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2,230 Princess Romantic Cruise Reviews

We arrived at the Terminal at 11:45 AM. Check-in was fast. We were in our cabin ten minutes after noon. Our luggage was delivered around 2 p.m. This was our 7th cruise, second on Princess. The other five cruises were of various HAL ... Read More
We arrived at the Terminal at 11:45 AM. Check-in was fast. We were in our cabin ten minutes after noon. Our luggage was delivered around 2 p.m. This was our 7th cruise, second on Princess. The other five cruises were of various HAL ships. BREAKFAST: food and plentiful and tasty. Unfortunately, Princess have not yet discovered the type of toaster that toasts slices of bread on both sides at the same time that we use here in our homes in North America. They have some toaster that works very, very slowwwwwww and toasts on one side only. LUNCH: We chose the buffet-type at the Horizon on the 15th floor. Again, wide choice, good food. DINNER: we chose anytime dining, usually showed up between 7 pm and 7.30 pm. We always requested a table for two. Only twice over ten days did we have to wait for a table, and never more that 10 minutes, even when we were told it would be 20 minutes. We found the food excellent in all aspects, the choices very varried, presently professionally and with a smile. My wife is a fish and sea food addict and she always found everything perfect. I had a fine steak once, cooked medium-rare exactly as requested. Another night I had lamb chops(carrE d agneau) so tasty I had to keep myself from asking for a second plate. We are not sweet dessert afficionados, so cannot comment on those. A few times, I asked for the cheese plate. That was OK but the cheeses were too cold for my taste. My wife and I are knowledgable foodies, still eating at excellent restaurants in Montreal, New York, Miami several times during the year, so we are able to judge when food is just so so and when it is really good. We found very good wines under $30.00 and the bottle was put away for us until another night as we only had half a bottle with each meal. Land tours: first was Magen Bay Beach on St-Thomas - which I very highly recommend. Second land tour was at Dominica, a new tour FALLS OF DOMINICA AND SULPHUR SPRINGS which we enjoyed immensely. Now, Dominica is a poor island but we met the warmest people you could hope for. It is an island of mountains so there often are showers. The tour we took requires one to wear solid shoes as the trails are slippery, going up a side on a mountain and down another side. Being avid outdoor amateurs, we throughly enjoyed that particular tour. Our Guide, Jillian, was a gem of a young lady, patient with our questions and knowledgable in her replies. She spoke good French also as did a few local people we talked to. Nightly shows: We caught 9 out of 10,(we do not go the the hypnotist) and yes, we showed up half an hour before the start. All in all, this was not our last time with Princess. Read Less
Sail Date February 2011
We flew into Orlando 2 days prior to the cruise and stayed at the DisneyWorld Beach Club. We rented a car at the Dolphin Resort and drove 3 hrs to Ft Lauderdale. We got a cab at the airport (11:20 am) that took us to the pier ($20.00). ... Read More
We flew into Orlando 2 days prior to the cruise and stayed at the DisneyWorld Beach Club. We rented a car at the Dolphin Resort and drove 3 hrs to Ft Lauderdale. We got a cab at the airport (11:20 am) that took us to the pier ($20.00). This year we had a nice lounge to wait in (Platinum, Elite, Suite), they had croissants, water and juice for us. We boarded the ship at 11:45am and were in our suite before noon, it was cool in Ft Lauderdale. We immediately noticed the same noise we had last year in this suite, but thought it would go away. The noise did not go away, however Housekeeping took good care of us. For sail away we were on our balcony. We enjoyed the Thermal Suite, Sanctuary and I did go to the spa one day for a leg treatment that was wonderful and only offered to "Suite" guests. We joined some other CC'rs for dinner the first night in Michaelangelo. Valentines day we dined with friends in Crown Grill -always great. The rest of the time we ate on our balcony. We did go up to Cafe Caribe one evening and noticed they had placed nice linens and glasses on the tables, a busy place to dine. We loved Sabatini's for breakfast each morning. We had tea service in our room one day and got a DVD from the library. We did champagne waterfall and it was a beautiful red this year, a highlight of the cruise. We were selected for Chef's Table which was amazing and one of the highlights of the cruise! We were honored to be selected for Chef's Table and met new wonderful friends. We had the privilege of sailing under Commodore Ramano after sailing with him on the old Star Princess, this was a nice surprise as we had been wanting to sail on one of his ships again. The crew and staff were wonderful. We had the best cabin steward we have ever had on any ship or cruise line. We saw David Katz the Magician and he was amazing and then on our last sea day, he did card tricks at tables in Adagio, another highlight! In St. Thomas we docked at Crown Bay, it was a nice day so we took a taxi into downtown for a walk. St. Maarten, also a nice warm day, took the water taxi into Phillipsburg and walked around, with so many ships in port and "Oasis" it was crowded, too long of wait lines to purchase things in the stores. Grand Turk, warm again, too many people at Margaritaville, so we walked to a less crowded beach. Really liked Grand Turk. Princess Cays was also warm and so we enjoyed the beach. This was an unhurried, relaxing week of munching on pizza, burgers, ice cream, milkshakes and of course International Cafe as we enjoyed the sights and sounds of the Ruby. Read Less
Sail Date February 2011
My husband and I just returned from a wonderful week on the Ruby. This was our first time on this ship and we were not disappointed, we thought the ship was beautiful and all of the staff were very pleasant and helpful. We left from ... Read More
My husband and I just returned from a wonderful week on the Ruby. This was our first time on this ship and we were not disappointed, we thought the ship was beautiful and all of the staff were very pleasant and helpful. We left from Buffalo the day of the cruise, normally something that we hate to do but this year could not be prevented. Luckily no weather problems and all the flights were very smooth. We arrived at FLL around 12:30 in the afternoon and just took a taxi straight to the peer. We could have used the Princess transfer but we didn't want to have to wait for the bus to fill up, plus the taxi was cheaper, only cost about $15 plus tip. Arriving at the terminal there was barely any line and we were able to check in right away. In about 15 minutes were on the ship and in our room. We chose an inside cabin and always stay in R-745 whenever we are inside. If we can't have a balcony it's nice to be right by the door to go up to the aft pool and everything is right there, elevators are close, food and bar right above us. We find this to be out favorite location on the ship if it's available. Since we are already very familiar with the layout of the ship we walked around to make our reservations for Sabatini's and Crown Grill, we were lucky we did. We tried to make another res later in the week to eat at Crown Grill a second time but they were booked solid, same for Sabatini's. We also took the tour in the spa so we could sign up for the Thermal Suite. I think it was about $130 per couple but I can't remember for sure. We ended up using the Thermal Suite every day and there were usually about 4-6 other people in there each time we were there. The only issue that kept coming up is the alarm kept going off because people would leave the steam room doors open to long and with the alarm being so close to the door it went off frequently. Not so relaxing especially when it took a few minutes for a crew member to come and turn it off. We also noticed that even though we had a sticker on our cruise card indicating we had purchased a thermal suite pass no one ever checked and you could tell some people probably took advantage of this. Compared to the thermal suite on the Caribbean Princess (the only other one we have used) we like CB's layout a little better. It was nice to have the stone loungers in a separate space from all of the steam rooms and saunas. Everything was always really wet in the Ruby Thermal Suite and it was hard to relax sometimes when it was busier with people going in and out and showers going on and off all the time. We still enjoyed it and would purchase the pass again on future cruises. As far as the food goes we found the food to be a little better on this cruise, most noticeably in the buffets. We chose not to participate in formal nights this time and really enjoyed the meals in the buffets on these two nights. One thing I was surprised about was that the formal nights were only one day apart on this sailing, Day 2 and Day 4. I also assumed that the second formal night was the Lobster night and it actually ended up being on day 5 so we were still able to enjoy the lobster tails and escargot without having to dress up. We had excellent food in both specialty restaurants and in the future will try and make a reservation for the final evening as this is usually out least favorite menu in the dining room. We also enjoyed the International cafe for a mid day snack, they had some really good desserts and I love the shrimp salad. This itinerary was not a favorite of mine as I prefer the southern itineraries but I was pleasantly surprised at some of the stops. Princess Cays ended up being a nice beach day, we have not been here in a few years and forgot what a nice beach it was. I would skip the beach buffet next time, food was not very good. We also rented a clam shell; my only complaint is that they are really close together so if you are not in the first row all you see are clam shells as your view of the water/beach is totally blocked. By the time we got there the best ones were gone and we were not able to choose one we wanted and were told which one we had to take. We ended up leaving after about an hour and getting chairs somewhere else. St. Martin was someplace we have only been once and again it has been a few years. We spent the day at Orient Beach and loved it. It was a beautiful beach, the water was warm and the waves were a lot of fun. We found the beach rental to be very reasonable, much more so than at Megan's Bay in St. Thomas. I would definitely return to Orient in future visits. St. Thomas was a day at Megan's Bay, very pricey for rentals, drinks, etc., probably because there is only one vender on the beach. You also have to pay a refundable deposit that brings up the initial price but you do get it back. It was also very crowded by the time we got there, its best to try and get here early. I think next time we will try a different beach, we were married on the beach here last year so we wanted to go back but there are some many others to try. Grand Turk was a new place for us but it wasn't anything special. We didn't arrive until around 1pm so we had already spent the morning early afternoon in the sun and didn't actually get off the ship until almost 3. We walked around, and took a stroll on the beach down towards jack's place. It's a nice beach but I think next time we will book a snorkeling excursion or else maybe just stay on the ship for this one. We had two sea days and my husband slept in both of those days, I spent my time laying out at the pool with the MUTS screen. There were some good movies this week, both in the afternoons and in the evenings. Some of them were Inception, The next 3 days, Toy Story 3, Salt, The Town and that's about all I can remember off the top of my head. I found the movies on this trip to be more current then the ones shown on other cruises we have taken. We didn't go to any of the shows, we usually ate late and went to MUTS each night. We did see the comedians and both were very good. Explorers lounge was very crowded, next time we will need to get there at least 30 minutes in advance to get a seat. It was standing room only, even though the performances were at different times and repeated on a second night. Disembarkation was very smooth, we chose to walk off the ship with our luggage and grab a taxi to our hotel. We were off the ship by 7:30 and at the Hampton Inn by 8:00. We ended up having to wait until around until 12:00 to check in and then we grabbed a taxi and spent the afternoon walking around Las Olas. We had great lunch at Mangos...lobster salad sandwiches..yum! and then took the sailing on the Carrie B to see the mansions etc. on the water, very fun! I think next time we will try and stay at the Riverside since this is where we like to spend our time when in Fort Lauderdale. We thought having a shuttle at the Hampton to get us to the airport would save $ but we spent so much on taxis that we should have just stayed on Las Olas and paid to get to the airport. Oh well. All in all a wonderful trip with great weather the whole time. A little chilly when we arrived in Ft. Lauderdale but coming back it was in the 80's. We are actually doing this itinerary next year for a family wedding and look forward to being back in Florida and on the Ruby. Read Less
Sail Date February 2011
Background InformationMy wife and I have cruised a total of three times. On our first cruise we sailed with Royal Caribbean out of Seattle, Washington, for a 7-day round trip to Alaska and Canada. On our second cruise we sailed with ... Read More
Background InformationMy wife and I have cruised a total of three times. On our first cruise we sailed with Royal Caribbean out of Seattle, Washington, for a 7-day round trip to Alaska and Canada. On our second cruise we sailed with Carnival out of Galveston, Texas, for a 7-day round trip to the Western Caribbean. Our third cruise was aboard the Golden Princess out of Los Angeles, California, for a 14-day round trip to Hawaii and Mexico. I am very observant and though some of my remarks may be viewed as nitpicking, I am merely stating what I observed.-------------------------Travel To Port of EmbarkationIt should be noted that there are two major ports; the Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach. Princess cruise ships sail out of the port of Los Angeles.-------------------------Hotel Info (if any)We are local southern California residents and therefore did not stay at any hotel.-------------------------StateroomOur stateroom was pleasantly cozy, and as we can sleep on relatively firm mattresses, we did not have a real problem. In fact, we enjoyed our little stateroom. If you really listened, you could hear a slight whirring noise (I suspect it was from the nearby elevators), but it did not affect us in any way. Don't forget to close the bathroom door on rough sea days, otherwise it will open and close (not close all the way) all night until you get out of your bed and secure it shut. We did hear a bit of creaking within the walls of the ship but it wasn't unexpected. After all it is a moving ship.-------------------------Ship InfoThe ship entered service in 2001 and was refurbished in early 2009. Overall, the boat did not appear old or run down, but this was clearly due in part to the continuous maintenance that occurred during our cruise.Exterior metal surfaces which had rust bleed through the existing white coating: During the first half of the cruise, there was a noticeable effort in which the crew repainted external metallic objects (posts, bases, rails, etc.) in which rust had bled through the white coating. Needless to say, there were areas that were not entirely ventilated in which you could smell the coating (oil-based paint) they used to cover the showing rust. You could also detect it if you were immediately downwind of the freshly painted surface. There were signs stating "Wet Paint" in most places and my wife and I were able to avoid these areas. A young couple which sat at our table during dinner was not so fortunate. The man had somehow contacted the white paint with his dress shirt, and the woman had paint on the sole of her shoe.Exterior metal surfaces which had severe rust develop on the surface: On the second and third sea days on the return leg, the mornings in the Calypso pool (indoor pool with overhead conservatory) were full of an amazingly deafening racket. I witnessed several people leave the area while I put my earplugs in an attempt to block out the loud hammering and scraping noise. I wandered to the area upstairs and in front of the pool area (miniature golf area) and witnessed a crew member removing rust from a wall in the miniature golf area which was shared with the enclosed pool room (the Calypso). I saw him do it with three tools; a tack hammer, a putty knife (not a hand scraper), and a metal bristle brush. That crew member worked for hours to remove the large patch of rust (he seemed to use the hammer more than the other tools) while the Calypso emptied out for the morning.Exterior wooden handrails and other wooden coverings: Many of the exterior wooden surfaces received a coat of varnish during the cruise. There were signs stating "Wet Varnish" in most places but my wife and I were unlucky enough to touch an unmarked wooden handrail that had relatively fresh varnish applied. It was a little sticky and hard to wash off our hands. This was not done on the port days when most of the passengers were off the ship. This was done during our sea days.Elevator maintenance: We very rarely used the elevator but did notice that during the last half of the cruise; at least one elevator was out of service in each of the forward and rear elevator banks, which each have four elevators (we did not notice this in the center bank, though it does have six elevators). On several occasions I witnessed the elevator doors propped open for maintenance but did not see anyone. It is possible that maintenance was occurring within the elevator shaft. This did create havoc during the evenings (not for us) as the areas in front of the elevators were very busy.Television channel changing issues: Several people we spoke with had trouble changing the channel (as we did). I noticed that that the elevated television supports were large and square-shaped, for older style televisions. Though the old televisions had been replaced with thin flat panel televisions, they were recessed so far back on the existing support tray that you had to hold your arm in the air to change the channel while lying in bed. This was a minor inconvenience but tested your endurance while you flipped through the twenty or so channels with your arm outstretched.Horizon Court buffet layout and design: The layout of the buffet made dinners in the buffet a traffic nightmare, though it would seem difficult to really remedy the situation.Young children overtaking the Calypso pool area and screaming as they played: Many of the young children were let loose in the indoor pool area, where they screamed at the top of their lungs for several hours on one of our sea days and filled the room with echoing noise. I did witness several people leave and complain about the noise on their way out. This is in part, the fault of the parents but also the fault of the crew for not enforcing any of their own rules regarding parent supervision in the pool area or disruptive behavior on the ship.-------------------------DiningThe food served on the entire cruise, was just short of disastrous. There were a few exceptions. Horizon Court buffet: We ate breakfast here nearly every day, and had cereal (which we both love) and various typical breakfast foods. It should be noted that the food in the buffet is just that, food from a buffet, usually not that tasty and usually not that hot. If you enjoy food as long as it fills your stomach, you won't have much of a problem eating the buffet food.Dining Room (Donatello): We ate lunch most often in the main dining room, and I'd say one of my favorite dishes on the entire cruise was the hamburger/cheeseburger in the main dining room served during lunch. It was ground beef and had pink in the middle at least two times, but they got immediately me another burger while I watched my wife eat.Dining Room (Donatello): We ate dinner here every night (except the first full cruising day when many people were sick). We had much higher expectations for the main dining room food, and most of the food sure fell short. All of the cuts of beef, of which I tried four tenderloin cuts, a rib eye cut, a New York cut, and a prime rib cut, were sad, sorry excuses for red meat. I would not classify these steaks as even being USDA Select, which is the lowest grade of USDA rated meat sold in retail. I spoke with several others who shared a similar opinion, though some disagreed with me. I do consider myself somewhat of a steak lover, and enjoy grilling my own steaks. I don't think any different cooking style or seasoning could save the lousy excuses for beef, which had a color reminiscent of beef that had been long frozen. Both times I had lamb, it was terribly dry. The sauce it was swimming in reared its face several other times during the cruise as well. Overall the appetizers were fair, the salads were tasty (I'm not a picky salad eater), the broth soups were too bland but the creamy ones were usually quite good and lava-like hot, nearly all of the entrees were awful, and the dessert was hit or miss, but usually a hit. The entree should be the highlight of a meal for me but I could have done without it on nearly every dining occasion. The fettuccine alfredo, which was available any night in the main dining room for dinner, was the highlight of the hot food every night. I ordered this as an appetizer nearly every night. It could be ordered with grilled chicken and in a Parmesan bowl if desired.Desserts: The International Cafe on deck 5 had great desserts. This was the place to go once you realized that the vanilla and chocolate ice creams served in the dining halls and ice cream bar tasted unlike the vanilla and chocolate flavors you had in the past.Pizza station: The pizza was actually quite tasty and I enjoyed this several times as a snack. My only gripe was that it was a little limp (the crust was very thin though) and after asking the server twice if he could cook a single slice a bit longer in the oven, he just smiled and put it on the plate. It was clear we had a language barrier.Drinks: Orange juice was usually watered down and came in the tiniest glass. If you wanted fresh squeezed juice, it was available for $2.95 a glass from deck 14 in the Calypso Pool area. Concentrated orange juice was available in the main dining rooms during breakfast (free) and lunch and dinner (some fee).Coffee served in the dining halls and buffet areas was usually very weak, and had a strange tinny (metallic) flavor. My wife and I enjoy our coffee and caved in to buy the coffee card. Otherwise, the prices for good coffee ranged between $1 and $3 dollars, depending on whether you wanted it plain black or fancy with chocolates, foams, and other fancy adders. You had to pay for the coffee card to get consistently good, strong coffee.Soda seemed a bit watery (though it was a freebie from a friend of ours so I can't complain, too much...). Soda was not free and could be purchased individually or with one of several drink packages. The cheapest package for endless soda was $4 a day, I believe.Lemonade: I asked for lemonade at every dining area throughout the ship, and could only ever get it in the Horizon Court buffet on the 14th deck. Every waiter I asked in the main dining rooms refused to get me lemonade, though in all honesty I don't blame them (it's at least eight decks up). For whatever reason, Princess does not supply lemonade throughout the ship. On the other two ships I cruised on, the lemonade was endless and available most places.There was a recurring trend throughout the ship.Bad OJ = free, good OJ = fee.Bad coffee = free, good coffee = fee.Bad steaks = free, good steaks = $25 fee per person in the Crown Grill (I did not personally confirm they are good in the Crown Grill but was told by everyone who tried the steak at the Crown Grill that it was better than the steaks served in the main dining room).The coffee and soda cards could not be prorated in price! This is what I was told by several people on the first few days. It is possible they were incorrect. I bought the coffee card on the second day and the price was definitely not prorated.