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34 Princess Rio de Janeiro Cruise Reviews

We choose this cruise for the itinerary. Couldn't wait to go to Buenos Aires, the Falklands and see penguins. Wow how awesome of a cruise would that be! NOT!! I'll start at embarkation out of Rio De Janeiro. At port there were ... Read More
We choose this cruise for the itinerary. Couldn't wait to go to Buenos Aires, the Falklands and see penguins. Wow how awesome of a cruise would that be! NOT!! I'll start at embarkation out of Rio De Janeiro. At port there were no signs where to drop off luggage and check in. It was total confusion with everyone not just me. When we finally got to the ck in part you are in a big warehouse with no air conditioning, unless you have the local currency there is no water. There were already hundreds of people sitting standing waiting on the ck in to begin. We were there for quit a while in the heat before the line started moving. Ok, this is the worst embarkation I ever experienced. We had to be bused to the ship. Found out later the ship docked in the wrong spot. We were told later that there was a report of a rock in the way where it would normally dock. Imagine that.. The ship itself is a bit dated. Our cabin smelled musty, had to have the steward spray freshener in room. It evaporated the next day and smelled bad again. We had a set dinning time and loved our waiter. The food was again mediocre. We did eat at the Grill and it was fabulous. Entertainment was just so so, they did have a comedian that was pretty funny. This was my 18th cruise and have been on other cruise lines and have experienced different degrees of entertainment shows. This was by far my least favorite as far as entertainment goes. And I am not hard to please. A passenger had a medical emergency and had to be transferred to a hospital. Due to having to actually stop the ship and wait for boat transfer we didn't not get to Buenos Aires on the scheduled day. We got there the next day only to pick up more passengers, we were not allowed to get of ship. Next port was Montevideo which we didn't get in till 7:00pm only to pick up fuel and more supplies. We were only there a few hours and you could get off only if you wanted to walk in the pouring rain. Due to all the people wanted to get back on board and dry off they were clogging up the gangway. There was a announcement no one else was allowed of ship. Ugg. Because of all the delays we were skipping the Falklands all together. NO Penguins. Cape Horn was just a drive by. That was cool to see the glaciers. We did stop at Ushuaia and Punta Arenas. Due to all the missed ports, the cruise line decided to give everyone a disruption refund. It was 50% off this cruise and 50% off of a future cruise with Princess. I'm sure this is not the normal for this itinerary, hopefully if you go you will have a much better experience. I would do this itinerary again. I still want to go to the Falklands and see the Penguins. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
Choose Princess as embarking in Rio. Spent 4 great days there before cruise. Embarkation was the start of the nightmare. Arrived at our assigned time of 4 PM to find a huge room full of people who had been there all day. Did not appear ... Read More
Choose Princess as embarking in Rio. Spent 4 great days there before cruise. Embarkation was the start of the nightmare. Arrived at our assigned time of 4 PM to find a huge room full of people who had been there all day. Did not appear to be Princess staff on hand to help except for one really rude guy with a mike who kept shouting at people. Late leaving. Sadly one of the passengers became ill the next day and had to be evacuated. Had to turn around and go to a port in Brazil. Not sure why there isn't a helicopter pad on this boat. Now we have lost a day. Then we can't get into Buenos Aries because the water is too shallow after some north wind issue. Arrived during the night. People frantically trying to rebook shore excursions. We just did our own thing. Next port is Montevideo where we need to refuel and replenish supplies. Can't get in because we're a day late and there's no room. Had booked a bike tour on our own. Brought a boat out to refuel us. Got in around 8 PM to load supplies. Could get off for a few hours, but everything is closed and they're having a huge thunderstorm. Now we find out there is no stop in the Falkland Islands as again we're late and NCL is there and has booked everything up. We had booked our own tour (same as the ship) but half the price. Not seeing the penguins was the final straw for a lot of the passengers. Everyone was cranky and the staff were very subdued. At this point compensation offers started. And we were informed that Punta Arenas might also be removed. Last place to see any penguins! We did the Cape Horn scenic cruising, as well as a little side trip to see some lovely glaciers. Got into Ushuaia and Punta Arenas as well. Just hired a local to drive us around. Disembarking at Valparaiso was very smooth. The food in the dining room was very disappointing. If the Chef Curtis Stone truly provided these recipes he might want to check what they're doing with them. The International Food Court had much better food. The buffet was a typical buffet. Ate at the Salty Dog and it lived up to it's name. Heard the steak house was good, but the Italian not so much. Enjoyed the entertainment in the bars. Went to one show, did not enjoy it. Others did, so maybe just not our thing. Service ranged from mediocre to spectacular. Cabin was fine. Needs an update to provide a small sitting area. Because we received some compensation we will book another Princess cruise. Hopefully things will be better, My final point is that if missing ports is a common occurrence on South American cruises they need to let you know that before you book. That way you're making an informed decision. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
An old saying says, "You only get one chance to make a first impression." Princess's first impression in Rio De Janeiro was a disaster. We flew into Rio on flights arranged by Princess. We purchased a transfer to the ... Read More
An old saying says, "You only get one chance to make a first impression." Princess's first impression in Rio De Janeiro was a disaster. We flew into Rio on flights arranged by Princess. We purchased a transfer to the ship. The airport greeting was fine, but when we arrived at the terminal, the bus dropped us off on the street outside the terminal. We were reunited with our luggage and needed to negotiate the area to the baggage drop off. There were no signs and little Princess presence. A porter did transport our luggage to the drop off point. We followed to be sure that our luggage got to where it belonged. It did. We were then pointed toward the terminal building. Again no signs and little sign of assistance. Anyone with mobility issues would have been in trouble. After a short walk in 95 degree heat to the terminal, we joined 2000 fellow travelers in the non-air-conditioned terminal building. Again no signage. There were a number of people with Princess labels on them that were supposed to help. They had no information and really could not help at all. We did manage to find seats. When boarding started, someone yelled instructions. No one could hear them so everything was in confusion. Finally, after an hour or more, a Princess Officer took control of the situation and used a microphone. Things improved after that. We boarded the ship after about 4 hours. We got on board early. Some passengers did not get boarded until 7:00 PM. Once on board, we found our cabin, had dinner and started the rather normal process of getting used to ship board life. Our room steward and our dinner staff were friendly, and provided us with quality service. After a rocky start, the Cruise continued with a series of problems. There was a medical emergency on the ship. The culmination of the medical emergency was a detour to a Brazilian port so the patient could be taken ashore. The Captain did his best to take care of the seriously ill passenger. Due to the detour, it was announced that we would arrive in Buenos Aires 12 hours late. For some reason (never addressed) the ships speed decreased by about 1/3. Then, a storm at night caused the water level to drop in the Rio De Plata. We, therefore, had to anchor in the River and actually did not get into Buenos Aires until after 1:00AM. We were able to stay in Buenos Aires for the next day, but that put a day behind. The ship needed to stop at Montevideo for fuel and supplies, but no berth was available so we anchored off shore, fueled the ship, and then sailed into Montevideo about 8:00 PM to load on supplies. We were allowed off the ship for a few hours, but a rain storm spoiled that opportunity. The next itinerary problem was we could not go to the Falkland Islands because there was no room in port. So the Falkland stop was scrapped. From that point on, we were on schedule and did visit the other ports as scheduled. The ship continued to have problems. It was announced that one of the electric motors had burned out (not a problem, we had back-up), 2 announcements that fire emergencies had been contained, and we kept arriving late. If you have made it this far, please be aware that Princess did recognize that this trip was not going as they or the passengers wanted. Princess announced they were giving passengers on board spending money and a credit on future cruises. Although compensation did not take care of all the problems, it did make us feel better about the experience. Now, to the normal review items. The Crown Princess is getting older. It seemed clean and upkeep was mostly done. There did appear to be some deferred maintenance, but it did not affect our enjoyment. Our balcony cabin was comfortable. The balcony was extra large. 4 people could be on the balcony at one time which was very nice when the weather was good. We requested traditional dining at 5:30. Our waiter and assistant waiter were awesome. They served us quickly and efficiently. The food was nicely prepared. After fourteen days the menus seemed to be limited. I was especially impressed with the beef which was served on this cruise. Much better than sometimes. When we requested special handling of a dish, the waiter was able to accommodate. We were at a large table, which we requested. We enjoyed our dining companions. The other meals were usually eaten in the Horizon Court. We tried breakfast one day in a dining room and found the service to be slow and confused. The menu at the Horizon Court became boring. There was little variety and many of the dishes were not prepared as we liked. Scrambled eggs in the morning seemed to be under cooked most of the time. Made to order omelets were available each day. A nice touch was that they were delivered to my table by a waiter. Horizon staff was attentive, brought drinks, and cleaned tables. It did seem that the area was better staffed early in the Cruise. Service seemed to drop as the Cruise progressed. The ships activities and entertainment was normal. Some of the shows were excellent and some were very average. At least two times, comedians told jokes that had already been told by another comedian. Trivia seemed to be the number one activity. I enjoyed and was pleased that a "Service Club Meeting" was hosted. It was nice to get together with people in service clubs from all over the world. The ports we managed to make it to were interesting and enjoyable. Ushuaia is a neat town and has a beautiful setting. The Tierra Del Fuego National Park was a great choice. Punta Arenas was a nice stop, but having to be tendered into the dock was slow and a hassle. Once on land, Punta Arenas was a pleasant stop. Valparaiso, Chile, is a great debarkation port. It is a two hour drive to the Santiago airport, but flight schedules make a day exploring Valparaiso a great way to end the cruise. We were disappointed in Rio. In order to fly into Rio and board the ship, we had to obtain Brazilian Visas. They cost us $300 a piece. If you can find an itinerary that skips Brazil, I would recommend it. In summary, this cruise had some issues, but many of the problems were out of the control of Princess. Medical emergencies and weather issues are not Princess problems. Communication and port problems are Princess issues. It may be that some of the port problems are not Princess problems, but if Princess can not get local authorities to improve facilities and procedures, they may need to skip those ports. On board we had a pleasant vacation. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
There will be plenty of people who will post unhappy reviews about this January 4 - 18 Crown Princess cruise, but we will not be among them. Was this a wonderful cruise? No. Was this the “cruise from hell”? No. But virtually all ... Read More
There will be plenty of people who will post unhappy reviews about this January 4 - 18 Crown Princess cruise, but we will not be among them. Was this a wonderful cruise? No. Was this the “cruise from hell”? No. But virtually all the problems encountered on this cruise were things that were beyond Princess' control. Details follow: 1) Embarkation in Rio. This proved to be something of a nightmare for many people because of the long delay. The line of dominoes that caused this started with the Brazilian officials. In a Meet & Greet of our Cruise Critic group with two of the ship's officers, we learned that disembarkation from the incoming cruise was due to start at 7:15 in the morning. But the Brazilian officials didn't even show up until 8:15, so already a problem had started. Another CC poster has noted that there had been some flu cases on the ship and the Brazilian authorities would not let anybody off the ship until the most recent cases (10-12 passengers) had been examined, tested, and cleared. As a result, the first passenger disembarked at 9:15, two hours late. Additionally, all non-Brazilian passengers were required to do a face-to-face disembarkation with Brazilian immigration authorities instead of the usual group exiting process. This slowed down the entire disembarkation process with the result that the last passenger disembarked at 1:15 p.m., three hours later than planned. Embarking passengers had been scheduled to start boarding at 1:00, so the entire embarkation process had slowed to something comparable to slogging through mud. Early in the morning Princess had sent out an e-mail advisory asking embarking passengers to delay their arrival at the terminal, but many passengers didn't check their e-mail or proceeded to arrive as planned. The result was a hot terminal full of people who could not board. Many took that in stride, but many others managed to show the uglier side of their character. The embarkation turned chaotic; Princess could have managed this better, but many uncooperative passengers made the process difficult for all. With an original departure time of 6:00 p.m., the last passenger boarded at 6:15; the Crown departed at 7:00, one hour late. 2) Medical Emergency. In the middle of the first sea day, there was a medical emergency on board. The Captain broadcast an appeal for blood donors; to their credit 60 passengers in possession of valid blood donor cards volunteered to donate blood. In the meantime, the ship was turned around, heading back north toward Rio with an anticipated helicopter rendezvous with the Brazilian Coast Guard about 2.5 hours north of where we had been. During that time, the helicopter transfer was supplanted by a water transfer near another Brazilian port, but this still cost the Crown a total of 6 hours of time. Added to the delay in Rio, we were now 7 hours behind schedule. 3) Arrival in Buenos Aires. With two strikes against the Crown already, it turned out that the Gods of Fate were just getting warmed up. On the 127-mile-long Rio de Plata channel to Buenos Aires, we noted that the water was very muddy. Looking at the wake aft, it was almost as if the propellers were churning up silt from the very bottom of the channel itself. While we were working our way south from Rio, a major storm had affected the ocean and Rio de Plata area around Buenos Aires, with northerly winds and coincidental low tides lowering the water level to the point that the Crown (and many other ships) was unable to enter the port. Already 7 hours late, now the Crown was forced to anchor off the coast until the water returned to a level that made port entry possible. Instead of making port at the scheduled 8:00 a.m on Saturday, January 7, we now docked in the wee hours of Sunday, January 8. Schedule-wise, this was when we should have been arriving in Montevideo; the Crown was now fully one day behind schedule. 