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59 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2016
This is my first review. I am a first time British cruiser, 36 years old professional chap, who was, as I suspect many are, a little bemused by the number of alarmingly poor reviews on this site. It does make me wonder why some people go ... Read More
This is my first review. I am a first time British cruiser, 36 years old professional chap, who was, as I suspect many are, a little bemused by the number of alarmingly poor reviews on this site. It does make me wonder why some people go cruising in the first place if they hate everything. I have just come off Royal Princess for a seven night itinerary in the eastern Med and was not sure what to expect given the poor reviews this ship has had. Nonetheless I went with an open mind and wanted to make my own judgements. The consensus is/was, according to the poorer reviews on here, that the food on Royal Princess is average to middling and not as good as other Princess vessels, the cabins are minute and the balconies so tiny as to not be worth bothering with. The lifts are so poorly placed as to make moving deck to deck a real traumatic nightmare and overall the ship is a huge seventeen deck disappointment. I must say I think all of those things are inaccurate. The food I found to be good throughout and occasionally very, very good indeed depending on what you order. I’ve not been on any other Princess vessels so cannot compare, mind you. The cabins are smaller when you walk in but are absolutely fine size wise and extremely comfortable and well-appointed. Everything is well-designed and I had no issue at all. The balcony was also fine and I do wonder what people are doing on their balconies if not sitting and chilling with a book and some drinks/breakfast to state so categorically that they are unacceptably small. Granted, a game of touch rugby or perhaps a spot of rounders might be a bit difficult I accept but there is most definitely room to swing even a moderately large cat to your heart’s content. The lifts are busy but never over-crowded even on this fully booked 100% occupied sailing and waiting times never exceeded a couple of minutes, even with one of the lifts out of service for maintenance. Respectfully to all concerned, if you cannot handle a couple of minutes wait for a lift at busy times pre or post dinner/tender then perhaps cruising with 4000 other people on a giant cruise ship isn’t for you. Let me first go through the things I found very good or especially impressive by bullet points for clarity. • Royal Princess is a magnificent ship. As mentioned above she was fully booked and 100% occupied for the seven days I was aboard and at no time ever felt busy or crowded. She is a fabulously well-designed vessel, complaints over lifts/stairs notwithstanding. I was hugely impressed the moment I boarded and this only increased as I took the week to explore her. • We encountered some long 5-6m swells on the last sea day inbound to Barcelona and the vessel handled them superbly. There was astonishingly little movement. It was very comfortable and there was no sickness from my fellow passengers that I saw. I’ve worked on ships when I was younger, and 6m metre swells are very much in the “sit down, hold onto something” territory in my past experience even on some big ships, so to feel so little pitching and rolling (even on a beam sea at one point off Corsica) was very impressive. • The food in the Allegro/Concerto was uniformly good – the bread was fresh, the pasta was nicely done, the steak/meats were cooked well and to order, and the sauces seasoned very well. The menu was imaginative and held enough to keep my family and I interested. There were a few dishes that were just good, but a few that were very good indeed and a real highlight. The veal ravioli with cep mushroom sauce and truffle was a delight, for example. I recall also very much enjoying a fresh gnocchi and a hulking great bit of aged New York skirt steak that melted in the mouth. The wines were decent and service save for one night was good and unproblematic. • The Retreat adults-only area was lovely and a real tonic to the occasionally frenetic deck 16 outdoor area. • The cabin and balcony was a lovely and restful place to have a GnT. Probably my favourite aspect of cruising and the reason I cannot wait to cruise again. • The staff were a generally good mixed bunch. When they were bad they were still ok (the Russian/Ukrainian waiters and bar staff could do with cracking a smile and saying please or thank you now and again and some of the junior waiting staff in the upscale restaurants might find knowing the food and drinks menu better might be helpful), but when they were good they were absolutely terrific. Ariel and the rest of the guys on the Vines bar on Deck 5 were fabulous. The two charming Mexican ladies who looked after us in the Allegro were also top professionals and nice to deal with. Doooouglas my cabin steward was extremely efficient and personable as well. The cruise director and his very beautiful Australian second-in-command were charming throughout. Everyone was smart, well-turned out, very professional and approachable. • The Horizon buffet was well done generally and had a great choice of food with plenty going on to keep you interested. I had a braised/slow cooked beef in a dark peanut curry sauce with sticky rice one night after a few drinks that will linger long in the memory. Also the beef hash and potatoes for breakfast – really delicious. • The unlimited drinks package was excellent value and a lot of fun to explore. Recommended. The frozen margaritas are worth it on their own. • The TV on demand thing in the cabins is very good when you want an early night or some downtime before dinner. • Movies Under The Stars is a great idea but Watching Andy Murray Win Wimbledon Again Under The Sun With A Glass Of Wine is an even better one. A great way to watch sport, loved it. • One thing I was worried about was that I’d heard of cruising’s reputation for the constant upselling and hassling you to buy stuff or pose for photos or souvenirs etc or hard-selling trips/excursions etc. Whilst there was a little bit of the photo thing on Royal Princess it never felt intrusive and overall I was pleasantly surprised. • The excursions were fine – there was loads to choose from and I didn’t hear any complaints. • All the ports of call were fabulous. Kotor and Santorini especially were just stunning. The things I wasn’t that impressed with and thought could do with sharpening up. • The wifi is incredibly expensive. I want to access my emails not buy a townhouse in Marbella. • We had poor service one of the nights in the Allegro where everything that could go wrong did so in epic, rather Fawlty Towers style. To use the parlance of my home city – “They had a ‘mare”. We complained and after that the restaurant manager came over to apologise and then the head Maitre’D for the ship (charming and hugely impressive Italian chap called Genneroso, a real top pro) came over and couldn’t do enough for us after that. We were incredibly well-looked after, but the first formal night was pretty much a washout sadly. • Whilst the food in the Horizon is decent and very good in parts, why on earth do they insist on serving cheap (not Heinz! Sacrilege!) baked beans almost raw? Who does that? • The entertainment was a massive let-down. The Jersey Boys tribute act was marred by the fact that the singers couldn’t actually sing which is a drawback for someone making their living as a singer. The comedian chap does do a very impressive Tom Jones and Elvis impression. My advice would be to stick to that. The rest of it wasn’t funny and the Freddie Mercury and David Bowie impressions just downright karaoke. He absolutely died on stage the night we went to see him – I was cringing for the bloke, it was toe-curling to watch. Absolute rubbish. What is the point of having such a huge and well equipped theatre if you don’t put acts on that are worth watching? The string quartet in the Piazza was nice in an inoffensive way, the young lady with a guitar who popped up at times on the ship was also good, and the scatty house cover band that played in the Piazza was the decent side of average but beyond that it was poor. I’d heard glowing reports of the glittering entertainment on cruise ships and was shocked and a bit embarrassed at how bad it was in the main theatre on Royal Princess. I can only assume we had a dodgy sailing where (probably) the usual theatre entertainment were all struck down with botulism before sailing and we got unlucky with the stand-ins. A comfort for anyone reading this – I very much doubt the comedian chap or the Jersey Boys act will be invited back so you’re safe there! • The shops are nice but not selling i-Phone lightning / android phone charge wires or plug adapters was a real miss for me. I am an idiot who leaves these things in hotel rooms with boring and expensive monotony and the shop missed out on a lot of captive dollars from me by not selling them. • I only found out Alfredo’s is a zero surcharge restaurant after the cruise had finished. I’d certainly have visited otherwise. Need to make that clearer. • Formal nights. We got dressed up in full dinner jacket etc and felt a bit daft, especially on the second formal night. So many people wandering round in shorts and vest tops or polo shirts and jeans trying to get into the restaurants. What’s the point? Felt like half the ship couldn’t be bothered and weren’t pushed by the crew. Either do it or don’t do it. • Singles at 8 in the Wheelhouse Bar. I went and was the only one there. Either advertise it or drop it. Some suggestions for the company which other