even if you make an effort to use the stairs rather than lifts, you'll need to be fit. The staff as always with Princess were excellent, but after a less than ecstatic fixed dining experience on night 1, we opted to use the buffet from then on. Now with any buffets, particularly large ones such as here, you have to play the common-sense card.. If a dish has been around for a while and it is something like eggs Benedict or scrambled eggs, even fried eggs, don't expect them to be soft and runny, because they never are. The staff will always do a fried egg to order, sunny side up anyway. We never asked for poached eggs, whereas we would on the Dawn. Generally, we found the buffet food more than acceptable with a huge variety. As above, better to make two or three visits and pick food that has just come out and still fresh. In the piazza, we generally had lunch there as the pies/quiches were heated to order and the limited salads were superb - and I am not a salad person. Prawn, radish and shaved fennel, (heap of prawns) or chicken and pineapple in alight curry sauce were daily favourites and the steak and kidney pie more than acceptable. The entertainment side of the cruise was excellent and unlike a previous poster, we knew only too well that David Copperfield, was on British TV back in the 1970's, along with Lenny Henry and Tracey Ulman. Top act along with Chris Watkins, violinist, the Beatles Tribute band, David Cats and David Knight - all except David Cats we'd seen before. As a new ship, the production shows except for one, were colourful and well presented with a cast of 17. The piazza band , Indigo, were excellent and we enjoyed the entertainment, though scheduling just 2 Beatles shows was 1 too few as people who did not get there early would have missed out. As for itinerary, no complaints and as usual, we did a mix of walk off, Princess tours (4) and HoHo buses. As mentioned before, we were not part of a group and the ship is so huge, that you might strike up a conversation with a couple on day one, never to see them again! The weather wasn't warm enough to be out on deck so we didn't get to enjoy the outdoor areas at all. Would be cruise on the Royal again? Probably not, but that is as much to do with size as anything. Would we suggest visitors to the UK did this round GB cruise as a taster for Scotland and Ireland? Yes. Biggest surprise? How much we enjoyed the HoHo around Liverpool. Advice - buy Beatles Exhibition tickets on line. We gave up after queuing for half an hour just for tickets. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
The ship is looking a little dated, compared to the Ruby we previously sailed with, but still an amazing 14 days on the Med. We had an inside cabin on Lido deck, which was a first for us, but it worked out well although I love a good book ... Read More
The ship is looking a little dated, compared to the Ruby we previously sailed with, but still an amazing 14 days on the Med. We had an inside cabin on Lido deck, which was a first for us, but it worked out well although I love a good book on the balcony. Food was ok in the main dining room, but with a child, we preferred to eat in the buffet areas. There were about 500 children on board due to English summer hols, so it was crammed in the pools, but we expected that. Biggest complaint was there were no staff keeping watch at the pools - as we have found on most cruises - so there was lots of kids jumping in, eating and drinking in the pool, and nothing was said. Also in evenings, crowds of teens spoiled movies under the stars by being noisy and just being typical teens. There wasn't a parent or staff member to have a quiet word and ask them to keep it down, or go to another part of the ship. These are minor gripes tho, we boarded in Southampton and were inside our cabin by midday. Amazing. Altogether, a great cruise and would be happy to sail Princess again. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
Our first ever cruise (probably not our last). This was an overall enjoyable cruise. We are a fully able English couple in our late 50s who, in the main, like to do our own thing. I'm not particularly social whereas my wife can ... Read More
Our first ever cruise (probably not our last). This was an overall enjoyable cruise. We are a fully able English couple in our late 50s who, in the main, like to do our own thing. I'm not particularly social whereas my wife can talk to anybody. First off tips for new cruisers: Princess uses American power so bring a US to UK adapter and UK extension lead which you can use for all your chargers. We had a mini suite with a fridge which already had some drinks in. You will be charged for these if you use them so, ask the steward to remove them and use the fridge for you own water supplies. Bring a couple of water bottles, when they are empty refill them with water, put in fridge and chill for use on excursions - repeat. Bring insulated beakers for taking coffee back to the rooms. Princess makes extensive use of credit card sized "Cruise Cards" which are used to "purchase" drinks, excursions etc. Bring a lanyard an ask the Passenger Services desk to punch a hole in the card, attach the lanyard, hang it around your neck and you'll never loose it. If you want to buy jewellery/cosmetics/art etc, I would recommend you wait until Gibraltar. There is a better range and its cheaper! We bought our cruise at the "Daily Mail" cruise show where we got $550 each for use onboard. At the end of the cruise we ended up only paying an extra $25! So going to a free show paid for our excursions, drinks, photos and gratuities!! We over packed (surprise, surprise). For myself- For the (3) formal evenings I only really needed one outfit. Most guys would wear a black suit, white shirt with bowtie. I had a dark blue suit, white shirt with normal tie which was acceptable. I bought an extra two shirts which weren't used. For the remaining smart/casual evenings I wore brown chinos and one of two polo shirts. Most guys wore short sleeved shirts. All the rest of time I used shorts and t-shirts. Cold UK clothing (jacket/jeans/jumper) were handy when the 'Movies Under the Stars' proved to be a bit nippy. Dining: We opted for the "Anytime Dining" option. We generally ate breakfasts from the "Cafe Caribe" buffet at about 7:30. The buffet was quiet at this time of the morning and we could always get a window seat or sit outside. Sometimes we had breakfast in our Mini-Suite (oh the decadence of it all). Lunches could prove very busy but, if you get your buffet from "Horizon Court" there was usually plenty of seating in "Cafe Caribe" We had dinner in either the "Island Dining Room" or from "Horizon Court". These did get very busy around 8pm. So we got into the routine of eating at around 5.30 to 6.30 then going to the show. There was always plenty of room at this time and it seemed to coincide with "happy hour" by a glass of wine and get another for $1. All the food we had was excellent. Entertainment etc: Keep an eye on the "Princess Patter" daily newsletter. We missed the first "Formal" night because we failed to spot the dress code notification. The shows in the "Princess Theatre" were a mixed bag. The "shows" were good, the singers were fairly good, speciality act "String Idols" good, comedians were very poor apart from "John Martin". I got a bit tired of the Art Auctions/Effy Jewellery sales which seemed to dominate proceedings. Crew: Unfailing polite and always there when you needed them. Only good things to say. Embarkation/Disembarkation: We used CPS to park our car - Brilliant, the holiday started as soon as we handed our keys over at Southampton and we didn't see our bags until we got on board. Getting on board is a breeze - almost a pleasure. Disembarkation was just as easy. We chose to carry our own bags off and our car was waiting for us just outside the CPS office. Our only real gripes was how crowded it seemed at times (especially around the pools with the lack of sun beds) and all the pesky kids. Unfortunately my wife works in school so we are stuck with school holidays. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
Having nothing to compare the Caribbean Princess with and reading some of the reviews, I wondered what I had let myself in for. All I can say l was pleasantly surprised. Sure the Ships is looking a bit tired but she goes in for a refit ... Read More
Having nothing to compare the Caribbean Princess with and reading some of the reviews, I wondered what I had let myself in for. All I can say l was pleasantly surprised. Sure the Ships is looking a bit tired but she goes in for a refit next year. From the moment of embarkation (which was very quick and efficient) to the point of disembarkation (the only let down) we could find nothing to complain about. There were queues for the Anytime Dining, as we ate early I cannot state how long people waited, only to say we did not have to queue at 6pm. The food in all dining venues was good, the Crown Grill and Sabatini's being excellent and well worth the extra $25 per head. The entertainment was good, there were trivia challenges every evening and these were well supported, dancing, music, and shows. On sea days there was plenty to keep you entertained if you so wanted during the morning/afternoon. There was a problem with sunbeds, but l did see the deck attendants removing towels. The Captain was very informative and at times funny, especially the night we encountered strong winds. The only blot was disembarkation there were delays of up 30 mins and no reason given, subsequently we disembarked as the new passengers were embarking it was a bit chaotic in the terminal. That said we would definitely cruise on the Caribbean Princess again. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
We travelled the first week of the school summer holidays, if you don't like kids don't travel in the school holidays!! There were a lot of teens on board but they were no trouble and all polite and well behaved, so what, they ... Read More
We travelled the first week of the school summer holidays, if you don't like kids don't travel in the school holidays!! There were a lot of teens on board but they were no trouble and all polite and well behaved, so what, they may have been noisey at times but they're on HOLIDAY. We had a mini suite on deck 9 it was lovely and clean our only probelm was the sofa bed my daughter had to sleep on, seriously it should have been chucked in a skip years ago, how Princess could expect a paying a guest to sleep on it at all let alone a fortnight was beyond belief, we asked for an extra matress which we got , not perfect but better. Our cabin steward was really nice and helpful. I would recommend a balcony mini suite plenty of room for three with plenty of wardrobe space. The food was amazing always hot always well presented, we had anytime dining which worked well for us, yes we had a long wait some nights but it was always worth it. The buffet was very good but I really didn't like the being handed your plate and cutlery, set up, all very school canteen but we always got a table with no problem and enjoyed the selection. Always without fail struggeled to get a sunbed, never any in the shade, but on the occassions we did it was nice with the pizza bar nearby! Beware you don't stop eating on this cruise. Pools were big and had a seating area all around them, lots of kids enjoying their holidays a lovely atmosphere. The entertainment was good, we went to the theatre a few times and always enjoyed it. The singers around the bars were good even if a bit cruise ship cheesy, could not get a seat in crooners; people table blocking all night WITHOUT drinks!! we liked it there as they did the best cocktails, on the two nights we did manage to get a seat we really enjoyed it. Here's the thing though, all the entertainment finishes around 11.00/11.30 what is that all about? we're on holiday, the bars closed around 12 (unless you went to the night club) all seemed geared up to the endless OAP's on board. Also tough luck if you want food after 11.00pm all that was available was toasted sandwiches. All the staff were polite and friendly couldn't fault them at all. Had afternoon tea one day, it was lovely, well served and presented, we didn't go again just too much food everywhere! but would recommend it. My main concern was the lack of air conditioning, it was so hot on board which was uncomfortable, we did raise the issue at customer services and they did have a fault with it which was supposedly repaired but honestly I think the air conditoning along with the sewage system are just knackered, it's an old ship, cosmetically it looks beautiful but major things are breaking down and these are the things that no doubt cost big money to put right. The sail away party from Gibralter was fanastic, such fun. We prepaid for the drinks package which was well worth the money, I would recommend that anyone who enjoys a drink buys this package, my daughter had the soft drinks package which was also good value. We have only ever cruised NCL before so could only compare to that, Entertainment on Princess is way behind, AirConditioning is way behind , Sofa bed way behind as is sunbed situation but I really did enjoy this cruise and going from Sothampton is a breeze, ebarkation was so easy as was dis-embarkation. All in all we had an excellent holiday, on a lovely ship. If you have booked or considering booking this cruise ship you will have a great time. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