4) Embarkation in Buenos Aires. Having embarked in Rio, this did not directly affect us, but with approximately 700-800 passengers beginning their Crown Princess adventure here, you can imagine what they must have gone through, having checked out of their hotels on the 7th, and arriving at the terminal only to learn that the Crown would not be able to dock until the morning of the 8th. It must have been a wild scene as those passengers scrambled for overnight accommodations, etc. I will have to leave it to those so affected to provide a narrative of their experience. Personally, our planned Buenos Aires tour did not occur as the tour company was somehow unaware that the Crown had been delayed. Luckily, we found another delightful couple in similar straits, so the four of us set off and enjoyed our own tour of Buenos Aires. It turned out to be a fun day for all of us. 5. Montevideo. With the Crown having missed its reserved berthing spot on January 8, the ship now found itself unable to dock on the morning of the 9th, as all Montevideo berths were occupied by ships that had previously reserved for that date. At the same time, it was not possible to bypass Montevideo, as that is a fueling and stores stop for the Crown. Without fuel and provisions, it would not have been possible to continue on the voyage. As a result, the Crown was forced to sail past Montevideo and anchor in the estuary until such time as a berth opened in early evening. During this time of waiting, arrangements were made for a barge to come alongside and replenish the Crown’s fuel supply. Still, needing stores, the Crown continued to wait until it was finally able to dock in Montevideo around 7:30 in the evening. While provisions were being brought on, passengers were allowed to go ashore from 8:00 – midnight to see what they could of Montevideo. Happily, the tour company we had made arrangements with accommodated us with a night tour that proved to be very interesting and gave us some sense of the city. Unhappily, however, not long after many passengers got off the ship, a thunderstorm moved over the city with lightning and soaking rains. Many passengers who went ashore to simply walk around the city were totally drenched within a ½ hour of leaving the ship and had to return aboard. Why there was no advice from the Captain or crew about the impending weather seems to be something of a mystery. Certainly the ship’s weather radar must have shown the approaching storm; passengers should have been so advised. In any case, the Crown had now gotten underway in the wee hours of January 10, fully 30 hours, or about 760 miles, behind schedule. 6. Falkland Islands. With the above-noted deficit, something in the itinerary had to give, and that proved to be the Falkland Islands. This proved to be distressing to many passengers, particularly to one woman whose son had been killed in the Falkland War of 1982. Her son was buried there and she had never had the opportunity to visit his grave. This trip was to be that time for her. In a public “coffee and conversation” event in the ship’s piazza, Captain Justin Lawes acknowledged how emotional it was for him to have to delete the Falkland stop from the itinerary, knowing of this passenger’s pilgrimage to her son’s grave. As it turns out, even had we attempted to make the Falkland stop, the weather would have prevented us from doing so. On average, the Falkland stop happens about 70% of the time, as tendering is necessary in that port and wave/weather conditions are often not favorable. In his public conversation event, Captain Lawes retold the story of his “worst” experience as a Captain when he had to leave 800 passengers stranded in Stanley (Falkland) because of a weather change during the day and a resulting inability to tender passengers back to the ship. 7. Rest of the trip. The rest of the trip was uneventful, with the exception of two very minor fire incidents, both of which were quickly handled by the crew and without any inconvenience or danger to the passengers. As a way of adding something to the cruise after the earlier inconveniences and disappointments, the Crown did make an unscheduled visit to Chile’s Amalia Glacier, a glacier that originates in the Southern Patagonian Ice Field. This was a nice and appreciated plus. 8. Princess Makes it Right. As a gesture of good will, Princess went overboard (no pun intended) by providing a 100% credit to all passengers for the inconveniences encountered and ports missed on this cruise. The credit came in the form of a 50% on-board refundable credit and a 50% credit on a future cruise. Personally, we feel that this was very generous of Princess, particularly, as noted above, that most of the problems encountered on this cruise were things beyond Princess’ control. We thank Princess for this thoughtful gesture. We look forward to another Princess cruise. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
This was a bucket list trip around South America. Boarding was total disorganized and took over 4 1/2 hours. No one in the terminal had any answers as to why the delays. The ship is old and outdated. stains in carpeting, ratty mats and ... Read More
This was a bucket list trip around South America. Boarding was total disorganized and took over 4 1/2 hours. No one in the terminal had any answers as to why the delays. The ship is old and outdated. stains in carpeting, ratty mats and flooring in the gym, no nets on basketball courts, broken machines in the casino. When I spoke to a supervisor about the condition of the ship I was told" Sir, you have to understand that the ship will be going into dry dock so we're not bothering now with those things." Could not believe a crew member would say that to a recently boarded passenger. Got sick first night. Went to medical center second day but could not be seen then due to emergency. went next day and received a bill for $600. Due to critically ill patient we had to turn around and as a result of the delays we missed two of 5 ports- Montevideo and Falkland Islands. Cabin next door to us flooded and at 5:30 AM we had to move ourselves into another cabin. No help from crew as they were "busy" cleaning up. Two small fires during cruise- one in engine room and one in incinerator room. Food was very mediocre in buffet and dining room. The food in Sabatini's was very good. So many problems that the line finally offered passengers a credit on the cruise and on a future cruise. That was well received but as for this cruise, we spent 11 of 14 days at sea on a somewhat run down ship. Very disappointing and a waste of a lot of money. Front desk staff were great as was Cruise Director, trying to be helpful. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
Sailing around Cape Horn in South America in January sounded like fun: got a good rate for a balcony cabin, so off I went on CROWN PRINCESS. Medical emergency made us 1 day behind on the itinerary and weather was also an issue between ... Read More
Sailing around Cape Horn in South America in January sounded like fun: got a good rate for a balcony cabin, so off I went on CROWN PRINCESS. Medical emergency made us 1 day behind on the itinerary and weather was also an issue between high winds lowering the river level to get into Buenos Aires to berths non available for 1 day delay. Not Princess' fault - no one's fault. Still, the CROWN crew changed things up so there were things to do on board and were very open, with many announcements about what was happening. This was ON BOARD; the brochures (of ALL cruise lines) gloss over the strong possibilities of missing some ports for one reason or another. Views of the Cape, glaciers, sunsets, rugged mountains, quaint towns, etc. were majestic and stunning. Not to be missed - this is what you cruise here to see. Thoroughly enjoyed the excursions: Tango Show etc. in Buenos Aires- Food was surprisingly good and entertainment was superb. Also the train ride in Ushuaia and the gorgeous estancia in Punta Arenas. Final excursion surrounding & including Santiago was a good use of the 14 hours before plane left. Sorry to have missed the Falklands and the penguins but I'll do it next time. Yeah, I'll do this one again. This is a cruise where it might not all be as precise as a Caribbean cruise, but way more interesting. Just have to be flexible and enjoy what you can do instead of complain about what you can't. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
As part of my wife’s and my 50th wedding anniversary celebration, we planned a “bucket list” cruise around South America. We planned and reserved the trip in September 2015, while aboard an Alaskan cruise on the Pacific Princess. We ... Read More
As part of my wife’s and my 50th wedding anniversary celebration, we planned a “bucket list” cruise around South America. We planned and reserved the trip in September 2015, while aboard an Alaskan cruise on the Pacific Princess. We sailed on a 14-day cruise on the Crown Princess leaving out of Rio de Janeiro on 04 January 2017, ending up in Valparaiso / Santiago, Chile. The first half of our cruise was like the “cruise from hell”! The second half turned out very nice. Some of the problems we encountered were particular to us, while some affected everyone on the cruise. Some were not the fault of Princess, while some I totally attribute to Princess. Some were due to weather and some due to an unexpected medical emergency. However, others were due to what I consider poor maintenance on the Crown Princess; some due to poor attitude of some, but not all of, the Princess staff; and some due to what I consider poor planning and execution by Princess Management. Problems started before we boarded the ship. The Embarkation process in Rio was a disaster. It was not a process at all, but rather total chaos! There was no organization and the subcontractor hired by Princess to manage the embarkation was untrained, unknowledgeable on what was going on or supposed to be going on, and totally rude to some passengers, notably handicapped ones. There was a very noticeable total lack of Princess staff present until very late in the boarding experience. Once a Princess staff member did come out and try to make announcements, they were audible only in about the northern 1/3 of the building. There were far too few chairs for the number of folks there (about 1/3 had to stand the entire time) and the air-conditioning was woefully inadequate. There was no water or cold drinks available except for purchase from one vendor which had a 30-minute line to check out. Priority boarding was non-existent. Platinum, Elite and Suite passengers were given “boarding numbers” just like everyone else, (seemingly at random) based upon when they arrived. Everyone should have boarded by 5 PM and sailed at 6 PM. We, along with two other couples traveling with us arrived at 1:30 PM. We finally boarded around 5:45 PM and our traveling companions did not get aboard until around 7:15 PM, and they were by no means the last to board. We sailed about 3 hours late, missing our scheduled dinner assignment and unable to see Rio de Janeiro’s harbor sights in daylight. It was the worst embarkation, by far, we have experienced in some 16 cruises in numerous North American and European ports, and with six different cruise lines. A couple next to us in the Rio embarkation warehouse said it was the worst embarkation they had experienced in 35 years of cruising! During our first day at sea, an announcement was made asking for any blood donors with AB+ or O- blood and a donor card to please report for the ship’s medical center since a passenger had a medical emergency and was in need of a transfusion. He was stabilized, but needed to be transported to a hospital onshore for further treatment. The ship diverted course and sailed back to the Brazilian mainland and the patient was transferred to a smaller vessel near shore and thence to a hospital. Unfortunately we learned the next morning he had undergone an emergency procedure there, but had not survived. This necessary diversion caused us to be another 8-10 hours late. After another day of cruising we had entered the Rio de la Plata river / estuary between Buenos Aires and Montevideo, where we dropped anchor! The Captain explained that 24-36 hours of very strong Northwest winds had caused an unusually low tide in the estuary and there was insufficient draft for us to proceed to Buenos Aires. We stayed at anchor for maybe 6-10 hours while the winds abated and the tides returned sufficient water for the required draft of the Crown Princess. The next morning we were docked at Buenos Aires, albeit a full day late. We awoke to find that out of some 8 or so planned shore excursions in Buenos Aires, the one we had signed up for was the only excursion cancelled. The reason given was equipment or technical issues. The same exact tours, but with German and Spanish speaking guides, proceeded as planned. It was too late to schedule another tour. We and one of the other couples traveling with us took a taxi into the Plaza de Mayo. From there we walked 2 blocks and took a “Hop-On-Hop-Off” bus tour of Buenos Aires. After several hours on the bus, and consulting the guide, we got off the bus and walked 3 blocks to the Recoleta Cemetery to see Evita’s grave. This had been one of the major stops on the Princess shore excursion that was cancelled. While walking the three blocks through a very nice park, we were “scammed” and I had my pocket picked and lost my new iPhone! Someone threw some foul-smelling stuff on all our backs and while we were distracted, thinking a flock of birds had pooped on us, their accomplice, seeming to help point out the stuff on our backs, picked my pocket. Apparently it is a favorite ploy of gangs in the city. The guide in Recoleta saw our soiled pants and shirts and said “Oh, you have been scammed”. He said we were not the first that day. When I reported it to two nearby policemen, they simply said that’s the way the gangs operate. Guest Services said when we reported it back aboard ship that we were not the only Crown Princess passengers to fall for the same scam that day. We told the staff member working there that future passengers should be warned about this scam. Indeed, the excursion speaker did then warn of exactly this type of scam before we arrived in Santiago. We went to our stateroom, took off our clothes, showered and left quickly for our scheduled early dinner seating. We planned to wash our soiled clothes the next morning in the self-laundry on our deck. The next morning we “learned” that because we are a day late, we had lost our docking spot in Montevideo and thus would not dock there during the day but only a short time in the evening to take on supplies and food. All shore excursions in Montevideo are thus cancelled. We are also told that we “must take on fuel” and because we have lost our docking slot in Montevideo, we again sat at anchor for 6-8 hours in the Rio de la Plata while a small tanker and pump barge tied up alongside and loaded bunker fuel. Also when we awoke that morning we found some of the carpet in our stateroom wet. We learned that the toilet in the adjacent stateroom had overflowed and somehow seeped through the bulkhead and into our stateroom. We also found that all the laundries were closed for “water rationing”? We complained to the head steward who was on the hall overseeing carpet clean-up, asking when the laundries would be open because we had the fouled clothes for our Buenos Aires scam. He offered to take our clothes and have them cleaned complementary with the crew’s laundry. We thanked him and then went to eat breakfast. We had to stay out of our cabin most of the day while the carpets were vacuumed, shampooed, and dried (or at least partially dried). We had a very noisy blower in the room for two days. It seems strange to me that a ship capable of extended cruising and making trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific crossings of 7-10 straight days at sea should have to refuel only 4 days after leaving the beginning of the cruise in Rio de Janeiro! I am guessing that since this ship for the remainder of the season cruises alternatively between Buenos Aires and Valparaiso that they have attractive bunker fuel contracts in both areas. However, with only one stop per season in Rio, I suspect that Princess had to purchase fuel at a more expensive “spot market price”, and thus Princess management chose to sail from Rio with only partially full bunker tanks. Then after unexpected weather and unforeseen medical situations, we must sit anchored in the muddy Rio de la Plata and refuel for 6-8 hours. In retrospect I think this may also be the reason for the “water rationing” since I doubt if that the reverse osmosis water-makers could properly handle the very muddy water being taken in from the Plata while we sat at anchor. I had noticed water from our tap the night before being somewhat cloudy or brown! We finally docked at Montevideo just at dusk and passengers are allowed ashore for about 3 hours and told to “enjoy the nearby shops, bars, and restaurants” since no tours weree offered. My wife and I disembarked and got just to the end of the pier before a major thunderstorm unleashed torrential rains. We quickly re-boarded, being some of the lucky ones to get only slightly wet instead of thoroughly drenched. People who did stay ashore later complained that all the shops and many restaurants and bars were shuttered for the night (or the rain?). We just got to “set foot” in Montevideo and Uruguay, and had no excursions or tours! The next morning we were informed that we would totally