cruisers of this vessel may or may not agree with: • It would be great if there were screens in the lifts and in some of the public areas showing a moving map display like we get on the IFE on aircraft. Perhaps even an interactive one? That would be great to have. • A better selection of draft beers would be great. The US is at the vanguard of the world now (controversial!) in craft IPAs and small(er) batch lagers and ales that make my US business trips a real joy, in stark contrast to years gone by. With that in mind and the fact that Princess are an American cruise brand, I’d love to see them make more of their burgeoning craft beer culture. It’s something worth celebrating. • The drinks outlets are a bit samey. Crooners, Vines, Wheelhouse and Bellini’s are all much of a muchness. Royal Princess could do with a sports bar, a glitzy cocktail bar effort (Club 6 doesn’t quite get there I’m afraid) and certainly the Salty Dog gastropub will be a welcome addition at the next refit. The margaritas are super – why not make more of that into something a little more speciality themed? I recognise sports or margarita bars are more Carnival than Princess brand wise but with 4000 people on board and so many F&B outlets I do think there is scope/interest. • The Vista Lounge seems to be a massive space that never had anyone in it every time I stopped by. Could be half the size and be more intimate, and create the room for another bar/pub/sports lounge etc. Overall: Royal Princess is a fabulous ship to make my cruise debut on and on the whole I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was literally one meal service and some entertaining theatre entertainment away from perfection. I take the points of past reviewers but I think there is a tendency to over-criticise and slate for slating’s sake for some and I’m someone who prefers to focus on what I enjoyed instead of what wasn’t so great. Even the most ardent and committed of miseries would, I hope, concede that there is much more to enjoy and love about cruising on Royal Princess than there is that needs work. My whole family enjoyed the cruise very much as I did and it did exactly what we wanted it to – we had a stunning family holiday that we will all remember very fondly for the rest of our lives. They say great cruise ships age well and I suspect Royal Princess’ first big refit (coming soon and apparently to include Salty Dog gastropub and some other tweaks) will iron out some of the parts that need a little bit of work and thin out the complaint reviews for the terminally miserable. I’d happily pay the same again for the same cabin on her tomorrow, without blinking. I’d recommend Princess and Royal Princess to anyone. Just go, enjoy yourself and don’t stress about a very occasional few minutes waiting for a lift. Read Less
19 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2016
This was our first cruise, so it was all new to us. Having read previous reviews of this ship we did wonder if adverse comments were true. More of that later. We are an early 60s British couple recently retired, travelling with a ... Read More
This was our first cruise, so it was all new to us. Having read previous reviews of this ship we did wonder if adverse comments were true. More of that later. We are an early 60s British couple recently retired, travelling with a relative. The cruise was 16d/15n from Los Angeles to Fort Lauderdale via the Panama Canal, with stops in Guatemala, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia and Aruba. The ship was built in 2002 and refitted last year, with extra cabins added at the rear of Deck 7 Promenade. It is one of two built to Panamax size to suit the Canal, although larger ships can be taken when new locks and channels are commissioned later in 2016. Standard of fit out and furnishing was excellent, with much polished and varnished wood, chrome and marble. Maintenance continued throughout the voyage, and at each stop crew were on shore painting out rust and tug marks on the hull. Previous posters complained about the addition of cabins in the 2015 refit, cutting off the stern part of the Promenade Deck. This wasn't a problem for us when walking , as you could either turn around and walk a long U shape, or cross a landing to do full circuits. There were also comments about crowding in public areas, but we only found a problem in the breakfast buffet in Horizon Court at peak time. The answer was to order hot drinks, cereals and fruit from room service, then to have a cooked breakfast when the crowds had subsided. A daily news letter listed activities, talks and shows, with extra information sheets on destinations. There were also regular deliveries and reminders about "enrichment" (shopping) opportunities. It was irritating how Princess constantly tried to squeeze more money out of the passengers, through on-board shopping, wine tastings, photos and DVDs, the casino, and exorbitant behind the scenes tours at $150 each. Although we only saw a few shows they were varied and good quality. The food was varied and of good quality. Our dining option was the late sitting of fixed time, which gave time to relax and have a drink before dinner, especially after shore excursions. Although we three had asked to join a table of eight we were on our own for the first two nights. The Maitre D' then placed two other couples on the table with us after they changed their options. We like to think that he was proactive to ensure compatibility. The dress codes, including formal nights, were generally adhered to and enforced. Most passengers were American, with some Brits, Germans and Canadians, and generally older than us. Although there's a teenagers' area we only saw one young person and one toddler. Previous reviewers said that some staff were rude. Without exception, all staff were friendly, attentive and efficient. The only rude people we met were some passengers, who talked to staff as though they were inferior beings. Some vocabularies don't include "please" and "thank you". Doors to decks had stiff closers for obvious reasons, and when holding them open for passengers some didn't thank or even acknowledge me. It was irritating on shore excursions when passengers had loud conversations when guides were talking. A "sailaway" party was planned for departure, but was cancelled as we sailed away four hours late following a faulty software update on the ship's control systems. There were four sea days before the first stop at Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala, which gave us time to familiarise ourselves with the ship and to get over jet lag. A shore trip took us to to a coffee plantation and Antigua, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Both were worth seeing. At the next stop in Puntarenas we visited a rain forest where a modified ski lift takes passengers above the canopy. Tours started late as another cruise ship was moored at the same pier, and space was limited for coaches to reverse to the ships. The walk around Panama was interesting, when we anchored off Fuerte Amadore and were tendered ashore. At Cartagena and Aruba we decided to do our own thing. The cruise dock at the former is in a commercial port, but there's a shopping centre a short walk along the dock. Check out the emeralds, and haggling can reduce the marked price. Aruba's pier is next to the city, and there are plenty of shops, bars and restaurants to visit. The short time in port meant that some trips would have been rushed. Due to a late return flight to the UK we booked a disembarkation tour at Fort Lauderdale, cruising the Intercoastal Waterway before transferring to Miami airport. The coach driver and guide were confused about where to drop passengers for Virgin Atlantic, and dropped us at the furthest point. We then had a long trek through the airport with our luggage. It is worth paying to use an airport lounge, with drinks and snacks, as the catering provision in the airport is awful. Our cabin was one of only 8 mini-suites on the ship, with the same area as balcony cabins. There was some shuddering when sailing into heavier seas, and there was noise when docking due to being directly above the bow thrusters. In their wisdom Princess have put all laundromats at the stern, so the round trip from a bow cabin like ours to wash or iron was 500 metres. Given the number of sea days we paid for the all inclusive drinks package, which was value for money. If you tot up specialist coffees, bottled water for the cabin and excursions, cocktails before dinner, glasses of wine with, and liqueurs after it is worth it. Don't order bottled water from room service as you still have to pay for it. My wife lost a crown during the trip and I asked the front desk if treatment could be arranged during one of the stops. They never got back to us. We will definitely cruise again, and probably with Princess around the UK or to the Baltic, so the ships will be different. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2016
Flew from Melbourne & stayed overnight at Hacienda Motel opposite the docks. Adds nearly $1,000 per couple to the over all holiday. Real pain for us Melbournians. Apart from that, Brisbane Portside Precinct is lovely and within ... Read More
