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EMERALD PRINCESS CRUISE REVIEW SAIL DATES SUNDAY JANUARY 24, 2010 - SUNDAY JANUARY 31, 2010 FROM PORT EVERGLADES FT. LAUDERDALE FLORIDA CRUISING THE EASTERN CARIBBEAN SUMMARY: This was our first cruise and will be the start of many more ... Read More
EMERALD PRINCESS CRUISE REVIEW SAIL DATES SUNDAY JANUARY 24, 2010 - SUNDAY JANUARY 31, 2010 FROM PORT EVERGLADES FT. LAUDERDALE FLORIDA CRUISING THE EASTERN CARIBBEAN SUMMARY: This was our first cruise and will be the start of many more cruises. We had the greatest time on this trip and very happy with our experience. The Emerald Princess is in pristine shape after coming out of dry-docking a month earlier. The exterior was sparkling white with fresh paint. The interior was immaculate with fresh carpet, paint, and tasteful decorating. The crew is in very good spirits and service outstanding from day 1 till the end of the cruise. Weather was wonderful with the minor exception of Princess Cays. This cruise was so nice we will be doing our best to return to her next year around this time. 5 Stars all the way. We will go into detail for all of the aspects of the cruise we experienced. If you have any questions please feel free to contact us at theansons@hotmail.com or on Facebook (West Anson and Michelle Anson). BIOGRAPHY: We are West and Michelle, a married couple around 40, from Omaha Nebraska. We celebrated 20 years of Marriage on 1/29/2010. Never getting to take a honeymoon when we were young prompted us to go "all out" for this celebration. We are your average couple with 2 teenage kids. Both of us work hard and enjoy our time off trying new experiences. We were deciding between an All-Inclusive resort and a Cruise to a warm weather climate. After thinking it over we decided to go "cruising" and I am certain we made the right decision. PRE-PRE CRUISE: We started planning 3 months prior to our actual cruise date. This gave us enough time to do research and prepare for the expenses which go with a cruise. We studied all of the major cruise lines and destinations. It came down to Royal Caribbean and Princess Cruises to the Eastern Caribbean. We wanted the Eastern Caribbean because of the ability to go to the beaches in the wintertime. The tough call was choosing RC or PC, we decided to go with Princess because both of us watched "The Love Boat" growing up and since we were celebrating "our love" it just seemed to fall in place. We did all of our booking through the Princess Website. We originally booked a AA Mini-Suite as we wanted the balcony and some of the extra amenities which come with the higher class cabin. Three weeks prior to departure we were pleasantly surprised as we received a "free major upgrade". They had moved us up to a Penthouse Suite! We were in absolute shock as this is unheard of. The only suite higher in class is the Owners Suite. We were very excited now. To prepare ourselves for the cruise we purchase a few items every payday. Since we had plenty of time, 3 months, it was not a burden. Each of us updated some items in our wardrobe, but not too much. Formal wear was the big purchase, luckily we found lots of stuff on sale just after the holidays and tuxedos are plentiful on eBay. Both of us are semi-active, but we really got active and watched the holiday eating so we were in decent shape prior to the cruise. In addition, all people should go "tanning" long before your cruise. We are not kidding or trying to insult you. First off, you want to look good for the cruise as you will be in your bathing suits and summer clothing in the wintertime. Secondly, if you do not tan you will get "burned to a bright fire red!" Seriously, we could not help but laugh our asses off when we saw some of the people after one day in the sun. They looked terrible and could tell they were in absolute pain! We have no doubt they were very ill during the cruise from over exposure to sun. Photos are taken all of the time while on-board and the ones which had sunburns looked absolutely hideous! Photos are displayed throughout the cruise along the hallway to the dining rooms. Everybody was laughing so hard at those who were "red-faced" in more ways than one. So for your physical and psychological health please visit the Tanning Booths a couple months prior to departing. Sunless tanning is not tanning and using UV protection lotion will not work, you will go from orange to red-orange after day one. Do the tanning beds for a couple of months and you will not regret it. About 2 week before departure we started packing. This was a 7 day cruise with 2 formal nights and 4 Island stops. We over-packed at first and then pared down on the last couple of days prior to leaving. This worked out great as we had plenty of time to really think about what we really wanted to bring and what was just not needed. Each of us had 2 large checked bags and 2 small carry-on bags. We had plenty of extra room to "smuggle" alcohol and bring back souvenirs. We booked our excursions and special requests prior to embarkation. When you book through Princess you are guaranteed a spot. Excursions filled up fast and not having to wait in line before docking in ports was a real time saver. The prices are the same whether you book pre-cruise or during the cruise. Be sure you have your passport and all other materials prior to leaving. Do not pack your passport or sailing documentation in your checked bags as you will need them to board the ship. PRE-CRUISE: We recommend booking your pre-cruise transfers with Princess for two reasons. The first, all of the arrangements are made for you and don't need to think about it. Princess Personnel will meet you when you arrive at the airport and guide you. Secondly, perhaps the best benefit is you get Priority Embarkation. When we arrived at the Cruise-port we were able to go in the side door. The main entrance had a line about a mile long and could tell the passengers were not at all happy to be waiting in such a long line. We had our ID cards and on the ship in 20 minutes. The other passengers spent at least an hour getting aboard the ship. This alone is worth the Pre-Cruise Transfers cost, we paid $99 each for hotel and all transfers. The hotel was a nice Marriot about 10 minutes from the Cruise-port and close to stores/restaurants. We purchase our alcohol and last minute items at the local liquor store and Walgreens. BOARDING: Each passenger goes through security and ends up at the check-in stations. The check-in stations are separated based on classes of cabins. We had the Penthouse Suite so we were able to check-in the Preferred Line. The Preferred line had red-carpet and Paparazzi snapping photos, no not really but it was better staffed. Each line went very quickly and we were on the ship in about 20 minutes. This process is very smooth and did not see many issues. CABIN: Penthouse Suite R412 (Aruba Suite, Riviera Deck 14). We had a good idea of what to expect when we arrived at our Suite. However, it was better than expected. The Penthouse Suite is huge in size, over 500 square feet. The sleeping area and living area can be separated by a heavy curtain partition. A very large walk-in closet is just off the sleeping area. The bath is a 3 foot deep whirlpool Jacuzzi! Large glass shower is separate from the bath but next to the bath. The lavatory and sink is separate from the bath area and is well stocked with upgraded amenities. There is a huge dressing vanity in the sleeping area separate from the vanity in the bathroom. All of the walls and ceilings are very posh and nicely lit. I believe there are about 10 different lighting accents. The balcony is very wide and adequately deep, enough for the 2 lay-down wood lounge chairs and a cafe type table and chairs. Riviera is also the highest cabin deck, you can see down into the other balconies but they cannot see up into yours. The sides are partitioned off and locked. This Suite has so many amenities to list. You can get a basic list from the Princess website but here are the ones we really enjoyed. • Free access to the Thermal Suite in the Lotus Spa (~$200 pp value). This is absolutely the best kept secret on the entire ship. The Thermal Suite is a secluded, quiet, & very private area with 2 wet saunas, 2 rainforest showers, dry spa, & 5 hot beds. You get to go anytime to just relax. They will put a star sticker on your Ships ID card when you visit the spa the first time. We visited on a daily basis and really became spoiled. • Free access to the Captains Circle Elite Events held everyday. Numerous events are held just for Elite and Suite Members which you get special treatment such as gifts, food, drinks, etc. • Free access to VIP Port events. All of the ports have special events for VIP members from the ship which you get special treatment such as gifts, food, drinks, etc. • Upgraded Room Service menu. Suite owners get the entire kitchen at your "beck and call". Seriously, you get whatever you want just ask for it. • Free internet and laptop use. Not many know this but you can have a ship provided laptop in your room. Go down to the internet cafe and just ask for one. If they have one, which they will because nobody knows about them, you can have it for the entire cruise. When you sign up for internet access, sign up for the max price plan and you will be charged at first then credited later that night. • Free laundry service. No need to bring a lot of extra clothes with use of the laundry service. Put your clothes in the laundry bags and they will be returned the next day cleaned, pressed, and on hangers. • Afternoon tea available everyday. This isn't your typical "tea party". You get many different teas, sandwiches, & pastries. One order is enough for 6 people. We hosted a "tea party" on the last day with a few of our fellow shipmates and had a great time. • Free breakfast each morning at Sabatini's. Suite owners get free access to Sabatini's for made-to-order breakfasts which are much higher quality than anywhere on the ship. • Priority Tender processing for Princess Cays. You get to go on the tender when you want and they will bump everyone else for you to have your spot. While we didn't get to go to Princess Cays, due to weather, this would have been nice as there were hundreds of people waiting in line. • Anytime disembarkation at the end of the cruise. Want to sleep in on the last day? Go ahead; you get to leave the ship when you feel like it. You will have to depart the ship eventually but at least won't be rushed off the ship. Plus you get a Continental Breakfast while waiting. FOOD AND DRINKS: We choose to have Traditional Dining on the second seating as opposed to Anytime Dining, it was a great decision. Second seating is at 8:15pm giving you plenty of time to be prepared for eating. Traditional Dining is served in the Botticelli Dining Room. If we were hungry earlier we would simply visit one of the Cafes, room service, or grab a snack. The food in the Traditional Dining was outstanding and exquisite. Finer dishes along with standard fares were served by very professional and courteous maitre des. The room was beautiful and the other patrons were very festive throughout the cruise. When we think of Cruise Dining this is what we thought of and received. Talking with fellow shipmates about their experience with Anytime Dining confirmed our decision was correct. While the food and service with Anytime Dining was okay, it was not spectacular. In addition, many complained about the wait time. Go with the Traditional Dining and you will be very happy. As for the Specialty (pay extra) Dining, we enjoyed Sabatini's for our complementary breakfasts a couple times. The service and food were very good made-to-order breakfasts. This was included in our Suite so we did not have to pay. A couple of our shipmates we talked with said both Sabatini's and Crown Grill were good and worth the $25 pp. In addition, we requested to have the Chefs Table Dinner for $75 pp but were not selected. We were hoping to get this but there are a limited number of spots and selected by lottery. The best dining we had was the Balcony Dinner which we paid $50 pp to celebrate our 20th Wedding Anniversary. It was incredible, absolutely the best time we had on-board. We were served a 5 course meal with alcohol, wine, & champagne. Each entrEe was 2 extremely large Lobster Tails, at least 2 lbs each! They were magnificent and the other dishes were just as good. We were so full and drunk we couldn't even leave our room. We highly recommend doing this at least once on-board. The buffet and deck area food was satisfactory. Don't expect giant seafood buffets or exquisite meals coming from the buffet. It is on par with Old Country Buffet or Golden Coral. You won't be dissatisfied, but you will feel longing for something better. The "fast food" around the pool area was good, especially the pizza and ice cream. The food in the Piazza was very good. The International Cafe has a great mix of salads, "fingerwiches", and deserts. Vines wine and Sushi bar is outstanding. Sushi is free with purchase of wine. We ate about $100 worth of Sashimi for the cost of $20 in wine. We highly recommend visiting Vines a couple times while on-board. The English Pub had fish and chips every other day. We enjoyed the typical English fare but after eating it twice that was enough. Now for the 3 things most people want to know. Here is the skinny on soda, coffee, and alcohol. Soda, buy the soda sticker as soon as you see someone selling it. The crew personnel are by the elevators and throughout the ship selling them and you get a free soda bottle. Cost is $30 pp for the whole cruise and can get soda anywhere. Sodas will cost around $2 each without the card. We carried around a flask to spike our sodas when we wanted a mixed drink. Coffee, we are not so sure about the value of the card. We are not big coffee drinkers so we did not get a card. Free coffee is available in all dining areas and the buffet. The buffet coffee is terrible and would be better put to use as a cleaning agent. The dining room coffee is good. The Cafe coffee is outstanding. We found out why the buffet coffee is so bad, it is made from liquid concentrate. All other areas it is made from grounds. If you don't care about paying exorbitant prices for adult beverages then don't read any further. If you want to save money, "smuggle" onboard rum, vodka, whiskey, tequila, etc in Rum Runners (www.rumrunnerflasks.com). We did not get caught and I don't think many others did either. Wine and Champagne can be brought on board without any questions, just remember to bring a corkscrew it will cost you $15 if you don't. In addition to our own "stash" we bought numerous specialty drinks which were very good. Each day there is a specialty drink for $6-$7, otherwise expect to pay a lot for alcohol. SHOWS AND MUTS: The large production shows provided very good entertainment. Each night, in the Princess Theatre, a Music Show or Comedian performed. The two Comedians on-board this cruise were Kevin Hughes and Phil Tag. Both were outstanding at poking fun at the ships "special features", fellow shipmates, and life in general. The Music Shows provided good entertainment and the costumes very elaborate. Throughout the ship, in the lounges and sitting areas, performers also performed acts and small shows. The Piazza was the busiest with short acts every few hours while at sea. Be sure to catch as many of the shows as possible, you will not be disappointed. Tim Donovan is the ships Cruise Director; he was a show in and of himself! Defiantly see all of the shows in which his staff performs. The London Pub Night was a riot, be sure to catch this show with Tim and his staff. Movies under the Stars, a.k.a MUTS, was always on in the pool area Amidships. Most of the shows being played were recent DVD releases along with some concerts and sports. We caught a couple of the movies while at Sea. OTHER SHIP AMENITIES: The gym on board the ship is very modern and all of the way forward on the upper level. The gym was busy while at sea with lots of people staying in shape and enjoying the views. The spa is in the same location as the gym and is very nice with reasonable prices. As a suite passenger we had unlimited access to the Thermal Spa. The TS is incredible and worth the cost if you really want to unwind on a daily basis. We did not visit the Sanctuary as we didn't feel the need to use it. Duty/tax free shopping can be done on the ship. Your ships ID card is used to pay for everything and should be monitored daily. Every morning we would get a print out of our account to keep track of expenditures. Some good deals can be purchased while on-board, some not so good deals. Photos are a little expensive but are very high quality. There can be deals throughout the cruise but wait till the last day as all of your photos will be on display. The casino is a typical casino. Lots of slots, a few table games, etc. You can use your ships ID card or cash for playing. Be sure to "cash in" your casino winnings before the end of the cruise. If you don't you will not get your money you have won. PORTS OF CALL AND EXCURSIONS: The Eastern Caribbean is well known for the POC featuring beaches and lots of sun. For the most part, we were please with the POCs we visited and the excursions we participated in. Be sure to book your excursions early to avoid missing out on the best excursions. While the veteran cruisers have no problem going out on there own, first-timers should probably stick with the planned excursions. The prices are reasonable and if the Princess sponsored excursion is late, the ship will not leave. The ship leaves at precise times and will not wait for late-comers. There were at least a few shipmates who found that out the hard way. The first POC was Princess Cays, Bahamas. When were arrived in Princess Cays the weather was not the greatest and the seas very high. Due to the high seas the Captain cancelled this POC. While we were disappointed in this it ended up being a good thing for St. Maarten/St. Martin. The Captain was able to get us into St. Maarten/St. Martin 4 hours earlier on day 4 and stay an hour later! St. Maarten/St. Martin is one island with 2 countries. St. Maarten is the Dutch side with good shopping and where we docked for the day. You will not be disappointed if you plan on visiting St. Maarten for shopping. As with all of the POCs in the Eastern Caribbean, you will find great deals on jewelry, liquor, tobacco, perfume, and clothing. The day prior to our arrival, the ship's "Shopping Guru" has a large POC presentation you will not want to miss. The presentation will give you the best places to shop for the goods you are looking for and be sure to purchase a POC Shopping Book for $25. All of the ports offer great deals and this book lists them along with the "free stuff". We visited St. Maarten in the AM to purchase some great items. Color changing clothing from Del Sol, some great local Guava Berry Rum, a Cuban cigar to smoke while in port, and the best chocolate we have ever tasted. As for the "free stuff" don't expect to get a $1000 diamond ring. However, you will be able to get lots of loose gemstones and other items for free just by visiting the shops. Don't get too stressed out trying to get all of the free stuff, just wonder around and if you see something you like go take a look. Of course, if you have a problem with "hard sale" salespersons you may want to avoid shopping. But you really can find some great deals and believe me you are not the only ones who just "browse" for the free stuff. Some of the places prefer cash but all of the shops take CC and are duty/tax free. When we checked our bank statements there also was no money conversion fee, so the price you see in US Dollars is the price you pay. St. Martin is the French side of the island with the great beaches. We booked the Orient Beach Bash via Princess and were not disappointed. A tour host meets and greets you on the pier and guides you all the way. Orient Beach is a "Clothing Optional" beach about 20-30 minutes away from the pier. The