1. Home
  2. Cruise Lines
  3. Princess Cruises
  4. Princess Cruises Cruise Reviews

405 Princess Southampton Cruise Reviews

May 9 - Travel day. We flew Delta One overnight from Atlanta to Heathrow. We landed around 7 am and had the fast pass for immigration so we were out of immigration within 15 minutes. We took the Heathrow Express to Paddington (£25 for 2 ... Read More
May 9 - Travel day. We flew Delta One overnight from Atlanta to Heathrow. We landed around 7 am and had the fast pass for immigration so we were out of immigration within 15 minutes. We took the Heathrow Express to Paddington (£25 for 2 people since we arrived on a weekday and bought the tickets 90 days in advance), then a taxi (£8) to the Doubletree Hilton Hyde Park across from Kensington Palace. My sister arrived on Saturday morning so she only paid £11 for two people on the Heathrow Express 90 days in advance. The Doubletree Hilton Hyde Park hotel was located in a nice, walkable neighborhood with plenty of restaurants, groceries, and shopping nearby and easy access to the tube and most important to us, the hop on hop off bus picks up right outside the hotel. If we go back to London, I would definitely stay there again. May 10 - London - I was excited to see London and we met up with friends who had arrived earlier in the week and did the hop on hop off bus. We were told the total HOHO loop was 90 minutes but we were surprised at how slow traffic affected the tour and ended up not seeing as much as we planned. Have a plan for what to see in London but be ready to adjust on the fly if you are affected by weather, traffic, tube issues or protesters. May 11 - London - Day 2, we took an Uber from the hotel straight to the Tower of London around 9:30 am because the tube line near us was closed for the weekend due to maintenance and we had read to get there as early as possible. We took the Beefeater tour and it was entertaining and informative. We had lunch at the café at the Tower of London and it was delicious. The Tower of London was much more crowded when we left around 1 pm. We jumped on the hop on hop off at the Tower and once again had difficulty with traffic and seeing the sights. I wondered what the HOHO bus would be like in high season (summer). Less than 1/2 way thru the loop we were told we could not get any closer to Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abby and surrounding sites because police had closed many streets due to protesters. We were disappointed but got as close as possible then walked the remainder of the way to Buckingham Palace. You could only see from the gate since you cannot tour until later in the summer. . If I go back to London, I will try the HOHO bus mid-week and see if that helps. It may be like any major city, crazy all the time. We got some decent pictures of Buckingham Palace but it started raining pretty hard so we grabbed a cab and headed to Kensington Palace which was unaffected by protesters. We toured Kensington Palace and walked around Kensington Gardens then joined our friends for dinner at the Goat pub at Kensington High Street. Food and drink were both great. May 12 - London to Southampton - Windsor Day Tours. We knew we had to get to Southampton from London and wanted to see the English countryside along the way and had read the great reviews for Windsor Day Tours. Jill was able to pick us up at our hotel in London because it was Sunday. Her tours can also originate from Heathrow. We had a photo stop at Eton College, then on to Windsor castle and the town of Windsor. Windsor Castle as wonderful; there was a slight wait for security. Buy your tickets in advance. We then had a lovely lunch at the White Lion in a tiny village called Wherwell. We saw thatched roof cottages and lovely scenery. After lunch we visited Winchester Cathedral and the town of Winchester where we grabbed our 2 bottles of carry on wine and then Jill took us on to the Room2 suites in Southampton. The cost of the tour was just a little more than the princess transfer but we wanted to see the English countryside and Windsor Castle and Jill worked with us to customize our tour. She was a great tour guide and very knowledgeable. We highly recommend Windsor Day Tours. Southampton - Room2 Suites is a new hotel that was clean, walking distance to Oxford Street restaurants and 3 minutes by car from Ocean Cruise terminal. We paid Uber £7 pounds instead of walking because we had 3 suitcases and the road across to the terminal was multi lane. May 13 – Crown Princess Embarkation - Our suggested arrival time was 1:30 for Dolphin Deck and as we weren’t sure of lines we arrived a few minutes after 1 pm. Very short wait for check in and we were in our cabin by 1:50. Our bags were already at our door – off to a great start. My sister was on Deck 10 and got her bags by 4 pm. Princess had very organized embarkation at that time of day. May 14 - Guernsey - Our plan for Guernsey was to take it easy and just wander around since we knew we had future days with all day plans. If you want to see things in Guernsey do your research and get a good map, Signage is available but not very intuitive. There is more than one museum and signage just pointed to museum without specifying. We arrived via tender around 9 am to find that most of the places to visit opened around 10 am, even the tourist center, (perhaps they open earlier In June and July later in the season?) but we could have left the ship later. We were worried about tender lines so we got up early. We wandered a bit then headed back early around 1 pm which worked in our favor. Tendering later in the afternoon was a nightmare with a 90 minute wait and was hampered by high winds. May 15 - Cork/Cobh – We had a great day with Craig @ Munster Bus Tours and we saw Cork, Kinsale & the Jameson Distillery. We had 6 people and were able to see so many things that we would never have seen on a big tour. Craig drove us around the city of Cork, we visited a local sweet shop/candy company where they were hand making candy, got great pictures at the beautiful St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral and then headed to Kinsale. Before we enjoyed a lovely lunch in coastal Kinsale, Craig took us to a small memorial garden honoring the 343 firefighters who lost their lives on 9/11. The memorial garden was an unexpected, touching spot that we never would have seen on a large tour. Craig had secured a lunch reservation for us in Kinsale. After Kinsale we toured Charles Fort. Craig was engaging and entertaining and gave us great personal insight into the area. His pride in his home country was evident and the scenery was spectacular, exactly what we imagined Ireland to be. One note about the Jameson Distillery – it was an interesting tour but we thought we would see a working distillery and instead toured their old factory and did not actually see any actual whiskey production. We did enjoy the tasting! May 16 - Dublin – A free shuttle was provided into Dublin since we docked at a different place than originally planned – this created a bit of a headache for those just going into Dublin. My sister booked a private tour that left Dublin at 11 am and she needed to meet the tour in Dublin. She was waiting for the ticket for the Dublin shuttle at 9:30 am but it took forever and she finally arrived at the meeting spot in Dublin 15 minutes late so she lost her money on the excursion. If you plan a private tour in Dublin and have to get into Dublin, I would allow at least 2 hours to get off the ship and shuttle to your meeting place. Dublin patter is attached and explains Dublin shuttle and private arrangements. We didn’t properly read the description for the Princess excursion for Powerscourt Estate and didn’t realize it was just gardens only. I thought you toured the house as well, but the house was damaged by fire years ago and was only restored as a gift shop with a small room showing a film about the history of the estate. If gardens are your thing, this is a great place to visit. There was beautiful landscaping, acres of flowers, and a Japanese garden but I was a little disappointed. We were dropped off back in Dublin and wandered around Trinity College and had a lovely pub lunch. May 17 - Belfast – This day was at the top of my bucket list and it was a wonderful day. We booked a private Antrim Coast and Giants Causeway Tour with Alister at City and Causeway tours and it didn’t disappoint. The Torr road was a fun, curvy drive and the scenery was spectacular. Northern Ireland is such a lush, green beautiful place. As with all of our private tours, we were mostly able to beat the large coaches since we only had 6 people. Our goal for this trip was to go as far inland as we could with the time we had and concentrate less on the cities and that worked out well. The Giants Causeway was surreal but very crowded. We walked down to the causeway and had planned to take the shuttle back but they closed the shuttle service so that a VIP tour could use the shuttle. I felt sorry for the folks who had mobility issues and had to walk back up the hill, it was over a mile each way. We did not pay to go to the visitor’s center. Alister took 2 couples back to the ship and then drove us 1 ½ miles to TEC Belfast to see the Game of Thrones Tour Exhibition. This was an added bonus for us since we are GOT fans and it was fantastic. If you are a GOT fan and in Belfast this summer, it is worth the money. May 18 - Glasgow – This was our second bucket list day and it was remarkable. We booked a private tour with Tom at Photowalk Scotland. Although the day was cold and rainy we got to see some lovely places including Glencoe, Stalker Castle and Kilchurn Castle. We even stopped at a beautiful small church and got amazing picture of blue bonnets in full bloom. Tom gave us the flexibility to change our plans when the rain didn’t let up for a while and took us to the castles instead of another Glen. He also was kind enough to share some sunny day pics with us since it was so rainy. Despite the weather it was one of our favorite days of the trip. May 19 - Sea Day – After 9 full days of travel, a sea day was much needed so we took it easy and just relaxed. We don’t have a lot to review on the Crown Princess but will say that it is a lovely ship. This was our 4th cruise and all ships we have been on could be improved slightly but the Crown Princess was great for what we wanted, a nice way to see the British Isles. We did not see any shows or comedians but my sister took in a few and said they were fine. May 20 - Kirkwall - This was our 2nd Princess Tour - West Mainland Sightseeing and it was OK but it reminded us why we choose private tours. The tour guide was very nice but it was her first day on the job and she neglected to tell the bus driver to even slow down for the Standing Stones of Stenness. We just rode right past it with not photo stop. We were able to tour the Ring of Brodgar and see a bit of Kirkwall as we were whizzing by the sights. For us, Guernsey and Kirkwall were just bonus days so that was Ok. Private tours at Kirkwall were limited and booked up quickly. Plan far ahead if you want a private tour in Kirkwall. May 21 – Invergordon - We booked a private tour with Invergordon tours and saw Castle Leod, Urquhart Castle, Culloden Battlefield, and Clava Cairns. The scenery was lovely. May 22 - Edinburgh - previous reviews had suggested the Princess Excursion “Edinburgh on your own” to maximize your time in the city since ship tours got tender priority. This was a great in theory but didn’t necessarily work for us. I think our Princess meeting time in the theatre was 8:15 am. Our plan was thwarted because we had to wait over 30 minutes in the Princess theatre for our total group to gather to go to the tender and then another 20 minutes on the bus in South Queensferry for four people who never showed up. The ship was in Edinburgh from 7 am to 7 pm but we didn’t get to the city until well after 10 am and got picked back up at 3:15 pm. Not nearly enough time to see such a great city. You could find your own transportation back you just needed to tell the driver. We walked straight to the Edinburgh Castle; we printed our tickets which we bought online from a kiosk. The lines were long. If you are going to the castle, buy your tickets in advance. Edinburgh was the best city we visited (compared to Dublin and London) and the only city we think we would revisit. Looking back at the patter for Edinburgh, you could get in line for a tender ticket in the Michelangelo dining room starting at 7 am. I would set an early alarm, take my chances on my own, grab the earliest tender ticket and take the X99 bus into town. It is a 45 minute ride from South Queensferry to Edinburgh. May 23 - Sea Day – we spent the day repacking. I did go to afternoon tea in the dining room which was just Ok and crowded. May 24 Le Havre - The ship docked in Le Havre on schedule and we easily got off the ship for our tour. We had 12 hours before we had to be back on the ship. We booked a private excursion with Overlord Tours to go to the D Day beaches. The cost was €980 for up to eight people. We