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2,078 Princess Romantic Cruise Reviews

Wow...where to begin? I thought things would be more complicate than they were and was happy to be wrong. I want to personally commend Suzan Kent at Princess for all her cheerful and informative help. Thank you Suzan. You are a jewel in ... Read More
Wow...where to begin? I thought things would be more complicate than they were and was happy to be wrong. I want to personally commend Suzan Kent at Princess for all her cheerful and informative help. Thank you Suzan. You are a jewel in the Princess lines crown. Embarkation was far faster and easier than I had expected and we were aboard in matter of 20 minutes or so with the only real delay being that we showed up later than we had planned. (1pm) Our stuff got to our room without a hitch and in a reasonable time. We had an inside cabin on Baja deck (11) and it was roomy and comfortable. Our Cabin steward was Luis and he was EXCELLENT and always cheerful and helpful. If you get him you will do well. Muster drill was no big deal and over with quickly so that we could get on with the sailaway. My wife and I stood on the Sun deck and watched us exit the port as we called our 3 grown sons to say we had arrived safely and would call them when we got back. From then on the phone was nothing but an alarm clock, and good riddance. We went to the Horizon Court for a late lunch and the Rockfish they served was delicious. I recommend that you go in and wander around the area before grabbing your plate so you have some clue where everything is as with 50 or 60 people all trying to get their food it can be a little confusing. Once that is done you should be able to navigate it without a problem. There is nothing not good in there, though some things may not be something that appeals to you personally. Like your Mama told you as a kid, "Take a little of everything and try it and then go back for what you liked." I did and found favorites all over the place. BTW, for my fellow Southerners out there, they DO indeed have grits on the breakfast buffet. Look for 'em. We discovered that we liked the tables right at the front of the ship, especially for breakfast which we made at sunrise every day of the cruise. WELL worth it! We were also able to sit there and watch (and photograph) a huge rainbow that the ship actually sailed through. That became a highlight for us. Dinner we had anytime dining in the Bordeaux room and they were great. I HIGHLY recommend table 67 where the three guys there gave us the best and friendliest service I have ever had ANYWHERE. They are outstanding! Two of the guys are named Arnel and Pepe and I apologize for forgetting the third man's name because these fellows DESERVE to be commended by name. Be sure to tip them well. They will deserve it. I did my part to decimate the lobster population on the nights it was offered and the baked Alaska on the last night was delicious. I also recommend the "Love Boat Dream" which is a "death by chocolate" treat. Steaks were excellent as was the seafood. Try the escargot too. I did, and it was very good. I'd eat it again anytime. By all means take any of the dance classes offered while aboard. James and Natasha were a blast and they even helped an uncoordinated guy like me pick up the beginnings of the Cha Cha. DEFINITELY go to the port shopping seminar and get that coupon book. It's worth it just to get the Del Sol bag that changes colors in the sun and all te freebies that Jay gives away. The 2nd full day at sea we had some 5-7 ft seas and you could feel it a bit, but it was nothing serious. It rocked us to sleep every night and that was good. Unless you are someone who is ordinarily subject to motion sickness, (In other words...you can't even a read a book while riding in a car.) you should have no problems at all. We didn't. Looking out at the Caribbean as we sailed along I was reminded of the classic last part of Stephen King's "The Shawshank Redemption" where Red speaks of the blue of the Pacific in his dreams. I can tell you that that beautiful blue Caribbean water will haunt my dreams for the rest of my life. As I sit here typing this I can still see it in my mind and wistfully wish I was there still. The shows were good. We saw Adrian Zmed, Carl Strong, and the 60's dance party and enjoyed them all. Oh! A very special note of excellence to the WONDERFUL classical trio that played in the atrium. The piano, flute and violin were amazing. Your rendition of the Ave Maria was so beautiful that I found myself hearing the Latin prayer as you played. I encourage everyone to take the time to just sit and enjoy these 3 lovely and talented ladies whenever you have a chance. The various shows and displays in the atrium where very good. I recommend the one with all the bartenders. Be sure to volunteer to get those free drinks. The appletini I got was worth the silliness I had to perform. I would highly recommend the Island Princess to anyone who has a chance to sail on her. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
We sailed on the Crown 2 years ago, which is almost identical to the Caribbean Princess, so we were able to find our way around easily. The ship was beautiful, well maintained and our cabin was spacious enough, with plenty of storage ... Read More
We sailed on the Crown 2 years ago, which is almost identical to the Caribbean Princess, so we were able to find our way around easily. The ship was beautiful, well maintained and our cabin was spacious enough, with plenty of storage space. The bed was comfortable, and the room was quiet. Edmond took care of our room, did a great job, and was always friendly and greeted us with a smile. He was about the only staff member we encountered with a smile and a welcoming attitude. It was an extremely somber atmosphere in the buffet dining rooms, as the wait staff never smiled! We are not big complainers or hard to please, so we didn't let it bother us. I do however, after owning my own business, believe in excellent customer service with a genuine smile goes a long way! Embarkation was horrible! We waited in the hot sun for hours! we arrived about noon and were not onboard until about 3:00. There were people with diabilities, and the elderly in the heat for hours. We heard a rumor that the ship had to due a search of the entire ship for someone who was on a back to back cruise. I don't know, but nothing was ever said by Princess, no appologies! We were looking forward to the food and entertainment. The dining room menus offered mostly fish, and not being a fan of any seafood except for shrimp and lobster, it never looked very exciting! I think Princess has cut back too far on their menu, and is trying to force people to go to their other dining rooms that require an extra fee. I have been on other ships, where there were so many courses offered and a great variety. About the only alternatives, were medallions of beef or fettuccine every night. We ended up only eating in the dining room twice because of the menu and the first night because of the great seafood buffet sail-away. So, we ate at the buffet and I have to say they offered a very good variety of food, and it was completely different every lunch and dinner. The food after awhile did begin to taste the same and the deserts were never very good. The only desert I really enjoyed, was the floating Island with warm vanilla sauce. I am glad that they now offer complimentary lemon -ade. You do need to ask to get this though. It was The World Series, and we are big Yankee fans, so we did not go to the first few night's entertainment. We chose to watch the games on the big screen under the stars. With all the cheering and large screen, it felt like you were at the game. This did not last long for us though, as there is so much smoking around you, we had to go to our room to watch the rest. When we did go and watch the singers and dancers that are part of the ships entertainment crew, we were very unimpressed! The night we went the singing was not good, nor the dancing. I did not go to the other performances and maybe they were better, but the one night was so bad, I didn't feel they could have been that much better. The Crown had excellent singers and dancers when we went on it 2 years ago. I was very disappointed, as I owned a dance studio for over 20 years and love watching the top entertainment usually found on cruises! The magician/comedian, was excellent and we watched a couple of his shows and were very entertained! The other comedian was not that great. The ship was completely full, and we never had a hard time finding chairs, or quiet areas. It was however smoky everywhere, even though the ship has designated areas, they do not enforce this. The buffet was extremely crazy, hectic and set up wrong, as stated many times in these reviews. We made the most of our cruise and had a great time. We don't feel like we had great food or great entertainment and don't feel at all pampered! I know the economy is bad, and I appreciate the great fares, but think Princess cut back too far. We will try a different cruise line next time, and will think twice before booking with Princess again. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
Emerald Princess 11/15/09 - 11/22/09 Ft. Lauderdale Round Trip Eastern Caribbean P219 - Plaza Inside State Room just foreward of the Art Gallery Princess Cruise #2 (Crown last year) & 2 Disney Wonder Cruises (2004 & 2005) My ... Read More
Emerald Princess 11/15/09 - 11/22/09 Ft. Lauderdale Round Trip Eastern Caribbean P219 - Plaza Inside State Room just foreward of the Art Gallery Princess Cruise #2 (Crown last year) & 2 Disney Wonder Cruises (2004 & 2005) My wife & myself (30 & 30), no kids. Pre-Cruise: We took Southwest to FLL and rented a car with Dollar. VERY quick and easy. Then, we stayed at the Cocobelle (small 16 room property 2 blocks from Ft. Lauderdale beaches. A+. Embarkation: We arrived via Dollar Rental Car Courtesy Shuttle at 1:15pm to the terminal. We stood in line for a total of 2 minutes outside and then were able to walk right through security. We then waiting for 5 minutes in line to get our Cruise Card/Check-In. We then walked right onto the Emerald Princess. Highlights: New entertainment in Piazza. In addition to a piano player & string quartet, there is now a guy called Krill (kah-reel) who does some cool stunts. Also, there is a juggler/funny many as well. All were good. The comedian, Kevin Hughes in the Princess Theatre was EXCELLENT all 3 times we saw him. The hypnotist, Joshua Seth was amazing. The impressionist was decent but not great. Ports: We took the water taxi to Phillipsburg St. Maarten. $6 for an all day pass. Well worth the money. Princess Cays was good as always. St. Thomas we stayed on the ship. Grand Turk was 100% perfect. Sunny, warm, beautiful water. Best Crew Member: Isabela @ International Cafe (before 4pm) and Vines (after 4pm). We was our favorite crew member on the Crown last year, and we were thrilled to see her again this cruise. Sanctuary: The word is out...the sanctuary pool is FREE. Too many people saving chairs as usual. The sanctuary though ($10/half day, $20/day) was great but very busy. I got there on our last sea day @ 7am to reserve a seat (open @ 7:30) and I was 23rd in line. Be prepared and just get the week long pass ($110). Room: Our stateroom was an inside stateroom. Although small, it was perfect for the two of us. We had our beds made into one and had an egg-crate topper. The room was under the Princess Theatre. Occasionally, you could hear a little bit of the music from the Theatre. However, this is not annoying at all and never past 11:30pm. Casino: You can now use your cruise card only @ the casino. Convenient but bad for chronic gamblers (which I am not). Cruise Director: Tim Donovan - he was funny. We enjoyed last years director more but Tim did a good job. Favorite Event: Pub Night @ Club Fusion. It was a lot of fun and was PG-13. Do not take you kids! Disembarkation: Princess did a great job. HOWEVER, the people in front of us did not have their customs forms filled out and therefore held up the line for people waiting to get off the ship. Kevin Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
This is long overdue, but I thought it was still worth doing. Last year my husband and I took a 7-day Eastern Carribean cruise on the Emerald Princess. The experience was absolutely perfect. We flew into Ft Lauderdale the ... Read More
This is long overdue, but I thought it was still worth doing. Last year my husband and I took a 7-day Eastern Carribean cruise on the Emerald Princess. The experience was absolutely perfect. We flew into Ft Lauderdale the night before the cruise and stayed at a Comfort Inn. The hotel was nice. They had a shuttle that took us to a local Ruby Tuesday for dinner and a shuttle that went to the cruise port the following morning. Shuttle was perfectly suitable and got us to the port well before the crowd arrived. It took about an hour to get on the ship. I was surprised at the attitudes of other people in line. So many were completely outraged about having to wait in line. My husband and I were actually amused by the sourness of other passengers. One woman compared likened having to sit in the cruise terminal for a half hour to a prison camp. Once on the ship, we went to the buffet lunch. It was quite nice and only a little crowded. We sat with another couple that we met in line. I purchased a coffee card at this time. Completely worth it. Outstanding coffee at the little cafe! We visited our room. We had a balcony that was wonderful and the room was a decent size. Our steward was fun and very nice. I could tell he thought we were a little dorky since we were so excited about everything, but that was ok. Sail away party was great! Plenty of room in the hot tubs and we quickly made friends with a few others. Princess Cays was the next day and it was fantastic. We were on one of the first tenders and loved it. The snorkeling was great! We grabbed some fish food and fish were everywhere! bbq was good. Pina Coladas were great. The weather started to storm just as we were leaving. It was very cool. Dinner at the specialty italian resturant was probably one of the best meals I ever had in my life. You get to try a bit of everything and by the time time for dessert we were stuffed. My husband had ordered a large floral arrangement be delivered to our room after dinner. The hot tubs near the back of the ship were usually empty at night. It was a lovely spot to sit and watch the ocean. St Maartan was beautiful. Sitting on our balcony when we sailed in to port was one of the highlights. We did the Rhino Riders excursion. It was a fun time. Our rider kept stalling out and was considerably slower than the others...but thats ok. Snorkeling there was not as great as Princess Cays. Didn't see any fish. Did a little shopping afterwards. I'd avoid the shopping areas next time, I never felt completely safe there. St Thomas was great. Word to the wise- just because the ship docks at 7 does not mean you should get off the boat at that time. Nothing was open until 9 and we were very uncomfortable walking around by ourselves. We had an 11am excursion with Captain Nautica. I cannot express how wonderful CAPTAIN NAUTICA's Snorkeling trip was!! It was truly the highlight of our trip. The crew took us on a wonderful boat ride and was so friendly. They played music and told us about the area. We went to several different snorkel sites and each one was better than the next. Saw hundreds of AMAZING fish, sea turtles, reef squid, etc. When we got back on the boat they had some melon and shrimp. We are doing this excursion again on our April cruise. Grad Turk was very much like pricess cays. I would skip Margaritaville next time. $80 for two burgeres, two margaritas and shrimp just felt wrong, especially since it wasnt great food and they didn't play any Jimmy Buffett music. Main Dining room on the ship was always good. I would recommend the breakfast there as it was a very pleasant surprise. Food on the promenade cafe was also great. We never tried the tapas bar. Art was lovely. We enjoyed walking through. The Champagne fountain at the Captain's dinner was unexpected very fun. I got a photo of myself pouring some champagne. Entertainment was good. There was an impressionist but we did not know any of the impressions. I believe we were to young to get the jokes...because everyone else was laughing. There was also a British style comedy show...maybe we are just too American, because we really didn't get it! We could always find a lounge chair by the pool. Loved the private adult pool for when we wanted quiet. My husband got a massage and enjoyed it. Another tip- don't buy anything on the ship until the end of the cruise. I bought a swarski crystal necklace early on and on the last day all necklaces were half off. A lot of the people on the ship were older, but that actually worked out well for us because it meant empty pools. Disembarkation was a little disorganized. Seemed like they weren't sure what to do with themselves, but if you have a little patience the experience isn't so bad. WONDERFUL Trip Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
