We traveled on Star Princess from Vancouver to San Francisco in October 2017. It was our first time on Princess, and I doubt we will cruise with them again. This is mass-market cruising, and although they have a few high points, for the ... Read More
We traveled on Star Princess from Vancouver to San Francisco in October 2017. It was our first time on Princess, and I doubt we will cruise with them again. This is mass-market cruising, and although they have a few high points, for the most part the experience is middle-of-the-road.
Our cabin was compact as expected, but well laid out, with a large amount of storage space and plenty of closet room and hangers. Steward service was excellent, and the bed was very comfortable. No complaints here.
Ship decor and ambiance. Public spaces were nicely laid out and decorated tastefully.
Cruise director and staff. Very professional and personable. Events were handled nicely and entertainingly.
Entertainment. This is Princess' strongest suit, and justifiably so. Production shows were well done, with very talented singers and dancers, good sound and lighting. Other onboard entertainers were uniformly good, with most being excellent. About as good as you could want.
With some exceptions (dining staff and state room attendant), we found service to be perfunctory and impersonal. Bar waiters were scarce, inattentive, and impersonal, and front desk staff were no better. On one occasion when I asked for some clarification on an information memo that was unclearly written (and, as it turned out, dead wrong), the man at the front desk, WITHOUT SAYING A WORD, just picked up a copy of the same memo and pointed to it. No explanation, no attempt to help me. A few other times, I had questions or minor issues, staff members were unhelpful and seemed clueless, and not once, when I had any kind of problem, did we hear, "I'm sorry", except from the afore-mentioned dining staff.
Food was, for the most part, reasonably good, not great. Servings are modest, so several courses is the way to go. In the main dining room, it was generally pretty well prepared and presented, but there were a couple of significant misses. For example, one night a friend and I both ordered the appetizer of chicken, mushroom, and sweetbreads with cream sauce in pastry. Although he had several pieces of sweetbreads in his, mine had none...just chicken and mushrooms. Another evening, several of us at the table ordered NY steaks, requesting a range of temperatures from rare to medium well. They were only about 1/2 inch thick, and every one was inedibly tough. Why they were allowed to leave the kitchen, I don't understand. This was on the last night when they are trying to leave a good final impression. Although the wait staff was concerned and solicitous, you would have thought there might have been a visit from the maitre d', but no.
The primary buffet venue, the Horizon Court, showed pretty good variety, but mediocre execution. Some of the items were pretty much slapped together, and many of the hot dishes were not actually hot. Scrambled eggs, for instance were almost stone cold on a couple of occasions. The biggest disappointment were the pastries. All looked great, but were for the most part, different colored variations on the same cake, and the sweet rolls were almost always fairly tasteless and dry. There were a few standouts, but overall, they were pretty bland.
Other food venues were OK, but just, with the exception of the premium restaurants, the Crown Grill steakhouse and Sabbatini's Italian. We ate at each once ($29 pp supplement). Both were outstanding, with service and food top-notch.
One other thing I must mention. Any organization can shine when things are going well. It's how they handle crises that separate the wheat from the chaff. For some (unexplained) reason, on this cruise, there was an apparently unexpected US customs clearance procedure that had to be undertaken in the port of Seattle, whereby all passengers had to leave the ship, go through passport control, and wait for the entire ship to be cleared before any of them could get back on the ship. The problem was that some passengers who had shore excursions needed to get off and processed early in order to make their trips. Instead of grouping these people first, getting them processed and on their way, the staff decided to group them, but then mix them in with all the other 2000 or so passengers. Thus, most trips left late, and many had to be shortened or parts curtailed due to the late departure. During the entire process, the cruise staff seemed clueless as to what was going on and how to improve the process. As a side note from the trip we were on...How do you sell 51 shore excursion tickets for a tour that is limited to 50, then, after getting permission from the venue to bring 51 people, discover that you only have 49 tickets to the venue in hand? One passenger had to volunteer to purchase two extra tickets on the vague promise that Princess would reimburse him.
All in all, Princess does mass-market, large ship cruises reasonably well. The entertainment is good. Everything else is mediocre. Service is there, but not really on point. Food is OK. If you want a deal, you can find one, and you'll get what you pay for, but just. And you will be upsold and marketed to at every turn, so be prepared. Other lines are just as good, if not better. I would go on RCL or Celebrity before I returned to Princess. Read Less