had 6 and our group and the van was comfortable. Eight people in the van would have been tight. Our guide for the day was Thierry, we were very impressed with his passion and knowledge of the Allied landing on June 6, 1944. It was an hour and a half drive to Omaha Beach which went by quick due to Thierry’s narration. We toured the American cemetery, Omaha and Utah beaches, Pointe Du Hoc and stopped for a delicious lunch in Saint Mere Eglise where we saw the church where Paratrooper John Steele got caught on the steeple when he was trying to land in the town square to fight the Germans. Thierry was a great guide and we had no trouble understanding his English. May 25 Southampton to Heathrow – Princess Disembarkation was the easiest we ever experienced. We put our bags out the night before and found all three easily the next morning. We did leave fairly early so not sure if this was a factor. We chose private arrangements on the form and had passenger services change us to 6:55 am disembarkation for our 7:30 pickup. It was fast and efficient. We used Smiths for Airports for transfer for four back to Heathrow for £163 pounds. We were waiting on our driver by 7:05 am. Wait under the signs not on the sidewalk in the lanes. The driver must come in and confirm that you are there before bringing the car into the lanes to pick you up. We left at 7:45 am and arrived at Heathrow at 9:20 am for a 12:50 pm flight. Had business class for two of us. Checked in and through security in 20 minutes. Our fellow travelers had to wait in security for approximately an hour before clearing. The departure gate was cramped and hot but we timed it so we only had to wait for 15 minutes to board. At Heathrow you wait in the giant shopping area until your gate is called ~30 minutes before your flight. Crown Princess British Isles Notes: Crown Princess Mini Suite D618 – we had plenty of storage space and loved the extra room in the bathroom with the real tub and shower and the clothesline which we used a lot. We had planned to ask for hangers but found an adequate supply in the closet. We did take 4 pants hangers which was great when we had to hang dry our clothes. The balcony had two chairs with ottomans and a small table. We enjoyed the extra cabin space in the mini suite and the sofa; our friends often came to our room for a drink before dinner or to hang out in the evening. One note about cabin D618, we were startled early on the first tender day as the tender that lived just below our balcony was deployed and the gears were quite loud as it moved away from the ship and then was lowered down – it was fun to watch it deploy, you just need to know that if you are on Deck 9 in a mini suite, you may hear and see tender boats on tender days. PRIVATE VS SHIP TOURS – For the first time, we did a mix of private vs. ship tours and were very happy with the private tours. We are cautious travelers and only chose private tours with 5 star ratings and they all lived up to their reviews. When we had a private tour for a non-tender port, we just blended in with departing Princess tour groups, got off the ship and found our guides. We will definitely book private tours for future cruises. Private arrangements do require some extra time and planning for the tender ports. TENDERING - For tender ports, Guernsey, Kirkwall and Edinburgh allow extra time if you have private tours. There were tender delays even for the Princess tours due to high winds at Guernsey and Kirkwall. At one point during the Kirkwall day, waves were so rough that a crew member was hurt and tendering was suspended for an hour. There was a 90 minute wait to get a tender at Guernsey later in the day. LAUNDRY - Laundry was a crap shoot and as expected impossible on a sea day. If you are a super early riser or late nighter your chances are better. My sister started her laundry at 5 am and had company while she was there. Deck 9 had 2 working washers and only 1 dryer so we ended up hang drying a lot of clothes which was not a problem, it just takes extra time if you are out of clean clothes. We used the bathroom clothesline quite a bit. Deck 10 had 1 working washer and 2 working dryers. If you intend to do multiple loads buy your tokens early. You swiped your cruise card and it is $3 per wash and $3 per dry and $1.50 for detergent. I should have brought Woolite or similar as I did hand wash a bit but I managed with body wash and shampoo. I did bring tide pods and dryer sheets with me. Later in the trip, we checked and finally found an open dryer and ran our hang drying clothes down while it was free. BRITISH ISLE CLOTHING - With such long port days, I easily could have gotten away with only 1 or 2 pair of dress pants and rotated shirts. Since this was our 3rd cruise, we don’t always want a huge meal every night. We only ate randomly in the dining room and even then only 5 out of the 12 nights. We grabbed pizza, a hamburger/hotdog or ate at the buffet when we didn’t want to change for dinner after a really long tour day. Nice jeans or khakis and collared shirt or polo worked for most nights in the dining room for my husband. I should have brought more jeans/casual pants since we did have a few days of wearing jeans for 3rd or 4th time as I was trying to find an open washer/dryer in the very busy of laundry room. We only did one formal night and my husband did fine with a long sleeve collared shirt and khakis and I wore a blouse with black pants. We saw plenty of people who looked lovely in tuxedos and formal gowns but we were not wasting precious suitcase space on fancy clothes on our 16 day vacation. WEATHER – I believe Scotland is having the hottest summer on record for June but for May all previous advice was accurate, layers, layers, and more layers. We took a warm coat and a rain jacket and alternated them or wore both at the same time depending on wind and rain. We really only had one very rainy day although we expected more. Lots of partly sunny days. I was happy to have a scarf and hat most days. Long sleeve shirts were a good base layer and I wore a sweater 3 days. I expected the weather to be in the 50s and 60s but the wind made it feel much cooler. My sister bought a warm hat in Kinsale because it was colder than she expected. FOOD - we weren’t sure what to expect with Princess and British Isles food but we were happy overall. We cruise specifically by itinerary and find cruising to be the best solution for us budget wise with meals/hotel/transportation all rolled into one, especially in places where we would never drive. We had been warned to expect bland, simple food in Scotland and Ireland and were pleasantly surprised at the delicious food at every stop. We had all sorts of yummy comfort food including cottage pies, fish and chips and hearty soups with sandwiches. We did not have one bad meal in port. Crown Princess food was as expected, a few stand out dishes but mostly average. As mentioned before, we don’t cruise for the food or ship entertainment just for the travel and transportation. Formal nights were the day of Guernsey and the first sea day. We only did one formal night and my husband did fine with a long sleeve collared shirt and khakis and I wore a blouse with black pants. We saw plenty of people in tuxedos and formal gowns but we were not wasting precious suitcase space on fancy clothes. We had anytime dining and turned up between 6 pm and 7:15 pm for each night in the Dining Room – we only ate there 5 out of 12 nights and Formal nights were more crowded. If the wait was going to be more than a few minutes they gave you a pager so we grabbed a drink at the International Café while we waited. We had less wait when we went at 6:15 or 6:45 vs. 6:30. On our last dining room night the night before Le Havre, we were moved to one of the fixed dining rooms and had better service than in the Michelangelo Dining Room. TIPPING - We haven’t cruised in 5 years so this may now be the norm but Princess automatically adds 18% for alcohol. On past cruises with Celebrity and Royal Caribbean we were able to add tip and decide how much to charge. Princess also doesn’t give you a receipt, you just have to hope the bill is right and check your bill periodically. They do have a self-serve kiosk where you scan your cruise card and get a print out or use the Princess @ Sea app. PRINCESS @ Sea app: The app was good for checking your stateroom balance by day and the total spent. Each person sees what they spent and the cardholder on file sees all cardholders. The messenger part was somewhat disappointing since it didn’t notify you when you received a message which made it difficult to make arrangements if you were traveling with other people. You had to occasionally check to see if you had received a message. Hopefully this will change when the Ocean Medallion service is finally rolled out. There were Carnival employees on board working on the service but about all we saw was the TV system was updated some to support on demand programming. Not sure how ocean medallion rollout will change this. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
We chose this cruise because of the price and cabin. Having sailed with Princess before and in a rear-facing cabin which we loved. The only thing that was not as expected was the restaurant. We normally opt for Any Time dining and usually ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the price and cabin. Having sailed with Princess before and in a rear-facing cabin which we loved. The only thing that was not as expected was the restaurant. We normally opt for Any Time dining and usually eat late 8.30pm and have not had much trouble getting a table for two, but on this cruise, everybody seemed to want to eat at that time and tables for two. The system when this happens is that you are given a pager and they call you when a table becomes available. This worked very well as the bar is adjacent to the restaurant and was handy for pre-dinner drinks. I think the longest we had to wait was 15 minutes, no time at all. The shows were a bit low on the quality side and having cruised with Princess many times we have noticed that the resident dancers seem to be doing less and less. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
We chose the British Isles! Great ports, short on time, but we did so much I don't know where they would have found more time. Overall experience was great. All of the ports were fun and had loads of things to do. Perhaps one ... Read More
We chose the British Isles! Great ports, short on time, but we did so much I don't know where they would have found more time. Overall experience was great. All of the ports were fun and had loads of things to do. Perhaps one change would be stay one day in Doublin and two days in Edinburgh! We chose outside tours and were thrilled with them. Saved a considerable amount of money on them, too. The tours are smaller, personalized and just more fun than those offered by Princess. We had big problems with the assistance at the Front Service Desk. A JOKE! Fortunately everything went pretty smoothly, but the one hiccup was a major deal. Unfortunately, the Service Desk agents gave a different answer for the same question. Even asking to speak with the manager didn't get much help. Promised to call back and never did. Unacceptable. Apparently getting off the ship for a few days is something no one has ever done before (hah)! Our friends got approval from Princess before making reservations. The Crown Princess did everything to make this a terrible expereince for them. On the departure date they were told to go to immigration at 6:40am. They did. They were sent to three different places and no one was there. Nice way to end the cruise. The dinners were fine. Quality a little less than it used to be. We had an outstanding waiter at dinner who made the entire trip worthwhile. Hermanie was excellent! We never saw the Captain (except at the Platinum and Above Cocktail Awards event). Saw very few of the 'suits' walking around. Usually they are a lot more present than that. The Crown Princess is getting worn. It needs updating. The public bathrooms were terrible, tile falling off the wall, etc. Carpeting in the buffet was worn out. It has always been such a beautiful ship it's a shame to see it in such a state of disrepair. But the beauty of the British Isles is worth the trip. Such a lovely area to enjoy. The peace, beauty and history are worth the trip. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
The only thing I would change would be to tell Princess that when they travel to Europe in April and May they choose a ship with a retractable roof so people can enjoy the beautiful swimming pools and hot tubs. They should also have a non ... Read More