Let me start off to say, It was a cruise and any cruise is better than being at work. The ship is beautiful, and our mini suite was nice and spacious. We stayed the night before at the Renaissance Hotel and it was very nice at a great ... Read More
Let me start off to say, It was a cruise and any cruise is better than being at work. The ship is beautiful, and our mini suite was nice and spacious. We stayed the night before at the Renaissance Hotel and it was very nice at a great price. We arrived at the Pier and we saw the Oasis of the Seas and it looked massive, not even a ship but more like a hotel floating on the water. I will start with the positive, the itinerary was excellent, so was the ship tours we did. We had perfect weather and the sailing was smooth to each port. I like trivia and games so there was some of this each day, but there could be more. I loved the balcony dinner was great and our best meal on board the ship. Going on the tours was very smooth and no problems. We had a wonderful room steward he was always there was to make you happy. The back of the ship's pool on the aft is the best place to be, and Herman was always there to chat and bring you a great cold drink when needed. Crooner's has the best martini's and variety. Have the "From Russia with Love" in the James Bond Series "always shaken never stirred" International cafe was a great place to have coffee and a light snack or lunch. There was a non smoking night at the Casino which was very nice. We loved our balcony it was covered and it was great to walk out every morning. Let me start to say, this is my first Princess cruise and I have been on over 40 with other lines. All cruise lines are there to make you happy and I would rather be on any cruise than be at work. The food in the dining room was not too good, all soups were creamed even the chicken and rice. The food was bland and lack of flavor. The meats were tough and the pasta was mainly one style. The service is the dining room was good. Once thing I can say is your food was always served hot and I really like that. No wine steward in the dining room to assist you I thought this was odd. The buffets, the breakfast was different, they premade fried eggs all plated instead of the usual make to order and sometimes they sat there for a while before anyone would take them. The breads were good and variety. I really enjoyed the abundance of lox that was there each morning. It was hard to get a seat for the buffet and no assistance from the waitstaff to help. I noticed the waitstaff did go up to people who snapped there fingers for assistance to serve them coffee or juice. I couldnt do that out of respect for the server but I also was never offered a cup of coffee either. The lunch buffet was good most of the time. We loved the Mexican buffet on the last sea day. The buffets also lacked flavors and spice as well. We did have high hopes at the Crown Grill, while our appetizer was great as well as soup and salad, our porterhouse steak was not too good. It didnt seem to have the flavor and I don't mean the huge garlic butter they place on the steak as flavoring. It almost taste like the steak was cooked half way earlier and then the final cooking when ordered. It did not have the "hot off the grill flavor" So we were very disappointed and only ate a small portion of our steaks. Our server was not too informative about the menu or suggestions as we heard others make suggestions and the porterhouse was not recommended by the other servers. This had to be one of the hottest ships I have ever sailed. This is were they must be cutting back on the air conditioning to the point that condensation was dripping from the ceilings. I complained but nothing really changed. I know I read this in other reviews and it is so so true. Very uncomfortable to sleep in. A reminder, I pre paid for some items such as the champagne breakfast but didn't use it because of the menu, and was told it was not refundable on the last day so make sure you use it or you lose it (money). The casino is so smokey, and really just too much since there is not too much air circulation there. I didnt care for the payout system. Will I cruise Princess again? I don't know, I was looking so forward to this cruise since I heard so much about it. There was not too much to do at night unless you like ballroom dancing and the music was more orchestra than bands. I did enjoy the comedian. The 8:30 shows were always packed never to get in. I would havet to wait for the 10:30 show. I was not too happy with Muts. Mostly sports, and concerts like Tina Turner it was just such a let down. Why all the football when they could watch it at the bars that was showing the same thing. Dan is great, he is so funny. I didnt see too much of Lisa other than the Bingo. Getting off the ship was easy, and they want you off EARLY. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
We drove from the SF Bay Area and stayed the night before in San Pedro. We got a great deal at the Crowne Plaza, including parking for 15 nights. We expected the town to be a dump, but were pleased to find a cute little town with a great ... Read More
We drove from the SF Bay Area and stayed the night before in San Pedro. We got a great deal at the Crowne Plaza, including parking for 15 nights. We expected the town to be a dump, but were pleased to find a cute little town with a great restaurant scene. We even got free breakfast and a welcome drink at the hotel. On Sunday morning, we bypassed the mob scene for the shuttle bus at the hotel, and had our cousin drop us off at the port (2 mins away). We arrived at about 12:15 and found no lines. We were on board within 15 mins. Once on board, the cruise staff greeted us at the door and then we entered the Piazza atrium where they had carolers dressed up in old English costumes (nice touch!). The ship's common areas had recently been upgraded and they were beautiful. We then checked out our room. Unfortunately, it hadn't been remodeled. There was a big coffee stain on the carpet and the bedspread had definitely logged the miles. But there was ample storage space for our two weeks of clothing and the double-sized balcony was great. Our cabin steward, Emmanuel, greeted us upon arrival. He told us that this was his first cruise, but you would have never known it. He was so well trained, and we needed for nothing. Emmanuel was delightful. Everytime he saw us, he made us feel like that was the best moment of his day. He learned our names, he would ask about our day, and he genuinely seemed interested in our activities. He would even give us the tip of day. We had anytime dining, which was slow at first. We chose to eat at around 8 p.m. at the Bernini Dining Room (there are two anytime dning rooms), and on the first couple of nights we had to wait 15 to 30 minutes for a table. This was fine, however, as we had a drink in the Piazza just outside the dining room. Since it was just the two of us, we wanted to eat by ourselves, but we could have avoided the wait if we dined with others. By about the third night, the wait had disappeared. The maitre'd, Alfredo, was incredible. He knew most of the diners and their preferences. Most nights, we had Iulian and Misha as our waiters. Our usual table was in the area where they did the chef's dinner, so there were three nights when we had other waiters. Although they were good, there was something special about Iulian and Misha...they were like family. We used the gym almost every day. It was very nicely equipped. We heard that it was very crowded in the mornings, but we went either at 1 p.m. or 5 p.m. and found it to be manageable. We signed up for a class about getting fit abs. This was a scam to try to sell you expensive health products. We truly felt shnookered!! My husband thought the food was really good, but generally "middle America basic." He particularly liked the homemade sorbets and ice creams for dessert. I thought the food was just average. It was a bit bland at times, but there were a few meals that were very nice. I really liked the afternoon tea, and the scones were to die for. We went to Sabatini's for my birthday...it was a great deal. For only $20 more, you get an incredible 15 course dining experience. The food and presentation was fantastic. Ask for Simona...she had to be the loveliest person on the ship. We just wanted to take her home, as her delightful personality and enthusiasm was infectious! The cruise director's staff was great, although the cruise director himself was nearly invisible. The Aussies -- Jayson, Chris, and Andy -- were so much fun! But our favorite was Alex. He made us feel like family. The sail away party from L.A. was fun, there were so many activities around Christmas (including gingerbread house-making and Santa Claus), and New Year's was a blast! We didn't take the kids on this cruise, and were sorry we hadn't when we saw all the fun the children were having! We rung in the year at the bottom of the Piazza, and the atmosphere was so festive. We heard that the sail away party from Honolulu was among the best, but we didn't make it because we were exhausted from our extended day in Oahu and we had an early day in Kauai the next morning. We thought that such a party would have been best as a sail away from Maui. Don't miss the cruise director'staff talent show! We met many wonderful passengers on the ship. The cruise director's staff also hosted several LGBT get togethers, which made us feel especially welcome. We thought the entertainment was pretty good. Don't miss the show that was music from the movies. It was incredible, and with a few unexpected surprises. We loved Skywalker's, the disco on top of the ship, but thought the DJ was lame. The place was packed on Abba night, but most nights it was request music. This meant that one song would be Lady GaGa, the next Hip Hop, and then next Michael Jackson. The place was empty most nights because request music means you please no one. They would do much better with more themed music...Disco Night, Abba Night, 80's night, etc. Trust us, it will bring in the crowds. We didn't do any excursions...they were so overpriced, and you could do better to book them yourself. We rented cars in every port. The best deal was Enterprise in Hilo. You can take the Alamo bus from the port, and the car was only $35!! We even saw Air Force 1 parked at the Hilo Airport. We used Budget in Kauai and Maui, and found them to be dependable and reasonable. Finally, the atmosphere of the ship was nice. Since there were many days at sea, we were glad that there was plenty of deck space/chairs, a variety of refurbished public areas, and plenty of activities. We like that the smoking sections were limited. We did find that the hallways around our cabin were very smoky. We also hated that we had to inhale others' smoke on balcony, which really limited our enjoyment. The announcement-free disembarkation was a bit confusing. We elected self-carry off, so we went to the Vista Lounge with our luggage at 7:30 a.m., the allotted time, and there was mob scene. No one knew what we were suppose to be doing. In frustration, we went to a different part of the ship and ran into our cruise staff buddy Alex who saw that we were confused. He ushered us to the exit, and we were on our way home in minutes. Thanks, Alex!! Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
Embarking/Disembarking Procedures - Magnificently organised. Luggage left us at Manchester airport and was next seen in our ships cabin on arrival in Barbados. You step off the plane in Barbados, straight onto a bus, and straight to the ... Read More
Embarking/Disembarking Procedures - Magnificently organised. Luggage left us at Manchester airport and was next seen in our ships cabin on arrival in Barbados. You step off the plane in Barbados, straight onto a bus, and straight to the ship. No customs or waiting around which is great after a long flight. Return journey is very much similar. Luggage is taken from you night prior to departure and you see it next in Manchester. No customs to go through as you go straight into departure lounge. Food - Quality of a very high standard. You would pay a high price to eat in a top restaurant in England for what was served to us. Drinks - Far from cheap. A beer costs $7-13 including service charge, so if you are a budding alcoholic this is not the place for you. Top advice is to buy a soft drinks badge on arrival on board the ship, this entitles you to as much as you like in soft drinks throughout your entire cruise. Cabin - We had an inside cabin with a double bed, and although small it was comfortable for us as we had little intention in staying in the room for long periods of time. Ship - The ship is modern, comfortable with 14 decks. Staff - Very helpful and polite and can't do enpough for you Entertainment - This was the main let down for us as we found it poor in quality, dated (aimed mainly at the wrinkly's)and amateurish. How some of the entertainers pasted auditions is beyond belief. Conclusion - We had a magnificent time and would do it again. Everything was not perfect, but we visited some magnificent places, was looked after by the staff and ate like Kings. This holiday is a bargain. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
