We selected this cruise because I wanted to have a string of at sea days to relax and enjoy the ship. Princess cruises have fabulous itineraries and our cruises have been dedicated to touring the ports on other cruises leaving scant time ... Read More
We selected this cruise because I wanted to have a string of at sea days to relax and enjoy the ship. Princess cruises have fabulous itineraries and our cruises have been dedicated to touring the ports on other cruises leaving scant time for enjoying the ship itself. Princess is a favorite because it is a cruise liner in the traditional sense. No mountain climbing or amusement park at sea. Just a beautiful, well laid out ship with a lot to offer for people from every walk of life in the style of yesterday with the all the trappings of of today's designs and interests. Beautiful Piazza, clubs, lounges, great entertainment. Our cabin, A-753 was one of two of the largest and we spent our days at the Lotus Spa enjoying treatments, reading on our balcony, enjoying the fine dining, shopping, taking in shows & trying out new experiences we hadn't had time for before. The Chef's Dinner was totally amazing.
So from the start. The ship was beautiful. We embarked without a hitch and by the time we finished signing up for treatments, enjoying lunch at the International Cafe and exploring some we found when we arrived at our room that our Steward Tina had already had our bags inside and waiting for us to unpack. She offered help which was very kind. As Suite and Elite members we had many treats awaiting us and the expanse of the room was wonderful. Where we had thought a dining table and extra area wouldn't be used we quickly found out the more space you have, the more you can fill it up! The cabin was beautiful and although extra large the bar fixture with television in the living room was the same as the full suite we usually take so it was somewhat awkward in that it face the corner of your room instead of the living area itself. Needless to say when we watched a DVD with friends we were cuddled on the couch nearest the sliding glass door and our friends moved the chairs to that side as well. The Tv could not be seen from the other side of the couch! Still all in all, it was a hiccup that was easy to live with. The beds are glorious, the bathroom and whirl tub inviting and we couldn't have been more please.
After the drill we relaxed a bit with some drinks and treats and got ready for dinner at the Crown Grill. Let me just say I have never been in a Crown Grill I haven't adored and this one was much more elegant than any of the other ships I had been on and almost twice as large. It looked like a NY Steak House and we dined on our favorite Onion Soup and a Fillet for me, Rib Eye for him! The vegetables, the dessert, the service, the food, it was all what we had expected and more. What a treat. As to other dining, we were once again happy to be at the Club Dining Room where the service was extraordinary. The wait staff was efficient, friendly and knowledgable. The extra items they served there proved to be what we mostly dined on! There's a feel of gaiety in Club Dining when Suite people get to meet each other and enjoy sharing stories and making friends. It's one of the best features Princess has added as far as I'm concerned. The food, which I always thought was okay on Princess was now good and really good! Each meal from service to the food itself was a delight. In the mornings we enjoyed our Suite Breakfast at Crown & Grill and I would have to believe that this is where all our weight came from! The eggs benedict were always perfect. The danish, the salmon, fruit, waffles, mimosas, Nemosas and Bloody Marys were all fabulous. The staff there was always happy, funny and engaging. It was a great way to start off our morning. As for the other venues, we really liked Share. It was our first time there and the "tasting" was extensive, varied and delicious. My favorite is the International cafe. I love their sandwiches and salads and my husband enjoyed their cakes and cookies as well. My favorite lunch place. As for activities, there were so many different offerings for people that no one could be bored. Games, crafts, music, dance, entertainment. You'd have to be totally dull not to find something to do. We like to "do" the Lotus Spa. I love the pampering and the Salon. We enjoy our treatments and opted for 90 minute treatments since we had so many sea days. They offer a new package. Where we did 3-2-1 twice over each they offered a package of ten so we could each have five and then whatever we added had the discount applied. After treatments we would meet in the Thermal room and enjoy that venue as well. So it was approximately over two hours later that we'd emerge and it took up a large part of the day. I also like to get my hair done at the salon after and their staff is always the best we've had. As a five star hotel needs to offer the best in personnel, so does a ship line for those people who know what to expect and want to receive it. They did not let us down. The staff we all friendly, fun and a joy to be with! Before I forget if you haven't done the Chef's table, cough up that money and do it! You feel like you're in a Michelin rated restaurant between presentation, foods and service. It was the biggest surprise for me of the entire trip. Their chefs are incredibly talented and this dinner is their time to shine....to provide a meal they can not do for the thousands they serve. It was too good to be true!