bypass the Falkland Islands in order to get back on schedule for the remainder of the cruise. All shore excursions in the Falklands, including the one we had booked to go and see the penguins, were of course cancelled. Seeing the penguins had been one of the anticipated highlights of our cruise! We went to the Shore Excursion Desk to see if there were any options to change, or add, excursions in Ushuaia to see penguins there. We were told they were all already full with “very long waiting lists”! People were really getting upset by now. After waiting in line for quite a while at the Shore Excursion Desk, two men cut in from the side and went directly up to the desk. Several people behind us yelled at them to “wait their turn and get in line like everyone else!” When we then approached the staff member (we were next in line before the men attempted to cut), my wife told the staff member working there that in addition to helping with shore excursions, he should also help maintain order and ensure that folks kept in line and did not cut. He, almost indigently, told her that he had been there several days and nobody had ever cut before! He also said that we should not anticipate on getting on any excursions to see penguins as they were all much too full. As new Captain’s Circle Platinum members, my wife and I were disappointed in the lack of attention that was paid to the “claimed Platinum Benefits”. First there was absolutely no priority or preferred boarding in Rio for us as Platinum members. There was a “Happy Hour” for Platinum, Elite and Suite passengers held in the Skywalker’s Lounge every night. We received no notice of this initially. We only learned about it after 3-4 days at sea from a fellow Platinum passenger. My wife called the Guest Services desk and inquired about these functions and about an invitation. She was told we should have received an invitation in our stateroom (which we didn’t). My wife requested one and was told it would be sent to our room shortly. Late the next day after still not receiving one, I finally went to the Guest Services desk and asked for one. After a lengthy “verification” that we were indeed Platinum, I was given a copy. We did utilize the special disembarkation lounge for Platinum, Elite and Suite guests in the Explorer’s Lounge and that was nice. There were also a number of smaller instances which all pointed to the age of the Crown Princess and what I consider poor condition and maintenance. There were numerous plumbing problems. In addition to the overflowing toilet next door, our toilet overflowed once but thankfully was contained on the tile bathroom floor. Over the remainder of the cruise, we heard of several other “overflowing toilet issues”. The tub in our mini-suite was VERY slow draining for the entire voyage. Initially there was no Wi-Fi service in our stateroom. I called and complained and was told that the “router would be tweaked and it should be better”. It was never consistently available. Occasionally I could get a weak Wi-Fi signal in one or two spots in our stateroom, but if my phone or iPad shifted more than a few inches, I lost the signal. I resolved myself to going to the ship’s common areas to text, and send and receive email. One day we were both in our stateroom, my wife in the bathroom and I on the couch reading. There was a loud thump or bang. I thought my wife had fallen and she thought I had fallen. Instead a large fabric-coated wooden panel had fallen off the wall beside the bed between us and bounced over the lamp and onto the floor. It probably weighed 20 pounds. I informed our steward and it was promptly reattached. I know we experienced some rough seas both in the Atlantic as we approached Cape Horn and also in the Pacific as we came out of the Strait of Magellan and the ship rolled and pitched. However, all the attached wooden furniture (desk, cabinets, etc.,) in our stateroom (D515) creaked and popped so loudly that on several nights my wife could only get to sleep after putting in earplugs and taking some melatonin. As a football fan I was also disappointed in the choices of Princess as to how games were presented on television. We watched all the pre-game hype and interviews for the NCAA championship game on our stateroom TV. Just as the game was about to begin, however, the screen went blank and then a message was displayed that “this presentation is blacked out on this station”! The first weekend of the NFL playoffs, games were shown on the large poolside screen and on the TV’s in Gatsby’s Casino, but not in the staterooms. The next weekend of the NFL Division Playoffs the same arrangement was initially started. There was so much interest in the Dallas – Green Bay game that Gatsby’s was standing room only. The Blackjack Dealers could not even get chairs around their tables and no one came to the tables to play in spite of the dealers trying to set up. Finally the head man or Pit Boss came out and told the dealers to just give up and wait until after the game. At the end of the Dallas – Green Bay game, they made an announcement that the next game between the Steelers and the Patriots would instead be shown on the stateroom TV’s! I’m not sure of Princess’s arrangements with satellite television but when the business in the casino suffered, they certainly found a way quickly to broadcast the games in the staterooms! Why didn’t they do it earlier for the NFL and for the NCAA game? Although there was clearly a bad attitude among some of the Crown Princess staff, especially the staff manning the Shore Excursion and Guest Services desks and some of the shops, not all were of this same attitude. Our stateroom steward was very attentive and efficient and very promptly attended to every issue raised with him. The Botticelli formal dining room wait staff and the staff at Vines Wine Bar deserve special praise. They were excellent. We were also somewhat disappointed in the overall quality of the entertainment. The specialty venue musicians were all very good and the comedian in the Explorer’s Lounge was very good. The Princess Production crews (singers and dancers) were very talented, but the production shows themselves seemed “dated” and unimaginative. Nathan Foley, whom we had seen win Princess’ Entertainer of the Year on the Caribbean Princess last year, was great as usual. The audience response to all shows, however, even including Foley’s, seemed to lack the enthusiasm we have experienced on other recent cruises. The food in the main dining rooms (Botticelli and da Vinci) where we ate and the Horizon Court buffet were adequate. The food in the International Café, which we frequented for lunch, was very good. Our two meals in Crown Grill and Sabatini’s specialty restaurants were probably the best dining experiences and meals we have had on any cruise. The second half of the cruise was much better; making all ports and having no shore excursions cancelled. Cruising around Cape Horn and the glaciers around Beagle Channel and the Strait of Magellan were spectacular. Ushuaia was beautiful and fun to visit. Our Wildlife Watching excursion there was excellent. Punta Arenas was interesting also. Disembarkation went very smoothly in Valparaiso. One last personal problem did arise related to disembarkation, however. We had dutifully placed all our large bags outside our stateroom the night before so that they could be transported to a lower deck for offloading into the passenger terminal. We kept only our small carry-on bags and one set of clothes to wear ashore and on the full-day tour of Valparaiso, Vina del Mar, and a wine tasting and lunch en route to our hotel in Santiago. I had saved the hiking pants that had been taken and cleaned by the chief steward for us after they were severely soiled in our earlier scamming incident. I had checked that all of the odorous substance had come out of the trouser legs and that they had not been stained. Much to my chagrin, however, I discovered as I put on the trousers that last morning, that in the washing, drying or ironing that the entire zipper pull was missing! Luckily I had also left out a pullover golf shirt with an extra-long shirttail that I could constantly pull down to cover my open zipper! I did fill out a Damage Report at the Guest Services desk, but it was still an uncomfortable, embarrassing day until I could get to the hotel in Santiago and get another pair of pants from my suitcase! I have yet to hear from Princess or receive any reimbursement for the ruined pants. I know this was not the experience or quality cruise that I, nor other passengers, nor Princess was expecting. Obviously Princess realized this since they offered each passenger ½ of that they had paid for the cruise in a “Future Cruise Credit” and another ½ of that they had paid for the cruise as a credit in their “Onboard Spending Account”. I am grateful for that, but still do not think that this particular cruise and ship was anywhere near the quality on prior Princess cruises. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
Along with our good friends, we planned this trip for almost a year. Our extended vacation would start by spending four days, including New Years Eve on Copacabana Beach prior to boarding the cruise. This cruise did not start well. ... Read More
Along with our good friends, we planned this trip for almost a year. Our extended vacation would start by spending four days, including New Years Eve on Copacabana Beach prior to boarding the cruise. This cruise did not start well. The embarkation process in Rio de Janeiro was an organizational disaster that reaffirms our perception that Princess, while a cruise industry leader in many categories, lacks competence in the basic tasks of embarking and disembarking guests. The delay in Rio de Janeiro may well have been exacerbated by ANVISA authorities arriving late for work and delaying the disembarkation of the arriving passengers but the flawed embarkation process falls solely on the shoulders of Princess. The disorganization started with the written communication from Princess announcing a “Progressive Check-in Schedule”. This ill-conceived idea failed to recognize that hotel guests have check-out times and they should not be expected to sit waiting with their luggage in the hot sun of Rio. The check-out for our accommodation was 11:00 AM so, on the advice of our travel agent, we headed to the departure terminal considerably earlier than the time dictated for our Riviera deck. We supposedly have preferential boarding based on our platinum status…supposedly. Upon arrival it was apparent that another boarding procedure was now in place and departure staff were handing out stickers with letters and numbers presumably based on a guest’s status (although that was never made clear). Once inside the departure area it was total pandemonium with no leadership from Princess staff, no signs and no indication of where to enter or how to navigate a poorly designed queue. This is yet another example of Princess Cruise Line’s lack of respect for their customers and, in particular, their returning guests. First time cruisers were being boarded prior to platinum, elite and suite customers and the number and letter “system” was being ignored by both departure staff (a contractor) and cruisers alike. Asked by us what was supposed to happen and what we should do….the supervisor indicated that he and his co-worker were trying to figure that out! Obviously it was a little late in the game to try to formulate a plan. It must be noted that no Princess staff were offering direction or assistance to the guests or to the ground contractor’s staff. Princess staff were only at the final station where they were collecting passports. Princess can blame ANVISA and the ground contractor but the ultimate responsibility to embark and disembark passengers is theirs and they do not do it well. That said, Princess and other cruise companies would do well to bypass Rio (and Brazil) until they do a better job in welcoming tourists. You cannot have a cruise terminal that lacks in basic air conditioning, available food and beverage and, most important, competent and reliable staff and officials. An employee of mine was planning a cruise trip out of Rio with herself and five friends and promptly changed destinations when she heard about the onerous visa procedures to enter Brazil and our frustrations at the terminal. We were not overly disappointed with the Crown Princess but do share the opinions of many guests that she is due for a significant re-fit and a re-thinking about the available public spaces when the ship is at full capacity. It was difficult to find places to sit and relax and would often have to retreat to our room. We tend to avoid the buffet for most meals but, when we had the need to go there; it was a challenge to find seating. Perhaps they should consider keeping tables free for diners at peak times rather than permitting many tables to be occupied with passengers playing a variety of table games. Princess (and not just the Crown) has gone way overboard hawking merchandise. We do enjoy browsing the stores but do not appreciate the public areas being filled with tables that constrict traffic flows. We, along with many other passengers, were disappointed with the itinerary changes, the much abbreviated port call in Montevideo and the missed stop in The Falkland Islands. At the same time we do appreciate that it was a medical emergency that precipitated these cruise complications and we do not fault the Captain and crew for the actions that were taken on behalf of that passenger. In fact we do have considerable respect for the ship’s Captain in the way he kept the passengers fully informed throughout this ordeal. He was highly professional and you could feel his empathy for patient and the entire compliment of passengers in every announcement. Certainly the financial impact on Princess Cruise Lines was extensive both in terms of operational costs and then the size of the compensation package offered to the entire compliment of passengers. As much as the Captain is to be commended for his communications to the passengers, the same cannot be said of the excursion staff. Our tour in Buenos Aires was cancelled for “operational” reasons but we did not discover this until returning to our stateroom just prior to dinner. A ship’s announcement should have been made so that we could look at alternate tours prior to them being sold out. Although we did manage to book a replacement tour, it should be standard practise to hold spots on an alternative itinerary for guests already booked on a cancelled tour. We would have been extremely disappointed if we had been unable to book this alternate tour because it had been sold-out before we even had knowledge of ours being cancelled. The excursion staff, other than the female officer in charge, were totally rude and unhelpful. The one positive to come out of this was that our guide was outstanding and perhaps the best we have ever had. The four of us on this trip find ourselves torn when it comes to the Princess brand. On the one hand we have earned a platinum loyalty (and near Elite) status that is hard to turn away from but the flip side of that is our continued frustration with incompetent embarkation, disembarkation and a sub-standard internet service. Their internet speed is only marginally better than dial-up. Last September we sailed on the Celebrity Infinity so as to do a comparison with Princess and we experienced great staff, comparable food, an efficient and organized embarkation/disembarkation process and an internet that actually was high speed. It is difficult to recommend the Princess brand to family or friends when we know other companies can do it better. Obviously the technology to deliver proper high speed internet exists since Celebrity has it on their ships….the question is why Princess does not when it is part of Carnival Corporation who should be an industry leader. We also see in Princess a company where a blind eye is turned about rules being broken. Customers ignore their boarding priority and the staff permit it to happen. The dress code (particularly on formal nights) is not enforced and one of the differences on Celebrity that we did not appreciate was the much more casual attire at dinner. We enjoy the tradition of formal nights and smart casual and do not think shorts are appropriate in the dining rooms at dinner. The majority of guests on formal night are properly attired and it is an insult to them when Princess staff do not enforce the stated policy and permit jeans and sport shirts rather than turning them away. As noted, there was a compensation package offered to all guests that did seem to appease the majority of the very disgruntled passengers on board. This package did replace an earlier offer that left many guests fuming and clearly Princess’s head office recognized that they were about to lose many customers forever were it not revised. Again, full credit should go to the Captain for his willingness to directly engage with the passengers (many angry and rude) on this issue. Our previous experience with the Captain of the Grand Princess was completely opposite when he literally disappeared after some operational difficulties during a Pacific coastal cruise. Compared to other reviews, we must have gotten lucky when it came to our dealings with the front-line staff who most immediately impact our on-board experience and we were thoroughly pleased with our outstanding evening dining room servers….Gaby and Carolina (both from Peru). They were upbeat, happy, and knowledgeable about the menu and knew our names and preferences from the outset. They brought a smile to our sometimes frustrated faces every night and always kept us laughing. They are head and shoulders above any other food servers we have ever had…on any ship/on any cruise line. Every Princess waiter and assistant should spend time with this incredible team to learn how to deliver such a delightful customer experience. These two over-deliver night after night. We saw the same professionalism and friendly greeting from Kathrizz in Crooner’s Lounge and, like Gaby and Carolina; she greeted us by name every night and remembered our preferences as well. We can tell that she has a great rapport with many of the customers in that lounge. We have cruised with Princess for many years and, like others, are seeing that brand decline in quality. The on board entertainment (other than the singer/pianist in Crooner’s and a couple of comedians) is sliding badly and the Princess Theatre was always packed as it lacks the capacity to support the number of passengers when the ship is full. Carnival Corporation would do well to look at the demographics of their Princess cliental and recognize that they are not the twenty-something’s on board a Carnival Party ship. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