We just completed our 5th cruise with Princess. My wife and I booked this cruise for my birthday for a romantic getaway and to celebrate. The ship is fantastic. We booked a minisuite which had lots of room compared to a standard balcony. ... Read More
We just completed our 5th cruise with Princess. My wife and I booked this cruise for my birthday for a romantic getaway and to celebrate. The ship is fantastic. We booked a minisuite which had lots of room compared to a standard balcony. The only problem was the balcony stuck out past all other balconies so we felt like we were in a fishbowl with the whole ship able to look down on us. This can put a damper on some romantic time on your balcony. Boarding the ship was a breeze. Quick, no lines, luggage showed up to our room quickly. Now lets get to the food. I have been a cook for 25 years and the food is an extremely important part of the cruise for me. The buffet offered to us after we boarded was TERRIBLE. We have been on 4 other Princess cruises and this had to be the worst food quality we ever experienced. The food was cold and tasted no better than grade school cafeteria food. Other options to the buffet are the Pizza, which was OK, sorry but living in NY we are spoiled with great pizza, the international cafe on deck 5, which seemed to be a well kept secret for most of the cruise. They had good sandwiches, quiche, soup and excellent pastries. Vines on deck 5 also was not well known. They had amazing sushi and other ethnic themed snacks every day. We had them as appetizers each night before dinner. There was no extra charge for these 2 restaurants, I highly recommend them. The reason we had our first course in the bars on deck 5 was due to the food in the main dining rooms. I'll review each by meal time. And although the food was not good, the service was always outstanding. Breakfast was good, not excellent. Every day a special was offered along with made to order breakfast. I had the special every morning. It seemed like it was under the warming lights too long EVERY day. Sometimes it was cold, sometimes so dry I returned it and ordered something else. Eggs cooked to order were always hot and delicious, as were the pancakes. Hash browns were always undercooked and most times cold. Bacon and sausage were cold and undercooked every morning. Fruit was always fresh and delicious. Lunch at the restaurant was good most times, again not excellent. The food was just OK. I would say the quality was slightly below average. The burgers were dry and lukewarm each time we ordered them. If its a burger you want the ones cooked on deck 15 at the burger place were always fresh and hot. Stay away from the buffet. The food we had was horrid each time we tried it. Cold, overcooked, and dried out. Lunch was much better in the main restaurant or the international cafe. Decent pizza was always available on deck 15 as well. Dinner was the most disappointing of all the meals, but only in the main restaurants. We tried the specialty restaurants on 2 nights and had some of the best food we have ever eaten. Most of the food at dinner in the main dining room was either cold or overcooked. The quality of the meals was sub par at best. Out of the 5 nights we ate in the main dining room we had one very good meal, the lamb chops. One night I sent back 2 meals and and wound up eating in the international cafe. Lobster night brought cold overcooked lobster tails, I had the worst veal I ever tried on Italian night. Cioppino, which is one of my favorite meals was inedible, skirt steak was so tough I couldn't eat it. They seem to put great emphasis on their specialty restaurants and no effort into the main dining rooms. Although the food was a huge disappointment the rest of the cruise was excellent. Lots of great entertainment, they had 2 unbelievably funny comedians, current in theater movies in the theater and under the stars, very well produced shows, and a staff that can't do enough for you. The ship itself if well kept, clean and enormous. Even though there were 3400 passengers on the ship, no one area seemed over crowded. I had an outstanding massage, the hot tubs were hot and clean, the pools were well kept, there were 4 of them and 2 were adults only, and we could always find a lounge chair to lay in the sun. At the ports, disembarkation was smooth each time, even when there was no dock and the ships tenders had to take us ashore. It was well organized and ran very smoothly. If food is not an important aspect of your cruise Princess is fantastic way to go. If it is important to you than check out another cruise line, or pay the extra cash and dine at the specialty restaurants every night. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
This was our second cruise on the Ruby with the 1st being Nov. of last year. We loved our last cruise so when I found out the Ruby was doing a special 3 night cruise in Dec. my husband and I decided to give ourselves an early Christmas ... Read More
This was our second cruise on the Ruby with the 1st being Nov. of last year. We loved our last cruise so when I found out the Ruby was doing a special 3 night cruise in Dec. my husband and I decided to give ourselves an early Christmas present. We loved our cabin before so we booked the same cabin. Embarkation was a breeze for us. We drove down the night before and stayed the night at the Hyatt Pier 66 and had a very nice dinner at the restaurant there. The next moring we drove to the pier to park but since my husband has a concealed to carry permit and had a weapon in the car we were told we had to park at the Park N Go over by the airport. That was a great idea as the parking there is only $10 day and you get a discount off that if you are a AAA member. The shuttle picked us up immediately and took us to the pier and when we got of the shuttle was right there. The neet thing about Park N Go is that they have a family of monkeys living right next door and they feed them banannas so we got to see them. Parking at the port is $15 a day. We were on board very quickly. Cabin: The cabins on Caribe (10) deck have the biggest balconys onboard. They are a huge 9' x 9' and the front half is covered. The balconys are tierd so if you don't want to look down on someone or have someone look down on you do't book princess. We don't care. Now you can hear others on their balconys and you can smoke on your balcony. You have no control over that and neither does Princess or any other crusie line. It is just like a hotel balcony in that you have your personal space but it is not completely private. FOOD & SERVICE: The staff onboard to us was wonderful and very courteous and friendly. We are not buffet people so we only did the buffet for lunch the first day. It was crowded and impersonal. We had anytime dining and never had to wait more than 50 or 10 min. to get seated ever for breakfast, lunch or dinner. The food was great we thought. ULTIMATE BALCONY DINNER: I HIGHLY recommend doing this if you are at all romantic. WOW we felt like royalty. The cost is $50 pp. but so worth it. Our personal waiter arranged everyting out on the balcony with a beautiful table set up complete with flowers. First course was canapies, Second course was appatiser and we had steak for the main course and the dessert was do die for WOW along with water, wine and champagne. The photographer took some beautiful pictures of us. Between courses the waiter waits outside your door so you do have complete privacy. Our dinner was the ultimate highlight of our cruise. We had a day at sea so early that moring at 7 am I went to sign us up for the Sanctuary for the afternoon in the adult area. We love that area as it is quiet and relaxing with wait service. Then I went and worked out in the gym. In the moring I shoped and took pictures. PRINCESS CAY DAY: We slept in as we were in no hurry to get to the island. Princess Cay is a pretty island with tons of water sports opportunity with bars, grills and local shopping. IT was a fun day. The tendering was very organized getting to shore and back. CROWN GRILL: our last night of the crusie we had dinner in the Grown Grill. IT was wonderful and so was the food. MISC: Movies under the stars was fun with blankets and popcorn. Loved the internationa cafe with sandwiches and desserts. The Champagyne waterful they do was so much fun and a great photo op. It only lasted a few minutes. We never did so see a show as time and our plans did not allow. We spent a lot of time on our balcony reading and just looking at the water. We love the Ruby Princess and are now looking forward to our next crusie on her. the only negative was that the cabins never really get what I call cool, like you keep it at home so I brought a small fan and extension cord and used that at night. I think the thermastates are just there for looks. In the day time it helps to keep the drapes closed if you are not in your cabin. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
First Princess Cruise went perfect! We had two trips with Carnival and they were good, but this was even better. Our balcony cabin on deck 10 Caribe had a huge balcony and I just loved hanging out on the balcony while my wife got ready ... Read More
First Princess Cruise went perfect! We had two trips with Carnival and they were good, but this was even better. Our balcony cabin on deck 10 Caribe had a huge balcony and I just loved hanging out on the balcony while my wife got ready in the morning and later at night before dinner. I didn't go with the Jr Suite and felt that the standard room with the big balcony was a better deal. The room seemed to have plenty of space, even though we had gotten use to the Jr suites on our previous Carnival curies. The one odd thing about the trip... is we thought the food selection in the buffets was better then the dining room (all you can eat lobster claws the first night). We hadn't done any buffets on our last two trips, but this time we found the portions and selections to be more tempting than the dining room most nights. I had no idea that we would finish our trip with a professional published book, that documented the entire incredible trip! But my wife talked me into buying the new book that Princess sells on board. We over-planned our trip with multiple excursions in each port and had no idea that we would be able to fit it all in. But the weather and ship's timing was perfect so we were able to hit every event we had planned. Wow! It couldn't have gone any better on our first cruise with Princess. If you want to see some different excursions on Aruba, Bonaire, Eleuthera, Dominica, Grenada, St John, Little Cayman, and Cozumel... take a look at our trip report with the help of the new service Princess is offering- PanRaven which allows you to enter your text and photos into a professional looking book which you then share with friends on-line and print out a copy for your home. http://www.panraven.com/visitor/VisitorViewStory.epage?sp=Sview&sp=154975 ONE TIP- if you click on the arrows below the photos, you can see 2 pages at a time, which give a better panoramic view. If you click directly on the photo instead of using the arrows...you can only see one BIG page at a time (click again to go back to two page view) Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
My wife and I had not sailed in 7 years, before that we sailed on Princess 4 times, Celebrity 3 times, and (ugh)Carnival once. Boy have things gone downhill starting with the menus. To be fair we don't eat seafood, but the other ... Read More
My wife and I had not sailed in 7 years, before that we sailed on Princess 4 times, Celebrity 3 times, and (ugh)Carnival once. Boy have things gone downhill starting with the menus. To be fair we don't eat seafood, but the other selections were embarrassing. Our whole table complained. Thank godness they offered an alternative menu in the dining room that included chicken breast (my wife had 9 nights) and a leather sirloin steak which I had 3 or 4 times. I asked for a strip steak one night and you'd have thought they had to call the main office in the U.S. to get it approved. Get this, one night on the "good" side of the menu two of the choices were turkey & dressing and meatloaf. Never have I seen such cheap menus. None of the soups were edible, we sent them back every time. Our service was good, but not excellent like years ago. Three of us at our table are butter eaters and had to wait every night for more butter. A few years ago once they learned you liked butter, they had it on the table for you when you arrived. It was an 11 day cruise and by the 4th day we were so sick of the buffet we started eating burgers for lunch and cold cereal for breakfast. Everything was bland. I want to point out that usually we are not complainers and loved most our cruises, but not this one. Our cabin was neat and clean, we had a ocean view. The steward was excellent. Entertainment on the ship was good and it wasn't hard to get a good seat. We had a 8:15 second seating so always made the late show. The best part of the cruise was meeting 6 great people that sat at our table. We even hung out together on the ship and on shore when we could. To sum up, we are done cruising. From now on it will be resorts or condos. It just isn't worth the hastle anymore. Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
Good embarkation. Close parking to ship. OK food but not great, (really...Chili for dinner?), Front desk staff very cooperative and kept lines down. With my 3 day no-worky a/c. A/C staff said no problem even though it was over 80 ... Read More
Good embarkation. Close parking to ship. OK food but not great, (really...Chili for dinner?), Front desk staff very cooperative and kept lines down. With my 3 day no-worky a/c. A/C staff said no problem even though it was over 80 degrees every night in the room with a/c on max. Front desk staff took the trouble to visit us at night, felt the 82 degrees and called a/c staff who refused to respond, saying there was nothing wrong with the a/c . Front desk moved us to another room and we enjoyed the rest of the cruise. The room next to us had to ask for extra blankets even with a/c off and a/c staff said theirs was fine too. Pretty good tours, ran well. Weather was fantastic. International cafe area needs more seating as usual. Dining staff and room staff were great. Early dinner should be 30 min later and the elite/platinum nightly party should start at 4:30, not five. With the slow service, had difficulty getting and finishing even 1 drink before dinner. Very poor scheduling. Overall we had a great time as always. Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