Flew from Melbourne & stayed overnight at Hacienda Motel opposite the docks. Adds nearly $1,000 per couple to the over all holiday. Real pain for us Melbournians. Apart from that, Brisbane Portside Precinct is lovely and within walking distance of several motels, it was hot, we called a taxi -$8. No real problems boarding, except so many people arrive hours before time. Brisbane is quite organised, there is seating but thank goodness we walked down the precinct again and had a coffee and looked at the ship from the balcony viewing area, before checking in (Platinum). Not been on Sea Princess before, the upgrade/refit in Horizons is lovely, appears much lighter than on Dawn Princess. More room around the tea & coffee area and sweet & savoury snacks and treats behind glass, does seem somewhat cleaner in these times. Rooms - we had an inside as we booked late and took what was available, near the back but all good. We like fine dining, had problems in Rigolletos as we had booked for table for 2 and on table for 10, two men very unpleasant and argumentative. Tried to get smaller table, on 4th night we had a table to ourselves, 5th night arriving at 8.10 (7.45 was our booked time) the Maitre de (rudely) said we were "too early"! Really! I offered to look at the shops, he then said he had no room for us, try Traviata's - really! This was our 9th cruise so were quite taken aback by his attitude. Traviata's were also surprised but accommodated us with no problems. Note: A passenger told us there are only 4 tables for 2 in the Fine Dining Restaurants. I can't confirm this. Anyway, all good from there on, I even had a birthday cake one evening, very nice. The PNG Cruise itself - hot, humid, fun, very good company most people our own age, we are 72 + 76. Shows were good, islands were fun. Cultural Show at Alatau is a must and take a chance and ride a canoe, the people will look after you. Sure there's not a lot to see but we got off at every stop, swam in the beautiful pristine waters, took another chance and with the help of local finally got on a sailing boat to the little island only 5 mins away. $5 each. Locals are lovely, they do have markets but have little idea of pressuring you to buy. THINGS YOU MUST HAVE: Plenty of $5 notes, lollies for the children. Other items you could take are books, pencils, clothing. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2015
Decided to go on this cruise only 4 weeks before departure. Good price on a Princess ship I had not been on before because I mainly cruise out of Sydney because I don't like flying. The overseas terminal at Circular Quay was no worse ... Read More
Decided to go on this cruise only 4 weeks before departure. Good price on a Princess ship I had not been on before because I mainly cruise out of Sydney because I don't like flying. The overseas terminal at Circular Quay was no worse than I expected. White Bay is much better for boarding but the newer big ships can't get under the bridge. I was very pleased to be upgraded 2 days before leaving - note to those using travel agents, don't rely on them to keep looking at your cruise personaliser on the Princess website. You must do it yourself and print out your luggage tickets the day before you are leaving. My cabin was a balcony cabin on deck 12, upgraded from partial obstructed view on Deck 8. A bit of a downgrade upgrade because I like to be on lower decks for easy access and use of stairs for dining room, entertainment etc. However it was nice to get a balcony. I do not like the television being up high and was also disappointed not to have movies etc on demand that is now a feature of Sun Princess. I hope it is installed during Golden's facelift. I do not usually go to Horizon but I did use it on port days for lunches. Reminded me why I do not use it. Salads ok, people pushy. Dining Room - excellent choice of dining companions for a group of 8 solos, thank you Maitre D. We had good food, good service and good fun at dinner every night. I only went to one show in the Princess Theatre, which was ok. Trivia each day was well run and there were fun theme trivias at night in the Vista Lounge and Explorers. When you found the musicians you liked, as usual they were good. Disembarkation was well organised and speedy. Only problem is whoever picking you up at the overseas terminal has problems, not Princess fault. Overall a lovely relaxing cruise (I don't get off at tender ports, have seen them all before) up to Princess standard. Golden Princess nice change and will enjoy her facelift next year. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2015
I flew to Singapore and took in 3 tours before embarking on the Sea Princess as a 'cruise virgin' and 'solo sailor'. The first impression at the Singapore Terminal embarkation was not good. I assumed by arriving around ... Read More
I flew to Singapore and took in 3 tours before embarking on the Sea Princess as a 'cruise virgin' and 'solo sailor'. The first impression at the Singapore Terminal embarkation was not good. I assumed by arriving around 12pm, I'd be on board having lunch by 1pm. We were given a ticket number to wait. Some passengers got on and our group #14 waiting two hours in the terminal, with no explanation and no activity. Then passport snatched of me on the gang plank not by an officer (ones in white), but a cabin staff member. Having got that off my chest, I have to say the crew, the passengers and food were excellent. I had a great cabin location next to lifts on the level 6 close to the atrium. The shows I attended I really enjoyed and the entertainment the crew put on the last night was truely a great way to finish the cruise. The staff are multi-talented. As a solo sailor I met a lot of people and found everyone friendly and accommodating. The ship coming out of dry dock presented some minor problems, there issues with toilets overflowing and new staff not sure of some things. Problems I had were quickly fixed, except I couldn't use a HDMI cable to review photos on the TV. It worked the first day, but despite two attempts technician was unable to fix it. Communication on board was good and only major drama was the breakdown of 3 tenders (one with a rope around the prop) in Langkawi which left a never ending line of people on the dock in the hot sun for about 1 1/2 hours. There seemed reluctance to send senior officers ashore to manage the issue. I know there will be strong complaints about this. Although where I was we joked and made the best of it. But seriously the tenders are our line-line and not a good look given they were supposed to overhauled in dry dock and certified. The tour reservations I had in each port I was very happy with, Except Lombok it was expensive and the tour bus old and air con barely managed a puff of air. I leaned on one seat standing up and it broke, injuring the knee of a passenger behind me. That put a dampener on that tour and I hope the women's knee is okay. Overall, as a first cruise I enjoyed most of the cruise experience and can see why it's now so popular way to travel. If on your won a short cruise is great. Longer ones, you definitely need a companion as there a times where you feel left out and not catered for. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2015
Just back from 13 days on the Diamond Princess to New Zealand. Service was good and breakfast in bed a lovely treat. Overall the trip was fine, the food was the best I've encountered on any ship I've been on before and of course ... Read More
Just back from 13 days on the Diamond Princess to New Zealand. Service was good and breakfast in bed a lovely treat. Overall the trip was fine, the food was the best I've encountered on any ship I've been on before and of course the free ice-cream bar was great. Possibly the only thing that was disappointing was that we had to miss the two main places I'd joined the cruise to see, being Port Chalmers at Milford Sound and Dunedin. We stayed for two days in Wellington instead, which was okay, but just didn't have the spectacular scenery of Milford Sound. It would be great if cruise-lines could compensate passengers who have missed their favourite ports (and some very disappointed passengers, who I met on-board, that had travelled all the way from New York) with maybe an on-board credit or a special cabin upgrade on their next cruise which would soften the blow a bit. I realise ships have no control over the weather but in fact passengers pay heaps and heaps of money to these companies who should be seen to at least try to keep their clients happy..... Being a single traveller I found the listed Singles get togethers in the Wheelhouse Bar at 9/30pm each night were a TOTAL FLOP. Why even list them. Absolutely no-one is game enough to sit with a stranger and start a conversation and not one single so-called "event" was hosted to at least introduce a few people around. I felt totally lonely on all these nights, not even the women tended to mix. If the wonderful entertainment staff had at least attended one of these nights at the beginning of the 13 days maybe I would have had someone to talk to!!! (and I'm no shrinking violet). Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2015
The service on there was really good nothing too much trouble but be careful with reception as some of them do not speak good English or understand. The best person to speak with is Bernard who comes from Canada. We have never had such ... Read More
The service on there was really good nothing too much trouble but be careful with reception as some of them do not speak good English or understand. The best person to speak with is Bernard who comes from Canada. We have never had such friendly helpful staff. The food is always cold so do not except too much, the deserts in the Horizon is really good for choice and the staff up there are the best always asking if you would like coffee or tea , Water nothing was too much for them to do for you. The free ice cream on the Lido deck is free and really good. The biggest problem was the shaking of the cabin at the AFT deck lido deck 14 on island princess shaking these are new cabins even though they were clean and nobody could look down on you and were not noisy the shaking is like being on one of those fitness shaking machines all the time. The shows were very short and some of the acts were terrible. The Films on Deck at night were good with free popcorn and cookies. The Burger bar is very good very hot food and fresh. Room Service which is free try the steak sandwich in the afternoon what a treat. The cabin Staff were so good always cleaning and perfect. Always sun lounger’s room in the pool space for all as there are 2 main pools and a splash pool on top deck forward. Be careful with the photographs can be very persistent. One of the best things is Any dinning you can go for dinner between 5:30 and 10 o'clock and sit a a different table every night. When shopping on board we found that staff very unhelpful and always looking at their watches rather than helping you. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2015
