Although we have taken 10 cruises on 6 cruise lines, (Princess is our favourite), this was our first on a smaller ship. We selected this cruise first, because of the ports; second because we were intrigued by the reports on the Ocean ... Read More
Although we have taken 10 cruises on 6 cruise lines, (Princess is our favourite), this was our first on a smaller ship. We selected this cruise first, because of the ports; second because we were intrigued by the reports on the Ocean Princess.
Unfortunately, both did not meet our expectations - not entirely due to any fault of Princess. As I spent a lot of time travelling in the Far East years ago, those ports there were not that important to see again. The ports of choice for us were Luxor, Egypt (Valley of the Kings); Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt (diving & snorkelling) and Aqaba (Jordan) to see Petra. Unfortunately, Egypt was cancelled (security issue - we agree), but, we weren't notified until after final payment date. C'mon Princess, you had already cancelled Egypt for the Dawn Princess weeks earlier - what's the hold out for the Ocean Princess ? A tiny compensation was offered (port tax refunded), but couldn't another port could have been added somewhere? As it was, we got an extra 1/2 day in Dubai, but I could think of many more preferable ports to spend more time in. The day we were to visit Petra there were labour problems and it was closed - again, out of Princess' control and they gave remuneration (Future Cruise O.B.C.) to those who had booked ship tours.
The Ocean Princess prices are much higher than other Princess ships and we fail to see why - unless she costs that much more to operate. However, what really rubbed salt into the wound was a couple we met who had booked after final payment date and paid a much reduced fare (approx. $6,000 less than we paid for a balcony cabin). The small ship feel was nice, we got to know fellow passengers quickly - the majority of whom were like us, retired and frequent travellers - but, contrary to other reviews, in 28 days we never did see the captain walking around the ship (only at the Capt. Circle parties).
The staff was about the same as on all Princess ships, well trained, well mannered, etc. This was our first go at fixed-dining. Despite booking the cruise 9 months ahead, requesting a table for 6 (the Princess agent asked if we wanted a window table - we said yes!), we ended up the first night at a table for 8 in the middle of the dining room, unable to carry on a conversation above the noise. At least this was dealt with and the next day we had a window table for 6, with the best table mates one could want. Service was no better than any other Princess ship - the only glitch was the first night the (rookie) server couldn't get the wine cork out (good restaurants will just replace the bottle - we were fortified with extra cork). The Princess wine card is an excellent purchase - 12 bottles costing out @ $20 each (+15%); and we could select any wines on the menu up to $29. Great value for a longer cruise!
Entertainment - minimal, at the best. Solo comedians were up to par; one singer had 50% of the audience leave; floor shows were limited by space and small cast (one dancer even walked off the ship). The lounge was fine for the number of passengers, but the sight lines were poor due to a level floor. It became a scramble to finish dinner promptly in rode to secure a good seat in the lounge. Port lectures were presented in the lounge - the lecturer showed limited knowledge of the ports; many of us were more familiar with them than she was.
The cabin review also appears separately, in the deck plans section. Cabin 7064 is a mid-ship BA balcony, the top category below suite. It was nicely furnished; lots of wood like the rest of the ship. However, the overall size was a little smaller than other ships. One unstable and well worn chair plus a small couch made up the furniture package (the small coffee table compromised the space so we folded it up the first day out). We have never had a desk so small - we had to move the phone to get room to work. The wardrobe was enclosed (nice panel doors), but restricted in size. The first section was full height; 33" wide. The second wardrobe (for shirts), was 16" wide, containing a hanging bar for shirts and a bevy of drawers below. Unfortunately, in their wisdom, Princess had installed the refrigerator exactly where the shirts should hang! Now we were left with only 33" of hanging closet for a 28 day cruise. A lot of clothing was left folded.
Overall, the Ocean Princess showed more wear than we expected, and it was not up current interior standards on the other Princess ships we have sailed on - she is like an older ship, maybe classic, but basic. One of the highlights on a long cruise in a warm (hot) climate, is having breakfast out on the deck behind the Horizon Buffet - we have never seen anything like this!
Is the Ocean Princess worth the extra cost? We don't think so, but, are retaining our booking on an upcoming Mediterranean cruise as this cruise has the best port selection, goes to smaller ports bigger ships can't get to, and you meet a great bunch of cruisers. One of the greatest assets - never a crowd, never a line up.