First time on Princess. 16 previous cruises all over the world. Preferred line is Celebrity. i'm 66. Wife 60. Embarkation in Rio. A total disaster. Took over three hours to board the ship and we were early for our embarkation ... Read More
First time on Princess. 16 previous cruises all over the world. Preferred line is Celebrity. i'm 66. Wife 60. Embarkation in Rio. A total disaster. Took over three hours to board the ship and we were early for our embarkation time. All of the cruisers agreed this was unusual and by far the worst embarkation they have ever experienced. Absolute chaos with no order. The Brazilian authorities had control over this port and they could have cared less. Yet I blame Princess. They knew what would happen and they didn't do anything about it. I suspect the authorities wanted extra money (bribes?) to ensure a decent embarkation and Princess would not pay it. The ship. Is getting dated. Public rooms are undercapacitied. IE Centrum. Restaurants. Show Lounge. Gym. Gym could have been way better but this would have been at the expense of the chic chic spa services. Come on. This made planning essential. You had to get to the show lounge really early to get a good seat and we ate very late to avoid the over crowding. Centrum is pathetic for a ship this size. Ship feels claustrophobic which is exacerbated by the location of of one of the restaurants a mid ship on deck 6. The buffet was barely serviceable. On the positive side, you will find something to eat and the food in the dining rooms was pretty good (both fish and meat which is a rarity). Very good production shows and in general the entertainment was very good. Got to watch the NFL playoff games on the jumbtron and this was great when the weather was warm enough. Room. We were upgraded to the top deck, 14 and this was a giant back rub. Walk right out the door and you are at the pool! Problem. For most of the cruise, the sea days were too cold to sit out at the pool. Solarium as an alternative was so so. Impeccable deck service. Room was nice with the best storage space on the seas. Great internet and TV which was necessary due to the cold weather south of Buenos Aires. Minus. One of the worst showers at sea. No foolin. Ports. This is where things got bad. Buenos Aires was fine and we had a great time. WE did not make Port Stanley in the Falklands or Ushuaia. The seas were way too rough and I suspect this is an on going problem. Puenta Arenas was an unmitigated disaster. WE chose not to participate in any organized activities but rather went ashore to use an internet coffee house. At that it took us 45 minutes to get on shore do to the rudimentary port facilities and fairly rough seas. Just a simple jetty with no breakwater. This is unacceptable. They closed the port at about 4 and 1700 passengers and 80 ships company were stranded ashore in rudimentary port facilities. Last tender back was at about 2 in the morning. The people taking the speed boat to Magdelane island to see the penguins were barfing right and left and then stuck at the dock! There was always an announcement about this disaster or that and we had to evacuate our room at 4:30 in the morning due to a medical emergency. It got so bad that they actually refunded 1/2 the cruise fare in credits and a big thank you to Princess. Disembarkation. Was fine. Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
We had a two week South American cruise on the Star Princess. Inclement weather made this cruise difficult. 3 ports were aborted due to rough seas. No one can control the weather, but it is a very long way to travel from the UK to not ... Read More
We had a two week South American cruise on the Star Princess. Inclement weather made this cruise difficult. 3 ports were aborted due to rough seas. No one can control the weather, but it is a very long way to travel from the UK to not make the ports on the itinerary. Special mention should go to the Captain Stefano Raneiro, who had to make some tough decisions, for the safety of the crew and passengers. The entertainment was not as good, as on previous cruisers I have taken with Princess. The food in the Capri dining room was wonderful, as were the staff. Embarkation in Rio de Janeiro was a complete fiasco. Standing in line for up to 4 hours, just to check in, with no seating, and very little organisation. For first time cruisers it would have definitely put them off. The debarkation, however worked like clockwork! Our cabin was fabulous. We always have a balcony. The cost of the airfare is prohibitive, unless you get to see the ports. So maybe Princess needs to compensate consumers for flights as well as the cruise. Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
My husband and I flew all the way from Istanbul Turkey to take this cruise. There was another couple with us. The first dissapointment started at Rio port, where we had to get in line and wait for 5 hours pulling our luggages moving very ... Read More
My husband and I flew all the way from Istanbul Turkey to take this cruise. There was another couple with us. The first dissapointment started at Rio port, where we had to get in line and wait for 5 hours pulling our luggages moving very slowly under the sun. The rooms were nice, we booked one of the best with a sea view. Our room service was good. After two days of sailing the first stop was Buenas Aires, Argentina. We were warned about pickpockets so all we took with us was 100dollars each person and one credit card per couple. The city was very nice, but when three men attacked us in the middle of an avenue while we were at a pedestrian crossing all turned into a nightmare. One men grabbed me by the neck, two attacked my husband one sitting on him while the other teared off his watch, which was an expensive watch, I was saved by my friend from worse. We both fell on the road, many bruises but luckily no broken bones. The police appeared with an audacious attitude, we were scared of them also. None spoke a word of engish anyway. We were so scared that all four of us immediately returned to the ship cancelling our evening plans for tango and an Argentinian steak. We stayed on board for the rest of the stay at BA then sailed to Falkland islands, hoping to stop at port Stanley. That was cancelled due to bad weather condtions, Sailed another two days to Ushuaia, Bad weather conditions again, so that port was also cancelled. At Punto Arenas we finally got off the ship. We returned in the afternoon to the ship thinking there was not too much to see. We found it was a very wise decision because again due to bad weather, almost half the ship crew and passengers were left at the port for an unknown time until the port was open again. The operation was cleared at 3:00 am. You will not believe this but we also had a sick passenger who had to be picked up with a helicopter with a midnight operation with fire team at alert, so another night without sleep. Food was not bad but not very good either. However the service was above average, especially at the dining room we had excellent service. They gave us a credit of 100 dollars to be spent at the ship as courtesy also half of the cruse cost off for the next trip however we dont know if it will be worth to think about it or not. Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
Rounding Cape Horn is a navigational feat. More than a cruise, it's an adventure which means "stuff" happens. Our "stuff" began upon boarding the ship. Princess sent passengers advance notice to expect delays at ... Read More
Rounding Cape Horn is a navigational feat. More than a cruise, it's an adventure which means "stuff" happens. Our "stuff" began upon boarding the ship. Princess sent passengers advance notice to expect delays at the Rio cruise terminal due to pre-Olympics construction. The warning did not prepare us for the chaos that ensued...no order, no communication, no protocol for passengers with special needs. Boarding took us 4 hours--a little less time than many others--only because when we finally made it to the front we found a line for people in wheel chairs. Despite the boarding snafu, the ship left only one hour late. Somehow, the Captain and crew had made lemonade out of lemons--a foreshadowing of things to come. Onboard, we had a mini-suite cabin on deck 9, spacious and comfortable with one exception. The commode in our full-sized bathroom was darkly stained. Although the toilet bowl had been thoroughly cleaned, it didn't LOOK clean. I couldn't get past the possibility of having to stick my head in there should the going get rough (literally). My concern was satisfactorily addressed while in our first port of Buenos Aires. We returned to our cabin to find a sparkling new toilet and a beautiful flower arrangement for our inconvenience. More lemonade! The bad news is that, due to adverse weather, Buenos Aires was the ONLY port we made during the entire trip. The one exception was Punta Arenas where we did land. However while in port, the weather deteriorated so severely that the port was closed. Suddenly, instead of getting off the ship, our challenge was to get ON the ship. The Princess team devised an inventive solution: Turn a tugboat into a bridge. The tugboat pulled up to the end of a large cement jetty, connecting the jetty to the ship's tender. Rough seas and high winds made for a somewhat harrowing leap from the tugboat to the tender, but the "rescue mission" was a success. It took until nearly 3 am, but all 1,700 passengers and crew were safely back on board. Nothing could make up for missing those penguins, but the Captain attempted appeasement by altering the course to maximize the scenery. The sight of glaciers, waterfalls and exquisite snow-capped mountains gliding past our balcony softened us up. (Did I mention that Princess also gave every passenger a $100 cabin credit and a future cruise credit worth 50% of the cost of this cruise.) The lemonade was flowing! No question that a lot went wrong for passengers to grouse about. There was the 4:30 am airlift of a critically ill passenger by a RAF helicopter from tha Falkland Islands. (Passengers in certain cabins were evacuated.) Or the menu adjustments that occurred because we couldn't get into port ( no lettuce, yogurt, bananas and more). But the fact is that not one thing that went wrong (forget the toilet) was under the control of the cruise line. The Captain was an incredible communicator, keeping us apprised at every turn. (Some people actually complained that he talked too much.) The crew was incredible, particularly during the port emergency. They stepped up to provide water, coffee, sandwiches and comfort. (BTW, they were stranded, too.) A doctor in the terminal evaluated passengers with health issues, an ambulance standing by. Every officer on the ship was waiting there when we reboarded at 1:30 am to welcome us and make sure we were okay. To be honest, the biggest disappointment of the cruise were the passengers who screamed, (literally), pushed, shoved and disrupted when they were not first, not getting their way or not getting something for nothing at that very moment. They were the nightmare. The only way to end this cruise, in our opinion, was with a big "thank you" to the Captain, the crew and Princess cruise lines. Their handling of whatever came at them was outstanding every time. If we wanted perfect, we would have gone to Disney World. We signed on for an adventure and we got what we paid for...and more! Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
My husband and I (early 70's) took the Star Princess cruise around Cape Horn leaving Rio de Janeiro on January 4. Yes, there were many frustrations starting with the embarkation fiasco in the cruise terminal in Rio to being stranded ... Read More
My husband and I (early 70's) took the Star Princess cruise around Cape Horn leaving Rio de Janeiro on January 4. Yes, there were many frustrations starting with the embarkation fiasco in the cruise terminal in Rio to being stranded in Punta Arenas, Chile until after midnight. Still we were happy we took this cruise. Just seeing Cape Horn and the Straits of Magellan, the rugged mountains and glaciers, etc., was such a dream come true. Imagine the history of the place and the difficulty the early sailing ships had. It was disappointing to miss the ports of Stanley and Ushuaia, but the Captain had no choice. Most passengers should have been aware that this is a part of the world where the weather can be rough and unpredictable. I heard that some of the passengers were angry with the captain, but I think that is ridiculous. We found the ship to be very nice, the food was very good (better than most of the Princess cruises we've been on) and the entertainment was also very good. We met some very nice people from all over the world on this trip. Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
First cruise with Princess, and I was not sure what to expect. My initial impression of the interior design was pleasant. No neon, very classic for the most part. They (and most cruise lines really) cheapen the atmosphere by setting up ... Read More
First cruise with Princess, and I was not sure what to expect. My initial impression of the interior design was pleasant. No neon, very classic for the most part. They (and most cruise lines really) cheapen the atmosphere by setting up photo shoots, tables of t shirts and cheap jewelry, and similar up sell stations through out the ship. After my positive initial impression, my feelings dropped. My balcony cabin was soooo small. The smallest I have ever had. My first meal was lunch at the lido buffet. Everything from the selection to the presentation to the taste was a huge disappointment. This is about my 15th cruise, from ultra luxurious to Carnival and this was the Worst food from any of the cruises I have been on at every dining venue. I heard Princess' corporate chef was on the ship…so it's not like corporate doesn't know what's going on. The dining room food was always a disappointment. Same with Horizons and Carribe (Lido). The hot dog/hamburger grill tasted low quality. The only restaurant that was okay was the up charge Sabbatini's. I did not like the "Movies under the Starts" concept. Sitting around or even anywhere close to the main pool where they show the movies, you are forced to hear blaring sounds of the movies or concerts being shown. If you do want to watch the movie, 90 percent of the seating is in the raging sun…not pleasant or healthy. The gym was ridiculous. The ceiling is soooo low, I could not use the elliptical because I kept hitting my head on the ceiling in the up part of the cycle. Also, the staff in the gym was so unfriendly. I'm there everyday for two weeks, and they can't even say hi. I found this to be generally true of this ship. The DJ was the worst. I was up at Skywalkers dancing every night. I would request songs, and the DJ would agree to play them, and then never play them. I would say hi to him in the gym and he would totally ignore me….he's a jerk in my opinion. Keep in mind, the crowd was older and sedate. I was told by many that the dance floor was totally dead for the two weeks before I got on the ship. I invited people up there and some nights we actually had 6-10 people dancing. I've kept in contact with friends I met. They said since I left, no one goes up to dance anymore. There are other officers that I met throughout the cruise, but they would never say hi when I saw them later on on the ship. I know they're busy, but it really is not that difficult to say hi. The crew, restaurant/bar staff and cleaners were totally the opposite. They were fantastic. They are friendly and fun. It is the only real asset that the Ruby has going for it. The entertainment was nothing special. The staff shows were mostly just dancing around to oldie songs…boring. There was also too much piano playing. Everywhere you went on the ship, there seem to be someone playing piano. I love piano, I play piano, but I don't want to hear it all of the time. It's like Princess was trying to put us to sleep. The other activities were too big because the ship is so big, so it always seemed like there was one staff member trying to manage 200 passengers playing trivia or giving a photography lesson…it just didn't work for me. Overall the whole of Ruby's concept doesn't work for me. I'm in my 40s and like to be active and social when I cruise, and Princess is definitely not catering to my crowd. Read Less
