15-day LA to Hawaii to LA, October 5th, 2016
I've been on maybe 20 cruises with Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian but this is the first on Princess. I've always heard princess was more "upscale" than Carnival ... Read More
15-day LA to Hawaii to LA, October 5th, 2016
I've been on maybe 20 cruises with Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian but this is the first on Princess. I've always heard princess was more "upscale" than Carnival because their prices were higher, but this is not what I found.
I won't cover everything, so if you are reading this to learn about cruises, their are better reviews, but for those never on Princess, and comparing Princess to others, this review might be for you.
First the ship. The ship was classy but not otherwise different than a typical cruise ship of this size (3100 passengers, mid-size), except there is no water slides, no water parks, no rock climbing wall, and no golf course but there was a putting green and a basketball court. On the the other-hand there were 4 pools including two adult only pools. There was no walking/running track around the boat, but there was a 1/16 mile track on the 16th floor, but it was almost always too windy to use.
As for passenger makeup, the average age was certainly north of 60 with a fairly large number in wheelchairs. Maybe 15% were under 40, and there were a few kids, but not many. This cruise was during school time so maybe this is why. If I was a child on this cruise I wouldn't be very happy. There seemed to be a very few kids activities, but not many. Many of the fun kids things to do were missing.
We had a balcony room and it was laid out a bit differently than others we were in. It had this large closet across from the bathroom that separated the bathroom from the main room. It made the made room a bit smaller than normal but gave you lots of closet space. Overall, and OK design. The shower was the curtain type, as opposed to the glass cylinder type, which I think was a plus. Otherwise the room was pretty standard. The refrigerator can empty so it was available to use, so you didn't need to remove the "mini bar." Balcony was small, and we could overlook other balconies since we were on the 12th floor. I certainly WOULDN'T want to be on the 9th or 10th floor where everyone can see in your balcony. How horrible.
Other ship odds-and-ends, there was a laundry on some floors for you to do laundry. It cost a few dollars and you bought tokens. As far as we could see, there was no full-service laundry services, and we never got any laundry offers, like bag full of clothes for x dollars. They took photos but weren't pushy. Also they weren't pushy on pushing drinks. This was much like Norweigian, but UNLIKE Carnival and RC which try to sell you these items constantly.
As for entertainment, it was on the light side, but they did have "enrichment" lectures which were interesting. Some were on weather, or the locations we would be going to and others were on random subjects like a three part one on Route 66. Otherwise, this cruise was not really better or worse than average in this respect.
Now on to food, which I think is very important and I rate as POOR on this cruise. So as usual there are four options, buffet, the dining room, pay extra restaurants, and 24 hour options. Lets start with the pay options, and there were 4 on this ship. Crown Grill (Seafood/steak), Sabatini's (Italian/Seafood/Steak), SaltyDog (pub), and Crab Shack (Seafood pots). There is also Chefs Table and Balcony Dining I guess. In any case, Crown, Sabatini's, and Crab Shack were $29/person, SaltyDog was $19.
We ate at Sabatini's and Crown Grill. Both were OK, pretty typical. We checked a few times and Sabatini's was almost always empty. MAYBE 3 or 4 other couples were there when we were. Crown Grill was MAYBE 60% full. SaltyDog almost never had many people in it. In SaltyDog you pick 3 choices from the list for the $19. Most were side dishes like Mac & Cheese, but one was a hamburger which was the only real entree item.
We didn't go to the Crab Shack, as it was just buffet space repurposed at night. The menu didn't look too good. So there you have it. Pretty limited. We thought about having breakfast on the balcony, but the menu was very limited, basically smoked salmon and bagel and a quiche. No eggs and bacon were available so we passed. It was $45 for breakfast per couple, and $100 for dinner per couple. At dinner they gave you a flower and took your picture.
The dinning room was pretty typical. We had "anytime dining" and as a couple they always gave us dirty looks when we told them we didn't want to share. Some days we had to wait for a table but they usually got use in or they sent use to another dinning room to get use in. They were loose on the dress code and I guess business dress means tied-dyed shirts and shorts are OK because we saw them, even on "formal" days.
I would say the dinning room food was typical, but the selection was less than Carnival and RC. The serving size was fine, unlike Carnival and RC which give you small services, of course you can always get two dishes, which we would do on Carnival and RC. The meals on Norweigian are normal size like Princess. So for Princess the servings were fine, quality was fine, but choice needs some work. Many nights nothing looked good. They did have lobster 2 nights (on a 15 day cruise.) The others Carnival, RC and Norweigian have all but eliminated lobster.
Now for the horrible. The buffet. The crown has 3 very small buffets on the Ledo deck, all with the same food. All three are open for lunch and breakfast, only one for dinner. Breakfast was fine, pretty standard fare, but lunch and dinner were poor. The WORST buffet food I've ever had on a cruise. Think Luby's. Actually this wouldn't be fair to Luby's. Each buffet was small, and which so many scooters, it was very hard to move around at times. The food was comfort food, and NOT to my liking most days. At dinner, with only one buffet open, lines were long.
The food choice was very limited, and days where they had a special food type like Mexican or Chinese, it was quite limited. When you sat at a table, they would bring you napkins and tea/lemon aid, so you didn't have to carry that, but you DID now have to wait for them to serve you which wasn't quick.
If you didn't like buffet food, the choices were limited. There was a grill for hamburgers/hot dogs open 11am to 10pm. Same with pizza. Actually the pizza was very good and was the only thing to save me most days. Ice was also 11am to 10pm. So NO 24 hour pizza or ice cream here.
There was a 24 cage in the center of the ship on deck 5. Small sandwiches and deserts. And there was a 24 hour coffee place which was always busy.
There was a wine bar on deck 5 that would give you sushi IF YOU BOUGHT wine. Otherwise, no sushi.
Overall the food was VERY DISAPPOINTING, and I will NEVER take another Princess cruise because of this lousy food, especially the buffet. Its so much better on Carnival or Norwegian, I don't see why I would need to endure the bad food on Princess.
On this cruise, like every cruise, i speak to the workers and ask them if they are happy. Most on this ship and this cruise WERE NOT. In fact this is the worst feedback I have ever heard on 20+ cruises. From what I heard, Princess workers were not happy, but I did encounter a few that had been with Princess for 20+ years. It seems like things used to be better, but have gone down hill in the last few years.
So overall, an average cruise. I'm not sure I liked the older crowd (we are 55 - 60). I like more of a mixture and I like the water slides and fun things even if I don't do them myself. But worst was the buffet food, which alone is enough to say never again Princess. Pizza was good, but you can only eat so much pizza. Life is too short, and there are too many other cruise lines with better fare and the same service with slightly lower prices.
So far for me the best value for the money is Norwegian. Carnival is a step down in service and price, but food choices definitely surpasses Princess. Norwegian, Carnival and RC are also far more "fun" than Princess. Maybe I'll think differently when I'm 75, but until then I'm crossing Princess of my list. Not a terrible cruise, but the only memorable thing was the POOR buffets. Read Less