We set sail on Sunday January 31, 2010 and before we hit our first port of Hilo, Hawaii we had already contacted our travel agent by email and had her book us a return flight out of Maui (our fourth port) home. I will not complain about ... Read More
We set sail on Sunday January 31, 2010 and before we hit our first port of Hilo, Hawaii we had already contacted our travel agent by email and had her book us a return flight out of Maui (our fourth port) home. I will not complain about the sea conditions - though they were rocky this is the chance you take when you are out in deep waters. I'll start with the good things: A) our bed was the best part of the whole trip! VERY comfortable! B) We enjoyed a wonderful time at "Evening Under the Stars" movie one night that was very memorable :-)! C) The serving staff were for the most part very pleasant and fun. That's all there is in the good column! Though we had fun in the Hawaiian ports there is just not enough time to enjoy them when compared to the vast amount of BORING time on the ship to get there!!! The on-board entertainment was mediocre and the food was barely edible! I lived off the nice fresh fruit, some mashed potatoes and bread. Breakfast was always the best meal of the day! We spent three of our nights on board paying the extra charge to eat at their "Fine dining" rooms - ugggggh! I had a shrimp bisque soup that tasted like shipping foam "peanuts" in nearly flavorless brown liquid (okay it had flavor but it was to awful to write about). When we spoke with the purser staff about our experience a few days into our voyage they were indifferent at best. They offered NO help or concern in pointing us to activities that would be of interest. The activities that were of interest to me such as classes in lei making, hula dancing etc.. were not available (you had to reserve a spot for them and they didn't have enough classes to fill the response) . They held "line dancing" classes in a space so small that maybe fifty people (very crowed) could participate. Additionally, we tried going to the dances at night where few people showed up. One night there were three people at the dance floor - my husband and I and a man whose wife stayed in the room so he just sat at the bar. The room was beautiful and fun and the wait staff was eager for more passengers to come and enjoy. This venue was not well prompted!!!!! Cruise Director Dave in my opinion thought he was a TV star! The ship's in house TV Morning Show does not a star make! When seen around the ship and not in front of a crowd he was aloof. One of the activities on board was "Shout about Movies". A total joke of an event. It's just a Hasbro (the game company)DVD that anyone can purchase (we own most of them) and it was played in one of the lounges with Dave as the Emcee. Please do not take this next statement offensively - with fifty being just months away I'm no spring chicken but my husband and I were among some of the youngest on board. That being said I spoke with 70+ year olds who complained that the everyone on board was "sooooo old". After thinking about it - it wasn't the passengers age and limited conditions that made the ship "old" - it was much more than that! I wish I could put it into words - it was like an "energy vacuum" was sucking the life right out of 90% of the passengers 90% of the time - regardless of age! Everything there was BLAND!! Once we made the choice to get off the ship early it felt like a HUGE weight had been lifted off of us!! I could not endure returning back to the mainland the same way we came! The best way I can describe the several day open water crossing with so little quality enjoyment (other than my sweetheart) is to have you think of getting in a motor home in San Francisco and traveling none stop for more than 2500 miles...never stopping for gas...just the constant rocking and creaking of the plastic and wood panels that cover the metal housing. There is ALWAYS a humming noise and than the "potholes" from the waves that bounce you around. On board your motor home for those five nights it's the same boring flavorless food, limited entertainment and access to only one flavor of Pringles :-p (True story - they only carried Sour Cream and Chives Pringles in the gift shop - odd flavor choice). When we disembarked in Maui for good there was a $300 per person fee because we did not go through a foreign port. Additionally, because of the small port of Lahaina, we along with all our luggage, had to be put into the tender boat. Well, the ship's personnel separated us from our luggage and sent it ahead to sit on the pier while we had to fill out yet another form they had forgotten to have us sign. So for thirty minutes all our things, including one case with thousands of dollars of equipment, jewelry and medications sat out in the open public air. It would be like having your carrying on at the airport be taken away as it went though the x-ray machine just to sit out in public while they ask you questions. Very uneasy feeling and hard to handle for me at that point. So while I understand that MANY enjoy cruising, my husband and I have decided it's just not for us and many who where on our trip now feel the same way - even those who have cruised many times said that this would be their last time out! Thank goodness we saved our own vacation with several beautiful extra days in Maui and a short flight back to LA and added a few nights of real entertainment in Las Vegas by seeing "O" and Garth Brooks and we still beat the Golden Princess home!!!!! Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
This was my first time to take an ocean cruise and I was a little nervous about how I would like it, especially a 14 day, lengthy open sea cruise. Overall, I found it amazing and fun. We drove up to the L.A. departure pier from San Diego ... Read More
This was my first time to take an ocean cruise and I was a little nervous about how I would like it, especially a 14 day, lengthy open sea cruise. Overall, I found it amazing and fun. We drove up to the L.A. departure pier from San Diego with no problems on a Sunday morning, got in line for disembarkation, and in very short order found ourselves in our stateroom. We had booked a mini-suite which was located on the forward port section of the ship, deck 9. This proved to be a very good location, very quiet and with great views from our balcony. We were introduced to our room steward, Alberto, who made it clear he was there to make our trip as smooth as possible. In some of the other reviews, I've heard the beds mentioned as hard, but we didn't find that to be the case. They were firm but just fine. I did get a little sea-sick the first two days out, which surprised me since the seas were fairly calm. One of the waitresses in the Piazza area, Gergana, recommended I eat salty dry foods and little liquid in the stomach. We also got the pressure point wrist bands. Whatever the case, I never had a problem after that, and even got to really enjoy the gentle rocking of the boat. We got lucky with the weather, esp. in January. Quite a bit of sunny weather to read up on the decks with and get a tan. The movies under the stars were fun, with blankets to snuggle up in and fresh popcorn to eat. The food in the dining rooms was good, not great. But the service was impeccable throughout the ship. Our waiters in the Canelleto Dining area were Michael and Gerald, and they were alot of fun. We felt like we were letting them down if we failed to show up for supper. We chose the later sitting which worked out great, especially after going onto the islands. We didn't do any of the cruise sponsered excursions, preferring to rent a car in each port and do our own thing. Just a personal choice. We did join the zip-lining on the island of Kauia which I highly recommend: super exciting, something you'll rarely have a chance to do elsewhere (especially in such a beautiful setting)and not that physically challenging. On the other islands we saw the volcano on the Big Island, along with Akaka Falls (gorgeous), sipped a lopped off cocoanut from a small local stand, saw Obama's high school, Hanama Bay for snorkling, Sandy Beach for body surfing, the beach at Waikiki, Snorkling again in Kanapalli beach in Mauai, etc. As you can see, we were pretty active, and loved every minute of it. The trip back was a little sad thinking that the end of the trip was near. Overall summary: great trip. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat. Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
We cruised on the Golden Princess to Hawaii from January 31 to February 14. Overall we had a wonderful time and truly enjoyed the ship. Travel Monkey (Sun Wukong on facebook) made lots of new friends and loved his holiday aboard the ... Read More
We cruised on the Golden Princess to Hawaii from January 31 to February 14. Overall we had a wonderful time and truly enjoyed the ship. Travel Monkey (Sun Wukong on facebook) made lots of new friends and loved his holiday aboard the Golden. Was everything perfect? Of course not. Was everything terrible? Of course not. We truly believe that we are responsible for our own experience and others only enhance it for us. We will actually walk away from people who want to bend our ear with their stories of how terrible everything is. For us, things that bother other people are opportunities to watch, laugh, and have fun messing with the perpetrators. In other words, we choose to have a blast. We were lucky enough to be in a PS Aft Suite for this cruise and we definitely used the perks that go with full suites. We had breakfast at Sabatini's most mornings; we abused our free internet privileges, and used the free laundry service multiple times. It is nice to come home with clean clothes at No Charge. Oh, and the free canapEs were actually very good. We've had them on Celebrity and Holland America before and they were absolute rubbish on those two lines. When we got our closing statement at the end of the cruise we had used 2000 minutes of internet (worth $700) of which we had to pay ZERO. We like to blog during our cruise and because of this "full suite perk" we actually uploaded photos every day to the blog. If the internet wasn't free, we would have just bought one package and uploaded offline prepared text only and then add photos when we got home. The blog is located at: http://thegeomonkeys.com/category/hawaii-2010/ It is very detailed and includes photos of all of the public areas of the ship on each deck. It has a full review of the Chef's Table dinner we enjoyed with mouthwatering photos. Pictures and reviews of the specialty restaurants, the main dining room, the Horizon Court, and the other food venues are all there along with the things we did in different ports. Oh, and the Cabin Crawl we did with our CC Roll Call group is documented there in pictures of the different cabins we visited. Our suite was SWEET. How I wish we could afford a suite on every cruise. Maybe the upsell/upgrade fairy will visit us again. There are full details about this in the blog. The bed was very comfortable, as we understand the beds in the suites were replaced during the drydock. Things that we were impressed with and exceeded our expectations were: 1) The Main Dining Room food was much better than we had on Celebrity or HAL this past year. We were in traditional, early dining. 2) The International Cafe was excellent for a quick bite to eat any time of day. 3) The ship was in very good shape after the dry dock in the past year. 4) The wireless internet connection was faster than we had on either Celebrity or HAL. 5) Sabatini's was great for breakfast and dinner there was an experience to be savored. The staff there was more entertaining than most entertainment on the ship. 6) The crew was friendly and helpful everywhere we went and they didn't seem as stressed out as the crew on Celebrity and HAL were. 7) The Chef's Table was awesome and we were expecting it to be excellent. Chef Jeremy and his staff really impressed us with that dinner. It is the best $150 ($75 per person) we have ever spent on a cruise. 8) MUTS was a lot of fun at night. We didn't expect a lot from it and were pleasantly surprised. It was cozy and romantic and Travel Monkey got popcorn, cookies and milk, and pizza delivered to him. 9) Embarkation was a breeze and so was Disembarkation. Disembarkation could be better by just letting us stay on the ship instead of leaving. 10) The bed was comfortable and we liked the duvet. 11) The canapEs were a very pleasant surprise. We actually looked forward to them being delivered. 12) The Hot Dog at the Trident Grill was excellent and the Pizza at Prego's was very good and the dough was hand tossed. 13) Cigarette smoke wasn't a problem which surprised us. 14) The Oriental Soup station (set up at the Calypso Pool area twice) was excellent. Things we thought could use some improvement: 1) The promenade deck should be open ALL the way around ALL the time. 2) The syrup coffee (we tried it once) should be jettisoned. Maybe that was the brown discharge at the rear of the ship one afternoon. (read the blog) 3) The Crown Grill, while good, was still a bit of a disappointment. It was below our expectations for a specialty restaurant. 4) This one is the worst thing we experienced, and will also probably create the most controversy: the Horizon Court on this sailing was abysmal. The food was inedible as far as we are concerned the times we tried it. As good as the food was at the Chef's Table, we felt the food at the Horizon Court was just the polar opposite. We love sea days and this cruise provides us with that. We book the Hawaii round trip cruise because of them. We will book another for next year. The Golden Princess was the largest ship (most passengers) we have sailed on and is probably as large as we would ever want to sail. There were times where the public area around the Piazza was too crowded for us. There were always nice areas we could find that were peaceful and quiet. We will be taking a full transit Panama Canal cruise later this year on the Coral Princess and it will be interesting to compare the two Princess ships. Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
I had booked our cruise with Princess for the January 17-31 Hawaii cruise for a variety of reasons: my husband and I wanted to go to Hawaii, we had never been on a cruise together, we live in Los Angeles and didn't have to worry about ... Read More