My family and I just got home from the 7 day Norway cruise roundtrip from Southampton on the Caribbean Princess. We are a family of five with two teens and an eleven year-old from California. Overall we had a great time. This is our ... Read More
My family and I just got home from the 7 day Norway cruise roundtrip from Southampton on the Caribbean Princess. We are a family of five with two teens and an eleven year-old from California. Overall we had a great time. This is our second Princess cruise, the first was an Alaskan cruise three years ago. The last two summers we cruised on NCL (Hawaii and the Mediterranean). I noted a lot of key differences between Princess and NCL, for those who are curious, and will mention those as I go along. We flew from San Francisco direct to London Heathrow, arriving two days precruise so we could see London. I have to throw in kudos to United Airlines, who get so much slack in reviews it seems, because both of our flights with them were fabulous. No delays, easy self checkin at the airports, friendly staff, three course meals even in economy class, water offered continuously, and lots of free movies and TV shows to watch on personal TV's (on a B777-200 plane). In London we stayed at the London Marriott Grosvenor Square, which I chose not only to earn Marriott points and get free Wifi, but because of its great location (walkable to Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park, Oxford Circus, with a tube station closeby and even next to the American Embassy). On July 11th we took the Princess bus transfer to Southampton from Victoria Coach Station. The bus ride was over two hours long and being a Saturday there was lots of traffic. The driver did stop for a restroom/grab snacks break, which was much appreciated, seeing as we left London at 10:30am and didn't get onto the ship until four hours later - let's just say that hungry teens are cranky and needed snacks to tide them over. At the port we waited in the usual long line to checkin, and we were given a boarding group number and waited in the lounge area until our number was called. Then you went through security and onto the ship. It wasn't too long of a wait though. Once onboard (now almost 3pm) our cabins were ready. Our luggage arrived within an hour, which was nice (it had been loaded underneath the bus in London and sent straight through to our cabins). Now we planned on going to the buffet for a late lunch, but the muster drill was starting in like a half hour. I know on NCL we always had more time than that, and they also offered a later "makeup" drill option once we had sailed, which Princess doesn't do. So we hauled lunch-deprived hungry teens, dutifully carrying our lifejackets, to the muster drill and made it through that until dinnertime. I think my 15 year-old son ate like three hot dogs once we made it to the buffet. On Princess, the hot dogs, burgers, grilled chicken sandwiches, fries, and pizza are all out on the pool deck, separate from the buffet. Also the ice cream is in a separate place by the pool. So we learned to grab a table (not easy to do for five people most days), then split up and the kids went to get their food by the pool and my husband saved the table while I scoped out the buffet. Princess as usual has great food, and for me everything was always served hot (I've read about cold buffet items, which I never had, but granted I don't eat everything in there). Loved the salad bar, carved meats, and roasted potatoes. The desserts are far better than on NCL. My kids would go down to the International Café twice a day to load up on chocolate chip cookies (which weren't always in the buffet) and amuse people in the elevators with their heaping cookie plates. I loved the oatmeal raisin cookies, which appeared sporadically, and so had them snag those for me whenever possible. Nothing like eating cookies on your balcony watching the sea. We had two balconies, which we had the steward connect so that we could walk between our cabins. Our cabins were on Aloha deck, midship to help with my seasick-prone family (everyone but me, haha), although we still felt plenty of movement. They all took their Bonine/less drowsy Dramamine pills faithfully every day at dinner, and had no problems (which we learned the hard way on previous cruises). Our cabins were right near the elevators and stairs, so easy to get around. We did have service elevators right outside the cabin I shared with my youngest, so it was noisy at times, but she sleeps through everything and I am up early anyway (especially with pretty much constant sunlight here, with the sun not setting until almost midnight and sunrise around 4am). I found the room plenty big enough for two people, with lots of storage and the bathroom was fine if you use it one at a time. The shower for me was fine, lots of water pressure and instant hot water. I actually liked the pump bottles of shampoo and shower gel, less bottles falling all over the shower and my razor propped up on them nicely. There were two USA power outlets by the desk, so I used my curling iron there and in between we plugged in our Iphone chargers. In the bathroom there is only a shaver plug, and the hair dryer is on the desk. We did have the power blow out on those desk plugs on the first day, knocking the TV out as well, but our steward (Luizito from the Phillipines, who was delightful and did an awesome job) had the electrician there within an hour to flip the breaker. Apparently that is a common occurance. My husband shared the other cabin with our two teens, and they actually debated over who got to sleep on the upper bunk bed. It came down from the ceiling above the twin bed next to the wall. It was left down all day long, which must have been easier for Luizito, but it wasn't a problem and my son loved to lounge up there during afternoon rest breaks. He kept the ladder at the end of the bunk, in the hallway, so that my husband below him could get in and out of his bed more easily. All of our beds were comfortable and had snuggly down comforters. Our balconies were plenty big enough, with two chairs and a small table on each. The TV ran movies each night, many of them new releases, so the kids were thrilled to stay up late and watch them in bed. We watched The Longest Ride and Avengers:Age of Ultron at Movies Under the Stars, which was chilly but fun. You get blankets, which you check out with your room card and return after the movie (maybe people were stealing them before) and they serve popcorn. It was surreal watching movies outside (although it wasn't dark of course) with the Norwegian fjords in the backdrop as we sailed past. Princess does offer child and teen programs, but my kids like to do their own thing and hang with us, which is a true gift. It makes it a true family vacation and I treasure it. My kids actually won Bingo (two of them two games in a row, what are the odds) so it was fun to watch them announce their names and "from California" to everyone (although since we wore shorts most of the time, even in snow on a Norway excursion, I think people had already guessed that). Speaking of excursions, I always book them through the cruiseline for ease and peace of mind of not missing the ship (which we have seen happen). In Stavanger, we rode on a scenic cruise from the ship along the Lysefjord out to Pulpit Rock and back. It was really fun, nice and cool on the top deck and cozy below on the way back if you were too cold. They stopped at a restaurant and we got to try Norwegian waffles (yummy) and have coffee, tea, or hot chocolate. Back at the port we walked around and found some reasonably priced souvenirs and marveled at them having a Starbucks, Burger King, and 7-Eleven. In the next port (can't recall how to spell it, starts with S), we did a scenic bus ride up to the top of a snowy mountain and had waffles again (to the delight of my always hungry teens) at a ski resort. It was like driving up into a cloud. The kids of course played in the show (in shorts and sandals). Very cool. Norway is gorgeous, all green and lush and really another world of its own. Not many people live there, but they are friendly and welcoming to tourists. I will never forget sail away from Olden, where we watched on our balconies as the port workers blasted Rod Stewart's song "Sailaway" on a loudspeaker and waved goodbye to us, some waving Norwegian flags. In Bergen we did the historical thing, walking through the Hanseatic wharf area, old medieval meeting rooms, and the Viking area royal banquet hall (that is still used today). Great way for the kids to learn some history and about the region. Also we lucked out on the weather, which was clear and nice - apparently rare for Bergen which is like the rainiest town in Europe or something like that. All of our Princess excursions were easy (just meet in the ship theater and they escort you out to the busses) and had great tour guides. Was glad to be on a ship excursion because one did get back to the ship a half hour late. Overall Princess is a classy cruise line, with afternoon tea, British pub lunches, and classic dining room waitstaff. We ate in the MDR twice for dinner, but mostly the buffet/pool area grill pickup food was easiest for us. We always do breakfast in the buffet, where my son consistently emptied out their pancake tray, and Princess definitely outshines NCL in their breakfast offerings. I also like how the waiters bring drinks to you at your table (on NCL you have to get your own, after setting down your food unless you are an octopus). There is a Purell dispenser at the entry of all dining areas, which we always use because the last thing you want is to get sick on a cruise. The last night was my husband's birthday, so we had our free specialty restaurant dinner (at booking we got dinner for 2 per cabin - and they preassign you one of the two restaurants and a day and time - which I was easily able to call and switch to what we wanted, Sabatini's at 6pm). The original reservation assigned to us was at 8pm on a different day. If you have this free dinner on your booking, I would call and change it to what you want as soon as you board the ship (it's printed on a card in your cabin) because the reservations fill up fast for the rest of the cruise. We were sad when the cruise ended, but happy to spend one more night in London before flying home. My son wanted to see Waterloo Station (he's a Jason Bourne fan) so we opted to walk off the ship ourselves (if you do this Walkoff option, carrying your own luggage off the ship, you leave by 8am) and take a taxi to the Southampton train station to ride to Waterloo. Buying train tickets was easy (and two of my kids got the child price discount, up to age 15). It was fun to watch the trains whiz through the station, the engineers blowing their whistles loudly when time to board, and you must pay attention or you could miss your train. You have only a few minutes to board the train, put your luggage in the luggage bin (or smaller ones in the rack above the seats), and snag seats together. There is no assigned seating and it is a bit of a free for all. We managed to all sit in one car a few rows apart before the whistles blew and the train sped off for Waterloo. It was only an hour and twenty minute ride to London, with three short stops. And free Wifi, which delighted the kids who were phone deprived while onboard the ship and in rustic Norway ports. We did buy the ship's Wifi package and used it while in port to check emails, post pictures to Facebook and Instagram, etc. Always turn your data roaming off while at sea, or you will rack up international data roaming charges, and don't use your phone while at sea. It makes a big difference in your phone bill when you get home. I also put my Iphone's email settings on Fetch instead of Push, so it only searches for emails when I tell it to, vs. the usual constant feed of emails. Okay enough phone