The only thing I would change would be to tell Princess that when they travel to Europe in April and May they choose a ship with a retractable roof so people can enjoy the beautiful swimming pools and hot tubs. They should also have a non alcoholic option for their gifts and prizes not everyone consumes alcohol. We loved the food but found there were too many seafood options and too much spinach done in variety of ways. The food in the Horizon restaurant was fabulous great variety. Another area they need to improve on is the shore excursions and how they handled the groups getting off the ship. We stood everyday in ridiculous lines to have a sticker with a number slapped on our person. They didn’t have enough people working that process. They should have the groups gather in an area and as a group is called they exit through a door where someone is waiting to provide them with a number sticker. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
Enjoyed a pre-cruise day in London sightseeing. Independent transportation to the pier via Stonehenge. Great couple days. Embarkation and disembarkation went very smoothly. Luggage arrived in cabin in less than 30 mins after boarding. ... Read More
Enjoyed a pre-cruise day in London sightseeing. Independent transportation to the pier via Stonehenge. Great couple days. Embarkation and disembarkation went very smoothly. Luggage arrived in cabin in less than 30 mins after boarding. First time our cabin steward didn't make it a point to come and introduce himself to us. He did an adequate job. I had balcony cabin B701. Good location. I have sailed on Crown many times and prefer the Baja deck. Had 7:15 traditional dining in MDR. Since this was a port intensive cruise we were not able to dine there every night. Menu was fine. Same entrees as always with the exclusion of escargot. Enjoyed the Crown Grill one evening. It was delicious as always but price continues to go up. Enjoyed the buffet each morning. Selection was good. Disappointed the fitness center didn't allow passengers to use the treadmills until 8 am although I did understand. Difficult to use with early ports almost everyday. Love MUTS but too cold on this cruise to enjoy. However, I did ask for movie popcorn every night! You had to go hunt for it but I was able to get some. Ports were wonderful!!! My biggest surprise was the chaos getting on and off the ship at almost every port. Long queues, people upset, trouble getting gangways up, steep gangways, passengers getting on and off with luggage, etc. It was really a pain. I understand delays when it is a tender port but simply walking off should never be an issue. Overall great cruise. I would highly recommend. The layout and the size of the Crown works well for me. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
“Winter with Leaves” A May Cruise around the British Isles “Call me Ismael” - Herman Melville; we wander when we can as there is so much world, and so little time. This time, for our May 1st cruise, we packed for cool/cold ... Read More
“Winter with Leaves” A May Cruise around the British Isles “Call me Ismael” - Herman Melville; we wander when we can as there is so much world, and so little time. This time, for our May 1st cruise, we packed for cool/cold weather and guessed correctly, as the temps never got above the mid-40s to low 50. We, Gene & Susan, left Houston Hobby, with a slight delay, (they had to reboot the plane?) April 29th to DFW, and on to an over-night flight to London Heathrow, landing about midday the 30th. Heathrow to Soho at the “Sticky Wicket” We decided to cut to the chase, jet lag being what it is, and had booked Heathrow Taxis (good value) down to the Hilton at Ageas Stadium, getting there early afternoon. The hotel is actually built into a Cricket Stadium surrounded by a Golf course. If you don’t know the game of Cricket, I wouldn’t encourage you to explore it too closely, and just assume that it resembles a cross between baseball and croquet!! We did get to watch a Cricket practice out our room window with bowling to the batsman on a Cricket pitch and wickets of course. “And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by” John Masefield We taxied to the Crown Princess, May 1st (about 5 miles), arriving around noon, and had a very quick and easy embarkation with priority boarding. One of the main dining rooms was open where we had a leisurely lunch, avoiding the frantic crowds at the Lido. Our cabin, a balcony on Caribe deck, was ready and we relaxed until Muster Drill. I had hosted a Cruise Critic roll call, so we followed Muster with a Sail Away Party in the Wheelhouse Lounge, as outside was a bit chill. It was well attended, as a number of CC people were there and introduced themselves. Guernsey Where getting there is half the fun!! Guernsey is a tender port so all the ship tenders were used. They loaded the usual 75 or so on tender 21 and set out for shore. Sadly, it’s steering was broke that day and it water bugged us in circles and didoes all over the ocean. It finally got back to the ship, loaded three mechanics and set out again, with the same outcome, more circles and didoes. By this time passengers were turning green from ocean motion, and were considering holding a Muster Drill. They finally wallowed back to the ship and off loaded us on to another tender which worked. Some of the people in the lines behind us missed their tour due to the delay as it caused delays to the whole process. Guernsey = Blue Bell ice cream The original Texas Blue Bell was made using only milk from the Guernsey cow. The Guernsey and the Jersey, on the next isle over, have the highest butterfat content of all the dairy cattle (took Ag in HS). There are few cattle left on the island, as it’s about 90% developed, and is considered an off-shore banking and financial center much like the Caymans. Immigration is limited to those who can prove that they have a job when they arrive, or enough money to sustain them. We joined about 6 others on an island tour with “1st call Taxies” that circled the island. Those who read or watched “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” might be somewhat disappointed at the island’s modern development as there is little wild sea coast left. There are still a number of German observation posts and gun emplacements, however. Besides driving around the island, our guide took us into a 4,000-year-old barrow from ancient people on the island and a unique chapel built of cut glass. We had an excellent lunch at a local pub, fish and chips with panko bread crumbs, picked up some wine for the cabin, and it was time to get back to the ship, but not on tender 21 I’ll tell you! Cobh/Cork Our goal today was Blarney Castle and the Irish countryside with Ecoach (Butler tours). We wound our way through Cobh & Cork out to Blarney Castle, which almost resembles a theme park as you arrive at a woolen mill which advertises the most Irish souvenirs in Ireland. Also, there were a couple of Pub/restaurants, and ticket purchase (we had skip the line) with public rest rooms. You next stroll through forest gardens and streams to the castle, and it is beautiful; set on a hilltop surrounded by battlements and some discreetly hidden gift shops. Since there was a long line to kiss the Blarney Stone, I asked the wife if I needed to get in it. She replied that the Stone ought to be kissing me?? We roamed for about an hour with the wife taking pictures and then back to the visitor’s center where I enjoyed a pint of Irelands best while the wife visited the woolen mill. My son says that drinking Guinness is like eating a loaf of bread, and he might be right. We explored the Irish Countryside, had a pub lunch in a historic port town, picked up some wine for the cabin and returned to the ship about 5. Dublin We ported two days in Dublin which is about right, as will be explained. The ship didn’t dock until 11 AM but there was no rush as we planned a leisurely day riding the HoHos and had an evening event. We taxied into the city to the Hop-On Hop-Off office where we purchased tickets and also “jump the line” entrance to the Guinness brewery. Dublin is a city of young people. It was a Saturday, and young families were everywhere pushing babies in strollers and doing what they needed to do. Our first stop was Dublin Castle where the wife got some shots of the building as it is now used as Govt. offices. The next “God help me” was Guinness!! In retrospect, you should find a local pub have a pint and salute Guinness at a distance. The Guinness Store House is a 7-story exhibit with stairs, little A/C, and 1,000 of your closest friends!! It is a very nice history of the Stout with grains and a water fall, the brewing process, and a free pint at the end. When we reached the top of the tallest building in Dublin (I could have used a Sherpa), the wife took pictures when she could get near a window, as a Fire Marshall would have a coronary with the crowds in that building. They were mostly young Irish who must consider it a pilgrimage or some such, children and all. When we finally fought our way out of the building it was getting late afternoon so we hopped the HoHo, so to speak, and got off near our evening adventure, Irish Nights at the Belvidere Hotel. It was wonderful with Irish folk music and step dancing, a good dinner and wine by the glass with cruise friends. Dublin Day II “I don’t think my heart can stand another ewe!!” Sheep Herders lament Do you ever tire of cities?? Same ole public buildings, cathedrals, and museums?? We have, so it was time to see the country side, the Emerald Isle, and it didn’t disappoint. This time with two other cruise friends Susan and I taxied into Paddywagon Tours for a trip out to Kilkenny and the Wicklow Mountains. It was a wonderful day with emerald green pastures full of sheep with Grose hedges. Our first stop was Glendough, the ruins of a monastery from the 1100s. It was wonderful to walk and see it in the crisp cold air. You could spend a day here hiking as there were three lakes in the glen and numerous trails. There were also very good facilities (hotel etc) as well. Off to Kilkenny, or almost, as our bus blew a tire. But, no problem, there was a 2nd behind us on the same route with 30 empty seats. Cruise passengers had priority. The first bus limped into Dublin about two hours later than ours. Kilkenny was the ancient capital and featured quite a nice castle, a lunch at a good restaurant, and two bottles of wine for the cabin. It was close to 2 hours back to the ship, but it was a beautiful day in the country. Belfast Northern Ireland This one was a bit difficult; less than 5 miles from Belfast our 14-passenger bus, a Mercedes, blew an engine. But once again no problem as they had a replacement there shortly, and it was on to the Giant’s Causeway, a unique headland of Columnar Basalts that cooled into hexagonal crystals. We saw the Carrick-a-rede rope bridge and had a good pub lunch before returning to Belfast. We completed the tour with a visit to the Titanic dry dock, interesting, but a barn where the cows are gone, then back to the ship after 7 in the evening. Greenock/Glasgow It was a rainy morning with a grey mist falling over Greenock on the Firth of Clyde, the port for Glasgow, as we set out with Discover Scotland tours on another wonderful adventure. The first stop, the rain was very slight, was at Loch Lomond, a beautiful lake where we walked a village and down to a dock to the calm waters and the silence of nature. Have you ever wondered about the term “Skyfall” the title from a Bond film? It means that when the waters are so calm that they mirror the sky above and this we found reflected in the Loch. This was a good start, as our next destination was Stirling Castle, one of the most famous in Scotland and most visited, where we rejoined tourism as we know it. Susan bravely shot the castle with her camera as there were heights and voids that were out of her comfort zone. We then visited the village of Callander where we lunched in a “Tea Room” favored by the locals, small, with shared Formica tables. I had a steak and haggis pie served in a pastry, as this was also a bakery for scones. Haggis, dear reader, is when you stuff a sheep’s stomach with mutton and oatmeal, and boil it until it turns to mush. The steak and gravy in the pie, (remember Marie Callender?), provided the flavor. We picked up some wine for the cabin while there, and set out for Glasgow. It is the third largest city in the UK but we didn’t spend much time there as we were due to get back to the ship. Invergordon/Inverness My heart’s in the Highlands, my heart is not here, My heart’s in the Highlands a chasing the deer, Chasing the wild deer, and following the roe, My heart’s in the Highlands where ever I go. -Robert Burns- In Invergordon, on the Firth of Cromarty, we were picked up by Highland tours at the ship for a trip through the Scottish Highlands and the Isle of Skye. Our first stop shortly after viewing the ruins of Urquhart Castle was Loch Ness where my wife wanted me to dabble my fingers in the water to tell her how cold it was while taking pictures. (She gets double indemnity if I’m eaten by a Sea Monster!!) The Highlands are beautiful but still in their winter colors of brown heather and pale brown grasses on all the hills and mountains, some of which are snow capped in the distance. The Eilean Donan Castle, one of the most photographed in Scotland, was our next stop on a crisp cold day in a land where they see the Northern Lights. While winding