-------------------------ActivitiesThe activities on the ship were similar to the other cruise lines we had cruised with in the past. The trivia was fun, as were the karaoke contests. We also enjoyed playing board games with new people and chatting away. On several occasions we looked for something to do (card or board games) since there weren't a lot of things to do between 9:00AM and 5:00PM. We did not partake in any of the Hawaiian activities, such as the ukulele lessons or the luau dancing. I did notice that on the Golden Princess, there were almost no activities on the port days, whereas on other cruise lines, there were a whole lot more. This didn't affect us a whole lot, since we disembarked at every port except for Mexico. The boat was required to stop at Mexico to comply with the Passenger Vessel Services Act of 1886 (46 USC §289), which states that foreign flagged vessels may not transport passengers between ports in the United States, unless a $300 fee is paid for each passenger transported and landed.-------------------------Children's ClubsWe had no experience with these clubs.-------------------------ServiceStateroom service: This service was acceptable and the gentleman who was our steward was very talkative and very polite. We had our "Privacy Please" card in the slot most of the time and only required his services when we used up our towels. He also made a point of catching us while we scurried to make dinner on time to give me something or chit chat with me, which became an annoyance. He also insisted on tending to our room on the final day, even though we would return after breakfast and wait on the bed. Dining room service (Donatello's): The waiters who tended to us during lunch were fair and did a good job. The waiter who tended to us during dinner did a very good job and we were all friends by the end of the cruise (this is expected). -------------------------EntertainmentThe entertainment during the morning and afternoon was mostly adequate. We did throw in card and board games, and got the chance to meet some very nice cruising mates in the process.The entertainment during the evening was much better. The shows with the dancers were decent but were enjoyable. The karaoke contest was fun as well. We did not really visit the lounges with live music so can't really comment on that.We did not partake in any extra services onboard, such as the massages and spa treatments. -------------------------Port & Shore ExcursionsWe took the cruise knowing what the itinerary was, so we didn't complain when we arrived in Mexico like many other passengers.As it turns out, some of the shore excursions could be taken using public transportation (such as the Diamondhead Crater). The excursions by Princess were, however, hosted by professional and knowledgeable people who made a good effort.At our fourth port, in Maui, we tendered to and from the shore. Princess performs this process every two weeks though they had a terrible time getting the people on the ship due to the winds and moderate seas. Our tender boat (which was one of the rescue boats) sat in the water several hundred feet from the boat, while one of the other tender boats unloaded. Several people were queasy. Meanwhile, I was told that the line to return to the ship took an hour and a half, reminiscent of a line for an amusement park ride. This was something I expected Princess to be experienced with and provide a seamless experience. It did not go well.-------------------------DisembarkationThis went very smooth and felt like a process which a professional cruise line had a lot of experience.-------------------------SummaryWe felt like Princess was trying to nickel and dime us, and otherwise provide chintzy quantities and lackluster qualities wherever possible. The chocolate tasting consisted of a piece of chocolate about the size of a peanut. The coffee and alcohol tasting consisted of an amount that could fill a thimble. The free mixed alcoholic drinks (first and last formal nights, and possibly others), had almost no alcohol in them. The patter wasn't always clear on whether or not a special event was complimentary or not, such as the smoothie event whereby you were charged $3.50 to put your fruits into the blender.It is clear that the staff is required to ask if you want something from the bar at every chance they get, and some people we met were assaulted eight times in one sitting by crew asking if they wanted a drink from the bar during one of the special buffet events on deck 14.On both other cruises we were on, the ship provided seasick pills. They clearly did not want people vomiting all over and having a lousy vacation because they were sick the whole time. Princess refers you to the gift shop so that you may spend some of your money, which is not always open and I was therefore unable to buy aspirin during the wee hours for my sick wife. We will not sail on this ship nor would we recommend it to anyone. In fact, it is doubtful that we would ever sail on Princess again. We were told that other Princess ships provided better food by some more experience Princess cruisers.------------------------- Read Less
Sail Date March 2011
Golden Princess - Hawaii - March 2nd, 2011Winnipeg to Los AngelesWe flew Westjet from Winnipeg to Calgary and then on to Los Angeles. Flights were smooth and Immigration in Calgary was fast. We must have won some sort of lottery as all ... Read More
Golden Princess - Hawaii - March 2nd, 2011Winnipeg to Los AngelesWe flew Westjet from Winnipeg to Calgary and then on to Los Angeles. Flights were smooth and Immigration in Calgary was fast. We must have won some sort of lottery as all three of our checked luggage came off of the luggage belt at LAX within the first eight bags. Then we were off to get the shuttle to San Pedro.LAX to San PedroWe walked out the door of the terminal and the shuttles are right there at the curb. Both Super Shuttle and Prime Time Shuttle are beside each other. Super Shuttle had a van going to San Pedro right there at the curb and it had space for two more - us. We were loaded and gone within five minutes. Price per person is $17.00. Traffic was light and twenty five minutes later we were at our hotel. Total time elapsed since touchdown - 40 minutes. We couldn't believe this timing.Crowne Plaza - San PedroThe hotel is older but in good shape. Nice pool, workout area and bar/restaurant. The rooms are fairly large - we had asked for and received a King non-smoking. Reviews I have read include that the noise from the hallway can be heard, and yes they are right - but it isn't that bad - unless of course you had a rugby team next to you - and lucky for us that wasn't the case.San Pedro is a sleepy little working town - nice atmosphere and safe environment in the area of the hotel. We walked up 6th away from the port and quickly found the San Pedro Brew Pub. This is an actual pub, not a micro-brewery - locals having a good time. Some of the best wings I have ever had - beer was cold and the wine was not your typical pub wine - was good and there is a selection. Service was fast and friendly.We walked a couple of blocks further up 6th and the Off the Vine wine shop is there. Picked up a couple of bottles of wine - the owner is knowledgeable but not a wine snob. Gave some good tips about restaurants, etc. The wines are for the most part, local California boutique types - not commercial ones.Around the corner is a grocery/market.Then a walk down beside the bay out to the Port of Call restaurant - nice atmosphere along the water.We spent the evening at the Crowne lounge, and again, very friendly service staff.Breakfast was at Grinders - a block towards the port and over one towards the ship. Food was good and again the server was excellent.EmbarkationWe went down to the lobby at 1130 and immediately caught the complimentary hotel shuttle to the port - maybe five minutes and we were going through security. From shuttle to stateroom - fifteen minutes tops - although we do have priority embarkation with Platinum status. It didn't look like there were big groups of people waiting though.Room - Category AA - Dolphin Deck - Mid-Ship Mini-SuiteWe were in D518. It is a typical mini-suite with lots of closet and drawer space. With the refurbishment it now has two flat screen televisions. As usual though - there is a minimum of plugins - therefore if you have an assortment of electronics you may wish to bring a power bar.One true upgrade though is the bed. The mattress is now firm, but has a nice soft top, rather than the hard mattress you usually get with Princess. Princess got this right with the refurbishment. The balcony is of course typical - four chairs and a table - good size. Yes it is open but we prefer that since we like the sun.The room now also has a card which lists three different types of pillows - feather, non-allergenic, and postrapedic.Room StewardD518 - Orlando was our room steward and he has twenty years of service with Princess - and it shows. Very knowledgeable and friendly - lots of jokes. Did everything we asked and more.Ship ConditionThe ship is in pretty good condition with the refurbishment. Everything seems to be working and we certainly didn't have any complaints.The PiazzaThis is the best that we have seen on any of the Princess ships. It is now pretty much opened up and the various venues are set up much better. Vines is very nice and inviting, not cramped like on other ships. The International Cafe is the same. All the staff are friendly and accommodating.Pursers DeskVery good service when we needed anything. The one thing I don't get is why they don't have the computer off to the side like on the Sapphire/Coral (can't remember which one) where you can go and view your own billing information. That takes a lot of the strain off the desk personnel.InternetWith Platinum you get 250 free minutes per person - this is a nice perk. As already indicated we were on the Dolphin deck and we had excellent wireless Internet. One thing though is that the wireless does not work outside on the balcony. The other was that the day after we departed Hawaii back to Los Angeles we had very slow service and for portions of the day - it was unavailable due to over usage - no doubt this because everyone was trying to let those at home know that there was no problem with the ship due to the tsunami in Japan and the resultant wave that hit Hawaii and the west coast of the US.LibraryLibrary is very cramped and supply is limited. I believe that that could have done a better job on this.Fitness FacilityThe gym is set up well but lacks some of the equipment of other ships. Twelve treadmills and an assortment of recumbent bikes and ellipticals. While busy, it wasn't too bad. Only thing is that people don't understand gym etiquette - sit on a machine even if they aren't using it, etc. One day two guys set up the gym like a circuit and seemed to want to hog everything for themselves. - obviously they would get an earful if they were at a gym anywhere else. The staff doesn't seem too concerned unless they are selling something.BuffetWe only use the buffet for breakfast since we use the Trident Grill and Pizzeria for lunch and the dining room for our evening meal. We did walk through at other times and it has been set up better than before. For breakfast the omelette station is in the middle and they take orders and make them in the kitchen. You can also ask for eggs any way you would like them. The other improvement is that there are toasters at both ends of the Horizon Court which reduces the confusion.All that said, I would have to agree with others that the Horizon Court food at the rest of the meal periods is not overly inviting.Dining - Bernini & DonatelloWe ate at table 71 in the Bernini each evening - Christi is the Head Waiter, Wimol the Waiter and John the Assistant Waiter. Excellent service and choice of food. How anyone can complain is beyond me. Christi made us specialties some nights and Wimol always had great suggestions, or made the asked for adjustments to the menu when requested.A cautionary note for anyone with any mobility problems is there are steps up and down into the various sections of the restaurant. Although something that we never even think about, we saw older guests trip and fall just about every night. The staff are always reminding the guests, but some just don't listen or understand. International CafeThe idea is simple and this has been a great addition to the ships. Service was always friendly and of course the cookies are always great........but of course addictive.Vines Wines BarIn our opinion - this venue has been upgraded immensely from other ships. It is nicely appointed and the staff once again know their job and make a glass of wine an event. See Ryan or Henry - they will set you up.Trident Grill/Prego PizzaWe eat all of our lunches here and these venues are as advertised. Great, friendly staff who will do whatever they can to make your day enjoyable.PoolsPretty much standard - although with this cruise - since there is only 23 children aboard are quite quiet. The hot tubs off the fitness area are by far the cleanest and hottest of the ones on board.EntertainmentI agree with others that the entertainment on the ships has declined over the past several years. The comediennes, depending on the individual were funny, or not so funny (Noodles) - and unfortunately the Movies Under the Stars were chilly to sit out and watch on the first couple of days.Day 1Very foggy and cloudy - gave way to sun in the afternoon - high of about 63 F. Not great but not bad either.Day 2Cloudy in the early morning, then sunny, then back to cloudy in the afternoon - high of 67 F.This was the first formal evening and also the Champagne Waterfall in the Piazza was at 7:15 pm.Day 3Full on cloud first thing in the morning but burned off by 10:00 am. High of 74 F. This morning we also moved the clocks back one hour. By midday it was quite nice out.Day 4The day was cloudy and had periods of drizzle - but it had warmed up and was around 75 degrees.HonoluluWe have been to Oahu many times and we have favourite things to do when we are there. This time we took the bus - off the ship and down to the right you catch the "E" Bus into Waikiki and then transferred to the 22 to Diamond Head . Walked the summit (takes about 30 minutes) and then when we were back down we walked into Waikiki along Diamond Head Road around the crater. In for a beer and wings at Dukes on the Beach. Basically it was an easy day and then back to the ship by around 8:30.KauaiWe rented a vehicle with another couple from the ship and first went to a couple of waterfalls - the first pretty nice and the second not so much. Then up to the North Shore to see some beaches and then retraced our steps and then up to Waimea. It is 14 miles up and takes about half an hour but you have a great view from the top. Then back to the ship.MauiWe have been to Maui many times and so we just walked around Lahaina and then took the Shuttle ($1.00 per person) to Whalers Village in Kaanapali - hint - get three couples together and take a cab - $15.00. The shuttle takes forever and is full beyond being comfortable.HiloWe rented another vehicle and drove up to Volcano National Park. We walked the lava tubes and then off to the Black Sand Beach - about another half hour away from Hilo. We saw sea turtles in the sand and walked the beach. Then back to Volcano Village by the park for lunch - great place and very good food - a little eclectic - nothing you would expect. Then back to the ship since we didn't have any time to go to Akaki Falls.Day 9Cloudy first thing in the morning and then got sunny - high of around 75 degrees. Some roll to the ship but not rough at all.Day 10 Again cloudy first thing and then sunny - cloud rolled back in around 4:00 pm. High around 70 degrees. Calm seas today.Day 11Very nice day - wind was minimal and the skies sunny except for about twenty minutes around 3:00 pm when we had clouds and 15 drops of rain. Most left the sun decks and right afterward the sun came back out and was great - high about 67 degrees. A little roll to the seas but minimal.Day 12Sunny once again - but only a high of about 61 degrees.EnsenadaHigh of 69 degrees in Ensenada - arrived about 2:00 pm. We didn't get off so really can't review the port.Dis-EmbarkationWe arrived at San Pedro at 0630 am. Dis-embarkation was orderly and we were off the ship and on the shuttle without any problems. We took Super Shuttle without a reservation and we were at LAX 45 minutes after leaving the ship.Our overall experience - The Golden Princess is a notch above the other ships in the Princess Fleet. Why do I say that? Because the staff are that much more attentive and the food is that much better. The personnel should be commended for all they do for the passengers. Great job. Read Less
Sail Date March 2011
Princess did it again! Another wonderful cruise, our eleventh in total. We generally cruise with Princess as we find them to be very "consistent" with everything that's important. There are no ugly surprises here. We ... Read More
Princess did it again! Another wonderful cruise, our eleventh in total. We generally cruise with Princess as we find them to be very "consistent" with everything that's important. There are no ugly surprises here. We have always enjoyed the cabin stewards, and the wait staff in the dining rooms, and for the most part all of the crew with one tiny complaint several years ago with the "attitude" from a fellow at the Purser's Desk. I guess he was having a bad day. When I read and hear about the many, many complaints about the food on cruise ships in general, I always wonder what kind of food or service do these complainers get at their local restaurants or in their own homes for goodness sakes!?? All things considered, ie: the sit down dinner with nice linens every evening, the lodging, the destinations, the crew, the magical experience of waking up to a new port every day, the beautiful ships that are always in good repair, and the great bargain prices Princess offers, I am thinking that these complainers are probably like that with everyone and everything in life. Get over it! Cruising is a good deal!!This was our first cruise to Hawaii. We go to Hawaii fairly often and take a condo for a month or so, but this time we wanted to explore the other islands. We took only one of the ships shore excursions in Hilo. The beautiful tour guide took us to magical places, caves, and a wonderful lagoon for a walk through the warm waters there. Some of us went swimming. We got pretty wet, almost to the waist, but we were advised that this could happen beforehand. We stopped at a lovely park and were provided with refreshments & snack. In Kauai and Maui we were picked up by friends who were vacationing there and we toured both of those islands. Honolulu was a personal disappointment for us. We had not been there for over 30 years, and the "progress" if that's what one would call it, was quite a shock. Gone is the very long, beautiful walk along the ocean in front of the large beautiful hotels. Breakwaters have cut off the beach in many, many places, and during your beach walk, you have to go from the beach, up to the city sidewalk, and back down to the beach again because of these ugly dividers. The city was very crowded and reminded us of New York City with heavy traffic everywhere. The only nice thing to see again was of course, the Royal Hawaiian Hotel standing there in it's magnificence, and yes, Diamond Head is still there. We hope no one ruins that! The weather was "iffy".....definitely not horrible, on port days, and rather rocky and windy for the crossing both ways. Quesyrah! We are fortunate not to get sea sick. Most passengers seemed to handle the movement quite well. We enjoyed the cruise as we usually do, but this one wasn't our favourite. Again, we knew about the sea days, and we generally enjoy those, but after having done it, we decided there were too many for us.The entertainment is always enjoyable, whether it be the Wheelhouse, the Vista Lounge or the Princess Theatre. Because we have cruised several times, we find that we are gravitating more and more to the Wheelhouse for after dinner drinks, dancing and meeting with friends other than going to the production shows. The theatre is always so full and you have to get there so early to get a seat. If the weather is good, we always enjoy walking off our yummy desserts around the promenade a couple of times. Cruising is not about rushing to get a seat in the theatre. We just love cruising and Princess is our first choice. We have already booked 2 future cruises with them. One to Mexico in January/2012 and our second Transatlantic for 31 days in September/2012. We cannot think of any other way to travel other than cruising. I always feel like a Princess.I must throw a huge bouquet to Princess in their handling of a serious medical issue with two passengers on our way back to Los Angeles. They "kicked it up a notch" and we arrived in Ensenada 6 - 7 hours earlier than planned so that these people could be air lifted to the nearest hospital. I was told they had to re fuel in Ensenada rather then the last stop in LA because more fuel is consumed when you kick it up a notch.!! We are so fortunate to live in a country where there is such a premium on human life. Read Less
Sail Date March 2011
Sailing Date March 24 2011 to April 3, 2011Just returned from a fabulous 10 day cruise aboard the Star Princess. Let me give you a little background. We are a retired couple living in Florida and we love to cruise. Our first cruise ... Read More
