This was my first cruise with Princess and as a result of my experience, it will definitely be my last. Prior to booking, I had this impression that Princess was an elite cruising brand. I expected more of them than I would a Carnival, ... Read More
This was my first cruise with Princess and as a result of my experience, it will definitely be my last. Prior to booking, I had this impression that Princess was an elite cruising brand. I expected more of them than I would a Carnival, Norwegian or Royal Caribbean cruise line.
I could not have been more wrong. Let's start with the PROS since its a short list.
Princess is very organized. I was on the ship in less than 20 minutes from my arrival to the pier. I have NEVER gotten on a ship that fast before. There was no haggling to buy onboard packages and no pressure to take pictures. It was the most quickest, easiest embarkation I have ever experienced.
Shore Excursions -
I really liked that while the Excursions desk was not always manned that they had iPads at the desk so I could book excursions during their non-operating hours. I struggled whether to add this to the CONS list really, because the Excursions desk was closed before and during our sail away period, but I do like that I had this as an option. I like to book my excursions as soon as I get on the ship. I later learned I could have booked them in my room via the TV.
I really enjoyed some of the musical talent on this ship. I learned of some new artistic gems like George Thursting that I now follow through social media. Love them.
Folks, that's where my PROS list ends. Let's dive into everything that made this cruise horrible and left me vowing to NEVER cruise with Princess again.
Bed Bug (in Room B249) -
I usually don't sleep much, if at all, the night before a cruise, because I am busy packing and getting my house (and life) prepared for my extensive departure, so I usually make up for that sleep the first night on the ship. This cruise was no exception. I grabbed a bite to eat and booked my excursions once I got on board and I headed straight to my room to snooze. After we set sailed, I got up to grab something out of my bag and when I returned to the bed I noticed what looked like a bed bug crawling over the duvet cover. I screamed! I ran outside where the cabin steward was. He came in looking embarrassed, but not surprised, and scooped the bug into a glass jar. I was mortified. All I could think was how grateful I was that I had not unpacked yet. I did NOT want to take any of these critters home with me. I hear bed bugs are horrible to get rid of. I went straight to the reception desk to report it. Its the first night, so there's a long line. I patiently wait. When I get to the line, the service desk rep (Ignacio and Aracelli) said there was not much they could do besides send someone to investigate and clean the room since the ship was sold out. They did not offer me some place to sit or rest at during this 2-hour investigation. They did not offer me a complimentary beverage or meal. They did not apologize for the inconvenience. They did nothing, but "investigate." I stood on the side of the reception desk for 2 hours exhausted. I finally got back in line to see if there was an update, since NO ONE spoke to me during those 2 hours and only after I got back in line did someone call to check on the "investigation" and that's when I was told they were done and they did not find anything else (meaning another bug). For all I know, the investigation could have been completed an hour earlier. I return to my room alone. Visibly shaken, they did not offer to escort me to my room to reassure me and show me their findings. No one was there when I arrived. It was hours later when the cabin steward supervisor and my cabin steward returned to tell me the supervisor found nothing. I asked if I would be able to get checked by medical - something the front desk rep said I would be able to get as a courtesy to check for bed bug bites - and the supervisor told me NO. He said the ship doctor is not like a doctor on land, they're expensive, so I would have to pay for this myself. Um... OK! I was done after this. Done. He treated me like I was an inconvenience. Very hostile. I never unpacked my bag. I kept it closed the entire cruise and I checked my room for bed bugs each and every day. I tried not to let this ruin my trip cuz then I would definitely be on the losing end. I tried to make the best of it.
Its old. Real old. Very dated. There's rust, mildew and mold everywhere. While I stood in line at the guest desk, I noticed there were multiple leaks from the ceiling. Also, the layout makes no sense. They give each deck a name. For example: Deck # 11 is named Baja and Deck # 15 is named Lido. Instead of referring to the deck number, you had to learn the deck names, because that is how they were referenced. It was so cooky. Then there were only so many elevator banks. I believe there were three or four for the entire ship and one or two of those only went to a few floors. There were no machines for people to add money to their room card/key. Everything went through the very incompetent guest desk. And they had to escalate everything. No one at the desk could make a decision at their level. No one was empowered to just do common sense things for guests. While I waited for my bed bug investigation, I heard a man with Platinum Level Status get upset over his beverage package and how someone screwed it up. I stood there thinking: If this guy is a loyal Princess cruiser and they treat him like that, how should I expect them to treat me? Not good, folks. Not good.
I actually like the seating in the buffet dining areas. I liked that there were pub seating that looked directly out the window, so if you're a party of one you're only taking one seat and not an entire table. That's where my likes end. The food options were very limited and buffet small. It was about one-third of the size of the buffet area on the average Norwegian ship. Horrible! I made due, but I was just shocked.
The pros definitely did not outweigh the cons. I cannot justify the cost of the average Princess cruise for me to try the brand again. Outside of wanting to experience the Princess brand, I really chose this sailing because it was going to the ABC islands and it was full of smart at sea days. Heed my warnings. If nothing else, stay away from this ship unless you've cruised it before and know what to expect. Read Less