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4 Princess Spa Cruise Reviews

We chose this cruise as we had not been to any of the Canary Islands before or to Lisbon. We had also not sailed from Southampton. We chose this cruise in preference to the April sailing because it also visited Lisbon in addition to the ... Read More
We chose this cruise as we had not been to any of the Canary Islands before or to Lisbon. We had also not sailed from Southampton. We chose this cruise in preference to the April sailing because it also visited Lisbon in addition to the Canary Islands. Our transport to the Grand Princess, using Eavesway Travel, albeit at our own expense, was flawless and efficient. We can highly recommend this method of transport to Southampton The embarkation was not efficient. We were given lettered cards on our arrival and had to wait until our "letter" group was called. This waiting did not apply to Elite and Suite passengers. It was noticed that, most of the time, staff were sitting chatting, without guests to process. The waiting could have been reduced by better management of the queue to available processing desks. As it was, it took us a hour and a quarter to reach our stateroom and we had only 15 minutes before the muster. We were certainly not the last on board so a second muster had to be arranged before sailing. On the second day we noticed an intermittent knocking noise in our stateroom near or around the bathroom/ bedroom wall panelling. By the end of the holiday this had become severe, heavy, metal to metal clanging which on investigation,turned out to be a large dislodged pipe. This was acknowledged by Grand Princess staff but could not be resolved during our cruise. We endured restless and eventually, sleepless nights as a result. The noise also disrupted our enjoyment of an otherwise comfortable balcony stateroom. During the cruise, on our corridor on Baja deck starboard side, we noticed buckets and other containers catching drips of water from the ceiling and each day a maintenance worker was up a stepladder, removing ceiling panels or other panels to repair something or other...there seemed an awful lot of duck/gaffer tape around pipes when you looked into the exposed areas. It was not unusual to hear banging and knocking, in addition to our own stateroom's "personal noise", as something was continually being repaired or replaced. We were told by another passenger that their neighbour's stateroom was flooded when water seeped in under the balcony sliding door during the initial passage through The Bay of Biscay. In gerneral the whole ship creaked, especially near stairwells. This was more pronounced than on the newer ships we have been on in eqally rough seas. Despite the recent expensive major refit of this ship, it is still an older ship, launched in 1998. Although the Atrium is new and attractive, the staterooms don't appear to have been updated. The bottom seal and frame on the outside of our sliding door to the balcony was severely corroded and I could imagine that it was just a matter of time before most balcony staterooms had a water seepage problem. There was no matting on the balcony floor to raise you up from any rainwater. The blue painted stateroom balcony floor could be very slippy and very wet. We found the shower bigger with more shoulder space than in the Ruby or Emerald however this was at the expense of wardrobe hanging space. Under bed storage of suitcases was welcome but more storage space should be provided in the bathrooms. The under sink area could be better utilised....this applies to the Ruby and Emerald too. The staff we encountered in Michelangelo dining rooms in the evening, and Da vinci in the mornings were mostly excellent. The cheerful staff in the Piazza Bar were welcoming, hard working and entertaining. Our stateroom steward was excellent. Some meals were very good, some mediocre. Our first cruise with Princess was 4 years ago and we are still experiencing the same dishes...some good, some to be avoided. We had one visit to The Crown Grill and the service and food was excellent. We did book for a second night near the end of the cruise but due to the almost total lack of sleep on the previous night we cancelled as we felt too tired to enjoy the experience. Both the outgoing and return trips throught the Bay of Biscay were fairly choppy and windy. No worse than cruising through the Gulf of Lion or the Skagerrak, just more prolonged. This might not be a cruise for first timers! Lisbon was interesting, dampness in the morning gave way to a sunny afternoon. A trip on the No 28 tram is to be recommended. We took the ship's shuttle bus $8 each way and explored on our own. Gran Canaria was so-so. Not a good impression from the ship. Our trip to the Botanical Gardens and Teror was interesting and the weather was warm and sunny. Tenerife was warm and very humid. Our trip to Puerto de la Cruz and the Orotava Valley was pleasant and very scenic. Lanzarote surprised us. First impressions from the ship were not good but our trip to Timanfaya National Park (volcanic landscape)followed