weather was windy, sunny, and warm. The beach is very clean; the water was warm and absolutely beautiful. Free rum punch was served all afternoon and food/other drinks are available for extra. However, the prices are high and they only accept Euros. We ate on the ship prior to the excursion so eating was not very important. The scenery was wonderful, including the "clothing optional" beach-goers. After a short while we didn't even take notice to the topless women. The full nude beach is further south and was busy as both sexes just "hang out", literally. While one of us had no problem taking it all off (you can guess which one, West), Michelle never felt intimidated and rather enjoyed the views. We had such a great time here we will defiantly visit Orient Beach in the future. On day 4, the ship visited St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. St. Thomas is very modern and not much different than a typical city in the United States. This is where we made our "steal of the cruise" purchase of 2 Movado Museum Watches for $300! We were given the "heads up" in the POC Presentation and did not want to miss out. We were very happy as these watches are over $300 each in the States. We purchased some other small items as well. For our Excursion we chose the half-day catamaran/snorkeling tour of St. Thomas and St. Johns. A tour guide met us just outside the pier and we took a shuttle bus through St. Thomas to the docks where we met the catamaran. The weather was incredible in St. Thomas/St. Johns and the excursion was outstanding. Food and drinks flowed at this excursion and the catamaran crew was great. On day 5, the ship visited Grand Turk. Grand Turk is still recovering from Hurricane Ike in 2008. While the port is new and modern the inner city has been devastated. If at all possible try to save a lot of your shopping for this port as the country really needs as much help as possible. You will find the best deals on alcohol, tobacco, perfume, and clothing. There are some local goods, but not much as there is not much of an island or people left over after the hurricane. We visited Governors Beach for the day for sun and snorkeling. The water is absolutely crystal clear and clean! We could see 20-30 feet down. Coral and fish were everywhere. Grand Turk is a superb place to snorkel and SCUBA dive. Food and drinks were available for those who paid for the excursion. The beach is a couple of miles from the pier and within walking distance. Of course, a trip to Grand Turk is not complete till you visit Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville. Once again I highly recommend spending as much money as you can afford at Grand Turk. The deals are good and the island desperately needs the tourist money. DAYS AT SEA: We enjoyed three and a half days at Sea relaxing and getting to know our shipmates and the ship. There are lots of areas on the ship to see and escape to. We highly recommend starting at the top and keep working your way down. This ship is very large but you will learn very quickly how to best navigate the winding halls and large common areas. Carry the pocket map with you along with your ID card at all times. The pool areas are very large and of course you must deal with the "chair hogs". A fun game is to get up early and hang out on the pool decks and remove all of the "chair hogs" towels from the chairs then watch them freak out! Hahahahaha! There are three pool areas with "distinct" patrons on each of them. You will figure it out immediately as they will gravitate to the "not pre-determined but you swear it is" locations. Use the stairs as the elevators are always packed with "people" riding the elevators up/down one level instead of walking one hundred feet. It is so funny to see people take an elevator one level when they could simply walk. You will not have access to the crew areas, but magically crew members come out of nowhere! DISEMBARKATION AND POST CRUISE: Sadly it all must come to an end and the ship will be in Fort Lauderdale. Disembarkation is very simple and you will be off the ship in an orderly fashion. You can pay to have your bags sent to the airport by the ship and disembark early if you need to leave promptly. Otherwise the night before you will get color/number coded luggage tags. The last day you will muster in the designated areas and leave the ship. We stayed an extra day in Fort Lauderdale to visit the area and see the NFL Pro-Bowl. Rented a car for cheap and stayed near the Cruise port/Airport. Shuttles and taxis are in abundance. Taxis are reasonable and recommended to get to your final destination the fastest. FINAL WORDS AND THOUGHTS: This was the best vacation we have ever had and will be cruising for the remainder of our life. It is really hard to beat the luxury and value of cruising compared to other forms of vacation. Princess Cruise Lines and The Emerald Princess have our loyalty and trust to make sure we have a great time in the future. We hope you enjoyed this review and if you have any further questions please contact us at your convenience. We kept most of the cruise specific documents such as Princess Patters (daily news and schedule) and other items. We have tons of photos and videos which we are posting on our Facebook Pages(West Anson and Michelle Anson). Let us know if you want anything. See ya my friends! Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
This was our first ever cruise, and we had such a wonderful time that we've just booked another one with Princess this September! The Emerald Princess is absolutely beautiful: everything is clean and modern, and the huge ship has so ... Read More
This was our first ever cruise, and we had such a wonderful time that we've just booked another one with Princess this September! The Emerald Princess is absolutely beautiful: everything is clean and modern, and the huge ship has so many things to do and see. It was only on the last day that we eventually got to know where everything was - which was a bit of a shame, because we'd had a lot of fun getting lost beforehand. We opted for a full suite, which was simply fabulous. There was plenty of room, and it was very comfortable. Our cabin steward (from the Philippines) spoke excellent English and he was very helpful: always around when we needed him, and never intrusive. Towels were changed twice daily, so we always had fresh towels for each use. Fresh fruit was provided in our cabin, and re-stocked as the days passed. We were also delighted to see that extra touch to make passengers feel special: fresh flowers in the room, and nightly chocolates on the pillow. The bathroom was very large, with two sections: a toilet/basin section, and a bath/shower section. There was a separate shower cubicle, and a whirlpool tub. The huge balcony had sun-loungers and a separate table and chairs. We had anytime dining. When we booked the cruise, we were told that the minimum table size was 4 - so we could be sitting with others. However, we always had tables for two and never had to share - which was just how we wanted it. Not that we're unfriendly - but the purpose of our holiday was a romantic trip for two, and not to meet other people. Therefore we were very pleased. On all but one night, we never had a problem getting a table - we just walked into the dining room and were assigned a table immediately. There was only one evening where we were told there was a 45-minute wait. Not a problem... because room service was complimentary, so it did not cost any more to just eat in our cabin. So we ordered room service, and it was served on our balcony's table - complete with tablecloth which was brought with the food. The next day, the dining staff remembered that we chose not to wait, and telephoned in the morning to invite us to make a reservation. The service was just wonderful. The quality of the food was second to none. The dining room served gourmet food, which was tasty without bloating you up. And no-one could ever complain about the quantity of food served: there was so much of it, that it was hard to stop "grazing" throughout the day, therefore leaving it as a challenge to be empty enough for the evening meal. On the first day of the cruise I saw the burger grill, and the pizza & ice cream bar - and asked my girlfriend rhetorically: "why would anyone want to fill themselves up with junk food, when there's so much good quality food elsewhere?" However, a few days later I changed my tune when I tried the burgers and pizzas: they're not junk food at all, they were top quality, very meaty burgers - and authentic Italian pizza with stonebaked taste! So even the so-called "junk" food was not junk at all - it was all excellent. The entertainment was good. We never attended a show with the "Princess Dancers"; instead opting to go for all the comedy shows. Kevin Hughes was very funny, and always packed out the theatre. Tim Donovan - the English cruise director - was also an entertainer in himself, as he always had a humorous way of introducing the guest performers. Regarding the ports of call: we were supposed to go to Princess Cays in the Bahamas, but the waves were too rough to be safe for the tender service, so that day was skipped. The other places we did dock at were St. Maarten (Netherlands Antilles), St. Thomas (US Virgin Islands) and Grand Turk (Turks & Caicos Islands). We did not want to pay for any of the Princess-organised tours and activities, as they seemed overpriced for what they were. However, you can easily wander around town on your own without paying anything. One thing I have to say about these ports of call - they are very much geared up for the tourist market. There was nothing in particular to see in terms of sightseeing - but the streets were lined with diamond and gemstone shops, trying to sell to the supposedly rich cruise ship passengers. At the other end of the scale, there were the shops selling tourist tat. We were interested in neither! So really, the purpose of the cruise was in order to experience the luxury of the ship itself - not in order to visit the ports of call. Although my girlfriend was delighted with being able to bathe in the sea in Grand Turk - which she said was crystal clear. One more thing to add, regarding tipping. I'm English, and we regard a tip as an optional payment given in reward for a service performed which exceeds expectations. However, as an American company, Princess sees tipping as an automatic payment: rooms are by default charged an amount of "tips" per day, payable on the onboard account. They may say that this is in order to pay the staff - because many of them (especially, for example, the people who wash up in the kitchens) must be poorly paid. However, I see this as cheating. They should pay their staff a decent wage in the first place. The difference in price can then be included in the advertised price of the cruise. This is why it is cheating: to entice people to book by advertising an attractive sale price, but then relying on "tips" to supplement the staff wages. No. Take note please, Princess: you should pay your staff a decent wage to begin with, and reflect that in your advertised prices. Then no passengers get a nasty shock with "hidden" charges. Anyway - as I said to begin with, the experience was so wonderful that we decided to book another cruise with Princess again. I just hope the experience matches our expectations! I'll let you know. Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
We just returned from sailing on the Golden to Hawaii 1 week ago 2/14/10. It was our 20th wedding anniversary valentine's cruise. It was my third cruise but first time on Princess and my husband's first cruise. I must say we had ... Read More
We just returned from sailing on the Golden to Hawaii 1 week ago 2/14/10. It was our 20th wedding anniversary valentine's cruise. It was my third cruise but first time on Princess and my husband's first cruise. I must say we had our doubts going in about this line due to the horrible customer service we received from the customer service dept. the 8 months prior to sailing. We were continually speaking to staff at the 1-800 princess number who knew very little and continually gave us inaccurate or completely wrong information. Our travel agent was horrified and had to report them to her princess contact twice. Needless to say we were apprehensive about using this line and spending the extra big bucks for a balcony cabin which we had to wait list for several months before trip because we needed a wheelchair accessible cabin. We decided to chance it anyway and go. When we arrived at the terminal in San Pedro it was a completely different story. It was like entering a parallel universe thankfully!, The terminal and ship was an airtight, organized, professional, well oiled machine starting with the porter at the curb, Wow! What a disconnect between the two entities. Embarkation was a snap after the hassle of getting thru security. This is when our trip began for us. I have never been on a trip with a more professional, courteous and genuinely polite staff. From the time we arrived to the day we returned we were treated with such respect and politeness. About the ship: We were immediately greeted with smiles and then by our room stuart (Marco), Then wecdid the life boat drill. (important when you are 5 days at sea)The ship was large and beautiful, lots to see and do. We left a half hr. late as someone was not yet on board. The Captain will wait for a short time. Get the 800# you are suppose to call from Princess prior to boarding if you are going to be late. The food was good but could have been better but it wasn't bad. We chose anytime dining a first for me, I would suggest it. We ate at the buffet most days, good variety. Most of the shows were very good. And "movies under the stars" was fantastic sound and picture quality. Our wheelchair cabin and bathroom were huge and ample storage. The balcony was a bit small and covered but nice to have. The ship hit a storm in the Pacific going out and the sea was very rough. The ship was rocking and many were sick, including me. The Captain was an emphatic safety guy and was good about updating us and trying to avoid storms and danger. The ship as very tight security which is good and also a big push for cleanliness of both ship and passengers so as not to spread sickness or disease which everyone appreciated. I never felt unsafe. We sailed during the 2 earthquakes (Chile and Japan) which affected the weather, sea and ports. There were two tsunami warnings, 1 in Mexico and the other for Hawaii (which we just missed) The Captain purposely waited an extra hour before docking in Ensenada to miss the swell although it turned out not to be necessary but he had our backs as usual. The crew was in a word "superb" by far the most warm and inviting ship I have ever seen. I miss the crew (really!) We had very bad weather most of the time and the going out was hardest due to crossing against current we spent little time on deck with only a few sun days but the crew had lots for us to see and do. Coming back was smooth as we went with the current and you didn't know you were on a ship. There was always something going on. (the weather isn't their fault after all) The weather improved once we reached the islands. From here on out it was smooth and relaxing sailing until Mexico that is. The quakes hit a day or so before. I comment on the islands below. They were fantastic, each one unique and different. Here are some helpful hints wish I would have known about: 1)If you get sea sick try eating green apple or wearing the wrist bands, they work but are expensive on board $9 so buy before. Get as flat as you can, it helps. Try to book your cabin mid ship and not too high (avoid top sway) not above deck 10. We were on the Aloha deck 12 port side and our balconies were covered but the most private. This would have bothered me more if the weather was better. The decks 11 and lower are uncovered and I think Caribe has the largest decks. It was nice to have when entering ports. Avoid the very rear of ship (Aft) and the very forward or top decks for entertainment until you get your sea legs. Avoid alcohol, too much food and know where the bathrooms are. A good place to rest is in the conservatory loungers I found. 2)You will be told in Hawaii that you may bring lei's back into the states, which is true if you went straight home. Since you will be going thru Mex. They will not allow it. So, unless you just want to wear them on ship I wouldn't bother, Most lei's only last 3 days. Food must be sealed and in it's original pkg. 3)Princess offers fresh lemonade upon request. They really don't advertise it much but just ask, it's complimentary and good. 4)The Aft (very rear of ship under night club) Jacuzzi's are rarely used in the late evening. I went around 11:30pm and felt I was the only person on board. I think they close at 1am. 5)You will be automatically obligated to pay tips at end of trip unless you opt out at the pursers desk. Not that they don't deserve a big tip, they do but they will delegate where your money goes unless you direct it. You are allowed to cash tip in person which is what we did. 6)Be sure to have your ship card, photo ID and your passport (or photo copy of passport)when you go ashore especially in Mexico. You will not be able to reboard without them. The pursers desk can make you a copy of your passport when you embark. 7)If you book anything prior to sailing like rental cars, non ship tours etc remember to allow time. The Hawaiians don't do anything quickly and think we are always rushing. It takes time to get thru security and on and off ship. So HANG LOOSE! It will save you some stress. 8) Try to plan as much as you can prior to trip. You have such a limited time on islands and you won't want to waste it. Rental car vans will pick you up right at terminal and take you to their office. 9)We suggest not taking the ship tours unless you worry about getting back on time, they are overpriced. We rented convertibles and drove ourselves which is easy on islands but make sure you know your distances, the two way roads and towns get crowded. Listen to your cruise director on the princess TV station in your cabin, He is fantastic and has tons of good information. Other people negotiated a price with van drivers just outside the terminals. For 35$-40$ each they saw much of the islands and had a good time. 10)The very aft and forward sun decks are usually the least crowded for sunbathing and the most pleasant. Also a note: people say the beds are hard. I have a bad back and neck and I did fine. I did ask Marco to bring me a pad to cover the mattress and he did so happily and immediately. 11)Be sure if you have your portraits taken that you gather them and choose before the last day because they will not reprint the size for you or accept credit cards the final day, cash only. Big mistake on our part. 12)The ship is all wheelchair accessible but challenging in parts. Especially getting thru doors during high winds. The Princess theater fills up quickly and w/c seats way in the back are limited. The early shows fill up faster than the late. The Vista lounge is more difficult to find seats especially for w/c users. Don't worry, the crew will try to accommodate you. They will even carry your plate at the buffet. On a scale of 1-10 I would rate this trip an 8. If the weather had been better it would have been a 9. I can't say enough good things about this ship or the people both crew and passengers. I am trying to realistically think of the negatives. The food could have been better I would rate it a 7 and the casino was a bit smokey except two first formal nights. They could use a few more convenient bathroom locations and the spa is a little pricey but that is normal on a resort vacation. A lot of people from the UK sail this line which made the trip extra special. The English don't tip very well so it's up to we Americans to do it. The crew really deserves it. Enjoy your trip and contact us if you have any specific questions at abmorrow@msn.com. Read Less