Sailing Date March 24 2011 to April 3, 2011Just returned from a fabulous 10 day cruise aboard the Star Princess. Let me give you a little background. We are a retired couple living in Florida and we love to cruise. Our first cruise together was in 1987 and this cruise was our 35th cruise. We have experienced many lines-Commodore, NCL, RCCL, Carnival, Costa, MSC, Premier, HAL, Celebrity and Princess. Our cruiseline of choice for the past 4 of our last 5 cruises has been Princess-this being our 8th cruise overall with them. We were on a 7 day cruise last year on the Star and truly enjoyed the ship.This cruise was a celebration of a birthday and also a precursor to our 25th wedding anniversary which is in June. We booked it very last minute - approximately 2.5 weeks out from the sailing date. We booked an inside guarantee and were upgraded ultimately to a balcony cabin on Baja deck starboard side. What a way to start a cruise! It turned out to be a great location - forward - no noise.We use the Cruise Connection bus service in Florida to travel to Port Everglades. As we were leaving on a thursday, we knew that the port would not be crowded - and it wasn't. We arrived about noon and were onboard within 15 minutes and found our cabin, introduced ourselves to our cabin steward Efrem, and found lunch in the Lido. We are very familiar with the layout of this ship and others in her class. We particularly like the Star, Grand, Golden, Diamond and Sapphire since they all hold approximately 2600 passengers and the aft deck on Lido deck is larger than the other Grand class ships. We have sailed on the Grand (twice) Golden (twice) Star(now twice), Crown and Ruby. The ports were very important to us on this cruise-we were to dock in Aruba, Bonaire, Grenada, Dominica, St. Thomas and Princess Cays with 3 sea days. We hadn't been to Aruba since 1994 and had never been to Bonaire or Dominica. We started off with two sea days, then docked in Aruba on a Sunday-weren't sure what would be open but 90% of the town was open. The Island Princess was docked forward of us and we were both right in town. We enjoyed a full afternoon of walking and exploring the town. Spent a good bit of time at the Renaissance property - it has everything, marina, restaurants, pool, beach, hotel - all in the middle of Oranjested. Very enjoyable day. Bonaire was next and what a wonderful surprise it was. Again, docked alongside the town of Kralendijk-a very laid back lovely little town. The German ship Aida was in port with us. There was an outdoor market as we got off the ship full of handmade, local offerings-and the shops in town were low key and local - nothing like the other islands who all pretty much have a lot of the same shops. The walk along the water led to beaches and snorkeling areas - water crystal clear and we enjoyed watching the beautiful parrot fish play in the water. Many people had brought their own snorkel gear and were enjoying the water right there. It is a place that we would go back to stay for a week or so-very relaxing and laid back-no traffic to speak of-cute shops, restaurants and understated places to stay.Grenada was next-we got off, walked around for exercise and reboarded the ship-this is not an island that we particularly enjoy - but I understand that the rain forrest is lovely and there are beaches, zip lining and snorkeling there. Since we practically live on a beach, that really isn't a draw for us.Dominica was a bit like Grenada-but again the people who went to the beaches really seemed to enjoy them-we walked around the outside market and some shope-prices were very high here-very easy to walk though-docked right in town.The next day was St. Thomas-since we have been all over that island so many times we usually don't get off the ship when we call there - but we docked at Havensight (usually with Princess we had been at Crown Bay) and we were able to see that the area just adjacent to Havensight had been redeveloped after the hurricane damage and it had been done very nicely. It is still called Yacht Haven but now has docks for very large yachts, a really nice marina facility, very upscale shops in the Galleria and restaurants as well as condos. It is very tasteful. We did walk into Charlotte Amalie-spent a bit of time and then walked back to the ship. We agreed that the Havensight area and now Yacht Haven were much more to our liking for shopping. Over the years we have sampled most of the beaches on St. Thomas and have stayed at the Marriott at Frenchmans Reef and also spent a good bit of time on St. John. All those things are still lovely. A sea day was next and then Princess Cays-on Eluthera Island in the Bahamas-always a lovely place- we got the tender off the ship later in the day and enjoyed the island a bit-it is a beautiful facility there and the tender ride so nice - seas pretty calm.The areas of the ship we most enjoyed were the International Cafe and the Aft Pool deck. Spent a good bit of time in each - we like to be outside whenever possible. The International Cafe in in the Piazza and offers a quick breakfast, lunch offerings and wonderful rolls and sweet things all day long - fresh baked cookies in the afternoon and impromptu entertainment through the day and fabulous coffee drinks both hot and iced. I got a coffee card which entitles you to all the real brewed coffee you want and then you have 15 punches for specialty coffees and we truly enjoyed them. It is a bargain if you are a coffee lover. And the International Cafe is a great place to sit and read and people watch. The Aft Pool deck is large and set up with the Outrigger bar, and lots of tables for eating as well as a large sun deck and of course the pool which is an adult pool. The main pools are midship and one of them has a roof that can be open or closed-both very nice pools and lots of activity going on there all day. There is a forward pool that is adjacent to the Spa and gym area - it is a wave pool and adults only as well. I like to go there first thing in the morning. We always opt for Anytime Dining with Princess and favored the Capri restaurant this time on Plaza Deck. Food was excellent as was the service and we never waited more than 10 minutes for a table for two which we prefer at dinner. We ate in the dining room for most of breakfasts and lunches and shared a table most of the time-met some lovely people and had great conversations. We found the dinner in the Lido excellent as well and ate there twice for dinner and also had a few breakfasts there as well as some lunches - we also took our lunch to our cabin and ate on the balcony a number of times and also enjoyed snacks and a cocktail there as we sailed away each day. Had coffee out there in the am and had breakfast in the International Cafe as well-they have a wonderful Granola and Yogurt as well as breakfast pasteries and an egg and sausage sandwich. The pizza was good and the cheeseburgers good too. As you can tell we enjoyed the food!W are Platinum level with Princess and that allows us free internet time as well as discounted drinks in Skywalkers each evening. There is a cocktail of the day and complimentary Hor'dourves. Also when debarking the ship, there is a separate lounge set up with coffee, juice and rolls for us. A very nice perk since we don't have to find a place to wait to debark. Entertainment was good-we saw some shows, the comedians on board were good and the juggler acts we liked-Frank Castiglione was the Cruise Director, George Casey was a comedian as was Dan Riley-both were funny. Aaron Bonk was a juggler and we thought quite good-offbeat act that was fun. The Doo Wop group Spanx were on board and they are just wonderful-we had seen them on other Princess cruises and they performed in the theater, the Vista lounge and the International Cafe. A bit hit with everyone! Lots of other music and dancing on board-everyone seemed to have a great time. Two formal nights-we opted out of the second one. We were treated the last day to a rehearsal of the Princess singers and dancers in the Internationa Cafe before they went to enjoy Princess Cays-a nice treat as well. I used the gym and did the morning stretch when I got up in time. Got plenty of exercise on the ship and in ports. Other classes were offered for a fee-didn't take those. We don't do tours from the ship so I can't speak to that aspect of the cruise. All in all it was one of our best cruises ever. Should you have any questions, please don't hesitate to e-mail me at melindakazmer@yahoo.com. We can thoroughly recommend Princess and The Star! Read Less
Sail Date March 2011
A wonderful "get away from it all" cruise aboard an old friend. Embarkation: incredibly swift, perhaps 15 minutes from super shuttle dropoff to our cabin, pleasantly surprised with an unrequested cabin upgrade. Disembarkation ... Read More
A wonderful "get away from it all" cruise aboard an old friend. Embarkation: incredibly swift, perhaps 15 minutes from super shuttle dropoff to our cabin, pleasantly surprised with an unrequested cabin upgrade. Disembarkation was equally expeditious.Food: most at-sea breakfasts taken in the International Dining Room, great selection, customized service, one champagne breakfast on our balcony was very nice with smoked salmon, a quiche, berries and peppermint tea; lunches in the International Dining Room or at the themed buffet on the Lido Deck were all quite good with an amazing variety for all tastes, 12 dinners in the anytime dining Santa Fe Dining Room (at the same table each evening) were top quality each evening, spectacular lamb, seafood, prime rib all served without delay by Luis, a very friendly waiter who made great recommendations which we followed faithfully without disappointment, quite possibly the best food we can recall with Princess, one dinner at the "Chef's Table" a phenomenal experience with personalized attention from the executive chef Nilo, the maitre 'd Ignazio, and sommelier, Claudia and 8 other passengers...menu included 4 appetizers with champagne, lobster risotto with white wine, cracked pepper strawberry sorbet with Grey Goose vodka, tender veal shank and beef tenderloin with red wine, a baked cheese course, and a decadent chocolate dessert served with a wonderful dessert wine...likely our best meal ever.Entertainment: 5 production shows most of which we've seen before but continue to enjoy as if it were the first time, dancers were spectacular except for one who seemed to get in her own way frequently, two female vocalists and one male vocalist were very good and the second male vocalist about average, assortment of other acts including comedian Derrick Cameron (quite good), ventriloquist Dan Horn (quite good), a zany magician, impressionist Sean O'Shea (not great), musician/comic Steve Moris (lots of fun and amazing guitarist) and a hypnotist (Terry Stokes) who had folks doing some pretty funny stuff. Also enjoyed the trivia games, the Dixieland band, the Armadillo String Quartet, and other lounge musical acts.Cabin attendant Vicente was stellar. The clerks in "Facets" (Elizabeth, Carol, Movin, and Deyan) and "Essence" (Lance, Sandra, and Amber) were especially nice and helpful. Purser Desk crew was also extremely hospitable (especially Melanie). Future cruise sales representative Ray was a joy to work with as we planned another voyage.Cruise Director (Kelvin) and Staff (especially JJ and Sam) were all top notch. Kelvin was a hoot and so friendly. The entire staff on Sapphire seemed to exude happiness every day and that really helps make the cruise enjoyable.Lotus Spa....great hot tubs and staff, Shakira gave my wife one of her best haircuts ever. Sapphire appears to be in great shape overall with very minor distractions. All hands from the Captain on down are committed to make life easy and fun for everyone onboard. Well Done!We've seen most of what the islands have to offer so we didn't go ashore very often or for any length of time. Read Less
Sail Date March 2011
My wife and I just got back from a march break Western Caribbean cruise aboard the Crown Princess. We have sailed with Princess before (Star Princess), and the 2 ships are almost identical, and overall, I can highly recommend Princess; it ... Read More
My wife and I just got back from a march break Western Caribbean cruise aboard the Crown Princess. We have sailed with Princess before (Star Princess), and the 2 ships are almost identical, and overall, I can highly recommend Princess; it was another amazing vacation. Here is a quick breakdown:Transportation to Port Everglades: We had a rental car and came from Miami. We dropped it off at the Miami Road location in Fort Lauderdale because they offer a free shuttle to the port. The airport drop-off location does not. Keep that in mind. The shuttle also picked us up after the cruise and took us to the car rental location, which was great. Just be sure to ask the attendants at the port where the shuttle pick up is. We had no problems, but a couple we met waited 2 1/2 hours because the shuttle didn't stop in front of where their ship docked.Ship Info: I'm sure that there are flashier ships, but I thought the Crown Princess was great. Beautiful piazza, lots of great bars, pools, and things to do. You can't go wrong.Activities & Entertainment: Lots of things to do. We had seen a lot of the shows before on the previous cruise, so we watched more movies (great under the stars), did trivia challenges, etc.Service: The service was great. We didn't run into anyone who provided even mediocre service. Like Celebrity, we find that Princess excels in this category.Port and Shore Excursions: I'll write more detailed port reviews, but I'll say here that we really liked Roatan, and you can't go wrong booking with Victor Bodden Tours. Grand Cayman also had some cool highlights, and Cozumel and Princess Cays were relaxing beach breaks for us.Dining: This is one of the highlights of the cruise, as always. The food in the dining room was great every night, and there were a few dishes that were truly exceptional. I can't imagine anyone could find fault with the food. Nobody that we talked to on the ship had anything bad to say.Summary: Overall, another great experience on Princess and I can highly recommend this ship. Read Less
Sail Date March 2011
I thought getting on the cruise was a little confusing. No one really told us where to go, they just gave us a number. We got there early, 11am and there weren't that many people yet. Slowly the room started to fill up. There were ... Read More
I thought getting on the cruise was a little confusing. No one really told us where to go, they just gave us a number. We got there early, 11am and there weren't that many people yet. Slowly the room started to fill up. There were seats, so at least we were able to sit down. We got a group 1 number so after the elite and gold members boarded, we were able to get on. We were super excited as not that many people got on before us. We ran to our room right away and called the dining line in the hopes to get on the chef's table list. The room we got was on the Lido deck, room 238. We wanted to be on the floor with the pools, buffet, where things were happening. It was a cozy room, comfy for 2 people and our 2 huge suitcases. Having a balcony is a must. It's nice just being able to sit outside, it also made the room appear larger. My complaints would be the shower, it's tiny. I'm 5'2 and 100 pounds, I can't imagine a taller, larger person trying to take a shower in there without getting stuck. My boyfriend is 5'8 and 155 pounds and he thought the shower was small. I also wish they changed the shower curtain. The white curtain was gray on the bottom which kind of grossed me out. Shower itself and bathroom was clean. The two double beds pushed together was comfy. My problem was with the goose down pillows. I kept getting stabbed in the face with feathers that would poke out. Perhaps thicker pillowcases would help this problem. The fridge stayed cold, I read some people had problems, but ours was fine. I would say do not leave chocolate on the top of the ref, it gets hot and even though the ref is in the cabinet, the wood gets hot. It melted my chocolate! I brought my own blowdryer, didn't like the one in the room.       Enough about the room...Food, food is important. I love to eat good food. Living in Chicago, I've gotten spoiled on huge portions and good food. We paid extra and tried the Crown Grill one night. An extra $25 a person. We both ordered a ribeye and also got lobster tails, a side of mashed potatoes and cream of corn. We also got appetizers and soup. Appetizer, I can't recall what I got, so it must have been okay. Soup, I got the shrimp bisque, didn't care for it at all. Ribeye, I ordered medium and my boyfriend ordered medium rare. My steak came out as medium rare and his came out rare. I sent mine back, I couldn't eat it. My boyfriend sucked it up and ate his. Flavor was good. Lobster tails, you get 2 and they are pretty small, but they are good! Sides, I highly recommend the cream of corn, it's incredible! They put parmesan cheese on top. We also ate at Sabatini's one night. Wow, it's a lot of food and it's good! It's an extra $20 a person. You got cold apps, hot apps, option soup and salad which we said no to. Then you get a pasta dish, your main course and then dessert. Cold apps, you get cheese, olives, arugula and prosciutto. Hot appetizer you get fried romano cheese with sun dried tomato which I loved...calamari and fried zucchini which was also very good. Pasta dish, cheese and mushroom ravioli with a truffle sauce which was incredible and a fettucini. For my main course, I selected the seabass which was pan fried and topped with bread crumbs. It laid on a bed of asparagus with a lemon cream sauce. Wow, fantastic! Food in the dining rooms were pretty good, buffet was all right. Pizza, I did not like at all. Burgers at the grill was okay, nothing great. My boyfriend did purchase the all you can drink soda for $40 and we shared. He'd just grab me a soda when he'd get a soda. No one said anything. Beers, well my boyfriend drank quite a bit and it adds up. He bought a few buckets. 5 or was it 6 beers for $20 or so. 1 beer was about 6 bucks.       Spa, we got a couples Swedish massage in one of the cabanas. Was nice and relaxing. We did that on one of the sea days. I felt relaxed. My only complaint would be that they tried to push products on us and made us feel bad for not buying them.       Activities and shows. Umm, not really for us. We are a couple in our early 30's. This cruise we were on was filled with a lot of older people. We felt out of place. Not a lot of people our age. The nightclub was filled with seniors and they would play oldies music. The only shows we went to were the comedy shows. We enjoyed the comedian from Canada a lot, his name I believe was Scott? He was funny! The other comedian was Al Katz. He was also very entertaining. We didn't care for the impressionist, I forgot his name. He was practically begging for applause. The comedian/magician Joe was not funny at all. He didn't even really do any magic. He also kept looking at his watch to see if it was time to get off the stage. What we did to pass the time was either gamble at the casino or play cards. Good thing we packed cards. We also did movie under the stars one night to watch Red. That was nice. The reason why we took this cruise is it was recommended for couples, didn't really seem romantic to us at all. Not many activities for people our age. We were so glad that this cruise had 6 ports, we had a lot of fun exploring different islands. I think if we cruise again, we will try Royal Caribbean. Hoping for a better mix of people and more activities. Read Less
Sail Date March 2011
Golden Princess 04-27-2011 Hawaii 14 Da  E733 VS Aft Suit  Charles and Judy - Colorado Springs, CO REVIEW This was a good cruise, but it did suffer in comparison to the 20 day Emerald we took in November 2010 which remains ... Read More
Golden Princess 04-27-2011 Hawaii 14 Da  E733 VS Aft Suit  Charles and Judy - Colorado Springs, CO REVIEW This was a good cruise, but it did suffer in comparison to the 20 day Emerald we took in November 2010 which remains our 4th best cruise ever. The suite was quite a bit smaller (Emerald Deck vs. Caribe Deck), the balcony much more useful (only one beam instead of two), the sea days much more fun and enjoyable (thanks to Eula), the overall food disappointing (even chef's table), overall bar service disappointing (getting water from most wait staff was not easy), the cruise staff was fun and highly entertaining, close to on par with the fun we had last November. For those of you tracking suites, E733 is the aft starboard VS suite. A very nice balcony with only one beam and very usable space, but the suite itself is much smaller than C751. There was no extra desk near the couch and the safe/closet area near the dressing table on the bed side was in the center area near the closet. Room service was much, much slower on this cruise than last. 60-90 minutes for dinner delivery was typical, which made the food pretty cold by the time we got it. That plus the colder weather on the balcony made balcony dining not nearly as enjoyable as the Caribbean in December - although dining in Honolulu harbor while the ship was still docked was great. On the other hand, fresh fruit was abundant on a daily or every two day basis. The grapes and strawberries were fantastic! The dancing venues were very enjoyable with Rick Kilburn and his quartet in the wheelhouse. Phoenix Rising on the Emerald cruise were a better rock and roll band than Passion, but Passion was definitely danceable and fun. Rick Kilburn and his quartet were the reason we spent a lot of time in the wheelhouse dancing with a bunch of new found friends. No professionals on this trip, just a bunch of fun people ranging from amateurs like us to some really good dancers to some older couples that we want to be like when we grow up! The activities were very similar with Country Western Night, Disco Night, 50's Night. The Ultimate Deck Party was different in that the dance troupe came out to dance to the new line dance, but no one even comes close to throwing a deck party like Tim Donovan - ultimate line dance or not. But we still had fun, lots of fun. I have to mention the Wake Show. We typically only catch it every now and then, but this time Eric and Kelvin were so good together we watched it every day religiously. We've sailed with Eric before on the last HI cruise. He was good then, but he's much better now. The food in Main Dining, Horizon Court and Chef's Table was definitely disappointing. Basically underseasoned for the most part - just plain bland. On the other hand, Crown Grill and Sabatini's were seasoned perfectly. Go figure. We ended up only eating in the MDR once, Italian night and between the burnt garlic in Judy's penne pasta and the undercooked eggplant and cold cheese on my eggplant parmesan, it was definitely a letdown. So we ended up eating sushi and tapas' for dinner several nights in Vines, dinner on the balcony a couple of times, Crown Grill and Sabatini's each once. Never did make it to Skywalker's for the appetizers. The Hawaii cruises are great for the sea days and Eula. But the two main down parts is the weather and sea states, along with the time changes. The weather will be cold and the seas will probably be rough the first two days and last two days. But the time changes are killer. 