through the glens of Scotland, we turned into a road that said Single Trac, you guessed it, a one lane road going to the ferry on the Isle of Skye. There was some backing and pulling over in a dance with on coming traffic, not that there was much. Here I should perhaps mention that the highways of Ireland and Scotland are not wide, as most two-lanes don’t have room for a stripe in the middle. But they get you there with the occasional four-lane to take you back to a city. Scotland’s are marginally better. The ferry to the Isle of Skye is the last “Turn Table” ferry in the world. It is a motorized barge with a parking platform on top which rotates to turn the cars in the opposite direction from which they boarded, in order to offload. It is only a short distance to the Isle itself. We drove through the hills of Skye to a small village for a pub lunch (sound familiar); it was actually more of a café with an order line and shared tables. Following lunch, we saw a little more of the Isle and returned to the mainland via a modern bridge and eventually back to the ship. Our First Sea Day Thank you, Jesus, as we’re running on empty and need the rest. Rest did come with responsibility, however, as it is time for our Cruise Critic Meet & Mingle. I had sent invitations once we were on board, and had rented a mic for the event. The ship provided Skywalkers and a cash bar. It went well with probably 60 in attendance. The officers introduced themselves and spoke about their area of responsibility. We finished with the attendees getting to say who they were, where they were from and what was their favorite port. A good time was had by all. The rest was a sea day as we try to avoid the Lido for meals, and we don't do the shows, but some wine and dancing in the evenings. Edinburgh We awoke anchored off South Queensferry on the Firth of Forth, the port for Edinburgh. Our tour for the day was with Go Scotland but first we had to tender ashore. Oh My God, they were shoving us on to Tender 21, but surely, they had got it fixed. Oh no they didn’t, as the pilot used the two engines to steer and we wallowed like a sick hog under a famous railroad bridge which was trying not to get hit, and finally to shore. In every case, we were met promptly by our tour guide, and today was no exception. We begin by driving out in the country to Roslyn Chapel founded in 1446. This is beautiful with gothic design and elaborate stone carving throughout. The Knights Templar came here to fight alongside the Scots. It is said that they buried both the Arc of the Covenant and the Holly Grail under this chapel. While you are down there, you might find Jimmy Hoffa and Amelia Erhard as well!! Traveling through Edinburgh on the way to the castle, we saw many famous sites as Trinity College one of the world’s oldest. Why did they always stick castles on hill tops? Yeah, yeah, I know, as they didn’t trust their neighbors and probably had some pretty good reasons not to. We trudged up the hill from our small bus, and quite a hill it was, where we had jump-the-line tickets as there were 1,000 of our closest friends taking selfies and trying not to fall off the battlements!! The castle is still an active military base and fires a 1 O’clock gun, much to the consternation of the pigeons, and the benefit of the hundreds of tourists gathered to watch it. A fine time was had by all as Susan shutter bugged the edifice and we moved down hill (thank God) to where the tour group met for an hour and forty-five-minute walking tour. Something my walking ability told me not to do, as I got a new hip last Fall. So, I bought two bottles of wine for the cabin, and retired to a convenient pub/restaurant for lunch and relaxation. Those of you of the culinary nature would enjoy exploring “Toad in the Hole”, a shell of Yorkshire pudding layered with mashed potatoes, with three “bangers” pork & Haggis sausages, topped with caramelized onions and a brown gravy!! It was a hearty dish although hardly heart healthy, and in the States, subject to a Surgeon General’s warning!! Susan joined the walking tour, taking in historically significant sites as well as the Greyfriars Bobby statue, a haunted cemetery and Harry Potter points of interest. We regrouped, boarded the bus and circled Arthur’s Seat, a small mountain that hung over the city. We stopped by Holyrood Palace where Elizabeth stays when in Edinburgh, before returning to the tender port. As luck would have it, a commercial tender seating more than a hundred was a comfortable ride back to the ship. I did keep a wary eye out for “Sea Cow 21” as I had vowed to sacrifice my place in line, and it was long, if offered another ride with her. The Second Sea Day I really don’t recall much about this day as there was no agenda and no pressing need to have anything but three meals in the MDR as for once on a cruise, we never visited the Lido. We did attend the Capt.’s party as it was the last formal night, and did book a future cruise at a discount while on board as we are thinking a Northern Alaska visit with seeing Denali this next time with perhaps a night in a Princess lodge. Le Havre France Paris and Normandy are the two attractions here but, as I’m a Marine from a Marine family, Normandy wasn’t our war. We declined seeing Paris about 300 miles away as I felt that the French needed no help turning over cars and setting them on fire. We opted to visit a local mall, Docks Vauban, where Susan did her last gift shopping and we enjoyed a three-star grill where the French did what they do best, cook!! The Longest Day We had opted for a Princess transfer from SOHO as we had an early 12:15 flight. No one wants you off the ship more than the cruise line, so we met to disembark @ 6:30. As the traffic was interesting, we made Heathrow by around 9. After check in and airport security, I can confirm they are even more intense than our own, as I lost a can of shave gel. We had a leisurely brunch and boarded for our 91/2 hr flight to DFW, which arrived on time. After the ordeal of Customs and Security all that was left was the short hop to Houston, right? They loaded us on the small plane on time and then sat there in a sweat box for close to an hour waiting for them to get more fuel that they might run the air conditioners among other delays. Even with that amount of time my luggage missed the flight and was delivered the next day. Thus, from the ship’s cabin to home made about 21 hrs of travel. I’ve mentioned a few mechanical problems that occurred on this vacation, and have visited with God about them from time to time, but none posed a serious threat to us or our travels so let the cow chips fall where they may as it was a wonderful cruise. We hope that this has been informative and helpful for those of you traveling to this part of the world and until I write again. May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind at yer back not be yer own. May the sun shine warm upon your face; the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand. Gene & Susan Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
I chose this cruise for the British Isles Itinerary and a ton of research pointed me to Princess. The dates worked for the Princess, right after her Trans-Atlantic from FLL. We really enjoyed our aft mini-suite and our steward was ... Read More
I chose this cruise for the British Isles Itinerary and a ton of research pointed me to Princess. The dates worked for the Princess, right after her Trans-Atlantic from FLL. We really enjoyed our aft mini-suite and our steward was amazing! This was a very port intense itinerary so we only ate in the MDR one time. I did look at the menu's and wasn't disappointed at all. The Horizon Buffet was delish for the most part, although very crowded (they need to open both sides for breakfast). We liked the feel and the ship so we've booked 2 more! Yes, the Crown is older but she's in good shape. I loved the size too. Not too many people but just right. My only disappointment was that bingo is too dang expensive! I was really looking forward to it but was only able to play 2 days due to cost. The shuttles to town were a bit pricey but they ran consistently and were always there when we needed them. If you want a taste of the British Isles, I highly recommend this cruise and the line. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
On boarding the sapphire princess for the second time the CPS meet and greet car was amazing. On board within 20 minutes. The cabin was very clean we were on Deck 14 at the front this is situated behind the pizzeria. The only problem I can ... Read More
On boarding the sapphire princess for the second time the CPS meet and greet car was amazing. On board within 20 minutes. The cabin was very clean we were on Deck 14 at the front this is situated behind the pizzeria. The only problem I can say is people above on the walkway going for cigarettes with their stilettos on also cabin L302 is opposite the lift which can me noisy and a lot of traffic. Weather was bad from Southampton so we did not leave until 1:30am supposed to leave at 4:30pm this meant that you missed Copenhagen. They gave everybody a refund for missed port tax of 12.63 dollars. We also had many problems with ship accounts not working and the TV in the room would constantly stop working which they never fixed. In main the food in the Horizon self service was good, not always hot but if you think like mash potato is going to be cold then put it in a dish and ask the to heat it up. The staff are very friendly and will get you water and tea or coffee when you are sat down. Remember to order room service FREE at least once. The coffee shop on deck 5 is good as you can have FREE sandwich hot or cold, cake also. You will have to pay for tea in a tea pot there cost of $1.89 . There is a pizzeria restaurant on deck 5 which is good more choice as for deck 14 it is made by the slice as many as you wish put only 2 variety’s. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
Superb: Service from all waitresses and waiters and cabin steward: cheerful, polite, considerate. Excellent: Food, as always. Menu, quality and presentation the best; also inside cabin (P210 absolutely fine, no need for anything higher). ... Read More
Superb: Service from all waitresses and waiters and cabin steward: cheerful, polite, considerate. Excellent: Food, as always. Menu, quality and presentation the best; also inside cabin (P210 absolutely fine, no need for anything higher). Very Good: Relaxation, on deck and the two lovely evening venues, Crooners Bar and the Wheelhouse Bar, also this time very good DJ in Skywalkers. Good: Entertainment - Princess singers and dancers, Crimson Duo, Sunshine Duo, Stephen Jaymes (but miss the very funny pianist Paul Burton), ventriloquist (very clever), but oh dear the two comedians were dire - miss the very funny Jeff Stevenson. So-so: Why do the restaurant staff give their 'recommendations'? I much prefer to give them mine (Princess Love Boat dessert the best!). Cause For Concern: Environmental Issues - paper paper everywhere - surely in 2019 the ship should be paperless. As a Lighting Engineer, I had the impression the lighting was very wasteful - all inefficient light sources from the last decade, no LED's that I saw. Poor: Drinks - I think (stand to be corrected) 'short' measures (by UK standards), glass packed with ice, sky high prices - small whiskey $8.32, small beer $7. Formal dress code poorly enforced (if at all), I found disrespectful to fellow guests. All in all enjoyable cruise, love the ship, relaxing, wonderful staff - the more junior the rank seems the better they are. But .. oh .. one final point - shouldn't a ship's captain have at least the most basic of public speaking skills? Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
Entertainment quality exceeded our expectations, especially magnificent dancers, lighting & sound effects and superb backing orchestra. Excellent food and service in restaurants at night. Food in Horizon not quite so good, ... Read More
Entertainment quality exceeded our expectations, especially magnificent dancers, lighting & sound effects and superb backing orchestra. Excellent food and service in restaurants at night. Food in Horizon not quite so good, particularly no variety at breakfasts. Service overall excellent with cabin steward and restaurant staff always cheerful and helpful. Far too much emphasis on sales promotions with constant bombardment of literature about EFFY, spa, photos and casino, none of which remotely interested us. Very disappointed with company policy of not refunding missed shore excursion fees due to illness, unless doctor visited ( i have sent separate email re this). All shore excursions except Cochin and to a lesser extent Colombo were excellent & guides very knowledgeable. We (and many others we met) were aghast at the behaviour of some guests sneezing and coughing over us at meal times and especially in excursion buses when they should have stayed in staterooms. Small items that were free on other cruises were additional charges e.g. Bottled water in stateroom, non-alcoholic drinks after breakfast etc. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