Sail Date February 2010
Background This was our 6th cruise. We have also used Princess to cruise in Alaska. We have been on Carnival cruises 3 times and Celebrity once. This trip was taken to celebrate our 20th Anniversary. This was my wife's first trip ... Read More
Background This was our 6th cruise. We have also used Princess to cruise in Alaska. We have been on Carnival cruises 3 times and Celebrity once. This trip was taken to celebrate our 20th Anniversary. This was my wife's first trip through the canal and my second. We choose Princess because they offered the best itinerary and price for a duration of 10 days which fit our schedule. February 27 We traveled to Acapulco on Saturday to make sure we would have no issues with a delayed flight. We spent Saturday night at Las Brias hotel overlooking Acapulco. We had room with a private pool and great view of the bay. The hotel supplied us with a bottle of wine and some cheese and crackers for a snack before dinner. We had dinner in the El Bellavista Restaurant. It was an excellent. The view from our table was picture perfect as the sun set. The next morning we had fresh fruit and rolls for breakfast on our balcony next to our pool as we watched the sun rise. We could not have had a better start to our vacation. I highly recommend the hotel. February 28 Sunday morning we took a tour of all the sights in Acapulco. It was super. We took the tour from Rosie who was recommended on several cruise reviews that I read before we left. I contacted her and she made sure that everything was set for an enjoyable day in Acapulco. She took care of us and I plan to use her again. She has my strongest recommendation. Rosie's contact information: dew_days@hotmail .com or enjoy@acapulcorosietours.com. We boarded the ship in the afternoon. The boarding process was quick and easy. We had a nice night at sea. March 1 Today we pulled into Huatulco and went on a small boat to a secluded beach for a swim. Now it is back to sea. Formal night tonight. Huatulco is still being developed and unless you take a tour there are only limited options for other things to see or do in port. March 2 Our port call today was in Guatemala which is an underdeveloped country. Poverty is everywhere. Nothing is really available at port except for a few vendors in tents selling their wares. We took an all day trip to a lake thru sugar cane, coffee and pineapple fields. We saw lots of small villages......mostly without running water or electricity. If nothing else, the trip was eye opening. When we boarded the boat to cross the lake there were lots of poor children trying to push you to buy trinkets. March 3 Today we stopped in Nicaragua. We took a tour to Amayo Hacienda. This was the retreat for the first woman elected President in Nicaragua. The owners were exceptional hosts. They went out of their way to make us feel welcome. Activities included a beach, horse back riding and cow milking. The sister of the former president and her daughter served us lunch. It really was a big deal for them to make us feel at home. March 4 We had a little adventure today. We took a tour to visit the hot springs at Arenal volcano in Costa Rica. On our way up the mountain which is only accessible via a narrow road with no guard rails we got into an accident. Our bus was run off the road and came within a foot.....yes 12 inches of falling over the cliff and down the side of a steep grade. The bus had the front 2 tires on the road but was leaning over the edge with one rear set of tires in the air. We all got off safe. No injuries. Eventually after two hours a back hoe......no tow trucks up there..... came along and pulled the bus back on the road. Nothing like a little excitement. We had to turn around and return to the ship. They gave us our money back. I now know why I go to church every Sunday. :) March 5 Today was an at sea day so I will comment about the ship. The Island Princess was a fine ship and in excellent physical shape. Our stateroom which was a mini-suite had a sitting area and a bathroom with a tub. The balcony was also a little larger than a normal balcony and offered us a good place to relax and spend time looking out over the ocean. We were disappointed in the dining options for the cruise. We are not big fans of anytime dinning. We like to eat our evening meal at reasonable time. The options for this cruise were either 5:00pm or 8:00pm. The part calls described above all ended after 6:00pm and left us few options except to eat at the buffet or join the hoard trying to get anytime service. When were able to eat at 5:00pm we were dismayed to find that the number of wait staff had been reduced. It made for a long and painfully slow dining experience. The wait staff was excellent but just overworked. They did what they could to make our experience the best possible. March 6 We got up early this morning to get prime seats on the bow for our transit. The 3:30am wake up time was well worth it. The canal is an awesome engineering feat. It is hard to believe it opened in 1914. The canal system which lifts you up 84 feet and then drops you back down again is a sight to behold. The canal is in excellent shape. You can also see where they are starting to dig to widen the canal. Our clearance as we passed thru the canal was just 24 inches on each side of the ship. We made a brief stop on the Atlantic side of the canal. Vendors were available on the Pier. There was no time for tours or to go explore. March 7 The entertainment on the ship was superb. The shows were top notch and worth seeing. The casino was nice and had electronic Texas Holdem tables. We had the opportunity to stay busy or just relax during our at seas days. The average age on our cruise was 65. Being married 20 years was just a drop in the bucket for most folks on the cruise. If you are looking for a high level of activity you probably should go with Carnival. March 8 We are in Ocho Rios Jamaica today. We took a tour to Dunns River Falls where we climbed 900 plus feet up a water fall. It was an exciting climb. We got plenty wet........good sense of achievement after we finished. Next we went up a mountain to experience the Jamaican Bobsled course. It was a thrilling ride. This is our last port visit. We have one more day at sea before we get back to port in Florida on March 10th. Comments This was an outstanding cruise. It is well worth taking. It was a great way to spend our 20th Anniversary.   Read Less
Sail Date February 2010
My wife and I left on Saturday February 13th from LA. As we came from the east the time change made for a long day on Saturday. If we were to do this cruise again or any with large time changes we would arrive a day early to adjust some. ... Read More
My wife and I left on Saturday February 13th from LA. As we came from the east the time change made for a long day on Saturday. If we were to do this cruise again or any with large time changes we would arrive a day early to adjust some. We had the transfer from the Airport included with the package. Princess had people waiting for us at baggage claim. We removed the bags from the carousel and Princess took care of loading them on the bus, taking them to port and bringing them to the room. We had a balcony room on level 11, Baja deck near the aft of the ship. This location was great for us as we just went up two levels to the Horizon Court buffet. This was our breakfast spot everyday as well as lunches during sea days. Excellent selection of very tasty food with a few changes for breakfast. Lunch changed allot from day to day with a different theme (mexican, italian, etc.) but always included a great salad bar. We had dinner at several of the restaurants but did not try Sterling Steakhouse or Sabatini's (the 2 pay restaurants). Nice choices for dinner. Food quality and taste were very good except for the steaks which were just okay. I had a strip steak that was a little tough. Good flavor though. Call early for the best reservations if you choose anytime dining like we did. Took earlier travelers advice and requested two lobsters on lobster night, no problem and they were delicious. They had a very interesting golf pro who gave daily presentations and golfed with some of the passengers. Went to see one of the comics and he was pretty good. Went to one show in the theater but left after a few minutes. Not really our thing. But always 2-3 different things going on to suit people of all ages and tastes. We went to two wine tastings. The first was $25/person that included tastings of several very pricey wines. The wines were paired with food (appetizer size) that included caviar, lobster, prosciutto, smoked salmon, shrimp, different cheeses, pate. It was nice but again not really our thing. The second tasting was $9.95 and included a souvenir shot glass. The wines were very good. There was some cheese and crackers to cleanse the pallet between wines. As others have said the ship is very large and you can always get away from the crowd. We also liked the "adult only" pool since we weren't traveling with any. The casino was nice and never too crowded especially on Non Smoking night. The girls working the tables were very friendly and happy to help you learn new games. Overall, the staff of the ship and restaurants were very friendly and helpful. I would highly recommend this cruise, we had a great time! Read Less
Sail Date February 2010
My wife and I just returned from a great Mexican Riviera cruise on the Sapphire Princess. We had a wonderful, relaxing time and since we received such great information prior to our cruise from the Cruise Critic Boards we thought we should ... Read More
My wife and I just returned from a great Mexican Riviera cruise on the Sapphire Princess. We had a wonderful, relaxing time and since we received such great information prior to our cruise from the Cruise Critic Boards we thought we should return the favor. So here is our review and I hope it does not get too long. If it does, I beg your pardon but I am trying to think of things that would have been helpful to me in planning for this cruise. Trip to Los Angeles We left a day early and flew into LA from Kansas City on Friday evening, February 12th. We used our Marriott points and stayed at the Courtyard Los Angeles/LAX Marriott at Century Boulevard. It is literally at the entrance of LAX and has a free shuttle to the hotel. It is a short shuttle ride, but be aware, since it is so close it is the last stop on the circuit that stops at 3 hotels. Nice hotel, nothing fancy but ideal for a one night stay close to the airport. They have a small restaurant in the lobby area that serves a nice buffet style breakfast (for a charge) in the morning. Transportation to the San Pedro Cruise Ship Terminal We had purchased round-trip shuttle transportation through Princess Cruise Lines ($24 per person each way) so we had to take the hotel shuttle back to LAX. Since we had come in the night before, we had received information to meet at the Delta Baggage Claim Area between 12noon and 1pm to meet the shuttle. As it turned out, at least 3 other parties on our cruise were also on the airport shuttle so we followed each other to the designated site. Princess staff were there to greet us and assist with getting luggage on the bus. We boarded the bus almost immediately and shortly after we headed for the cruise terminal. The Princess person said it would take about 45 minutes, but traffic was not bad and the trip only took about 30 minutes. When you get to the terminal, they park the bus for a while and another Princess staff person gets on and passes out some health forms that must be filled out prior to embarkation. It is also a method to space out the passengers arriving on their buses. After a short stop, we were taken to just outside the terminal where we got off the bus and went in. Embarkation We are Gold members (just our 2nd Princess cruise) so we joined the line and it moved pretty quickly. We were on the ship and at our stateroom by 1:30pm. Two pieces of our luggage were already at the stateroom and the other two showed up about 5 minutes after we did. We met our cabin steward, Nilo from the Phillipines, right away and he gave us a quick orientation. We requested an egg crate mattress (as we had read on Cruise Critic) and he said he would get one to the room as soon as possible. Very smooth, quick and effortless embarkation. We had received the $1000 Treasure Hunt card as we embarked so we headed out to get all our stamps. Besides the chance to win some prizes, this is an excellent way to get a quick orientation of the ship and its services. One of the designated spots was Sabatini's (specialty restaurant) and this worked out great because we wanted to make a reservation for Valentine's Day dinner. I wanted to make it a special evening because February 14th is also my wife's birthday. After we collected all our stamps we headed to the Horizon Court for a quick lunch and then went back to our stateroom to unpack. We did the mandatory muster drill at 3:15pm (our muster location was Club Fusion) and then went up to the main Pool Deck for the Sailaway Party. Fortunately it was a beautiful evening for our sailaway and everyone had a great time as we began our journey. Stateroom Our stateroom was A704 on the Aloha Deck (Deck 12-Aft). We had a balcony and it was completely covered. We could look down on the open and partially closed balconies on the lower decks. We were a little concerned about being one deck below the Horizon Court because of potential noise from tables and chairs being moved around; but we hardly noticed any noise at all. Just a couple of times on 1-2 mornings did we hear anything. We were near the elevators (no noise) and the staircase which was very handy. We could walk up one flight of stairs and be at the entrance to the Horizon Court for breakfast, coffee, etc. Very Nice!! But the best thing was that we were only a few doors down from the Aft (Terrace) Pool Area. This was great as the Aft Pool area is less crowded and the pool itself is "adults only". You really had a great view off the back of the ship. I cannot say enough about how nice this was. The stateroom itself was nice. The 2 twin beds had been pushed together to make one Queen bed and the egg crate mattress really made for a comfortable night sleep (definitely get this). We found we had plenty of hanger space with storage above and below, a full-length mirrored door opened up to several shelves for storage. There was a nightstand on one side of the bed with 2 drawers and the desk had 5 drawers for additional storage. There were 2 outlets near the desk but we had brought along a power strip so we had plenty of outlets. There is also an one outlet in the bathroom. There was a desk chair and one other chair in the room. Each room also has a TV with a few channels and a refrigerator. The bathroom was small but nice. The shower was very small but the water pressure was great all cruise long. The balcony on Aloha deck is small but nice—enough room for 2 chairs and a small table. Dining We chose Anytime Dining and it worked well for us. We did share a table with 2 other very nice couples on the first night in the Santa Fe dining room. We dined in Sabatini's ($20 per person charge) on Valentine's evening and it was very good. The other nights we had no problem getting a table for 2 and the times were anywhere from 6-7pm. The food was good but not overwhelming. I seem to remember from other cruises that on several occasions I left the dining room really feeling that we had experienced something special. Unfortunately, I cannot say that we had that experience during this cruise. Don't get me wrong, the food was good; just not outstanding. The Santa Fe Dining Room was our favorite. We ate there 3 nights, in the Pacific Moon twice and in the Savoy Dining Room once. The wait staff in all of the dining rooms were excellent, very friendly and very attentive. We ate breakfast in the Horizon Court every morning and had lunch there a number of times. The food was good and there was a lot of variety. A few times the area seemed crowded but overall it was fine. Wait staff were ever-present to offer coffee and juice. You could also get hot tea upon request. We enjoyed the Pizza and Burger Bars at the Main Pool Area on Deck 14 on a couple of occasions and this was nice for a quick bite to eat. There is also an Ice Cream Bar near the midship Pool. By the way, formal nights on the cruise are Sunday and Thursday. Entertainment We had seen a lot of negative comments about the production shows but we generally thought they were good. The Welcome Aboard Showtime on the first night was not that great—it was more of an orientation and a preview of Steve Moris's comedy show scheduled for the next night. Of the production shows, we did enjoy "Piano Man" on Sunday night and "Do You Want to Dance" on Wednesday night. We were less enthusiastic about the "I Got the Music" show on Thursday night. The same production troupe did all three shows. We really enjoyed Steve Moris's full comedy show in the Explorer's Lounge on Sunday night. Tom McTigue (another comedy show) was also enjoyable. We did not care for Lorenzo Clark (comedy/magic) who performed in the Princess Theater on Tuesday night. A few funny moments but generally his act seemed kind of "forced". The other musical groups (the Baby Dolls, in particular) which appeared in various locales around the ship were entertaining. We took part in the Movie Trivia program in the Explorer's Lounge on Tuesday night and our little team of 2 managed to tie for 1st place with another team of 4 getting 18 out of 20 correct. Both teams won a free bottle of champagne (we took ours to dinner on Friday night and our head waiter swapped it for a chilled bottle that we had with dinner). Ports/Excursions The first two full days of the cruise were at sea and we were blessed with great weather. On Tuesday, we docked at Puerto Vallarta at 9am with a departure time of 5pm. PV is on Central Pacific Time and is 1 hour ahead of ship's time. Since this was our first time in PV, we booked the City and Coastal Drive Tour through Princess. This tour gave us a nice overview of PV and the surrounding area. We disembarked the ship and met our tour group at 9:20am. We took an air-conditioned motorcoach to the Malecon (downtown shopping district) and made a 30 minute stop to do a walking tour of the Malecon and the Cathedral. We then boarded the motorcoach again and proceeded to a small shopping district where we could get some refreshments and use restrooms. We then continued on the Coastal Tour which ended at the site where the movie "Night of the Iquana" was filmed. Beautiful coastal scenery!! We then returned to the Malecon for a 30 minute stop to enjoy a free cold beverage of our choice, use restrooms and shop. We were given the choice of returning to the ship by motorcoach or we could stay and return to the ship on our own. We needed to be back at the ship by 4:30pm for boarding. We elected to stay and look around on our own. We took a yellow cab back to the cruise ship terminal and the cost was $7 US for the two of us. At the terminal, there were currency exchange facilities and a small shopping market. We boarded at around 4pm. On Wednesday, we docked at Mazatlan at 7am with a scheduled departure time of 5pm. As we were standing out on our balcony in the morning, the Mariner of the Seas came into port and docked Aft to Aft with our ship. Thanks to tips on the Cruise Critic boards we had decided to take the local Water Taxi to Stone Island on our own instead of doing the ship excursion. This would have been great except for the fact that we had lousy weather that day. It was very overcast with intermittent sprinkles. We decided to go anyway. At the port in Mazatlan, all passengers must take the complimentary shuttle to the terminal because it is a commercial dock. Once at the terminal you have the usual press of vendors and people trying to direct you to taxis. We had to wade through these folks (and say No Gracias several times) to get to the gate exiting the terminal. From there you turn