technical advice. So for our last night in London, we walked from Waterloo Station (taking the required Jason Bourne movie scene photos) to our second hotel, of course Marriott again so it was the London Marriott County Hall. You can't get any closer here to the London Eye - it was right outside our rooms' windows. Can't beat this hotel's location for this area (the South Bank). You walk out the door to the London Eye, across the Westminster Bridge over to Big Ben (you can even hear it chiming occasionally, very cool) and the Parliament buildings. It is a super crowded area, especially this being a Saturday, with thousands of tourists. It reminded me of Disneyland on a much smaller scale. There is an aquarium, a London Dungeon (haunted house), and a Shrek experience mixed in with the huge London Eye queue (line). We bought vouchers for Eye fast passes through the hotel concierge, and this cut down our wait time considerably. Well worth the extra cost. Within a half hour we were on the Eye (which is actually now the Coca-Cola London Eye, interestingly, and lit up in red at night appropriately) and soaring high above London. It rotates slowly and you hop on and off while it's still moving. There are about twenty people in each capsule, and you can walk around and take photos or sit on a bench in the center and just watch the view - albeit through the people standing by the windows). I recommend snagging a spot standing by the windows and don't move around or someone else will jump in. For said hungry teens, a late lunch at the McDonald's next door to our hotel was in order and we all loved a good American fast food break. The McDonald's here is packed, and you order upstairs and then try to find a table downstairs to eat. Our Visa credit cards (chip and sign) worked fine in the U.K. and in Norway, FYI. The hotel had a great steakhouse for dinner, and a good breakfast buffet in the morning; then it was off in a car (arranged by the concierge and charged to our room, at no extra cost) to Heathrow for the flight home. It takes about forty-five minutes to get to Heathrow from London. We had a fabulous time on this trip, and would recommend it to everyone, especially families like us. As Americans we were the minority on the ship (which was mostly British passengers, who were friendly and we love their proper English and cute phrases - my daughter now says "lift" for elevator and "brilliant" instead of cool). It was a great way to see Norway, the land of the "Frozen" movie (which we got to watch there on TV in our cabins), and also enjoy London, which is becoming quite the multi-national, slightly New York crazy, but ever so charming city. And Princess is still a wonderful cruise line, for those of us not too picky and just happy to be on vacation halfway across the world. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
I would like to give a brief review, concentrating on some points that come to mind, rather than a full blow by blow account, and also giving reasons for my views. I'm amazed how many reviewers say things like shows were poor, without ... Read More
I would like to give a brief review, concentrating on some points that come to mind, rather than a full blow by blow account, and also giving reasons for my views. I'm amazed how many reviewers say things like shows were poor, without giving any reason. Firstly, I have seen many comments on the Caribbean Princess saying that it is in urgent need of a refit etc. This was our third Princess cruise (out of 5) and the ship was fine. We went on the Ruby when it was 18 months old and in terms of décor and fittings I would struggle to find any difference. We were anytime dining as usual but found a useful way of getting a table for 2 without any waiting. One of the dining rooms is traditional only, one is anytime only and the other is early traditional changing to anytime from 7.15 pm. By accident (initially) we found that arriving at the latter (Coral) at around 7pm, there were always tables for 2 available. We did that 4 times, choosing to share and meet other people the other 3 evenings. We loved the fjords and Stavanger and Bergen were easy to explore from the ship. There was the usual rip off excursion prices, with a fjord tour at Stavanger at $100 being available for about half on the quay and a minibus tour at Olden (to the Briksdal Glacier) being much less than half the ship price. At Skjolden we had tried to book cycles a few weeks ahead of the cruise, from a local operator but were told that all their cycles had been set aside for passengers on the Fred Olsen lines Braemar, in port the same day. That was unlucky for us as Skjolden is only having 15 ships in this summer and 2 came on the same day! We were able to rent the bikes for three hours in the afternoon, once the Braemar passengers were back from their bike and hike trip. We thought the shows were mostly excellent, especially the dance shows "Born to be wild" and "Piano Man", the former featuring a glorious pink Cadillac. Opinions on comedy acts Tucker and Taffy Spencer were more varied, as will always be the case with comedians, especially those from the UK trying to appeal to USA passengers, and vice versa. Food was mostly excellent, we ate in the dining rooms each night and mostly in the International case at lunchtime. The port stops made it easy to nip back there at lunchtime and go out again in the afternoon. The only downside on food for us was the fish, which mostly appeared frozen. You would think on a North Sea cruise, you would get fresh cold water fish like cod and halibut but we were served warm water species such as Red Snapper and mahi mahi, which was often disappointing. The weather was acceptable with little rain, although low cloud on the fjord days was a bit of a problem. Temperatures were low, mid teens in Celsius, late fifties in Fahrenheit. The cruise finished with one and a half sea days, the full day of which was particularly windy, leading to almost all passengers looking for indoor seating to relax. Why oh why then did we have all the seats in the Explorers lounge given over to paintings for a seminar and auctions. I really don't get the art auctions at sea, they must make money from impulse purchases but they must only be of interest to a minority of customers and to have people walking around looking for seats with a full lounge out of action was very frustrating. All in all though a good cruise and like the Norweigan Blue parrott, we are pining for the fjords, hoping to return in the future. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
My family and I traveled on the Royal Princess for the British Isles cruise 7/8/2015 through 7/20/2015. For this review, I plan on focusing mainly on the logistics and “what you need to know” more than the port / attraction ... Read More
My family and I traveled on the Royal Princess for the British Isles cruise 7/8/2015 through 7/20/2015. For this review, I plan on focusing mainly on the logistics and “what you need to know” more than the port / attraction information as I feel that this has been covered in detail by other members. Also note that unlike some of the other reviews I have read here, this is not my multi-page forum to complain. Yes, there are issues and there will always be issues trying to accommodate several thousand people, each with a different set of needs and priorities. Overall the ship and the cruise are amazing. Relax, have a great time and enjoy your vacation. If you want to complain, call a friend. If you do have something negative to iterate, consider the tone and the try and be helpful. Forgive me for the length of this information, I hope you find it helpful and it will also serve as a diary for my family in the future. I am an engineer by trade and as a result have a “how does it work” perspective Also forgive me if I bounce around between subjects a bit. Most of this is written as I recall different subjects to comment on. My family consists of two adults, mid 40’s, one 14 year old boy and a 12 year old girl and we live in the mid-Atlantic of the U.S. This was the kids first trip to Europe, but their 4th cruise overall. My wife and I have been on 15+ cruises, generally choosing Royal Caribbean or Princess. This was our first cruise in Europe and our second overall trip to Europe, and first in 15 years. We visited Paris a few days and London a few days prior to going on the cruise. As you will see in my commentary, we tried to walk everywhere we could and always used the stairs. We are all fairly fit and wanted to stay so with all of the food available! Money – Make sure you have a credit card with the “chip” in it. This is nearly required for everywhere you will go. Based on all of the research I did, it appears that the Capital One card is the best deal when it comes to transaction fees etc. Luckily, we already had one. American Express is amongst the worst deal as there are many fee’s imposed. My debit card (also from Capital One) did allow for “no ATM fee’s” assuming you used very specific ATM’s, but I found that this was negated by the exchange rate imposed at these ATM’s. It was also very useful to have the Capital One App on my iPhone as every time I made a charge, I received a text with the cost, converted into U.S. dollars. While I could do a rough guess on the conversion, it was nice to see it immediately to the penny. Keep in mind that France and Ireland (not Northern Ireland) use the Euro. Everywhere else on the trip uses the British Pound, including Northern Ireland. Be prepared for everything to be much more expensive than home. Even when you try and find a deal (See Glasgow below for an example) Weather – Paris was hot. Just like at home. 90+ degrees and high humidity. Everywhere else (with the exception noted below) was very cool. Low 60’s, overcast to partly cloudy, windy. Pack accordingly; I know we did not pack warm enough clothes. We never saw more than a few sprinkles on the whole trip which was a real treat. When it did sprinkle, the weather forecast never called for rain and the clouds came in just as quickly as they left. It’s a cliché that the weather changes that fast, but we found it really does. In short, having to do it again, I would still bring my poncho and umbrellas, and I would have brought much warmer clothes and jackets. Also note that as you go further north, the sunset and sunrise times get later / earlier each day. It would be 10:30pm and still fairly bright out. Flights: We chose Iceland Air for both price and schedule. Another benefit is that they allow you to check two bags for “free” and given that we were traveling for 19 days, the extra bag we took really helped. There was nothing significant about the flights other than mechanical issues on the way to Paris that caused a delay and missing connecting flights in Iceland. This was unfortunate, but not too significant. Paris: We appreciated all that there is to see and do in Paris, but overall were not impressed. The people were extremely friendly, but the city was dirty and crowded. Customs – We landed at CDG, disembarked, gathered our luggage and looked for our driver we had pre-arranged with AAA (which I highly suggest. 