I had booked our cruise with Princess for the January 17-31 Hawaii cruise for a variety of reasons: my husband and I wanted to go to Hawaii, we had never been on a cruise together, we live in Los Angeles and didn't have to worry about getting to the embarkation port, and we couldn't beat the deal we got for a balcony stateroom. And, while I had some trepidation about the Golden Princess from some previous posts here, I was still eager to give it a try. Embarkation was very smooth. We had Karmel Shuttle Service drop us off at the pier and we followed the Princess personnel to check in. We had arrived at 11:00 AM and were on board the ship by 11:30. Everyone was polite and efficient. Our balcony stateroom was enclosed on three sides, which turned out to be a blessing during the trip itself. Our room was very clean and ready for our arrival, even at 11:30. I had read on this site the problem with the Golden Princess' mattresses, but our bed was very comfortable, and we did not need the egg-crate mattress top that many suggest. We enjoyed the food at the Horizon Court buffet as we took a walking tour of the ship before departure. Not as big a ship as I had expected it to be. It only took ten minutes to walk her length. We also knew before hand that the median age of our fellow cruisers would be 70, and that there would only be a handful of children on board. We looked forward to a very quiet cruise, and on that we were not disappointed. The embarkation party was so subdued, though, that at one point I thought they had called it off altogether. A little bit more enthusiasm from the entertainment staff would have helped with that, but it was no big deal. But the first week out went from subdued to ghostly. The ship struck 20-foot swells nearly the entire way to Hawaii - at night you could hear the ship cut through the waves, followed by a long shudder that ran through the metal hull; very disturbing - and so many people wound up confined to their cabins because of sea sickness that we had the ship pretty much to ourselves. Our own balcony never got wet, though, because of the covering, so we were able to enjoy breakfast and several other meals there during the rough trip to Hawaii. I enjoyed the on board entertainment. Four shows were put on, including a musical tribute to the movies and to Broadway, with the same cast. The shows themselves were good - not great - but the cast members' obvious enthusiasm made for a great night's entertainment. The comic was so-so: I had heard most of the jokes before from other comics, so I wasn't impressed. The magician put his heart into his routine, but I caught several of the sleights-of-hand, so unfortunately I couldn't recommend him. The on board lecturer I found to be bright, witty, and eager to answer our questions about Hawaiian flora and fauna. The food, unfortunately, was mediocre at best. The pizza was greasy and salty. I never cared for the buffet food - never hot enough, too few selections, and there was this odor I could never identify in the Horizon Court that upset my stomach, which made it impossible to eat there. We had Anytime Dining, which we very much enjoyed. Never had a problem making a reservation. I never much cared for sitting with strangers for dinner - you can never truly be yourself - so Anytime Dining allowed us to always have a table to ourselves. Food in the main dining room was hit and miss. Some dishes were excellent (loved the mashed potatoes) while others were downright terrible. The filet mignon tasted like the vacuum-packed variety you purchase at Costco. I took one bite and sent it back. The dining room staff was always courteous and always remembered our names, so a gold star for them. Once in Hawaii the pace picked up on board the ship. We no longer encountered the heavy swells and the Trade Winds made the air hot and humid. Wonderful. There were more parties and games by the pool, including the traditional ice and fruit carving. Except for Ensenada, we booked our shore excursions through Princess, in part because Princess only charged 15 to 20 percent above cost if we booked it ourselves, and also because we didn't want to worry about getting back to the ship in time. We knew they would wait for us. We were often told not to take a cruise to Hawaii - since we would only get a sampling of the islands and be left craving more. And they were right. We don't regret taking the cruise (I loved our balcony and the days at sea), but one is left wanting more of the islands. I have no complaints about the hotel crew. Our room was always cleaned (though not always the same time) and we always had shampoo and soap stocked in our bathroom. Bed was always turned down and the sheets were changed regularly. I did not like the soap and shampoo, though. Alkaline content was too high and it never left you feeling clean enough. But, we brought our own soap and shampoo with us, so that was a relief. Also no complaints with the cruise director or his assistants. They were always pleasant with us whenever we ran into them on the ship. Since I drink Diet Coke like a fish drinks water, I purchased the soda sticker for $68, and drank well over $100 worth of soda. While I don't agree with the practice of charging for soft drinks on cruise ship, I do recommend purchasing the soda sticker if you drink a lot of soda. The return trip to Los Angeles was smooth sailing the entire way. Some days the water was like glass, it was so smooth. We saw plenty of whales (one breached within fifty feet of the ship) and dolphins playing around and under us, which was a bonus. We hadn't planned on doing anything while Ensenada, but wound up going to La Bufadora on our own - a pleasant and unexpected adventure that capped an enjoyable trip indeed. Disembarkation for us Americans was a snap. I felt sorry for the non-U.S. citizens who were herded into long lines for customs declarations. We were told to gather at the Explorer's Lounge in order to be let off the ship by 10:15 AM, but everything went so well we were actually off the Golden Princess and through customs by 9:45. The ease of embarkation and disembarkation left me very impressed with Princess. We will sail with them again. Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
We chose this itinerary for it's potental to demonstrate the capricious beauty of Mother Nature, and she did not disappoint. We sailed through gale force winds, high seas, rain and fog, but nothing could dampen our appreciation of the ... Read More
We chose this itinerary for it's potental to demonstrate the capricious beauty of Mother Nature, and she did not disappoint. We sailed through gale force winds, high seas, rain and fog, but nothing could dampen our appreciation of the wonders of nature on this itinerary. The Chilean Fjords are windswept, desolate, and breathtakingly awesome to view. Due to limited times in ports because of rough weather, the high point of our journey for scenic cruising was really the morning we slid by the five glaciers in the Beagle Channel on the way in to Ushuaia. What little we could see due to the low lying clouds was spectacular. Though the logistics of the cruise did have problems, which I will mention later in this review, the beauty of one of the most desolate places on our planet more than made up for any inconveniences. This was our second voyage on Princess. The Star Princess is a lovely ship, and though large, there are many places for you to enjoy so you never really feel too crowded, unless you are trying to tender ashore. More on this below. The good: Dining: We chose Anytime Dining and ate primarily in the Portofino Dining Room. The head waiters Wolfgang and Lazlo(?) were excellent at getting us seated at great tables, or helping us find tables for two. They always remembered us, which was kind of nice. Our favorite waiters were Valentina and Godfredo and Jorge from Brazil, who was a great singer by the way! The food was very well prepared, and we never had to wait for a table. We ate one night at the Crown Grill and had a fantastic meal and a nice table over by the window where we could look out at a gorgeous sunset. Stateroom: We were far aft on the Baja deck and definitely felt the high seas back there, but we loved our location. The shower was larger than the one we had on the Island Princess, and we really liked our stateroom layout and found the room clean and up to date. Our stateroom attendant, Rhoderic, was excellent. He went above and beyond the call of duty and we considered him one of the best attendants we have ever had on any cruise line. Shore Excursions: We took a Princess excursion in Uruguay to an estancia and had the best time ever. We had to book a Princess excursion in Puerto Madryn because the weather made the scheduled trip to the Falklands out of the question and we had no plans for this new stop. We went to the Peninsula Valdez and thought it was a really great excursion. Lots of wildlife to see, including Rheas, Guanacos, Elephant Seals, Penguins, and Sea Lions. We even saw a little fox by a visitor's center. The Not So Good: LINES: The tendering operations were by far the worst we have ever encountered on any cruise. On the day we were to tender to Puerto Montt, the line for tender tickets for people going ashore independently snaked twice around the atrium. As usual, there were some people who wanted to jump ahead in line, and this caused a near riot at one point. We only got to spend a few hours in port, and because there was only one, yes one, dock space for a single tender at a time, the lines to get back to the ship were horrendous. People were standing out in the rain for ages. It wasn't pretty. Then, in Ushuaia, same thing. One tender at a time to pick up and drop off passengers. With 2600 passengers, (with most wanting to go on shore), it was a recipe for disaster. Passengers were throwing up in the tenders while bobbing around waiting for their turn to disembark at the dock. At the end of the day, Princess enlisted a catamaran to move passengers from the dock (where we stood in freezing rain waiting for single tenders to load up) to the ship. We were out of the rain, but had to wait to unload at the ship since it was, you guessed it, one at a time. It was a real mess and unacceptable. The Star could really use some improvement in this area. Horizon Court: The food was OK, but not much variety. For a ship of this size, we thought the buffet was small and uninspired. Breakfast was OK, but no omelet station for example, and very little variety. Every morning, same thing: an offering of fried eggs, scrambled eggs, and little pre made omelets, sausage, bacon, etc. We purchased a soda card since the only drink offerings at the Horizon Court were water, ice tea, coffee and tea. You have to ask for lemonade....At breakfast there is juice, which was nice...we are usually pretty easy to please, but we were underwhelmed with the buffet on this ship. On several sea days, they had special lunch buffets, which kind of livened things up a bit. Nothing to write home about that's for sure. Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
We just returned from this great cruise. The Panama Canal was the focus for our trip, and that is why we selected this Princess cruise. We had not sailed on Princess in a while and I had read many comments related to the food and areas for ... Read More
We just returned from this great cruise. The Panama Canal was the focus for our trip, and that is why we selected this Princess cruise. We had not sailed on Princess in a while and I had read many comments related to the food and areas for improvement. Our expectations were more than exceeded. We live in the Northeast so we flew into LA two days before the cruise and stayed a the Doubletree Hotel in San Pedro, very nice, right on the marina, and they had a shuttle that took us to the ferry for Catalina Island as well as to the pier the day of the cruise. Boarding was smooth, we arrived early so we had to wait until almost noon to board , but then it was smooth and quick and we were in our room. Luggage was delivered within 2 hours. The mini suite was nicely laid out , the balcony had a table and 4 chairs. The only complaint I had on this cruise was with the bed, it was very uncomfortable, after I complained they changed the mattress , which helped but it was still not great. We had assigned seating , first sitting ( a first for us) , nice table mates, great service and the food was just fine, there is an alternate menu that you can choose from each night if you wanted to, plenty of choices and we enjoyed all our meals there. We did not plan to do to the dining room on the formal nights, but since we enjoyed our dinners so much, we did attend the last 2 formal nights, my husband wore a sport coat ( no tie ) and that was fine. The Horizon Court, with the buffet, is the same as it is on most ships, although it is a little congested when you first walk in. We are coffee drinkers and I felt that the coffee in the Horizon court was weak, but the coffee in the dining room and room service was better. Speaking of room service, they were exceptionally fast and efficient, we routinely ordered room service in the morning and in the evening for coffee and cookies. We did eat in each of the specialty restaurants, they were good, but we felt that the specialty restaurants on HAL and RCC were better My husband did the Ultimate Ship Tour and thoroughly enjoyed it, a small group of 9 people and they had a 3 ½ hour tour, very impressive, expensive, but he thought it was well worth it. He was amazed at how clean everything was everywhere he went. We spent more time in the casinos then seeing any of the shows so I cannot comment on those. We did look at the Sanctuary , but chose not to use it. We swam in the indoor pool and relaxed on our balcony or on the pool deck. Ports Cabo San Lucas- tender port- very congested waiting for the tenders, due to other ships in port. We just walked about the marina, very crowded area, we were originally going to take a water taxi to the beach- it was just too crowded in the area. Acapulco, since we had been there before as well, we decided to stay on the ship, very relaxing Huatulco- I had read the comments on CC re the nice beach right at the pier and that is where we went- we paid $ 5.00 and had lounge chairs and a beach umbrella, beach was great we just walked back to the ship. Puntarenas- we do not normally do ship tours, but we decided to do the Pacific aerial tram, the tram tour was not worth the money, there were 8 passengers and a guide, the guide was very good, we did not see great views, nor animals or birds , all we saw were trees. They had a buffet lunch that was okay and then there was also a 40 minute walk to see reptiles- we did not do that. It was very hot, there were a number of cruise ships in port, so it was very crowded, long time standing in lines, shuffling along. Puerto Amador- here we also did a ship tour but this one was worth every penny. We did the Panama Canal by boat tour. They took us by bus to the ferry that would take us through the Pacific side of the locks. The ferry was old but it had plenty of seats, both in the shade and in the sun, they supplied cold drinks the whole time and a very nice buffet. Excellent narrator pointing out lots of interesting information. It was great to experience the locks with a small boat and then the ship the next day. Our cabin was on Caribe deck forward , starboard side, so we had a great view of all the goings on. We did go to the front and the back of the ship to see it from a different angle , but we spent most of the time on our balcony. Seeing the mules in operation and the whole process is really inspiring. Cartagena. We took a taxi into the old city, we shared with another couple and it was $30.00 total. The taxi driver was offering to stay with us and take us on a tour for $60.00, we were not interested but we did see a number of these taxi drivers , with their blue shirts, walking with people in the city. As stated many times on CC, there were lots of people trying to sell you stuff , especially when you first entered the area, but once you said no, they would go on their way, the problem was there was so many of them. Lots of shops in the old city and it was getting quite warm .We had no problem getting a taxi back- this time for $ 10.00 Aruba- again 4 ships in port, when you get of , it is a little bit of a walk to the end of the pier- we were the 4th ship there. On the way back there was a shuttle to take you to the ship. We planned to take a taxi to eagle beach, but we did not see any- again very crowded, lots of stores- so we took the bus ( bus terminal right near the pier) Bus fare was $1.30 pp each way. We saw the sign for Eagle Beach, but we did not see any beach chairs, so we stayed on the bus and got off at the Hyatt. Great little beach, they charged us $10.00 for the use of the umbrella and 2 lounge chairs and 4 towels. The return bus stop was right outside the hotel. Fort Lauderdale, we chose early walk off and were off the ship around 0730, plenty of time to catch our flight home Overall a great cruise and great experience, time for relaxing and enjoying the warm weather and seeing the wonderful Panama Canal. Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