3 hours over and 3 hours back is just not fun. All in all. A good cruise. Well worth the expense and we will do it again in the future. Day by Day Travelog: 04-26-2011 Well, as usual, we're not quite Live. Tomorrow is the day we board on the last Golden to HI for the season before she heads to Alaska. We stayed in Denver last night prior to our early morning flight this morning and enjoyed some Bison filet, and Pot Roast, at Ted's Montana Grill. Never had Bison filet before, only in a Burger. Quite good. Halfway between a good beef and elk steak. Not too gamey, very tasty. The flight was uneventful to LAX. We cabbed down to the Doubletree at San Pedro. Our room was ready, so we stored our stuff and took a nice long walk down and around Cabrillo State Park and beach area. The mackerel are running and the fishermen on the pier were pulling them in 3 at a time. The hotel is older, pretty basic, nothing fancy, but the area is perfect for pre-cruise walking around and seeing the sites of the marina, the beach and the hillsides. After a couple of hours of building up a good appetite we headed for the 22nd Street Seafood Bar and Grill. Steamed clams, mussels, great clam chowder and fantastic break sticks (with fresh grated parmesan melted on top) made this pretty special. Almost as good as the clams at the Boatyard in Vancouver, which is not bad for Southern California. Looking forward to a relaxing 2 week cruise. We've done this cruise before, in 2009, and we've been to HI before, so no special excursions. Just some walking around seeing the sights and enjoying those long sea days. We will try and dance our way across the pacific and back, see all the shows and try all the parties. We will also try and do chef's table as well. We treated ourselves again and did an aft suite, so we'll be ordering off the dinner menu for as many balcony dinners as the sea will allow. A little bit about us. We are Charles and Judy from Colorado. This is our 20+ cruise, strictly on Princess. We try and cruise twice a year, for sanity sakes - I need the break. We discovered cruising in June 2001 on an Alaskan cruise tour. I was a kind of a "can you fish off the back of the boat" kind of guy, while Judy gets motion sick looking at water. A strange combination to be cruisaholics, but it was not only cost effective, it was relaxing, fun, highly entertaining and a way to see the world while your hotel follows you around. On our last cruise we also got bit by the suite bug. 20 days in an aft suite on the Emerald. Wow. So this time we upgraded to an aft suite again. Of all the suite perks, we like Sabatini's for breakfast the most, ordering off the MDR menu for room service and the mini-bar set up. Princess really spoils you in a suite. But alas, this will be our last cruise for a while in a suite. The upcoming long cruises were just a little to rich for us to upgrade, but watch out in 2014, we'll probably go back to a suite at least once. We are also amateur foodies. Watch all the food competition shows, Top Chef, Next Iron Chef, Chopped and the rest. So we love Chef's table. Can't wait for chef's table. Will work on the ship for seats at Chef's Table! It's the culinary highlight of our cruise. But we are not food snobs. If we order something in the MDR we don't like, we get something else. In fact, my inclination is to order anything on the menu that I can't pronounce. I love to try new foods. We also dance. Cha-cha, foxtrot, Night Club 2-step, waltz, rhumba, bolero, freestyle, hustle. We have the dancing bug so bad that everytime we hear music, we ask each other what would you dance to this tune. Dancing is a new thing, only in the past 3 years, but we thoroughly enjoy it - and guys, you can buy her diamonds, flowers or chocolate, but if you really want your lady to smile, take her dancing. Trust me, it will pay off big time. And we enjoy the activities, entertainment and shows. Our best cruises were also the cruises where we had a great cruise staff. Our last cruise, a 20 day on the Emerald last Nov/Dec, with Tim Donovan, was in the top 3 of all of our cruises, just because of the entertainment and interactions we had with the cruise staff. On this cruise Kelvin Joy is our CD. We've never sailed with him before, but we've heard good things, so we are looking forward to what he has to offer. On the other hand, while a CD can make a cruise better, we can always find something to keep us occupied. There is always something to do on a cruise, and actually, doing nothing but relaxing or walking the promenade or taking a swim keeps us happy. We cruise to get away, to relax, to enjoy each other's company, to spend the time together we don't have when I'm on the road or wrapped around the axle at work. It's our time. Embarkation was relatively painless. A little late. We got to the port about 11:15 and actually got checked in right away. However, there was a holdup in getting on until about 12:30. Disney was in port as well and from the line of kids getting on, we were certainly on the right ship. We are in E733, which is the corner suite on the starboard side. It's surprisingly much smaller than the Caribe Emerald suite we had last December. The extra desk near the couch is missing and the safe and cabinets are in the center closet area rather than against the wall next to the dressing table. The cabin is about 4-6' less depth and at least a couple of feet less wide, but still plenty of room for a14 day cruise. The two structural girders that break up the Caribe deck suite balconies are on the edges of this one, so we essentially have an almost double wide balcony to enjoy. The sail away deck party was subdued to say the least. Not a real party crowd, which is surprising for LA, but the 14 day cruise may be limiting this time of year. We've actually run into a couple of crew that we've sailed with before. Eula is on board. Eric, the deputy cruise director, we sailed with to HI in 2009. Albuquerque is on board, a veteran Princess Head Waiter that can make some of the best pasta! But alas, he is in traditional and we are in anytime, but maybe we can drop in on him every once in a while during lunch in the MDR. For dinner we did something we really enjoyed last cruise. Sushi in Vines supplemented by some Greek salad and olives from the international cafe with a top white flight. Good wine and a nice light dinner. We enjoyed some dancing in the wheelhouse to the Rick Kilburn band. They did some really good ballroom and will be great to dance to during this cruise. We also checked out Passion, a band from Saint Lucia, in explorers on our way to the Princess theater. Sounded good and we caught a quick Rhumba. The sailaway show was a completely different format. A lot more video and a lot more dancing numbers. Pretty energetic. We recognized a couple of dancers from previous cruises. The comedy team was Alfred and Seymour. A completely different high energy act with two African American "kids" that bring comedy and dance to the stage. Can't wait to see their whole show. We had a nice chat with Kelvin Joy, the CD, about some people we've come to know with princess over the years. Samantha Hawker-Thomas, Sam from Nottingham, Vian and Jane, Tim Donovan. Sort of catching up with Princess gossip. We did plan to attend the welcome aboard dance, but the sea state and the California Current starting a little rock and roll, which put Judy flat on her back for the remainder of the evening. Tomorrow she will probably be down in the Piazza most of the day. We expected this and prepared accordingly. I have my Kindle so I'm set. More tomorrow... 04-28-11 Breakfast at Sabbatini's was, as usual, very nice. Sabbatini's on the Golden. Gotta train the chef to make a spicy omelet. Maybe over the next 14 days I can. Sabbatini's, being on Deck 7, does not have the view or the setup that Sabbatini's on the Emerald did. It's still nice, but I must say, Fincanteri did a great job in designing Sabbatini's on the Crown, Emerald and Ruby. Judy did Lei making with LeiAloha while I did the mile + on the deck. She made a straw lei and a kukui nut lei for me. (The straw lei is not made of straw, but made with a straw.) We would get lots of comments later on our lei's. Line dancing was in the Vista Lounge (Electrical Slide, Elvira, Achey Breaky) and then I went up to the CC meeting in Skywalkers. We had the Passenger Services Director come up and talk with us. No gossip. Darn. But it was nice to see someone from management. But folks, if you want people to show up, like the captain or the CD, send out invitations when you board. There is a much better chance when they are personally invited. Judy, in the meantime went to Ukulele class with David and had a good time. She's the musical talent in the family, but now she wants a Ukulele. The good ones are not cheap. Ballroom class in the early afternoon was the cha-cha. Toby did a very good job in teaching 4 basic cha cha moves in only 30 minutes. Bingo was after dance class and you do not want to delay the Bingo people. We did dinner in-suite, the balcony was a bit cold to try it outside, so I brought the table in and served dinner. It was North American. Judy had pronounced the Fettuccine Alfredo very good, after salting. Dinner took a while to arrive. We can't wait for the port nights when we can have dinner on the balcony watching over the city. 04-29-11 Breakfast at Sabbatini's...ought to be a movie. It's so nice to not have to fight the crowds and to eat breakfast in peace and quiet. The Royal Wedding, recorded, was being shown on MUTS from 0900 to late afternoon. Boy what a long wedding. Lots of people watching. We went to the Culinary demonstration in Explorer's. Judy got to help make Tiramisu on stage, which she does not like BTW - she hates soggy pastry or cake. Judy did hula with Leialoha while I visited the Gym. Since Avatar was playing, and I just couldn't miss the ending, I did about 3 miles on the Elliptical. Judy went to Ukulele class with David again while I stretch out on our balcony and read. She hit the sushi buffet for an early lunch, but I drank my lunch from the mini-bar and snoozed for a while. I'm saving my sushi appetite for Honolulu and Todai's. After a power nap, we went out on deck to walk. They had parts of Promenade sealed off, so we went up on Deck 15 and did a couple of rounds, then shot some baskets and paddle tennis for a hot and sweaty workout. Note - the covering for the sports deck has "dead" spots in it for both tennis balls and basketballs. Dinner on the Balcony again. Took over an hour for food to arrive and it wasn't very warm. Tomorrow we will go to the MDR just to give it a try. Stardust was the production show. We had not seen it previously and really enjoyed it from the 3rd row center. Lots of good dancing and singing. There are a couple of girls in the troupe that really stand out and look like they are having a great time. After the show we went dancing in the wheelhouse to the Rick Kilburn Quartet. It's funny how things alternate between cruises. On the last cruise it was dancing in Explorer's to the resident rock and roll band mixed with the wheelhouse band. This cruise we've been almost exclusively in the wheelhouse. The quartet is a really good ballroom band. Then we went to see Alfred and Seymour. Different type of comedy show. Highly interactive, very funny, lots of energy. Very nicely done. The jokes were fresh, except for the well worn cruise related jokes, and fast. Blink, you might miss one. Do not come in late or leave early. They will notice and take advantage of it. Even with the clock going back one hour, that was it for the night. More tomorrow... 4-30-2011 One of those near perfect days on a cruise. Lots of fun, entertainment, dancing, food and new friends. The day started, actually, quite early, with the time changes. I was awake at 0400, or 0700 Colorado time, which is actually quite late for me. I really tried to go back to sleep, but that didn't work, so it was up and coffee time at 0600. I was able to update the travel log as well before breakfast at Sabatini's. Well Judy and I managed to stump the chef at Sabatini's this morning. Judy requested biscuits and gravy, which they had no idea how to make, and I requested Eggs Florentine, for which they were unable to make the sauvignon sauce. So Judy had toast and Canadian bacon, while I had sauceless poached eggs over sautEed spinach on English Muffin. But it wasn't actually half bad. After breakfast we had time to do our mile on the Promenade deck while Judy waited for her Heirloom Lei class with Eula. The heirloom leis are crocheted and much more complex. I went to acupuncture clinic to gather information about using acupuncture for Judy's motion sickness. If the seas kick up on the way home, we might give it a try. Judy had the busiest day. She did lei class, followed by Ukulele class, followed by Origami class, followed by Hula class. I kicked around with the acupuncture class, a port lecture on Kuai'i, line dance class with Kelly, but in doing so we missed several interesting lectures, a rum tasting event, a kona coffee tasting event, the wine tasting club and pool games. As we've always said, the best sign of good cruise is too much to do and too short a time to do it in. We did lunch in the HC. Standard fare. Nothing special. At 5pm Toby had a ballroom dance practice session with canned music in Explorer's, so we hit that for a while. Then Passion came on and played until we left for the MUTS showing of The Social Network, which was a pretty good movie. After the movie we did some snacking in the HC, then hit the room to watch a Movie on DVD and finish the daily blog. A fun filled day. We were also notified that we would be on at Chef's table on Sunday, tomorrow. The culinary event of the cruise. We can hardly wait! 5/1/11 For our last day at sea prior to Hilo, Judy was the busier of both of us, and we had Chef's Table to look forward to. Heirloom lei class with Leialoha was her first stop. The heirloom lei's today were crocheted, which Judy really enjoys, and the lei's are really good. Ballroom review class with Toby covered the Cha-Cha, the Merengue and the Waltz which was taught during the previous week. Not sure why a review so early in the cruise, but it was a good session. I watched a bit of Megamind at MUTS during lunch while I waited for Judy to get done with her Ukulele class. Judy continued her Ukulele Class with David. Now she's seriously considering buying a Ukulele. How about some more yarn for lei's? Its cheaper. Toby then had a special Line Dance class featuring the New "Ultimate Deck Party" line dance. A combination of electric slide, YMCA, thriller, the disco line dance, the money line dance and can't touch this. A lot to learn in a little amount of time and it will be interesting to see how it goes during the deck party on Honolulu night. Chef's Table - this was probably our 5th or 6th chef's table and it was pretty good. Not one of the best, but still well worth the time and extra charges. Only 9 of us at this chef's table, which made for a much more intimate setting and a lot of conversation with the other passengers. Appetizers were Foie Gras on Brioche (our least favorite), Tuna Ceviche (very good), new potato and caviar (we're just not caviar fans) and Tempura Coconut shrimp with thai sauce - really good as well. Champagne was good. Second course was Porcini Mushroom Risotto - it just needed a touch more salt, but otherwise was very good. Third course was strawberry sorbet with cracked pepper and grey goose vodka. The bloody mary sorbet remains our favorite, but this was pretty tasty. Fourth Course was lobster thermadore, diver scallops, filet mignon and rack of lamb. All very good. The lobster thermadore was new and different at this chef's table. Other tables have had just straight lobster tail. The cheese course was gorgonzola on walnut bread with a balsamic vinegar and port wine reduction. Not as flavorful as past cheese courses have been, but pretty good. Dessert was grand marnier chocolate mousse. This was very good as well and went well with the dessert wine. Country Western Night - this was country western night. Line dancing, cotton eye joe and the bang bang game. Judy, once again, got to the final four, but no further. We did some late night dancing with Passion, but time went back another hour, so we have extra time to sleep tonight. 5/2/2011 In Hilo today. Yes, we walked to Wal Mart. Before anyone goes "HUH?", here's the rationale. We are not in Honolulu during the swap meet, and we've run out of souvenirs from our last visit to Hawaii for Christmas presents. And we want to walk over to Todais for lunch in Honolulu. We've also done the Volcano tours last time in HI, plus the fact that excursions in HI are expensive! So Wal Mart in Hilo was the perfect choice to pick up gifts and some new HI shirts for the cruise in October. It was about a 3 mile walk, we bought a bunch of stuff and then came back on the shuttle loaded with gifts. Tomorrow we will start passing out gifts. We are going to pick on our wait staff in Sabatini's in the morning. We asked what they wanted this morning and one of them said "bath gel", so we found some fruity scented bath gels at wal mart for him. And we will give some chocolates and macadamia nuts to the other guys - yeah, we'll even give bath gel guy some chocolates as well. Other than the grand expedition to wal mart, we didn't do much else except nap and catch up on some sleep. Napping on the balcony while it was pouring down rain was really interesting and restful. Thunder and lightning was also around which made for interesting light shows last night. We weren't very hungry for dinner, so we went to "Words and Music", a little dancing in Explorer's to Passion, then a light snack in Horizon Court before heading off to bed. 5/3/11 A great day of cruising starting off with a breakfast in Sabbatini's. The omelet was spot on this time. Spicy and tasty. No one else showed up for breakfast for over an hour so we got personalized service from the guys. The only down side of the day was lunch at todai's in Wakiki. The walk over was nice, with no rain, limited sun. We went through the Ala Moana mall and looked around several shops, and bought a few more things at Hilo Hatties. But the buffet sushi at Todai's has really gone downhill. Only 6 or 7 different kinds of sushi, none of the exotic types and the rolls were just so so, and no sashimi at all. I had to make sashimi by just stripping off the fish from the sushi. No unagi, no uni, no clam, no tako, no yellowfin, no white fish. I'll need to find another sushi place for our trip in October. On the other hand, we had some great shaved ice from a truck along the street back to the ship - passion fruit orange. Very nice and refreshing. The plan for the evening was dinner on the balcony overlooking Honolulu as the sun set and the lights of the city came on. Dinner was one of the Princess menus, not too extravagant or memorable, but elevated greatly by the setting. Perfect temperature, no breeze, drinks, dinner and a great view. An excellent dinner. After dinner we went to the Wheelhouse to dance to the Rick Kilburn quartet and talk to a few other couples dancing there. It was very relaxing and enjoyable and I finally got into the groove with just the right beat foxtrot. Then there was the "Ultimate Deck Party" and the ultimate line dance. Not a lot of people joining in. This was not a party crowd, so the cruise staff invited the dance troupe to give them a hand and it was great to dance with them. It was a good energetic hour of dancing. But after that, the party quickly wound down and after doing several miles and several hours of dancing, we hit the hay to unwind and sleep to the sounds of the sea as the ship glided to the Nawiliwili. 5/4/11 Kuai is our favorite island that we've been to. But it really is challenging for walking. We started off this morning, once again, in Sabatini's and intended to walk to wal mart to swap out a shirt and pick up supplies, but a tropical downpour put a damper on that. Instead we took the shuttle to K-Mart and walked over to Wal-Mart. That was a challenge for sure. No sidewalk and no bike path into oncoming traffic, but we got there in one piece. We did our shopping at Wal-Mart, swapped out a shirt, picked up some water and sodas and caught the shuttle back to the ship. We could have walked, as I found out going back on the shuttle, with plenty of room on the sides of the road, so note to everyone, you can walk from the harbor to Wal-Mart, or from the harbor to K-mart, just don't try to go between the two until all the construction is done on the highway between the two. Last night was movie night, or at least half the night! Judy wanted to see Tron - Legacy, so we had dinner and movie under the stars. The ship was rocking and water was spraying out of the pool and the wind was howling, so while Judy huddled under a pile of blankets, I retreated to the grill area to get out of the wind. Our intentions were to then watch Burlesque on TV at 10pm. That worked for about 15 minutes when Judy dozed off. So much for watching the movie! Tomorrow is Lahaina, but with the Zandam in port and traffic restricted into and out of the port, we are simply staying on board and enjoying the pools. 5/5/11 As it turned out, many people stayed on board for Lahaina. But we did absolutely nothing spectacular the whole day. We watched Megamind on MUTS in the morning, after breakfast, then watched some TV while napping. For dinner we did one of our favorite things for dinner. We did a white flight in Vines, Judy had 3 plates of sushi and I had two plates of Tapas. That was it. Nice and light. We did intend to go to Skywalkers for the chips and guacamole, but the seas started out rough and got rougher, and it can be really bad at Skywalkers. So we deferred. We then danced at Explorer's with Passion the rest of the evening before heading for bed. We did lose an hour of time last night as time started moving forward again. 5/6/11 A wonderful day at sea. Formal night, but we decided to get dressed up anyway. The morning started, as expected, with rough seas and Sabbatini's for some really good eggs benedict. HMMMM! With the seas rough over night and us traveling into the wind, it was a little rocky, but not too bad, although Judy wasn't feeling too well. Judy, once again, had a very busy day. Lei class with Leialoha in the wheelhouse working on the crocheted heirloom leis. I now have a selection of 5 kukui nut leis to wear at night. She's working on the combination crochet/straw leis for her. Ballroom class was Salsa with Armando. A very quick class. He taught 4 basic salsa moves, basic, cucaracha, baby steps and underarm turn in 20 minutes. Kelly and line dance class focused on non-country line dances, including the hustle, which is one of our favorites. Judy continued her Ukulele class with David. On the final night there will be a presentation by the Ukulele class playing for the Hula class. Judy has decided to do Hula, but she's getting quite good at Ukulele as well. The wheelhouse was filled with people for Hula class. Leialoha is basically building on past classes to get the group ready for the final production show on Tuesday night, Ensenada night. Judy tried acupuncture for sea sickness. We'll see how it works over the next few days. She did the whole treatment which was $150. I hope it works so she can enjoy the rest of the cruise. I suspect as we get closer to the coast and start bucking the currents, it might get a bit rougher. Since we got all dressed up for formal photos, we decided to take several pictures at various stations. Out of the 30 or so photos, 5 actually came out ok! After photos we had reservations at Crown Grill. Although the food up to this point has been ok, not bad, but nothing to write home about, the meal at Crown Grill was fabulous. The lamb was so perfectly cooked and seasoned, it needed no other accompaniments such as mint sauce. I even deliberately did not dip the meat on one chop into the sauce on the plate just to savor the taste of the meat itself. Judy had the filet and the lobster tail, grilled. Both were excellent and the filet was melt in your mouth tender and perfectly cooked. The sides were scalloped potatoes, grilled asparagus and sautEed mushrooms. Fantastic flavors. For dessert we had the berry and apple cobbler with ice cream. Hot, not too sweet, baked in the dish goodness. It was a great topper to a great meal. Since we planned to dance tonight, we went back to the room and changed into something more comfortable and went to see Caliente, one of our favorite production shows. Great energy, great dancing, great singing, just a non-stop party on the stage that allowed the troupe to show off all of their dancing, and endurance, skills. After Caliente, we had a nice chat with Kelvin, the CD. Really nice guy and we loved talking to him very much. Eric, his deputy, has really come a long way from our first meeting on this cruise in 2009. He and Kelvin play off each other perfectly on the morning show, making it a must see the first thing in the morning. We also danced at the 50's sock hop for a while before heading to the wheelhouse to spend some time with Rick Kilburn and his quartet. We stayed until almost midnight dancing in the wheelhouse. We had the place practically to ourselves and had a blast talking with Rick and comparing notes on Princess, cruise directors, other bands, etc. A late night, but a really enjoyable day. The kind of days we love cruising for. 5/7/11 Another day at sea, but we are really getting to enjoy those a lot. Today would be a very busy day for Judy who did Lei making, Line Dancing, Ukelele and Hula class. I was content to simply kick back and watch some of those activities. For dinner we decided to go back to Sabatini's. We haven't been since 2004, but since we know all the guys (David, Antonio, Ricardo, Dimitiri and Iulian), we decided to do it right, but only 2 bites from every dish. It quite didn't work out that way, but it was close. The pizza was delicious, the anti-pasta pretty good, but the anchovies and marinated sun dried tomatoes were out of this world. The meats and cheeses fantastic, the past course incredible. I had the roasted chicken. Didn't care for the filling in the roulade, which was chicken liver pate, but the roasted chicken was incredible. Judy had the grilled sea bass and almost refused to give me a bite, but she relented after extreme begging. I had the tiramisu for dessert, but Judy had the white chocolate mousse with lemoncello and raspberry. Her mousse was to die for. The single best dessert of the cruise. (She disagrees and thinks it was the cobbler in Crown Grill.) This dinner was one of the best, very close to the Crown Grill, but for different reasons. It would have been a tossup between the two. Remarkably, although the dining room food is under seasoned, both restaurant meals were perfectly seasoned. We saw Steve Carte, the juggling comedian's show in the Vista Lounge. Not bad, pretty standard comedy and juggling combination. A bit more interaction