100 Euro for 4 people, 5 large bags etc which meant he needed a van and not a typical car. It would have been difficult to find a car ad hoc to accommodate all we brought). We literally walked out of the airport and never passed through any kind of immigration or customs at all. The driver explained that sometimes they just don’t do it. I’ll refrain from any political commentary here, but certainly could provide some. Smoke - everyone on the street seems to smoke. And I mean everyone. Also, those cute café’s that you see on television showing people enjoying a coffee and people watching? They are everywhere, but what you don’t realize is that every one of those people are smoking and that smoke blows into the actual restaurant while you are eating your overpriced meal. Streets - We did enjoy the street performers outside many of the larger attractions and had reasonably priced meals in the Latin Quarter. The sidewalks are very wide and the architecture was very nice. Hotel - We stayed at the Citadines Apart’hotel Saint-Germain-des-Pres which is an apartment hotel (literally the hotel rooms are small apartments) and it was great. Given our late arrival due to flight issues, we received a much larger room / apartment than we probably would have during normal check in hours. Internet was free, although it seemed to work much better in the lobby than in the actual room. Filtered water and coffee was free. They do not clean your room daily unless you are there for a week, but this was not an issue. It did have a small kitchen. Eiffel Tower – For almost everything we did, we tried to get tickets online before leaving. However, we were too late for the Eiffel tower as they were all sold out. My wife called them ahead of time though and found out that they occasionally release additional tickets online. You just need to keep checking the website. Luckily just before leaving for the trip, additional tickets were released for 9:00am 7/5, the first appointment available. We showed up and were the very first people to the top. Notre Dame – Don’t be put off by the long lines. They move very quickly and a must see. There are also many street performers out front, especially at night. Champs-Élysées – Something you should probably do, but just a lot of people and shopping. If you’re a car guy, you can rent a Ferrari, McLaren or other supercar from vendors here. I think the Ferrari was 89 Euro for 20 minutes. Catacombs – This was a “must do” for my daughter so it was the first stop the morning after we arrived. We got there before it opened to find a 3.5 hour wait, the line literally wrapped around the block. Given our time in Paris was already very short, and made shorter by the travel issues, we chose to skip this due to the line. However, later in the day, we took the subway back, arriving 10 minutes before they stop allowing entry and walked right in. Overall, it worked out, but this is probably an attraction I would skip if it were just me (it’s interesting, but also a little bit creepy). Random thoughts – We were there on July 4 and although the city is full of American tourists, I only saw three people with red white and blue clothing. We only saw one pub celebrating the holiday. I am pretty sure this is due to concerns of American’s being targets for terrorist activities. Sad, but a fact of life I guess. Train to London – We took the Eurostar right from Paris. I would suggest booking your tickets as early as possible to get the best price. We looked months in advance, but did not book them. We then went back a few weeks before the trip and the price had doubled. The train station in Paris has free Wi-Fi for 45 minutes (per device) however speedy coverage is a bit spotty. London: Hotel – We stayed at the Holiday Inn Mayfair which was great. It was a very central location and the staff was very nice. If you sign up for their rewards program, you also get free Wi-Fi. What they don’t tell you is that is for a maximum of 4 devices (which we found common in general with “free Wi-Fi”, that is that although it is free, it is limited to a maximum number of devices). In this case though, asking the front desk for additional 24 hour Wi-Fi codes was happily granted. Hop-on Hop-Off buses – We definitely took advantage of the buses. Note that there are many different companies with a variety of prices. We bought our tickets at a discount from the hotel and rode both the red and blue lines all around town. The red line was narrated by a person on the bus with you. The Blue line was a recording (but was actually better than the live person). A few tips…Check with the hotel for better pricing, check with the bus to see how late they operate (some go much later than others), check and see if there is a family package (this is true everywhere we went on most attractions. A family of 4 seems to be the perfect amount to travel with as most places offer a package for 4. I also suggest that if you can pay a bit more to bypass any lines, do it. The cost will be painful right up until you get to walk past that 3 hour wait at the London Eye). Check and see if you can get on an hour or two before they stop operating in the evening and not really start your “day” until the next day. Finally, riding the bus during rush hour (morning and evening) will greatly extend the amount of time it takes. Cars – So, my son and I are “car guys”. London has every exotic car you can imagine. By the time we were done, Ferrari’s, Rolls Royce’s, Lamborghini’s and Bentley’s were so common, we hardly noticed them. We did see one Bugatti Veyron that did catch our attention ($1 million cars tend to do that). Pubs – I had hoped to get my fill of fish and chips on this trip. What we found is that because we were in the tourist area, there were really only a couple types of pubs. Some catered to the business crowd getting a drink after work and no food (not what I was looking for with the family). Others were for tourists. The tourist pubs all looked very traditional and were convenient, but what we noticed was they all had the same menu and when you looked at the details, they are all run by the same company (Nicholson’s). This was true throughout Britain, not just London. We used Yelp to try and find some good places, but were pretty unsuccessful (this is how we found the pubs that only serve drinks). We also found that if you go right after the business day, they are generally occupied by a majority of men. My wife felt a bit uncomfortable in one pub for the first few minutes as she was the only women there. The hotel ended up being a decent resource for food recommendations and also just wandering a bit off the beaten path we found better choices. Apps – Speaking of Yelp, we did use several apps to help us out. Check out the subway apps, currency convertor and of course Google maps which was very helpful. There are also apps that help you find free Wi-Fi. Google “best travel apps” for some specific names. Data – Before we left, we called Verizon and told them to disable all but one of our 4 iPhones. This is called “vacation mode” and there is a $15 per line charge, but you are not charged while in this mode so if you’re gone as long as we were, it pays for itself. For my wife’s phone, we added an international plan (just for the month) which allowed her to use the phone for 100 minutes, receive unlimited texts and send 100 texts. Note that this worked in most places, but did not work in Guernsey. To make sure the kids did not “accidentally” turn their phones on while we were gone, we literally removed their SIM card and left it in the car at the airport in the U.S. (turning their iPhone into an iPod for the trip). We did find a lot of free Wi-Fi available (and I will try and mention it here), especially at Starbucks or Costa (basically a Starbucks) which is everywhere. In general though, the Wi-Fi we found was so slow, you could barely use it. As a result, in London, my son and I went to the Vodafone shop and purchased a SIM card and 6GB of data for $60 each (there are several plans, but this was the most generous). This allowed us 6GB of data, unlimited talk and texts (to each other but not international). This was supposed to work anywhere in the British Isles (according to the “in training” sales rep), but it didn’t. Obviously it worked in London, but is also worked fine in Scotland and Northern Ireland. It did not work in Le Havre France (which we expected), but also did not work in Southern Ireland or Guernsey. Regardless, this was a huge help in finding our way around, staying in touch with friends and family, researching and also allowed us to split up and still stay in contact. Note that if using iMessage on the iPhone, this does not use the SMS text network, it only uses data so we could keep in contact with anyone else in the world using an Apple device, including facetime. In general, the Vodafone network was very good, especially in the cities. In port, which is rarely in the city you are visiting, service can be spotty. Some of the time we had 3G coverage, sometimes 4G (Southampton and Liverpool), but mostly we had GPRS which is very old (and very very slow) technology. Once we got to the city we were visiting though, we did get decent coverage. Here is another strange issue we encountered that may also work for you. Royal Princess has a wireless intranet that is very useful. Once on the ship, connect to the wireless and go to http://royal.princess.com and create an account based on your name, room number etc. Very easy. Now, you can check what’s going on around the ship, check your stateroom balance and actually send messages to other people on the intranet network (which is great for keeping up with the kids). What also seemed to work, and I have no idea why, is the Apple notifications and iMessages, but only in port. For example, on my iPad which only has wireless (no cellular signal), I would get notifications of Facebook posts, CNN alerts etc. as long as I was signed into the Intranet. I could also send my family iMessages and receive them. There seems to be some kind of internet connectivity allowed, although very limited, and only while in port. Southampton / Embarkation – We chose to use a Princess transfer from London to Southampton. You go to Vitoria bus station and wait until the buses are ready. This was one of the few times that things did not seem to be working smoothly. It was a long wait for a bus to be available and in general it was disorganized. Just find a Princess rep and obtain a boarding ticket and wait for it to be called. From there, it’s a couple hours on a coach to the port. Doing it again, I would consider a private transfer that takes you to Stonehenge en-route. Supposedly it’s not too far away and would be one more sight to see. Embarkation itself was a non-event. Our bags arrived very quickly and we started exploring the ship. Ship – I don’t want to reiterate too much of what others have said about the Royal Princess, but I do want to be more specific. Most reviews I see just complain about the lack of center stairs and don’t really explain why that is an issue. So, let’s be specific. There is a full staircase in the front and rear of the ship. There is a staircase in the center of the ship that runs from deck 4 (the lowest passenger access deck where you will go to get tenders or visit the doctor etc.) up to deck 7 which is the center of the main passenger shopping / lounge area. From deck 7 up you will need to either use elevator, the front or the rear staircase. As we had a room on deck 12 towards the rear of the ship, we used the rear staircase a lot. But, here is the catch. You can only get from mid-ship to the rear of the ship on deck 7 on one side of the ship. The other side is blocked by bars, restaurants etc. It’s not terrible; it just takes some getting used to. I’m pretty sure Princess already knows the lack of mid-ship staircase is an issue because at the end of the emergency drill, they actually opened up the “crew only” staircase mid-ship for us to use to get back to our room. Another oddity is the lack of access to the front of the ship on the outside. Unlike every other ship I can recall, there is no deck that wraps around the front of the ship. Even on the upper decks you can only go so far forward. We also found that outside decks (for example on deck 7) were technically open, but you had to search for a door to them that was not blocked off. And only some of the deck was open, some of them were closed to crew only (not temporarily, this is a permanent condition). It was just a bit odd and different than most ships we have seen. Those issues aside, we found the ship to be well maintained, beautiful and very comfortable. We never felt crowded; we could always find a seat and generally the ship’s crew were all amazing. We never visited the casino as it was closed so much of the time and we are not gamblers. There is no arcade for the kids (and let’s be honest, for me too!). We did not spend much time at the pool or upper decks if only due to the cold weather. I felt bad for all of the crew that were working the bars (especially the bar on the back of the ship, deck 16) wearing their heavy coats, waiting for somebody to show up that they could serve. Our room – We had a nice room with a balcony that had beds that dropped from the ceiling for the kids. Given a bigger budget, I would have certainly preferred to have a separate room for the kids or a suite. When the beds are down, there is almost no room to move around and only your stateroom attendant can raise and lower the beds. This means that when you’re getting ready in the morning, the beds are in the way. When going to bed, they are in the way. When you are out and about exploring the ports etc., the beds are put away and not in the way. Otherwise the room is a standard cruise ship room. The balcony was nice (and not as small as some others have said), but given the cold weather, we did not spend much time out there. There is a safe in the room and the closet is pretty big and has no doors. We asked for more hangers which was easily accommodated. Dining – I have very few real complaints with the cruise and they are generally with the dining. With anytime dining, you’re always sitting in a different area of the dining room. As a result, there