22nd cruise with Princess...definitely in the top 3 of our experience...great itinerary---Sydney-Melbourne-Hobart-Fiordland-Dunedin-Lyttleton (for Christchurch)-Tauranga-Auckland...Captain Sagani is the most personable Princess Captain ... Read More
22nd cruise with Princess...definitely in the top 3 of our experience...great itinerary---Sydney-Melbourne-Hobart-Fiordland-Dunedin-Lyttleton (for Christchurch)-Tauranga-Auckland...Captain Sagani is the most personable Princess Captain since Captain Creighton in the late '70's---his 12 o'clock reports are informative and entertaining (people were actually listening to them!) and his sailaway comments were a hoot-"the staff captain is at the helm so fasten your seat belts"...Cruise Director Adam Goder is the best we've had since J. J. King on the old "Royal Princess"...he had a spontaneity that was a relief from the canned dialogue of some of his peers on other ships and his leadership of the cruise director staff is apparent (their rendition of "If I were not upon this ship..." at the International Crew Show was a hoot)...there was adequate time in each port---we chose not to take any organized tours because they were quite expensive and most had long bus rides to the destinations...we heard the time spent on the bus detracted from the destinations...we did our own walkabouts in Melbourne, Hobart (I found the "Ball&Chain" restaurant that my squadron adopted in 1976...great memories even though the restaurant has been 90% made over), Dunedin (take in the railway station and the Cadbury chocolate factory-good prices on the big 200g bars!), Christchurch (do the hop on-hop off tourist tram first to get a feel for the downtown area then walk around the places you want to see in more detail), Tauranga (take the beautiful no-cost 2 mile walk around Mt. Maunganui at a leisurely pace to savor the incredible coastal scenery or if you're fit enough climb up the mountain for a great view of your ship and surrounding area)...our cabin (E326) was amidships so we didn't feel much "motion of the ocean" which was not very severe although the Tasman Sea can be a bit rough at times...the cabin is listed as obstructed view but the obstructions are minimal...the cabin steward, German, was superb and mostly invisible as are most of the cabin stewards we've had the pleasure of getting to know...dining was phenomenal each day---we dined in the Savoy Dining Room and specifically enjoyed the starters, soups, and sorbets---the dinner entrees did not disappoint us and the selection each evening was varied giving us many delicious options (we especially enjoyed the snapper, barramundi, halibut and shrimp)---we had a standing table for two next to a window 5:30 reservation through the head waiter in the anytime dining scheme so we could eat leisurely and stroll up to the Princess Theatre for the evening shows...the 5 production style shows were excellent---we had seen 4 of them before but they still were immensely enjoyed---the dancing and singing cast was quite talented especially Ella---the rest of the entertainment was pretty good---an aging English comic, Bobby Dennis whose act we've seen before is still funny with his rapid fire jokes and stories, a Tom Jones tribute act from Jacques Renay that was powerful albeit a tad corny at times, Gregg Arthur did a good job reviving crooners from the past, Placido Rodriguez a so-so comic vocalist, and Ella who filled in admirably in a solo act for a female vocalist headliner who became ill and did not appear...the remaining entertainers were outstanding from long-time Princess fixture Maurizio on the keyboards, the classically talented Astoria String Quartet, lounge acts Exotique and Amante were accomplished musicians and singers...some new (for us) wrinkles on "Diamond Princess" were enjoyed (specialty lunch buffets-Indian, Mexican, Asian, and dessert...the no-cost soft ice cream station...the no-cost waffle station all on the Lido Deck were quite good)...the cleanliness of the entire ship was greatly appreciated (all public venues including restrooms and the Horizon Court buffet were kept at the highest standard despite a small minority of passengers who could occasionally put pigs to shame)...the boutique staff were congenial and many good values could be found there...as expected, the beverage, photo, and spa services were somewhat overpriced in my opinion but participation in those activities is strictly personal choice...The Captain's Circle Hostess Loren was a delightful young lady who has a wonderful outlook on life and is one of the most congenial people on this planet...We would choose this itinerary and crew again in a heartbeat!!!! Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
Arrived about 11:30ish Sat, we spent a few days at Disneyland and were mulling over different ways to get to the terminal. We decided to rent a car from Enterprise, drive around and get our wine and pre cruise shopping done and then drive ... Read More
Arrived about 11:30ish Sat, we spent a few days at Disneyland and were mulling over different ways to get to the terminal. We decided to rent a car from Enterprise, drive around and get our wine and pre cruise shopping done and then drive the car to the Enterprise San Pedro location at the Crown Plaza Hotel. Enterprises also has a shuttle taking you to and from the ships, just be there before noon on a Saturday as they close at noon. I was upgraded to platinuim this trip so had priority check in and then we were ushered into a private room to wait to board the ship, it seems that Sapphire was running an hour late as she was alate arriving. OJ and coffee were offered in the room as well as the chance to pre-buy coffee cards, we did buy another coffee card as they were worth their weight in gold to us on the CB cruise. By noon we were on the ship and eager to get to our room. Aloha 611, it is our very first balcony room and while I loved it, Dh was a little disappointed as he had paid the best upgrade possible when he bought the cruise and he was a little taken back by how small the balcony was and how covered it was. I already knew what to expected because of the posters in CC and actually loved the balcony. He wants to ask what are the most coveted balconies to have?? He saw some that were partly covered partly exposed and not at all as private as our balcony about three floors down, maybe the dolphin?? . We were right across from the laundry room 9what a thoughtful man he is) and right under the buffet. Laundry room being so close was great and buffet noise was non-existent , we actually ran up to the buffet almost every day around 4ish to bring a plate of cheese, fruit, crackers, appys to nibble on with a glass of wine. We found the weather going down to be quite nice and we suntanning by the pool on the first sea day from 1-3 and from 11-3 the next sea day. Weather was quite warm and nice going down, going back was a slightly different experience LOL Also being on this deck meant we were so close to the main pools as well as the adult pool, loved this deck but it did seem a little more rockier the last two sea days back. Sawang is our room steward and he is the best steward we have ever had. We tipped him a extra $20 at the end of the cruise and made sure we filled out a "you made a difference" card for him. He told me that I kept the room so tidy it was very easy for him to do his job. We did anytime dining and first night found a wonderful team in the Savoy. Roland and Belazs, window table 230 becomes *OUR* table for 4 of the 5 nights. Two of the other nights we sit in their sections but different sections. One night we eat at Santa Fe and have horrible slow service. We tipped Roland and Belazs an extra $15 each and fill out the *you made a difference * cards for them as well. Belazs needs to be promoted to a higher level. Food on this Sapphire cruise was the best we have had on any of the Princess cruises. Prime rib on sail away night was one of the better Prime Rib we have had anywhere. Before I start sounding like a Princess Cheerleader, let me say the other Sapphire Princess food wasn't very good. Well the chef changed or got a whole lot better cause this food was wonderful. We had planned to do the sir charge restaurants (something we did on the NCL Spirit as an escape from their horrid food) but once we got on this Sapphire cruise, we decided to stay with the Savoy and such. Food highlights the Prime rib, the rack of lamb, the Cornish game hens, the pot roast (we were both shocked at this, as my husband said, I didn't know Pot roast tasted this good), watermelon and feta salad (really really good order two), crab legs are gone but lobster was still going strong. I ordered the pheasent instead and dh enjoyed his lobster and prawns. ENGLISH PUB LUNCH.....OMG!!!! This was offered in the Savoy twice on a sea day going down there and coming back. We had lunch there coming back and YUM!!! Steak and Kidney pie, curried chicken, bread prawns and chips, fish and chips, scotch eggs and salad, sherry trifle. I had one of the best steak and Kidney pies ever and Dh has a chicken curry so good I didn't get one bite. Glad we had a chance to try this. Very good. Entertainment Sat Welcome aboard show with Steve Morris and the Sapphire Princess singers.....we skipped this, too tired. Sunday First formal night champagne waterfall.... Piano Man in Princess Theater and later at saw Steve Morris at the Explorers lounge. We saw the early show of Steve Morris and he was funny and liked the fact in added music to his act. At club Fusion they had the start of Pop Star Idol or heat. Again too tired, saw some of Steve's second act but it seemed that he merely replayed his first act, word for word, it was funny but not worth seeing again. Monday Piano man again as well as Steve Morris we saw some of Steve's second act but it seemed that he merely replayed his first act from Sunday , word for word, it was funny but not worth seeing again. Tuesday princess theatre had Alexander and explorers lounge had a 50 &60's rock and roll party with the Baby Dolls. Weds Princess theatre had production show Do you wanna dance? And Explorers had Carlos Oscar......OMG this man is funny funny, funny, doesn't utter a single swear word and needs to get his own show. I laughed so hard I cried. We made sure we saw all of his shows. Loved his facial expressions. Thursday Production show in Princess theatre was I got the music Explorers show was Carlos Oscar tonight was the second formal night. Friday they had a farewell variety show and the pop star final Port days Puerto Vallarta we tend to go to PV a lot and intend to retire here one day, it was interesting to go as a one day cruise passenger. We grabbed a yellow cab from the main street for 50 pesos to the |Malecon and walk it then hike over to the River market then walk and spend the day at Playa Los Acros hotel. 4PM comes too early and we grab another taxi with friends met on the cruise, cab costs 80 pesos. Mazatlan.....WOW interesting city, last time we ended up in the Golden Zone and the only thing we liked about it was finding a Macdonalds with timeshare salesmen free bathrooms.....those guys were everywhere. This time we grabbed a cab to old Mazatlan for about 50 pesos to the old part of town and walked around to we hit a local's market. I remember shopping here with my parents when we used to drive down and stay in a motor home. Husband loved it but was a little shocked by the pigs heads, while sides of meats, whole chickens. It was incredible. Found a small purse I wanted and was going to offer her 50 pesos for it, (last one I bought cost me 80 pesos) when I asked her how much she said 50 epsos and I gave her a 50 pesos note, she looked shocked I didn't barter. To be honest I stopped bartering as much as I used to, Mexico hasd been hit with a huge drop in tourism and they need our money. Walked through a lovely old church and then hauled an open air cab (50 pesos) to the Water Taxis (20 pesos pp) at Stone Island. Spent a relaxed day at Victors on Stone Island, 320 pesos and we were well fed with garlic and coconut shrimp (bigger then some of the lobster tails on formal night). Got back to the ship around 3ish in time for our 3:30 naps........ We took many 3:30ish naps this trip and I am worried that my first day back to work I will need my 3:30ish nap. As we sail out the Captain comes on to alert us about the weather off the California and how it is going to effect us. He was patient, level headed and not once did I disagree with anything he was saying. He told us because of the approaching bad weather we would be sailing into 24 ft waves and would have to go very slowly. He was sorry but we were not stopping in Cabo. He needed to go as fast as he could now so that when the bad weather hit and he had to slow right down he could so so and still be safe and still get us back on time. I agreed with everything, especially since we had a 1:00 flight out that Sat. I saw most passengers nodding their heads but on man scowling, as I walked by him, I smiled and said, "better be safe then sorry" The weather started getting rougher but was still nice but by the afternoon of the Thursday 9the missed Cabo day) it was rough, we were getting the last of the sun up at the main pool and I commented to someone about the rain, turns out it was the splash from the waves. It was getting rough then suddenly the sun was gone, the wind was there and it was getting rougher. Thank god for ginger tablets, I woke up quite a bit that night and at one point the bed was shaking from side to side. I give the captain and crew full credit for deciding to come home and miss Cabo. On Friday someone fell and hurt themselves at the pool. So slippery and rough. All the staff were great about it as were my fellow passengers. Anytime someone grumbled about missing Cabo it was quickly squashed. Must say this was the best cruise ever!!! We signed up for two more cruise credits. 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Sail Date January 2010