left and walk a couple of blocks to where the street curves to the right. You proceed straight ahead on an unpaved street to a small yellow building. This is where you purchase your water taxi tickets. The cost is $2 per person for a roundtrip ticket. They will give you 2 tickets so be sure to retain one of the tickets for your return trip. The water taxi is pretty small with a covered roof and the ride is pretty quick across the channel to the small dock on Stone Island. From the dock it is a short walk over a small rise to a rocky entrance to the Stone Island Beach. As I mentioned, the weather was not cooperating. This had all the potential for a great day on the beach but the wind came up and it started to rain. We wondered down the beach to Victor's (which we had heard so much about on these boards) and decided to take shelter to wait out the rain and hope for improvement in the weather. After a couple of beers, we finally made the decision (a wise one as it turned out) to give up and head back to the ship. We met a few other hardy souls on the way back who had also heard about Stone Island on the CC boards and were giving it a go. We made the return trip in short order and reboarded the ship. We spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing by the pool (under the covered part). On Thursday, we anchored at Cabo San Lucas at about 7am. Since we were on the port side, we had a great view of Land's End from our balcony. We had nothing special planned for the day, so we took our time with breakfast and then wandered down to the Vivaldi Dining Room as instructed to get our tender tickets. We were pleasantly surprised to find that there were no lines and we could immediately board the tender for the trip into the marina. It was a short trip and we were quickly on the boardwalk around the marina. We had stayed in Cabo in 2008 so we were very familiar with the Marina and Cabo in general. We spent our morning leisurely walking in the marina area and in the main Cabo shopping district. Around 11:45am, we stopped at the Nowhere Bar at the marina for a few cold beers and some chips/salsa. Very relaxing place to people watch. We then headed back around the marina walk to the tender pier. A long line had already formed for the tenders but it moved along pretty well. Soon we were back on the Sapphire for our 2pm departure. It really is a shame that the port time in Cabo is so short. It is by far our favorite port and is really a beautiful place. We ate a quick lunch onboard and then headed to the Aft pool for the afternoon. It was one of the best weather days we had and it was a beautiful sailaway from Cabo. Friday was another Sea Day on our way back to LA and the weather was pretty lousy once again; overcast, windy and cool. It was definitely not a "pool" day. Onboard Activities Some examples of some of the special activities include: *Captain's Champagne Waterfall Party in the Atrium on Sunday night (formal night) *Princess Pop Star (an American Idol style karaoke competition) on several nights *Fiesta Deck Party on Pool Deck 14 at 10pm on Monday night *Art Auctions *Farewell Mexico Dance Party and Balloon Drop in the Atrium on Thursday night (formal night) There is a 9 hole miniature golf course near midship and a Cyber Golf Simulator (which always seemed busy). The Promenade on Deck 7 is nice and wide. 3 trips around equals a mile; although you have to go up and down some stairs to Deck 8 to go all the way around. There is a walking track Forward on Deck 16 near the Lotus Pool. 10 trips around equals a mile. Of course, there is the usual array of activities (Bingo, trivia, etc.) everyday. Staff/Service We found the service from the staff to be excellent throughout the cruise. Nilo, our room steward, was excellent. He seemed to be out in the hall near our room every morning with a smile and a warm greeting. He took care of all our needs in a very professional manner. We cannot say enough about his excellent service. The wait staff in every dining room did a great job and were very accommodating; the same for staff in the Horizon Court and throughout the ship. Everyone was very friendly and were quick with a smile and greeting. Disembarkation We received our disembarkation packet and luggage tags on Thursday night so we had plenty of time to figure out what needed to be done. I went to the Internet Cafe on Friday afternoon and purchased a special 15 minute package (offered on Friday) for $8.25. Since I had a coupon for an additional 15 minutes with purchase of any plan, I had plenty of time to print our Southwest Boarding Passes for our return flight. By the way, there is a printing charge of $0.50 per page. Princess has what they call "Silent Disembarkation". There are no announcements made on the morning of disembarkation. Everyone just needs to go to their designated areas at their specific times. We packed our two big pieces of luggage on Friday evening, filled out our luggage tags, attached them and placed the bags outside the stateroom just before we went to dinner. The next morning we arrived in LA at 7am and we ate breakfast for the last time in the Horizon Court. We finished packing our remaining stuff in our carry luggage and left the stateroom at the requested time (8am). Since we had purchased a Princess Transfer and we had an afternoon flight, we were in the "Orange" Group and were instructed to meet in Club Fusion by 8:40am (our disembarkation time was 8:50am). Since we had to be out of our stateroom by 8am, we decided to go down to the area near Club Fusion to find a "nook" to settle in. We were surprised to be ushered into Club Fusion right away. Groups 1-6 in Orange Group were all gathered there and they had coffee and water available. Right at 8:50am, our Group was called and we disembarked the ship. 40 minutes later, we had found our luggage, been through Customs and were on our motorcoach for the trip to LAX. The whole disembarkation process went very smoothly and was very efficient. We were placed on the transfer coaches by Airline designation so our bus deposited us at Terminal #1 at LAX for Southwest. Lines for baggage check-in and security were crazy but we were eventually on our way. Unfortunately when we arrived in Kansas City at 9:25pm that night, we found ourselves back to reality in the Midwest. The temperature was 31 degrees and it was sleeting/snowing. We had a harrowing 3 ½ hour drive (normally 2 ½ hours) back to Mid-Missouri on snow/ice covered highways. But we made it in one piece. The Sapphire Princess is a beautiful ship and the 7 day Mexican Riviera cruise was great. We will definitely sail on Princess again. We highly recommend both the ship and the itinerary. Read Less
Sail Date February 2010
We booked this cruise to celebrate our 10 year wedding anniversary. We had taken a cruise on RCL for our honeymoon and thought a cruise for our 10 year anniversary was a great way to celebrate our marriage. We chose this cruise because of ... Read More
We booked this cruise to celebrate our 10 year wedding anniversary. We had taken a cruise on RCL for our honeymoon and thought a cruise for our 10 year anniversary was a great way to celebrate our marriage. We chose this cruise because of the number of ports of call along with an expectation that Princess was equal or better than RCL. While we had a very good time, we just thought that our experience with RCL was better. It simply could be the wedding blise that is overshadowing our judgement, but after speaking to a number of people who had similar experences with the two cruise line, we feel that in our heart, we are correct with our assessment. While the staff was cordial and for the most part nice, they didn't seem to go the extra mile that we had expected. And while the food was good, it certainly wasn't four or five star as we again expected. Nothing had flavor. From the breakfast buffet to the various menues offered for dinner to the desserts, it was pretty presentation but bland. Our best meal was at a local restuarant in St. Lucia wherein the chef offered us an amazing array of local cuisines. We loved it so much that we asked to speak with him directly so that we could share our compliments directly to him. We think he was both pleased and shocked to hear that we thought his meal was the best one that we had the entire trip. The entertainment was average at best. The stage shows were the kind of performances you would see at your local diner theater. Again, not at a level that you would think on what is suppose to be considered a luxury cruise line. Overall, the service again was adequate, but far from stellar. Just to get them to help with a simple request was greeted very matter of fact. As an example, it says a lot when you have to constantly have to ask for refills on waters during a meal only to be greeted with bothered look like we were inconveniencing them. On a positive, the ship was very clean, and while there were over 3,000 people on the ship, there were very few occasions where the crowd would overwhelm the space. Things seemed to flow very well and for the most part it was easy to get around the ship as long as you knew the cut through. We are not big Casino fans, however there were a few times where we found ourselves having to walk through the Casino in order to get to another part of the ship. The other thing we loved was our mini-suite with a balcony. We used it most morings and evenings as the ship came into port as well as when it pulled back out to see. Also, on most nights we left our doorwall open to get the fresh ocean breeze and to hear the sound of the crashing waves as the ship made its way to the next port of call. While there were several excursions to choose from, we found them to be overpriced and that you could experience many of the same offerings for a reduced price if you booked things on your own. As an example, beach break in Tortola, we paid $29/person for a day at the beach with round trip transporation only to find out that many of our fellow passengers were able to have the same exact beach experience but paid $12 for a round trip taxi fare. The only diffence being is that we got a bottle of water and a cookie with our excursion. Safe to say it was one of the most expensive bottles of water and cookie we ever purchased. While we plan on making cruising a more regular part of our vacation travels, we will think twice about booking our next cruise with Princess. Read Less
Sail Date February 2010
My wife and I booked for a 7 night St Valentine's cruise out of Fort Lauderdale. It was everything we hoped for and more. The staff on the Crown were engaging and I took the time to smile and say hello to just about any crew member I ... Read More
My wife and I booked for a 7 night St Valentine's cruise out of Fort Lauderdale. It was everything we hoped for and more. The staff on the Crown were engaging and I took the time to smile and say hello to just about any crew member I came across. The old say about honey versus vinegar certainly was true in this case. Getting on and off the cruise ship was a breeze. The only problem was at the end of the cruise when I did not want to leave the Crown. I was so relaxed. Meals were average to excellent. Trying to please over 3000 people is a no-win situation, but I think Princess does as good a job as any other cruise line. I read that some people were not impressed with the Horizon Court, no carving stations, no personal omelettes, etc. Not true. You could ask for an omelette and they made in the kitchen. There were roasts that could be cut to your desire, you just had to look. As far as peanut butter was concern, just ask and they brought it to you in a bowl. The only thing they didn't have for me in Horizon Court was black strap molasses for my pancakes on Shrove Tuesday. I barely shed a tear as I poured syrup on my stack. Anytime dining was great, no problem making a reservation each day for that evening and the meals were delicious. My idea of surf and turf was a nicely done, rare, strip-loin and lobster tails. Soups were good, main courses were numerous and we often skipped deserts because our lily had been thoroughly gilded during the meal. We tried the Crown Grill one evening and for $50, we had a meal that might run you anywhere from $100 to $200 on shore. Again, I had my surf and turf with Maine lobster this time. Yummy! Only problem, we walked by the open kitchen just as a chef was dispatching said lobster with a large butcher knife between it's eyes, apparently a more humane method than boiling alive. Our activities on the ship could be as numerous and we could be as busy as the proverbial cat on a marble floor or the one handed paper hanger. We could also be a fast as a snail going uphill on a cold day in February. We would read the Princess Patter and say; "Pitter, patter, let's get at 'er" Loved the Movies under the stars, with real heavenly stars. It was at this activity that I experienced my only bad meal; air popped popcorn. Like eating cardboard. I could have gone to Horizon Court, made a nice snack tray and brought it out to our comfy loungers to watch the show. Next time! Ports of calls were as followed, Grand Cayman - Took public transit to 7 Mile Beach, $5 for two one way. Altogether lovely. Roatan - Showers chased us off the beach and onto the ship. The island looks nice so a return visit may be in order. Cozumel - rough surf kept us from snorkeling but we did enjoy the visit. Seems to have matured since our last visit in 1997. Princess Cay - great beach day. The southern part of the beach was quieter and the snorkeling was surprisingly decent. Lots of fish around the man-made beach and harbour. A few tips to cut down on the cost. I'll probably be banned from Princess for this. Bring your own booze onto the ship. You are allowed two bottles of wine, however, I put some Chivas and vodka in my checked luggage and it made it through to my room. I also had some small bottles of booze and some mix to make a drink for alongside the pool. As long as you are not walking the decks with your own rum bottle, you are not harassed. I took a nice drink to the dining room every night without any problem. I brought a 12 pack of soda onto the ship, got ice from the cabin steward and did not buy any soda on the ship. I also brought some nuts, cashews and peanuts, onto the boat because they do not serve then on board. At the end of the cruise, our cabin bill was less than $250 and that was with auto tips, a night at the Crown Grill and a large helping of the best gelato I've had in a long time. Allin all, a great time. Thanks to the people at Princess and to all of those naysayers out there writing negative blogs, chill-ax! Read Less
Sail Date February 2010
Cruise date-Feb.28 thru March 7th Feb.27th-fort Lauderdale On this cruise with me was my DH and his sister and husband. Between us we have been on many cruises on many different lines. We went to Lauderdale a day early and stayed at ... Read More
Cruise date-Feb.28 thru March 7th Feb.27th-fort Lauderdale On this cruise with me was my DH and his sister and husband. Between us we have been on many cruises on many different lines. We went to Lauderdale a day early and stayed at Embassy Suites on 17th St. 9th floor east side so we could see cruise ships from balconies. This was a good hotel in a great location. We walked to Publix and the total wine store to get 12pk. of water and wine ect.. to take on board with us. Seems Princess lets you take almost anything but beer. Hotel offered free happy hour from 5:30-7:30 and it's not watered down drinks and draft beer either it's whatever you want. For Dinner we took another 5 min. walk on opposite side of hotel then the publix was to Outback steak house. What a good day we had! Day 1 Woke up early and watched all the cruise ships coming in. Took advantage of hotels free breakfast which was pretty good. Checked out at 10:30 decided to take a taxi instead of shuttle hotel offers because it was cheaper. Shuttle was $7.pp and it was only $10. for the 4 of us by taxi. We were on the ship and to our rooms around noon. Jimmy our cabin steward came right away to meet us. We had a mini suite on Dolphin deck and the room was great but the balcony had no roof coverage at all and we did not like that, so if you want coverage go up two decks to the reg. balcony rooms. For you beer drinkers, my DH learned that room service does not offer the 5 for the price of 4 buckets of beer in Budweiser it's only at the pool bar's which is no big deal just go up to deck 15 and bring it back to your room and don't forget to make sure you have a bottle opener. Checked out ship before dinner and have to tell you it's one of the most difficult layed out ship any of us have been on. We had set dinning in the Botticelli room, even though we only make it there about 4-5 nights we like the set time and we still make sure we tip our waiters. Went to the very small theater to see comedian which was very good but can't believe Princess made such a small theater for this size ship. Day 2-Princess Cays We like to eat breakfast in the dining room instead of buffet as much as possible. Tendered over to Princess cays which is always a good day for drinks and BBQ lunch while you lay in the sun on the beach. The Temp. was only high 60's but the sun was great and to cold in the water so no snorkeling. The Production show in theater tonight with the emerald singers & dancers was not very good and personal opinion worst I have seen even compared to past princess Cruise's. This was very disappointing because I really look forward to all the shows. Day 3- Sea Day Today we did your usual sea day stuff of trying to figure out the ship some more and hanging out at the pool which our favorite spot was the aft pool on deck 15. Tonight was formal night and we decided to not bring our formal clothes this cruise so on the first day on ship we made reservation for spec. restaurants for both formal night's. Tonight was Sabatinis, and although it was very good and Lot's of fun DH and I think Portofino's on RCCL is much better. The Comedy show in theater tonight was very good. CASINO INFO. Before you play any slot machine's make sure you ask someone about having to put your ship card in machine each time you play or if you win you won't get your money, so ask for explanation before you put money in. Day 4-St. Maarten We booked a short excursion on line months ago but were put on a waiting list and so we never got the excursion but since we have been here before we just shopped and went back on ship to enjoy some warm sunny weather by the pool before everyone else had to be back on. For you smokers here's some info, In the gift shop on board a carton of cigs. are $24.95 but you can not take them with you, you place an order for them and they will deliver them to your cabin on the last night of the cruise, but you can buy cigs. by the pack at any bar on-board at $4. a pk. So of course we bought a carton in St. Maarten for $17. and it's not a problem to bring back on with you. Tonight they did the pool deck party which is a good time if you've never done before, but we went to see a movie under the stars which was alot of fun. Day 5-St.Thomas This is always one of our favorite ports. Since we docked at Crown Bay we took a taxi to havensight and went up to paradise point. The ship sells this as an excursion but just do it on your own. This is always a must do for the views and picture takers. If you dock at havensight then you can just walk there, it's $21.pp for round trip ride up to point. Formal night tonight so we went to Crown Grill,Had great time and good food. Day 6- Grand Turks Was really looking forward to snorkeling here but cloudy and windy and again as with all week water to cold, Maybe next time. Production show by emerald singers and dancers in theater again tonight was disappointing, Princess is falling by the wayside with their shows in my own opinion of course, but at least they had good comedians. Day 7-Sea day Was a very cool windy day so spent most of it inside. Went to dinning room for breakfast and a must have is the french toast, even though it was not one of their specials today I asked and they made it for me, but it is on the menu for tom. morning but I knew I wouldn't make it down so I just asked. Packed before dinner, went to the farewell show which was good. Home- Our plane from FLL was not until 2:30 so we did not leave our room till 8 and got off picked up our bags and got taxi to airport and there around 10:00. This was coldest cruise we've been on but can't control that, and princess staff was very nice, so all and all this was not a bad cruise but not sure if we will do another princess again. Read Less
