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12 San Francisco to British Columbia Cruise Reviews

I took my aunt and friend on this cruise to see if they would like cruising. The food was consistently really good; we ate buffet brunch; dinners in dining room. They ended up loving cruising. The only thing was there was such an ... Read More
I took my aunt and friend on this cruise to see if they would like cruising. The food was consistently really good; we ate buffet brunch; dinners in dining room. They ended up loving cruising. The only thing was there was such an obvious need for refurbishing in some areas. The pool carpet was disgusting and smelled awfully musty and moldy. It was also closed a couple times when we wanted to use it. I took my friend to the spa area, thinking she would be so impressed, as I usually am. It was a joke. The women's sauna/steam area were broken, with no signs to alert anyone. We ended up using the men's side. Luckily, as they were not separated in area, nobody complained when we asked if they minded. This is not the Princess I have grown to love. It was an embarrassment. The pool had some bugs in it and the longer I stayed in the area the more I noticed how disgusting and dirty looking it was, so we left. This is the spa? Is this the reflection of Princess they are looking for? I would not have expected Princess to allow themselves to be seen this way, all shabby! That is how my last Carnival cruise ship was, when I was trying to convince a different friend that she would like cruising. She thought that ship was shabby. I guess since Carnival owns it, we should expect that is how it will go down. Other than that, the service was what I would expect from Princess, awesome dining room staff and everyone friendly and smiling and greeting you. Good room steward. Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
We took this Pacific coastal repositioning cruise because of the convenient schedule. We flew to San Francisco and Napa Valley for three days of dining and wine tasting. It was natural to take a relaxing cruise back. In addition we could ... Read More
We took this Pacific coastal repositioning cruise because of the convenient schedule. We flew to San Francisco and Napa Valley for three days of dining and wine tasting. It was natural to take a relaxing cruise back. In addition we could bring back wine in our carry-on luggage. the port of San Francisco was not equipped to handle big cruise ships, especially three on the same day (Star, Sea and Island Princess). The traffic around the port area was so congested that it took two hours to get to Pier 35. with two Princess boats leaving from the same pier, the facilities were really taxed. We left for the port in downtown SF at 11:15 a.m. and didn't get to the Pier until 1:30 p.m. We got on the boat near 3:00 p.m. and nearly missed the buffet lunch. The staggered embarkation instituted by Princess really didn't work as there was a long line-up to get into the Pier anyway. This was my third cruise on the Star Princess and everything was very familiar. The cabin steward was very helpful in spite of the short duration of the cruise. The buffet lunch at the Horizon Court was a bit dry and stale by the time I got on and I had to rush to finish lunch to participate in the safety drill at 3:30 p.m. I went to Sabatini's Italian restaurant on the first night and the experience was most satisfying. There was lots of food and the preparation was excellent. Service was also out-standing. I asked for a bottle of the Luce Toscana 2007 and the manager and server managed to get me the last bottle from the cellar (they had lots of the 2006 vintage). There were a lot of tour groups from Vancouver on this cruise and I ran into a number of friends. The dinner service at the Capri restaurant (anytime dining) on the second night was a bit slow, especially the delivery of the main course and the dessert. It took me two-and-a-half hours to finish the dinner where normally it would take one-and-a-half hours. The cruise featured two production shows (British Invasion and Destination Anywhere) but I did not attend either since I have seen them on a previous cruise. I did see most of Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol on Movies Under the Stars. It was too windy for me to finish the whole movie. There would be a second cruise on the Golden Princess one week later and the weather may be more favourable for watching movies outdoors. Disembarkation was smooth in light of the number of passengers. The boat was half an hour late in docking, so we had to spend more time in the lounge since all guests had to vacate their cabins by 8:00 a.m. All in all it was a pleasant two day cruise that was very popular with the Vancouver people. Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
Embarkation - We were looking forward to a short-but-sweet getaway from San Francisco to Vancouver, B.C., Canada, but disappointment began right at the gangway on embarkation. We had booked a VS Suite, so our check-in was smooth in spite ... Read More