does not seem to be much ownership by the waiters in making sure you’re happy. Service was slow, very slow, orders were also wrong. On other cruises, the wait staff gets to know you; they have that soda ready for you before you ask for it and become part of the cruise experience. We have done both types of dining in the past and never had as many issues as we did on this cruise. Also odd is that the Symphony dining room (which is the anytime dining room) has two sides you can enter. One side often had a considerable wait, while if you just walked to the other side (60 feet away?), they could seat you immediately. Why the two sides did not coordinate, I have no idea. They do provide buzzers if you need to wait. At the Horizon café, there was a lot of choice and it was well organized. We could always find a seat and cleanup of tables was quick. A couple of issues: with four of us, there was often a variety of drink orders. Coke for some, Diet coke for others, maybe a water or two. At breakfast, different types of juice and since they are all so small, multiple glasses were needed and a hot chocolate thrown in too. The waiters never once got it even close to right. Some of it was a language barrier (designating a regular Coke and a diet Coke always resulted in everyone getting a regular Coke). I assume it was that they simply couldn’t remember that much of an order. I never saw anyone writing anything down which would have been helpful. There was often somebody at the entrance asking you to wash your hands. I also saw a senior chef double checking all of the buffet items and coaching the staff on how to better prepare the food which was nice. Food was always good from the buffet with the exception of scrambled eggs (which I admit are incredibly hard to keep fresh on a buffet). One hint is to search around the buffet for what you want. In general, both sides of the ship have the same food, with the pastry in the middle. However, I found that when making my salad, some stations would have red onion, some would have yellow. The taco station would have cheese, the salad station did not. Another section might have the olives. Crooners – The staff at Crooners bar was great and quickly knew you by name. They offer a “buy one get one for $1” special between 3:00pm – 4:00pm (They also do this in the late night club between 11:00pm and midnight). On Sea days, the place was packed during this time. On regular days, it was certainly busy. Good selection of drinks and beer and excellent service. For every drink order, they give you a ticket that is part of a drawing for bottled wine prizes on the last day of the cruise. Movies / Entertainment – We went to “Movies under the stars” a couple times. Even with the blankets, it was cold. They do have “nearly” first run movies and serve popcorn. They show the primary feature twice, around 7:00pm and 9:30pm. Otherwise they show concerts during the day. Once the movies are shown here, they will appear in your stateroom the next day or so which is nice. Speaking of your stateroom, there is a flat screen TV and there are lots of great movies and TV shows on demand. We even forced the kids to watch some episodes of The Love Boat. There are also reviews of all of the ports you will be visiting which we found were very helpful. We did not attend many live shows. I did go to the cooking demonstration which was OK, but a little goofy. It took a solid hour, but you did get a tour of one of the kitchens which was cool. Kids program – We hardly used it. My daughter tried a couple times but was “chastised” for not telling them she was coming a day in advance (even though they had plenty of availability). She is 12 and was stuck with the younger kids. My son would have been with the older kids, but is not as social so he didn’t have a lot of interest. Laundry – Laundry machines were available on each stateroom floor. Sea days and evenings were obviously busier than port days. Each laundry area is toward the rear of the ship and offers 4 washers and 4 dryers and 4 ironing boards with irons (which were free). Washers take about 30 minutes per cycle and dryers took about 45 minutes per cycle. There is also a TV and a few chairs in this area if you choose to stay for the cycle (we did not). The machines use tokens which are bought using your cruise card for $3.00 each (no need to bring quarters like we did). So, a full cycle, one wash and one dry is $6.00. If you need detergent, it’s also available but I am not sure of the cost since we brought our own (you can buy travel size Tide from Amazon and then just use dryer sheet, both which travel easily). The machines were well maintained and easy to use. Since the wash / dry times are not aligned, there is often “limbo time” while you wait for the dryer after your wash is complete. Late Night dance party – We never attended. Given the average age on the ship, I would be surprised if it went too late or got too insane. Excursions – We only took one Princess excursion due to the extreme cost for the four of us (See Cobh / Cork below). If you were to do one excursion at each port, the price would certainly approach or eclipse the cost of the cruise. Tuxedo Rental – We chose to rent tuxedos / shoes so that we did not have to carry formal clothes around for 19 days. While not inexpensive, it was very convenient. We took measurements at home using a diagram they provided and reserved them online. They were delivered to our stateroom and picked up near the end of the cruise. Fit was not an issue and they did have a tailor onboard if you needed something corrected. Alcohol – Princess allows you to bring one bottle of wine per adult onto the cruise. We chose not to do this if only for the logistical issues of baggage and fragile bottles. However, while in one of the first ports, we did find a nice wine shop and bought a couple of bottles. I put them into my backpack and when boarding the ship, they passed right through the security scan without question (or association to us or our cabin number). Later in the cruise, we bought a couple more bottles and did this again with no issues. I suspect that they only scrutinize the two bottles when you’re initially boarding the ship. Afterwards, I certainly could have brought in a couple bottles every day. Refrigerator – There is a refrigerator in the room stocked with water and soda (for a fee). We removed what we did not need and kept our own drinks in there instead. Unlike some newer hotels, they do not electronically track what’s in the refrigerator so removing their drinks was not an issue. Ports: Southampton – I am sure there are sights to see here, but we went straight to the ship. Le Havre – This is an industrial port but does have a nice downtown area not too far away. It’s certainly within walking distance. There is a welcome center that offers free Wi-Fi and a very knowledgeable information desk that is staffed with English speaking personnel. There is a rental car agency there, which I tried to use before we left for the cruise, but they only speak French and the website is only in French. Alternatively, I chose to use Enterprise Rental car which was not as convenient, but only a 15 minute walk into town. You can technically see if from the ship if you know what you’re looking for (it’s in the first strip mall in town). We rented a Diesel mid-size sedan with GPS for 110 Euro. Unlimited mileage. Pickup was 8:30am and drop-off was 6:00pm I believe. U.S. based insurance does not cover you so I bought basic insurance from Enterprise (12 Euro) and anything else would have been covered by my credit card insurance. This seems to be very common based on the research I did. Otherwise they want to charge you hundreds of Euro for full coverage. We chose to drive to the American Cemetery in Normandy which is about 90 minutes away. There are many tolls en-route and all accept credit cards (just make sure you go through the line with an attendant working…and not always is this obvious). The cemetery is absolutely amazing with a great welcome center and gorgeous grounds. We also walked on the beaches and really appreciated the locals flying American flags on many of the homes. The beaches are huge and you can easily find remaining gun mounts etc from WWII. I cannot recommend this highly enough. Taking this same tour with the ship for the four of us would have been well over $700. Including tolls and gas, we spent less than $200. We did talk to some people that went to Paris with the ship excursion. They had fun, but it was a long day for them (Paris is 2+ hours away). Make sure you get on the ship before these tours return if you can help it. They all seem to return at the same time and the queue for security gets very long. We were very lucky in that the Tour de France was in Le Havre the day we were there, so we came back early to catch the riders pass by. I doubt I will ever see the Tour de France in person again. Sea Days – Lots of activities on board. Normal cruise stuff. Just don’t plan on sitting at the pool given the chilly weather. Edinburgh – A great city to visit and walk. This is a tender port. We took a short walk up a decent hill (it has steps and a path that is guided with signs) to the train station and took the train into town. I don’t recall what the cost was for the four of us, but it was moderately expensive. The train was 30 minutes or so and drops you right into town. We walked the Royal Mile and checked out the castle. There are lots of restaurants and places to buy Cashmere scarves. There are also lots of great street entertainers which the kids particularly enjoyed. Invergordon – We chose not to do an excursion to Lock Ness here as the Princess tour was expensive to go see an imaginary sea monster. We walked the very small town and did not find much. There is one restaurant with Wi-Fi (The Purple something, I cannot recall). It was Sunday with most shops closed. The local churches were very inviting if you wanted to attend. Cell signal was terrible. In speaking to others, the best bet here would be to tour the countryside if you don’t want to see Nessie. We also saw a Land Cruiser driving around offering off road adventures (it was a professional company so you can probably find it on Google). Some other people caught it before we could. That would have been fun. Glasgow – Glasgow is a very modern city. Once again we took the train into town after a fair walk across town to the station. This was “peak” time and the tickets were pretty expensive. Greenock, the town you dock in, is pretty nice and does have a mall and plenty of shops if you need incidentals. We visited the Cathedral here, walked the streets, walked the tourist shopping district and did some shopping. We happen to see a “Five Guys Burgers and Fries” and my son asked if we could eat lunch there. I will have to say, it’s identical to what you will find in the U.S. Idaho potatoes, free Coke refills, same burgers etc. However, for 3 small burgers, one large fry and 4 sodas, it was $47. This was not atypical. Belfast / Northern Ireland – This port was definitely in my top three of the whole trip (along with the American Cemetery at Normandy and Liverpool). We chose to do a private tour with Alister from City and Causeway Tours (we found many reviews of his service on CruiseCritic and he was amazing and cannot be recommended highly enough). He picked us up in a new, large Mercedes van and drove us throughout the coast visiting many sites and ended the day (around 5:00pm). This included a tour of Belfast and the peace walls. He knew all of the best places to stop for both the history and for photos. We went on many roads that cannot be traveled by the coaches and therefore had a much more personal experience than being bussed around. He is very personable and really loves his country. We were very lucky with the weather and were able to get some amazing pictures and could see a lot of sites that are often covered in haze. If you’re a fan of “Game of Thrones” you can also customize your trip to focus on the sites used for filming as much of the show is shot in Northern Ireland. Check out the other more detailed reviews on Cruise Critic, Trip Advisor etc. for more details. You won’t be disappointed. Liverpool – As mentioned before, Liverpool is in my top three destinations on this trip. The ship docks right in downtown next to a huge walkable shopping area (about 1 block into the city), a very nice museum and a historic area. It was very clean, modern and easy to get around and generally a great place to visit. Of course, if you’re a Beatles fan, there is also plenty to see and do. Dublin – Dublin is another port where you dock in the commercial shipping area and have to get into the city. We