We chose this transatlantic for its course towards copenhagen. this was our tenth or so ta and our second princess cruise. we read the reviews and expected a "deluxe ship".
we were driving from my home in palm beach ... Read More
We chose this transatlantic for its course towards copenhagen. this was our tenth or so ta and our second princess cruise. we read the reviews and expected a "deluxe ship".
we were driving from my home in palm beach county to port evergladesin a one way rental car. about 18 hours before embarkation we were notffied by princess email that embarkation would be drastically delayed due to a noro virus infestation onboard the previous carribbean cruise. A cdc observed cleanup was required before we would board. the guests were told to not epoect to enter the registration lobby until 3pm or later. the departure was soft as boarding was delayed as also mandatory safety drill. we were inconvenineced as our rental car agency closed early on sundal and would not be offering a shuttle to the ship at 3pm! we had to accept waiting at the port to get into the lobby. many were more inconvenineced flying in overnight to arrive in the morning into fll.
We arrived at the port to find that princess was allowing guests to come into the shed lobby and present their credentials. then we were to sit and wait for the notice to board. "hostesses" handed us numbers after registration which i noticed she favored some with low numbers and some with higher numbers. we got a 10 while other arriving after us got 3, 4 numbers which would be the order of entry onto the ship . one couple arriving 15 minutes after us sat next to us . They had an inside cabin on their first princess cruise and were given the early boarding number 3. i was annoyed as a returning cutomer to be given a 10! further i have a mobility problem and walk with a cane. at no time did princess or their agencies offer me any assistance with a wheelchair. I was aware that only those with motorized "amigos" got any assistance. we waited 90 minutes in the warm shed to be allowed to board. in over 25 cruises this was the second worse embarkation. (Our worse was we had been made to stand in the sun in Rio for 2 hours as our plane arrived too early for the cruise ine to board us.)
Princess burst with repeated pride about ttheir new medallion system that served as key card for bills, opening our cabin, buying drinks etc. we had our pictures taken by the security person as we first entered the ship, hot and bothered after walking from the hot waiting shed. the cabins wer not ready yet for us so we went off looking for lunch while leaving our carryon luggage outside our cabin door.
We explored the ship as this was only our second princess ship. we had spent 21 days on the royal princess. there were many similarities of the two ships although stated as "unlike'. the main thetre was forward and spanned twop decks with access directly to seats with no "bad" seats and no columns as in many such theatres.
Dining had several options. we had chosen the "anytime" dining option which relegated us to the symphony" dining room for 5pm to 7:30pm dining as located slightly aft of the mid ship elevators, quite convenient . We could use the allegro dining on deck 6 after 7:30 pm . We never sought late dinng. concerto also on deck 6 was reserved for traditional dining all evening. we were sent there when diners did not take their tables by 6pm and as a result ate in all three dining rooms. Yes the menu was the same in all three but the service in the traditional dining rooms had more experieinced staff apprently.
The ship had the capacity for over 3600 passengers but had only just over 3400 passengers. we found that we could usually find a private nook to read or have private time. we had no such space in our cabin so it was important to dfind a place to sit to read on a ta. the frist days we sat in the pool area in shade for happy quiet time. then the weather drove everyone indoors as we went through rain and a near hurricane winds. our last 10 days did not support outdoors time. movies under the stars were a bust. The staff provied blankets but umbrellas did not work to watch an overhead movie.
Casual dining was available in many venues the largest was the horizon court which had several "bays" serving buffet style food on steam tables. We had our breakfast all days in the horizon court as it offered variety and we could eat leisurely in waves of interest to get up and find what we wanted we did not want a served breakfast with its limited menu and fixed servings. horizon court at lunch and dinner boasted of internaitonal cuisine with a heavy asian influence and weak european influence. the menus at the horizon court did not mirror fully the formal dining rooms. only in the horizon did we get lamb chops ( small cutlets) and seafood stews/soups.
We were diappointed in the ships response to good friday. the chefs of the horizon court had had a gigantic fish and seafood day on maundy thursday and had few non meat options in the horizon court on good friday. the day had to be vegan for lack of chef efforts for fish on good friday, an internaitonal day.