In late October 2018 my wife and I embarked on a 38-day Princess cruise from Southampton to Singapore via the Suez Canal, the choice of cruise was largely influenced by three of the ports of call. Highlight number one was Malta and ... Read More
In late October 2018 my wife and I embarked on a 38-day Princess cruise from Southampton to Singapore via the Suez Canal, the choice of cruise was largely influenced by three of the ports of call. Highlight number one was Malta and Valletta the capital, steeped in history and grand historic buildings this was a truly magnificent location and I would certainly like to return there one day. Highlight number two was the Suez Canal transit, while strictly not a port of call this amazing feat of engineering continually amazed with its everchanging vistas and was so unexpectedly different from what I had envisaged. Alas due to flash flooding and unfortunate death of a dozen lives we were unable to visit Petra in Jordan and the third highlight on our list, but at least we were safe and able to continue with our holiday. Sapphire Princess lived up to the usual excellent Princess standards of food and service, but it was the steam room and sauna that stood out as being properly hot with the facilities designated their own proper area and not out in the public arena, much better than on many other ships. One down side (my hair grows fast) being that I was starting to look scruffy and needing a haircut. I decided I couldn’t wait and would have to check out the salon and see if they do men’s haircuts. No problem and I was soon looking much neater and was pleasantly surprised at the price I was charged. Another great feature we have found on Princess ships is the self-service laundrettes (necessary on cruises of seven or more days) as we like to do our own laundry, maybe this is an Australasian thing? only trust this is a feature that is still being designed for and included on all new ships. Ps I have plenty of photos. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
The ports and length of cruise was why we decieded on this cruise. Wanted to see each one of the ports. Some excursions booked with the Princess and some through other companys. Lo ved our large balcony. Lots of storage space. All our ... Read More
The ports and length of cruise was why we decieded on this cruise. Wanted to see each one of the ports. Some excursions booked with the Princess and some through other companys. Lo ved our large balcony. Lots of storage space. All our bags fit under our beds. Magnets hooks were a great idea for our walls to hold our laynards. Plenty of hangers for two women. food was good, but expected a little better. Specalty Italian Resturant was nothing special. Entertainment was good. Easy on and off ship.We felt the drink package was worth the money, due to all the water, pop, coffee, and alcoholic drinks. Felt wine was better then mixed drinks. Staff was friendly, especially in the wine bar. Beds very comfortable! Was slightly disapointed we never received a towel animal. Hot tub at the back of the ship, was a great find, No one else there! loved our first cruise! Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary, which did not disappoint until the last three ports were cancelled due to weather.The ports were:First half of cruise: Guernsey, Cork, Dublin, Belfast, Greenock, Orkney, Invergorden, ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary, which did not disappoint until the last three ports were cancelled due to weather.The ports were:First half of cruise: Guernsey, Cork, Dublin, Belfast, Greenock, Orkney, Invergorden, Edinburgh, LeHavre, Second half of cruise: Rotterdam, Hamburg..cancelled: Bergen Norway, Belfast and Newfoundland because of extreme weather conditions.Better safe than sorry is the phrase to remember when on the high seas! We flew from the West Coast of the U.S via princess EZAir on Delta Airlines and landed mid morning at Heathrow. Absolutely NO problems w/the flight. I reserved a driver from BA Transfers on line before leaving home. Very easy to set up and the price seemed reasonable for the service..who wants to schlep bags after such a long, LONG flight in a strange city? NOT US. The driver was on time w/a sign w/our name and took us directly to our hotel. He loaded and unloaded our bags. We stayed 3 days in London at the Grosvenor Hotel near Victoria Station. We both LOVED everything about this hotel. I wrote a complete review on TripAdvisor with my Cruise Critic name: Monterey Girll. I reserved tickets for a Buckingham Palace and Gardens Tour for our first day in London before leaving home. It was less than a mile from the Grosvenor. The tour was actually kind of disappointing. Or maybe I was expecting too much. Either way, I was glad we went but I won't go again. There is a kind of outdoor pavilion where you can buy food after the palace tour. Food was just OK. The next day we bought OYSTER cards for travel on the Tube. Kind of like a credit card that you can refill as needed or get any remaining money back before you leave town.It saves you money and time. We went to the Victoria and Albert Museum. You get off and walk a bit in a tunnel and wa-la, there is an entrance to the museum. Very handy on a cold, wet day. Wandered around the clothing, jewelry and silver exhibits. Had a quick bite there in a kind of cafeteria which was OK. Later saw a lovely dining room in the museum where they were serving lunch. I should have done more homework on where to eat in the museum before we left home.Would definitely like to go back someday and explore more of the museum and eat in that lovely dining room. From there we walked to the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain and surrounding area.I know it was designed and built for kids but honesty, I was underwhelmed. It looked like a giant cement circular slip and slide. No statuary or bubbling fountains. Again, I was glad we went but I won't go again. We had breakfast every day at our hotel. (See my TripAdvisor review of the Grosvenor Hotel) We had dinner one night at a pub across the street called Shakespeare.My fish and chips were perfect. Husband had a kind of French dip sandwich and fries that he also liked., plus a pint. Next night we walked about a block to another pub called Bag O'Nails, which to be honest , the name was what attracted us. I think it must be run by the same people as Shakespeare. Same menu but this place is not nearly as large.OK food. FINALLY, after over a year of planning, we were leaving on our much anticipated cruise!! Booked another driver from BA Transfers who took us from London to Southampton with no problems. Lots of luggage handlers at the pier to take our bags which was much appreciated. Embarkation was very smooth and well organized. I think we were walking on to the ship in about 20 minutes or less.I also think our room was cleaned and ready..just waited a very short time for our FOUR bags to arrive. (Don't judge!!) Of course everyone is always directed to the buffet on embarkation day.The buffet area was very large and well run. Usually these buffet places are packed and chaotic the first day. We were able to find a place to sit and eat and had drinks served within minutes. If we were not off the ship, we had lunch either here or outside at the hamburger grill near the pool. The buffet area was immaculate and the dining area adjacent was also kept very clean.IMO, there was always something good to eat for lunch and the desserts were excellent. On two occasions we also ate dinner at the buffet. Just didn't feel like getting dressed up for FOUR formal nights. One formal for each cruise would have been plenty. Or simply do away w/formal nights altogether.. Our evening meals were honestly just OK. I understand that when serving thousands of people that you can't get too creative about what is served.The portions seemed smaller, or should I say *more like normal* than cruises in the past, which everyone I talked to agreed it was a good idea. We felt everything was quite bland. Many of the cuts of meat were more fat and gristle than meat. It took an incredibly long time to get served our meals in the dining room, especially on the second half of the cruise. 45 minutes wait for our appetizer every night ? 20 minutes for after dinner coffee, etc to even be offered? I absolutely do not blame our servers who were hustling nonstop. We blame it on the regular dining rooms being very understaffed.We wondered if wait staff is being diverted to these money making specialty restaurants at the regular dining room 's expense? Speaking of which..we ate dinner one night at the crown Grill. Totally worth the cover charge, in our opinion. The service and food were beyond reproach. The only gripe I had about the Crown Grill is about the guy who came to our table to pitch the wine and food pairing event. He was everywhere! He even came to our table in the regular dining room and the bar we were seated at . We felt like we were in Mexico where the condo salesmen hound you everywhere you go. I know it was his job to do so but enough is enough! We also ate lunch one day at the sushi bar for a fun change of pace. They have a $20.00 special which provided plenty of food for the two of us to share., There are also several little things you can order for free if you buy a drink. I had FREE steamed edame beans added to our lunch special. Delish. It took so long to get thru our meals..sometimes 2 1/2 hours, we never made any of the shows.We had "anytime dining" and were always seated by 5:30 at a table for 4 or 6. Still don't know what the hold up was but we always missed the early show. We were off the ship in every port so we were just too tired to make the late show. Likewise, never on board for the enrichment programs and activities. I did go to the library and found NO books in English. Very disappointed. A lovely room with pretty much nothing in it. Next time I will bring my own books. We tried to download some books while in port but the connection was either nonexistent or just too darn slow to make it worthwhile . Lesson learned there. We did enjoy listening to the various musical entertainment in the public rooms. Never actually saw a movie on the Big Screen outdoors but again, enjoyed listening to music broadcasts out there while we were having burgers and fries for lunch.BTW, the outdoor movies are shown in your cabin the next day. The movie selection on the TV was actually quite decent. Our favorite bar was Crooners and our favorite server was Glady, who worked there most evenings. Given the northerly itinerary, I was surprised not to find an indoor pool. Until our cruise was diverted south, it was just too cold to use the outdoor pools. Some people braved the cold and wind and sometimes rain, but not me! I joined the "Enclave" in the spa area which was a mistake. I have used and enjoyed the Persian Gardens on other ships and thought this would be pretty much the same.I blame myself for not paying for a one day pass to see if I liked it before paying for the second half of the cruise. There was a largish kind of hot tub pool w/various water features, heated tile lounges, misting showers, two heated waterbed type loungers and a couple steam rooms and I think a hot sauna. Trouble is this was all in a windowless area where the walls and ceiling are painted black. I was usually in there alone which was just plain creepy.The dressing room was bright and clean w/loads of windows. Go figure. We both had haircuts on board. Mine was fantastic and I was very happy with the service and the results. Husband not thrilled with what he thought was a butcher job. I thought he looked great. Guess it's a matter of opinion and the luck of the draw when it comes to hair stylists. Neither of us used the gym , although my husband walked the track every morning. It was usually cold everywhere we went with few exceptions. Bring layers to include at least a warm jacket, hat and scarf. Gloves would also be good.We took privately arranged tours in almost every port. I have made these arrangements for small groups of fellow Cruise Critic members in the past but not this cruise. This time I left the work to others and was very satisfied with the prices, our guides and their tours. We were NEVER late coming back to the ship but we had to wait to leave port a couple hours once for a very late ship sponsored excursion. Please don't be afraid to join a private excursion you see on the Cruise Critic site. And join as soon as you see one you think you would like even if the cruise is months and months off. These private excursions fill up fast. If you snooze, you loose! They are always, ALWAYS cheaper and less crowded and more personal. My only advice would be not to go real far away when the ship will be leaving port early . As a rule of thumb, we always planned TO BE BACK ON BOARD at least 2 hours before the all aboard time to allow for unseen delays and we have always gotten back in plenty of time. Just remember that these private tour companies would not be in business long if they were late and their clients missed the ship! Their livelihood depends on us cruise passengers and our good reviews. If you want any info about any of the ports and private tours we used, please feel free to email me. I am happy to share the names of the companies and guides we used. We would definitely go on this cruise itinerary again.We pretty much got good value for our money. We loved every port and wish we could have visited all that were scheduled. Maybe another time if the weather cooperates. I probably would NOT cruise on the Royal Princess for this itinerary again. This ship seems better suited to warmer climates. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