with the audience and a little more zaniness. Then it was more Wheelhouse dancing with Rick's quartet. It is nice to have two good dance bands on the ship, and with alternating breaks on most nights so that we can jump between one and the other. Lost another hour at night. Coming back losing those hours is kinda hard. 5-08-11 Happy Mother's Day! Busy, busy day and Italian Night in the dining room to boot! We started with Paso Doble. A fun dance to learn, but pretty intense and really hard on the feet with all that stomping around! Judy then did her Ukelele class with David and then skipped over to the ribbon lei class. I recorded her class on video and then went to the Life @ sea talk with Kelvin and other crew personnel. In the afternoon, Judy had her final Hula class before the big dress rehearsal for the final show on the final day. Dinner was Italian, but quite frankly, disappointing. The head waiter cooking penne pasta in the dining room burned the garlic giving the pasta a real bitter taste. The eggplant parmesan, my usual favorite, was underseasoned and under cooked - both the eggplant was not sautEed properly and the mozzarella on top was not melted properly under the salamander. Judy sent back the penne pasta and tried the spaghetti and meatballs, which after a little salt, was pretty good. Service was spotty, not Princess's best. One problem was that it was a sea day and the dining room got slammed at 5:30, but still not up to usual standards of the last couple of cruises. Was it really bad? No. It really suffered in comparison to the emerald last November and we won't go back to the dining room on the last formal night, choosing instead to do sushi and tappas in Vines, but it was adequate, just not up to what we've had in the past. That's one problem with having a really great cruise, all the rest get compared to it and usually suffer in comparison. The Emerald in November, along with the Grand in April 09, are both in our top 3 for service and food. Near perfection is awful hard to beat. Oh well. Good thing we went to Sabbatini's the night before and had some really great pasta and service. Dancing the night away between Passion and Rick Kilburn's group was fun as we went from wheelhouse to Explorer's and back. No lack of dancing that's for sure. The bands are versatile and fun. We danced until our feet gave out and then hit the hay. 5/9/11 Another day at sea, one day prior to packing day - the worst day of the cruise. Bummer. Judy has been attending all the EULA hula classeses. Today was the Hula dress rehearsal with taping for the Reflections DVD. (They put the whole rehearsal on the DVD which was nice.) The hula class was very large, the Eukulele class even larger. I shot a lot of video so I can just relax and take in the show on the last night of the cruise. We went to Pub Lunch at the Crown Grill for the first time. I had chicken curry and Judy had fish and chips. Her batter was undersalted, but the fish was cooked to perfection and very tasty. The curry was ok, but not very spicy. Still a nice break and a nice addition to the dining options. We went to Kelly's advanced Line Dance class with Slap Leather and the Tush Push. We know the "universal" Tush Push and Kelly's version wasn't too much different, mainly in the first few steps and the clapping at the end. Lots of fun and a good workout to boot. Judy went to her Last Heirloom Lei class today. I now have 4 kukui nut leis for the cruise in October and she has 4 straw/crocheted leis. Kelvin and Eric taped the Wake Show Live in the Vista lounge in the afternoon. That was fun to attend. Kelvin and Eric play off each other extremely well. We/they got to see and meet several of us characters that wrote in every morning - Judy, Judy, Judy; Patricia the Stripper; Delicious Donna; Mike and his wife, who would write notes to each other via the morning show. We started the evening of Dancing with Passion in Explorer's and then moved to the Vines for wine, sushi and Tappas for dinner. Much better than the dining room. After dinner we hit the wheelhouse with Rick Kilburn and his band. Very good ballroom band and they also venture into some really good jazz, but are lacking a horn. We went to see the British Invasion production show. Because we needed to get aft to the Marriage Game show, we sat up near an entrance and didn't get the full flavor of the show, but we would come back the next night. The show is/was one of our favorites. Caliente and this one are right up there with a lot of high energy, lots of dancing, good music, and good vocals. Nicely done. Highly recommended. We participated in the Marriage Game Show for the second time in a few years. Lots of new questions and lots of opportunity to try and embarrass Eric the host, with little success because he's probably heard it all before. We didn't win, but then we didn't try that hard. We wanted to have fun and give the audience a chance to laugh a bit. After the show, we went back to the Wheelhouse for some dancing before heading off to bed. 5/10/11 Packing day. I hate packing day. It interrupts an entire day and really screws up the nap schedule. We would also dock in Ensenada for about 5 hours, but we had zero plans to get off the ship. Line dance review class with Kelly got through 6 or 7 of the dozen line dances we learned on the cruise. But we skipped the ballroom review. They had a Mexican buffet lunch outside the HC, and it was actually quite good. Chips, salsa, guacamole, beef and chicken fajitas - all quite good and nicely seasoned. Dancing was with Rick and the group in the wheel house until we left for the show. One last twirl around the floor to the guys and then that was it. It was so nice to have two good dance bands to choose from. British Invasion - Round 2. I wanted to see the show from the 3rd row center this time. We did and it was twice as good. Good interaction with the dancers and singers, great dancing, great vocals, a great show that we gave a standing o to at the end. Really a great way to see a show and a great show to see. The Aloha Oe Show, the actual end performance of the Hula dancers and Ukulele players, wouldn't be until 10pm at night. So it was going to be a long night. It was combined with the Princess pop star finals. I talked Judy into going to the show, she hesitated, but she was glad she did. She was up front and did a really good hula dance. The Ukulele players, several dozen of them, were good as well. It was a great production and a great end to a good cruise and a very fitting end to the Golden's HI season. David and Lealoha seemed very pleased, but extremely tired as their season came to an end. 5/11/11 Disembarkation day and one of the smoothest I've ever experienced. We were the only ship in port and we were off the ship on schedule (0820) and to LAX by 0930 for a 1230 flight to Denver. Not a bad way to end a cruise. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
Princess CruisesGolden Princessby Dick SteinHawaii4/27/11 to 5/11/11This was our 22th Princess Cruise, our first Hawaii Cruise. I have elite status with Princess and booked a BC balcony cabin last December. I drove to the Amtrak station ... Read More
Princess CruisesGolden Princessby Dick SteinHawaii4/27/11 to 5/11/11This was our 22th Princess Cruise, our first Hawaii Cruise. I have elite status with Princess and booked a BC balcony cabin last December. I drove to the Amtrak station in Cleveland parked my car, checked our bags in to LA and caught the Capital Limited to Chicago. Since we were in a sleeper on the Southwest Chief to LA we spent a couple hours in the comfort of the Metropolitan Lounge. They had comfortable chairs, TV's, complimentary pop and snack and a free internet connection. We were first on the train in roomette B2. The meals were free and good with our sleeper along with free coffee, juice and bottled water. The ride was a little like being on a ship and we arrived on time in LA. Got my luggage and caught the Super Shuttle to the pier arriving at 10:30 AM. Checked two bags in at the curb at the pier.Embarkation: I showed them my elite card, and was was directed to the elite/suitedesk right away. After an hour in the elite/suite lounge we were on the ship first.Cabins: The cabin B602 (cat. BC) was attractively decorated and good sized for the price. The balcony, while good size and offers good privacy. The bath room was nice and we enjoyed the shower. Cabin service was efficient and unobtrusive. I got a free mini bar set up and opted for 12 Becks Beers as I figure I might as well get what I drink. Took advantage for the free laundry for elite members on one occasion. I also enjoyed the canapEs on several times. The 10% discount in the shops was used more than once.Public Areas: The public areas are nice and never feel crowded. The ship doesn't feel 109,000 grt. Enjoyed the small intimate bars. They had good shows on board and the comedians were great. The bars had a buy 5, pay for four Becks beer special on the Lido bars. I got this all cruise long and put them in the cabin fridge. A bottle opener was in the room. There was plenty of activities to keep you busy all day including lectures and classes of all kinds. I went to the free wine tasting for elite members and enjoyed the library on board. You will not be bored on a Princess ship.Dining: I requested a 7:45 time at a table for 6 near the window and front door in the Donatello dining room went I got on the ship and was assigned to table 104. Our waiter was excellent and they remembered our anniversary without being reminded. We ate all our evening meals there and had good company every night. We went to open seating for breakfast and lunch in the Dining room every day when not on tour. The attendance in the main dining rooms was far less that capacity due to number eating in Lido. We requested tables with a short walk since my wife hurt her knee on the first tour. We had pizza, and hot dogs several times for a snack. All the restaurants were nicely decorated and the food in all the Dining rooms was generally good, but not up to Celebrity standards. The food in the Lido was also good and we had breakfast there before tours. Tours: We did tours in all the ports. We did the Luau in Honolulu and Kauai and enjoyed both. We visited the volcano in Hilo and Maui. Enjoyed Hilo, but it rained so hard and the clouds were so low in Maui that we could see nothing and got soaked to boot.Disembarkation: This was smooth. They had the dining room on deck 5 set up for suite, and elite members and it was great. They had coffee, good juice and pastries and comfortable seats. Caught the Supper Shuttle back to Union Station in LA at 10 AM. Had a 5 hour wait for our train after I checked our bags in to Cleveland. Had Subway sandwiches for lunch and got on our train 4:15 PM. It left LA and hour late due to a holdup on passenger from San Diego where a train was involved in an accident. The meals were free and good with our sleeper along with free coffee, juice and bottled water. We made up the time by the time we got to Chicago, but left some people in Albuquerque who wandered to far from the train and ignored warnings not to go too far. Since we were in a sleeper on the Southwest Chief from LA we spent a couple hours in the comfort of the Metropolitan Lounge. They had comfortable chairs, TV's, complimentary pop and snacks and a free internet connection. In Chicago we caught the Capital Limited to Cleveland, collected our bags and drove home. Would take the train to the west coast on a cruise again as the cost was cheaper than the cruise line quoted up for airfare.Overall, I was satisfied with the cruise. I put a $200 deposit down on a future cruise. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
Hi, my husband and I are both in our low 30's and upper 20's respectively and are teachers. My husbands school/afterschool schedule keeps him so busy, we rarely get to vacation together so this was a first since our honeymoon.I ... Read More
Hi, my husband and I are both in our low 30's and upper 20's respectively and are teachers. My husbands school/afterschool schedule keeps him so busy, we rarely get to vacation together so this was a first since our honeymoon.I had originally planned to just copy and paste my travel journal into this space, but then as I was re-reading it I decided that you all dont REALLY want to read about when I sat on the promenade, when and what I ate, and how many times I actually napped... Besides, that document was six pages long!! Yikes, I guess I was a little long winded about my naps... :)I first sailed with Princess on October 31, 2010 on the Ruby--Eastern Caribbean. Although we missed Grand Turk due to Hurricane Tomas (thats another story for another day) I came home INSISTING that Jim (DH) and I had to go on a cruise together. And so, as it is my role/duty/obligation as the wife and woman in his life, the pestering began.... Once booked I was ecstatic and begin reading up on the excursions and booked us on the Pirate Ship Encounter for Grand Cayman, a hike for Roatan, Coba Ruins for Cozumel and snorkelling for Princess Cays. Each week as we got closer to the cruise Jim decided he didnt want to do the Pirate Ship, all the excursions (save my hike) and quietly (ha) kept my disappointment to myself! ;)Okay... back to the stuff that matters... Due to the SKYROCKETING airfare prices and poor selection in times offered through sites such as expedia etc, we booked our airfare through Princess. I was pleasantly surprised that their fares were equivalent, if not a hair cheaper, than what was offered through online sources. Jim, the constant worry wart, was thrilled that princess would get us to the next port if something were to happen to our flight.Upon arrival at Fort Lauderdale on Saturday morning we were greeted by uniformed Princess reps who were there to direct us to the bus which would take us to the ship. Unfortunately, the Coast Guard decided to do an inspection on the ship which "apparently" held up our ability to get on the bus... As the delay continued for over an hour the reps became more and more irritable....When we were finally transferred to the cruise port, we waited in line outside for no more than five minutes and inside we waited for no more than two minutes before being issued our cards and directed towards the gangways. I keep reminding myself I need to be brief...Ship:The ship was beautiful, much like the Ruby, our room was great and our luggage arrived about an hour or two after we boarded. (2-3 pm) We did have a minor issue with our safe not working (after our things were in it) but both times when we called the front desk someone was there to fix it and after the second attempt, all was well.People:We met up with other cruise critic folks (desiro, shawley23, mysticfalcon, and vtlibrarian to name a few) at the Outrigger for sail away and had a marvelous time. In fact, several of us kept running into eachother on the ship and ended up spending quite a bit of time together which was great. Excursions: We ended up taking a cab to 7 mile beach (thanks to Adam, DH of desiro, for the suggestion) first thing in the morning. It cost each of us $5 US and we were able to do as we pleased. After about two hours we started to walk back to the ship...i do not recommend this to ANYONE.... again, another story for another day.We missed Roatan due to high winds so I missed my hike...At Cozumel we had cancelled our Coba Ruins excursion and were waitlisted for Playa Maya Beach Break with Lunch... At the last minute my husband checked with the shore excursion desk and switched us to the Pasion Island Beach with Lunch. Apparently this is the beach where the Corona commercials are filmed... either way it was a fabulous day. Soft sandy beaches, ergonomic lounges perfectly situated underneath some palm trees, and all the food and drink one could want. After the excursion we enjoyed some more drinks with a few other couples from the cruise at Fat Tuesdays... got ourselves some really remarkable balloon hats and headed back to the ship.At Princess Cay, we were able to hang out with a Belgian couple from our section at dinner; Kirby and I on the beach and Sijn and Jim in the water. Dining:Our waiter had to be the fastest most efficient man on the boat. He literally ran from the galley with our food, hardly allowing the junior waiter to do anything but pour water and wine. The food was wonderful, as always, I am quite impressed with the quality and quantity those galleys are able to turn out on a daily basis. Most days Jim and I ate our breakfast in the Piazza, breakfast sandwiches and yogurt from the international cafe. However, we did get buffet breakfast once or twice and enjoyed that out at the Terrace Pool. The Pub lunch at the Wheelhouse Bar was good as was the lunch offered in the dining room.Disembarkation:We were held up with disembarkation, I am guessing it was to keep the customs lines from getting more ridiculous than they already were... but after an additionally half hour or so in the Casino, we were allowed to disembark.Okay so I hope this isnt ridiculously long and I hope I havent forgotten to talk about anything major... but please feel free to leave questions! Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
We were married the Friday night before we left and took a red-eye to Port Everglades. We arrived at 9:15 in the morning and expected to get onto a transfer purchased through Princess and head off to the port. Well, we waited in the ... Read More
We were married the Friday night before we left and took a red-eye to Port Everglades. We arrived at 9:15 in the morning and expected to get onto a transfer purchased through Princess and head off to the port. Well, we waited in the airport until the first transfer was leaving at 11:15am. Once at the port after a 10 minute ride we were through the check in lines in about 30 minutes and on our way to our cabin by 12:30. We had lunch and took a nap before going to the muster drill. The rest of the day we explored the ship and went to our late seating dinner.We opted for a balcony cabin, mid ship and were very pleased with the location and overall cabin. The cabin was B437 which is on the Baja deck 11 and is mid ship right by the elevators. We did not notice any noise from the elevators and were happy to have a short walk to go anywhere. The bed was not the most comfortable bed we ever slept in, but the ship and the shore excursions were enough to wear us out that it did not matter. During our first couple of days we found there to be lots to do on the ship. Our first day at sea was very nice. We relaxed by the pool and watched some of the fun games they had going on. There were LOTS of open deck chairs, but they were not the chairs right by the pool. Yes, there were LOTS of saved chairs everywhere, but nowhere near the amount of "chair hogging" I expected. After a few drinks, and a lot of sun and fun it was back to the room to find more to do. Our first stop was Grand Cayman and the waters were so clear. We did an excursion through Fatfish Adventures and it was AMAZING! We rode a jet ski through some mangroves, out to stingray city, and to a snorkeling area. The water was pretty rough for our ride, but it made it more fun for us to be able to jump the waves. Feeding the stingrays scared my wife a little, but she eventually held one. Our next stop, the beautiful island of Roatan. It was interesting to see this massive ship inch through this narrow channel backwards to get to the dock. Here we booked a zipline and beach excursion through Island Marketing, who we later found out is basically a travel agency who books excursions through South Shore Zipline. Ziplining through the jungle canopy and 100-200 feet above ravines is so much fun. After ziplining it was off to West Bay beach. They took us to Fosters Resort where, thanks to cruise critic, we applied our bug spray to avoid the sand fleas. As we were spraying it on a gentleman walking by said "Very smart", then turned around to show us about 100 bites on his back. He said that they are only near Fosters and the other resorts actually spray every night. Thankfully we continued our day at one of the most beautiful beaches in the world bite free! Next stop was Cozumel where we did the Royal Dolphin Swim. Having a dolphin give you a dorsal fin ride is a once in a lifetime experience that was worth it. We booked the excursion through Princess even though it was about $130 cheaper to book it through Chankanaab. Chankanaab will ask you what cruise line you are on if you try to book through them because they are not allowed to privately book anyone from Princess or Carnival. I suppose you could lie and get away with it, but it was not worth the risk to us because we really wanted to do this. After the dolphin swim we stayed at the beach here for a couple hours. The beach is very nice with snorkeling and even a fresh water pool. Our next day at sea was mostly the same as the last, cocktails, sun, only this time we had chairs right by the pool. We watched an ice carving demonstration, some guys racing boats made of various items found around the ship, ate, ate, drank, drank, and then played miniature golf.Princess cays was a nice beach to just relax on a day before going home. They have a barbeque for all the passengers from 11:30-1:30 and they mean 1:30. They were closing up the line as about 10-15 people walked up including us and said we could not go in because according to the Princess employee, and I quote, "It is exactly 1:30 and we have to go back on the ship". Shame on me for not bringing a watch to the beach, but really, exactly 1:30 and we couldn't go in? Anyway, we didn't care as much as some others did as they started to argue with the guy. We just went back to our beach chairs and caught some more sun. After a light breakfast and coffee at the International Cafe disembarkation was a breeze. They had us meet at 8:15 and we were at our gate at the airport by 9:15.FOODThe food on Princess was as advertised, very good, and everywhere. We ate at the Crown Grill one night, and Sabatini's another. Both were very good-bring your appetite for Sabatinis! The food at the International Cafe was good. It is mostly small things for breakfast and desserts, but all were very good. The pizza is amazing and we tried to eat it as often as possible, but there is only so much food one can eat. SERVICEOur cabin steward Ferdinand was great and our room was always taken care of. Our wait staff in the main dining room, Catalina and Donja were excellent, and gave above and beyond service. One area I thought lacked good service was the staff at some of the bars and international cafe. For example, while we were sitting watching a comedy show, a lady came up and said her martini did not taste right. The guy looked at her, and said "Whats wrong with it"? She said it tasted like sour milk-yuck. He took it, made a new one and handed it to her and turned around. I would repeatedly see bar staff serve people without saying a word and heaven forbid someone should put in a special request. At the international cafe, we would order blended coffee drinks with the liquid sugar. Out of our 13 coffees we got the sugar 7 times, and two or three of those times we had to remind them to put it in. The other four times, we just weren't paying attention. Anyway, before we booked our cruise, we were sold by friends that Princess had the best food and service. I would agree that Princess had great food, and some great service, but overall I give the service a 6 of 10. EntertainmentAs I said before, we found plenty of things to do. We saw comedian Cary Long who was very funny, in fact much funnier than the other comedian on board. Movies under the stars was a very nice way to end some nights. The wife and I played bingo and won! The Princess dancers and singers were just average to us, but we are not really into musicals. Another disappointment to us was the music. Out by the pool, we expected the Caribbean band to sing Caribbean music, not Diana Ross and Lionel Richie. Even when the band wasn't playing(they only played an hour a day) the music was boring. We really enjoyed the culinary show with Chef Giuseppe and Maitre D Neville. They were actually really funny and the galley tour was very interesting. Overall, we really enjoyed the cruise(impossible not to) and plan to cruise again sometime. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