And people always ask me about Princess tours vs. saving money and taking other tours. I say, in for a penny, in for a dime. Spend the money. Princess tours are generally well thought out and provide many different options. Face it, a cruise isn't going to introduce you in depth to an area. It's like a poo poo platter in a Chinese restaurant. You get a taste of what you are most interested in and if you want to go back and visit one day, you can! We opted for the Helicopter tour on Hilo which included a land tour of their most recent volcanic eruption. It was amazing. We learned a lot from our guide and totally felt immersed in the activity, legend and rhythm of the area. Couldn't have had a better tour. Enjoyed a lunch at a winery in between & picked up a strange critter on the road to take home to the tour's children. Our small tour group of six got on so well, we did another tour together and did a few more things throughout the cruise. Pearl Harbor's tour was okay, but where I usually choke up, read the names of all the brave heroes who have died and find myself totally part of the historical event, it just didn't happen for me. I'm not sure if it was the tour or the way it was set up or that we couldn't get onto the platform of the Arizona. But i'm glad i went. We also did the Luau that night and although I am glad I went to it I found it to be very commercial and not authentic. It is however, one of the highest rated on trip advisor and expedia and was offered by Princess so I went. I'm glad I experienced it but felt that there had to have been another luau somewhere that I had seen so many times in movies and in history books. The Maui tour we opted for was Whale watching & it was the most active day they said they had. We were fortunate to see so many whales and baby whales all over including twenty feet from our boat! Great and amazing. The last Island is of course known to most as the Jurassic Park/World island although I ventured more to South Pacific. We had a great tour, a sandwich lunch in a park and after we jumped on another helicopter and got to take in the amazing beauty of the Island that has captured so many hearts. I might have sang bali hai but we got back to our cabin and ordered up Jurassic World so we could see on tv what we had seen in real life. As of Ensenada I say nada. We didn't do a tour, I had no interest and the town was kind of nasty. But that's okay, my friends who did the Princess wine tour there loved it! Princess tours are great. And the best part of the tour is of course that Princess will not leave without you when you're on their tour. There had been something about tenders stuck at the ship in Maui that couldn't get near to the door to disembark because of the waves and some type of medical emergency. But as I listened to some of those passengers complain i could only think, Princess doesn't control a sudden rough current and their job when it happens is to keep you safe,, even if you're onboard the tender for thirty minutes. They wanted an apology. Let them go to church. Sometimes I just had to laugh at some of the expectations of other passengers but we all come from different places so it is what it is! Princess did a great job of handling the crisis. Everyone was safe and onboard ship.
I don't want this to sound like a puff piece so here is my complaint. Even though I receive free internet with my husband for our level I still value it. And others had to pay. Princess knew that their internet wasn't working well at all. It would take over 30 minutes to download an email if you could! Most times you didn't get anything no matter where you were. It was an old system which didn't deliver. I believe they should have informed people about this. They were wonderful in crediting back your minutes. On land you could find a wifi to hook into and get some things done, but they should have been up front about it. That is my one take away that wasn't positive.
I totally enjoyed this trip. I loved having the time to do the things on the ship I wanted to do. Seeing the shows in the theater (when you could get in), the entertainment at the clubs, a martini at the piazza. It was all good. They moved the elite lounge to the Fusion club and it was rather dark and cut up in there so I didn't use it this time but it didn't matter. You don't have to do everything! Yes, I love the happy hour and enjoy it on all the other ships but there was so much to do if you didn't do this. You just couldn't get bored. The people are great, the ship is beautiful, the rooms are fabulous, the food was great. What else could you want? Read Less