did make the walk, but it’s a pretty industrial area you have to walk through, then down a major road which ultimately leads to a nice boardwalk area that looks like it never quite finished its revitalization. We walked around town quite a bit and enjoyed all of the nice bridges and architecture, but after a while, it just felt like one more pub after another. We did have a nice lunch at the Temple Bar. Many of the other bars were going pretty hard with bands and customer / tour participation, even early in the day. We were there on a Friday so maybe that helped the festive atmosphere. Cobh / Cork – This is the only stop where we took a Princess excursion to see Blarney Castle. We were off the ship early, onto a coach to the castle. You do have a guide on the coach who does a good job of telling about the area and also makes sure you get into the castle with no issues. It takes about 40 minutes and the quicker you can get there the better as the lines to kiss the Blarney Stone can get very long. We didn’t make out too bad and waited maybe 25 minutes. The stone is at the top of the castle which means you must go up a set of stairs that gets steeper and tighter as you go up. No, they don’t sanitize the stone between people, yes, the line moves very quickly and you are expected to sit, lean back, kiss and move on. There is a camera to take pictures and you are given a claim check if you want to buy them. There are also railings to hold onto and a guide to help you get into place correctly. The steps down are not nearly as tight as those going up. The grounds of the castle are beautiful and there is a private estate house that you can tour for around 5 Euro cash. It’s a short walk to a few small shops and a small pub in the town of Blarney. There is free internet in the outside sitting area, but it is extremely slow. We were entertained by some locals who were doing Irish Step Dancing and Organ playing. We took the coach back to the ship and walked around Cobh. This is where some of my Wife’s grandparents left Ireland years ago and there is a genealogy area in the welcome center you can visit (for a fee). The welcome center does have free Wi-Fi however once again it was painfully slow. The town is very nice, albeit a bit hilly. Plenty of shops and restaurants overlooking the water. It’s also the final stop of the Titanic before it left for the U.S. Guernsey – To be honest, we did not know much about this port other than some of my family originated from nearby Jersey. This is a tender port and the first thing you will notice is that it is considerably warmer than the rest of the ports. Upon arrival, we noticed a lot of boats driving around the ship and thought it was just general interest in the ship. While tendering in, we then noticed that there was a professional boat race taking place and what we saw were the race officials. Once at the pier, we then found out that there was a full festival going on! Boat racing, remote control car racing, a complete car show and motorcycle racing, all right there on the main road next to the marina. Ferrari, Lotus, Lamborghini, even WWII vehicles all were well represented. We looked at all of the cars, watched the motorcycle time trials and walked the town. The girls were certainly disappointed as it was Sunday so most shops were closed, and worse we wanted to look at cars instead. Turns out that Guernsey is part of the U.K. but does not have the VAT that the rest of the U.K. has so many of the wealthier citizens live and vacation here (as was obvious by the very expensive cars, shops and boats / yachts in the marina). Be careful if you do shop here as they happily accept the GBP but you may or may not get change in the local Guernsey currency. We enjoyed this port both for the warmth and for the ability to see how the “other half” lives. Guernsey was our last port to visit. We were back to Southampton by 4:00am or so. A quick breakfast and then we waited for our color to be ready. Our baggage was collected very quickly and we were on another coach to Gatwick Airport. This was during the Monday morning commute hour so we did encounter a fair amount of traffic in the 2 hour ride, but it was not too bad. One final thought…take note of how many pickup trucks you see on this trip. Given how prevalent they are in the U.S. I was surprised by how few we encountered. The few we saw were for the road crews and they were certainly not full size trucks. Just a fun tidbit. Best of luck and I hope this information has helped you in some way. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
Royal Princess did well given the 3600 or so passengers on board. Embarkation was great (at least in the Platinum priority line). Disembarkation was severely mismanaged however and was the low point of this cruise. We were leaving fairly ... Read More
Royal Princess did well given the 3600 or so passengers on board. Embarkation was great (at least in the Platinum priority line). Disembarkation was severely mismanaged however and was the low point of this cruise. We were leaving fairly early (6:40) and to meet in Vista Lounge. We were there early but the other people in our group going to Heathrow AP were already disembarking in with "every man for himself" to find luggage space on the 4 or 5 buses leaving to our destination (Heathrow). Once there,the one hostess girl on our bus had to drag the luggage out with little help and thru from other side of bus due to traffic. Very, very poor way to end an enjoyable cruise. The food was a notch above most other ships with Alfredo's Pizzaria being a high point. Royal Princess did well given the 4000 or so passengers on board. Embarkation was great (at least in the Platinum priority line). Disembarkation was severely mismanaged, however, and was the low point of this cruise. We were leaving fairly early (6:40) and to meet in Vista Lounge. We were there early but the other people in our group going to Heathrow AP were already disembarking in an "every man for himself" fashion to find luggage space on the 4 or 5 buses leaving for our destination (Heathrow). Once there, the one hostess girl on our bus had to drag the luggage out with little help and thru from other side of bus due to traffic. Very, very poor way to end an enjoyable cruise. The food was a notch above most other ships with Alfredo's Pizzeria being a high point. Dinner in Sabitini's for the extra 25 dollar charge is hardly worth it. The Concerto dining room which had a fixed early seating time but "Anytime" dining after 7:45 was superior. Once we made reservations early each day (and were told that the requested table could not be guaranteed), we always had the same table. The waiter and the assistant waiter were the best we've ever had. We even added extra tip money for each as they were that good. Our cruise price included the all inclusive drink package for beer, wine, liquor under 10 dollars per drink (no room service included). This worked well with the exception of Princess making the bartenders work overtime to insure we both had the sticker on our cruise card and weren't trying to steal drinks. The internet access is hugely overpriced although we had free minutes due to our Platinum status. The satellite service is slow and also complicated when accessed from your IPAD or iphone. The new MyPrincess intranet added a layer of complexity and confusion to the process as you had a different sign-in criteria, and you had to access the internet by first logging in to MyPrincess. Internet access is much better understood and controlled by going to Internet Café. The cabin (we had a mini-suite) was excellent. The entertainment was varied and very good. The ships dancers and band was extremely good. The pop band which performed in the Piazza was versatile and talented. The piano and violin performers in Crooners and Wheelhouse were good. The ship’s décor is very elegant. All furnishings were in great shape as the ship is only 2 years old. Bar service is good throughout the ship. Some administrative help seemed to be a bit cranky, not happy. The Horizon Court/Bistro is complicated with no sense of order. Trying to find something you liked the second time was difficult. Desserts were not a strong suit. The food was varied and generally tasty. We did not try some of the food venues, but they generally seemed good from observation. The ready-made pizza by the pool was flat and unappealing. Alfredo’s is the place to go if you want a nice pizza (and soups/salads). Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
After reading reviews about this cruise I had to write this. I have been on twenty cruises, some better than others. I know it's hard to please everyone, but I wonder were some of the people who wrote reviews of this voyage on the ... Read More
After reading reviews about this cruise I had to write this. I have been on twenty cruises, some better than others. I know it's hard to please everyone, but I wonder were some of the people who wrote reviews of this voyage on the same cruise and ship I was. Over all the cruise was excellent. The ship has its design flaws, but that did not detract from my overall enjoyment of this cruise. The staff was outstanding and professional especially our cabin steward Alan. Our wait staff in the dining room was terrific. The food was very good. The steakhouse and Alfredo's were wonderful. We booked our excursions through Princess and they were as described. We knew we would have long days and long bus rides. It was expected and not a surprise. This was not going to be a cruise to relax and lay on a beach or by the pool. I would definitely cruise Princess again. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
It is a long time since we have been on a Princess ship but were pleasantly surprised at how nice this ship was. We had a mini suite which was very spacious with a full settee and two televisions. The cabin steward was really helpful and ... Read More
It is a long time since we have been on a Princess ship but were pleasantly surprised at how nice this ship was. We had a mini suite which was very spacious with a full settee and two televisions. The cabin steward was really helpful and friendly. The balcony was very small and it would have been nicer if it had been bigger. The food was excellent. Four courses and coffee served by very pleasant waiters. We had any time dining which was no trouble getting a table at once. We didn't notice the fact that there were over 4000 people on the ship it seemed quite empty at times. The theatre was very busy and you had to get in there early to get a seat. Overall the ship is very nice, very clean and smart. The staff was very helpful and pleasant. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
Just retured from 14 days aboard The Caribbean Princess. It was a wondeful cruise with fabulous ports of call - Tallinn stands out as an unexpected delight, and we were lucky enough to have wonderful weather, something we hadn't ... Read More
Just retured from 14 days aboard The Caribbean Princess. It was a wondeful cruise with fabulous ports of call - Tallinn stands out as an unexpected delight, and we were lucky enough to have wonderful weather, something we hadn't expected on this itinerary. In my opinion the ship was fine, I have been on ships that really did look tired and this was not one of them. Our balcony cabin was spacious and the design, with hanging space for clothes outside the bathroom and separate to the bedroom itself; well thought out. Our steward was excellent. She was unobtrusive but everything was done perfectly, including fresh ice every morning. I note others on the previous cruise to Norway mentioned the absence of the captain. We also saw very little of him for the first few days, but the penny must have dropped with the powers that be because he was replaced at Stockholm with an englishman who was very informative and capable. The staff were friendly and gave the impression that they really did want to be of assistance (perhaps the reception staff could do better though). Food was of an exceptionally high standard, I don't understand how people can complain about it, whether we ate in the formal restaurants or the buffet everything was hot and freshly cooked and there was a huge amount of choice. Trips were the one area I would complain about. The prices are ridiculously high, I don't know how Princess can justify them. The only ones we booked through the ship were in St Petersburg because of the visa restrictions, but other people had pre-booked independant tour operators, who aso provided the visa, for less than half the price! Don't book tickets for the ballet through Princess if you are expecting a special experience in a lovely theatre as we were. We were taken to an old dilapidated music hall without carpets, pictures on the walls or any decoration at all. Also no lifts or facilities for those with walking difficulties. My husband had to carry a lady in a wheelchair up and down the stairs as no-one else made any effort to help her daughter to do it. The "theatre" was full of passengers from the ship and it was obvious that Princess had booked the cheapest place to dump us all thus making a vast profit from their overpriced tickets. A couple of days later (on the first sea day afterwards) we attempted to register a complaint at the tour desk but they were completely disinterested and advised us to contact Princess direct on our return home, which we will do. Actually it is a failing with Princess that they handle problems very badly, this shows the true quality of a company as mistakes and problems occur everywhere and it is how they are dealt with that is important. All in all it was a lovely cruise and we would go with Princess again beacause generally their good points outweigh the bad. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