For the first time ever, we arranged our air fare and all transfers through the cruise line. We were the only couple arriving in Fort Lauderdale on our flight, but a nice Princess rep was waiting on us in baggage claim. She loaded our bags ... Read More
For the first time ever, we arranged our air fare and all transfers through the cruise line. We were the only couple arriving in Fort Lauderdale on our flight, but a nice Princess rep was waiting on us in baggage claim. She loaded our bags on a cart, pushed the cart to the curb, and waited with us until our bus arrived to take us to the Embassy Suites hotel. The hotel was very nice and extremely convenient. On embarkation day, the Princess-arranged bus picked us up at noon and made the very short journey to the port. We checked in with no line and went straight to our cabin, which was ready (as contrasted to the last cruise we took--on Celebrity--where we had to wait in public areas of the ship for two to three hours before cabins were ready).The Emerald Princess was immaculate, with no signs of wear or tear anywhere. Our cabin steward, AUJ ("AJ") did a great job of cleaning everything whenever we disappeared from the cabin for a while. We would frequenly see him as we left or came back, and his friendliness, smile, and "have a good day" or "welcome back" were always appreciated.We usually book a mini-suite on Princess, but this time we were offered an upgrade to a full suite (D736 at the rear of the ship). It wasn't free, but we considered the cost to be a bargain considering what we got. The cabin, of course, was about twice the size of a mini-suite and included a whirlpool tub as well as a shower, and the balcony was about four times as large, with a table and four chairs, two lounge chairs, and two side tables--all of wood rather than plastic or aluminum. From Fort Lauderdale to Bermuda, rolled-up beach towels were in the lounge chairs each day. Once we left Bermuda and the weather became much cooler, the towels were replaced by warm, 100% wool blankets.We had read on line that there was a "post" coming up through the balcony of this particular cabin, but we found a photo of it and decided it would be no problem. Indeed, the post is an integral part of the structure of the ship, but it is way towards one side of the balcony and does not in any way interefere with enjoyment of the space. The balcony is on the rear of the ship, and we greatly enjoyed lounging there with the wake passing beneath us. The balcony protrudes from the rear of the ship, with a wrap-around end, so the view is phenomenal.The entertainment was superior. The production shows and comedians were wonderful, but our favorite was Arnie G, who played the piano and sang every night in Crooner's bar. He is a phenomenal talent. In other review, someone made negative comments about the ego of cruise director Billy London. However, he was the best we have had on any cruise, and is a great singer. On several nights he joined Arnie G in performances.We especially appreciated the large number of tables on deck. Whenever we wanted to eat outside, we could find a space to do so without having to balance plates on our laps.Room service meals always arrived at the time requested and were delicous. One of the perks of a suite is breakfast at Sabatini's (the Italian restaurant in the evening). They will prepare pretty much whatever you wish, and the food and service were both wonderful.We had arranged a day in Copenhagen through Princess, and the transfer and hotel were great.All in all, this was a wonderful cruise, and we recommend the Emerald Princess without reservation. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
Our wedding trip to Alaska on Golden Princess - Princess Cruise Lines - The Good, The Bad, Nothing ugly (except the color of our companion sailors shower). It is hard for us to think back to our decision about getting married by the ... Read More
Our wedding trip to Alaska on Golden Princess - Princess Cruise Lines - The Good, The Bad, Nothing ugly (except the color of our companion sailors shower). It is hard for us to think back to our decision about getting married by the Captain on a Cruise - and since there are only a handful of Cruise Lines - Princess being one of them - that will allow this to happen - we never really looked at any other cruises. Research told us that we could be married by the Captain - and that was enough for us to decide to book this trip - and although we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves - we didn't get married on the ship after all. Since I've never written a review for anything before I decided to break this into a few parts - What we expected, what we got, what we think was missing/misleading, and what we decided was exceptional. What we expected: A beautiful, 7-day all inclusive cruise from Seattle, with stops in Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan and Victoria, BC aboard a beautiful, Grand class ship with all of the luxuries of a 5-star hotel, entertainment, food and beverages, ample time to stop in each port, and excursions that were "hand-picked" by the Princess Cruise Lines for the best value. What we got: Did our expectations get met? For the most part, but there were a few things that our Personal Cruise Consultant (PCC) promised and didn't/couldn't deliver, or that we weren't told about, or that we tried to research and missed that surprised and/or disappointed us. I'll start with what we asked for - but didn't get: We chose Princess because we could get married by the Captain - False - our PCC said Of Course you can get married on board - and we were even OK with the prices (although somewhat steep) because it was a once in a lifetime occasion (not really, 2nd and 3rd marriages for us). After booking, paying the full fare for the four of us (we took my wife's daughter and her husband with us) - we found out that we would never enter International Waters - so the Captain could not marry us officially (we could still have the $2000+ ceremony it just wouldn't be legal/official). We got around this by deciding to get married in the Court House in Ketchikan - that was SOOO simple - the Clerk of the Court (Misty) answered on the 2nd ring (no machines here), transferred us to the person who handles the ceremony (Debbie) and for $75 we had an appointment set and the license done. Next came flowers - PCC says just order them on the ship - Great idea - you just can't remove the flowers from the ship. This is where Passenger Services came to the rescue. We asked about a bouquet and a boutonniere - 6 roses + 1 rose. They quickly sent an email to the shore in Ketchikan, and within an hour had made arrangements for the flowers to be brought on board for us to pick up on our way off the ship. They called when they arrived, and when I went down to pick them up - the on-ship florist (Jason) had rushed them off to make them "more acceptable". When we received them - there were actually a dozen perfect red roses and the boutonniere - beautifully arranged and lightly spritzed with water to keep them fresh. Outstanding and Unexpected service. Security had been notified and we were able to walk off the ship with only a momentary stop at the gate. Apparently this was a huge deal also because many of the crew said Congratulations to us because they saw my wife with her flowers - this made us both feel very special on our wedding day. Now for the trip itself - Exceeding Expectations. Our plane arrived early at Sea-Tac and we used Seattle Town Car (http://www.waseattletowncar.com) to transfer and for 4 of us and our luggage it was $55. They were a few minutes late getting to us - but that was OK. He took us directly to Pier 91 ("accidentally" slipping to the front of the line) - and dropped us right at the curb-side service for our bags. (Note to self - bring tape or a stapler to attach your Luggage Tags). The line was long and snakey - but the Princess "line managers" keep everyone moving, filling in the empty spaces - downstairs - then we went up the escalator and did it all again for security. Still - 2600 passengers getting on moved pretty quickly - and the registration process was easy. Never felt rushed by the counter person either - she spent a couple of minutes explaining the ship - and the congratulations came from her for the first time. Our luggage beat us to the cabin which was nice and unexpected, so we unpacked quickly. The cabin's only downfall was that the varnish on the balcony railing had just been repainted so it was wet. A sign warned us but we of course didn't believe the sign and had to check for ourselves. We left a couple of shirt fuzzies and a hair or two adhered to the railing. It was wet until day 5 of the cruise (yes - we kept checking). We were in stateroom E-204 - our family in E-202. Herberto our cabin steward was living under the bed (we think) - he introduced himself and we had a request immediately - that we open the door connecting our two balconies. He obliged within minutes and we now had two rooms at our disposal. He was overly attentive - but subtly so - getting us ice and wine glasses (he saw that we had brought wine on board with us). He remembered that we had requested an extra towel (for my wife's long hair) and brought it each day. We asked that he leave our balcony slider open also since we enjoy cool air - and he did that also, and he always greeted us in the hallway by name, changing it to Mrs. after we were married. Our welcome aboard party put the Holland America ship to shame - they were next to us in port and when they pulled out we heard nothing... but when we pulled out of port there was a cheer and we knew the party had begun. I commented on how boring they were over there. The first night was a bit "swelly" on the ocean - so we got our sea legs quickly. Weather was great - mid-60's in every port with only a few drops of rain in the early AM. Because our balcony was covered and at the front of the ship - we could sit outside and enjoy all of the scenery as we floated by. They are located just above the Promenade deck so people can look in if they choose - many who walked by did. Even though the rooms are the cheapest balcony rooms on the ship - there are only 8 of them so we felt special. Add to that the nearly double size of balcony (2 full panels, a beam and the door wide instead of a single panel and a door - or less) - we could comfortably seat the four of us on the balcony, table in the middle with room to spare. Our only issue was with the door between the balconies - because it is either locked - or open - it swings during the normal course of moving the ship banging like tommyknockers on the outside of the ship. We remedied this with a folded up napkin jammed in the door closure. We personally could have done without the "daily sales pitches" - boutiques, jewelery, $20 watch sets and gold by the inch that took over the "shopping deck" as we called it. We didn't come on a cruise to buy jewelry or perfume - we came to enjoy what Alaska has to offer. That being said - Juneau was commercialized to the hilt - in fact we were told by our tour driver that the area we had docked on, and the shops lining the street on the left side didn't even exist until the cruise industry started moving in - giving credence to the fact that many of the shops are owned by the cruise lines themselves. We were told that many of the shops open for the 16 weeks of the "season", then pack up and move - employees and all - to the Caribbean for that season. Seeing the same shops in every port (International Jewelers, Del Sol, Effy, etc.) only added to the commercialization of the towns and to us added no real value. In Juneau - we took two tours - both were enjoyable and recommended. The gold panning tour (JNU-350) was to a REAL river - and besides the gold that is seeded in your first pan - we found several other flakes of gold in the river bed itself. We all wished we had more time there - and Randy was a wealth of useful history and information about the city. Our other tour was of the Rainforest Gardens and Mendenhall Glacier (JNU-330) - an amazing sight for all to see. The Garden trip reminded us of a scene from Jurassic Park with winding canopy covered roads - all that was missing was the dinosaurs. There was some fascinating history taught also and our driver provided us even more information about Juneau. Recommend both tours. Other reviews talked about the problems getting on and off the ship - we never experienced any issues - waiting only minutes to embark or disembark the ship in each port. Maybe we were just lucky. Skagway we found out is actually a National Park - wholly subsidized by the town of Skagway. (http://www.nps.gov/nr/twhp/wwwlps/lessons/75skagway/75skagway.htm) Since it is a working city and a historical place I asked if it had a government - and it does. According to our tour guide (from the Adventure Park and Zipline tour SGY-400) they are worse than any other governing body because they have to stay in guidelines laid out by the Natl. Park Service - the Chamber of Commerce is the Government and there is a lot of in-fighting. There are only 3 liquor licenses available in the town so they are a hefty price and hard to obtain. Needless to say those three stores are quite busy. (By contrast - Ketchikan has 20 liquor stores and 30 churches). There was a strange lack of eateries in the town - and if you can get a permit to open somewhere that sells hot dogs and ice cream you would do very well. I highly recommend the Zipline tour here - the guides were highly trained - safety conscious and well traveled. The company that operates this tour is the largest of it's kind in the world - also in Panama, Costa Rica, Tibet and other countries. They were fun to learn from - and made our experience great. Our other tour to Gold Panning, Sled Dogs and 40 Degree Below (SGY-365) was a bunch of hooey with the best part being a 45 minute slide show and interactive Dog Sled presentation. We met some of the Iditerod dogs and learned about how they are treated - fascinating stuff - and not at all what we expected. See that part if you can - but the rest is just a show - gold panning with 1 pan of dirt (additional pans are $10), and we got to go in a freezer at -40F - there was a chair made from cookie sheets of ice and a frozen banana that the Mushers use to hammer in nails (that is really frozen solid). Not worth the $80 each - and our tour bus driver had nothing to say. (Note: we did this because a member of our party does not have a passport - required for many of the tours in Skagway) Cruising through Glacier Bay was absolutely breath-taking. Seeing and hearing the glaciers calfing up close was a part of this trip that we were all truly looking forward to - and we got our monies worth. Cudos to the Captain for being able to maneuver a 941 foot ship so gracefully within the confines of the glacier walls, taking us to what seemed to be touching distance from the walls of ice. Also the on-board Naturalist and National Park Service rangers who narrated the trip into and out of the Bay were very knowledgeable and added to the experience. In Ketchikan we were married - and that for us was a highlight of the trip. We got to put a face to the name Debbie and she was fantastic. We had to go through security at the Court House, but only because there was a Grand Jury meeting that day. She said that she Loves weddings - and the District Attorney Congratulated us also - commenting that weddings are the best thing that happen in a Court House along with adoptions. After that experience - we walked to Creek Street and saw seals playing in the stream. We also saw the start of the Married Man Trail which seems to go nowhere in particular according to the map - but since Creek Street was lined with brothels in its younger days - maybe it started nowhere and ended in the town - or was the trail around the brothels - either way it was very pretty. We also saw how Princess takes care of its cruisers when a tour bus nearly ran over a gentleman in a wheelchair. He was trapped between the curb and the side of the bus (which was on the curb) when about 20 people started banging on the side of the bus and another man jumped in front of the bus to stop it from moving. In seconds - the representative from the tour company, a Princess rep. and the Police were there making sure he was OK. Fortunately he, his wife and his chair were, but the bus driver was reprimanded on the spot and another person took over her driving position. Since we had been with him on an earlier tour we stayed to make sure all was good and were confident that he and his wife were being taken care of by the Princess personnel. Victoria was nice - we actually didn't wait in the long lines for taxis or buses to take us downtown - instead we just wandered to the Fisherman's Wharf - marveled at the "off shore" housing - actually floating homes in a pier. It was quite an interesting sight. Then we wandered back. The touristy shop at the pier was filled with touristy stuff - we just walked through and out the other side. Disembarking was smooth... we wish we had known the procedure before deciding how we were going to plan our time though. We got the "disembarking information" sheet on Day 2 of the cruise. I understand the need to plan - but we had no idea that saying we wanted to be in the last group to get off with independent arrangements meant that we had be out of our room by 8 AM - then sit around and wait until 9:45 until we could leave the ship. In the future - we will know. What we thought was missing - or misleading: First - All-inclusive doesn't mean all-inclusive - it means that basic necessities are included. If you choose to have soda - it's not included (soda card is $36 when you add the obligatory gratuity). If you want REAL coffee (not syrup as we were told at the International Cafe) - it's not included (Coffee Card is $27 w/gratuity). If you want wine by the glass - it's reasonable - but add on an extra $1 for gratuity, and the tax and it makes it more expensive. Everything you consume that you pay for has a gratuity added automatically. Don't Tip more unless you find the service extraordinary. Current gratuity is $11.50/person/day and $12/per/day for Suites. If you break it down for all of your services, room service, food, cleaning etc - it is a fair price - just don't think that includes Wine service at Vines - or a Martini at the Martini Bar - they add on additional gratuity there. If you want to go the the Exclusive Ships Tour - it's $150 each - and it is a lottery that you have to enter. They take 12 people only on the tour and it is luck of the draw. We had 60 people signed up for the lottery and if the four of us had signed up - 1, 2, 3 or all 4 of us might have had the chance to go. We decided not to try. The Lotus Spa is expensive - and the Sanctuary has an hourly - or Daily fee. We knew about the Spa - but not the charge for the Sanctuary. Internet access is $60 for 120 minutes. Wait til you are in port then look for free Wi-Fi at the shore side shops. McDonalds in Juneau is 4 miles away so it isn't practical - but we had both Sprint and T-mobile access there. Skagway had no internet or solid phone service (roaming for both) and Ketchikan was the same - but the McDonalds in Ketchikan is just under the tunnel - it is free. Talk to the waiters in the restaurant - they will tell you about special stuff - like French Onion Soup in the dining room available every night. Also - we learned that you can order as much of anything you would like - the waiters are happy to oblige. Not a night went by that I didn't enjoy Fettuccine Alfredo and Ceasar Salad both from the appetizer menu, and two main courses were usually ordered also (Lobster and Prawns with Beef Wellington on formal night 2). I suggest the you order the Prime Rib End Cut for the best tasting meat in the formal dining rooms. Save room for dessert. We decided that the evening buffet is basically the same food as in the dining rooms (almost) but served in bulk and with less care to the quality. Ice Cream at Scoops is free - but only cones are available. If you want a milk shake - add $2.50 to your bill. The "American" food - Hot Dogs and Hamburgers filled the bill a couple of times on the trip - and the Pizza was quite outstanding. We asked if a whole pizza could be made and the chef was happy to oblige. Between the Hamburgers and the Pizza is a bar - I re-iterate that drinks are not included - except water, coffee (the syrupy one), Hot and Iced Tea. Take advantage of the Continental Breakfast each and every day. The staff is accommodating and delivery was within 10 minutes of the request time every day. If you want a chocolate croissant - just ask for it, green tea - just ask - fresh fruit on the ship was really fresh - another unexpected treat. As for the breakfast buffet - they have some pretty good stuff - the french toast and eggs Benedict were favorites - the scrambled eggs were very good considering they are making about 75 eggs at a time. Bacon is a staple also - and was often the target of some people who apparently forgot they were not the only ones on the ship (I think that 50 pieces at a time is a little excessive - I can only eat about 15 or so). On the night before disembarking we decided to use room service (included). Although they were busy they were very gracious, and our food had the care given to it that was in line with the breakfast delivery. It was hot and delivered quickly. One more thing - if you have a cell phone - remember to put it in Airplane Mode - the ship has a wireless system onboard and you will be linked automatically as International - that meant that an average text message would cost me $0.40 - and phone service was $2.95 per minute plus the ship charges. Wait until you are in port if you want to save those fees. Overall this was an exceptional cruise. We learned the hard way what we need to know next time. Get the BE/BF Balcony room if possible - they are cheaper and had bigger balconies. Put a towel over the glass in front if you don't want looky-loos. We actually made a sign that said the scenery is the other direction - it seemed to help. Oh - the ugly shower - it seems that E-202 didn't get the new pretty shower insert in the lovely cream color - theirs was a green color - but it matched the old flooring in the bathroom! Be prepared for the "extra" charges - Coffee Card, Soda Card, additional gratuities above the $11.50 each per day. Ask lots of questions - and ask multiple people. You may get different answers (like the flowers) but ultimately you will get the right one. Share the cards and enjoy the benefits. I know - that is why they are priced so high in the first place... but seriously Coke is $.03/8oz and coffee is $.05/8oz - sell a reusable cup for each and let it be filled eternally for $8.00 - put a different sticker on it so it doesn't get passed from cruise to cruise. We would definitely sail with Princess Cruises again - especially since we know what we are doing on the ship. Thanks to Princess for a memorable vacation and honeymoon. (Apologies for the long dissertation - I hope it wasn't boring) Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
Our wedding trip to Alaska on Golden Princess - Princess Cruise Lines - The Good, The Bad, Nothing ugly (except the color of our companion sailors shower). It is hard for us to think back to our decision about getting married by the ... Read More