by a camel ride (don't be put off, this is excellent fun) and wine tasting, gave us a good idea of what the island was all about. It was very warm again but this time a dry heat. Great care has been taken to make this island unique and different but you need to go on a trip away from the port to find this out. Madeira...can't comment as, on the morning we arrived, it was shrouded in fog and it was too rough/windy to dock. The Madeiran port authorities closed the port to local ferry sailings as well as not allowing us to dock. I managed to get some good videos of the tugs and the pilot boat being tossed about in the waves! An extra day at sea was not welcomed but although disappointed we fully appreciated that it was impossible to dock. The days at sea, 5 planned, which turned into 6 days have to be considered. This is half of the cruise. The ship organised plenty of things to do and there was something for most people. It also gave Princess chance to open the on board shops more often and arrange "sales" in one of the dining rooms on at least 2 mornings. We had plenty of retail opportunities! Vigo was a disaster. The whole ship was more than ready for a day on shore after the extra day at sea, however, November 1st is All Saints Day, a public and religious holiday in Spain. There is a large shopping mall at the port but this and all but a handful of gift shops were closed. Churches were either closed to visitors or busy with religious services. Fortunately we had been warned of this a few days earlier by the cruise director on the "Wake Show". We chose to cancel our trip to Santiago de Compostela, which was an "on your own" trip with the ship providing the transport. We did not want to spend 3 to 4 hours wandering around aimlessly and take an hour and a quarter each way to do this. It was a rainy day anyway apart from a couple of hours around lunchtime. Given the religious holiday,it would have been better if Princess had arranged to visit Vigo on the way out and Lisbon on October 31st, on the way back. As you will gather, this was not our best cruise. If you want to visit the Canaries, try a June sailing which I believe is available from 2013. The Grand Princess will not be doing the trip as it is off to the Caribbean and then on to Alaska (Alaska cruisers be warned!) Read Less
Sail Date October 2012
We looked forward to our first Princess cruise, especially as the Royal Princess was christened only 6 months before our departure. The Royal is a beautiful ship. The crew is friendly and, for the most part, when they understand English ... Read More
We looked forward to our first Princess cruise, especially as the Royal Princess was christened only 6 months before our departure. The Royal is a beautiful ship. The crew is friendly and, for the most part, when they understand English they are competent. Crew members go out of their way to be helpful even if what you ask isn't in their job description (as in, when deck personnel couldn't be found, an officer located a stack of towels at the pool). Now for the not-so-good news. The food and entertainment were mediocre at best. The restaurants and buffets offered many choices, but the quality of the food was only average. Entertainment: meh. Food: feh. The drinks, reasonably priced, had minimal alcohol, and the choice of liquors was poor. This brand-new ship has decks that are slippery when wet. Slippery when wet! That means that even if you don't have rain, you'll find a lack of sure footing every day when the decks are washed down. Who builds a ship that embarks in 2014 with slippery deck material?! (We saw a little boy fall--and he wasn't even one of the many elderly on board.) The Sanctuary, an adults-only private sundeck, requires a hefty extra fee. Upgrading to a specialty restaurant also will cost you $25/person to walk in. Whoa, Nelly. You've already paid for the cruise. In truth, the Sanctuary is a bit nicer than the all-adult Retreat, but is it necessary for Princess lines to add an elite, VIP area for those willing to shell out about $100/day more? We could have afforded the Sanctuary, but the principle is offensive and elitist. The Enclave, part of the spa, also has an extra charge. This dark area of the ship is small and can be noisy. You'll find about 8 warm tiled lounges and a small pool, fragranced showers, and sauna and steam rooms. The pool and sauna areas are co-ed. The spa offers the usual: bamboo massages, salt scrubs, etc. Perhaps the best deal is the $99 "20-20-20" offer, in which you choose three 20-minute options. The casino allows smoking. Enough said. So much more to say about our disappointment with the Royal Princess, but let's leave it at this: why would anyone want to spend a week on a ship that has only average food and below-average entertainment? Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
Sailed from Port Everglades on the 8th December for my wife's 60th birthday present. We had a Mini Suite R609, many issues and problems we did not expect as a suite passenger. 1st ever time on Princess as a passenger. (1) no water ... Read More