Sail Date February 2015
We are long term (15 year) Platinum cruisers with Princess. We sailed on the Golden Princess for its first maiden voyage in 2002 in the Caribbean. It was a wonderful experience back then. We sailed 18 months ago with Princess on the Baltic ... Read More
We are long term (15 year) Platinum cruisers with Princess. We sailed on the Golden Princess for its first maiden voyage in 2002 in the Caribbean. It was a wonderful experience back then. We sailed 18 months ago with Princess on the Baltic Sea from Denmark to St. Petersburg back to Denmark, this cruise was wonderful. Now to the review... Our second sailing on the Golden Princess to mark their 50th anniversary celebration is rated way below expectations. Some specifics: Embarkation in Rio de Janiero was a disaster for Platinum members. There was no organization and no one to receive the Platinum folks for the preferred boarding. In short it was chaos. Food quality, availability, and diversity was substandard and not on par with past Princess cruises, particularly in the Horizon Court. The quality of food on board was a significant degradation from prior cruises. The ship overall and our stateroom specifically appeared worn and not maintained. There was black mold in our shower, not cleaned up prior to our arrival. Their business model has shifted where there is now a constant unending focus on selling products and services vs. catering to passenger needs, comfort and safety. The internet was lost on the last 4-5 days of the cruise due to an "angry bird" strike on their internet satellite receiver. Initially the Internet Cafe Manager told us that the satellite in space was not functioning... really? The item that failed represented a single point failure, no spare parts or back up systems were maintained on board. No consideration was provided to platinum passengers for this loss of internet. During the captains circle party for platinum members they invited us to take a photo with the captain, only later to find out that this was another selling opportunity... very misleading. Only after complaining to the Captain's Circle Manager did they give us the photo at no charge. Debarkation in Vaparaiso/Santiago was unsafe. They had us go down a close to 45 degree wet metal ramp from the 6th floor to the pier. Passenger were caring their carry on bags and many were sliding. I actually fell on my back. Upon that, they shut down the ramp to place non skid mats or something like that to help with safety. On a positive note... the entertainment was generally on the good to excellent side. Tours were decent and well organized. Generally, the restaurant staff, waiters, bartenders, etc. were very good. If Princess continues in this fashion their loyalty members will seek out other options before cruising with Princess again. I for one will no longer use them as my cruise line of choice as I did in the past. The value proposition is no longer there. Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
I have always wanted to try a Princess Cruise. When seeing their ships at port while on another cruise line, they seemed modern and inviting. From what I experienced on the Golden princess sailing from Rio to Valpariso on Jan 3-17 2015 it ... Read More
I have always wanted to try a Princess Cruise. When seeing their ships at port while on another cruise line, they seemed modern and inviting. From what I experienced on the Golden princess sailing from Rio to Valpariso on Jan 3-17 2015 it may be my first and last Princess cruise. I'm not quick to criticize, so this review comes after careful consideration. Embarkment in Rio was caos, there were 3 ships boarding at the same time, the other cruise lines had personnel directing their passengers to the proper areas. Princess had none. We waited in 38 C weather in the sun for an hour prior to being able to drop off our suitcases. Then inside the port, we waited in line for over an hour and a half. Even prior Princess passengers had never experienced it this bad and unorganized. The GOOD on the ship: We were happy with our balcony suite on Caribe deck 10, it was towards the aft of the ship. The room steward was great, room was cleaned quickly. We were a group of four, and had flexible eating arrangements. We called and made daily reservations for the Bernini dining room. No hassle, great hostess and waiters. Food was great. We didn't feel the need to pay the $25.00 surcharge per person to try two of the other dining rooms available on the ship. The horizon buffet on deck 14 was fine for breakfast and lunch but not up to par for supper. Even though many others complained about the condition of the ship, we felt it was still nice even though it is due for a facelift. The staff were awesome on this cruise. Now the BAD: Unlike other cruise ships where you can buy an alcoholic drink card for i.e. $300.00 and once it is used up reload it. Princess forces both passengers in the cabin to each buy a drink package for $49.00 a day, plus for your convenience a 15% gratuity. This includes the days you are off the ship at port. Drink up!! Like every cruise they want to help you unload your wallet. In the photo department, after 14 days of taking your picture, there are some good pics to chose from. However some idiot decided that you can't mix and match a combination of pictures that you would like to purchase. For me I would of had to pay for 2 pictures that were the same for my album. Some really good entertainers in the nightly theatre however, some really lame ones too. Seems, too many cutbacks and more attention on profits for the cruise line. With the weather around cape horn it would of been nice to soak in the hot tubs.....it was around 10 C outside with a stiff cold wind, however the hot tubs were below body temperature at 30C not my idea of warming up. Some excursions are well worth unloading your wallet for, but not all. It seems princess puts there stamp of approval on some excursions that are pathetic. Which brings up my last point, customer relations should provide refunds for excursions that aren't even close to what they are offering. Golden Princess needs to address things if they want people to come back again.   Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
Background info: I have been looking at this cruise route and ports for over two years. After looking at the route, airfare costs, hotel costs, etc for traveling from Santiago/Valparaiso to Rio de Janeiro vs the reverse, I opted on the ... Read More
Background info: I have been looking at this cruise route and ports for over two years. After looking at the route, airfare costs, hotel costs, etc for traveling from Santiago/Valparaiso to Rio de Janeiro vs the reverse, I opted on the cruise that went from Rio to Valparaiso. I purchased my cruise and my airfare directly from Princess. The airfare was about $100 less than buying directly from the airline. I also planned to arrive a day ahead of departure to account for any issues with travel in the states and, if possible have an opportunity to see something of Rio before we embarked and set sail. I purchased the cruise, airfare and began planning 6 months before the cruise. I was unable to book a hotel through PRincess as the hotel offered was not well reviewed on other sites, so I booked directly with the Marriott on Copacabana beach and arranged my won transport from the airport via Grayline (go to their website). Princess did a very good job of notifying me of my visa requirements for Argentina and Brazil. The Brazilian Embassy in the US website had all the details needed to navigate their visa process. By the end of July, I had all necessary visas. I had hoped we might have had time while in Punta Arenas to go to Antarctica on a shore excursion, but there was only officially 11 hours in port and the excursion was not offered. I did book my excursions as soon as they were available on the Princess website. Hotel Info: JW Marriott, Copacabana beach. Fantastic hotel right on the beach. I read many reviews and specifically requested an ocean view. My room was spacious as was the bathroom. As I walked into the hotel, bell boys were handing out ice-cold bottled water. The heat and humidity in Rio is hard to describe. I was miserably uncomfortable. I was able to check in immediately upon arrival and take a shower and change my clothes. I had booked a tour to Corcovado and Christ the Redeemer statue via Grayline. They picked me up directly at the hotel. All I can say is that the city at New Year's is crazy crowded as it is one of the two major holidays for Brazilians (Carnival is 1st) and school holidays. The statue was interesting and I recommend taking the train and not the bus ride up. I imagine that Rio and all the sites are nicer in June/July when it is not so hot. Note on safety in Rio: The hotel had TONS of security in and out side the hotel, and the Brazilian police were all over the city and visibly stopping and arresting people. This did not make me feel safer. I did not venture out to beach in the afternoon or evening, but was up early and did go out before 8 am. I arranged for a personal transfer from the hotel to the port. Ship Info: Golden Princess is looking a little warn and not as well taken care of as she might have been. Lots of visible rust on all iron works. There were issues with various elevators out of service, but I don't see that as any different than any other elevator. I did see senior members of the crew evaluating the cleanliness of Promenade Bar and pointing out to cleaning staff, things they missed when cleaning. I was disappointed that the Promenade deck did not have deck chairs, as Sapphire Princess does. The Promenade deck is narrower than Sapphire Princess' and this severely limited the outside seating. Glad I had a cabin with a balcony. Activities: I go on cruises to rest, relax, restore. I am not really a joiner and prefer to be myself. That being said, I do enjoy the Trivia and other games and watching Karaoke and couple dancing. The cruise staff were very good with the trivia, if not, perhaps, a tad too sarcastic. The timings of the trivia almost always seemed to conflict with other things I was doing, like having a massage or eating dinner. I do book and have massages on the cruise and this cruise I was able to take 4 massages. I would not recommend the Bamboo massage as I came away a bit black-and-blue. All other massages are wonderful and I was very relaxed. Unlike other cruises, I was not hit with the constant upsell at the end of the massage. This is a huge bonus. I was also interested, slightly, in the art work, but again, the art auctions and lectures seem to conflict with my plans, and I was unwilling to reschedule. I only attended one port lecture and found it boring and determined not to attend any others...after all, I had bought books and read up before I left. Service: I had great service on this cruise. I dined in Sabatini's (worth the extra $25); Bernini for any time dining, International Café, Horizon Court, Prego Pizzeria. The service in all these areas was great. I also spent time in the Promenade Bar and the Explorer's Lounge, Wheelhouse Bar - all of the service staff were fantastic. I spent most evenings in the Explorer's Lounge and the staff there knew me, knew my drink, and never tried to upsell me. My cabin steward was fantastic. I am an up and out early person and he always had my room tidied before I came back to my cabin. He even hung up my soaking went backpack (see Falklands excursion) to dry. When I sat on the balcony between Buenos Aires and Montevideo and bugs got in to the cabin, he cleaned them up and killed what I was unable to do so. Port & Shore Excursions: I booked all my shore excursions via the ship. Buenos Aires: I went out to the Estancia and watched dancing and ate meat. We went to Recoleta and saw Eva's crypt/vault. I don't know that I would have enjoyed any other excursion that was offered any more. Montevideo: Took the excursion out to Colonia Del Sacramento. I loved the drive out there and the colony was interesting. It was too hot (no humidity), and too little shade. I did get overheated and had to find a place to site in the shade to cool off when everyone else was off exploring/shopping. Lunch was ok. Falklands: We had to tender in and the harbor was calm as can be. It was pouring rain and perhaps the city walking tour was not the best idea, but it was interesting, and I was soaked through but did not get a cold. I also took another tour to see the Penguins on Sparrow Cove. Totally worth it! After talking with fellow cruisers, Falklands is where you should see Penguins, not wait for Punta Arenas. This was the second best excursion. For Ushuaia, I did Tierra Del Fuego National park twice, once on the bus to see the entire park and the second time to do the train. I would recommend doing a morning walk around the city and then the afternoon drive to the park with the train ride. Punta Arenas: we had to tender in and the harbor was rough on the way over to the dock and even rougher on the way back to the ship. The tour I took was to a ranch to see sheep shearing and out to Fort Bulnes. Best excursion and best food the entire cruise. Valparaiso/Santiago: I did a wine excursion as we traveled from the port to the airport. Third best excursion. Travel to Embarkation Port: Travel to Embarkation port was non-eventful. Embarkation was awful. Unsure who is at fault: Princess of Rio port authority. Reality is some combination of the two. There were no signs to indicate where to drop your baggage and when you get into the area for check-in the Brazilian port people, who don't speak English, seemed to be helping the Azmara Journey passengers and leaving the Princess passengers to fend for themselves. it took 2.5 hours to get through the line to check in. Also, Princess did not notify us up front that they will keep your passports for the duration of the cruise, so this was quite a surprise to me. Not pleasant. Once you got checked in and were on your way to the ship, the ship's crew were handing out wet washcloths and bottled water too cool off. Too bad they were not in the terminal. Cabin: My cabin was clean, but worn. Some of the drawers had stains. The bed was most comfortable and not sure why. Dining: Horizon court food had little imagination, but Mexican lunch was fantastic! I actually stopped eating breakfast at Horizon Court half-way through. I tried lunch twice at Horizon Court and was only pleased for Mexican. I usually ate lunch at Prego Pizzeria - which is fantastic and never had a line. I did eat lunch twice at International Café and once I did the pub lunch, which had delicious and like-England Fish-and-Chips. Dinner was in Bernini's except for first night when I ate by myself in Sabatinis. All meals were delicious and service was great. As with anytime dining, you are at the whims of fate as to whom you dine with, but all-in-all, I enjoyed my dining companions and the food and the service. One recommendation: if you order salmon - if you like it a little pink tell your server, otherwise served well-done. Children's Clubs: Not applicable Entertainment: I attended the comedian for the two nights he had shows. He was hilarious and I wish he had been on the ship longer. I also enjoyed listening to the party band that played primarily in the Explorer's Lounge. Disembarkation: Piece of cake! Read instructions provided, seek clarification with passenger services, get CORRECT baggage tags and enjoy. Cannot tell you what it might be like in Rio. Summary: Great Cruise, met my expectations and goals and I recommend Princess and this cruise. Remember you get out of the cruise what you put into it. I do think that everyone should know that the weather south of Valparaiso to north of the Falklands is cooler, foggier, wetter, than anticipated. This means all inside seating in public areas is taken. Make sure you get a cabin with a balcony for the sunny days as the loungers are filled up from before 7 am. Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
Our 6th cruise, 4th with Princess. We agree with other posters that embarkation at Rio de Janeiro was shambolic, made more uncomfortable by the hot weather at the time. Princess need to improve here. They also need to review the tender ... Read More