Our wedding trip to Alaska on Golden Princess - Princess Cruise Lines - The Good, The Bad, Nothing ugly (except the color of our companion sailors shower). It is hard for us to think back to our decision about getting married by the Captain on a Cruise - and since there are only a handful of Cruise Lines - Princess being one of them - that will allow this to happen - we never really looked at any other cruises. Research told us that we could be married by the Captain - and that was enough for us to decide to book this trip - and although we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves - we didn't get married on the ship after all. Since I've never written a review for anything before I decided to break this into a few parts - What we expected, what we got, what we think was missing/misleading, and what we decided was exceptional. What we expected: A beautiful, 7-day all inclusive cruise from Seattle, with stops in Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan and Victoria, BC aboard a beautiful, Grand class ship with all of the luxuries of a 5-star hotel, entertainment, food and beverages, ample time to stop in each port, and excursions that were "hand-picked" by the Princess Cruise Lines for the best value. What we got: Did our expectations get met? For the most part, but there were a few things that our Personal Cruise Consultant (PCC) promised and didn't/couldn't deliver, or that we weren't told about, or that we tried to research and missed that surprised and/or disappointed us. I'll start with what we asked for - but didn't get: We chose Princess because we could get married by the Captain - False - our PCC said Of Course you can get married on board - and we were even OK with the prices (although somewhat steep) because it was a once in a lifetime occasion (not really, 2nd and 3rd marriages for us). After booking, paying the full fare for the four of us (we took my wife's daughter and her husband with us) - we found out that we would never enter International Waters - so the Captain could not marry us officially (we could still have the $2000+ ceremony it just wouldn't be legal/official). We got around this by deciding to get married in the Court House in Ketchikan - that was SOOO simple - the Clerk of the Court (Misty) answered on the 2nd ring (no machines here), transferred us to the person who handles the ceremony (Debbie) and for $75 we had an appointment set and the license done. Next came flowers - PCC says just order them on the ship - Great idea - you just can't remove the flowers from the ship. This is where Passenger Services came to the rescue. We asked about a bouquet and a boutonniere - 6 roses + 1 rose. They quickly sent an email to the shore in Ketchikan, and within an hour had made arrangements for the flowers to be brought on board for us to pick up on our way off the ship. They called when they arrived, and when I went down to pick them up - the on-ship florist (Jason) had rushed them off to make them "more acceptable". When we received them - there were actually a dozen perfect red roses and the boutonniere - beautifully arranged and lightly spritzed with water to keep them fresh. Outstanding and Unexpected service. Security had been notified and we were able to walk off the ship with only a momentary stop at the gate. Apparently this was a huge deal also because many of the crew said Congratulations to us because they saw my wife with her flowers - this made us both feel very special on our wedding day. Now for the trip itself - Exceeding Expectations. Our plane arrived early at Sea-Tac and we used Seattle Town Car (http://www.waseattletowncar.com) to transfer and for 4 of us and our luggage it was $55. They were a few minutes late getting to us - but that was OK. He took us directly to Pier 91 ("accidentally" slipping to the front of the line) - and dropped us right at the curb-side service for our bags. (Note to self - bring tape or a stapler to attach your Luggage Tags). The line was long and snakey - but the Princess "line managers" keep everyone moving, filling in the empty spaces - downstairs - then we went up the escalator and did it all again for security. Still - 2600 passengers getting on moved pretty quickly - and the registration process was easy. Never felt rushed by the counter person either - she spent a couple of minutes explaining the ship - and the congratulations came from her for the first time. Our luggage beat us to the cabin which was nice and unexpected, so we unpacked quickly. The cabin's only downfall was that the varnish on the balcony railing had just been repainted so it was wet. A sign warned us but we of course didn't believe the sign and had to check for ourselves. We left a couple of shirt fuzzies and a hair or two adhered to the railing. It was wet until day 5 of the cruise (yes - we kept checking). We were in stateroom E-204 - our family in E-202. Herberto our cabin steward was living under the bed (we think) - he introduced himself and we had a request immediately - that we open the door connecting our two balconies. He obliged within minutes and we now had two rooms at our disposal. He was overly attentive - but subtly so - getting us ice and wine glasses (he saw that we had brought wine on board with us). He remembered that we had requested an extra towel (for my wife's long hair) and brought it each day. We asked that he leave our balcony slider open also since we enjoy cool air - and he did that also, and he always greeted us in the hallway by name, changing it to Mrs. after we were married. Our welcome aboard party put the Holland America ship to shame - they were next to us in port and when they pulled out we heard nothing... but when we pulled out of port there was a cheer and we knew the party had begun. I commented on how boring they were over there. The first night was a bit "swelly" on the ocean - so we got our sea legs quickly. Weather was great - mid-60's in every port with only a few drops of rain in the early AM. Because our balcony was covered and at the front of the ship - we could sit outside and enjoy all of the scenery as we floated by. They are located just above the Promenade deck so people can look in if they choose - many who walked by did. Even though the rooms are the cheapest balcony rooms on the ship - there are only 8 of them so we felt special. Add to that the nearly double size of balcony (2 full panels, a beam and the door wide instead of a single panel and a door - or less) - we could comfortably seat the four of us on the balcony, table in the middle with room to spare. Our only issue was with the door between the balconies - because it is either locked - or open - it swings during the normal course of moving the ship banging like tommyknockers on the outside of the ship. We remedied this with a folded up napkin jammed in the door closure. We personally could have done without the "daily sales pitches" - boutiques, jewelery, $20 watch sets and gold by the inch that took over the "shopping deck" as we called it. We didn't come on a cruise to buy jewelry or perfume - we came to enjoy what Alaska has to offer. That being said - Juneau was commercialized to the hilt - in fact we were told by our tour driver that the area we had docked on, and the shops lining the street on the left side didn't even exist until the cruise industry started moving in - giving credence to the fact that many of the shops are owned by the cruise lines themselves. We were told that many of the shops open for the 16 weeks of the "season", then pack up and move - employees and all - to the Caribbean for that season. Seeing the same shops in every port (International Jewelers, Del Sol, Effy, etc.) only added to the commercialization of the towns and to us added no real value. In Juneau - we took two tours - both were enjoyable and recommended. The gold panning tour (JNU-350) was to a REAL river - and besides the gold that is seeded in your first pan - we found several other flakes of gold in the river bed itself. We all wished we had more time there - and Randy was a wealth of useful history and information about the city. Our other tour was of the Rainforest Gardens and Mendenhall Glacier (JNU-330) - an amazing sight for all to see. The Garden trip reminded us of a scene from Jurassic Park with winding canopy covered roads - all that was missing was the dinosaurs. There was some fascinating history taught also and our driver provided us even more information about Juneau. Recommend both tours. Other reviews talked about the problems getting on and off the ship - we never experienced any issues - waiting only minutes to embark or disembark the ship in each port. Maybe we were just lucky. Skagway we found out is actually a National Park - wholly subsidized by the town of Skagway. (http://www.nps.gov/nr/twhp/wwwlps/lessons/75skagway/75skagway.htm) Since it is a working city and a historical place I asked if it had a government - and it does. According to our tour guide (from the Adventure Park and Zipline tour SGY-400) they are worse than any other governing body because they have to stay in guidelines laid out by the Natl. Park Service - the Chamber of Commerce is the Government and there is a lot of in-fighting. There are only 3 liquor licenses available in the town so they are a hefty price and hard to obtain. Needless to say those three stores are quite busy. (By contrast - Ketchikan has 20 liquor stores and 30 churches). There was a strange lack of eateries in the town - and if you can get a permit to open somewhere that sells hot dogs and ice cream you would do very well. I highly recommend the Zipline tour here - the guides were highly trained - safety conscious and well traveled. The company that operates this tour is the largest of it's kind in the world - also in Panama, Costa Rica, Tibet and other countries. They were fun to learn from - and made our experience great. Our other tour to Gold Panning, Sled Dogs and 40 Degree Below (SGY-365) was a bunch of hooey with the best part being a 45 minute slide show and interactive Dog Sled presentation. We met some of the Iditerod dogs and learned about how they are treated - fascinating stuff - and not at all what we expected. See that part if you can - but the rest is just a show - gold panning with 1 pan of dirt (additional pans are $10), and we got to go in a freezer at -40F - there was a chair made from cookie sheets of ice and a frozen banana that the Mushers use to hammer in nails (that is really frozen solid). Not worth the $80 each - and our tour bus driver had nothing to say. (Note: we did this because a member of our party does not have a passport - required for many of the tours in Skagway) Cruising through Glacier Bay was absolutely breath-taking. Seeing and hearing the glaciers calfing up close was a part of this trip that we were all truly looking forward to - and we got our monies worth. Cudos to the Captain for being able to maneuver a 941 foot ship so gracefully within the confines of the glacier walls, taking us to what seemed to be touching distance from the walls of ice. Also the on-board Naturalist and National Park Service rangers who narrated the trip into and out of the Bay were very knowledgeable and added to the experience. In Ketchikan we were married - and that for us was a highlight of the trip. We got to put a face to the name Debbie and she was fantastic. We had to go through security at the Court House, but only because there was a Grand Jury meeting that day. She said that she Loves weddings - and the District Attorney Congratulated us also - commenting that weddings are the best thing that happen in a Court House along with adoptions. After that experience - we walked to Creek Street and saw seals playing in the stream. We also saw the start of the Married Man Trail which seems to go nowhere in particular according to the map - but since Creek Street was lined with brothels in its younger days - maybe it started nowhere and ended in the town - or was the trail around the brothels - either way it was very pretty. We also saw how Princess takes care of its cruisers when a tour bus nearly ran over a gentleman in a wheelchair. He was trapped between the curb and the side of the bus (which was on the curb) when about 20 people started banging on the side of the bus and another man jumped in front of the bus to stop it from moving. In seconds - the representative from the tour company, a Princess rep. and the Police were there making sure he was OK. Fortunately he, his wife and his chair were, but the bus driver was reprimanded on the spot and another person took over her driving position. Since we had been with him on an earlier tour we stayed to make sure all was good and were confident that he and his wife were being taken care of by the Princess personnel. Victoria was nice - we actually didn't wait in the long lines for taxis or buses to take us downtown - instead we just wandered to the Fisherman's Wharf - marveled at the "off shore" housing - actually floating homes in a pier. It was quite an interesting sight. Then we wandered back. The touristy shop at the pier was filled with touristy stuff - we just walked through and out the other side. Disembarking was smooth... we wish we had known the procedure before deciding how we were going to plan our time though. We got the "disembarking information" sheet on Day 2 of the cruise. I understand the need to plan - but we had no idea that saying we wanted to be in the last group to get off with independent arrangements meant that we had be out of our room by 8 AM - then sit around and wait until 9:45 until we could leave the ship. In the future - we will know. What we thought was missing - or misleading: First - All-inclusive doesn't mean all-inclusive - it means that basic necessities are included. If you choose to have soda - it's not included (soda card is $36 when you add the obligatory gratuity). If you want REAL coffee (not syrup as we were told at the International Cafe) - it's not included (Coffee Card is $27 w/gratuity). If you want wine by the glass - it's reasonable - but add on an extra $1 for gratuity, and the tax and it makes it more expensive. Everything you consume that you pay for has a gratuity added automatically. Don't Tip more unless you find the service extraordinary. Current gratuity is $11.50/person/day and $12/per/day for Suites. If you break it down for all of your services, room service, food, cleaning etc - it is a fair price - just don't think that includes Wine service at Vines - or a Martini at the Martini Bar - they add on additional gratuity there. If you want to go the the Exclusive Ships Tour - it's $150 each - and it is a lottery that you have to enter. They take 12 people only on the tour and it is luck of the draw. We had 60 people signed up for the lottery and if the four of us had signed up - 1, 2, 3 or all 4 of us might have had the chance to go. We decided not to try. The Lotus Spa is expensive - and the Sanctuary has an hourly - or Daily fee. We knew about the Spa - but not the charge for the Sanctuary. Internet access is $60 for 120 minutes. Wait til you are in port then look for free Wi-Fi at the shore side shops. McDonalds in Juneau is 4 miles away so it isn't practical - but we had both Sprint and T-mobile access there. Skagway had no internet or solid phone service (roaming for both) and Ketchikan was the same - but the McDonalds in Ketchikan is just under the tunnel - it is free. Talk to the waiters in the restaurant - they will tell you about special stuff - like French Onion Soup in the dining room available every night. Also - we learned that you can order as much of anything you would like - the waiters are happy to oblige. Not a night went by that I didn't enjoy Fettuccine Alfredo and Ceasar Salad both from the appetizer menu, and two main courses were usually ordered also (Lobster and Prawns with Beef Wellington on formal night 2). I suggest the you order the Prime Rib End Cut for the best tasting meat in the formal dining rooms. Save room for dessert. We decided that the evening buffet is basically the same food as in the dining rooms (almost) but served in bulk and with less care to the quality. Ice Cream at Scoops is free - but only cones are available. If you want a milk shake - add $2.50 to your bill. The "American" food - Hot Dogs and Hamburgers filled the bill a couple of times on the trip - and the Pizza was quite outstanding. We asked if a whole pizza could be made and the chef was happy to oblige. Between the Hamburgers and the Pizza is a bar - I re-iterate that drinks are not included - except water, coffee (the syrupy one), Hot and Iced Tea. Take advantage of the Continental Breakfast each and every day. The staff is accommodating and delivery was within 10 minutes of the request time every day. If you want a chocolate croissant - just ask for it, green tea - just ask - fresh fruit on the ship was really fresh - another unexpected treat. As for the breakfast buffet - they have some pretty good stuff - the french toast and eggs Benedict were favorites - the scrambled eggs were very good considering they are making about 75 eggs at a time. Bacon is a staple also - and was often the target of some people who apparently forgot they were not the only ones on the ship (I think that 50 pieces at a time is a little excessive - I can only eat about 15 or so). On the night before disembarking we decided to use room service (included). Although they were busy they were very gracious, and our food had the care given to it that was in line with the breakfast delivery. It was hot and delivered quickly. One more thing - if you have a cell phone - remember to put it in Airplane Mode - the ship has a wireless system onboard and you will be linked automatically as International - that meant that an average text message would cost me $0.40 - and phone service was $2.95 per minute plus the ship charges. Wait until you are in port if you want to save those fees. Overall this was an exceptional cruise. We learned the hard way what we need to know next time. Get the BE/BF Balcony room if possible - they are cheaper and had bigger balconies. Put a towel over the glass in front if you don't want looky-loos. We actually made a sign that said the scenery is the other direction - it seemed to help. Oh - the ugly shower - it seems that E-202 didn't get the new pretty shower insert in the lovely cream color - theirs was a green color - but it matched the old flooring in the bathroom! Be prepared for the "extra" charges - Coffee Card, Soda Card, additional gratuities above the $11.50 each per day. Ask lots of questions - and ask multiple people. You may get different answers (like the flowers) but ultimately you will get the right one. Share the cards and enjoy the benefits. I know - that is why they are priced so high in the first place... but seriously Coke is $.03/8oz and coffee is $.05/8oz - sell a reusable cup for each and let it be filled eternally for $8.00 - put a different sticker on it so it doesn't get passed from cruise to cruise. We would definitely sail with Princess Cruises again - especially since we know what we are doing on the ship. Thanks to Princess for a memorable vacation and honeymoon. (Apologies for the long dissertation - I hope it wasn't boring) Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
My girlfriend and I took the Sea Princess out of San Francisco (May 30) for a 10 day cruise to Alaska, and walked away pretty disappointed. We're both pretty new to cruising, was her first and my second, so I might just have ... Read More
My girlfriend and I took the Sea Princess out of San Francisco (May 30) for a 10 day cruise to Alaska, and walked away pretty disappointed. We're both pretty new to cruising, was her first and my second, so I might just have unrealistic expectations for cruising. 1) The Ship: The ship seemed to be pretty run down and out-dated. The stained carpets, rusty pipes, dirty windows, and broken furniture created a pretty dilapidated atmosphere. The layout was inconvenient at times, the pizzeria was situated directly between the main elevators and the casino, and so while you were trying to enjoy your meal, people were constantly walking through the restaurant. And for those partaking in libations in the "secluded" wheelhouse bar were terrorized by massive crowds leaving the princess theater. The every window that had a view outside was dirty, which I thought they'd be at least trying to keep clean seeing as Alaska was known for breathtaking views. 2) Service: I can't quite say the service was bad, every reasonable request was honored but with a smirk instead of a smile. The staff with the exception a select few seemed too busy to deal with customers. One little thing I was really looking forward to were the towel animals that were always in my room after dinner, some passengers had great stewards that did them, but the vast majority that I spoke with never got a single animal. I know this is trivial, but these little things really make a difference. 3) The Food: Hit or miss anywhere you go. The Buffet was defiantly the worst I've ever been to (and that includes on land also). Because of a norovirus outbreak (not really the cruise line's fault but still) they had employees scooping and serving, which really made the buffet seem crowded to the point of discomfort. And the food was just terrible, except for some eggs benedict that I happened to get straight from the kitchen. Me being a bacon fanatic was excited for the opportunity to stuff my face with all the bacon I could handle, but the bacon tasted artificial and just gross. The only thing truly edible was the prepackaged cereal during breakfast hours. The grill by the pool never had fresh food, but burgers that were reheated at your request, dogs that had been sitting on the rollers for hours, and french fries that they gave a dunk in oil after sitting under a heat lamp. The main dining room was much better than the buffet/grill; as a result it was filled during meal time with about a 15-30 min wait. The food there was very bland but the super salty sauce that covered every dish made up for it I guess. I never got a steak cooked to order, well done every time (I ordered medium-rare), even in the Sterling Steakhouse. Deserts were good though, probably because they were premade and precut. Another little thing, they never once had escargot on the menu, I guess it was on the "secret menu." 4) Cabin: It was small, just like every other cruise cabin in the world, but the beds were hard and lumpy even with a mattress topper. Running with the ships atmosphere it just felt used and abused. 5) Entertainment: This is where my biggest quarrels were. The ship had very few fun activitys, mostly dominated by port shopping lectures (big diamond commercials that make you feel like a broke peasant because you don't want to spend $10,000 in diamonds), corny cruise games (trivia and bingo mostly), and movies that are repeated all day long in you stateroom. We had late seating in the dining room, and they had the times set up for the evening shows so you would have to rush through dinner and skip desert just so you wouldn't miss the first 10 minutes of the show (if you were lucky enough to get a seat that late). If we could do the cruise over again, we would in a heartbeat. We had a AWESOME group at dinner time, the itinerary was spectacular (Glacier Bay is just life changing like a frozen Grand Canyon), the shows we did see were very good and entertaining, and reasonably priced goods/services. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
Here is my full review of our recently taken Crown Princess British Isles Cruise: I have put Grade School Letter Grades (A to F) on most of these: 1) Embarkation/Disembarkation: A Could not have been smoother. No worries ... Read More