Sailed from Port Everglades on the 8th December for my wife's 60th birthday present. We had a Mini Suite R609, many issues and problems we did not expect as a suite passenger. 1st ever time on Princess as a passenger. (1) no water in the room unless you paid for it everyday, I haven't been on a cruise before where this took place, as a passenger in a suite you expect to be given some perks. This alone would put me off going on this ship again. Felt like I was being nickel and dimed for basic things like water. (2) Power cut out in the room the 1st night and it took 5 calls to passenger services to get anyone to come and look at the problem. (3) toilet block at 5am on the 2nd evening again it took them almost 1 and a half hours to come and look at the problem with people not understanding the English good enough to understand the problem. (4) tap handle broke in the WC within the 1st hour we used the bathroom, again it took 2 days for anyone to do anything about it. (5) 1st night in the anytime dinning was a total shambles, they told us the place was full and we had to go to the other dining room, when we went to that one they had no idea about how to fit us in for anytime dinning, the senior manager of the restaurant then cam to our aid after 10 minutes and seated us. The waiter was like a comedian and just throwing plates down in front of us with no decor or interest at all. I ordered a good bottle do red wine and the waiter split it the 1st time he poured onto the table cloth and left it there to dry in.The food in anytime dinning is terrible, worst I have ever experienced on any cruise line ever. There are major safety issues on this ship, no stairs on certain floors so if there is a fire or evacuation you have to go across the ship to use stairs and nothing was available at the floor we were on , only lifts which you cannot use in emergency situations. (6) the internet is a total joke, I tried to send 1 email and after 2 days it still never sent and cost me over $40.00 in internet costs. Everyone was complaining about the slowness and total non functioning of this internet on this ship, you would think that for the newest ship on the seas this would be sorted. When I spoke to the IT guys they said it's the satellite, being in IT myself this was total rubbish, there is just not enough servers on the sip to do any level of internet activity at all. 100s were complaining and I asked and got a 100% rebate on my account for this shambles of a system. (7) the patio doors in our suite creaked every night making sleeping difficult. Princess needs to really buck up their logistics and customer focus, because as a suite passenger I felt nothing extra. Celebrity and Royal Caribbean blow Royal Princess out of the water as far as passenger detail and quality of food is concerned. Good points are the entertainment was fantastic on this ship. We made our cruise vacation a good time but felt we would never go on anther Princess cruise again. Even passengers who had 21 previous Princess cruises told us the Royal Princess was very very poor in comparison to other Princess ships.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
My (DH) and I were first time cruisers on the Princess Cruise Line, but sailed on Royal Caribbean twice, Celebrity, Holland America and Carnival (Europe) lines. Our sail date was Dec. 15, 2013, seven day cruise to the Eastern Caribbean on ... Read More
My (DH) and I were first time cruisers on the Princess Cruise Line, but sailed on Royal Caribbean twice, Celebrity, Holland America and Carnival (Europe) lines. Our sail date was Dec. 15, 2013, seven day cruise to the Eastern Caribbean on the Royal Princess. We booked a Mini-Suite through an Internet Travel Agency and selected our Mini-Suite on Deck 11, which is called the Baja Deck and the Mini-Suite was located midship-aft on the portside. I changed from a Mini-Suite starboard midship side due to the fact that all of the midship rooms located by the “Seawalk” have zero privacy. Pre-Cruise We stayed at the Renaissance Hotel in Fort Lauderdale associated with the Marriott chain, but it had no visible signs of the Marriott Brand and our taxi driver was unaware when I asked him to take us to the Marriott Renaissance. We were disappointed with our “deluxe” corner room and the view of a rooftop parking lot. The room was old, shower curtain’s bottom perimeter was filthy and overall the hotel is outdated. The best part about the hotel is its location being directly across from Port Everglades. We walked to Outback for dinner, which is across from the Embassy Suites and prior to dinner we tried to take a free “Trolley/Shuttle” to the Mall, but the driver said that due to a Boat Parade the Trolley/Shuttle could no longer cross the bridge (hmm). The free Trolley/Shuttle is located on the side entrance across the side street from the Renaissance, but the “free” service normally ends at 6pm. Embarkation We signed up for the Renaissance’s Port Van Shuttle to Pier 2, which is where the Royal Princess was docked starboard side and portside facing the water. The shuttle cost $6 per person, which in relation