Sail Date February 2010
First let me preface this review by giving everyone the following information. We were a couple in our mid-to-late 20's This was our first cruise We booked an inside state-room on the Aloha Level We had Anytime dining (Bad Decision) ... Read More
First let me preface this review by giving everyone the following information. We were a couple in our mid-to-late 20's This was our first cruise We booked an inside state-room on the Aloha Level We had Anytime dining (Bad Decision) Saturday We arrived in Ft. Lauderdale in the afternoon and rented a car at the airport. We then drove to our hotel (Quality Inn) in Hollywood, FL (Booked through Hotwire for just under $50). We went out to dinner at a Brazilian Restaurant in Miami called "Flama". The dinner was ok but a little too pricey in my opinion. Sunday Checked-out of the hotel and went to the beach in Ft. Lauderdale in the morning for an hour or so. Next we took the rental car back to the Airport and took the free car rental shuttle to Port Everglades. The Embarkation process took about an hour of standing in lines. While we knew going into this we would be waiting in line to embark we didn't realize that "Waiting in Line" is a common occurrence in cruises. We were on the ship @ 2-3pm and went straight to our room, met the steward and then proceeded to go to the buffet (where we waited int line again). The buffet food was ok but we found that most of the food on the cruise was rather "Bland". This is probably due to the "older" crowd. I would say the average age of the people on this cruise was in the 70's. After the late lunch we proceeded to our cabin to un-pack and get ready for the Muster Drill. The muster drill went fine and after that we went up to the top deck for the Sail-away only to find that all the rails were full so we just kind of stood in the back as we sailed away. The weather was actually kind of chilly that day in Miami and it was misting rain a little but it was still better than snow and 20 degree temps in our hometown. We went to dinner on Sunday night in the Da Vinci Dining Room at about 6:30 and had to wait for about 1/2 hour IN LINE! Then when we finally made it to the front of the line they just gave us one of those restaurant beepers and told us it would be another 1/2 hour wait!! Seriously! This was probably the biggest negative of the "Anytime" dining. We ate in the dining room 5 out of the 7 nights and I would say that our total "waiting" time was close to 4 hours in those 5 nights. The thing that irked me the most is why don't they hand out the beepers before the lines start forming? It was really frustrating to wait in line only to find out you have to keep waiting! Ok...enough about that. Dinner in the dining room was decent and the presentation was great but again the food was rather "bland" and we were not overly impressed with anything (except the desserts). Monday-Princess Cay's We were on the first Tender to Princess Cays and we really enjoyed out day here. The BBQ lunch was decent and the fresh cut fruit was AMAZING! We really enjoyed the fruit and we especially like the juicy pineapple! We spent all day just laying around on the beach and getting in the water to feed the fish over by one of the docks. The lifeguard on the dock was a very pleasant older gentleman and we really enjoyed talking to him. We then went an listened to the two musicians playing music by one of the bars. They were really great and I wish they would have been on the ship because we would have went and listened to them every-day! We had quite a few "cocktails" that day and we really enjoyed our day on the beach. We then took the last tender back to the ship. For dinner that night we went to the Michelangelo Dining Room this time and it was a lot of the same as the first dining room experience. We waited for another 20 minutes in line and then when we finally got to the front of the line the lady informed us that the dining room was full and that they wouldn't be able to get us a seat for 45-60 minutes! We then went upstairs and waited another 20 minutes at the Da Vinci Dining Room and after mentioning what we went through down at Michelangelo they ended up getting us in pretty quickly. Tuesday-Sea Day One hint to those first-timers...wake up early and go save a chair on the top deck. We ate breakfast and then went up to the deck to layout and to our surprise almost all of the chairs were either taken or had a towel and a book on them with no one around. We finally found a deck attendant and he got us two chairs for us and was very helpful! We spent the rest of the day laying-out and going to a couple other "activities". I should not here that the Entertainment Staff did a wonderful job. We really enjoyed all the activities and the comedians (especially Kevin Hughes). Also a hint for first-timers...get to the theater early! We would always arrive around 1/2 hour early and we never had a problem finding seats. We actually enjoyed the waiting time for the show as it gave us time to look through our digital camera pics from the day and enjoy a "cocktail" or two ;) Wednesday-St. Martin/St. Maarten This was our "Funnest" port as we took an excursion through a company called Aqua Mania called "Rock n' Roll Safari's". There were 5 or 6 other ships in port that day (including the Oasis) so the port load was 15,000+. We were one of the last ships to arrive so needless to say there were not very many taxi's willing to take us all the way to the french side. We ended up taking one of the local transportation van's off of back street. The driver was really friendly and dropped us off near the Pelican Bay Resort and we walked a few blocks to Aqua Mania excursion office. Note: if you are looking for one of the "local Van's" to Simpson/Pelican Bay then look for a sign in their window that says "Mullet Bay" then tell the driver where you would like to be dropped off at. The excursion check-in was not until 1pm so we killed an hour by going to the Buccaneer Beach Bar and having a couple drinks. We then proceeded to the Aqua Mania office and checked-in. Since we booked online they had all our information ready and staff member, Kay, was extremely helpful. Next we met our tour guide, Roy, to go over instructions on how to operate the mini-boats. We had a blast on this excursion and got some good snorkeling in. I highly recommend this excursion and it was only about $100 for the both of us. The staff at Aqua Mania went above and beyond to help us and they even arranged for us to get back to the cruise-ship dock since it would have been difficult for us to find a taxi on our own. After getting back to the Cruise-ship dock we did a little shopping and then boarded the ship. We decided to skip the dining room this night since we had some many difficulties with it previously. We ate at the Pizzeria and the pizza was really good. I also bought a UKP card so I was able to enjoy a lot of great "Virgin" drinks and Milk-shakes the whole trip. I actually tipped the Milk-shake girl at the end of the cruise since she had to make so many shakes for me :) THURSDAY-St. Thomas This was our "Favorite" port. We scheduled an Island Tour with Ron's Tours. We first did a 2 hour Island Tour. Then we did 2 hours at Magen's Bay (where I proposed to my girlfriend) and 2 hours shopping. We did the majority of souvenir shopping here for our friends and family. It was a great day and we especially enjoyed Magen's Bay. We were the only ship in Port that day so it wasn't too crowded. After getting back to the ship we then got ready for the second formal night. This time we decided to wait until about 7:15 pm to head for the dining room and the wait wasn't nearly as long. Overall a great day in St. Thomas and a great night on the ship! FRIDAY-Grand Turk Another beautiful beach and we spent a couple hours laying out and floating around in the ocean. WE then had an average lunch at Margaritaville and spent the rest of the day in Grand Turk laying around by the pool and doing a little more shopping. We then proceeded back to the ship ordered pizza from room service. SATURDAY-Sea Day We learned our lesson from the first sea day and go up early to go claim some good loungers with an unobstructed view of the MUTS screen. Overall a pretty good day at sea and I actually won a game of BINGO! This was our last night at the dining room and again we waited until after 7pm and although we had to wait it wasn't as long as the first night or two. After dinner we went back to the room and packed. WE then went around and tipped the appropriate crew members who we felt went above and beyond to help us out. SUNDAY-Disembarkation Got up early...had a buffet breakfast. Proceeded to our "Color and Number Coded" waiting room and then made it off the ship in pretty good time. But then we had to wait about 20 minutes in the "Taxi" line. We made it to the Airport in plenty of time and before we knew it we were back in 20 degree weather :( OVERALL The cruise was a great experience and while we don't regret going, in hind sight, it would probably been better if we would have just went to an All-inclusive resort. Read Less
Sail Date February 2010
This was our 2ND cruise with Princess and I cannot say enough about our cruise, we had a balcony on Caribe 534 , our balcony was huge with 2 regular chairs and 2 loungers and a table, were mid-ship,leaving out of Fort Lauderdale Feb 14Th, ... Read More
This was our 2ND cruise with Princess and I cannot say enough about our cruise, we had a balcony on Caribe 534 , our balcony was huge with 2 regular chairs and 2 loungers and a table, were mid-ship,leaving out of Fort Lauderdale Feb 14Th, our Wedding Anniversary. Princess had decorated our cabin door with balloons and we had a certificate for a complimentary chocolate cake for 2 which we presented to a maitre'd and it was delicious! The Sanctuary: we reserved our chairs for the entire cruise,we just shop at the ports so we chose to spend our time relaxing at the Sanctuary, the staff was superb and always very polite, they served us citrus water, cold facial towels ans we were ordered food from their special menu which is only a 3.00 gratuity charge, so we were pampered!!! Dining: We had anytime dining again, as before on the Ruby, never did we have a wait longer than 10 minutes, some days we were seated immediately! We did dine twice at the Crown Grill & twice at Sabatini's, both have delicious food and again the staff was wonderful! We met many couples in our age 45-50, and Princess does offer something for all age groups! We even booked our next cruise w/Princess again for a 10 day Eastern next February and remember your vacation is what YOU make of it, we work hard and when we cruise we do so in Princess style! Wishing all happy sailing! Read Less
Sail Date February 2010
This is an actual conversation at the dinner table one night: Couple 1 - "We've been on X cruises - and this is the BEST ever!" Couple 2 - "You've got to be kidding me, this has got to be the worst" How ... Read More
This is an actual conversation at the dinner table one night: Couple 1 - "We've been on X cruises - and this is the BEST ever!" Couple 2 - "You've got to be kidding me, this has got to be the worst" How could two savvy cruising couples experience the same cruise so differently? How could these seemingly reasonable people have such extreme differences in opinion on the same ship, on the same cruise? In research we generate findings on a topic by controlling the independent variable to see how it effects the dependent variable. For instance, if researching the effect of a medication to control sea-sickness, some travellers would get the medication - some would get a placebo. They are the independent variables - the things we are controlling so we can measure an effect The level of sea-sickness is the dependent variable - it is "dependent" on the medication, the independent variable. At least at my dinner table, it seems to me that the independent variable in critiquing a cruise experience is the passenger; not the ship, itinerary or cruise line. Each person brought in their own experiences and expectations to the cruise. They each have their own biases as to what defines the quality of the cruise experience. This was just my fourth cruise (RCCL to Mexico; Princess Star to Alaska; Celebrity from Baltimore) and that either makes me a newbie, naive cruiser .... or well on my path to being opinionated reviewer. When I consider all four cruises Ive been on I'm not able to identify which one was best. Each had their strengths and weaknesses. I had a great time on this cruise - but would I have had the same great experience if I had done a back-to-back on the same ship, in the same room, with the same packing, on the same itinerary? Perhaps it would be better - perhaps disappointing - because I would have come to the cruise with biases. Unlike the very disappointed cruiser who hated the cruise days - I found them very relaxing and enjoyable with many activities to participate in, people to meet - or time to quietly read, nap or contemplate the meaning of life. Unlike other cruisers who experienced digestive distress, I had none. Like other cruisers, I too noticed that the average age seemed advanced - being 51, I was on the left side of the Bell Curve. Some general observations - Carribean, Alaskan and Hawaiian cruises are different from each other - and your experience could be more dependent on the theme of the trip and destination than the line, ship or crew. - Longer cruises have a different flavor than shorter cruises and it seems there was more time to make meaningful connections with fellow cruisers and ship crew on this 14 day trip. - Cruise food is plentiful - but not particularly exciting. Not bad really, usually good - but rarely exceptional. My two Princess experiences leads me to generalize that the cuisine on Princess was slightly less exciting than Celebrity - but some at my dinner table scoffed at that silly concept. - After two Princess cruises I must concur with most observers: the beds are sub-par .. at least on the Star and Golden. - I appreciate cruising with older travellers: polite, generous and thoughtful. No jamming in long lines, rushing to embark/dis-embark. No children running wild up and down the halls, no late night wild parties or obnoxious public displays of intoxication. But also true - the night life was very mellow, if non-existent. Back home in Wisconsin one of our favorite things to do is to sit at the bar of a small town (or local community) pub and enjoy dinner amongst the company of the bartender and colorful locals. Good food, ample spirits and interesting people makes for a great evening. We were able to re-create this experience on the Golden, in the International Cafe. We spent many hours - of many evenings sitting at the Wine bar getting to know some exceptional, customer oriented crew members: Ramona (and her husband Douro, who works in Sabatini's), Marni, Rex and Zildjian. There were a few things about this group that was very memorable; 1) they learned who WE were, what we liked and developed a genuine relationship with us - not just a technical relationship; 2) they were very aware of being a team and watched out for each other when their team mates were busy and 3) they represented the best of corporate culture - without seeming artificial or canned. I came to appreciate this group so much that I avoided saying good-bye saving my self the humiliation of crying before them. International Cafe was like the the 1980's TV show Cheers - a place where "Everyone Knows Your Name" ... and I've wondered, was I Cliff or Norm? More than likely my future cruises will be with Princess ... I've had the most positive experiences here. But to tell the truth - if an interesting cruise, at the right price, at the right time came up on another line - I'd give it a try. Wisailer@gmail.com Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
We sailed on the Golden Princess from March 28th - April 11th, and were booked in a Mini Suite on the Dolphin Deck (AA Category), midship. We arrived in LA the day before and stayed at a hotel near the airport. It was only a 30 minute ... Read More
We sailed on the Golden Princess from March 28th - April 11th, and were booked in a Mini Suite on the Dolphin Deck (AA Category), midship. We arrived in LA the day before and stayed at a hotel near the airport. It was only a 30 minute trip to San Pedro so you really don't have to stay in that area if you don't want to. It also gives you more of an opportunity to see all that the LA area has to offer before you embark on your cruise. Check-In/Embarkation: We arrived at the port just shortly after 12:15. Princess moved us through the process pretty quickly and efficiently. There was a short delay of about 30 minutes while we waited for our seated pre-boarding section to be called, but once we were called to board, the process through security went very quickly and we were on-board checking out our stateroom by 1:00. Stateroom: Again, our room was located on the Dolphin deck, mid-ship. The room was slightly larger than other outside staterooms with balconies that we have had on other cruise lines. The bed was set as a queen, the bathroom had both a tub and shower, and offered plenty of room for toiletries. Closet and drawer space was plentiful (for two people and five bags of clothing!). It had two TVs, one pointed towards the bed and the other facing the sofa and balcony area. The balcony was about a standard size, not offering any additional space for being attached to a mini suite, but again was more than adequate for the two of us. The balcony was uncovered due to the way the balcony rooms on the ship are set up, so it did not offer any real sun or weather protection, but again, this was not an issue and we enjoyed our time out there every day. It certainly was a positive to be in an AA category stateroom mid-ship, as it helped regarding how much we felt the movement of the ship while at sea. The Ship: The Golden Princess is a very large ship, but for us it really did not feel that big after we got our bearings. There was plenty of public space, the theater and lounges mostly had appropriate seating for those who wanted to partake in the activity in such. Casino was large enough for the amount of people that wanted to use it, however it was very smoky, and that could make it unpleasant for non smokers. Food & Drink: The food offered in the full service dining rooms was outstanding! We did try Sabatini's, and although the presentation and food quality was nice to experience, we would not do it again. This dining room is definitely subject to individual tastes, and therefore I don't want to say anything bad about it as it was good, just not our kind of experience...although most everyone we spoke with that went there did indeed love it. To each their own. We are not big drinkers, so I cannot offer any feedback on the lounges and bars regarding drinks. Although we did order one drink on our first night, and there was so much alcohol in it, the taste was not too good. Again, being fair, others seemed to like them. Again it's all about personal choices so I don't want to say a lot of negative things about them. Activities: The best activities on this cruise were all related to the Hawaii ports of call. Hula dancing, Lei making, Ukulele classes...all a lot of fun. They did have different activities for different age groups...Survivor, Ballroom Dancing, Drink Mixing, Computer classes, and even things for the "juniors". All in all, we found plenty of things to do. The only feedback I would offer is that sometimes you have to either be creative or willing to try something out of your comfort zone in order to take advantage of a majority of the activities going on. Service: Room accommodations...OUTSTANDING! Dining staff...OUTSTANDING! Casino Staff....AVERAGE AT BEST! Most of them had little or no personality. Very rarely spoke to anyone who was not a crew member. Very disappointing. Horizons Wait Staff...OUTSTANDING! We pretty much sat in a different place every morning for breakfast, yet every waiter on that side of the room was professional and personable. Other Crew...OUTSTANDING! Really made you feel that you were welcome and appreciated. Entertainment: Some people on board complained, others were elated with the entertainment. Here is my feedback. Have I seen better, yes. Have I seen worse, yes. They had everything...jugglers, acrobats, comedians, singers, dancers, a hypnotist, lounge bands, piano players, an orchestra, DJs just to name a few. I look at it like this...I would say that as an example, in Las Vegas, you get a certain kind of show at the Bellagio, and a different kind of show at the Stratosphere...this was more Stratosphere type of entertainment. It was enjoyable, it did provide entertainment, but it may not be what some people expect, so temper your expectations. Overall Summary: I felt that I got more than my money's worth on this cruise and this ship. It was a relaxing, enjoyable, yet exciting cruise for us and we would definitely sail on the Golden again and would recommend both Princess and the Golden without reservation! Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