I have sailed with princess since 1977 and I have sailed on Emerald Princess several times. My last trip was out of Athens on the 16th of May 2015 and from the embarkation it had lots of issues. On arrival at Athens Port no one to help ... Read More
I have sailed with princess since 1977 and I have sailed on Emerald Princess several times. My last trip was out of Athens on the 16th of May 2015 and from the embarkation it had lots of issues. On arrival at Athens Port no one to help with luggage. The staff were actually sitting on the Trolley's smoking great impression, did not rush to help at all. I was sent into a embark hall to wait with no one in the hall then moved into another embark hall. Being a Platinum member I did not even get welcome back, just can I have your cabin number and not even enjoy your cruise. What do they say first impressions really matter. My cabin was fine but my steward had absolutely no personality at all. He forgot to clean my stateroom twice, left all his cleaning products in my bathroom for a week and left rotten fruit in my cabin. No attention to detail at all. I had no complaints about the dining room my waiter and assistant waiter were superb and so was our Head Waiter. The food has certainly changed since the last time I was on board. The Crown Grill which I ate in twice was marvellous, but the experience at Sabatini 's Restaurant was less than memorable, if they are going to charge for an Italian Restaurant they need to have Italian Waiters. The entertainment was shocking and the stage shows were there four years ago If they flog that Love Boat Theme once more I would scream, this is 2015 not 1977 yes they are celebrating the 50 years but really when leaving a fabulous place like Istanbul at 10 pm in the evening don't play the Love Boat Theme, seriously. The Female Cruise Director was dreadful They really need to pay attention to their staff and the way they dress, some uniforms have been in since Princess started and you need to get rid of the white pursers uniform on woman it is not flattering. I recently went on a Costa Cruise and I have nothing but praise for how beautifully the staff were attired. The front Desk staff were rude, cold and unwelcoming The boutiques need a massive revamp they are still in the 1980's The rudest person on the ship was the guy in the Internet café you are honestly doing yourself no favours having him aboard. My biggest beef was the fact that I had prepaid my departure transfer and nd it took 11 goes to get it right. I have cruised with Princess for a long time, I still had a good time on board but to keep up with the newest ships in the market they need to change. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2015
Embarkment-a breeze because the times were staggered so no build up. Disembarkment - my 10th cruise, but disembarkment will never be pleasant and smooth it is what it is. cabinc321; plenty of hanging and drawer space for 2 people; ... Read More
Embarkment-a breeze because the times were staggered so no build up. Disembarkment - my 10th cruise, but disembarkment will never be pleasant and smooth it is what it is. cabinc321; plenty of hanging and drawer space for 2 people; suit cases stored under the bed . bathroom is well designed the shower would have been bigger if it had a sliding door instead of a plastic curtain which clings to you thankfully we were of average weight and size otherwise the cabin was very comfortable. As always the steward did a fantastic job we were very impressed. Finding our way around this ship was easy as we have done the diamond before in 2006. Dining; of our 10 cruises we have done 5 princess cruises and we can certainly say the food has improved in all areas and the staff were well drilled they could not be faulted. Enterainment;not so good-some very limited in what they do even the band and dj why geta ballroom and latin dj who does not understand what to play-must blame the cruise director because only a handfull attended because it was not promoted. Movies under the stars was very good,a choice of latest movies which was shown in our cabin the following day Overall a well maintained ship for all ages we did our own tours on land Ps i met many people who withdrew their gratuities why,after all it goes to the crew who bend over backwards to look after us,maybe it should be included in the cruise fare , even if it reduced everyone will contribute ,this is happening on all cruise lines. Although there was a flu virus outbreak on board it did not deter us as we were ultra careful returning to cabin, we always wiped all areas we touched and sprayed with our own antiseptic spray. Ports of call, varied and interesting but very very hot and most times could not wait to get back on board where the crew gave us cold facecloth, nice touch diamond princess Read Less
Sail Date: November 2013
This was our second Princess cruise and we've already booked another for February. Must admit it helps living in Central Florida as there's no need for airfare, etc.! I'd registered for the CC Roll Call so already ... Read More
This was our second Princess cruise and we've already booked another for February. Must admit it helps living in Central Florida as there's no need for airfare, etc.! I'd registered for the CC Roll Call so already "knew" several others that were on the cruise from information we'd exchanged on this site. It was so much fun as we already had others to meet for Anytime Dining, etc. A roll call member had set up a Meet&Mingle with the Island Princess and there were about 25 people that showed up. The cruise director and six other senior staff members came and spent about 15 minutes talking with us. The cruise director said that Princess enjoys CC members who are on cruises as "we" are all pretty knowledgeable about what o expect. We went mostly to see the Panama Canal and are happy we did the cruise as a partial-transit. As it was, we spent more full-days at sea than we'd have liked. It would have been much better to have days with shore-time mingled better with full-days at sea. The Canal was as expected. I'd read the Princess excursion that went through all the locks to the Pacific side was worthwhile, but also that it was too long. I agree and wish we'd done something different. Once you've gone through the first lock into Lake Gatun,you've seen how the locks work, no real need to see them all. Plus, the long bus ride back at the end of the day takes you through rush hour...ugh! We were in a mini-suite A-503 and enjoyed the space with so much time at sea. The cabin was mid-ship and so convenient although the balcony was smaller than most due to its location. It was a short walk up one flight of steps to the Lido deck so it was easy to go up for meals at the Horizon Court or the pools. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2013
This review favours the ship more than the destination. My TA offered me a cruise for 869. pp incl taxes for 2 wks in Alaska August 28 - Sept. 11, 2013. My daughter and I cruised strictly for r & r. As "destination cruisers" ... Read More
This review favours the ship more than the destination. My TA offered me a cruise for 869. pp incl taxes for 2 wks in Alaska August 28 - Sept. 11, 2013. My daughter and I cruised strictly for r & r. As "destination cruisers" we sailed w/ apprehension as "journey cruisers". First we'd been to Alaska before and as natives of British Columbia we were not impressed . northern B.C boasts more dramatic and stunning landscapes unless.the traveller is seriously into ice burgs, but Vancouver is our home port. we took public transport and walked straight onto the ship about 2 pm. we cruised w/ carnival (1st and last time) elation and Norwegian star (tolerable w/ a balcony cabin) in feb. (see my reviews) and i was hassled over wearing my glasses for pics, so princess' laid back, but efficient boarding was a treat. our cabin was ready and lucky us we'd been upgraded from an inside to a window cabin. as always we headed straight to the spa and purchased access to the thermal suite (99 per wk) -the special area (10 for a morn or aft) is just plain silly in alaska and was deserted - whose going to pay to sit outside in a cabana in freezing weather? who would sit there for free? the thermal suite offers heated bed similar to HAL, but less elegant and 3 wet spas - eucalyptus, tropical and plain steam. open 9 - 10 my daughter and i went up every night at 9 and relaxed. we had set early dinner, but princess offer "freestyle" if desired. warning - long lines for couples who don't share and large groups. if that's you i'd opt for a set time. dining rm opens at 5:15, but couples got in at 5 somehow and glommed on to a window seat. there was a mix up in our reservation and we were led to a table for 6 --mario, the mgr quickly found us a table for 2 and that worked well for the rest of the voyage. Food - less than HAL, better than NCL or Carnival. i'm diabetic so i eat 5-6 small meals