Our 6th cruise, 4th with Princess. We agree with other posters that embarkation at Rio de Janeiro was shambolic, made more uncomfortable by the hot weather at the time. Princess need to improve here. They also need to review the tender process at Punta Arenas, where many passengers endured lengthy delays. Other than that, our cruise experience was a dream. We had a suite this time. It was gorgeous, and in great condition. Our stateroom attendant was excellent. We returned to a freshly cleaned room after breakfast on all but a couple of days. The ship's public areas looked very well-maintained for a ship built in 2001. We found all crew members we encountered to be friendly and genuinely wanting to help us enjoy the cruise. A handful were really exceptional, good at anticipating what their customers wanted, and offering suggestions of real value. We never felt pressure to buy anything. Food quality was overall the best we have experienced on a cruise. Fine food is a priority for us, not just while cruising, and we were happy with the quality of ingredients, preparation and presentation of dishes we received in the formal dining rooms and in Sabatini's and Crown Grill. For the latter 2 optional restaurants ($25 surcharge) you get a more intimate atmosphere and dishes using expensive ingredients. Compared to our prior cruises with Princess, I would say that either they have increased the food budget, or they are getting better quality supplies for the same cost. Wine prices onboard are never cheap, but we purchased a wine card which enabled us to buy wine at up to 38% off usual price, then chose wines from the international selection which were decent value relative to what they would cost at home. Coffee quality (expresso machine) remains a bit of a weak spot. We prefer cruises with 50% or more sea days and a few, interesting ports. We did not take any Princess shore excursions, preferring to just walk around or take local taxis. The weather for this itinerary can be highly variable. It was hot in Rio, but Port Stanley demanded wind and waterproof jackets. Ushuaia was a lovely town. The scenery along the Beagle Channel was spectacular. Onboard entertainment and activities covered a wide range. This particular cruise had a large contingent of South American passengers, so some of the entertainment was directed more to their tastes rather than the usual Anglo preference. Onboard entertainment and activities are not of prime importance to us, but we did enjoy listening to the skill of some small group musicians on several occasions. Disembarkation was smooth and efficient. Our son is temporarily resident in Chile and met us outside the cruise terminal. A nice ending to a most enjoyable and relaxing cruise. Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
Our adventure started in Rio and included a visit to Iguazu Falls. If you take any cruise in this area, I strongly suggest you visit Iguazu Falls. We did not take the Princess pre-cruise, but opted to make the reservations on our own and ... Read More
Our adventure started in Rio and included a visit to Iguazu Falls. If you take any cruise in this area, I strongly suggest you visit Iguazu Falls. We did not take the Princess pre-cruise, but opted to make the reservations on our own and hired a Tours by Locals tour guide for the falls. The plans were easy to make, and saved us a bundle. As for Iguazu Falls, I do not have the words to describe the experience. Eleanor Roosevelt reportedly said upon first seeing IF, “Poor Niagara.” It would be a real shame to visit Rio or Buenos Aires and not experience Iguazu Falls. Rio was a great city and we enjoyed every minute, including New Year’s Eve on Copacabana Beach. The people in Rio were kind, helpful, and the food was fantastic. Our hotel, the Golden Tulip Regente, was perfectly located, and met our every need. I eagerly recommend this hotel, and will on Trip Advisor as soon as time allows. Embarkation at the port to board the Golden Princess was historically bad. Princess reps were missing in action. With the exception of a couple of folks handing out the “are you feeling well today” forms, there was no guidance that we found of any kind. In the end, we saw a line, got in it, and an hour or so later made our way to the people with computers who got us registered. For the Golden Princess, we found her to be quite beautiful. Yep, as others report, she is in need of a refit. It appeared the crew works hard to keep her in good shape, but her age is showing. Princess customers deserve the best, and in this cruising world of fabulous ships, Princess would be well served to remember that the tired old look must be replaced with modern elegance. The Golden is beautiful, for an older ship, but she could be so much more, and the customers/guests deserve nothing less. For the crew, our cabin steward did the basics, but nothing more. I had ordered vodka and tonic for the cabin before we left home, so of course, I wanted plenty of ice and glasses. The container of ice in the freezer often melted before cocktail hour, and trying to get more took far too much drama. Trying to get glasses was another event of epic proportions. It really did not need to be so complicated. Yes, I asked the room steward over and over for the ice and glasses, but it often took multiple requests. So, the help from our steward was less than expected. The waiters in the main dining room, however, were the best we have ever had – ever. They were Roland and Ivonne. They were fantastic. They met our needs even before we knew we needed something. They really were on top of everything, and they were very entertaining. If you cruise the Golden, talk to the Maitre D and try to get their table. You will not be sorry. One big negative about this cruise is that at the time of booking we were told there would be an excursion available to visit Antarctica, weather permitting, of course. In fact, we inquired about this several times prior to the excursions becoming available. Then, once they were, it was not offered. There was never an explanation offered, even after several requests. We still do not know why we were not allowed this opportunity, and it was a big reason we picked the cruise. However, by the time the excursions came out, too many plans had been made by our group of 10 to change cruises. Without an explanation, we feel this was a dishonest representation by Princess. For me, and our group of 10, Princess has lost integrity in our eyes. If there was a reasonable explanation, they could have at least responded to our requests for information. Regarding the evening shows, they are just not up to the level they were in years past. The funny part was that the crew talent show was the best one of all, at least from our perspective. When I think back to the shows we have seen in the past on cruise ships, and then I compare to those offered on the Golden, well, I’m just not sure what to think. I will say that the tango band, for lack of the correct term, that played in the atrium was very entertaining. We enjoyed their music very much and would sit in the bar area and listen to them. They were great. To the credit of the ship, we did not feel overwhelmed by photographers. Sure, they were around, but in no way hassled us. Of course, with me as a subject, they probably feared for their equipment. The sales of cheap tee shirts and gold chains were constant. I avoided them and they left me alone, so no worries. The Tango show in Buenos Aires was fantastic. We booked that tour with princess as I believe it was the only way to see the outstanding Tango Show. I strongly recommend this tour. This was the only tour we booked with Princess doing the others with Tours by Locals, Viators, or Patrick Watts. I’m sure your CC RC will cover all of these. Simply put, Princess charges too much for what is offered. If your thing is touring with 50+ people at a high cost, go for it. If you want individual tours for cheap, look elsewhere. It really is that simple. Going around Cape Horn was fantastic. For our cruise, the water was as calm as any cruise in the Caribbean. As for the glaciers, they were stunning. Folks who have been to Alaska acted like the glaciers were no big deal compared to what you see on the Alaskan cruises. But, my wife and I have not done an Alaskan cruise yet, so we enjoyed every minute of experiencing the glaciers. Regarding the food, it was very good. There were a couple of nights where the entrees were so-so boring, but the food was always hot and good. Most nights, the food was exceptional and surpassed our expectations. As for the Horizon, it was fine. When it comes to a buffet line, a person simply should not expect perfection. For a quick meal, it was fine, nothing more, nothing less. Oh, the pizza was very good for fast food. The burgers were OK, but nothing special. The disembarkation was painless and uneventful. Some guests complicated the situation by insisting on keeping carry-on bags after having been instructed to tag everything. The process involved steps, and a shuttle bus. Princess folks kept telling people to put everything out because of the unique circumstances. Of course, some people did not listen and had to keep large items with them. That made it worse for other passengers, but we all managed. I do not blame Princess for this small issue as they tried to communicate the situation reasonably. Post cruise, we visited Mauchu Picchu. We did not do this as a Princess Tour. Instead, like Iguazu Falls, we booked everything on our own. It was easy as could be. The adventure to this World Heritage Site was everything we expected it to be, and more. Again, I do not have the words to describe the experience, but if you have a so called bucket list, add MP to the list. If at all possible, MP really is a place you should see before you die. The closest place we have been that could compare is Angkor Wat in Cambodia. If you are in the area at all, go out of your way to experience the lost world if the Incas. A big highlight of the trip was the Cruise Critic folks we met. While the RC was slow leading up to the cruise, we were reminded of the virtue of quality over quantity. It was a pleasure meeting each and every person at the CC M&Gs. These are the folks that made a great trip extraordinary.   Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
Rio to Santiago cruise on the Golden Princess January, 2014 Mike and Charlotte We flew from LAX to Miami to Rio without incident, even though lots of our cruise critic friends were forced to spend an unplanned night in Miami because ... Read More
Rio to Santiago cruise on the Golden Princess January, 2014 Mike and Charlotte We flew from LAX to Miami to Rio without incident, even though lots of our cruise critic friends were forced to spend an unplanned night in Miami because their connecting planes were delayed. I managed to sleep most of the way on both flights, but Mike, in a twist, had a hard time sleeping. We arrived in Rio at 8 am on Thursday and caught a cab to the Marriott for $45. Great place on Copacabana Beach. Actually, hotels aren’t on the beach, but right across the street. Our room wasn’t ready so they gave us passes to the Club Lounge where we had a big breakfast as well, as high speed internet access. Finished in time to get down to the lobby to meet our guide for the tour we'd booked. It appears that Brazilian Time is slower than our time. When I confirmed the tour on Tuesday, the guy said to be in the hotel lobby at noon. The guide arrived at 1:45. It was really hot so we didn't mind the cool lobby--and the hotel staff brought us bottles of cold water. The guide picked us up and we were off with 10 others for a walking tour of the old city center. We were thankful for the air conditioned van to take us from one area of the city to another to see the old monestary church that was started in the 1500's but not completed until the 1700's. We noted that all the gold wasn’t taken to the king in the Old World. Then we walked by many civic buildings in the center of the old city. All buildings are either several hundred years old and restored or falling down, or modern 20-40 story skyscrapers. Our Guide told us that it is illegal to tear down the old buildings so the owners are either European companies that bought them years ago and are waiting for them to fall down so they can then be replaced, or Brazilian companies that restore the original facade and add all kinds of reinforcement inside, then build a new interior. We also saw the old, downtown cathedral. The story is that a Portugese shipping magnate went to the Far East to pick up spices and fabrics, but on the return trip, after rounding South Africa, a horrible storm came up, washing much of the cargo overboard and damaging the little ship. The merchant prayed that, if he were saved, he would build a cathedral wherever he landed. He landed clear over in Brazil, and build the cathedral in Rio. Murals on the ceiling show the story of the ship, his prayers, the landing and building of the cathedral. From there we walked to the new National Cathedral, and, oh, my, what a contrast! While the old one is traditional, the new one is conical, all brass, bright leaded glass, and can hold 42,000 people. It was huge! Really stuck out like a sore thumb in the center of the old city, but they are very proud of it. That night we were so tired that we didn't really bother with dinner; just went up to the Club Room at the hotel, ate all the snacks we wanted, and went to bed. The Club Room overlooks Copacabana Beach, and so did our room. Great views! By the way, Ipanema is The Hot Place to be; Copacabana is for old folks, but there were a lot of young bodies on the beach! The next day our walking tour started at 9. We rode the Metro and then took a city bus to Santa Teresa. The ads had said we would ride an historic trolly, but it ran off the track and into a power pole about two years ago; still not running again. So we took the bus, which was like a Disney E-ticket ride—very, very bumpy! Friday was 104 and 90% humidity. We still climbed to the top of Santa Teresa, which is a trendy area with a lot going on at night, but not so much in the daytime. From the hilltop we viewed favelas in the distance, once controlled by drug lords and even more dangerous now that the government has put them in prison, from what we heard. Until recently there were warring drug lords, now it's a free-for-all with many clashing for control. Some friends toured the favelas, but we've seen enough slums. Leaving Santa Teresa was via the Escadaria Selaron, which is a series of 215 steps in two flights, covered with tiles of all different colors from all over the world, They are trendy, touristy, heavily trafficked, and I’d have been happy with seeing them, not going down. By 2:30 we were back at the hotel, had lunch, and decided to rest; it was tooooo hot, hot, hot to go out! Early on we decided against climbing to the top of Corcovado to see Christ the Redeemer and taking the funicular to the top of Sugarloaf; seeing them both from a distance was better than waiting in lines to get to the top. We were glad we did. That night we went to dinner and la Plataforma Samba Show. Dinner was at Carretao, a charrusco restaurant--one of those all-you-can-eat Brazilian places where they bring huge skewers of many cuts of beef, chicken and pork to your table, slicing as much of each as you want on your plate—after you go through a line for salads, sushi, fruit, and veggies. It was fantabulous! The beef and pork were to die for! Every piece could be cut with a fork, and was seasoned sooooo well. At La Plataforma theater we found a place on a side platform that was eye-level with the stage, plunked ourselves down, and the show began. What a show! It started with native dances, followed by dances the slaves brought from Africa . Gradually acrobats and drummers were introduced, and an acrobatic show began. We've never seen such a show. These guys were terrific! Periocically one of the four drummers performed solo to give the acrobats a break. Then super tall dancers in tremendous samba costumes came out to did the samba as it's done along the Sambadrome during Carnivale. In all it was a 90 minute show. Each year La Plataforma purchases the winning costume from Carnivale, which the tall dancers wore. They were made of feathers with headdresses that must have spanned 6 feet, and all I could think was, “How on Earth could people wear those huge, heavy costumes during the 5 mile parade along the Sambadrome, lined with thousands of people, in the heat and humidity that's Rio?” The finale was the owner/emcee coming onstage and personally singing a song from the homeland of all those in the audience. All in all, we thought it was a tremendous show. We booked all three Rio tours through Viator.com. The next morning we took a taxi to the ship; it was the most disorganized boarding I've ever seen. We entered a huge warehouse, where we were handed either a number or letter and were to leave our luggage. At least there were fans. People were milling all over the place, nobody knowing where to go or what to do. We found the table in the center where they handed out the health questionnaires, and finally found a line at