My husband and I flew into LAX the morning of our cruise arriving at 9:30 am and even though we were early Princess was there to meet us. We were told that the early arrivals were being taken to a hotel until we could start boarding the ... Read More
My husband and I flew into LAX the morning of our cruise arriving at 9:30 am and even though we were early Princess was there to meet us. We were told that the early arrivals were being taken to a hotel until we could start boarding the ship. To our surprise we were the 1st bus to go straight to the terminal. Getting on board was very well organized and we were on board my 11:30 am!! Being able to board so soon (actually 2 hours after the last of the passengers from the previous cruise left) speaks very highly of the Princess crew to quickly turn the ship over for newly arriving guests. As with our last cruise on Caribbean Princess, we were impressed with the lack of crowding. The only crowding we saw were 1st the muster drill and 2nd a very popular show in the Princess Theater, we actually sat on a stair to watch the show and that was fine with us. The show was good and so were the cast. The food on Sapphire was as good as we remembered. My husband actually gained a few pounds which he needed. I refuse to get on the scales but think I did fairly well. A fellow Cruise Critic member told me a "secret" about the Santa Fe---items NOT on the menu, Fajitas. The best ever and beats out my favorite restaurant here at home. Each dining room has a speciality that is not on the menu, so ask your waiter what the dining room has to offer. Sabatini's was very good and takes 2 hours. Since we had not dined there before they asked us to choose an entree and they bring samples of everything else. We were definitely very full by the end of that meal. The wait staff make sure you understand the cost is $20 pp so there are no surprises. We also dined at Sterling Steakhouse also very good. The steaks are very big, and cooked to perfection. The crew was amazing! We did not encounter any problems with crew and our room steward Ruel was very kind and most appreciated by us. We were on the Dolphin deck in a mini-suite and never had an issue with our cabin. Room service in the morning for coffee was great and amazingly quick considering the number of requests. Passanges aboard seemed for the most part a happy group. I only saw a few grumps one of which had a point. There are hand sanitizers everywhere that there is food. In the buffet one morning a passenger saw quite a few people ignore the sanitizers when entering. Princess does have crew members reminding passengers to clean their hands and some just ignored them. It is up to the passengers to keep the germs at a mininum as the crew is unable to force those not into hand cleaning to follow the suggestions. The weather was not very cooperative and consequently a little cool but Princess carried on and there was fun for all. All in all, a great cruise with wonderful Cruise Critic memebers. Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
Arrival: We arrived a day early this year to relax and spend some time in San Juan ahead of the cruise. Booked a room at the San Juan Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino. Nice hotel and room. Only a short taxi ride to the Pan American ... Read More
Arrival: We arrived a day early this year to relax and spend some time in San Juan ahead of the cruise. Booked a room at the San Juan Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino. Nice hotel and room. Only a short taxi ride to the Pan American pier. Embarkation: Embarkation began at 2:00pm but it is recommended to arrive after 3:00pm to avoid the lines. We arrived shortly after 3:00pm and although the line-ups were slightly longer than last year we were in our room within 35 - 40 minutes. Overall, Princess has this process down very well. Room: We booked a mini-suite on Dolphin deck. The room was ready upon our arrival and our room steward Noel was there to greet us within 5 - 10 minutes after our arrival. The room was cleaned by noon each day and the bed turned down each evening before we retired. Towels and amenities were replenished daily. Noel was very attentive all week and was able to look after all our requests. The mini suite has lots of storage space and was well maintained. We love sitting on the balcony and relaxing during the late afternoon, watching the sail away from the ports. Dining: We booked 'Anytime dining' and all our dinners were in the Island Dining room on deck 5. We never made a reservation, but our longest waited was 20 minutes one evening, otherwise we generally were seated within 5 - 10 minutes. Eduardo and Jason were our servers for all dinners except one. Their service was great all week. We cannot thank them enough. Menu choices were varied throughout the week and overall the food was very good. Wine was reasonably priced. Breakfast and lunch was in the buffet restaurant all week. Busy at times but overall the traffic flow isn't too bad. Overall, the food quality was good with no major complaints (it's a buffet... mostly hits with a few misses mixed in) Entertainment: Only attended one show in the main auditiorium which we enjoyed. Relaxing in the Piazza and enjoying the entertainment during the early evening is one of the highlights of the cruise. Ports: We booked 3 tours through Princess this time (BVI, Antigua & St. Lucia). Our favourite was Antigua. Would definitely consider a resort vacation to Antigua. Disembarkation: We had an early flight (11:35) so we were scheduled with one of the first groups off the ship. Right on time, found our luggage quickly and we were through customs within 5 minutes. On the shuttle to the airport within 20 - 30 minutes. No complaints here. Overall: We had a great vacation and it was a much needed break from our daily routine. Although this was only our second cruise, I think were hooked. We're already planning our next cruise for the week leading into Christmas. It will be a very different Christmas this year being in a tropical climate and not the cold and snow (we can hardly wait). Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
We just returned home today from our first experience with Princess Cruise Lines. Right from the moment we stepped out of the car to unload our bags in front of the terminal the port staff was extremely friendly and helpful. We were amazed ... Read More
We just returned home today from our first experience with Princess Cruise Lines. Right from the moment we stepped out of the car to unload our bags in front of the terminal the port staff was extremely friendly and helpful. We were amazed how quickly and efficiently we were processed and on board the ship despite a large number of passengers in line for embarkation. Our stateroom accommodations were very good. I called Princess in advance to confirm it's permissible to bring our own bottled water and soda on board which they acknowledged as long as it's not open so we stocked the refrigerator that is included in every stateroom. The cabin steward did a fantastic job of servicing our stateroom twice daily. We opted for the Anytime Dining which we will probably not do again. On previous cruises we established a repoirte with the same dining attendant that you don't get with this option. Also, you are subject to waiting for a table if you dine at peak times. The food was very good. There were very few items that we ordered that we didn't find to be delicious. The 24-hour pizza was outstanding. The ice cream that is available next to the pizza was somewhat disappointing as they only served it in cones with optional sprinkles. It appeared to be set up for Sundae toppings but I never saw that available. The burgers available on the Pool Deck were also very good. We ate breakfast/lunch each day (except for days on shore) in the Horizon Food Court which has an excellent buffet. The only inconvenience was finding an available table during peak times and the beverage service was sometimes slow at these meals. We like to drink Iced Tea with some of our meals and Orange Juice with breakfast but the only beverages we were offered was coffee or bar service, we had to ask for Iced Tea or Juice. It was as if those beverages were no-charge secrets. The Entertainment staff was incredible. They had a lot of fun doing their jobs which made it more fun for the passengers. The activities that we participated in (mostly in Club Fusion) were very well organized and a lot of fun. For the final Bingo session, they should have started selling the cards earlier in the day as the line got to be very long. We are accustomed to a variety of very entertaining shows in the theater every night which we had gotten on Royal Caribbean cruises but found some of the theater shows on the Crown Princess to be boring. One such show was played on two consecutive nights meaning that there were six shows instead of seven. The best shows were the opening night, closing night, and when they had outside entertainers (juggler, comedian, hypnotist). We sometimes could not enjoy our cabin's balcony due to people smoking on nearby balconies. It would be wise to isolate smoking balconies if possible. The Movies Under the Stars was fantastic except that the nights were a bit cold. Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
Well first off my wife and I flew out of Prov and had a early flight into Fll....I had read that they wouldnt let you get onto the ship till about 12pm but i was thinking about all my reservations and my sanctuary reservations i wanted to ... Read More
Well first off my wife and I flew out of Prov and had a early flight into Fll....I had read that they wouldnt let you get onto the ship till about 12pm but i was thinking about all my reservations and my sanctuary reservations i wanted to book....So when we got there we were set up in group 1 which was great...I have to say enter all your info on the computer before you get there as well as putting in your credit card....I was in line for 2 min then off to the gangway for our first picture then onto the ship..We then headed straight to our room to make our reservations over the phone but then decided to make a trip up to deck 16 and seeing the sanctuary in person....Great place and as we were walking around there were about 10 more people in line...Even though we had already booked excursions we still wanted to have the choice of going up there when we wanted to so we booked the whole week for $105 each....So our first stop was princess cays....We werent going to get off cuz it was cloudy and all but we had rented a sanctuary bungalow in the adult area....Very nice place and there might have been 2-3 more people around us but the weather was lousy and the water was cold...But it was nice to be away from all the music and kids in your own area..But about the emerald it was nice and everyone on the ship were really nice...We had anytime dining and ran into a wait only once but you have to remember you can go to any restaurant seeing that they are serving the same food on deck 6-7.....We booked a balcony dinner....All i gotta say is YUMMMY....Also booked a night at sabatini's and crown grill....SABATINIS took way too long but good but crown grill was the best..I had a nice porterhouse steak....Well im all done typing but if you have any questions please feel free to email me at MNTROSPORT@AOL.COM Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
My husband and I set sail on the beautiful Emerald Princess on March 28th to celebrate my birthday AND our over-due honeymoon. I had been reading several member reviews on CC for several weeks before our cruise because I wanted to be as ... Read More
My husband and I set sail on the beautiful Emerald Princess on March 28th to celebrate my birthday AND our over-due honeymoon. I had been reading several member reviews on CC for several weeks before our cruise because I wanted to be as well prepared as I could be and to know what to expect or not expect from this cruise. This was my husband's 10th cruise (he has sailed several lines prior, including Princess), and only my 2nd cruise (previously on Carnival). This is my review of the ship, the food, the entertainment, the staff, the itinerary ports of call. EMBARKATION: This was the smoothest embarkation you could ever experience. I think from the time the shuttle dropped us of at the port (we parked at a remote parking lot because it was cheaper) to the time we were on board and in our cabin (WE WERE ON DECK 14 and had to use the stairs)...it took us about 30 minutes!!!! And we even had to tag our luggage because someone forgot the luggage tags at home! As mentioned, my husband has been on several other cruises, and he even said that this was the best embarkation he ever experienced. THE SHIP: The ship was very beautiful. It was very clean and the dEcor was perfectly matched for each venue. There were several clubs/venues, some of which we didn't get to spend much time in because we were off doing something else on the ship or in port. I think the spot we frequented the most was Club Fusion, and it was a nice place at the back of the ship where trivia, music, karaoke, bingo and several other things were going on. We had a balcony cabin on the Riviera deck (Deck 14) which is just below the Lido deck (where all the pool activities and MUTS take place). Our balcony was small than some of the one's on the lower decks...but the plus was that no one could look down on top of us since there were no balconies above us! The closet was large enough for all our clothes and we were able to stow our luggage under our bed perfectly. I will advise though, to request one of those egg carton mattress pads that you hear people talk about on here. We did not, and the bed was not very comfortable; kind of like sleeping on a sofa bed or futon. I will request one on any future cruises with Princess. THE FOOD: This is where it gets a little tricky! We chose anytime dining for our dinner option, and after reading the reviews on this here on CC, I was really worried and nervous that we were going to have a hard time when it came time to eat dinner. I was pleasantly surprised however, that whenever we went down to the dining room (there are two designated for Any Time dining), we had no problem getting sat right away, even for just a table for two! Of course, we chose to go down for dinner around 5:30pm because of the previous posts about having problems on waiting...but it worked out perfectly for us. I will say though, that we only chose to eat in the dining room 3 or 4 nights out of the 7 because the menu just didn't suit our appetite. It was very strange, some of their options and what they were paired with. To be quite honest, I think they do this to encourage people to eat at one of the two specialty restaurants they have on board which require a cover charge of either $20 or $25 per person. We however, did not partake in either of these restaurants, but chose either to have dinner in the Horizon Court (buffet) or have pizza or a hamburger, hot dog or grilled chicken sandwich with some fries. Some of you have probably read some reviews saying that the pizza wasn't good. I completely disagree on that! It was really good, and we had it several times during our cruise. On one night in particular, there was just so much going on that we wanted to do, we sat out to watch MUTS (they were playing The Blind Side) and we had pizza and milkshakes for dinner! We also had a beautiful bowl of fruit (we got to choose what fruit we wanted) brought to our room on Monday to eat from all week). THE ENTERTAINMENT: This cruise had some pretty good entertainment throughout the week. There were 3 production shows, Boogie Shoes, I Got The Music In Me and one other one that escapes me right now. There were two comedians and a magician which they called "The Bad Boy of Magic", and trust me, his show was not a magic show I would have allowed my kids to watch, even though there were some in the audience that night. He was funny...and did some amazing tricks, but he was a little...shall we say "vulgar" at times. The one comedian, Kevin Hughes (a Carolina native), was hilarious. We saw him several times throughout the week. When we saw him listed on the Princess Patter, we made sure to make the show; that's how much we liked him! The singers and dancers on the boat were pretty good. One of the shows I didn't care too much for, I thought it was a little weird (Boogie Shoes). I will tell you that if you want to have a drink during the show, stop at the bar before you go into the theater because the seating is such that you will not get served unless you are sitting on the end of a row and there are only servers for about 15 minutes prior to the show, and with 800 people, you might have a hard time getting service. THE STAFF: For the most part, the staff was great. Our room steward, Dennis was fantastic! I was a little surprised to find out that they don't do the towels animals anymore unless you have children in your cabin. But...Dennis made it up to me and made me my very own "monkey". The only staff member that really shocked me (in a negative way)...was the CRUISE DIRECTOR...Dan Stein. He was funny, don't get me wrong. Whenever he would MC a show or on his morning show (The Wake Show), he was pretty funny. HOWEVER, whenever we would pass him on the ship OR while we were in port, he didn't really acknowledge anyone. He just wasn't as personable as a Cruise Director should be. He had a staff of 7 I believe, that were on the Cruise Director's team...and there were some of them that were much better suited for that position IMHO. One of which was Mark! LOVE HIM!!! After one night, he knew me and my husband by name and he always had a smile and fun way about him. He is someone I could totally be friends with him for years to come! ? ITINERARY: On this cruise we visited Princess Cays, Bahamas...St. Martin... St. Thomas, USVI...and Grand Turk! Princess Cays was just a beach day, and the water was freezing. There really isn't anything to see here, so it's a day to relax on the beach or do some water sports/excursions. St. Martin was a big cluster of people because there were 7 ships counting ours that were in port that day. One of which was the Oasis of the Seas which added about 20,000 people to that little island for shopping! You couldn't hardly walk around inside a store because there were just so many people! TIP-on the ship they will have a Port & Shopping seminar on your first sea day (Tuesday), DON'T MISS THIS! You will find out some great pointers for the three ports you are going to as well as have the option to pay $25 for a book with loads of coupons for FREE stuff and BIG discounts! ALSO, very important for you to know as well. The ship will tell you that they have their "recommended shops" and that those are the only shops you should buy your jewelry. What that really means is, those shops are paying Princess for advertising, and you can get some great deals at other jewelers, sometimes even better than what the "premium recommended jewelers" offer. St. Thomas is where we did our jewelry shopping, as we have a jeweler there that my husband has been using for several years "Imperial Jewelers". We got a great deal on a beautiful blue diamond ring, a tanzanite ring and a citizen watch for my husband! But out of all the ports, Grand Turk was our absolute favorite! The water was the clearest and the bluest of all ports. It was very untouched and so clean. It was the one port where we didn't feel like we were being haggled at the shops like we were in St. Martin and St. Thomas. The largest Margaritaville is located here with its own pool and beach, cabanas and chairs which are complimentary to the cruise passengers. We did a reef snorkel and stingray encounter excursion here, and it was fantastic. SO, if you are debating on which port you want to do your excursion(s) at, I highly recommend Grand Turk. Save your shopping for St. Martin and St. Thomas and for those of you who have never been to either island, know that most of the stores you see in St. Martin, you will see in St. Thomas and the prices will be about the same...in regards to jewelry. The only complaint really that I had about the entire cruise was that it seemed as though there were not enough children activities. It seemed like the boat was over-run with kids ranging from 2-18...and they were running rampant throughout the ship. It was very aggravating! I would definitely not cruise this time of year again because of Spring Breakers. I thought that most of them were already done with their holiday, but obviously not. I was talking to Mark (the cruise director staff) about all the children, and he said there were about 2-3 children for every adult on the ship! They were booked to capacity this cruise, so that gives you an idea of how many there were. If you sail this ship, I truly don't think you will be disappointed. 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Sail Date March 2010