One of our favorite dining experieinces was the internaitonal cafe located on deck 5 down the hall from our symphony dinng room this 24/7 cafe also houses the coffee bar. nearby tables in the piazza made it possible to get a coffee and pastry and watch a game show, zumba class or dance class during the day . Or get a seafood pie and tea as light supper and listen to dance music and special events in the piazza. we found the food and apstries in the internaitonal cafe to be of greater quality and consistency than any other venue. the chefs were gracious and warmed our choices. the salads glistened as fresh greek, waldorf or shimp and lentil salads. the food was appetizing and served with cheerfulness.
The coffee bar had a special pass for $31 plus gratuity ( $37) which gave unlimited regular and decaf coffee and 15 specialty coffees our choice for specialty drinks wre the specialty iced coffees and iced tea infusions. each of these were ususally $3-5 each. elite and higher princess medalion guests have a complimentary coffee pass so the lines do develope. We paid for access. We enjoyed the fresh large coffeee day and night and used our specials for leisurely stay in the piazza for shows. for us 15 specials over 15 days meant one a day.for many this was not possible as they insisted on night and day lates, cappuchinos and hot chocolates which were specials also. as i have developed lactose intolerancein the past year, i was steering clear from all miilk and cream on this cruise. imagine my dismay when i had reactions from the specialty respberry caramel iced coffee and the black forrest cherry i coffee freeze. The ignorant staff did not state on the menu that these special coffees were made with milk or cream!! No where was it stated that some specialty coffees and teas had milk. i limited myslef to teas with no milk then!
The ship went through high seas of the near hurricane ( 5 meter waves) force 14. and had minimal .shift or list. only outdoor activities were curtailed .no shows were changed. the sea sickness bags appeared for about 5 days but really were unnecessary on this stable large ship.
Our cabin was a category a balcony ( allegedly better than b,c,d,e,f,h,) . Not deluxe as it was small with only one desk chair and no place to sit together or share a meal except to sit on the bed to watch the tv. dekuxe cabins have a small sofa for seating. staff admitted they had removed a chair from the balcony cabins like ours as people fell over it as it crowded the cabin. description: small cabin with a refrigerator under the counter in the corner by the sliding glass door, desk-dressing table with desk chair. twin beds, one night talbe supporting the end of the desk the other between. Open closet with bar and hangers for about 20 garments and one tall drawer stack with a lockable safe. the small bath had sink with small shleves that dumped things on the floor, toilet and shower with curtain and slight lip to keepo water off the floor . "a" cabins are midship and low, best for transatlantic. most o deluxe balcony cabins were fore or aft not desireable for a ta if we got weather rocking. this was the smallest cabin we had experienced in 25 years. adequet but not luxury. the bathroom shampoo and bath scrub were in communal squirt bottles anchoredin the shower. the soap at the sink was replaced after a week of use by two people. towels were 2 per person and were thin and not luxury,they were less plush than the $3 towel at kohl's. only 2 bath towels was annoying. two lumpy pillows per bed was also alloted. beds were well used with troughs down the middle and gave uncomfortable sleep. The new trend to have a "duvet covered comforter as top sheep and comforter let us have a white sheeted bed as our style . not luxury. the steward did not provide a cover for the sheets for us to unpack our luggage as most "deluxe" cruises. no cover was in the room.
The guest bath robes which ar reserved online before sailing were frayed and well used and were so small neither of the adults could use them as they did not span our backs or middles. We used these sad robes as a throw for warmth when the cabin got cold. we would never wear such a ragged thing to the pool! there was no blanket in the room the life preservers were in place on the shelf in the closet and no extra supplies of pillow or blankets.
We use extension cords with surge protector in the two us 110 volt receptables on the desk top so we could charge our cell phones, lap top, cameras, etc. we did not use any high amp appliances. the hair drywer in the drawer is wired into the ship 220 volt system so is not moveable.
This was the saddest cabin in comparison to hal, celbrity, msc and norwegian.
Our cabin steward grace serviced the room twice a day. She was sometimes quite responsive to request such as please return our ice bucket and sometimes forgetful such as "wine glasses please". our room was kept fairly neat as we stow most everything except electronics.