Here is my full review of our recently taken Crown Princess British Isles Cruise: I have put Grade School Letter Grades (A to F) on most of these: 1) Embarkation/Disembarkation: A Could not have been smoother. No worries whatsoever. Smooth and well organized on both ends. We had spent a night at the Grovesnor's House Hotel in Mayfair and had Princess pick us up. Were on board in minutes. 2) Cabin: B We were upgraded to a BC Category balcony (Aloha Deck) from an obstructed view window. Nice touch. Closet space was huge with about 30 hangers. Bathroom a bit small and shower was very tiny and hard to negotiate. Balcony was nice. Bed was a bit firm. Order a bathrobe and daily fruit plate, and different pillows if you want. 3) Cabin Steward: B Felix our Cabin Steward was pretty good. He had a workload of 19 cabins without a helper. Most cruise lines have a main steward and an assistant. Not so here, thus some times you would wait for hours to have your room made up. Princess seems to be cutting costs here. But Felix did a great job regardless. Room was always spotless after he cleaned. 4) Dining: C I have talked at length on another thread about the Norovirus outbreak and Code Red lunacy, so I'll save it for now. The buffet was hit or miss. The oatmeal and scrambled eggs seemed to be in a warming tray for hours and congealed into a disgusting and mostly inedible mess. I highly liked the made to order omelets and the over easy eggs instead. Milk was only available out of warm pitchers near the coffee stations; no milk cartons. For lunch and dinner there was always a carving station and some pretty good selections. Again hit or miss on the quality. The Warm Desserts were good (Cherry Jubille, Banana Foster and the like). MDR (Michelangelo's) was just okay. Food quality was not outstanding but there were some good selections. The fish dishes were generally pretty good as were the soups and rolls. Sabatini's was excellent. Do try it once during your cruise. It was a great experience. Bring an appetite! For our Anniversary, we went to the Crown Grill. Our waiter was inexperienced, clumsy and forgetful, so not a great experience, although the food was pretty good (not excellent). 5) Activities B Mostly port days, so few on board activities. We liked the Twice Daily Trivia, the Bingo and the Horse races. Casino was large and had some interesting slot machines, but do not expect to go home with a profit. Pretty tight machines. Casino: Only open about half of the cruise BTW. Surprised that they had no Enrichment lectures on the places we were seeing. Did go to one of their port talks however towards the end of the cruise, and there was substantial history presented on it. Wish I had known that earlier as I has assumed "port talks" were about shopping, eating etc. The port talk lady was excellent. We were usually off ship in the afternoon, but apparently there were "cultural presentations" (i.e folk dancing, music, etc) presented 3 times over the cruise. Catch those if you can. 6) Ports A We chose this cruise primarily for the Itinerary, and it lived up to our expectations. We really liked Dublin, Cork and the 3 ports in Scotland. See below for details. 7) Shore Excursions B As discussed on the Princess boards frequently, they were very expensive. But for the most part Princess did a good job in organizing them. We chose the Princess excursions for the security of knowing we would not miss the ship on return. We mostly chose afternoon half-day tours which avoided the crowds. Most of our tour guides were excellent, one was just fair. 8) Spa/Fitness Center A Excellent staff and just as expected. I always enjoy the thermal suite. It's a welcome retreat. Try it. Loved the ship and the layout. Bathrooms were very very clean. The cruise would have been an A overall, apart from my dismay with which they handled the Norovirus. The buffet area during "Cod Red" was a disaster. Wash your hands people so that you do not bring this Code Red situation into play! Our Port Experience: 1) Guernsey, Channel Islands - A small Island worthy of a few hours. A good place to get started as the first port on this very port-intensive itinerary. Must tender though, and on our day, the seas were quite rough. 2) Cobh (Cork) Ireland - Absolutely Beautiful. A nice sunny day. We went to Blarney castle on the afternoon tour (and kissed the Blarney stone!). We did miss the crowds as most people were there in the morning and early afternoon. The scenery in this area is breathtaking! 3) Dublin, Ireland - The history here is astounding. Did an afternoon tour and visited the Irish National Museum. Could spend a week here easily. 4) Liverpool, England - Most people did the Beatle's tour. We did something a bit different..went on the afternoon tour to a town created by Lord Lever of the Lever Brothers Soap Company. I'll save you the details, but it was surprisingly delightful. Had scones and tea in a 5 star hotel. Great! 5) Belfast, Ireland - Wife was not feeling well (not Noro, thank goodness!), so we unfortunately skipped it. Perhaps someone was telling us something. There was a bomb scare that day which delayed some returnees for over 2 hours on their excursions back. Rare occurrence, but it happened. We had a pleasant day on the ship, nonetheless. 6) Grenock (Glasgow) Scotland - Scotland is beyond beautiful and the people are beyond friendly. Our 3 favorite ports were in Scotland. I explored the port city during the day (they have free tours from the welcome center) and then we had an afternoon tour of Glasgow in the afternoon including their Art Gallery. Exceptionally great day! 7) Invergordon (Inverness) Scotland - Now we are in the highlands. Even more beautiful. I explored the port town during the day, which was absolutely charming. Then we did a bus tour to Loch Ness and Inverness during the afternoon. Well worth it. Try the Scotch Whisky! 8) Edinburgh, Scotland - I had been here before some 30 years ago and remember how impressive this city was. Do explore the castle and Holyrood and the Royal Mile. You will not be disappointed. Luckily, the bus missed the afternoon rush hour traffic due to "bus-only" lanes. Be careful if you are in a car as you will encounter traffic getting back to the port and then you have to tender. 9) Le Havre, France - I've been to Paris before, so it didn't seem worth the very expensive and long ride into the city. We also arrived on Ascension Day, a national holiday, and most everything was closed so we basically skipped France. This is a "British Isles" tour anyways, and we had an early wakeup call for disembarkation day. Had a relaxing day on board instead. 10) Southampton, England - We had a 7am disembarkation for a 4pm flight, so we opted for the Princess Stonehenge tour with airport transfer. It was excellent. Our guide was extremely knowledgeable and so polite. We also had time to explore Salisbury and a drive by of Windsor Castle and Runnymede. Excellent way to end our trip! Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
The Ship: The Ruby was launched in 2008 and still looks new. This ship includes the International Cafe, 3 main dining rooms for traditional and anytime dining, the Horizon Court and Cafe Caribe for buffet dining, Vines for wine and cheese, ... Read More
The Ship: The Ruby was launched in 2008 and still looks new. This ship includes the International Cafe, 3 main dining rooms for traditional and anytime dining, the Horizon Court and Cafe Caribe for buffet dining, Vines for wine and cheese, a Pizzeria, Trident Grill for burgers and hot dogs, Scoops Ice Cream bar, plus Crown Grill and Sabatini's specialty restaurants. There are 5 bars/clubs/lounges. The library has plenty of books to borrow plus some games. There are 3 pools (one adult only near the spa), the Sanctuary for relaxing poolside, a fitness room, a spa, a theater, plus Movies Under the Stars (MUTS). We have been spoiled by the Princess Sun Class ships where the promenade is all on the 7th floor, whereas the Ruby Princess has the promenade on the 8th floor at the front of the ship, requiring stairs up and down to walk around the deck. I did not schedule a spa treatment on this sailing, but loved that I was still allowed to use the spa steam room, pool, showers, and locker room without charge. Stateroom: We had a balcony cabin. It's really nice to spend hours during sea days there. We had also the special dinner on the balcony which was really romantic! Entertainment: Sam, the Cruise Director, kept the schedule full with so many things to do it was difficult to stay idle for long. She is very friendly and nice. Love her jokes. The theater had the usual Welcome Aboard Show on the first evening. There was also "Stardust", "Broadway Ballroom", and "Once Upon a Dream". The comedians, were excellent. We went to see the Magician/Illusionist David Cats, he was simply great, the best show so far. The Orchestra in The Piazza was very cool. The Ports: We stopped at Kusadasi, Istanbul, Mykonos (love it), Naples, Rome, Livorno (Florence) and Barcelona. We loved every single moment of our cruise. All Ports are incredible, unique. Istanbul, Rome, Florence. Very Happy. The Seas: no rocky sea at all!!! Which was great ;) Disembarkation: Princess has really improved the disembarkation process. Instead of everyone crowding the public areas and stairs, passengers are assigned one of the public lounges based on the scheduled departure. When our group was called, it was fast and easy to exit. Our luggage was waiting for us and getting through customs was uneventful. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
We've traveled on Princess many times but have never experiences such great and awful service in a single cruise. High points: Chef's Table: Fantastic and feel honored to have been selected. The food ... Read More
We've traveled on Princess many times but have never experiences such great and awful service in a single cruise. High points: Chef's Table: Fantastic and feel honored to have been selected. The food and wine just kept coming with the Maitre D' and Chef being such wonderful hosts. Being recognized by a bartender who was on the Diamond during last year's trip to Alaska on the Diamond - Excellent memory and great service. Production shows - Best I've seen on any ship, great vocalists and dancers. A peticular deck waitress that helped me make fresh (Not cold) popcorn for my wife during MUTS. She did comment that making another batch of popcorn would make her shift end 30 minutes late, but insisted on helping me even after I told her to not bother. That's excellent service from a great employee - it's not her fault the Ruby shuts down the popcorn machine 10 minutes after the start of the late movie - a poor decision by her boss. Low points: As mentioned in other reviews, the Deck Staff is just awful. It's clear many do not want to be there due to the complete lack of warmth and few smiles. In a particular incident, My Wife and I sat at barstools patiently for several minutes with cruise card in hand waiting to be served. Neither bartender acknowledged us, we still figured one would help us after finished with other passengers. To our amazement, (Now with an empty bar) both proceeded to start cleaning up the bar area while completely ignoring us. Eventually I went downstairs to another bar and reported this to the deck supervisor. He immediately apologized saying he saw us upstairs and assumed we were being served. Then mentioned they cannot always pick great employees and that this was apparently a bad apple of the bunch. While our first trip to the Crown Grill was excellent, It cannot be said of our second visit. After 1 hour and 45 minutes we were still waiting for our steaks. Finally my 75 yr. old Mom became too tired and left leaving with only a dinner salad and bread as the night's meal. Another couple celebrating their 25th Wedding Anniversary was in the same situation. They were still waiting after almost 2 hours and purchasing a very nice bottle of wine from the sommelier, which was now empty without a meal to enjoy. When this was brought up to a manager, he offered to waive the $25 fee, but gave both tables a hard time when asked for consideration on the wine. Finally after waiting another 20 minutes for a higher level manager did they agree to provide us a bottle the next evening. This points to an issue we noticed many times: staff level employees are not empowered to make even the smallest decisions or corrections in favor of a passenger - everything is a big deal and requires one or more supervisiors. An example: My wife ordered a bloody Mary she didn't care for - at any restaurant we've visited, it would be changed out for her drink of choice by any bartender - no questions asked. On the Ruby it took 2 different supervisors to make that decision, that's ridicules and very poor customer service. My overall impression: long term Princess employees have pride in their jobs and enjoy working with the public. The newer ones in many cases come from countries not heavily recruited by cruise lines in the past. The percentage of employees from India and the Caribbean have gone down, being replaced by Eastern Europeans (Previous Soviet Bloc countries) who's culture is simply different - to a degree lacking friendliness and warmth we consider to be essential to good customer service. Does this mean we'll never cruise Princess again? Certainly not, but it points to some disturbing trends Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
This was cruise number 18, and one of our favorites. Here is a quick review: Pre-cruise: We used "air miles" to get to Seattle, so we got a hotel for the day before. Great price on the Red Lion on Priceline.com. Booked ... Read More
This was cruise number 18, and one of our favorites. Here is a quick review: Pre-cruise: We used "air miles" to get to Seattle, so we got a hotel for the day before. Great price on the Red Lion on Priceline.com. Booked shuttle with Shuttle Express to the pier next day. Embarkation: We arrived at about 1230 (good advice on CC...arrive about 1 or 2 PM. Terminal was loading two ships, but process went very quick...only hold up is the boarding pictures. Sail Away: Food was plenty, filling, but not delicious. Even with full ship, process went pretty quick. Room was done early. Luggage arrived quickly, all but one which came late afternoon. Rooms are nicely arranged, lots of storage space. Ports: I know it is going to be hard to believe, but in all ports Alaska and 3 days after in Seattle, no rain. One brief sprinkling in Ketchikan. We arranged own tours, all went well. Food: As you can read on the boards, the food is subjected to personal tastes, but we love the whole dining experience. The buffet is marginal, edible, filling, but not always tasty. Breakfast should be your "eat healthy" meal. The lobster was the best we have had. Fish was great, deserts good, salad bar great. Steak usually overcooked. International cafe great snacks. There is always pizza, hot dogs and hamburgers if nothing else looks good. Entertainment: We love the dancers...you trying doing that on a moving, pitching platform. For the venue, space and props...great shows. Staff: I am amazed at the meanness of some people. The staff bust their collective being to make this a great experience, but some people will not be happy until they have broken somebody down. Eighteen cruises and we have NEVER gotten bad service...not always exemplary, but never bad service. Young Captain who went out of his way to meet people, even us "Insiders". Disembarkation: Painless, quiet...no overhead speakers driving cattle to their pens. Retrieval of luggage also efficient. Using a porter is always a good idea...at least $1 per piece of luggage. Shuttle from Port to Airport: Again, Shuttle Express, went very well. From airport, there was a contracted van that took us to our hotel...another great deal on Hilton through Priceline. Seattle: We didn't fly out until Monday, so we had the whole weekend. Alamo was great price and agent was very accommodating. Again, 3 days in Seattle and one short sprinkle...no rain. Busy weekend...Downtown race on Saturday and Gay Pride parade on Sunday...hard to get around, but saw the Locks, Fish Ladder, Pike Market(fish throwing) and Boeing Museum of Flight. Overall: One of the best cruise experience we have had and most of the success was due to information gleaned from Cruise Critic boards and roll calls. Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
Brooklyn cruise port is a dream to travel out of if you like to drive to your port. Parking is ample and very close, which is rare for anywhere in NYC. The staff at the port are all friendly and helpful. We like this port much more than ... Read More
Brooklyn cruise port is a dream to travel out of if you like to drive to your port. Parking is ample and very close, which is rare for anywhere in NYC. The staff at the port are all friendly and helpful. We like this port much more than others in our area.Embarkation was efficient and fast. Cabins were ready early, and sail away was fun. We had early seating, which is not so much fun on the first day, because it starts at 5:30, which I think should be pushed back on the first night, as you are just getting into vacation mode when you need to rush to get ready for dinner. That being said...dining room staff was outstanding, which was the case through out our cruise. We really noticed an improved, super friendly, very accommodating wait staff this trip. That was the positive about the dining. The negative, the food. Not the quality of the food, rather the taste. We only had 3 meals that were rave worthy. the balance of the meals were bland and tasteless. Dressings on salads were unrecognizable, always tasted like they weren't mixed before serving. Gravies, flavorless. Sauces, pale. I felt like the cooks never bothered to taste what they were preparing, because if they did...they would never let them go out like that. I am not professing to be a dining expert, but I know when something tastes good and when it doesn't taste at all. The breads and rolls were delightful, the pastries, not so much. Another dining gripe, is the lack of seats in the Horizon and Caribe dining areas. You wander aimlessly looking for a place to sit, while balancing your plates, due to the lack of trays. I am sure it saves tons of money on food...but it doesn't make for an enjoyable dining experience. Seating seems to be a problem all over this ship. 3000 plus passengers and theaters that hold approx 700 people. Doooh, not good planning. The piazza, which is one of the ship's gathering areas where many events are held, is missing one major feature.....seats....yikes.Enough of the negative. Well, maybe not. The weather the first 5 days was awful. Fog, cold, dreary were the norm. Cruise lines can't control the weather, but it was a bummer. We missed the first port, Sydney, due to crappy conditions. Charlottetown, a bit of a yawn, but quaint. Halifax, was fun as always. Bar Harbor and Newport are our favorites. We bought some great vinegars and shipped them home from Bar Harbor along with an outstanding lobster lunch complete with "to die for" blueberry pie, and Mansion tours our ritual in Newport. We had a nice lunch on Bellevue in a cafe with outdoor seating, to finally bask in the good weather.The entertainment on this ship was very good, in fact, much better than what we had on our last cruise in April (Celebrity). The cruise director very good at his job. We liked their morning show, and started our day with it. His side kick, quirky and amusing. I would find myself giggling at his antics. We opted to walk off with our luggage this morning. It was fine, except for the broken escalator, which made it a bit more difficult for some people. All considered, I would rate this cruise an 8 of a possible 10 with the biggest positive being the fabulous crew. I must say...the food was the biggest disappointment, but we didn't go hungry. We actually got to eat a hamburger on this cruise, which we never do, and enjoyed it.We would sail again with Princess, but would pray to have a different chef. Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
My husband and I love cruising. We had heard that Princess was better than Carnival. Absolutely not true in this instance. We are very disappointed with Princess. Terrible rude service. There was a noro virus outbreak on the cruise ... Read More
My husband and I love cruising. We had heard that Princess was better than Carnival. Absolutely not true in this instance. We are very disappointed with Princess. Terrible rude service. There was a noro virus outbreak on the cruise previous to ours. Our departure was delayed because of this. We had received a cabin update and we had the new room # which we put on our luggage tags. When we got to the terminal a Princess employee approached us and looked at my boarding pass. You don't board till 630pm. I explained the room change and that Princess had told us we embarked at 530pm. He said it doesn't show that here and you won't get on. I approached another employee and she checked her list and confirmed our boarding time. When we got our room keys I noticed immediately that the room # was different. We went to the pursors desk and I expressed my concern that our luggage would be sent to the wrong room. She said not to worry 120 rooms had been changed and all employees knew about the changes. We went to our room and the room steward immediately tried to start an argument with us. He told us there was supposed to be a single man in that room. We told him it had been changed and we were assigned that room. He kept arguing. finally my husband showed him our key and stated that it opened the door. He finally left. Our luggage never came. My husband said I wonder if they took it to the first room. They did. Some of it anyway. By the way this room was condemned. By now it is 2AM. My husband had to drag the luggage to the elevator to the next floor where our room was. I called the front desk to tell them what happened. They said they would send someone to help my husband with the rest of the luggage. They didn't. For the rest of the cruise they didn't know where we were until the bill came. It was our anniversary and friends paid to have our door decorated. We never got the decoration. Probably on the condemned room's door. The food in the buffet was truly terrible. The food in the dinning room was good. The deserts were great. Our waiter and assist waiter were great. They actually smiled.The maitre d was was rude. Our assigned dinning time was 6PM. The first night we arrived at 545pm. He very crossly told us he almost gave our table away as he had some any time diners that he could have given it to. We told him our dining time was 6pm. He said we would have to start getting there earlier. We didn't know this. How were we supposed to know. Service very slow in the dinning room for breakfast and lunch. If you had a morning shore excursion forget eating there. The shore excursion desk was very inefficient. Long lines our you stand in a group looking at a screen to see if the excursion you wanted was available. The entertainment was excellent as was the music in the various lounges. Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
We are loyal RCL crusiers, before this summer we have complete 7 cruise with RCL. In Europe and Carribean on various ships. Well it was time to try something new. Not really a good idea, you just compare what is in front of you to what ... Read More
We are loyal RCL crusiers, before this summer we have complete 7 cruise with RCL. In Europe and Carribean on various ships. Well it was time to try something new. Not really a good idea, you just compare what is in front of you to what you have had, really not fair to the ship. But it is also good to see what another cruise liner is offering. I would breakdown our cruise into three parts; ship, food&wine, activities/shore start with the good Food excellent, why lots of variety, always available, very good, bad, we had anytime dining which was more like line-up and wait. most nights it was an hour long wait to get seated, whether you had reservation or not...and the Matilde was very very rude. I complained multiple times to just be left standing even longer. If I want a buzzer ed and wait in line, I'd rather go to the cheese cake factory.. Wine, if you like American wine, sure lots of variety, no wine deals like on RCL, only on expensive wines they cant sell...did we drink lots of wine, yes was it good yes but hell to get! Ship, small, tight closterfobic, it felt crowded at the time, our room had double hanging bunks. we were only 2, why. i broke my shoulder, head on them daily, never again. room was also smaller than RCL.getting off the ship was a nightmare, it was the most poorly organized group ever...they just dont gett eh fact that we are on vacation and they should be taking care of us. We may try another Princess cruise, but the Star is not for us.... Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
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