Embarkation - We were looking forward to a short-but-sweet getaway from San Francisco to Vancouver, B.C., Canada, but disappointment began right at the gangway on embarkation. We had booked a VS Suite, so our check-in was smooth in spite of several of their check-in laptops not functioning. Several check-in stations were unable to process passengers, so people who were behind us faced an ever-increasing delay to get through the initial check-in process. After checking in, we walked to the gangway where we had to stand in line for about 1-1/2 hours due to the ship's security system complete failure. They were unable to use the boarding kiosks to sign us onboard and take our picture. Although there was a staff person with a walkie-talkie standing nearby, he had no idea about what was going on -no one from the ship issued any information about the delay for almost 45 minutes. The crew eventually abandoned their routine and resorted to checking us off a paper master list by hand to get us onboard. Due to this problem, it took much longer for the embarkation to finish, and the ship had a 2 hour delay leaving the berth for sea.The ship normally would have been able to make up this time to our only port of Vancouver, Canada, but due to weather conditions (they alleged) we were informed on our only full day on board that our arrival was going to be delayed and that any of us who had flights before 4PM would not be able to make them. Our one and only full day on the ship was mainly dedicated to trying to re-book travel plans to get home after our original plans had to be scrapped. The ship did offer free internet and phone calls, to everyone so people who had independent plans could try and reschedule, but the internet was overloaded and in addition to overcast conditions, was almost useless. This is not the ship's fault, but did add to our frustration in trying to make alternate arrangements. Of course, the load on the phone system was maxed out and it took several hours to get a line out. By the time we were able to start making calls, our options had passed. We were finally able to book an independent bus transfer to the Seattle - Tacoma Airport, so we could spend an unplanned night at a nearby hotel. Our great TA was able to rebook our flights back to our home for Sunday, which was a Godsend, as our ability to communicate from the ship was almost nil. We managed to dock in Vancouver around 11:30AM. Between this delayed arrival and the extremely long time for the ship to get clearance to disembark, they did not start letting passengers off until about 12:20PM. When any of the staff in attendance in the waiting lounge was asked for any status when debarkation would begin, we were told they had no idea, and that there was no one we could ask, but she would announce it when she received a radio call. We never heard any announcement for our group to leave. We finally found out from a fellow passenger that our group had already left and two more groups had been dispatched. The continual lack of communication to the passengers only added to our frustration. Life onboard - Our suite was very nice of course. My wife loved the Jacuzzi Tub and the goodies you get in a suite for use in the tub. The bed, linens and pillows were top notch. Our steward, Henry, was very good and efficient. We hardly saw him. We were not able to take full use of our huge balcony due to the weather conditions, but that is just the way it is sometimes. We had heard that Suite guests had free use of the spa, but when we inquired about it at the Sanctuary they (the staff person we asked went to her manager to check) said we were mistaken. When we got home we researched our Suite amenities and we found we had free access to the Lotus Spa, not the Sanctuary. We know it was our mistake, but we never got a list of amenities, and we can't help but feel that the staff should have been able to re-direct us to the correct place. Again, we felt that staff was not fully aware or informed of all that was going on. Dining - The pizza served on this ship is the best we have ever enjoyed on any Princess ship. Our two dinners in the Provence Dining Room was excellent, as was the staff. Once again, the Fettuccine Alfredo was absolutely delicious. After so many years, that dish on a Princess ship continues to be top-shelf. We did not see any shows; we were too busy trying to get our travel plans changed. The exterior of the Coral Princess is being minimally maintained; it is showing signs of needing some significant rust cleaning and painting. The interior is in great condition and well kept. In this case, we did not escape completely, until we were off the ship and on our way to Seattle with a new plan to get home.In summary, we have learned that we will never again travel without travel insurance that can be brought to bare to resolve changing travel plans when delays such as what we experienced on this trip. We also learned to triple check what the various staff tell us is fact. May your reading of our experience on this trip be helpful when you are deciding whether or not to decline or accept travel insurance. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
Coral Princess - Cruise Review May 10 - 13, 2008 San Francisco to Vancouver My friend and I joined the Coral Princess for the short (two night) trip from San Francisco to Vancouver. The ship departed at 4:00 PM on Saturday, and arrived in ... Read More