Dining: to review we went to the horizon court on deck 16 for breakfast and lunch. we dressed smart casual 12 nights and 3 nights formal to dine in the dining rooms on decks 5 and 6 .we did not pay extra for any of the specialty restaurants such as crown grill, crab shack( 3 nights this cruise), sabatini's or specialty meals. the dining room offered options for extra from the crown grill we did not pay $10-20 to have steaks and things from the other venues.
We did not have pizza or ice cream due to my lactose adversion. we also opted out of the hamburger grill near t the poola s the weather was horrid out there and generally there was better food in the horizon court.
I appreciated the following for breakfast in the horizon grill: smoked salmon, croissants, made to order, egg white omelets, fresh cut fruits( pineapple) , whole fruits( navel oragnes) grilled ham slices, sausage, crispy american bacon, and corned beff hash rarely were the pastries in the pastry shoppe attrative princess had no cinnamon buns/rolls or sticky buns. these are my culture essentials. Princess provided many cultures their favorites from miso soup , oatmeal, english bacon, etc. i did not try many unfamiliar things at breakfast choosing to drink coffee and orange juice with fmailiar foods.
At lunch i enjoyed the great variety of national foods displayed in the four different serving buffets in the horizon court in additin to the pastry shoope bay in the horizon bistro. i do not eat jalapeno and chipotle peppers as i wheeze and get sick. i do not like spicey to the point of numbness. my favorite finds at lunch were many in the horizon court. some were not as hot as expected off a steam table but the ingredients were right. this venue excelled at seafood .i never chose a soup as most were with cream or ingredeints i do not like ( peas, cauliflower, beans) my favorites at the horizon court were: bouilabaise, cioppino, paella, mussels, grilled and fried shrimp, carved lamb, carved round of beef, spare ribs, beef schwarma, grilled lamb chops, grilled fish , carved brisket, carved, pork tenderloin, sauteed spinach, baked potato, singapore noodles, lo mein, hong kong noodles, fresh fruit, caesar salad, etc. our favorite deserts were pavlova and meringue in any form, lemon meringue pie, sweet fruit crumble with warm sauce, fresh strawberries.
Service by staff in the horizon court was generally gracious . They cleaned up tables so the large horde of guests could find a table. since there were not so many views on a ta many guests accepted not having windows and the large number of guests got spaced out in the horizon dining rooms without pushing. staff brought drinks when rquested fewer guests requested sodas and beers at lunch than any ship i have been on. most wanted the complimentary ice tea and lemonade.
Dinner in the dining rooms as an anytime guest worked well when we went before 6pm. we preferred a table for 2 , but occasionally accepted sharing to facilitate dining to get to a show. we ate in all three dining rooms over the 15 nights. the concerto dining room had some distinctive spaces andchina. the talbes were further apart for privacy while dining. This is a perk for those dining on a fixed schedule at 5:15 or 5:30 pm (or 7:30) . Our servers generally were well trained and efficient they worked with a rigid kitchen policy of no substitutions and no double orders( unlike other ships). to accomodate diners the waiters did swift ordering to get doubles of lobster tails or filets. Every night there were "princess favorties " which included shrimp cocktail, caesar salad, loaded potato cream soup, grilled salmon, roasted chicken and a hamburger. on other cruiselines that hamburger would be a ny strip steak! some evenings we stared at our menu gaping as nothing appeared special or worthiy of a "deluxe cruise". i do not get excited about meatloft, grilled chicken breast, macaroni and cheese,chicken and leek pot pie etc. the starters included usually three appetizers and two soups,( one cold one hot )and one salad. often we had the caesar salad and shrimp cocktail as the menu options were poor. The crab cakes on this ship were light on crab and full of bland filling . The crab cakes got labeled as new orleans and maryland and all tasted the same sorry filling. the entree choices were fairly predictable: one pasta, one vegan, one fish, one meat and one fowl. Occasionally seafood slipped in like luscious large sea scallops. one night was chose sadly the "tenderloin tip pot pie". This sad dish had little meat in with mostly mushrooms and gravy and tiny bits of meat. tenderloin i doubt the beef and guiness pie in the internaitonal cafe was far larger and more robustly full of meat and flavor. on forma nights there was apssing effort to serve a special entree such as beef wellington, lobster tail( single) or rock fish not one evening had crab legs/crab of any nature no filet mignon. tenderloin was sparingly sliced as entree. only with coaxing did the waiters bring s double slice of the beef wellington off the loaf made in the kitchen. . not a small complete wellington as deluxe rstaurants serve. rarely did we feel we were in a deluxe restaurant by the food . the service was far better than the food.