the front of the room. Mike asked the guy what number he was calling, and we boarded. Some of those people stood around for hours, waiting to be called! Princess has changed a few thiings since we cruised in the fall. For one thing, they have begun to wash balcony glass--the glass that we had to keep washing so we could see. We learned that when the cabin boy above us poured a bucket of water down as we were enjoying the sunset! They also changed the show schedules. Now there are three of each show a night, giving a better chance of finding a seat; shows are at 7:15, 8:45 and 10:15. On the down side, shows have been cut from one hour each to 45 minutes. We think the quality of the entertainment has gone down, and we hope that Princess does not make the 45 minute shows a line-wide practice. After two days at sea we arrived at Buenos Aires. The skyline is as filled with skyscrapers as New York’s or Boston’s. We docked at the commercial port so took a bus to the terminal. It was cloudy and dark and, as we walked down the gangplank, the skies opened and it poured. Wow! We caught a taxi to the Casa Rosada (President's House) and by then the rain had stopped. Walked around the plaza , changed some money, and then took a taxi to La Boca District, where all the colorful little houses are. It was jumping. We walked around, sent some post cards, took a lot of pictures, sat in a shady outdoor place for a “schop” (draft beer), and soaked in the local color. Mike saw a couple dancing the tango at an outdoor cafe so we stopped for lunch. As soon as we ordered, the sky opened up again. However, we were nice and dry under a canopy. We managed to stretch lunch out while three couples put on a tango show, as well as a gaucho show with bolas. Waiters used sticks to raise the canopy to drain water. When the rain stopped, we were ready to return to the ship. The nights were clear with lots of stars so we saw the Southern Cross every night from our balcony. That night we traveled very slowly 90 miles up the Rio de la Plata (River of Silver) to Mondevideo. The river was named because it was the way to transport silver from the mines to the two cities, not because of the color of the water, which is very muddy. On our previous trip to Montevideo, we’d noticed many wrecked ships tilting in the shallow harbor. This time, we noted that all those ships have been moved to one area, but are still atilt. Montevideo is a great city. It is clean, safe, and has retained more of its ancient buildings than Buenos Aires. Although Buenos Aires claims to be the Paris of the South, it is quickly modernizing. Montevideo has wide avenues with landscaped medians from when it was laid out in the 1500's by Europeans, and oozes the aura of ancient times. It is also much more laid back, and not so bustling, as Buenos Aires. Many streets have been closed off in the old city center, reserving them for pedestrians with lots of outdoor cafes. The pedestrian walkways connect large plazas. We really liked it. We walked the pedestrian walkways, saw the plazas, and ate in a sidewalk cafe under both an umbrella and a huge tree--lots of shade in the heat of the day. Geographically, the Falkland Islands are due south of Buenos Aires and Montevideo. The South American coast has a large easterly bulge where the two cities are, and then curves westerly a lot so that the Falklands are pretty much 'way out in the ocean, even though they are due south. From there, we'll travel due west to the very tip of South America, Cape Horn and Ushuaia, Argentina. After two sea days we arrived at the Falkland Islands, which claim to be an independent country under British protectorate, but which the Argentines claim to be illegally taken by the Brits in the 1870's. They are still squabbling, but in the meantime, 6 generations of Brits, Welch, Northern Irish, and a few Scandavanians, have made the place home. This is a tender port because the bay is shallow. Weather does not always cooperate and about half the cruises that are scheduled to stop here do not make it. Mike and I have made it twice, so we are very lucky! We had booked a tour to Bluff Cove Lagoon to see penguins; it is a privately owned sheep ranch. Sheep ranching is the main business on the islands. We drove about 20 minutes in a van, and then transferred to a 4WD Land Rover ATV; the next 30 minutes were on what they call trails, but were nothing more than where an ATV or two had gone before over a peat bog. Pretty rough. There aer not as many penguins here as we saw at Puerto Madryn in 2001. There are Gentoo and King penguins. The Kings have yellow necks. We snapped pictures for a while, but then ducked into the Sea Cabbage Cafe for tea, scones, and warmth. The didddle dee jam scones with whipped cream were superb, and the cafe was warm. Temps ran in the 40's, but the 40 MPH wind made it seem much, much colder. Upon returning to Stanley, we headed for The Rose, a pub which our Canadian friend Harvey found for us in 2001; we had an ale for Harvey before returning to the ship for a very late lunch. The following day was a sea day, but at 4:30 we approached and circumnavigated Cape Horn. That day defined the vast difference between this cruise and our 2001 cruise. On the previous cruise, we'd had bright sun and smooth seas until we passed Cape Horn. At the minute we passed from the Atlantic into the Pacific, the sea turned angry, gale force winds whipped up and we were in a blizzard of snow. On the other hand, this time the warm, sunny weather followed us around the Cape and back into the Beagle Channel. We could not have had better weather than on this trip! How far south did we get? That day the sun rose at 5:18 and set at 10:45. That's a long day! The following morning we docked at Ushuaia with the sun shining brightly, and much warmer than we’d expected. Ushuaia, El Fin Del Mundo, the end of the world, is the southernmost city, not just on the American continents, but in the world on Tierra del Fuego, Land of Fire. Tierra del Fuego was so named because the early explorers saw smoke from fires the Indians burned to keep warm. Ushuaia is a city of 85,000, but it seems much smaller. I have no idea why so many people live here; it's harsh, cold and dark in winter, yet it’s beautiful. Think Switzerland with an ocean and the Alps coming down to the water. In this case it's the Andes with forests and wildflowers. The primary industry in the early 20th century was a hard-core prison, but that closed about 50 years ago and is now a museum. There's also a small Argentine navy base here. It appears that the main industry is provisioning ships for Antarctic cruises and to providing food and gear for travelers into Patagonia. The city rises from the water. We'd taken the prison train down to Tierra del Fuego in 2001 so this time we climbed the town, zig-zagging up one street and down another. Very nice little city, but I wouldn't want to live here. The passenger makeup of the ship is quite cosmopolitan. In addition to the usual complement of Californians, other US citizens, Canadians, Aussies and Brits, there are many Brazilians, a group of Russians, many Germans, and 450 Argentines joined us in Buenos Aires. All announcements were in English, Brazilian and Spanish. Speaking of Buenos Aires, in a cafe in Ushuaia we saw a TV news bulletin about a strike at the port there. They showed police and people in a standoff, but we didn't catch the details. We did catch that 1500 cruise passengers were not allowed to disembark and were glad it happened after we left there. What a disappointment that would be! I took a mis-step the other morning, heard a loud pop in my knee and the following pain was worse than anything I'd ever felt before. Went to the medical center; and the very competent doctor gave me a knee brace and some pain killers, and said to see an orthopedist when I return home. I managed to hobble around Ushuaia, but the Magellan Strait was a bit rougher so I remained on the ship at Punta Arenas because it was a tender port, and I was unsure of another mis-step between the ship and the tender. Mike went out for a zodiac tour we’d reserved; it was to go to two islands for penguin sightings. However, upon reaching the tour office, the group was told that the Harbor Master had cancelled all tours because of rough seas. Mike walked around Punta Arenas with some friends, thankful that this was the first (and only) not-so-good weather we encountered. After three more days at sea we arrived in Valparaiso, Chile. Disembarkation was a breeze, especially compared to the nightmare that the Brazilian Port Authority put us through on embarkation two weeks before. A Cruise Critic poster had arranged a transfer to Santiago, including a tour, wine tasting and lunch, for less than Princess wanted for just the transfer, and the van met us at the pier on schedule. The tour included a trip up two ascencores, or funiculars, in Valparaiso, to the part of the city on top of a cliff. Since the lower part of the ascencor has not operated since an earthquake a few years ago, our guide said there would be stairs. I opted to stay with two other women in the van, while mike and the others joined the guide for the climb. The van remained at the bottom, instead of meeting the others at the top, so they had quite a steep climb up for the good view, as well as down again. I made the right decision, considering the condition of my knee. The driver suggested we three women walk a few blocks to see a church in the area. We inquired of a few people how to get there, but none know. When we found it, there were quite a few men and many dogs sleeping at the top of the stairs. As we were deciding whether to see if it was unlocked or not, a drunk came up, holding a bag of half full cerveza bottles, told us it was a very dangerous area for three women, to stick together and return to wherever we came from. We obeyed and waited in the van. Then we toured Viña del Mar, a resort area north of the city with big, fancy hotels, a casino, and a flower clock, with the face and all the numbers made of live flowers. On the way to Santiago, we stopped at a winery high up on a hill overlooking the Casa Blanca valley to taste one white and two reds, and they were fabulous. Too bad we could not take some home. We had lunch at a nice place with a thatched roof and gravel floor; the kind of atmosphere that tourists thrive on. I am sad to say that Santiagos’s recovery from the earthquake is slow, but it’s still a beautiful city The tour took us to the top of the highest hill in town, which is a huge municipal park. We had a good view of the city and met tons of hikers, runners, and others trying to get away from the hustle of the city for a while. The van dropped us at our hotel, the Crowne Plaza, our third time here. Great hotel with a friendly staff; great location on the main avenue and near a Metro station; not far from Santa Lucia Hill. We checked in and had dinner in the hotel restaurant. The heat wave continued in Santiago so we got a late check-out and enjoyed the hotel’s facilities on our last day. We’d seen most of the sights during our previous two stays so we spent the afternoon in the pool and under umbrellas on the pool deck, where we had access to showers and the sauna. Finally, we took a cab to the airport for our 11 pm flight. Checking in at the Santiago airport, by the way, is reminiscent of the boarding process for the ship in Rio. We were glad we arrived early. However, the flight home was good, we slept well, and were home by noon.   Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
We embarked the Star Princess in Rio de Janiero. Embarkation seemed very unorganized, as he (my cabin mate)is Elite, and usually goes right to the front of the line. Not so this trip. We were told that there were more elite passengers than ... Read More
We embarked the Star Princess in Rio de Janiero. Embarkation seemed very unorganized, as he (my cabin mate)is Elite, and usually goes right to the front of the line. Not so this trip. We were told that there were more elite passengers than any other status. This may have been true, due to the fact that the average age of passengers were over 70. Once on board (the whole process took about an hour and 30 min.) everything went smoothly. Our luggage arrived shortly after we were shown to our cabin. Cabin: ours was an obstructed view outside, and was nicely appointed with room for everything, including a lot of clothing for our 4 week odessey vacation. Although it was listed as "obstructed view" we had only a little bit of the very top part of a lifeboat under our very wide picture window. So it was not very obstructed at all. Public spaces: Although the ship held some 2400 passengers, at no time did it seem crowded. You could always find a quiet spot for reading, etc. The non-smoking nights in the casino were much appreciated by all of us non-smokers. Entertainment: The singers and dancers were nothing short of fabulous. One review mentioned the fact that it was geared to us "old timers" which is probably true considering the average age of the passengers. Nevertheless they were wonderful. They did a total of 4 or 5 original productions. All different and all spectacular. We hit some very rough seas, and the how went on as scheduled. It's a wonder they could keep their footing. One nice addition was the "get to know your entertainers" one day in the Vista lounge. It made it so much more personal finding out all about how they were hired and trained. Food: My biggest disappointment for the entire cruise. Although the service in the MDR was wonderful, and everything was tastefully presented, it was just not up to par with RCCL and Carnival. (my only basis for comparison) We had a lot of people from the UK onboard, and the menus seemed geared to them. Lots of lamb, duck and veal dishes. None of which appeal to me whatsoever. Give me a good, and I truly mean a "good", steak and I'm a happy camper. The fish, scallops and shrimp selections were very good, and the lobster was excellent. On the first leg of the cruise the lobster was paired with shrimp, but on the 2nd leg, it was offered with, not very good, crab cakes. My room mate and I opted for the "optional" menu of medallions of beef, or fettucini alfredo with caesar salad on more than one occasion. Outside: Movies Under The Stars! Absolutely wonderful addition to any ship, and I'm glad that Carnival is following Princess's lead in adding this to their new ships. It was like going to the old fashioned drive-in movie. I've heard that Princess is better than the Carnival edition, only because they give you blankets and serve popcorn during the show. I actually had 2 wonderfully pleasant young men serving hugely delicious cookies and milk. Casino: I can't compare table games, as I don't play them. I mainly sat at those wonderful slots that happily take your money and don't give back. At least not often enough! I do like the fact that you can put in your cruise card and then your money goes into your "casino bank" for you to draw on during the cruise. Mine never stayed in the "bank" very long, as the minute I would win anything, I would go to the cashier window and "cash out" putting my winnings away, and start all over with my original $20 each time I sat at a machine. I guess you can guess by the fact that my start money is $20, than I'm not a big gambler. I hate to lose! Ports: All of the ports throughout South Amerca were interesting to say the least. My least favorite was Nicaragua. Oh my gosh, the people are so poor, no money for irrigation, so farms are suffering terribly. Trash everywhere, horses terribly under nourished with skin on bones literally! Would not go back there. I loved the Tango show in Buenos Aires, and Costa Rica was beautiful. didn't get to Ushuaia due to the fact that we landed in the Falkland Islands to see the penguins, and since we were of British registry, we weren't allowed to enter that particular port. It was the 30th anniversary of the Falkland Islands war. Loved whale watching and Senior Frogs in Cabo San Lucas. Didn't get to leave the ship in Peru, due to the fact that I was quarantined in my cabin for 48 hours. Noro Virus hit our ship hard. Many, many people were sick and quarantined. I had a particularly mild case, keeping me close to the bathroom, but no horrible stomach upset as so many others had. Ship hospital: beautifully antiseptic with a reception area, a couple of examination rooms and what looked like an operating room. Wonderfully staffed with very caring people! If you had to be sick, they took good care of you! Debarkation: OMG, how long did it take to go through customs and get off the ship? Waaaaay too long! The immigration officers came into the Vista lounge (aft) for all of the passengers from the USA, but the line went completely through the main part of the ship, and around a corner and back again. There's got to be a better way. You are way better off coming onboard with one pull along suitcase and a dufflebag, as these people went through first and were off by 9 a.m. We, on the other hand, didn't get off the ship until 11:30. All in all a wonderful experience with a few unpleasent things, but a 30 day cruise is just too darn long, at least for me. Read Less