My wife and I took our 3rd cruise ever, but our 1st with Princess on the Sapphire Princess January 16th - January 23rd. We have done the east & west Caribbean and decided to try the Mexican Riviera to see something different. I'll ... Read More
My wife and I took our 3rd cruise ever, but our 1st with Princess on the Sapphire Princess January 16th - January 23rd. We have done the east & west Caribbean and decided to try the Mexican Riviera to see something different. I'll try to break it down by parts & ports and then have a little summary on my thoughts as a whole for this cruise line (both of our other cruises were with Carnival so there will be some comparisons). Embarkation in San Pedro: This was fairly easy. We flew in the night before and stayed at the Double tree in San Pedro (I used hotwire and got the hotel for $69 a night). We flew in late Friday night and used Super shuttle to get to the hotel. Here is my thread on strategies for coming in late Friday http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?p=22394397#post22394397. I recommend ordering some wine from Off The Vine (just google it) and having wine delivered for free to your hotel before you arrive. Note the doubletree was too busy the morning of the flight to run us to a local grocery so I had to ask for them to shuttle me to Vonns at 10:30 at night. It worked out well for last minute items as the shuttle runs until 11pm. The Doubletree was nice but the morning breakfast buffet was a little expensive so I'd pack a granola bar and save 30 bucks (for 2) if I had to do it over again. Anyway, we scheduled the shuttle to take us to the pier at 10:30. Arrived and flew through the Princess check in process. You end up waiting in kind of a terminal looking area where they hand you an embarkation number. We were given number one and we waited. The ship apparently came in an hour later than normal so we weren't allowed to board until 12:15 or so. There were several people already boarding but I assume they were loyalty program members that got an early embarkation perk. They had a TV in the terminal so really we just watched some basketball instead of sitting in our rooms. Room: We were in an outside balcony room on Aloha deck (A618) mid-rear of the ship. I actually really liked the room and the location on the ship. The room itself had a lot of storage and places to put your stuff. I liked the area for hanging your clothes and easy access to the safe. My netbook fit nicely in the safe but a full size laptop probably won't fit. I felt safe and did leave it on the desk a few times but for storage reasons it just made sense to put it, my cash, and our passports in the safe. I'd take these rooms over the ones on Carnival. Nothing overly special, I just thought the layout was a little better. The balcony was plenty big for two of us to have a glass (or 2+) of wine while getting ready for dinner. There was a refrigerator in the room. The fridge had a few cans of soda along with a large water bottle. They charged you if you used them so I asked our steward to remove the items (she was very good and polite when we spoke to her). I also asked for her to fill the little ice bucket in the fridge all week (for room drinks). I tipped her $5 for her trouble and we had plenty of ice every day. The Ship: Honestly, this is one of the best ships we've been on. I know it's not brand new but I really didn't see any wear or tear. Everything was kept very clean. I would describe the ship as more elegant than previous ones I've been on. The carnival ships seemed to be a little gaudy. I just remember all the bright teal and purples on our other ships that seemed to try to be too much like a cheap vegas theme. This ship seems more like an upscale hotel. The layout takes a little getting used to but every ship I've been on is that way. After a few days you know where you are going. Quick useful tip: The room levels have a pink strip on one side and a blue strip on the other. So once you know what side you are on, you can quickly find your room from the elevator. You will get turned around every now and then so this trick really helped me. The Casino: I liked the casino. I don't gamble a ton, but I'm not afraid to throw some money out. I liked that the casino didn't feel too cramped and was well decorated. Some of the little touches (for example the poles were decorated as trees) made it seem a little classier than the riverboat type casinos I see at home. My wife likes slot machines so she tried her luck at some of the nickel and quarter machines. As a whole, she was up a few bucks by the end of the week. So she won a few bucks and then lost it back at times but ending the week with $20 is considered a win to me (usually losing slow is a win for me). One of our friends on the ship liked to play poker and they have a cool card table with built in screens that does all the dealing. It looked pretty slick but I didn't try it out. You kind of have to get your own game going but it was cool you had the option to play poker. It was not a limit game and you had to deposit $50 but you could take your money out at any time and leave. I like to play blackjack and they had two $5 tables. One thing I would have liked to know ahead of time is that the $5 blackjack table played a slightly different game of 21. It was called "fun 21" which basically meant they took all the queens out of the deck and you could surrender at any time. I don't know how this really affects the odds as I've never played it before. I only surrendered a few times and played basic strategy and won. I turned $20 into $55 one day and another $20 into $80 another time. I lost a little back but ended up about $100 when all was said and done. The dealers hand shuffle and use about 6 decks so I had the same odds as I get in my regular casinos. My only complaint about the casino is that they would rather have two open and empty $10 blackjack tables instead of just opening up more $5 ones so more people could play. Many casinos do this but I guess I don't see the point. More people would be playing if you had more $5 tables. Besides, if nobody is playing the $10 table, what is the point of having 2+ open? Dinning: The food was very good on the Sapphire. We did anytime dining and really never had to wait very long. They also have those buzzers you see at most restaurants so you could wonder around the shops for 10 minutes or so while you are waiting for a table. There isn't much of a point in putting in a reservation when you have anytime seating. I'm not really sure why they even mention it as you can only put reservations in before 6:15 or after 8 (or so). So the only time you can reserve a table is when you wouldn't have any trouble getting in anyway. We ate at 3 of the 4 restaurants and thought The Savoy was the best looking. The dining experience is nice and what we expected. The part I was actually surprised about was how awesome the buffet was for breakfast and lunch. Some reviews made it sound like the Horizon Court was just a burger line. Well my experience found that to be far from the truth. They served burgers and pizza on a grill near the mid ship pool but I never found these items in the buffet. One night we ate dinner in the buffet line and I actually had lamb. LAMB from a buffet and it was very good. So other than the few thousand calories I gained by stuffing my face 3 times a day, there were zero complaints from me on the food. Entertainment: I saw the Piano man and it was somewhere between ok and pretty good. If you like this kind of show you will like it. If you don't normally enjoy singing shows than it will just be ok. All the comedians we saw were very good. Those shows are in the Explorers lounge area which is a bit more intimate. It's a decent sized area but tables to get filled up so plan on going a bit early. There is a bar and waiters so you can enjoy a couple drinks and talk while you are waiting for the show. Overall there was a lot to do on the ship so you can be as busy or lazy as you want. We chose lazy most of the time and hung around the aft pool area. Ports: You WILL be asked to buy stuff from people constantly in port. You just have to accept that. Simply say "no gracias" and they'll move on. They'll come back later but they really weren't that pushy. Just consistent (sometimes every 5 minutes a different person will come by). Puerto Vallarta: We walked off the ship and ignored the white and cream colored taxis (the cheaper ones are yellow). Basically you veer left and walk about 2 blocks. We stopped at a shop that had internet and phones to call internationally. It cost about 35 cents per minute to call the states. So we had a quick conversation with the in laws who were watching our child and it was a couple dollars. This place also exchanged some cash for pesos at about a 12 to 1 rate. We had a cab take my wife and I to the Guadalupe church in downtown for $4 per person. So we walked through the old (but beautiful) church and then walked down two blocks to the malecon area with tons of shops and bars. We shopped for a few hours and then had a taxi take us to the Playa Los Arcos hotel (http://www.playalosarcos.com/). We paid about 150 pesos per person to use their pools, towels, and beach area. 110 of those pesos are a credit to the restaurant/bar. The food was good, the drinks were good. The pools, Jacuzzi, and beach were all good. This place probably isn't as extravagant as a Dreams hotel but it is very nice and much more affordable. We split a cab back to the ship with some friends we made on the cruise and got back about a half hour before we left port. Mazatlan: The port is a little weird getting off in Mazatlan. You get off the ship and you are in kind of a container holding area. There are federal armed guards around so don't get too afraid if you see people in camo with M16s (we only saw one but it freaked my wife a little). You just kind of wait once you get off the ship for 5 minutes and a guy driving a kind of trolley will come and drive you to the actual port area. The port area has some shops you have to pass through to get to the other side. There are a bunch of cabs waiting there and then there is a large metal door that lets you in and out. It looks a little spooky but everyone was very polite. I emailed Mazatlan Frank prior to taking the cruise and wanted to do some kind of a city tour for half the day. I didn't email him until close to the cruise so he was already full but he told me he would have someone else do our tour. There was some confusion once we got there but everything worked out. Mazatlan Frank is actually pretty tall so he can be easier to find (maybe 6'2"). His English is very good. He had us ride with a guy name Andres (I believe that is correct but I might be a little off). The tour was good. I wouldn't call it great but it gave you a good idea of what the town looked like and we got to see the highlights (even stopped at the beautiful cathedral and take some pictures). It wasn't cheap at $35 per person but I'm not likely going to be back soon so it's nice to get a feel for the city in a short time. We saw some of the huge all inclusive (the RIU) as we dropped off some people and the place was beautiful and gigantic. I'm not sure if it was worth it (the tour plus all inclusive was $79 per person) so we were happy with the tour and found our own trouble later. So we had Andres drop us off at the water taxi around noon. It cost about 2 bucks to take the water taxi to Stone Island. Once you are off the water taxi you take a right. Now there is a hard right and a road that just kind of veers right and runs along the mountain ridge. You veer right and walk for about 5 minutes. You'll start to see the bars/huts along the beach. We thought the beach was beautiful. People describe Stone Island as "rustic" but there are a ton of restaurants and bars there. So it's not like you are out in the middle of nowhere. The bathrooms were fine for men, but I guess the women's one my wife used didn't have doors on the stalls. We walked about 2/3rds the way down to a place called Victor's (blue sign on the beach) to meet up with another couple. We feasted on $1.50 Pacificos and the very large garlic shrimp (maybe $11 for the plate and it was a ton of food). So we got to see the city and hang at the beach (which is what we wanted) before heading back to the ship. We didn't get to see Cabo because of weather. I understand they have to keep things safe and I'm not going to disagree with the captain. There is no reason to put three thousand people in danger of missing flights for 4 hours in Cabo. BUT, this is the one sore spot I had with Princess. I only get to cruise every few years. So I don't get to see Cabo and quite possibly will never get to see it (at the rate I'm going it'll be at least a decade). I understand it is weather related and it's not Princess' fault. I guess I just wanted to get a little something for missing the port. Nothing big, but can I get a happy hour or two? Can I have some $2 beers or something? Maybe $3 blackjack in the casino? It would have been pretty awesome if they would have given us a break on something as you get your 3 thousand people to stay on board and spend even more money. So out of a 7 day cruise we had 4 full days at sea. I don't mind days at sea but I'm positive that my next cruise will be much more port intensive. I understand the Mex. Riviera geography pretty much guarantees 3 days at sea. 4 is just too much (but I'm on vacation so I'm going to have a good time regardless and did). So if Princess would have given us a little something it would have helped soften the blow a bit IMO. Disembarkation: We stopped at the desk and told them we wanted to do the walk off disembarkation. I know people on the forums say you have to be very careful about picking a flight that is too early as you can have all kinds of trouble getting to LAX. I'm sure they are right but our day went ultra smooth in this regard. The ship showed up in port early at about 6:30. We ate breakfast at about 7AM and grabbed our bags. Our info told us to go to Club Fusion for the last walk out group scheduled at 7:55. Once we were carrying our luggage and got to the right level, a crewmember told us to walk a certain way and pointed out the door and off the ship. We were off the ship by 7:41 and through customs by 8:05. We walked out and took a cab for $56 to the airport and arrived at 8:35 for our 12:15 flight. So you shouldn't book anything too early but if things work out smoothly, you can get to the airport very quickly. Conclusion: We had a great time and the ship was beautiful. Both Mazatlan and Puerta Vallarta were beautiful and fun. I wish I had been able to be there during the night so I could see some nightlife but we got adequate time in both ports. Princess overall impressed us. Everything was clean and well done. The people were friendly and helpful. I'd say that the ship and experience was a bit more elegant than the Carnival ones we've been on. We did take the offer to deposit $100 per person and get a future cruise credit if we use it in the next 4 years (or a refund if we don't). So I'm officially a Princess fan. Other than no special happy hour for missing Cabo (which shouldn't be expected and maybe I'm just asking for too much) they didn't miss the mark on much. I'm 30 and don't feel like Carnival was anymore fun to "party" on than this ship. If you have tried some other ships and want a new experience, I definitely think Princess is worth a try. Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