a day so i usually opted for 2 appetizers and 1 desert. sugarless desserts were scrumptious especially the mango mouse cake and taramisu. salads few and mostly inedible w/ bitter greens which drove me to discover .the buffet on the Lido deck had a sumptuous salad bar - we also took to going up there for dessert because of the variety and they were identical in qaullity to dining rm fare. formal night - always the second night at sea uually has surf and turf, but on our cruise it was available first night -- odd. i don't eat red meat, so i was offered 2 servings of prawns (no lobster on the pacific coast). lunch was in the buffet. indian food w/ a different curry every day, great salads, lots of cheese, cold cuts and sandwich fixins', fresh roast of lamb or pork or beef sliced to order, chicken entrees, and fruit and veggies galore. also a burger bar available and an ice cream station. breakfast in the dining rm - pastries, juices, waffles, pancakes,oatmeal, lox and bagels, eggs bennie, and any other way you might order your eggs, ham bacon sausages, hash browns wtx. the buffet also available. In Ketchican (the salmon were running) we had a fresh salmon bar b q. room service - free - pizza $5. rm service offers little variety and the food is ho hum. mostly sandwiches, the ceasar salad was inedible. we discovered we could order the fruit plate and cheese plate from the dining room (marius strikes again) and they would deliver it to our cabin. cabins big and comfortable w/ 2 lg beds side by side and a small table. usual amt of closet spc. safe. shower in bathroom. cabin smaller than HAL; bigger than NCL. robes available on request. our room server was always available and honoured our request to skip the nightly cheap chocolate and towel animals. he knew we ate on schedule and serviced our room when we were at breakfast or dinner. service was fine, but i expect that on a cruise. no complaints; no kudos. room clean (my daughter is fussy). vacuumed weekly. Ports - Ketchican - rains a lot - opposite Prince Rupert, BC (90 min drive) - small and accessible by walking off ship. shopping and small art galleries on Creek st. tours for whale lovers and animal lovers. architecture ho hum. you can walk in the woods - no tour, but be careful not to get lost.not great for shopping wait for Juneau (next port) Juneau. - capital of alaska. pop. 32K. only accessible by ship or plane. first stop on the turn of the century gold rush trail shoppers paradise w/ great sales in sep. - every week in sept. the prices drop except inketchican.. walking distance from ship (10 min to town). Red Dog saloon complete w/ sawdust on the floor -- worth a drink to soak up the ambiance. adequate band w/ a sense of humour.. we were there on a sunday and tried to go to church, but the priest was stuck in a nearby town and his lane was delayed by fog. that info was almost as good as mass. Skagway - it was cold and rainy. took shuttle from ship to town. ($2). museum of gold rush has film and a few artifacts of the bygone era (free). first stop on the gold rush trail and my personal favorite town in alaska.did you know wyatt earp dealt farrow on a ship off the coast for 28 years? train trip booked on ship (1 1/2 hr) gives you a great tour of the surrounding landscape and fun to spot animals. the six block old town in the centre of town is preserved exactly the way it was at the turn of the century w/ wooden sidewalks and freshly painted, but authentic buildings (if you like architecture bring your camera). be sure to see the former mayor's office made out of drift wood.great little restaurants and snack shacks w/lg portions of plain , but hearty fare. shoppers paradise, but diamonds international here is like Juneau. if you get tired of souveneer shops-- try the russian store and for you ladies "temptations" is a fine boutique w/ enchanting styles. i can't resist a visit and always buy something -- remember sept. sales. Red Onion saloon and brothel (offers tours of the brothel along or town and brothel museum at ridiculous prices. still, ladies in authentic dress serve lunch and drinks. Wittier - stay on ship. pop. 225 fork and 90 per cent live in one bldg. from ship you can see the bldg surrounded by train freight depot. really ugly site. Ship - lots to do - we went for a lecture on how to take better pictures, a craft class (on the way up we mad birthday cards and on the way back, boxes), the spa had a health seminar - beware spas are pushing a seaweed cure that my doctor says is bogus. all seminars, even the footprint analysis, end up in selling the algae cure. the spa offers a stretch class 7-7:30 am followed by abs crunch .lots of state of the art fitness equipment. we got hooked on trivia offered 2 times a day, great fun. scrabble and card games offered. i met a woman who entered the elevator chuffed at getting a word for an enormous amt of points. the casino offers bingo as well as the usual slots, cards etc. i was pleased to see the casino was tucked aft and could be avoided if you so choose. taking and perusing and hopefully, on the part of the photographers, buying pics seemed to be a major pastime. Entertainment:the usual hoaky musicals provided w/ the exception of the New Orleans musical that played great music related to new orleans that was so entertaining we watched it on the way up to seward and back. a vegas type music man was pretty good if you like soul. the motown musical was ok as was the world offering. there only the celtic music fit the dancing.-- how could you get jive wrong? the illusionist was disappointing -- he pulled his wife out of ten different boxes - yawn! skipped the comedian. princes offers movies unders the stars, but in alaska its music under the ice, on our trip to the spa at night we saw a few hardy souls who were covered in blankets and cloths that coverdevery part of their bodies excet the eyes. who cares if they offer free pop corn. noone ate it because they would have to remove their mittens. i am happy to report a couple of the movies were shown inside, for example the latest star trek rip off -- it was sad - a rehash of "the wrath of kahn" w/ action and a muddied storyline. a tom cruise sci fi was also shown -- so forgetable i forgot the title. at least i as warm. drinks available during evening performances. The highlight of the trip was dr. ryan, a naturalist. who lectured on the history of the gold rush, whales/otters and took you on deck to see them, and ice burgs. a movie on the people who live in alaska (available on your cabin tv) was enlightening. real survivalists. also park rangers came on board for 6 hrs and taught about the ice burgs and wildlife. while i appreciated that others were thrilled w/ alaska i like the philosophy of a man on deck who said to me, "what is the socially acceptable length of time to stare at an ice burg?" my sentiments exactly. tourists who come to alaska are a hearty breed. on the whole i enjoyed my trip. there was plenty to do on the ship. sometimes i felt like i was running from activity to activity and i skipped a lot. there was time to read and relax. there was also dancing in the bars. and late night activities i skip. i came for r & r and i came home rested and happy. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2013
Staff was very friendly and attentive, I felt welcomed and appreciated, unlike a recent NCL trip. Food was good to very good in the traditional and anytime dinning rooms, the Horizon court buffet was packed during breakfast and lunch but ... Read More
Staff was very friendly and attentive, I felt welcomed and appreciated, unlike a recent NCL trip. Food was good to very good in the traditional and anytime dinning rooms, the Horizon court buffet was packed during breakfast and lunch but the food trays were mostly kept full and tasted OK. Seating here was always an issue and I usually ended up with a table next to a busy main traffic isle as those with window seats around the perimeter did not seam to want to leave anytime soon. The issue here was I ALWAYS had a fellow cruiser walking by me, bumping into me or hovering over my table as I ate, not a relaxing enjoyable experience, unlike the main traditional dinning rooms which were great and I always looked forward to. The Ship was clean and well maintained and the entertainment that I saw was acceptable. The Star does have a lot of heated fresh water deep swimming pools and many hot tubs so I could always find someplace to get wet or soak depending on the weather. The only reason I will not sail on the Star again is I do enjoy a few fine Cigars while on board and the Star does not have a Cigar Lounge, they have designated only ONE Place on the ship were you can smoke a cigar and it is a heavy cigarette smoking, noisy and rowdy sports bar with your basic bar stools and bar table and chairs and a dozen TV's with all the same sports programming. It is true that Cigar smokers are a minority but for me it is an important part of the cruise experience and the Star Princess did not meet my expectations in this regard and as such I would not sail on her again, which is unfortunate as I had a overall good time on a good ship. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2012
Just got back yesterday from a relaxing trip aboard the Grand Princess. The ship: beautiful interior, well- appointed and exceptionally clean. We have been on some bigger ships with slightly better amenities that come on the newer mega ... Read More