This is our 3rd Cruise with Princess, and we stuck with them when booking a holiday last minute after our intended plans fell through. We had 4 weeks to sort a holiday so we opted to go with "what we knew" - what a result !! ... Read More
This is our 3rd Cruise with Princess, and we stuck with them when booking a holiday last minute after our intended plans fell through. We had 4 weeks to sort a holiday so we opted to go with "what we knew" - what a result !! The ship was a little dated, but she was clean & had all the amenities we needed. We had an excellent Cabin Steward - Edgardo on Baja. We had the extreme fortune to be served by fantastic crew, with the following crew being outstanding :- Moses - Head Waiter - Island Dining Jeff - Bar Steward - Int Cafe Daniel - Bar Steward - Explorers Unusually, we had a Captain change part way through our voyage. Capt Giorgio Pomata took us to Helsinki, at which point Capt Nick Nash took over for the remainder of the cruise. Having cruised Alaska with Capt Giorgio some years ago, we felt we were back home with an old friend. We were a little disappointed upon leaving Helsinki when a new voice on the Bridge announced his arrival... Capt Nick Nash. We soon realised we had a very different, but equally brilliant substitute - Capt Nick Nash was fabulous. After eventually coming to terms with "losing" Giorgio, we soon began to look forward to hearing Capt Nick's updates. What a Star !! He was very informative, but interesting at the same time, & each announcement was delivered very professionally. His announcements were on occasion more entertaining than what was on offer in the Princess Theatre. Hilarious in some instances. In all seriousness, he kept us informed with points of interest, timings, and more importantly the Shipping Forecast - and he was very accurate in this respect. He warned us we would be "punching into it". The 2 x stormy nights were a concern, we did wonder if we might become extras in Deadliest Catch on one night, but we felt we were in safe hands. This confidence was borne out when we found Capt Nash had decided not to turn the ship so as to make the journey more comfortable. Food on board : Horizon Court - food was good quality. We preferred International Cafe (which we nicknamed Midnight Munchies after a few late nights) - food here was lovely. We tried various bars - all were great. Tours/Excursions - these were enjoyable, the main disappointment was the shuttle charge - many commented that this was new for Princess..and not very welcome !! All in all, a fabulous holiday & a cruise I would recommend. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
This was the second time I had cruised with Princess Cruises. Our first cruise trip was a Mediterranean Cruise through Italy, Greece and Croatia. This cruise was the UK (England, Scotland, Northern Ireland), Ireland and France. The ... Read More
This was the second time I had cruised with Princess Cruises. Our first cruise trip was a Mediterranean Cruise through Italy, Greece and Croatia. This cruise was the UK (England, Scotland, Northern Ireland), Ireland and France. The Royal Princes had some outstanding features and a few spots to improve. I'll tackle them by category: Cabin - We had a mini-suite (L217) and the room was very comfortable. Plenty of space to move about. The bed was comfortable. The actual tub (rather than a tiny shower) with shower was great. Decent room in a bathroom on a ship. The major disappointment is the balcony. This is basically a space to stand when entering and leaving a port. Two chairs and a small table but honestly two people can't comfortably sit on the balcony at the same time. The other draw back was the TV selection. Princess had ESPN Caribbean which while sailing the UK during Wimbledon week consistently showed Billiards, Horse Riding and Cricket. We did not get to know our Cabin Stewart very well but he did his job efficiently and timely. All-in-all we enjoyed the room. Dinning - Breakfast at the buffet is always busy but a good broad selection. Bacon and Eggs, French Toast or Waffles, Fruit, Cereal, Pastries, Biscuits and Gravy, etc. We only ate lunch on-board on sea days and it was good. We did the Wheelhouse bar with a proper English lunch (Fish & Chips, Ploughman's Lunch). The second sea day we did the buffet and it had an acceptable selection. I did tacos and nachos. Dinner was a mixed bag. In all cases the food was outstanding, especially the deserts for the 50th anniversary Chocolate Celebration. Truly outstanding. The service was a mixed bag. In our first cruise we had the outstanding fortune to find a table captain (Irena) who was engaging, polite, knowledgeable and fun. We requested her every night. No such luck on the Royal Princess. The staff seems to be trying but just not excellent at their trait. We enjoyed our experience each night but it could have been better. FYI, in Anytime Dinning, the queuing and seating process is less than smooth. Entertainment - We tried a variety of entertainment options and were a little disappointed overall. The main band for the cruise was Xcite. The were okay but tried to cover too wide a music selection and were too limited in their number of available songs. They repeated songs way to frequently. The first show we went to was an on-board comedian. I have never before gone to a comedy show and never laughed. It was terrible. Fortunately this comedian left after a few stops and the follow on comedians we good. We went to the Beatles Tribute show and it was the highlight of the entertainment on the ship. Three standing ovations. The crowd did not want to leave. Many of the theater shows showcased four singers. This was okay for three of the four but one of the gentlemen (I hope he was sick and a little off his game) was constantly off key. As a whole however we enjoyed the theater shows and would advise sitting in. One comment for Princess... Seriously consider a sports bar somewhere on the ship with real ESPN and live sports action from around the world. The ship was like a dessert for spots lovers. Excursions - We used Princess offered excursions on all days except disembarkation day. We were very please with the excursions. While it may sound a little hokey, the Footsteps of the Beatles tour was great fun. lines at Blarney Castle made it impossible to see (or kiss) the stone. Giant's Causeway is amazing. Normandy tour was outstanding. The Scottish Highlands are beautiful. In Dublin do the half day tour with Trinity College and St Pat's then cab it to the Guinness Storehouse in the afternoon. Other passengers - This cruise had an older audience. I am 53 years old and felt young amoung this crowd. That is not to say that there were not younger people on board but largely the crowd was 55 - 70 years old. Embark and Disembark - Both were amazingly simple. Easy on at out scheduled time and easy off at our schedule time. Southampton Port - Kudos. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
We booked this cruise to take advantage of a high 0n-board spend offered to us by Princess. We are platinum members of the Captain's Circle and I have to say that this must be one of the best reward schemes available to cruisers. ... Read More
We booked this cruise to take advantage of a high 0n-board spend offered to us by Princess. We are platinum members of the Captain's Circle and I have to say that this must be one of the best reward schemes available to cruisers. We used the on-board spend to purchase Princess tours in St Petersburg, making our own arrangements elsewhere. In retrospect, and by listening to other passengers I wish we had booked with SPB as they seemed to get a much better deal in terms of value for money and through having smaller groups. However the Princess tours were excellent and the guides used were first class. The Hermitage is outstanding as are Catherine's Palace and the Peterhof Palace - both absolutely stunning in their portrayal of wealth and privilege. No wonder they had a revolution! I have never seen so much gold in my life. I thoroughly recommend visiting all three. We also heard that the metro and the river boat cruise are good too. The qestion is "How do you fit them all in to two days". The weather was beautiful while we were there, it was a weekend and so there were huge summer crowds so it can be tiring. Elsewhere Copenhagen was pleasant, particularly the old town, but the hop-on, hop-off bus was a bit chaotic. This is probably the best way of getting into town from where Royal Princess docks though (more of that later). We enjoyed Tallinn and would have liked more than just a morning there. Helsinki was enjoyable too, particularly down by the waterside but they were celebrating midsummer on the day we were there so everything was closed and strangely quiet. Worth a visit though is the Church in the rock. Nynashamn is a pleasant little town - make sure you visit the micro-brewery for a tasting - but the transport arrangements were a complete shambles. Princess sholuld be ashamed of themselves. We did not get to Stockholm as we waited over an hour for the one 12 seater minibus shuttle (for up to 4000 passengers?) Come on Princess, get this sorted or else do not advertise Stockholm as a port of call. Gothenburg is a nice enough town but with only a morning to spend there we braved the elements (it was unseasonably cold) and took a canal boat tour with commentary in (perfect) English. Why dock there? Perhaps the answer to all these questions is, quite simply, the size of the ship. It is too big for most of the ports we visited and so had to dock miles away thus entailing long shuttle journeys. There are flaws with the design as well, at least we think so. The Horizon buffet/bistro layout is confusing - even the captain admitted that when he addressed us at a Captain's Circle meeting. On this cruise it was always very crowded. There were not necessarily long queues but there were very few seats available every time we ate there. In the theatre there is no side access which means late comers have to walk down the middle and often across in front of the stage. The weather during this cruise was cool and windy so most passengers were inside the ship which put extra pressure on certain areas such as the Horizon buffet/bistro. We like Princess, it is our favourite cruise line but we will not be cruising on Royal Princess again. I think it is too big for many ports and is better suited to warm destinations such as the Caribbean. However, the food was excellent, the service superb throughout the ship and the entertainment very good indeed during the whole cruise. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
We just came back from a 15 night cruise to Norway, Arctic Circle. It was a relaxing cruise and we thoroughly enjoyed it, although it was not a perfect cruise. Then we always enjoy cruising, as there is so much to do and not a dull moment ... Read More