to the distance being across the street is pricey, but due to Pier 2 being full of traffic, a taxi meter would have cost more. The Renaissance’s Shuttle had multiple stops, RC Allure being first because it was the fastest and the Royal Princess being the last because it was the slowest. We arrived around 11:45am and a Princess Port Attendant told me that we could not board with priority, despite having booked a Mini-Suite. We waited in a very long line that was being halted until at least 1pm. Since I took care of our accommodations, my DH was not aware that Mini-Suites had priority. After 20 minutes, I asked another Port Attendant and they apologized and immediately allowed us to surpass the line and board. We finally boarded, dropped off our carry-on bags in our Mini-Suite and ate in the Horizon Court for lunch by 12:30pm. All luggage arrived shortly thereafter and our Muster Station E was in the Live Theater. Mini-Suite Nice size and arrangement of the room. The bathroom had a tub, no metal case around the toilet paper and access to the roll was not a problem. However, we were HIGHLY disappointed with the small size of the balcony, I love sitting on the balcony for breakfast and at night, but the lack of space did not allow for us to sit forward, we could only sit at an angle. Our room was high enough to not have an obstructed view with the lifeboats, but I agree they should be recessed because looking over the rail; no water is seen only orange life and tender boats. My only other complaint about the room is the creaking all night of the walls and ceiling and how thin the walls are as we heard our neighbor in the cabin to our right moaning all night. The Captain was sailing at a very high speed while sailing toward St. Thomas and that night was the worst creaking and kept us up, along with the ship rocking. We had to remove the hangers as they banged together all night. We moved the table from in front of the sofa to have an unobstructed access to our balcony. We would recommend rooms without a sofa, as two chairs and a small table would have been sufficient allowing for expansion of the small balcony. Elevators Horrible, too small and way too slow. The capacity stated 18 people, but barely eight of us fit and if we had a scooter on the elevator, then only four people could fit. Passengers were rude when you crammed your way onto an elevator that finally stopped on your floor and/or finally stopped without bursting at the seams with people. Time Change The shipped moved time forward by one hour Tuesday 2am or as described in the Patter Daily Newsletter as Monday night. I thought it was unnecessary and made me really tired the entire cruise, along with throwing my medication schedule off. Time changed back Friday night (2am Saturday). Crew Drill There is a required biweekly Crew Drill that took place our week on the 4th day (St. Thomas), which started at 9:45am. The Captain announced the morning of for the entire ship and some decks and staterooms were heavily impacted. The sirens/alarms/horns were extremely loud and repetitive. Thank God we had an excursion, but for those who planned to sleep in, so such luck. Please note that the required Crew Drill will take place again during the cruise week after Christmas and every other week then on. Testing Our water was being “tested” and turned a brownish color and was unappealing. When I’m on vacation I would appreciate all test be done the morning of embarkation while the ship is in transition. Ports The weather was GORGEOUS in all ports including Fort Lauderdale. Sunshine, warm to hot and no rain. Part of our first night sailing, a little rain fell and MUTS was emptied. Otherwise, warm and sunny days, which is just what we needed being from the Northeast. Since we had been to all Ports in the past, except Princess Cay, we only booked an Excursion to St. John through the ship. We ran late and did not complete all activities, but a fractional on-board credit was granted upon request. We took a noon tender to Princess Cay and found chaises and dragged them under a palm tree. We took the Port Boat Taxi over to Phillipsburg in St. Martin for an all-day pass of $7 per person and we shopped, connected to wifi and sat at a bar and on the beach. Casino Too small, too much smoke and not generous. There were two non-smoking nights (formal nights), but the smell still lingered and on the right side of the Casino, the entryway is facing a cigar bar. I feel sorry for the workers who have to endure the smell and be exposed to cigarette smoke toxins. I really don’t understand the “Smoking Section” of a Casino or any other place. A Smoking Section still makes the whole Casino fill with smoke. There were only a few smokers, but they ruined the entire Casino with their toxic smoke. There also seemed to be more people in the Casino on non-smoking nights and I had to avoid many slot machines and a roulette table due to their proximity to the “Smoking Section.” Another pain was having to utilize your stateroom card to “Cash-Out” on any slot machine and the constant request from the table dealers to swipe