Just got back yesterday from a relaxing trip aboard the Grand Princess. The ship: beautiful interior, well- appointed and exceptionally clean. We have been on some bigger ships with slightly better amenities that come on the newer mega ships, but this ship is very nice. Service: Overall service was excellent. My only complaint was bar service was very slow during peak times. They named to have more bartenders available during those times as it often took over ten minutes to get served. Stateroom staff was excellent as we're the wait staff in the restaurants. Food: Food was good, fesh and plentiful. One night I got a steak that was not as ordered. The waiter noticed I wasn't eating it and asked if anything was wrong. I told him it was over cooked but not tomworrymI wasn't all that hungry. Then as if by magic, a new plate appeared with a perfect steak. I don't know how he got it so fast. Food isn't gourmet by any standard... But well done considering the 15,000 plates they serve per day. If you're a foodie, you'll need to adjust your standards a little. Dining Room: We opted for the Anytime Dining. Loved the flexibility of eating in main dining rooms anytime between 5:30 and 10:00 or choosing their buffets in the Horizon Court which were quite good and offered a huge variety. The buffet allows you to eat much more quickly if you're in a rich to do something else. And Horizon Court's desert selection looks like a European bakery--- lots of tasty choices. We didn't opt for the optional cover charge restaurants because I was too cheap to spend an extra $75 for the three of us.Entertainment: This is where we were very, very disappointed. Maybe because of the time of year (week before Christmas) but there were a lot of geriatric cruisers complete with canes, walkers and electric mobility scooters... And sadly for us, the majority of entertainment options were programmed for them. I'm 62 and felt like a youngster compared to many of the passengers. The big live production shows were average. No wow factor. All a bit dated. When the cruise staff's talent show is better than the professionals on board, there's a problem. The bands on board were all very average and didn't play anything more current than the 1980's at best. The "big star" in Crooner's lounge is an "entertainer" who plays moldy oldies on the piano accompanied by a very loud karaoke track. Steel drums every day on various decks for seven days made me feel like tossing those tubs overboard. It's fun for the first day but... Activities: Also for the elderly crowd. Bingo, line dancing, trivia contests, several 50's & 60's musical events, etc. Seems their Cruise Director is frozen in timel like the 1980's. My 18 year old was totally bored with almost no options for his age. And my wife and I weren't far behind him. They do have a huge Super Bowl sized outdoor television screen and run movies at night and have popcorn and pizzas available as well as the ability to lay on sun loungers for total comfort. They even provide blankets if it's chilly at night. Ports of call: Aruba, Caracao and Princess Cays. Enjoyed all three. Logistics for getting on and off ship were excellent. If you like to snorkel, I highly recommend Aruba Bob in Aruba. Excellent snorkeling with this operator but you must book them online. We've snorkeled all over the Caribbean and they are by far the best. Nice, experienced and make sure everyone is safe in the water. Per our observation they are excellent teachers for beginners too. Embark/Debark at Port: Princess needs to teach our airlines how to move passengers quickly and efficiently. They provide an excellent experience coming and going. Summing it up: As stated a beginning of this review, we did relax, ate well but were grossly disappointed by the activities and entertainment. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2011
I honestly do not know what some of the negativity was about reported on this website. I had a wonderful time!! As for the ship looking old, well I guess my eyes didn't catch what others saw. It looked great to me, though in ... Read More
I honestly do not know what some of the negativity was about reported on this website. I had a wonderful time!! As for the ship looking old, well I guess my eyes didn't catch what others saw. It looked great to me, though in April for three weeks the Grand will go through a $65 million facelift. One thing I wished I didn't do, though no big deal, was purchase the all you can drink pop deal. I'm not a pop drinker. As a solo, it wasn't worth it, but if you were with others, then one can buy it and use their card to get their travelling companion a pop. Who'd know? Both the embarkation and disembarkation (I was sad to leave) was a breeze! Cabin: I received an upgrade. I was on Lido deck 14, inside cabin. I loved my home away from home. My cabin steward was great. Food: I'm not a fussy eater so anything I ate I loved. The Horizon Court was fabulous when I went for breakfast and dinner. I had late dining sitting in Botticelli. My tablemates were fantastic. Two couples from Chicago, and one couple from Manitoba. I enjoyed their company! Our waiters were pleasant and always knew what we wanted. Service: Service was outstanding everywhere. I never had a problem. Listen, most of these staff such as the waiters/waitress, bar people, cabin steward, work long hours. 12 hrs. a day for approximately 8 to 10 months contract work. Give them a break. How they can keep smiling and be so pleasant is beyond me especially when some passengers can be so miserable! Entertainment: Was Ok. It's like most ships so I'm not overly thrilled. It's mostly the same type of entertainment, musicals and stuff (not to take away the talents of the people). The comedian Kevin Hughes was funny. There was also a hypnotists, ventriloquist. At the promenade bar there was a piano player/ Couple of bands played in different lounges at night. You can watch Movie under the stars every night. The lounge chairs have blankets. Tried to watch "Social Network". The music parts got way too loud. Popcorn is made where they make the ice cream during the day. The bar is open. They need to turn the volume down for the movie as scenes got too loud, I couldn't stand it. Best entertainment for me was the sunsets every night. Ports of Call: All the stops were great, except for one. 1. Aruba: The local buses are located across the street from the ship terminal. The bus called "Hotel Area" goes to Eagle Beach for $2.30 return (try to have as exact change or small bills). Beach is just before Palm Beach (nice beach but has loads of high rise hotels on beach). No hotels on Eagle Beach, just two low-rise hotels across the road, which looked nice. After lunch on the ship, I headed into Oranjestad, the capital. Nice colourful place to explore and shop (shopping is not my bag), I looked for historic stuff, went into a museum at Ft. Zoutman for some history of Aruba then headed to The Paddox, sat outside, drank a beer enjoyed the harbour view, saw my ship. 2. Curacao. My first visit here and certainly not my last. I just enjoyed the colourful capital Willemstad. There were some historic buildings such as a Synagogue to see. I loved the floating market. Vendors come from areas like Venezuela. Later, I enjoyed a frozen margarita at Iguana Cafe while relaxing with the view of the other side of Willemstad across the water with the colourful buildings. 3. Grenada. For $4.00 return, it was a 15-minute water tax ride to Grand Anse. I spent about two hours enjoying the white sand and crystal clear water. I had a five-minute rain shower the same time the sun shone. I was treated to a spectacular rainbow. There are some places you can have a drink. There are washrooms but you'll have to pay such as Grand Anse craft & spice market down the beach. There are restaurants will let you use the washroom as long as you buy something. After lunch I headed into St. George, the capital. It was Sunday so not a lot was open. Inside the terminal shops were open. No Internet for me was open to use a computer. That's OK. That's the way Sunday should be. I headed to Ft. George. For $2.00 I headed up the steep climb for a gorgeous view of the habour. I walked along the Carneage. There is a restaurant at the end where I had a local beer and enjoyed the view of the water and the colourful houses on a hill before I called it a day and headed back to the ship. 4. St. Vincent. I took the ships tour included a visit to Ft. Charlotte built 1806. A beautiful view of St. Vincent. After we went on a garden tour and saw a variety of plant life such as garlic tree, Hawaiian tree (our tour guide quipped that Tarzan and Jane swing on the vines at night), Cannonball tree (where flowers that grow only live 24 hrs.), rubber tree (gum, pencil erasers, latex and (our tour guide quipped) condoms are made from). We also saw the national red flower called Exora (can also be yellow). After the tour I planned on touring the capital Kingstown. The town was kind of chaotic, and I think there was a demonstration of some sort going. I actually didn't feel well so I passed and relaxed on my ship. 5. St. Kitts. It was a spur of the moment decision to book a tour outside the terminal with Pereira Tours, a local company. For $20. it wasn't bad. Visit the Italian consulate. Beautiful residency with Palm Court Gardens. Passed by an 18th century sugar mill. Also saw some low-income housing that looked quite nice and colourful. Went to Romney Gardens and Caribelle Batik. After the tour I headed to Ballahoo Restaurant by the Clock tower for strawberry daiquiri. I sat upstairs overlooking the Circus (where the Victoria Clock is). 6. St. Thomas. I've been before on tours around the island and outer islands. Very nice. I decided to concentrate on Carlotte Amalie and no, not for shopping like some. I loved visiting historic sites such as Hotel 1829, Ft. Christian (unfortunately closed for hopefully some renovations, depends on money), Frederick Lutheran Church, and the St. Thomas Synagogue. I walked around enjoying the morning. Stopped in Enid A. Baa Public Library (I work in a public library). Used their Internet for $1.00 for half an hour. Before heading to the ship, stopped in at Blackbeard Ale for a Heineken and watched the harbour action. 7. Santo Domingo. Now this is the port that could be replaced. And it will be next year with St. Lucia. I took a Princess tour of the Colonial zone. It was interesting but I would have liked to explore myself. The highlight was the 45-minute free time. I headed to a cafe across the cathedral. I had the local Presidente beer and people watched. It's not the safest place to go, especially for a solo. I heard some unpleasant stories ( there are two sides to every story). But I didn't feel that safe in 1984 on a tour and today was the same deal. 8. Princess Cays. The private island Princess has in the Bahamas. Unfortunately the white sandy beach held a lot of empty chairs since it was only 20 C (68F) and cloudy. People went out but maybe a handful sat on beach chairs. I saw a lone snorkeler. I had no complaints of the weather knowing the next day I'd have to face my dreaded yucky cold winter! At least I still got to wear shorts even though I needed a top with long sleeves over my T-shirt. The entire cruise was excellent. Would I cruise on Grand Princess again? Yes. But there are so many ships out there; I'd like to try other cruise ships. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2009