often we skipped deserts as they boasted of "love's chocolate bombs and deserts. Overlaoded chocolate deserts. later in the cruise the choices for desert fell to two to three choices or ice cream . yes they had the cheese or fresh fruit option all ships offer. the best deserts were the souffles which were served about four times in fifteen nights. i wondered how many creme brulees and ice cream any one should eat? we did not. the lemon tart was delicious as also the petit fours and small pastries with various names over the 15 nights. larger deserts were overwhelming.
We had efficient dinner service so we could attend most major shows after dinner. this was a difficult part of this ship. if the show proposed semed good seats were filling 45 minutes before showtime and there were not seats at 7:35 pm many nights. what a miserable situation. most of the evening entertainment funds were loaded on the showtimes and there was no viable options. so it was spend 40 minutes sitting waiting for showtime or skip it. we made the learned instinct to skip the comediaians and see the productions shows. we got to see all but one productin show. that night,dinner did not finish on time to get there by 7:30pm and it was filled. the production shows highlighted the dancers who were superb the singers were cruiseship quality a bit shrill and not always in tune. we recognized one of the productions from our princess cruise in september 2018. the instrumentalist were familiar as we had seen them on other cruiselines. both the around the world pianist born in turkey and the violinisht with the flashy wardropbe and special sequined shoes who loves to talk about his british mom. both are good professionals who have not changed their show in years.
Most of the other entertainment were not worth finding. only the topaz instrumental group with a luscious blues singer filled our evening. they could morph to different styles and got the couples dancing . The various bar pianists, classic duo with their electronic backup and folksy singer with the guitar were not memorable or high quality. most bars would lay them off as people did not sit down and have a drink to hear them the entertainment was of low quality on a trans atlantic cruise where customers had no other options in port.
Activities were quite limited for this ta as the weather outside took away much poolside and on the upper sports deacks. the "enrichment" speakers were not enrichment but well versed topics like the titanic and the origins of atlantis .really? i could do it with one hour pre on google.
The library was a farce. Most of the books were discards from former passengers. Some were belonging to princess with their paper on front. but these were of stephen king and other well read variety no new fiction-non fiction. One princess grouping was eight copies for a book club onboard. we left our used books to add to the alleged 2000 books there. Not really. there are about 300 books some in foreign languages in the library and board games to borrow. there were jig saw puzzles on the main tables of the library fo rthose interested. On a table were games like suduko . But this was not a library for readers.
The service of the staff reflected the casualness of the leadership. the captain proved a "chatty cathy" talking both in person and on the noon talk more than most wanted to hear. we never got a great weather forecast. After getting caught in rain the captain failed to nore we went out each day with rain gear and heavy clothing as he had not idea of the next days weather!
Cruise crtic had a meet and greet on first day at sea april 15 with well over 100 present. Many officers showed up with the captain leading the charge and displacing the cruise director and hotel director from the welcome. the captain insulted the catholics aboard in his ad lib response to a catholic priest asking for opportunity to say catholic mass on easter. the captain said there was a interdenominaitonal service arranged already and that should satisfy the catholics. the cruise critic aduience disagreed. the message to this captain was he needed to listen. eventually the entertainment director found a room at 6:30am for the catholic mass . Later a 4:15 pm service was added for the overflow and those out on excursions in the morning. the crew got an easter mass from this volunteer priest and this was ovrflowing a large lounge the captain has much to learn about christian holy days. this ship provied three days of rooms and service to the jewish community on board for passover. This included a catered seder and shabat meals. since hal has daily catholic mass on all its cruises a strong message got delivered by this captain to the roman catholics onboard. go elsewhere.
The cruise director was exceptional and high energy corey was seen from early morning to late night he led zumba classes and ball room dancing classes. he breezed into many activities and hosted the show time performances. most passengers felt his presence and felt he served them personally as he was seen everywhere. seeing him sweat it out leading a zumba clas gave the message he gives his all to princess as cruise director.