We have been on 8 cruises so far-Princess, Carnival, Holland America, Celebrity and Royal Caribbean. We chose this cruise because of the itinerary, length of cruise and the way the days at sea were distributed between the port days. It ... Read More
We have been on 8 cruises so far-Princess, Carnival, Holland America, Celebrity and Royal Caribbean. We chose this cruise because of the itinerary, length of cruise and the way the days at sea were distributed between the port days. It worked out very well. We love the overall design of the ship. Many nice areas to sit, listen to music, have a drink, or be alone (on our balcony). The crew was IMPECCABLE from start to finish! Everyone greeted you with a smile, even if just passing in the hall. The bar areas (our favorites were Crooners, Explorers, and Outrigger) lacked in seating, but the drinks were good, bar menu consistent, and staff made the entire experience. The food was adequate. Seated dining is Savoy was a bit disappointing because of wait times for our food, and our lack of interest in the menu. Tables for two are a joke-it feels like you are sitting in your neighbors lap. The Horizons buffet was decent for lunch/dinner. Breakfast was a bit tiring. And it could be crowded at times. But the staff was right on top of getting drinks for guests and cleaning tables. The entertainment was sub par. We never actually made it through an entire singing/dancing show. The piano/violin duo were good. The rest of the music was medium. The DJ in Skywalk was fun! There was a good comedian and a ventriloquist as guest entertainers—they were fun to watch. Our shore excursions were good-staff helpful, guides knowledgeable, bus drivers kept us safe. My only criticism is that we had to pay extra in the ports of Barcelona (5 euros) and Lisbon (16 euros) if we wanted to take the bus into the city center. Not worth it at all-and we ended up only doing our excursion in Lisbon even though we were in port for an extended period of time. Very disappointing. It felt like Princess was nickel and diming the passengers. And we are physically fit-but the ship was so remote we couldn’t walk into the city center. Overall, we had a great time. We would sail on Princess again, but it is not our favorite. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
All in all, we really enjoyed it, but Princess would do well to take a few statistics classes. When we checked in at Southampton, woo, hoo, we’re platinum, you know. This is our eighth Princess Cruise (and could be our last if the ... Read More
All in all, we really enjoyed it, but Princess would do well to take a few statistics classes. When we checked in at Southampton, woo, hoo, we’re platinum, you know. This is our eighth Princess Cruise (and could be our last if the keep playing those godawful reworded 70s Love Boat theme-song safety messages - thank GOD they stopped after the first day) so roll on the bennies! Let’s skid sideways through the special quickie check in lanes and get this party started!! The line for elite/suite/platinum/not-sure-what-else looked like Disneyworld suddenly decided to throw a half price sale. The Princess person guiding people in apologetically said they had a rush of elite guests. Um...maybe. Or the boat is loaded with them. I’m no idjit. Where’s the steerage lanes? Waaaay down ther...I waddled with increasing speed towards the line that could’ve had tumbleweeds blowing through it. Then I started doing my “come hither” dance at my other half. It’s not pretty, but it gets the job done. Splaying limbs, expressions of a Maori warrior communicating half the British armed forces are bivouacked over yonder hill, I’m certain I’m adorable in all my middle aged glory. So my beloved and a few other canny people moved to the unimportant people line, which ended in the same place. I figured, even if they sent ten premiums through for every one pauper, hell, we’d still be in our stateroom hours ahead. We joined the remarkably short queue of commoners. As did several people from the premium lanes when they heard what we were doing - and those bods were halfway through the line already. Ducking under the rope that separated their highnesses from the likes of us, they now had mere feet to get to the head of the line rather than wrapping around like the Haunted Mansion awaited them. The young woman in the Princess uniform at the front was trying to send more premiums than commoners through, but as we inched forward, the guy behind us cried, “We’re platinums!” I couldn’t help myself, I could see this young lady pulling him from the line ahead of us and hell, it was my idea in the first place, I was the Moses who lead this line of premiums into the General Area. Which, as I write that, sounds really snotty. Yes, we did jump the premium line, but honestly, it was set up in such a way that anyone could. You just had to think about it. So I snorted and said “so are we!” Well, that rattled her some...elite passengers from all directions, so she didn’t stop to think we’d walked through the almost empty third-class lane. “Oh, of course. Please, step this way,” much, I’m sure, to the annoyance of the next up in the elite lane. This, in turn, got us earlier tickets to get through the security checkpoint. I kinda feel bad but really, it was there for anyone to do. Next comment: The other thing Princess would do well to change about this cruise is the ice cream. Last cruise, the ice cream bar by the pool had sugar free which they happily dispensed at no charge along with the sugary soft serve 12 hours a day. I skip dessert at night...no hardship, sugar free mango cheesecake didn’t sound appealing, but a bowl of ice cream sure did. I’m thankfully not diabetic but after my bariatric surgery I find I can only tolerate small amounts of sugar. So we get poolside, only to be informed if I’d like sugar free, they’d be happy to help me at the gelato bar** on deck five. Okay. Couple issues with this. 1. The Royal Princess is one of the largest ships in Princess’ fleet. And Princess doesn’t really redesign their ships, they more accordion them - they stuff extra decks in. I try to limit my elevator usage to one per day. The pool is on 16. Gelato is on 5. Bed is on 11... 2. The gelato bar** is always followed by asterisks. Just like the Crown Grill**, Sabatini’s Italian Resturante**and the snooty tooty Lotus Spa**. Yep. You guessed it. “May I have your cruise card for a moment, please?” Cha-CHING! Smarmy smile, as that automatically incurred a 17.5% tip on toppa the cost. Thank you, madame. We can afford the charge, of course, it’s the idea of the thing. But I’m especially cheesed off for the child diabetics on these cruises who can’t just sneak an ice cream like any other kid can. Instead, they have to choose to either mess with their blood sugar or have their folio rat them out - they can’t even pay cash outta their allowance. What fun is that? So for my sugar intolerance, I get an extra $50 charge (yes, fifty bucks. Don’t judge me. I don’t judge YOUR dessert consumption and two scoops are nearly $3 each. Over 15 days, that’s what? One a day? Like YOU have ONE dessert a day? Please.) This will get too long if I add everything that happened, so if you’re a glutton for punishment, I kept a semi-regular log at examiningmisadventures.com. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
Loved all of the ports! Princess organizes a variety of tours and are very organized with port tours. Being Ballroom dancers, we were so happy to see 3 lovely wood dance floors on the ship. We danced every night of this 14 day cruise ... Read More
Loved all of the ports! Princess organizes a variety of tours and are very organized with port tours. Being Ballroom dancers, we were so happy to see 3 lovely wood dance floors on the ship. We danced every night of this 14 day cruise because of the wonderful groups that played music to dance too. We certainly got our money's worth on this cruise...great ports to visit and lots of dancing. Booked another cruise on this same ship for July...14 days touring Norway and Iceland! We had a balcony cabin, as usual, and it was lovely with plenty of room for 14 days worth of clothing, etc. Our room steward kept our ice bucket filled daily and kept our cabin in tiptop shape during the entire cruise. Although my husband and I like traveling alone, we traveled with 7 others from Florida this time. We are all retirees and most of the time we did not tour together. We did eat as a group and our waiter was very attentive and helpful at all meals we attended. Very few children on this cruise and we hardly ever saw them. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
We chose this cruise because of the destinations and enjoyed it very much. The ports and excursions we took met our expectations. We took a couple of excursions and they were enjoyable and well organized. We enjoyed the smaller ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the destinations and enjoyed it very much. The ports and excursions we took met our expectations. We took a couple of excursions and they were enjoyable and well organized. We enjoyed the smaller destination cities. Ghent was our favorite. The ship was clean and staff very friendly and helpful. The food was better than average.We found several specialty areas on the ship that were very relaxing and enjoyable to spend our time relating. Our cabin was very clean and the staff was very accommodating to my numerous allergies. We did not do many of the entertainment activities but so enjoyed a piano/violin duo that played in a common area several times of day. We are just not in to magicians or canned entertainment. We felt that overall it was worth the money. There was a variety of age and demographics that we appreciated, enjoying many interesting dinner conversations.Would take this line and ship again to another destination. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
We chose this cruise as we understood Princess to be 5star. And we were right in our opinion. All staff were without exception polite and attentive from boarding to disembarkation and all points in between. We chose Anytime Dining and ... Read More
We chose this cruise as we understood Princess to be 5star. And we were right in our opinion. All staff were without exception polite and attentive from boarding to disembarkation and all points in between. We chose Anytime Dining and also took the Silver Wine package purchased on board ( the standard alcohol package didn't appeal to us). The choice and standard of food and service was spot on across all three rooms plus we also ate in the Club class Sante Fe one night due to Pacific Moon being busy but at all times we got a table for 4 when we booked or just turned up. Bar service very good ( slightly expensive with 15%added to all drinks) but felt right for standard and speed of service! Cabins E207/209 obstructed view but perfectly liveable with shed load of storage and hanging space. Large TV with ample choice of movies and programmes. Aircon worked and well kept room with large comfy bed. Stewardess very friendly and efficient ( if you use your door card displaying 'privacy/ make up room' correctly, no issues). Entertainment and shows on board some of the best we've seen ( veteran cruisers), plus Eddie Eagle meet and greet and Jeff Stevens comedian brilliant. Entertainment director and crew energetic and great fun, really made even the most boring quiz fun!! We didn't care about winning!! Overall great cruise, quiet itinary which we wanted, no pushy sales unless you wanted them, definitely use again Scores below reflect that we didn't use the enrichment facilities (?), the gym/Spa or ship tours. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
We planned to meet family in Dublin in mid September, and came across this cruise - the 12 day British Isles portion - which fit perfectly with our timing. We flew from Canada (Edmonton via Westjet) to LGW, and immediately took the ... Read More