Background: I'm a 27 year old male who celebrated a birthday onboard who sailed with my mother who is in her upper 50's. This was my seventh Princess cruise and her fifth (she's now Platinum). Other lines we've both ... Read More
Background: I'm a 27 year old male who celebrated a birthday onboard who sailed with my mother who is in her upper 50's. This was my seventh Princess cruise and her fifth (she's now Platinum). Other lines we've both sailed together on include NCL and Carnival. Other lines I've sailed on alone are Celebrity and Royal Caribbean. With this said, some comparisons will be made between brands - particularly NCL - during this review. Now there are positives and sometimes negatives to any vacation - keep this in mind when reading the review. Overall the Crown Princess was just an ok experience. It didn't stand out and it's sad to see Princess become an average cruise line. Pre-Cruise Stay: Since Fort Lauderdale was having an art show going on, a lot of the hotels in the port area were extremely booked up so we stayed at the Days Inn Airport / Cruiseport on Broward Blvd by the highway. While the rooms are being renovated one room at a time while the hotel remains open and we were put into a renovated room, the hotel itself has a dated exterior and is in the middle of no where! The neighborhood it's in is very seedy with a set of projects just a block away (and a police station the next block after that down towards Las Olas Blvd). While you could walk about a mile to shops and dining at the Las Olas Blvd mall area, it isn't advisable. I wouldn't stay at this hotel again but if you are out for a bargain then you might want to give this place a shot (the price was too tempting not too given what other hotels were charging)! Embarkation: Went very smoothly. Being a platinum member I never stopped moving when I arrived. I got there just before noon and moved from giving the porters to the bag to a short line where I was identified for my status and whisked to another area and right on through security. At that time they started boarding and checking in! Within 15 minutes of arrival I was on the ship and in my cabin! Nice job Princess!! Cabin: We were in the very forward part of Caribe Deck in C101. The cabin was spacious as the other Grand class ships we've sailed on with Princess. The balcony is bigger on this deck and I thank Princess for the upgrade to this deck since we booked this cruise past the 90 day final payment period and were on as a guarantee. The cabin was clean upon arrival and our room steward Sushet was fantastic. Whenever we had a request, which was very rare outside of normal stateroom servicing, he took care of it right away. The cabin's balcony door was a different story though. It seems as though the exterior frame had suffered some damage. It was covered with duck tape to hold it in place. It was worth a chuckle but on the first sea day when the ship was moving along briskly and overnight, the door wouldn't stop whistling as much as you had it locked the whistling still returned. Finally had to call the Purser's office and had to wake up the maintenance guy at 2AM to come and figure out how the heck to make the thing stop whistling! A piece of plywood later rigged to hold the slider firmly shut and tada - no more noise! We used the piece of wood for the rest of the cruise after we were done on the balcony each night. Odd since the ship was in drydock two weeks prior I thought they might have tended to this problem. Either way it got fixed and off to dream land we went. As for the cabin bathrooms, I guess I got spoiled by NCL's shower system as Princess has a fixed shower nozzle that comes out of the wall at about 6 feet. It points downward and you can't get the shower head to move up at all. Consequently being 6 foot 4 inches tall this was a real pain in the butt to get my hair washed! The shower space isn't that big to contort yourself in such a manner as to getting your hair wet. With respect to this I think Princess could learn a little something from NCL's bathroom design which has a nozzle attached to a hose that you can remove to get all areas of your body cleaned. Public Rooms: In the dry dock two weeks prior the ship received new interior carpeting. Some of the carpeting was shedding but the new carpeting was quite refreshing since the passenger decks can get quite musty with all the sewage problems that occur from sailing to sailing. I'll take the fresh shedding carpet over the nasty sewage smell any day. Some of the chairs were re-upholstered as well in some areas. The ship looked fresh and as good as new. She didn't really show any wear or tear throughout. Some areas of rust on the Promenade Deck were being tended to by the deck crew and were largely scraped and repainted by the end of our sailing. All in all the ship was in fine working order. Entertainment: Due to the time of the year and the football championships Movies Under the Stars had two night's wasted with endless games being shown. This has become a real hidden treasure and a great alternative to the other ship entertainment such as endless comedians! Only one good movie was shown at night this trip which was Mamma Mia and the popularity of it was astonishing as people were dragging chairs from everywhere to watch it. I love that experience. Production shows were great. A show on Cole Porter was WAY before my generation and it was just before my moms. While this show wasn't enjoyable for me because I had no clue who the guy was, the set and costumes and overall work of the production staff was great. The Motown show was ok. It would have been better if one of the male vocalists could have kept his notes a little better. This was the only time any of the production staff seemed off in their performance. Destination Anywhere, the first major production, was the best of them all. This is not to be missed. Overall, nice work by the production team in the main theater entertainment. Daytime entertainment was the same as always with trivia to be had, pool games on sea days and gatherings for various groups ranging from alcoholics anonymous and red hat society to LGBT gatherings. Something new Princess is venturing into that NCL has been doing for quite some time is the Nintendo Wii. While I was the only person who showed up to play it, some new games I had never had before (Wii Fit) were fun and helped pass the day away (as opposed to lounging on deck). The Cruise Staff were very nice and very friendly. Big stand outs on the cruise staff were Elaine (such a darling), Kirstie and David. If you get to know these three people - even if sailing solo - you'll have a fantastic time! David got my mom up dancing and she had a blast. Other evening activities were also available. Every show lounge had some performance and dancing available. Quadri a quintet onboard was quite good. They had a special classical performance in the Explorer's Lounge during the middle of the cruise. Endless comedians were paraded around with the best one leaving the ship that week who participated in the variety show. The other comedians we skipped. We did take in the magician's show which was quite good. Now for the discos, DJ Tommy Boy who spun in Club Fusion was at least trying to play a fair mix of music. He had the music onboard that I like but couldn't really play it because the age / demographics were more towards the disco and Motown eras. Motown could be heard playing almost everywhere during the cruise from the Princess Theater to the pool deck. I like Motown but not that much! Rotate the music Princess! Skywalker's disco with DJ Artik was ok. He also had to play to the demographics which on this cruise skewed younger with a lot of 18-25 year olds. The music large centered on hip hop and R&B. Redundancy did pop up since it was the same Top 40 played every night pretty much. Skywalker's on this ship is much better designed than on previous Grand class ships (Star, Golden and Grand). Spa & Fitness Services: If you wanted to be pampered there were options for you! The Sanctuary was a very warm and inviting place and you could use it to escape from the hustle and bustle of the ship but it also seemed to be a bit over priced in some respects. I guess that is to limit the passengers who wish to use it to what it can accommodate. The fitness areas are comparable to other