your card prior to playing. I often decline as I was having bad luck whenever they swiped by card. Spa I tried to book a hot stone for multiple days and at the same time, but they were booked. Again, another example of the ship not being able to accommodate the capacity. Dinner/Food We were assigned a table for two as requested, but that was all that was granted. I waited forty-five minutes to speak with “Rouland” the head Maître d' about our request for a table by a window and traditional dining at 6pm, but to no avail. We arrived at 5:30 in the Concerto Dining Room and asked that our request be honored. After a nasty verbal dialogue, we were accommodated with a window, but still no late dining. We were celebrating my birthday during this cruise and I requested a yellow cake, but they brought me chocolate. My DH also had to call about our stateroom door being decorated, which we were told they had no such request (untrue) because I saw the word “birthday” written on the Maître d's dining list and the birthday was clearly noted under My Princess tab on their website. Finally, after we returned from dinner after 8pm, our door was decorated. However, it was Too Late, as the day was over. The Head waiter Peter from Bulgaria rarely spoke and I made a request from our very helpful and kind waitresses Katarina and Zoryana that he speak to us as he spoke to all other guests around us. The food was hit or miss for me, but my DH enjoyed most meals. I don’t eat pork or beef and never had a problem finding other choices on other cruise ships, but on this ship, it was very slim pickings, especially for breakfast in the Horizon Court, which only had turkey sausages one morning, along with many food items being cold (eggs, pancakes…) I caught the waffles being placed hot off the grill. There may have been other venues that served none pork/beef breakfast meats, but I should not have had to search for such a common item, or order a special dietary menu prior to sailing. We usually went directly to the Horizon Court after dinner so that I could find something to eat, which I did and my husband thought the food tasted better than most meals served in the Dining Room. I did enjoy three out of four meals served in the dining room, but I really enjoyed all meals I selected in the Horizon Court. The Court is the best designed on any ship in our opinion. I must highly recommend the hazelnut ice cream on the dining room menu, as it’s the best tasting I’ve ever had in the entire world! The ship’s lido deck only served ice cream for free, but my DH can only eat non-dairy products and enjoys the yogurt served on other cruise lines. We both missed that option and a strawberry flavor. For a charge, there is Gelato, but I’m not a fan. Room service was great for lunch, but they could never bring me COLD milk for breakfast with my cereal, so I stopped ordering breakfast. I thought the pizza on the lido deck was fair, a bit too greasy for me and the fries were good from the grill. Frozen Drinks were not authentic and others drinks were comparable. This is the only cruise where I lost weight after sailing. Entertainment We went to two shows: Colors of the World and the Motown Show, both were good. We had to get to the theater extra early to find a seat and to also find a non-obstructed seat because some rows are not tiered. Latin night was ok and the Club 6 was ok. I loved the Band Steel when they played Caribbean Music by the pools. Pools were small and always full. My DH tried the shooting range and enjoyed the experience. Football was shown on Monday night only on the MUTS screen and not in your stateroom. I enjoyed the free On-Demand movies in our Mini-Suite and having two televisions came in handy. I enjoyed the water fountain dancing music and light show (Bellagio don’t worry), but the deck became flooded during most shows making the floor slippery. My DH and I had to help a lady get up who fell really hard because the deck was so slippery when wet. The Seawalk is in a bad location and should have been placed on a lower deck (closer to the water) in the front or back of the ship, along with being slippery most of the time. We must note that most shows for any event are not timed appropriately to effectively coincide with dining times. Disembarkation We were in the first group, with the ship handling our luggage, to disembark. We were delayed by 35 minutes and knew there would be a delay as our ship was still sailing close to 6am. The Customs’ line took another 40 minutes, but no problems with Customs, taxis or at the airport. Conclusion Would I cruise again with Princess? No. I would reconsider ONLY if Princess COMPLETELY redesigned this flawed and future ships, honor my request in advance of sailing, served more variety of breakfast meats and most importantly, take note from Royal Caribbean’s Oasis Management on how to schedule and manage venues, elevators, dining , embarkation, excursions, balconies, pier drop-off and 3800 plus passengers effectively.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
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