Embarkation was simple enough and our room was ready by the time we got on around 1PM. We carried on most of our bags except for one so we could change, have a drink, then explore the ship. The Ruby was a beautiful boat, the design and ... Read More
Embarkation was simple enough and our room was ready by the time we got on around 1PM. We carried on most of our bags except for one so we could change, have a drink, then explore the ship. The Ruby was a beautiful boat, the design and finish was excellent. For a boat that is about 2 years old though, it is showing a lot of wear and tear. The main thing I noticed was the hallways were banged up and often dented. Probably from baggage, but still very surprising to see that. Food: The food was ok. As others have mentioned, the buffet is poorly designed and the layout leads to people walking all over the place. The food on some days was very good, but on others was poor. It was hit or miss. Same with the food in the dining rooms. Some days our meals were good, on other says the selection wasn't very good and the food was just ok. We did try Sabatini's one night and that was definitely one of our favorites! Employees: Again a mixed review here. Some employees really went out of their way to help you, others couldn't give a darn. Our room steward was nice, but we've had better on Carnival and Norwegian. Waiters at DaVinci and Michelangelo were the same. Some were very pleasant, others would make things very difficult, especially when asking nicely for a substitution. The bartenders were all very nice, especially the ones in the casino. Entertainment: This is where we felt that Princess really catered to the older crowd and that was the majority of the people on board. There was a good number of people over 65 years old and many people on walkers, scooters, etc... Not a bad thing, we met some wonderful people, but we were really hoping to meet and connect with more people our age. So, the bands and lounges were often geared towards the older crowd so we didn't enjoy it too much and found ourselves in the casino a lot. The comedians were great, the magician had a bunch of tired routines, the movies under the stars were good, the nightclubs were often empty, and the poolside bands were just ok. Actually, one day the singer didn't really know the words to any of the songs, she would just sing intelligible words. How do you not know the words to Red Red Wine? Ports: Enjoyed all the ports, even Barbados in the rain. Did zip lining in St. Lucia and spent the days in other ports on the beaches. Cabin was nice, well laid out. One thing that somebody else mentioned is the boat is loud! We were on the deck 10 specifically chosen so there was no public rooms above or below us. Even then, we could hear the music from the Lido and the theater in our room. Don't know why it would echo through all those decks but it did. Very weird. The cabin was nice, amenities were good. I personally would have put less closet space (who needs that much room for clothes for 10 days?) and made the bathroom/shower bigger. Probably the smallest shower of all other ships we've been on. So again, not a horrible cruise, but I would definitely not cruise Princess again until I'm over 50 years old. I feel they are really not trying hard enough and enjoy Norwegian, Carnival, and RCL more in terms of fun and service. Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
We stayed at the Double Tree Hotel in San Pedro wonderful hotel we got the cruise special which allows you to leave your car in their parking lot the full cruise time with a free shuttle to and from the dock. We booked the cruise & ... Read More
We stayed at the Double Tree Hotel in San Pedro wonderful hotel we got the cruise special which allows you to leave your car in their parking lot the full cruise time with a free shuttle to and from the dock. We booked the cruise & park deal on our own which also came with free continental breakfast, it's your standard eggs, bacon, potatoes etc. Great deal as you can come up a day before your cruise for the same price as parking in the cruise lot. Embarkation in San Pedro was quick and efficient. Once we arrived at the port we were checked in and started walking the decks. Our room was on Emerald deck aft with a window, it was ready when we boarded around 1:00 pm. We got a stamp card which is a card to get you acquainted with the ship what you do if you want is go to every area posted on card get it stamped and then deposit it in a drawing bin. At sail away they will pull out the winners you might want to do this, because you can win some great prizes. My husband won $20 certificate for the slot tournament, total prizes are $1500. We then went up to the Horizon court and had nice lunch. Our room steward Allan did a great job and our waiter and his assistant (Marlo & Santi) did an awesome job. The food overall was very good, there is something for everyone. Everyone has their own opinions on the food but if you want 5 stars then you should be booking with a high end/5 star cruise line and pay their 5 star prices. We really enjoyed the sea days because it gives you some time to unwind and relax before your big days on the islands plus there are plenty of things to do on the ship. It's really up to each person to enjoy all the things/activities cruises have to offer, your vacation is as good as you make it. There were lots of craft classes, lei making, Ukeleili classes, hula classes and much more. We went to the gym each day, watched movies in the Princess theater, miniature golf, played cards/games and just relaxed. The entertainment was good the singers and dancers were good. They had a ventriloquist that was just awesome; he came in second on Brittan's got talent show. There was also a comedian from LA and he was great, he had in tears. Hilo; I had read about 'Marylou's Big Island Guided Tours' on a previous cruiser's review, so I emailed her and set up a private tour for four. For the price of one cruise ship excursion, we got five or six. She picked us up at the dock at 7:30 am and we started our adventure which lasted until 5 minutes before we had to be on the ship or 3:25 pm. We had an awesome time, Marylou took us to every place on our list; Volcano, Rainbow falls, Akaka Falls, Orchid farm, Mauna Loa Candy farm, Black sand beaches, Sea Turtles and she even stopped by Wal-Mart for us to get some water and other items. Marylou mentioned that Wal-Mart carries lots of Hawaiian gifts for friends back home at much better prices. Wal-Mart also carries Mauna Loa products, all the flavors you find at the Mauna Loa factory but for a few bucks less per package. Honolulu; We booked our own tour with CNOA tours, via the internet. The pricing was much better and they had a bus stop 200 ft from the dock. The tour was called Royal Circle Island Tour and was about 8 hours long. This tour took us all over Honolulu/island, we saw great beaches, Beverly Hills of Hawaii, Japanese Temple, look out points and we still had time to shop when we got back to the dock. Kauai: We booked an excursion with the cruise ship to see Waimea Canyon, it was awesome. The tour also stopped by a blow hole with a great beach and a great shopping area with great prices. When we got back to the ship we then took the free shuttle to Wal-Mart to purchase some items we needed and got back in time to board the ship before it sailed. They have two free shuttles one for Hilo Hatties and the other for Wal-Mart that comes to the dock to take passengers and crew members to their stores. Maui: We booked the Whale watching tour with the ship; the prices were pretty close to what we could find on the internet. We had a good time; we saw a mother and her baby swimming not far from the ship. The boat then took us to port and we walked around Lahinea for a while shopping and had a great lunch. The next three days were at sea and were great; it gave us a chance to relax before heading back home. We stayed busy at the gym, playing games and having a few cocktails here and there. Ensenada was our last stop: We did not have an excursion booked but went walking down town and did some shopping. We were approached by a yellow taxi cab driver who would take us to the Blow Hole for $10 each (4 of us), the price on the ship was $29 each. For this price he would drive us there (20-25 minutes away) and wait for us for 1 ½ hours, then drive us back to where he picked us up then we would pay him. We decided to go for it and it was great. There is some great shopping right next to the blow hole, great Mexican food as well $1 and $2 Corona's. In all we had a wonderful time and we truly feel we picked the right ship and the right crew on board made it a memorable trip. I encourage all of you thinking about going on this cruise to consider it, I know there have been some not so good reviews but everyone has their opinions and I firmly believe you make your own vacation. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
We were met at the L.A. airport by Princess and taken to the ship. They took our luggage and we didn't see it until we entered our beautiful mini suite after checking in. We were taken by bus to the port where everything was well ... Read More
We were met at the L.A. airport by Princess and taken to the ship. They took our luggage and we didn't see it until we entered our beautiful mini suite after checking in. We were taken by bus to the port where everything was well organized for boarding. We dropped off some items in our cabin and went to have a bite in the Horizon Court. Overall the food was very good with the exception of some items that needed to be heated up. We are the kind of people who when we order hot soup, we want it hot. The staff on the ship were most accomodating also with the exception of a head waiter who seemed to make faces and grumble when we asked for a table for two each day. Sometimes you just need to be together without the general conversation of strangers. We certainly are not snobbish and did meet some wonderful people through Cruise Critic. We sat with them for the three formal nights and sat with one particular couple for many of the other nights. We did have dinner at Sabatini's one night and one night at the Bayou cafe. I would say after looking back on these extra charge restaurants, that the main dining room had the best food in comparison. We chose the anytime dining option and were most pleased with that arrangement. The ship is most accomodating with reservations and without reservations for dinner. We arranged for several private tours with some couples from Cruise Critic and they all turned out to be terrific. Rosie's in Acapulco is the best. (www.acapulcorosiestours.com) Rosie met us at the pier and we were two groups in two airconditioned vans. She provided us with cold drinks and water and ice cold towels (when needed) to keep cool. We took a tour of several interesting places with her and it also included the Cliff Divers. Her tour was very reasonable and we highly recommend her. We took a tour in Costa Rica with Odessey Tours (Alvaro) He was right there to meet us and highly knowledgeable about his wonderful country. Took a tour of Manuel Antonio Park. In Panama we hired Anne of the Embera Village. This tour is not to be missed although getting there was a bit difficult since we sat on a dug out canoe for one and half hours each way plus a van to get to the landing. It was worth it when we met the wonderful amazing people of this village who are so gentle, sweet and giving of themselves. We didn't take a tour in Cabo or Huatulco. Aruba was a walk-around but if you like snorkelling, it's the place to enjoy that. (I believe Huatulco and Cabo are also great places for that too.) The sailing through the Panama Canal was an experience. We started early in the a.m.and it took an entire day to get through from the Pacific side to the Atlantic side. There were some comments from a man over the intercom at various points of the day. We had a wonderful time and would definitely take the trip again. We arrived back in Fort Lauderdale at the end of our cruise and since we live in West Palm Beach, it was easy getting home from there. (Had a card service pick us up) Princess really outdid themselves with this one.! Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
Our experience with Sapphire Princess was the best cruise we have taken so far. Embarkation was a breeze - never waited in line, boarded before noon and had lunch.Our bags were waiting at our door when lunch was over. This was our first ... Read More
Our experience with Sapphire Princess was the best cruise we have taken so far. Embarkation was a breeze - never waited in line, boarded before noon and had lunch.Our bags were waiting at our door when lunch was over. This was our first experience with a balcony, I loved it. My only complaint was the couple next to us smoked and I have asthma and am recovering from a year long bought with pulmonary disease. So, if we were docked and they were smoking I couldn't enjoy the balcony. They were aft of us, so no problems when we were moving. However, there was never a smoke smell in the cabin, the halls or anywhere else other than the casino. The cabin was clean, bright although the furniture was a little outdated. I can handle the outdated furniture since the cabin was clean. We had anytime dining, which we found to be interesting since we never ate in the same place twice. The food is the same regardless of where you eat, and we got to meet some great people every night. We found the food to be good (average restaurant quality)most nights, not five star, but not bad either. We never had to wait in line, we had reservations a few nights at 6:00, but didn't have to wait on nights we didn't have a reservation. We have been on this itinery twice before and chose to not get off the ship at ports, we relaxed by the pool - so I cannot review the ports. There were wonderful activities onboard for just about any age group. Different music in different lounges, games, new run movies such as Avatar and This Is It, comedians, musical reviews and childrens activities. There are two bands on board. The Sapphire house band (theater band) was wonderful. They accompanied the singers and dancers during the musical reviews and played onboard a few times. The second band was called Splendor. The lead singer is considered "reggae" but is more like a bad imitation. His voice is off key most of the time but, he gets the crowd going at the pool with party and noise. The female singer of the group is wonderful. They should let her sing in all venues and allow the lead to sing only at the pool. There was also a Mariachi band in the Atrium that was very enjoyable. Disembarkment was just as easy as embarkation. We were in a group that was scheduled to leave the ship at 8:30 but had to wait until 9:00 due to customs. When we were cleared, we were off the ship in minutes and waiting for our shuttle by 9:15. They are now using a color coded silent disembarkment system that works like a charm. Very easy and efficient. Over all, I would say that all the negative points in other reviews just didn't happen. We had a great cruise and would do again in an eyeblink. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
Being from the Phoenix, Arizona area, we choose to drive to San Pedro, that way we could pack anything we wanted. We arrived in San Pedro at the Double Tree hotel at approximately 1.00 PM and had no problem checking in early. When you ... Read More