Grand class ships. A large workout area consisting largely of cardio equipment with a few resistance machines in the mix. I didn't really go to sea to workout and when I wanted to do cardio the Promenade Deck was a much better alternative and probably less likely to spread norovirus. Enrichment: Princess's Scholarship@Sea program was in full gear. From dance lessons, ceramic painting, photography lessons and teaching magic tricks, you had plenty of options to choose from if enrichment is your thing. Service: Let me start with all the positives because there are so many. The crew, staff and even Captain are what make a cruise enjoyable and there was barely a let down by anyone. I do have to send out special heartfelt thanks to Elaine on the Cruise Staff for hosting various events during the day that kept me very well entertained including Wii Hoola Hoop and the Friends of Dorothy gathering. She made sure I wasn't bored! Other cruise staff that I felt went above and beyond were Kirstie (from Australia) and David (from Canada - whose mom is on Cruise Critic too)! Stateroom service was excellent and provided by Sushet in the forward Starboard side of the Caribe Deck. We ate in the Michelangelo dining room each night of the cruise from start to finish. The hostess greeter, who later became the sanitizer lady, was extraordinary! She made sure we got a table of our choosing - usually a two seater and on my b-day celebration night she got me a window seat to boot. The dining room's maitre d' was also very nice. At the Purser's Desk the people were so very kind given all the stuff passengers throw at them! One lady from the Ukraine was so very nice and gave me a Princess Patter (second copy) each night when they were hot off the presses (at 8:30PM). She also helped to fix a problem on the folio that was minor and it was quick to fix. Some service issues were had at the shore excursion desk. This area seemed disorganized and we wouldn't have had to utilize their services had the Grand Turk tour we booked online not been cancelled or if we were given advanced warning of its cancellation so we could have rebooked something else online. The people there couldn't figure out how exactly to bill two folios in the same cabin as opposed to billing two tickets to one folio. This took more time than it really should have and I think the folks in this department could use a wee bit more training on the computer system. The only other gripe I had was with the International Cafe attendant. I had asked on Cruise Critic if it was possible to get a tea (chai) latte from this cafe. Several folks said it was possible. After trying several times the first two days I gave up because the server always had an excuse for standing there. First it was the machine caught fire from the previous cruise and it was out of order, then it was working but could only make regular caffeinated coffee lattes, then it was broken again and it wouldn't be fixed until after 3PM (at 11AM) and then he finally told me that they don't make chai lattes or any non-coffee beverages there unless I wanted to purchase small boxed teas for $1. This was very disappointing and he could have told me that at the start when I told him what I wanted the first time. He seemed very cocky and I wasn't impressed with his service at all. Dining: I left this for last because out of the entire cruise this was the most disappointing part of it all. The food was always good to order and cooked the way I liked when it came to steaks and various other meat dishes. The problem was in the selection. The food selection in the main dining room at dinner has been shuffled up something fierce with nothing exceptional standing out any more. Beef Wellington and lobster tails were served on the same night as they had been. The night of the Chef's dinner though none of the entrees were appealing and it was hard to find something to order. Some menu items to my astonishment were actually the SAME as what NCL serves! Escargot is long gone from the Princess menu and so isn't larger sections of meats such as the Filet Mignon. If you want any sizeable beef dish you have to go to the Crown Grill, their specialty restaurant. Before one night used to have Filet Mignon on it in the main dining room. Since Carnival took over several food changes have been made and while I could understand this being for cost cutting measures, why should I pay more to sail on Princess when they offer the SAME dishes (spring roll appetizers and strip steak are two immediately that come to mind) as NCL? The cold soups left something to be desired as well. NCL does a much better job. The buffet areas are typical for breakfast with the same selection you would find anywhere. The omelet station was never busy either which meant two minutes later you were on your way with the item you ordered. After the Norovirus outbreak spread more around the ship and sanitization stations were setup, the buffet moved a lot slower with the crew serving passengers. I didn't mind the wait but others were rudely impatient to the crew and it was completely unnecessary. Lunch time options in the buffet were ok. Nothing to scream at but poolside burgers and pizza seemed so much more popular. On days when the ship was at sea the line to get a burger or pizza was quite lengthy but it was well worth the wait for both. Princess has the best pizza at sea that I've tasted. Shore Excursions (Booked Through Princess): St. Maarten Ecoworld Tour. Who knew that St. Maarten had a zoo? I didn't and it was an ok visit to the zoo which allows you to get much closer to wildlife than you can in the United States. Our tour guide was informative and in-depth on her explanations of the origins of the animals (none are actually indigenous species to the island). The zoo gets its financial support largely from cruise ship tourists and I would recommend this tour as it also drives you all over the island with two scenic stops after going to the zoo. St. Thomas Walking Tour - OUTSTANDING - NOT TO BE MISSED! The owner of the company did a fantastic job giving us the legends and lore of St. Thomas and the surrounding islands. She's a history buff and she knew the islands in and out enough to give a great tour and she had a great personality even though she's been in the business for so long. She was so very enthused about her subject matter and it came out in her presentation. This tour was well worth the money! Grand Turk - The reason for why we booked this cruise with Princess was to experience this island. Unfortunately the only tour being offered on land at this time is the Hurricane Ike experience that doesn't require you to do swimming, snorkeling or diving. For $19 you get taken all over the island and shown what damage happened to the island, which was quite extensive. Some residents four months later don't have power and the island still needs construction done. Tarps are on roofs everywhere. The tour does stop at the Scenic Lighthouse for about 20 minutes. The tour is very cheap and it is worth it unless you like to just lay on the beach which this island is so small that there isn't much to see there anyway and it could really just be another private island beach day with more upscale shops available than on Princess Cays. Disembarkation: Again, another smooth flowing process from Princess. Since we booked a post-cruise excursion to Everglades National Park, we were the first ones off the ship after the people who walked-off with their luggage and thereby the warehouse was empty of people killing each other to get their luggage. It was very nice and by 9AM we were on our way to the National Park after arriving in the dining room for debarkation at 8AM. Very smoothly done again Princess! Overall: Did I think I got the value for my money - not really! I had spent about $300 more for this Princess cruise per person than I would have if I sailed with NCL. With the exception of daytime activities being more abundant on Princess than NCL, there really is no difference between the two brands with respect to food selection and service given. It's sad to see Princess go downhill so badly after the lecherous Carnival Corp sucked the good out of there. For a first time cruiser you'll have a blast on this ship as it does offer many options but you can find a similar product elsewhere for a cheaper price. Princess was the first cruise mom and I took and at the time both of us agreed it was the cruise line "where we belonged" and now it's become the cruise line we're going to "escape completely" from and go with Norwegian Cruise Line. As for the Noro-virus outbreak onboard from our sailing, this is the first time since I started cruising where it's been bad enough to have a nightly reminder about being sanitary. This particular sailing was full of people new to Princess. A stroll down the Caribe deck on the port side or starboard looking at the stateroom tags, you could tell just how many new people either to cruising or to Princess there were aboard. With this said, I think Princess could do a far better job preventing an outbreak onboard by practicing the same sanitization techniques that are implemented ALL the time on NCL. After the outbreak there were people stationed to force you to use sanitizer at the buffet. On NCL this is standard practice irregardless of an outbreak. When coming back from onshore, only after the outbreak did a hand sanitizer station get setup and were you made to use it before embarking the ship. This practice is standard procedure on NCL. I think Princess needs to re-evaluate its methods to contain an outbreak before it even begins but passengers could do more too such as washing their hands after the bathroom!! Read Less
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