We just came back from a 15 night cruise to Norway, Arctic Circle. It was a relaxing cruise and we thoroughly enjoyed it, although it was not a perfect cruise. Then we always enjoy cruising, as there is so much to do and not a dull moment if U R flexible. The movies we saw were one of the best selection we had ever encountered and that include movies based on the life of Dr. M. L. King and Pros. Stephen Hawking, as well as Cinderella, McFarlane etc, 12 in total. The shows were not up to the high standard we would expect, as there was no Ice shows, the one we enjoy most. But to be honest, not all ships put on such extraveganza. Shore excursions were good but a bit expensive and there were too many ports with tendering, a little bit of a problem for someone like me with slight disability. The food was good, especially in our "Any Time Dinning" where Chefs would prepare our favourite dishes, as we are vegetarians. But the food in the buffet restaurant on deck 15 was cold most of the time, although variety was good, especially variety but it could be better. The ship on the whole is in need of refit and I understand it is going in the dockyard in 2016, not before time. The Princess Theatre was our favourite spot for afternoon movies and evening shows. But it is a bit small, need a bit bigger capacity with some 3500 passengers. But being a disable person and going in well before starting time, we always found the seats. All the staffs were wonderful and would go out of their way to help us, especially in the dining room and our Cabin stewardess, although we never saw the Captain. Being a journalist, I also enjoy lectures but they were few and at wrong time, clashing with other, more enjoyable shows. On the whole it was a great experience and we thoroughly enjoyed it. But it could have been better. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
My first impression of the RP was that it was gorgeous but soooo big! I loved the itinerary so was hoping for good things. Princess has always had an excellent reputation. First night it was quite the trick to find the MDR, the Allegro. ... Read More
My first impression of the RP was that it was gorgeous but soooo big! I loved the itinerary so was hoping for good things. Princess has always had an excellent reputation. First night it was quite the trick to find the MDR, the Allegro. It was on the other end of the ship and you have to go up a floor and go down to get to it. Dinner was a disaster. The server brought me a cosmo though I had ordered Korbel champagne. She served two people drinks and then left. The head waiter came by to see if everything was ok. I told him I could see my drink on a counter and would really like to have it. She brought me steak for the main course even though I had ordered salmon. Then to get a second drink was virtually impossible. We decided to try the specialty dining. The only one actually worth the extra $25 was he Crown Grill steak house. After we'd tried them all, we decided to go back to the Allegro. Service was better. One of the servers got me wine immediately and kept up. I wanted to order the wine suggested in the menu but it only came by the bottle. I had the beverage package so couldn't get a bottle. Other than that he kept me filled up and I had Courvoisier every night for dessert. The Horizon buffet had food every bit as good as the MDR (and great servers) but sometimes hard to find a seat especially around 10 in the morning. Our first excursion to Guernsey was wonderful but the bus driver when dropping us off warned us of the wait in line to get back to the ship. He said it happens every time and they had told the cruise people this to change the way it is done. We waited in line a good two hours and then the ramp to get to the tenders was so steep I'm surprised more didn't fall. I complained when I got back as did many others. The captain came on the intercom and said it was a one time deal because they were missing a tender or some such thing. I read a review from some people on the same ship the week before us and they said the same thing. One time deal, my foot. Some compensation should have been given. The trip to Liverpool was good but we came to see Beatles locales. We signed up for the half day Beatles trip that said it included the Cavern. We never saw it. Instead we went to an Anglican and Catholic church and stood outside in the cold while the guide described them. We very much liked going to St. Andrews golf course but for some reason the tour didn't leave till 2pm. So we got there, had an hour and a half to tour, eat, shop, etc. and get back to the bus. We should have left earlier to give us more time. I went to two wine tastings and liked them both. When I signed up for the Tuscan tasting, the guy signed me up for two. I went downstairs fuming when I found out. They must get commission on how many they sign up. I got the second removed immediately. The photo gallery is hard to get through to find your photos. They remove them every night though I think some sort of partition could be put up to keep people from taking them. I found out too late I had been overcharged. I bought one photo at $24.95 but was charged for two. Maybe the same guy as signing up for the wine tastings. The internet cafe was never manned even though his hours were posted. I had lost facebook on my phone and asked him when he was there what to do, he was downright rude and said I was touching my phone wrong. The woman there was quite nice. I had accidentally bought more hours and she was able to take them off. We had a minisuite that was quite nice. I used the fitness center often once I found it. Another trick. I never saw any staff there or classes. Disembarkation was remarkably smooth considering the number of people. We stayed two nights before and two nights after at the Grosvenor House hotel that was wonderful and well located. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
This was our first cruise with Princess having mainly cruised on Celebrity four times and once on MSC and once on Holland America. Hence, we were particularly interested in how this cruise would compare to Celebrity and this is part of the ... Read More
This was our first cruise with Princess having mainly cruised on Celebrity four times and once on MSC and once on Holland America. Hence, we were particularly interested in how this cruise would compare to Celebrity and this is part of the aim of this review. Our booking experience, direct with Princess, didn't go well. We mis-interpreted the web site and thought we would get $150 on board credit which turned out not to be applicable to the stateroom we selected. In our opinion the web site was misleading. Embarkation went well and we only had to wait about 20 minutes. Royal Princess was only two years old and was still in excellent condition with little wear to furniture and fittings. It's an impressive ship and is equally as visually appealing to its main competitor, the Solstice class ships from Celebrity that we have sailed on. As other reviewers have commented, there are no stairs midship above level 7. We predominately use the stairs so this meant more walks to the ends of the ship. The ship was very stable but we didn't experience any bad weather. The ship seemed to wiggle through the water and you could feel side to side movement as opposed to up/down or rocking found on other cruise ships. Food was good in the Horizon buffet but tended to be similar each day with only a few things changed. The main dining rooms was also good and some days even exceptional. However, if you are a vegetarian, as one of us is, the choice of 'main' in the Horizon and the main dining rooms is very limited. On one day there wasn't even a vegetarian option in the main dining room. Furthermore, they didn't offer to do anything about it. In comparison, both Celebrity and Holland America have a separate vegetarian menu and the latter will even cook to order for the next day. We found the Pizza on the 16th Deck to be far too overloaded with cheese but those we ate in Alfredos were excellent as were the starters and sweets. The pastries, particularly those in the International Cafe, were excellent and much better than those on Celebrity that always seem to include cinnamon. We also found the $15 corkage fee is good value compared to Celebrity's $25. This was great for us as we prefer to drink wine we know we like rather than experiment with an expensive cruise ship wine that we aren't familiar with. It was strange having to pay for real ice cream as opposed to the limited flavours 'free' whippy type ice cream available on the Lido deck. The coffee card was good value as it also allowed an unlimited amount of standard tea or brewed coffee from the International Cafe - an otherwise long trip to Lido 16 for a drink. We had a partially obstructed view balcony stateroom. The view down was obstructed by a lifeboat but this was didn't concern us. In fact, all the staterooms (above us) were also probably obscured if you wanted to look directly down. However, we found the stateroom had noise that sounded like air moving. It wasn't necessarily the air conditioning but sounded more distant. The partition to the dressing area/cupboard area also creaked loudly in only slightly rough sees. We had to purchase ear plugs at our first stop. The air conditioning itself seemed to work sporadically. Some times it needed to be set near fully low to get a normal room temperature. Other times, the very low setting would suddenly make the room too cold. The bathroom was ok but not up to Celebrity standards in terms of space, supplied toiletries, shower pressure (was lower), cupboards and shower quality (curtain rather than glass). While other reviewers found the balcony small, the size didn't bother us and seemed adequate for sitting. The in room television was great and there was an excellent choice of films. The daily 'Wake Show' with the Cruise Director, Deputy Cruise Director and DJ was fun and informative. It was also great to have access to previously recorded events that we had missed such as port information lectures. On the port information, it was practical, useful and didn't emphasise the usual selling of 'recommended' shopping places we have experienced on most other cruise lines. We particularly liked the lack of multiple language ship announcements that we have previously found on MSC Cruises. The service was excellent everywhere and it's even standard practice to fetch drinks for you in the Horizon buffet, something we have only found on Holland America Line. The ship's dancers and singers, were excellent and the best we have seen at sea. The state of the art theatre has audience lighting that can also be programmed. However the theatre has a strange layout that means it isn't possible to access the raked side rows from the side of the theatre, the rows only being accessible from one end. This makes access more difficult, especially for those arriving late. Presumably this is to to cram in as many seats as possible. The British Isles itinerary was fun even though we are British. We visited places we haven't been to for years, some we have never been to before and in Belfast it gave us chance to catch up with friends. The only problem stop for us was Guernsey where it took us 2 hours and lots of queuing to get back on board due to the use of tenders. A ship this size, with 3000 passengers, isn't best suited to tendering. Disembarkation was very quick and at our requested time unlike MSC who once kept us in a lounge for several hours. We had no rush to get off as we live in the UK and wanted a lie in. We chose a 9:30 disembarkation but weren't initially told you have to leave your stateroom anyway by 8am. If we had known we would have requested an earlier disembarkation time. In conclusion it was a great cruise let down only by our purchase experience and the relative lack of vegetarian food. Princess compares well to Celebrity with each being better than the other in small ways. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
We had a very nice time on the Royal Princess. Three couples traveling together. We liked the anytime seating, but would have liked to be able to go "anytime" to "any" of the restaurants "anytime", not just ... Read More
We had a very nice time on the Royal Princess. Three couples traveling together. We liked the anytime seating, but would have liked to be able to go "anytime" to "any" of the restaurants "anytime", not just one restaurant anytime, one not at all allowed and one only after 7:30. I know the food was the same, but a change of scenery would have been nice. The mini suite we chose was well worth it. More storage room than we needed and nice and roomy to walk around. Staff very pleasant. International Cafe was nice. Buffet was okay, all the entree meats tend to be overlooked. Shows were in me, if a bit short and not too spectacular. It was nice to have entertainers from the places we were visiting. Could do without the pre show guy and his "yip-yip. " First time it was amusing, after that it got annoying. We did our own excursions. So no comments there, other than a very long wait for the tender in a short port day -Guernsey, was aggravating. Also, being in Belfast on a Sunday was a pretty dull and quiet! On ship speakers were exxcellent Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
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