Being from the Phoenix, Arizona area, we choose to drive to San Pedro, that way we could pack anything we wanted. We arrived in San Pedro at the Double Tree hotel at approximately 1.00 PM and had no problem checking in early. When you check in at Double Tree, you get their wonderful warm chocolate chip cookies. Check in was generally easy and pleasant, but did have to run down my own bellman and although the sign says "Valet", they do not have valet service at this hotel. We checked in with the Bell Captain to set up our shuttle service to the ship the next morning. The check in clerk was very informative about this procedure. Our room at the double Tree was excellent, as was the food and service. At about 6:30 AM on Saturday, I watched the Sapphire Princess come into port, followed by the Norwegian Star, which backed in. We participated in the "Bon Voyage" offered by Princess (new this year), so we checked in at about 10:45 AM and boarded the Sapphire Princess around 11:30AM. Our cabin, the Grand Suite, was ready for us and our guests arrived about 11:45AM and joined us in the suite. We took a tour of the ship, had and wonderful Princess class lunch in the International Restaurant, then went back to the suite to visit until 3:30 PM, when they had to exit the ship. We really enjoyed this marketing tool that Princess has introduced. I hope they keep it up and get many new customers from the program. We cast off on time, following the Norwegian Star out of port. We had the early dinner seating, 6:00 PM, so it was unpack, get dressed and head down to the International Dining Room. We were promptly seated at Table 23. Bill and Mira, Vancouver B.C., were already seated and Jim and Jackie, Tucson, Arizona, showed up shortly after we arrived. We had already ordered when the last couple showed up. All I remember about them is they were from New Port Beach, Ca. (they never returned to the table the entire voyage). We had never used fixed seating dining before and found we greatly enjoyed it, especially meeting new friends. After diner, we had a nice bottle of champagne in our cabin, finished unpacking and spent the rest of the evening enjoying our cabin and being on cruise again. Sunday, being the first full cruise day, was also a sleep in day and breakfast in the suite was on the agenda. This breakfast was delivered hot and on time, actually a few minutes early. The food was excellent, well prepared and well presented. It was the first of every breakfast that was never quiet what we ordered (ordered two orange juice, got 4 etc., etc.), but nothing earth shaking. Today was Kathy's Lotus Spa day, which is one of the most important days of the entire cruise, and I had a haircut in preparation for the first formal night. I also attended the Cruise Critic get together in Skywalker's and met some very pleasant people and put some faces to some Cruise Critic "handles". The rest of the afternoon was spent exploring the ship and the obligatory shopping. Monday was another day that was very busy. We had n early "lunch", which turned out to be eating "too much" in the Horizon Court. We were very pleasantly surprised at the improvements in the service in this 24 hour restaurant. The food, as usual, was excellent, the flatware and cloth napkins were on the tables and the beverage service was prompt and cheerful. We did though overeat and subsequently did not eat supper that evening. We arrived in PV on time at 9:00 AM on Tuesday and began disembarking immediately. The disembarkation was handled well and was rather quick. We took a private tour, arranged through Mazatlan Frank, and our driver and guide was Fernando Alfredo Navarro. I had two places I wanted to make sure we went (Donna Engracia Tequila Factory and La Mismaloya Resort) and left the rest up to Alfredo. We agree that this was one of the very best tours we have ever taken. We got to go where we wanted and also were taken to places we would never have even thought about, or been aware of. We had wonderful Margaritas in a beautiful restaurant by the bay on the south side of PV, then proceed on south and toured La Jolla de Mismaloya Resort (it is beautiful). Later Alfredo took us to a wonderful restaurant way back up in the hills and we had a marvelous lunch under the forest canopy. We went to some viewpoints that gave us a wonderful view of Banderas Bay and the city and area of PV. I am glad my camera takes about a million pictures (-: We returned to the ship around 3 PM (we could have gone shopping, if we wished), but we were ready to head home. We left PV a little late. Some boat excursions were only arriving back at 5:45 PM, when everyone was supposed to be on board by 4 PM, but some van tours were way late also. Any way, we left port around 5:20 PM and sailed out of the beautiful bay and headed towards Mazatlan and new adventures tomorrow. Again, having eaten too much at noon, we did not eat supper that evening. Our tour in Mazatlan was cancelled due to insufficient number enrolling. This is the very first time I have ever had a tour cancelled on a Princess cruise. Maybe it is just luck, but I found it odd, in that the cruise was sold out. We decided not to take something we had already done, or something we weren't sure about, so we just took a taxi, an adventure in itself, to the Golden Zone, the shopping area for tourists, in north Mazatlan, the newer section of town. The cost is $10-12 each way and worth it as it is quiet a way from the ship to the shopping zone. We got our necessary jewelry shopping done and had a snack of guacamole and chips before returning to the ship. Wednesday night we had the Ultimate Patio Dining. We actually had it in our wonderful dining room with the view, and it was excellent. We had the lobster and Halibut dinner, which was a five course dinner and included flowers, pictures, 1/2 bottle of champagne and a margarita. The desert was to kill for. The service was 5 star and we will remember this for a long time. We had our friend Bill and Mira from Vancouver B.C. join us and they made for a most memorable evening. Thursday, it was up early, 5AM, and off to the boats for our tour to Todos Santos. We weren't sure what to expect on this tour, but it turned out to be a really rustic little village about 75 minute up the coast, which is supposedly the home of the famous California Hotel. There is such a place and we ate a nice lunch there and walked around the city visiting and shopping. They have a lot of galleries. This is what Cabo was 15 to 20 years ago. Nice bus, only about 12 people and a really good tour guide, Libby, made this a good tour. I need to say that Ranelo Arevalo, our cabin steward, is really excellent and took very, very good care of us throughout this cruise, seeing to our needs and providing information about anything we asked We got back just in time to cast off and head north. Tonight is formal and Captain's Circle night, so into the monkey suit again. After diner, we had the pleasure of our dinner partners, Bill and Mira from Vancouver B.C. and Jim and Jackie from Tucson, AZ, in our suit for a wonderful evening of conversation. We had some great wine to go with the conversation. Friday was a very cool day on deck, with cloudy skies. I was amazed at the number of people on deck in swim suits, but covered completely up with towels and etc. I guess they were getting their cloud tans. There were a lot of sales at the stores, as the cruise was coming to an end and we took advantage of them to renew my t-shirts and get some perfume and other beauty items. On Friday evening, we had dinner as the guests of our friends from Vancouver, who treated us to a most marvelous Italian feast at Sabatini's. The meal was multi coursed, with excellent Italian food and terrific service. If you ever cruise Princess, be sure and eat as Sabatini's at least one evening. The extra charge, per person, is well worth it. Again, Bill and Mira made this a very memorable dinner. We arrived, on time, in the Port of Los Angeles (San Pedro) at 7:00 AM on Saturday and disembarked with no problems at around 8:45 AM. The Double Tree Hotel picked us up within 15 minutes after we called and took us directly to the hotel, where we loaded our car and headed home. Pro on this trip: The Grand Suite is absolutely a Pro. It is elegant to the extreme and of course we enjoyed it as it was meant to be enjoyed. We noticed the crew on this ship was very friendly and helpful in all instances. The Bon Voyage program was a hit with us. We were able to have our nephew and his girl friend join us, tour the ship and have a Princess class lunch. They were very impressed. I think they will be booking a cruise soon. Boarding and disembarkation were handled very well. We had not cruised Princess since 2008 and were very pleasantly pleased to see the service improvement in the Horizon Court (the 24 hour restaurant). Having the flat ware on the tables and the cloth napkins was a definite upgrade. Also, the attitude and service level in this restaurant was greatly improved. Dining there was a pleasant experience. For suite and elite passengers, Princess provides a special place for breakfast, Sabatini's, and a special area in Skywalker's between 5 and 7 each evening. We used fixed time seating for the first time ever. We took the 6 PM seating and were served in the International Dining Room. Our table companions were excellent and we greatly enjoyed them, with one exception. One couple, from "Newport Beach" sat the first evening, found out the rest of us were not from "Newport Beach" and we never saw them again. Our food was excellent in this restaurant and the service was superb. Cons on this trip: It is hard to find one. I would only say that the Customer Service desk personnel frequently lacked knowledge about procedures and, with the exception of a person named Cory, whom I only spoke to on the phone, lacked really good customer skills and attentiveness. This was the only place on this ship that we experienced this. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
When looking for a spring break cruise, as a teacher, I tried to find a ship with some "adult-only" amenities and thought the itinerary might be less 'kid-friendly' than the Western Caribbean ports. Don't get me ... Read More
When looking for a spring break cruise, as a teacher, I tried to find a ship with some "adult-only" amenities and thought the itinerary might be less 'kid-friendly' than the Western Caribbean ports. Don't get me wrong, I love kids, just not while on a break from them! My review isn't about the kids, it's about the ship and the cruise. Embarkation and disembarkation was really smooth. Before we got on the ship, we breezed through the duty-free liquor shop. The people there tipped us that they were hardly checking the bags and it was easy to take liquor on board, so we got a bottle of rum and had no problem. We paid ten dollars at the store, but later found that the cruiseline itself offers bottles of liquor at fifteen dollars a bottle for consumption in the staterooms. That was nice! You are allowed to take on wine and champagne for your room. I heard they charge a cork fee if you want to drink it in the dining room, but we didn't inquire about it. They also allowed soda and water bottles to be brought on. The cruise itself was wonderful. We sailed the first five days, seeing St. Thomas/St. John, Antigua, Tortola, St. Lucia and Barbados, with the last day of the cruise being the only one at sea. That was enticing, as we wanted to see the islands, not spend a lot of time on the ship. The stops were all from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm, which was really nice. The tours we took from the cruiseline were smooth, organized and interesting. I liked that they were either early in the morning or for the afternoon so you could spend some of the day doing your own thing if you wanted. We did take the all day land and sea cruise in St. Lucia and it was well worth it, despite the morning rain. The Pitons are far from the port, so it was a good way to see island. I have cruised three times on Costa and once on Royal Caribbean. This was my first Princess cruise, and probably my last, unless some great deal rolls around that is too good to pass up. It's confusing and disappointing, because I have read very few reviews that weren't favorable about Princess. The Caribbean Princess itself is attractive and clean. We got a double upgrade to a balcony and our room was nice. We liked how the bathroom was situated near the closet, giving a sense of privacy while changing. Our cabin steward was awesome. Our waiter was ok. The staff itself was helpful and attentive. So what was wrong with the cruise? The food was not the best, pretty bad at times, compared to my other experiences. Breakfast is over at 9:00 in the dining rooms and we were usually on the run to get to the island in the morning anyway, so we ate at the buffet. It was basically the same food every day. One day they had eggs Benedict in place of the "Egg McMuffin" style sandwich, and the omelet changed daily, but other than that, it was exactly the same every day. Lunch didn't change much from day to day either. But there were some interesting selections, such as mozzarella and tomato on crostini, and veggies on bagels. The International Cafe had some light choices as well. The pastries were always good there, with very good sugarless mousses and light cakes. For dinner, we elected to choose the late formal seating, thinking we would avoid families with young children and have a more intimate atmosphere. It worked, but so many people chose the anytime dining plan that the dining room was practically empty, which was a little strange. We ordered wine with every meal, and often had to wait for our glass to be filled, for if it was a white wine or champagne, they kept it in a cooling bucket away from the table and weren't very attentive the first couple of days until we brought it to their attention. The food was mediocre; certainly not the gourmet status I have enjoyed on other cruise lines. I found everything to be pretty bland. They had a lot of choices, which was nice, but there just wasn't a lot of taste! The Sea Bass and Barramundi (sp? Sea Perch) tasted the same. The salmon, which was offered every night as an alternative, was overcooked and a little dry. I am a fan of Macaroni Grill's Simple Salmon, and the salmon on the cruise didn't compare. On the last night, I had strip steak. I asked for it to be done medium, thinking it would be pink but probably tender, just in case. It was inedible...thinly sliced, and it was pink just like I asked, but it was tough! The waiters were busy getting ready for the Baked Alaska Parade, so I couldn't hail anyone to take it back and substitute it for something else. My husband had alreay finished his meal, the meat was cold, I had finished my glass of wine, and we decided to leave. We waited to sign for the wine, but the waiter never came, even after the parade! We literally left our plates and everything on the table and went to the buffet where I had a few mussels, which were small and steamed, no butter sauce, spice or anything; kind of what you would get an an all you can eat mussel buffet at a bar for happy hour. We did have some good Moroccan food at the buffet one day for a snack before dinner, and the second formal night dinner of a small lobster tail and two large prawns was good. We didn't dine at the specialty restaurants, which cost an additional $25 per person. A couple of our dinner mates ate at both, and said the Italian restaurant was good, while the Crown Grill steak house was boring. The lady described the steak as being covered in jerk seasoning and tough. She also said our escargot was bathed in steak sauce. It was described as a garlic butter sauce, seemed like olive oil and weak pesto to me. The Princess dancers and singers reminded me of our high school show choir. We only went to one of those. On the past cruises I've been on, the shows were close to what you would see in Vegas: splashy, colorful, and professional. There were two comedians, and one was very good, the other brought some chuckles but took a while to get funny. Several people walked out of the show before he got on a roll. There was also a hypnotist, who did an adult rated comedy act which was hilarious according to our dinner mates. We missed that one, but went to a relaxation session given by the same guy and it was really good. There is a huge movie screen at mid-ship. We didn't relax watching any movies, but it looked really nice. They put padding on the lounge chairs at night, and it was never really crowded. They showed movies for everyone, a Cirque du Soleil special, and a few concerts after 10:00. The casino had smoking and non-smoking every other day, which was a nice surprise. There were plenty of photo ops, and it was fun to watch families pose together. There were formal and casual opportunities and the photography was good. The pools are small, as I have read in other reviews. There were two family pools, an adult pool and a spa pool, which was also for adults only. There were two hot tubs by each family pool, one of each was supposed to be for adults only, but there were kids in it every time we walked by, often with their parents. The spa pool, also for adults, was quiet, except for the 12 year old girl doing handstands and somersaults one day. Had I wanted to go into the pool I would have asked someone to ask her parents to take her to the kids pool, but when a pool is designated for adults only, guests shouldn't have to ask the attendants to do their jobs and keep the kids out. The pool for adults on the other side of the ship seemed to have just adults in it, but it is situated under the night club (pretty shaded, no sun...) and one deck down from a shallow kiddie pool for little kids with slides and toys! Really?? Needless to say, the adult pool wasn't very relaxing, unless you don't mind screaming tots. On the day at sea, it was disappointing to go out at 10:30 only to find people had 'reserved' chairs with towels and bottles of lotion and books even when the signs all say you can't reserve chairs. I walked around for about a half hour until I decided that half the empty chairs weren't being used and found one for myself. I was there for about an hour and a half, watching disappointed people walk around "saved" chairs looking for a place to relax and finally told some people that no one had even come to the row in front of me, so they also decided to have a sit. On Royal Caribbean, the pool attendants kept an eye on chairs, and if they didn't see anyone in them for an extended period of time, they removed the towels so others could use them. Aside from that, the calypso band played quite often and provided a tropical background that with a frozen CocoLoco, could pretty much wipe away the angst of scoping out a place to lay in the sun. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
Flights from Gatwick to Montego Bay with Thomas Cook were excellent. Plenty of leg room and staff were very good. Meals were usual standard, and we saw a recommendation to bring a sandwich in case you got hungry. Embarkation went very ... Read More
Flights from Gatwick to Montego Bay with Thomas Cook were excellent. Plenty of leg room and staff were very good. Meals were usual standard, and we saw a recommendation to bring a sandwich in case you got hungry. Embarkation went very smoothly as we just went through 'customs' at airport, where just checked documentation, and on to a waiting bus. Customs again at port, but went through quickly to the ship and were soon reunited with our luggage in our cabin. Cabin was adequate with a balcony, but with doors open, had quite a nasty smell of sewage. Learnt to keep them closed!! Sewage smell also in corridor and on top deck of ship throughout the cruise. Heard this was something that was ongoing for years. Hoped that with refit it had been elevated. Having cruised with Celebrity we had high expectations, as had been told that Princess was even better. Very disappointed with the shows as had expected West End quality and more like East End Working Mens Clubs. Comedians were dire! Our children's school productions were better. Also disappointed with the food. It was good, but the selection was lacking in the main dining room and the service was very disappointing. However the selection of food in Horizon was good and catered for most people. We too were overlooked on many occasions as the staff seemed to avoid making eye contact with customers. In the bar we sat for over 30 minutes waiting to be served and eventually had to go to the bar ourselves and fetch a drink. We would not have minded if the bar had been busy, but it was almost empty with more waiters wandering around than customers. However, room service was excellent, and we made the most of this by ordering breakfast and afternoon tea on most days so we could sit on our balcony and just enjoy the peace and tranquility. Islands that we visited were lovely. On the whole we did our own thing and had a fantastic time, but on the occasions we went with the ship's tours, they too were excellent. On the whole I wish the Americans would stop knocking the ship because it was geared towards the Brits. It certainly was not up to the standard we would expect, and I am sure it was more down to cost cutting. The reason the shows were empty was because they were repeated and were bad enough the first time round, so why should people put themselves through it for a second time. I would certainly rethink going with Princess again. If that is what an American line thinks is suitable for the British, they can think again. We too want better quality of entertainment, service and food selection and much less use of the tannoy system and football blaring out on MUTS during the afternoon. We want to relax and be spoilt - very much in the same way as the Americans. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
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