We planned to meet family in Dublin in mid September, and came across this cruise - the 12 day British Isles portion - which fit perfectly with our timing. We flew from Canada (Edmonton via Westjet) to LGW, and immediately took the train from the airport directly to Southampton. There we had an enjoyable evening at the Regent Guest House - a quiet, early dinner and then to sleep to overcome the jet lag. The next morning, after an excellent included breakfast at the Regent, and short ride to the cruise terminal, we were on board the Royal Princess in under one hour. That was about 12:30 and our mini suite was ready. It was a first time in a mini suite on any ship, and we enjoyed the extra room - full sized couch and bathtub in particular. The Royal has most of its offerings centred on the Piazza area - lovely to look at but also an area which proves to be very busy with so many of the facilities adjacent. That brings me to the shortfalls on this beautiful ship: too much concentration in close proximity; no promenade deck at all, despite one being called 'promenade', buffet is broken up in such a way that it is hard to get a good overview of what was offered; rather poor selections in the buffet overall. We enjoyed anytme dining each evening and food was generally good. We also did the steak house twice and it was very good. We want to just one show in the theatre - a magician, which was worthwhile. We did not spend much time overall on the entertainment. We totally enjoyed the main reason for booking this cruise: the ports. It was an opportunity to visit some places we would not otherwise have seen - Guernsey and Orkney. It was a chance to confirm what we expected - we will now return for more extended visits to Ireland and Scotland. And finally a true highlight - our Le Havre, France stop which allowed us to visit the Canadian D-Day landing location Juno Beach. A fantastic and moving day! I must conclude with this: the crew on this ship was excellent - especially our cabin steward, Warren. He was truly outstanding. Overall this was an enjoyable cruise in which the ports and excursions were the true stars. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
My Mom and I took this cruise together. So first and foremost, Cruise Director Matt O' (Matt O'Brien) is the best decision Princess ever made! He was spectacular - so full of energy and so funny - we tried our best to be at ... Read More
My Mom and I took this cruise together. So first and foremost, Cruise Director Matt O' (Matt O'Brien) is the best decision Princess ever made! He was spectacular - so full of energy and so funny - we tried our best to be at any/all activities he was hosting. Give that man a RAISE, Princess! Immediately! As for the ship - beautiful. Atrium is lovely with its winding staircases. Fairly easy to navigate. The open deck where the pools are was pretty much empty throughout the cruise due to chilly weather, very nice nonetheless. One issue we had was with the giant movie screen....I get the idea of movies under the stars at night - great concept. But we walked through there in the morning some days and they were playing movies like Avengers and Doctor Strange at 10/11 in the morning.....and it's LOUD. Loud to the point if you wish to sit outside and have peace and quiet or maybe read a book, you'd be SOL. This was especially surprising due to the fact that approx 75% of the passengers were seniors.....who exactly were they trying to appeal to? Lose the super-Loud movies in general except for the movies under the stars.....Royal Princess is not a party ship and I would wager that most people would prefer to have the open deck be a peaceful place to relax. Cabin: Nice, comfortable for two of us - we had two single beds and a sofa and a corner type balcony which had plenty of space, not that we used it all that often. We found the beds to be quite hard - we mentioned it to our steward who told us the mattresses were only a few months old, which we quietly doubted. One morning we came out of the cabin and our steward was there and asked, "did you notice?" To which we responded "notice what?" He took us back in our cabin and showed us a half-inch piece of flat foam on the mattress under the fitted sheet, which we had not noticed as it had made no difference. Though we appreciated the gesture, it was a bit like handing us a cocktail umbrella before walking through a Scottish downpour and then asking " did you notice? Did you notice how much drier you are?" Yeahhhh...not so much. :) Food: Horizon buffet is very big with many aisles....no problem always finding something good. I agree with a previous commenter that there needs to be signage however - it is not clear at all where things are so you have to do a lap or two to get orientated before starting to make a plate. Also things that should be together aren't, for example toast is in a totally different area from where the eggs are. It can be confusing and for directionally challenged people like me, it can be lunch time by the time you get a breakfast plate together! Our dining room was Symphony...shout out to Alex the waiter! I think the challenge with the dining rooms is that they are trying to please everybody, which ends up pleasing nobody. By entertaining too many reserved seatings, it caused "anytime" dining to become "anytime - but if you're not here by 6 at the latest you'll be waiting outside with a buzzer for an hour" dining. The waiters are great but there are not enough of them and they are literally running around - most dinners averaged about 2.5 hours - a few times foregoing dessert due to the further length of time it would take. Seafood was amazing according to my Mom, I had really good tomato soup and hot fish on fish n' chips night. Several times the food wasn't particularly hot - pasta dishes were especially an issue, tried a couple of different ones but they arrived luke-warm and congealed looking. Pizzeria was really good - Franco is a man who may be small in stature, but he's very big on charm! ;) One random note: couldn't help but notice in the Patter comments about respecting the environment and not throwing anything over the side of the ship, which of course is important. Yet my Mom and I each received a princess patter every day along with a ton of other paperwork in our mailbox - by the end of the cruise we had a massive stack of paper in our room - how is that environmentally friendly? Why can't they make the (paper) Patter an "by request only" thing, and otherwise have it only on your phone? And the photo gallery! All the photos they take of you on the ship and at the ports are printed full size and displayed. Not only does it take forever to find your own photos, but at 25$ a pop, how many are actually being purchased? Why not have a few computer kiosks where you punch in your cabin number, scroll thru your photos, and then buy one if you wish? Just seems like a colossal waste printing all of those photos ( especially when they're hideous like mine were) LOL Entertainment: Awesome! Magician was fun, the Fly Rights were a musically entertaining show, and the Secret Silk was an amazing production show. The band "Hit List" played often in the atrium and we really enjoyed listening to them. The games were a laugh - especially anything hosted by Matt O'. Matt could make a reading of the dictionary a blast! Main theatre is rather small given the number of passengers, but show up 20 min early and you'll be ok. Ports were all awesome - especially enjoyed Belfast (Giants Causeway & Carrick-a-rede bridge) and all of Scotland. A note to those going to Blarney to kiss the stone as there is no info posted outside the castle - it is a very small narrow staircase up the castle, and you have to go up to get to the stone. The place is usually packed, so once you are on that staircase, there is no way to turn around and go back down the same way, so keep that in mind. We met some seniors on the way in who were very glad we shared this info before they went in. All in all an awesome trip! Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
We chose this cruise to Norway as we have traveled quite extensively but not to this region. The embarkation was well organized, as typical for Princess, and went smoothly. We had a balcony cabin on the Lido deck that was very convenient ... Read More
We chose this cruise to Norway as we have traveled quite extensively but not to this region. The embarkation was well organized, as typical for Princess, and went smoothly. We had a balcony cabin on the Lido deck that was very convenient for the breakfast and lunch buffet. The cabin was not glamorous but had a very comfortable bed, plenty of closet space and beautiful views. Our steward was a lovely gentleman and provided excellent service. The ship's passengers were mainly 50+, and there were few children aboard. This is really a trip for the older well traveled set, and I can't imagine how it could have been entertaining for anyone under 21. If you want activities for children this is the wrong cruise line and the wrong ports of call. We selected the early fixed time dining and walked past the long line of Anytime Diners as we went to our table in the Pacific Moon dining room. There were 2 other couples at our table who we enjoyed getting to know during the cruise and had many enjoyable conversations. Our 2 waiters were very professional, and we all wanted to take them home. The meals were excellent except for the steak dishes, which were not up to the same quality as the other selections. The Horizon Court buffet had a good selection but was very crowded on a few days. We went on excursions at every port and especially enjoyed the train in Flam, the ice bar in Gravdal and and trip to Mt. Dalsnibba. Our only complaint is some of the guides spoke English with an accent that was hard to understand. We went to all the shows that varied from outstanding for the professional entertainers to average for the ship variety shows. The biggest weakness of the whole cruise was the limited seating in the theater compared to the population of guests and, therefore, the need to get to the theater at least 50 minutes ahead of time to snag 2 seats next to each other. I would have liked to have some presentations about the history of Norway and the current political situation. The talks we went to were from a tourist perspective or really boring. The disembarkation went smoothly and we were delighted to see our luggage waiting for us when we got off the ship. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
This was my 33rd cruise and my 4th on a Princess ship. The cruise was much like all the others except for the ship. It did not seem as though the designer used a human model when designing spaces. I'm an average sized person and found ... Read More
This was my 33rd cruise and my 4th on a Princess ship. The cruise was much like all the others except for the ship. It did not seem as though the designer used a human model when designing spaces. I'm an average sized person and found my balcony cabin very small in size, the smallest I've ever been in. There were drawers in the bedside tables and in the desk. The cabin was stuffed with furniture....desk with chair, arm chair, small round table, 2 beds, 2 bedside tables, and a cabinet with the refrigerator inside. The bathroom was the smallest I have ever had to use on a ship. If I had been taller my knees would have hit the closed door when upon the toilet. It was very cramped and design was poorly thought out. The sink was large but the faucet was set so close to the edge you had to hold your hands in a small corner area to wash them. Shower head was OK, shower had shower curtain. The promenade deck was a misnomer.....one could only walk several yards before being stopped by 'Crew Only' areas. There is no public access to the bow of the ship. It seemed as though all the public spaces had low ceilings which was somewhat claustrophobic for me. The food in the cafe was plentiful with huge selections every meal. The food was quite good IMO. Because it takes so long to dine in the MDR or specialty restaurants, I no longer dine anywhere except the cafe. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
Destinations were fine. Shore excursions had too many stops for shopping. For instance, for the Cork tour there was no need to stay at Blarney Woollen Mills for 1.5 hours. I can shop on line. I would have rather seen the castle. Also in ... Read More
Destinations were fine. Shore excursions had too many stops for shopping. For instance, for the Cork tour there was no need to stay at Blarney Woollen Mills for 1.5 hours. I can shop on line. I would have rather seen the castle. Also in Belfast we would have preferred more time at titanic exhibit and far less at Crumlin road jail. Language barrier was an issue. Tour guides talk too fast and you can't understand what they are saying even though they are speaking the same language. Food quality was disappointing. Beef and lobster way overcooked. The biggest negative in my mind was the internet. Too slow and too many minutes wasted waiting. Why not offer a set unlimited fee each day. All other cruises we have done do it this way. Staff was awesome and always very helpful. The ship was very nice and up to date. Overall this was a very fun and relaxing cruise. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
This was our 5th cruise and 3rd consecutive voyage with Princess; we have typically preferred the colder routes slightly outside of the main school holidays, so we were a little anxious about sailing to the Mediterranean. We have enjoyed ... Read More