As a tranatlantic our ports were few: ponta delgado, zeebruge, rotterdam , aarhusdenmark and copenhagen. the destination agent was poorly educated about the ports and gave misinformtaiton. repeatedly the staff stated ponta delgado was closed on easter sunday. wrong. this quiet azore community welcomed with shops open and churches open for visits. we walked in the mosty rainy day to see much on a walking tour of our own.
We took princess shore excursions to use up our obc earned from several sources. the princess excursion to brussels from zeebruges ( $179.99) was our only possibility to getto brussels this cruise. no private or cc tours. the bus was about 40 and there were 3 princess buses going the venfor for princess misguided us at several levels. they led four buses to the same rest stop which was clsoed off to limited access for toilets, delaying the princess bus and a hal bus also going to brussels with the same company. They rerouted us through brussels to miss several sits including the royal palace as the rains came they dropped us off infront of the brussels cathedral but denied us opportunity to visi as we were "late". we then walked 20 minutes to a restaurant where a catered meal allegedly of felmist origin would be served. this restaurant served a catered meal that any kitchen in america would serve. chicken with white gravy as main course with croquts desrt chocolat pudding. th appetiser was the only european with a lettuce bedded slice of smoke salmon arriving under plastic wrap as prepared days in advance. Then we walked again for 15 minuted to the grand square and the "guide' dismissed for time on our own unless we wanted to follow him to another promised site, the small fountain on a corner of a building with the small boy pissing into the pool below. that was our brussels guided tour we had about 90 minutes on our won. we sought free wifi, shopped and tried to stay dry in the pouring rain. we did shop for belgian meringues and chocolates . all the guests on our bus returned before time and we drove back to the port. dismal tour, overpriced. the official tour guide had told off color and anti-semitic stories along the way on the bus. he used his use of german and english to make disparaging remarks . His last greeting to the english speaking group as we disembarked the bus was "have a good fart". The german word for journey is "fahrt" . He knew this was a foul, cruse way to greet us and hid behind his flemish identity. I reported more details to princess and they assured me they would contact the vendor. princess refunded 25& of my shore excursion fees. A limited apology.
The shore excursion tin rotterdam we took to amsterdam. this included an hour boat cruise for just the 30 on our bus, about 1.5 hours in the van gogh museum and and about 2 hours on our oen in amsterdam from the flower market. we walked many miles to give the bus no problem navigating streets and traffic. It cost us time and energy in walking more than expected. we had a interesting day and we found lunch on our own rather than a tour company chosen meal. the price was $149.99 which seems steep but there wer not so many options.
Arrhus was wonderful and not familiar to those on the princess staff. They stated it was closed on sunday not at all. the town provided a free continuous shuttle service to center city where volunteers greeted us with maps and homemade bread and butter. a band arrived later in the morning at the centr city wlrcome tents free wifi was available all over town. Volunteers in bright red vests were spotted trough out this city to help us get wher we wanted to go we walked miles to see this delightful city we did not see it all but would welcome a return. a girls band came and serenaded us our last hour in port. what a wonderful response from this second largest city in denmark.
Our disembarkation was made diffciult by princess'es rush to get everone off the ship early and by 8:30am the information from the princess destination specialist was incorrect and we needed to change our diembarkation plans at last minute. We had to use a princess run shuttle to the airport at $39 per person including taking our luggage at midnight from the cabin and putting it out at the airport terminal the next morning. we had a flight at 1:40pm amd were not in a hurry and wanted to have a nice breakfast before bolting to the airport. the air lines would not let us check in for our flights until 2 hours before departure. that meant 11:45 . Princess insisted we should be on a 7:05 am shuttle to the city! i went and pushed hard to get an 8:35am shuttle. but there was no seating at the airport. we had our luggage piled up and no where to go. no check in until 11:40am. over 3 hours of wandering pushing a cart . if princess insits on us leaving so early they could put some chairs and tables in the luggage tent for their customers to sit out their wait for checkin. create "princess lounge" for their customrs in the airport. princess is payin to rent that space why not use it for their customers stranded at the airport waiting for their check in times!
I did like that princess did pick up the luggage outside our cabin and deposited at the airport lugage tent 100 yards rom the terminal. There were complimentary carts ther to get the luggage out of the tent and across the street to the airport terminal Read Less