Sail Date February 2012
The cruise from Rio de Janiero to Santiago was really quite beautiful and included several interesting stops. We arrived in Rio 3 days early since it was near Carnival and we wanted to experience the atmosphere. We stayed at the Marriott ... Read More
The cruise from Rio de Janiero to Santiago was really quite beautiful and included several interesting stops. We arrived in Rio 3 days early since it was near Carnival and we wanted to experience the atmosphere. We stayed at the Marriott on Copacabana and felt perfectly safe. We did follow the usual rules concerning jewelry (none) and leaving money and passports in the hotel safe. They close down half of Avenida Atlantica on Sundays and strolling down it is a wonderful way to get to see the Brazilian people at play. Lots of families. As you get to Ipanema Beach it becomes a much younger crowd. Food was surprisingly expensive and we did tire of all the meat all the time. But it was tasty. We tried feijodas, the national Brazilian dish of beans and meat, and it was delicious. However, one order would serve several people! Going up to see Christ the Redeemer was the highlight of our Rio experience. Be sure to get there first thing in the morning so you can get pictures w/o hordes of people. The views from there were magnificent. I'm not sure I would do Sugarloaf again. It takes forever to get up there (2 separate trams -each with their own line) and all you see are the beaches. From Rio we flew to Iguassu, Brazil and stayed at the Hotel das Cataratas, the only hotel on the grounds of the national park. It was a huge place and there was a lot of walking involved - just getting to your room. It was nice to be able to go for a walk back to the falls after hours (which one of our group did) but I was way too tired for that. The Falls themselves are spectacular! And the walkways bring you very close to the largest ones. You will get a bit wet from the spray but it's incredible. Much bigger than Niagara. We also did a great Zodiac boat ride on the Argentine side. To say you get drenched is an understatement but it is so much fun. Flew back to Rio to board the ship. This was my 2nd cruise on the Star so I knew exactly what to expect. There did always seem to be people waiting to use the the exercise equipment and I don't know what they can do other than expand the area. It's unrealistic to expect to get off after only 20 minutes (which is what the signs say). The food was fine. I don't expect gourmet food on a cruise ship that feeds thousands at every meal but I think the selection is very good and the food itself is tasty. It's also easy enough to accommodate many different diets - assuming you have the willpower. We were fortunate that the weather was perfect for sailing around Cape Horn: calm seas and 40 degree temps. It is a wonderful experience and it seemed that everyone was on deck taking pictures - even after it started raining. Next to "rounding the horn" the highlight of the cruise was sailing through the Chilean fjords. The best of it lasts about 2 hours and the scenery is incredible. Really, all the scenery along Chile was breathtaking and we were delighted to have several days at sea to enjoy it. My only caveat about this trip is that if you go expecting that you will be able to visit Antarctica, you will most likely be disappointed. I don't believe any of the cruises this year succeeded. It's also a VERY expensive excursion but there were still plenty of people who were hoping. Otherwise, this is a wonderful cruise to a region that not many people get to visit. Read Less
Sail Date February 2012
Pre Cruise in Rio. Stayed at Copacabana Palace and had a private guide. Used Valerie from Rio Plus Tours and they were the best. Wow what an amazing guide. Four days in Rio passed quickly and we had our private transfer to ship. This ... Read More
Pre Cruise in Rio. Stayed at Copacabana Palace and had a private guide. Used Valerie from Rio Plus Tours and they were the best. Wow what an amazing guide. Four days in Rio passed quickly and we had our private transfer to ship. This was also arranged by Rio Plus. Outside the port building was a zoo with 3-4 ships in port. Once in the Port building it was a short 15 minutes till we were in our room. I am Elite so that does speed things up a bit. Luggage arrived shortly after arrival. Room I had an Inside by myself and it had the bunks on the wall. I was also under the pool deck and it was loud at times. I really hated my cabin but was in there only to shower and sleep so whatever. Food Was good to excellent sometimes food was piping hot other times just Warm but if you asked they would bring you a hot plate back. Service was as good as can be in the new age of cruising. They had a lot of tables and really did their best. Not perfect for sure but fine. Always left full and had nice dinners. Loved the new Sabatini's Menu and ate there once. The Crown grill was My Fave ate there twice. Pizza good, burgers excellent. Intl Cafe was great for snacks. The Horizon court on this ship had really good hot food with a great salad bar. I gained 10 lbs on a three week vacation so Hey....Good Food. Entertainment. The usual Princess shows they were fine and the Dancers on this cruise were a friendly group when you saw them around the ship. Crooners bartenders Arnold and Audi were the highlight of our evening every night. Movies were not good at all this voyage I am usually able to catch up on movies I want to see but this cruise had poor selection. Tours. We did all tours through the ship and they were all great except the Buenos Aries Cemetery and Ranch. To much wasted time on this one. Falkland tour to Volunteer point was the highlight. Hiking in Patagonia was great as well. Fellow passengers were a mixed bag I loved it. US, Canada, Europe and many from South America. Wow what a diverse group of cultures and ages. We had great weather and were close to cape horn when we passed around it. Glaciers were beautiful as were the Fjords. What an amazing time thank you Princess for a great product at an affordable price. Remember you can have a more upscale experience but you will pay double. I feel Princess delivers a great product for the Price. Debarkation tour to Winery and city tour. Winery was amazing...WOW to the lunch. City tour was a joke held hostage on a bus and was not allowed a bathroom break or any beverages. Worst guide and tour ever. Flew straight Home from Santiago....Laundry and bills are now done back to work tomorrow. Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
STAR PRINCESS: RIO TO VALPARAISO January 2012 FLIGHTS: We flew from JFK non-stop to Rio on TAM, the Brazilian Airline. Booking through OneTravel.com, we got a great deal, and had no problems. After booking I phoned TAM and got our ... Read More
STAR PRINCESS: RIO TO VALPARAISO January 2012 FLIGHTS: We flew from JFK non-stop to Rio on TAM, the Brazilian Airline. Booking through OneTravel.com, we got a great deal, and had no problems. After booking I phoned TAM and got our seats. TAM was very easy to deal with--got English-speaking agents more quickly than with US airlines. Our return, from Santiago (nice airport) required a long stopover in Sao Paolo. Luckily we had United Club passes--which gave us a pleasant hangout with drinks of every kind and even quails eggs. The actual waiting area in Sao Paolo was terribly crowded and unpleasant, with inadequate seating and the need for buses to take us to the jumbo jet. TIP - VISAS: If you're spending even a day in Rio, you'll need a fairly expensive Visas affixed into your passports. (This is because the US makes Brazilians get an expensive Visa.) Allow enough time to get the Visa--either in person of by mail. RIO - TAXI: From other entries on this site, we were expecting to pay 40 reals (about $25) to take us to the Sheraton Hotel in Leblon. Luckily we had gotten 60 reals from money changers at JFK because that's what the metered taxi actually cost. Others paid 80 reals for a pre-paid taxi. HOTEL: We were very pleased with the Sheraton Rio, a resort property (not much else within walking distance). We got a great AAA rate. (Bring the AAA card with you.) I asked for a lovely view and got one--on a high floor from which we could see the pools, the ocean, distant Ipanema beach, and a neighboring hillside favela. The included breakfast buffet is a fine one. TOUR: Via the roll call, we connected on line with 3 other cc's interested in a private tour with guide/driver Daniel Cabral: [rio4visitors.com] Daniel is a highly professional young guide with perfect English, a love of his city, and caring attention to the interests of his customers.We chose to see: Corcovado (with the Christ statue), the Santa Teresa Favela (had a terrific local lunch), and the Lapa aqueduct and the new cathedral. We could also have chosen Sugar Loaf or other things. We also booked our transfer from the hotel to the ship through Daniel's company. THE STAR PRINCESS: We loved this ship, and especially its attentive staff (steward, wait staff, front desk staff, excursion, etc.). It has a lovely vibe. We've enjoyed 9 NCL cruises before this one, and were very pleased with the Princess ambience. Others can say more about the ship and onboard experience, I want to focus on our port experiences. MONTEVIDEO: We chose to walk from the ship through the Old Town (Ciudad Vieja) area--notable for its crumbling, once stunning, old world facades. Many buildings are abandoned and the posters and graffiti on them are fascinating. (Free maps are available just beyond the dock.) We first had to walk through a thronged area full of trinket sellers, but then proceeded on to spiffy Plaza Independencia (with a fragment of the old city wall and world-class designer shops), stopping along the way at the interesting cathedral; Plaza Constitucion (full of flea marketers); and Plaza Zabala (full of parrots). On our way back, we stopped in a wine shop and ran into some other cc's having a wine-tasting there. They had booked a tour guide to take them to a vineyard, but he said because other ships were in port, the vineyard couldn't accommodate them. (I hope they got their money back!) TIP - WINE: Princess allows each passenger to bring a bottle of wine on board from every port. We liked the Chilean especially. ARGENTINA - TOUR: With 2 other cc's, we took an inexpensive cab ride to the Palacio del Congresso (their Congress) for the free morning walking tour [bafreetour.com] that begins there at 11. Meet on the street on the right side of the park (when facing the building.) Our tour guide was Virginia, an effusive, entertaining and knowledgeable young woman, with a particular interest in Argentina's dramatic political history. Our 3-hour tour took us in a straight line to the Casa Rosada (their White House, which is pink). On the way we passed the (former) widest avenue in the world; a famous cafe; a neon likeness of Evita on a tall building, and the Plaza de Mayo, made famous by the mothers and grandmothers of "the Disappeared." After tipping our guide, the four of us explored the Cathedral, then headed toward San Telmo, hoping to see Tango dancing in the streets. (We realized it's only on weekends. But no problem, there was a fabulous Tango duet on board with us with days.) Tired, we took a cab to the Recoleta Cemetery to see where the real Evita rests. Some of the more ornate mausoleums near the entrance were far more interesting. A short cab ride took us back at the ship. Shops in the terminal were expensive. TIP: Taxi drivers didn't know much English. We had to pay for one cab in pesos; change is hard to get. FALKLANDS - TOUR: We arranged on line with 2 other cc's to take Patrick Watts' Penguin Tour to Volunteer Point: [pwatts@horizon.co.fk] The highlight of the tour is spending two hours with King, Magellenic and Gentoo Penguins, and seeing their breeding habits and a stunning beach. The lesser light is a two-hour (each way) off-road journey over hilly, bumpy, spongy, peat bogs. This is an expensive tour (and not for the comfort-needy), but it was well worth it. (And Patrick charges half what cruise ships do.) We set off in a convoy of heavy-duty jeeps, each holding the driver and 4 passengers. Our driver Leona, the director of the Falklands Museum, was filling in for her husband, so we had hours of interesting answers to our questions about Falkland history. A sandwich and crisps are provided. When we arrived back at Port Stanley, Leona showed us around the small town, and we had time to buy more wine and even some champagne at the supermarkert for our next big sight. TIP: There are no ATMs in the Falklands. CAPE HORN -- CRUISING: Sailing around Cape Horn was amazing. By rare luck, we had a beautiful, sunny sailing, without much chop and great photo-ops--all worthy of our champagne. You don't sail around the Cape to get to the Pacific. You sail around the Cape for the thrill of it, then turn back and up into the Beagle Channel to visit more ports. There was an excellent fact-filled narration by Joe Mays, our onboard travel expert, which was broadcast on our TV and loudspeaker as we approached and rounded the Cape. TIP: If you can afford a balcony room, book early enough to get a starboard one for best view. USHUAIA- TIERRA DEL FUEGO TOUR: With five other cc's, we arranged for a tour of Tierra Del Fuego National Park with Edgardo Calaio [edgardocalaio@gmail.com]Edgardo is a young, highly professional tour guide with a university degree in tourism and particular interests in nature and photography. His tour was an excellent value and a comfortable ride as we rode (literally) to the End of the World. Highlights were: visiting at a small free museum (at a cafe) where we learned about the original inhabitants; getting our passports stamped at the curious Post Office at the End of the World (which hangs over a bay on stilt posts); arriving at the sign marking the end of the Pan American Highway which runs from Northern Alaska to Tierra del Fuego. We arrived at a lucky moment--when an adventurous Danish couple also arrived on motorcycle after riding the 30,000 mile highway for 7 months. After visiting the Park, Edgardo drove us through the town; we loaded up on chocolate, crafts, and, of course, wine. STRAITS OF MAGELLAN -- CRUISING: While sailing from Ushuaia (Argentina) to Punta Arenas, (Chile) via the Straits of Magellan we were treated to "Glacier Alley": five glaciers with gorgeous blue ice (spread over a distance), including the sad but spectacular melting glacier, Romanche. Again, Joe Mays' fine narration added to our viewing pleasure. PUNTA ARENAS: With two other cc's, we opted to walk to Plaza de Armas with its famous Magellan statue, fine trees and local vendors, and on to the Cemeterio, notable for a memorial to the Unknown Indian. But aside from some beautifully manicured bell-shaped cedar trees, the cemetery wasn't worth seeing. Tired from walking, we took a cab back to a huge supermarket (with long lines) not far from the port. Yes, we got more wine. Also stopped at a touristy gift shop outside the port-- high prices and poor service. (Local vendors in the port were better.) Maybe we should have taken a tour to see seals or something. CHILEAN FJORDS -- CRUISING: After leaving Punta Arenas we began a 3-day journey up the Pacific coast to Valparaiso. The first day had a highlight--a detour into a Chilean fjord for an up-close view of a sprawling glacier and a fascinating 360-degree spin around. But it is cold in the southern Pacific, and the second day offered no outdoor pleasures. Our final day brought us warm weather again, and everyone was up on deck, catching the sun and experiencing summer. DISEMBARKING - VALPARAISO: We had bought ship transfers from our cruise agent before leaving home (same price as on board and no lines). We disembarked easily, found our luggage (very well organized) and got our bus to the airport in Santiago. A pleasant drive. IF YOU TAKE THIS CRUISE, WE HOPE YOU ENJOY IT AS MUCH AS WE DID! Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
What a relaxing vacation on the Star Princess!We started in Rio and ended in Ft Lauderdale, for a whirl wind of a cruise. The food was very good, more so in the specialty restaurants, but the buffet wasnt that bad either. We met a great ... Read More
What a relaxing vacation on the Star Princess!We started in Rio and ended in Ft Lauderdale, for a whirl wind of a cruise. The food was very good, more so in the specialty restaurants, but the buffet wasnt that bad either. We met a great couple traveling on their 3rd cruise with Princess and it was such a delight going to the theatre with them to see the productions shows and guest entertainers. One entertainer- Nicole Cardona- sticks out especially! Such a voice and stage presence. Her show was so entertaing and sooo much fun! Ive never seen a woman sing Michael Jackson before and she does it! My husband was brought up on stage and danced with her during a Latin song. It really made his night!The staff on the ship was very friendly and was always happy to help when we needed anything. All in all, a great vacation! Read Less
Sail Date March 2011
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