First, when you book a suite you expect something extra in terms of service...right? Not here. On past Princess cruises our steward acted as our "butler" in that everything could be done through him/her. On this cruise, he just ... Read More
First, when you book a suite you expect something extra in terms of service...right? Not here. On past Princess cruises our steward acted as our "butler" in that everything could be done through him/her. On this cruise, he just pointed us in the direction of room service or dining rooms. He was nothing more than a maid. Second, our room was not stocked as promised with beverages and when we asked about it we were told to call room service...no help at all. We never got what was supposed to be in our suite. Next, the DVD player in our room, which is supposed to be one of the "extras" did not work. When we called for service we were told "we are not sure what is wrong with it". We were dumbfounded...they did not even come to the room to check it out. The bathroom shower lining was worn away, the drain did not drain, and the rug was stained. But, MOST dissapointing was that the ship planned late night parties on the deck above us. Imagine trying to get a good night's sleep while 1,000 people are doing the "Macarana" above you until after midnight. Pincess has gone way downhill since our first trip with this line 7 years ago. Its time for us to find another cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
We left on January 10th and went to St. Thomas, Tortola, Antigua, St. Lucia, and Barbados. We arrived around 3:30 and had no problems getting on board. We bought a 12 pack of water before checking in for $6 which saved some money because ... Read More
We left on January 10th and went to St. Thomas, Tortola, Antigua, St. Lucia, and Barbados. We arrived around 3:30 and had no problems getting on board. We bought a 12 pack of water before checking in for $6 which saved some money because it is a lot more on the ship or in the ports! We had a standard balcony cabin and it was nice and as expected. The bed wasn't that great but I can live with that. I was disappointed that they didn't offer any general aerobics classes. They had yoga and spinning but you had to pay for them. The gym had a good selection of equipment though. Anytime dining was great and we met some fun people this way. The average age of the crowd was older than us (we're in our early 30s), but it didn't bother us and we certainly weren't the only younger people. There weren't a lot of kids, but I did see some toddlers. I thought the food was slightly better on Royal Caribbean, but other people we talked to said that this ship did not have as good food as they have had on other (and usually smaller) Princess ships. It just seemed mass-produced and lacking a lot of flavor. It was often bland. I did however love the pizza and ate a lot of it! I was a little disappointed with the International Cafe, especially as I noticed that they really didn't vary the selections. I got really sick of the breakfast buffet by the end of the week as it was almost always the same items. The ship was nice and offered a lot of amenities. It had a nice balance of activities. We loved the Movies Under the Stars even though we didn't get to enjoy it much until the end of the week. Some of the nights we wanted to watch a movie they were showing concerts on the screen (like Beyonce) and the area was deserted. Two more nights showed football games so that only left 3 nights with actual movies. We loved our itinerary. In St. Thomas we went to Magens Bay (I recommend this). In Tortola we headed to Virgin Gorda to the Baths (I highly recommend this and do it on your own to save a bunch of money, it's easy to do!). In Antigua we took Eli's Eco Tour and this was probably our least favorite day (and unfortunately our most expensive day). In St. Lucia we did Cosol's Island Tour (I highly recommend this). In Barbados we wanted a more low key day so we went to Carlisle Bay and it was a beautiful beach. Disembarkation didn't go very quickly. We were supposed to get off at 9:30 and didn't get called until 10:45. I want to try Princess again because I liked all aspects of it except the food. I'm hoping that on the next ship we do the food will be better otherwise I might go back to Royal Caribbean because the food is important to me! :) Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
We boarded the ship in San Juan and had no trouble at all, speedy boarding, and unlike some other reviews I have read about San Juan we never encountered any rude people.. Our first Princess cruise was on the Ruby when it was brand new, ... Read More
We boarded the ship in San Juan and had no trouble at all, speedy boarding, and unlike some other reviews I have read about San Juan we never encountered any rude people.. Our first Princess cruise was on the Ruby when it was brand new, so we were slightly disappointed when we first got on the ship. Nothing wrong with it, just not new. Our room location was excellent, 14th floor mid-ship! Excellent location for access to pool and buffet. We found the dinners in the dining room to be O.K., only had dinner at buffet once and that was also just OK.. I don't usually eat breakfast, but really liked the breakfast buffet. Comedians were very funny!! Hypnotist was very good too.. What was nice about going this time of year was that there weren't that many children.. There was absolutely NO nightlife on this cruise, I don't if everyone was exhausted from having a port almost everyday or there just weren't any people that like to party! I think next time we will try another cruise line just to have something to compare it to.. We had a great time, but it was exactly the same ship.. Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
We are a couple in our 40's. This was our 5th cruise, 2nd with Princess. Embarkation was a breeze. We were there early, they started the process at noon, by the time we signed up for the ultimate ship tour, dropped our carry ons in ... Read More
We are a couple in our 40's. This was our 5th cruise, 2nd with Princess. Embarkation was a breeze. We were there early, they started the process at noon, by the time we signed up for the ultimate ship tour, dropped our carry ons in our cabin, we were in the buffet by 12:30. I felt that even though this is the largest ship in the Princess fleet, it was very easy to navigate your way around. Many of the places were in the same general area as they were on the other Princess ship that we were on prior. The only place that seemed crowded, was in the casino in the evenings. Other than that, it seemed as though there was ample space. Even at pool side, there were many people there, but didn't have any difficulty finding a lounger the staff was very attentive and plesant. Not once did I run into a rude worker. They were all very attentive and polite. Our room steward, Raymondo, was wonderful!! Our cabin was always clean and tidy, and was able to do this without any interuption to us while we were in our cabin. We spent alot of time there as we would rest and sometimes take naps between shore time and the evening meal. We were in cabin C7523! Amazing! The corner aft balcony was a dream! Relaxing on the large balcony with a drink was sooo relaxing! And listening to the wake in the evening as we were sailing was awesome! The cabin itself was nice by ship standards. Of course the bathroom/shower was small, but adequate. There was normal wear and tear to the carpeting. The bed was actually pretty comfortable. We (for the first time) actually were barely able to notice the seam where the 2 beds were pushed together. And no, we did not have an egg crate. I have read postings in the past where people complain about having difficulty with their cabin being too warm. Well, we must have had a very compliant group on board, at least in our area and they didn't leave their balcony doors open, because in my opinion, the room temperature was fine. I was a little chilly at times, but my husband was always comfortable. (but I'm always the cold one) Dining was another great experience! Frank, our waiter, and Jamie our assitant waiter were very professional, and entertaining. Jamie was quite an outgoing young man. Singing as he came to the table, and always a smile on his face. I Love the cheesecake they serve for dessert! I had it every night except for the night that they had teramasu (sp). The last night of course, they had the baked alaska, not a big fan of that. Frank, knowing my eating habits, brought me a piece of cheesecake without even asking. I had never seen anybody not seated in the dinning room because of how they were dressed until this cruise. As we were walking into the dinning room, a young man, in his early 20's maybe, that was dressed in long kaki shorts, was leaving and saying, "I didn't know the dinning room was formal!" I found that to be entertaining in and of itself, to think that dockers and a polo shirt would be "formal" to him! We packed some alcohol in our checked luggage and it arrived in our room without difficulty. We had even bought some beer at port in Tortola and brought it back on the ship without a problem in our carry on. Though we did notice a table set up by the elevator when you got back on board, and they were actually taking the alcohol from the people that were getting back on the ship. It was mainly liquor, I didn't notice any 6 packs of beer sitting there. We didn't go to any of the shows. One of the comedians, and one of the productions was the same as the ones we had when we were in Alaska last summer. We took part in the Ultimate Ship Tour!! That was a very worthwhile experience. There were 10 people on our tour. We started backstage of the shows, went to the galley, including the area where they prepare they vegetables and meats, medical center, laundry, printers, photography area, engineer control area, funnels, and ended on the bridge where we had champagne as we talked with the captain. I may have left out some areas, but its hard to remember them all. We were treated to personalized stationery, a plush bathrobe, chefs jacket, and pictures. All included in the tour. We thought it would be nice to do the EZ check for our return flights! This was really the only glitch in our trip though it all worked out well. Made us a little nervous though. When we received our paper work and luggage tags for this process it only had our boarding pass for boarding in San Juan, not for our connecting flight in Atlanta. They also had my husband and I separated on the airplane. Didn't quite understand that either since the booking was together. I called the desk and they said we needed to come down. Of course the line was fairly long, but they went through it at a pretty good pace. They told us that this is normal, and we would have to get our boarding passes for our connecting flight when we arrived in Atlanta and that maybe the airline would be able to fix the seating arrangement when we arrived at the airport in San Juan. I didn't understand why they wouldn't give you the boarding pass for the whole trip. I thought the whole idea of it was to avoid the lines at the airport and to have them handle your luggage. That was a bit of an irritant to us. They said our luggage tags were correct, and that they would arrive in Kansas City. We weren't to sure about that since the boarding passes only got us to Atlanta. Luckily, when you do the EZ check, you disembark the ship fairly early. We were off of the ship by 8:30, found our luggage without difficulty, went through the long customs line that moved very quickly, which by the way when we handed the agent our passport, he stated he didn't need it. We then found a taxi, which was not difficult since they are lined up waiting for you when you get off the ship. I don't know how the Princess transfers are, but I can only assume that it would take you a little longer to get to the airport since they wait to fill the bus. Anyway...since we arrived at the airport early, there weren't any lines at all! Amazingly! No waiting for the USDA inspection, or at the airline counter, which, they were able to fix our seating arrangements, and print our boarding passes for us for the connecting flight in Atlanta. We had a semi-long line to go through the security area at that point, but it moved along well. Our flight didn't leave San Juan until 3:20, so we still at this point had a little less than a 5 hour wait. But I am very glad we arrived early! I would say by 11:00, there wasn't anymore seating available. The terminal was very crowded with people sitting on the floor and standing in the walk way. VERY CONGESTED! People were frustrated with the situation and one lady was downright rude when she was told a seat was taken. (the person that was sitting there next to her husband had just gotten up use the restroom.) The lady that was going to take the spot said, well that's just too bad! At least by the time the other lady returned, they began to board their flight. In the end, our luggage DID arrive at our final destination just as they stated it would. All in all, it was an amazing trip. If you expect nothing but perfection, then you will be disappointed. There are always going to be little issues, but most can be resolved quickly and easily. If you go with the flow, then you will have an amazing trip aboard the Caribbean Princess. Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
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