This was our 5th cruise and 3rd consecutive voyage with Princess; we have typically preferred the colder routes slightly outside of the main school holidays, so we were a little anxious about sailing to the Mediterranean. We have enjoyed previous cruises to Norway and the Baltics, but due to living in the North West (UK) where we usually get mild, wet summers it has been frustrating to experience the same conditions on holiday so a key attraction of this cruise was the climate. However, the Mediterranean generally attracts a different profile of traveller and previous reviewers have discussed the congestion across the decks, long lines in the restaurants and high numbers of children. Certainly there were far more bodies strewn across the deck areas than in Norway, but given the blistering heat this is hardly surprising. This also left the interior areas almost empty which was pleasant for a mid-afternoon cocktail in the Wheelhouse or a game of cards out of the sun in one of the many comfortable seating areas throughout the ship. The lines we feared just simply were not there- with the exception of a badly-timed trip to one of the main dining rooms (Blue Moon), we never had to wait more than a couple of minutes for a table and we found the buffet much improved from previous experiences (Crown and Emerald Princess). We never once had trouble finding a table. The outdoor areas were busy which is to be expected given the number of passengers and beautiful weather and I expect people were reserving loungers from early in the morning, but we generally stuck to the Conservatory pool area (our children are fair-skinned and it was much cooler) which was fine, if a little noisy due to being enclosed. It is true that there are a lot of children on board - this had pros and cons. The pros are that if you have kids of your own, they will find friends and give you some peace. The cons are obvious; lots of noise and the inevitable outbreaks of anti-social behaviour, particularly by the teenagers. We certainly didn't find this a major issue although Princess should really have been more intentional in how they dealt with the boisterousness; many kids were left unsupervised for hours on end by parents preoccupied with cocktails and sunbathing- although security did intervene a couple of times, it was plain that the trouble makers had no intention of showing any respect which was disappointing but more a reflection of the parents than Princess. This cruise was hot. Really, really hot meaning that the itinerary was tough, particularly for older people, those lacking physical fitness or those inexperienced in such conditions. There were several examples of serious sunburn across the ship and many people cut their trips ashore short as a result. Princess provided a nice touch of a chilled wet towel and cold water on returning to the ship which was appreciated. In Barcelona we opted to explore on our own which was a fairly good decision. It is a huge city and whilst the hop-on-hop-off buses give you a comprehensive whistle-stop tour, they are slow and not particularly comfortable; with the temperature hitting 38 degrees it was a relief to find some shade on foot- be sure to check-out the Olympic park area- there are great views of the city, lovely architecture, fountains and green areas. The Segrada Familia was very over-crowded to really enjoy. The beach areas are easy to get to from the buses (green line) which in hindsight would have been a good option to cool off in the sea. Similarly, Civitiveccia (Rome) was also hard to do in a day. We did a tour with Princess to see St. Peter's Basilica (Vatican), the Colosseum, Roman Forum and St. Peter in Chains. The tour was sadly badly affected by a massive youth pilgrimage to the Vatican which put a dampner on it but it was informative, well organised and the guides were excellent otherwise. However Rome has minimal natural shade, attracts vast crowds and is very spread out- in brutal temperatures it was tough for the children. By contrast, Florence (Livorno) was much more manageable, again with a Princess tour. We did a walking tour with free time and found it very enjoyable and whilst also very hot, there is plenty of shade in the city. Be sure to try out a Bistecca a la Fiorentina (steak) - best I have ever tasted, buy some locally produced olive oil and gelato. We found Florence sensibly priced, beautiful and tourist-friendly. It was busy but not on the scale of Rome or Barcalona. Genoa was a surprise for us; this seamed to be a fairly low-key destination but actually we loved it. It's easily accessible on foot from the ship, quirky and pleasant to mooch around in once off the main harbour-front area. There are some lovely streets, cafes and restaurants. A wonder down Via Garibaldi rewards you with lovely architecture, a beautiful square with fountains the children (and adults!) can play in to cool off and a chilled-out, bohemian vibe. in Marseille we opted for a boat trip into 'Les Calanques' (creeks), an area of outstanding natural beauty (Unesco protected) as a private tour. This was definitely to be recommended (Bleu Evasion). We swam in a cave and snorkelled in crystal-clear water in an area barely accessible from land. Afterwards we enjoyed the modern sea-front area for a beer and snack. Marseille is also a big, sprawling city so it was nice to enjoy some of the natural beauty of the Cote d'Azur. Be aware that the port itself is absolutely huge. If you book a private tour factor this in- we very nearly missed our trip due to the time it took to escape the complex on foot and on the free shuttle bus. Gibraltar, frankly is a bit of a dump. It's like any British town except in hot weather with a prevalence of duty-free shops. To be fair some real bargains can be had on liquor and tobacco products but we expected more of it. That said, we did a Dolphin Safari as a private tour (c.£65 for a family of 4) which was excellent. We saw hundreds of dolphin really close up - it was a real treat on a small boat with a passionate and knowledgeable crew. They even let my daughter steer the boat which she loved. Other guests enjoyed the war-time tunnels trip but the ride to the top of the rock is slow and busy so unless you are desperate to see an ape, give it a miss; the new Ocean Village area in the harbour 15mins from the ship is a pleasant area to get a coffee or lunch. A benefit to this cruise itinerary is the 3 sea days at the start to unwind then 2 more at the end to recover from the shore-stops however it's important to go prepared for the Bay of Biscay and Portugese coast. Although luck plays a big part, we were hammered by a force 9 gale across northern and western France which was very uncomfortable. Many people were seasick and confined to cabins. There is not a lot you can do about it, but go prepared for lumpy seas as even a moderate swell (which is normal) will generally cross the ship from the side which can feel unpleasant. It's manageable for a few hours, but 2 days is hard work. Fortunately the re-fit that Sapphire Princess has undergone has made a positive impact; the staterooms feel more airy and the colour-scheme in the public areas is bright and pleasant. The new TV system is brilliant- a really wide selection of on-demand TV shows and movies in addition to apps for weather, location tracking and the ship's webcam. It was annoying that the TV was only visible from 3 of the 4 beds in the stateroom when the bunks were lowered at night time, but this was hardly a massive hardship. The Stateroom (Caribe C630) was clean and comfortable with lots of storage space. Princess have made a big play on their comfortable beds; they are pretty good but the single beds are small (I am over 6 foot tall) so it's probably not as big a selling point as they are making out! The balcony area was big- it was fantastic sitting out until late at night enjoying the views with a drink. It is well worth upgrading to a balcony for the Med routes- we found it was unnecessary in the Baltics due to the climate but we used our balcony every day on this cruise. The onboard sales approach of Princess is no different to any cruise line- it can feel a bit intrusive- but it's a minor point of any given day. We bought some photos this time and we are really pleased with them. A lot of the daily activity is geared towards you spending money, however. Princess should perhaps review this as it lacked balance. Overall the activities on board were reasonably diverse, ranging from dance-classes to bingo. We enjoyed the quizzes; the early evening music ones were particularly good. The enrichment lectures were OK- thorough and interesting but would benefit from a more charismatic presenter at times! A real disappointment was the removal of the Happy Hours we have experienced previously. These encouraged us to try different bars and be a bit more adventurous with the cocktail menus. I expect this was a way to make more revenue for Princess, however we actually spent less. Our onboard budget is limited and we were forced to keep out of the bars rather than paying the full-prices. The drinks packages are not competitive unless you really intend on drinking heavily. We really only drink wine and beer so the price of $59 per day was excessive. The alternative options (5 beers for the price of 4 or similar wine promotions) were not attractive to us. The dining was good- on the whole good variety and it felt that they have brought in some more exotic cuisine which was good. I had several lovely dishes and ate foods that I wouldn't otherwise order (seafood, escargot etc.) and wasn't disappointed. The steaks were the only led-down. The pizzaria, grill and ice-cream bar were used regularly and always good. The buffet varied in quality but always offered something for all of us, similarly with the breakfast menu. The entertainment was OK- when it was good, it was slick and engaging. When it was average it felt a bit staid. I sorely wish Princess would bring in some more contemporary acts. Far too much homage paid to musicals, popular classical etc. but what we saw we enjoyed. The overall calibre of the musicians and singers were strong. The service was excellent throughout; honestly I couldn't fault it. Staff were always accommodating and quick to serve, particularly in the dining rooms and buffet area. I was really impressed with this throughout. In summary, this was really enjoyable cruise with a lot of positively surprising aspects. It is a genuine family trip; those looking for a relaxing, mature environment should probably wait until the main seasons finish. However if you are travelling with a family it has a lot to offer. We will definitely be booking with Princess again. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
Chose this cruise because of itinerary around Mediterranean. Embarking was very organised and pleasant and we’re on board within 30 minutes. Our state room had a large window and was spotless and had spaces for everything some quests ... Read More
Chose this cruise because of itinerary around Mediterranean. Embarking was very organised and pleasant and we’re on board within 30 minutes. Our state room had a large window and was spotless and had spaces for everything some quests said they missed having a kettle in room so they’re now providing them which does come in handy.Beds are very comfortable and very good quality bedding. We had anytime dining and we alternated between buffet and waiter service all of which was lovely, buffet was much better than I expected there was everything you could want always hot and good quality, the breakfast was lovely good to see nice back bacon and proper sausage and American pancakes was a treat . We also loved the international cafe for a coffee and lovely sandwiches and cakes which was 24 hour. Thought it was great having room service free of charge, we only got the soft drinks package well worth it also included hot chocolate which was very nice. Bar prices are expensive as is the packages for alcohol think more people would buy them if they was cheaper.We did a few excursions off the ship which we organised through cruising excursions which were much cheaper than princess, Getting on and off at the ports was hassle free thought it was a nice touch after being site seeing all day in the heat staff was waiting for you with water and cold flannels, in fact I would say the staff make the cruise , because they will sort anything out for you always happy to help and serve you ,they work really hard , so well done to them. Our only negative was the entertainment sorry but thought it was a bit naff most of the time more geared up for older folk, maybe just a lively bar to sit in with chart music playing instead of piano and singers which aren’t great, because the age group is now very mixed on ship , we even tried the night club which was empty, but it wouldn’t put me off I would definitely book with princess again Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
Already Booked?

Get to know who you’ll be sailing with

Find a Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click