Coral Princess - Cruise Review May 10 - 13, 2008 San Francisco to Vancouver My friend and I joined the Coral Princess for the short (two night) trip from San Francisco to Vancouver. The ship departed at 4:00 PM on Saturday, and arrived in Vancouver at 10:00 AM on Monday. I have cruised a number of times before, and this was my friend's first cruise. Overall, this was a very nice experience. We enjoyed the ship itself, the facilities and the food. My comparison for this cruise is with a similar (three night) cruise I did last year (2007) aboard the NCL Norwegian Star, from Los Angeles to Vancouver. EMBARKATION This was very smooth. We followed the e-mailed advice from Princess, and did not arrive until after 1:00 PM, and so avoided any long lines. Having your passport available, and your boarding forms filled out in advance definitely makes the process smoother. The boarding area at the San Francisco cruise terminal is very small, so rushing up to be early probably won't help you to avoid lines. CABIN We had cabin D229 (Dolphin deck), and enjoyed the cabin and the balcony. The cabin was slightly smaller than the Norwegian Star, but not appreciably so, and I liked the available hanging space. Like any ships cabin.... Bring your own power strip for all of the electronics. PUBLIC ROOMS The Lotus Pool area is very nice, and a fun way to sit around the pool and enjoy the hot tubs on a blustery day at sea. We had moderate seas, and the pools were closed because of the action of the waves in the pools. This area has a retractable roof, so it is nice to be able to have the protection from the weather. Some on board said that the Lotus pool is the adults only pool, however there weren't many kids on board (which was appreciated by us) and since only the hot tubs were open it was not a huge factor either way. The gym is very nice, with views from a high vantage point. However, being at the stern/high deck does mean that there is some movement experienced when at sea. The ship is clean and relatively easy to navigate. My comparison with the Norwegian Star is that that it has less of a "Wow!" factor than the Norwegian Star. The Atrium is not as impressive, and there are fewer shops. However, we did very much enjoy what have been referred to as the "secret" decks on the bow and stern (Caribe and Baja for the bow). One thing which I did enjoy is that the servers were available with drinks when you wanted them, but weren't overly pushy about it. Food For the first lunch aboard I try to go to a restaurant (as opposed to the buffet), and often if you ask you will find that one is available. We were told that lunch was being served in Provence dining room, but it was closed when we got there. This was to be first of a number of times when we received conflicting information from Princess staff. We ended up at the Horizon Court buffet. The buffet was fine, but choices seemed a little limited. My friend was extremely tired at the end of the day, and decided not to have dinner, so I initially went back to the Horizon Court buffet, but the choices at dinner looked very much like the choices at lunch, so I ended up going to the Bordeaux dining room, which was very pleasant. For dinner we had chosen "anytime" dining, and the Maitre d' had said that reservations were not necessary. On both nights I found this to be true, but we tend to eat later (around 8:00 PM). Earlier in the evening there were some lines. One morning we had breakfast in the Bordeaux restaurant, which was very pleasant. On the final morning we chose the Horizon Court, which had a nicer view as we came into Vancouver Harbor. The breakfast at Horizon was fine, but you do have the hustle and bustle of a buffet environment. I had afternoon tea while my friend went to the Lotus Spa, and she joined us a bit later. This is where the somewhat mechanical aspect of the service showed, since we had all be served earlier, the servers had "moved on" to other tables and we had to do quite a bit of arm-waving to get tea and food for her. My general impression of the food service is that it is fine as long as you go along with the program, and all arrive, and eat, at the same pace as everyone else. This NCL advertisements showing people eating in lock-step did seem to have an element of truth! BARS AND ENTERTAINMENT My favorite bars would be Crooners (good place to people watch and enjoy the sounds of music from the string quartet in the Atrium), and Churchill's Lounge, with the nautical dEcor. ON FORMAL NIGHT.... AND THOUGHTS ON A TWO-NIGHT CRUISE. This was only a two-night cruise, so from information we received from Princess, and what we read on CC message boards, we understood that there would not be a formal night. Turns out that the second night (our final night) there was to be a formal night. No one we talked to was really excited about this. Some people had been on board for the Fort Lauderdale/Panama Canal portion, and had already had formal nights. They had more to pack and wanted to get a head start on that. Others, such as ourselves, were only on board for two nights, and had not brought formal clothing. We arrived at the restaurant nicely, but not formally, dressed and were still allowed entry without a fuss which was much appreciated. Arriving at a later time (around 8:30 PM) probably also helped. The entertainment on the second evening was a bit of a disappointment. It wasn't necessarily bad entertainment; it was just that the crowds were not there. A hypnotist was performing in the Princess Theatre, but many in the already small crowd got up and left mid-way through the act. He eventually cut it short, saying that the subjects were not deeply enough hypnotized. From there I went to the Universe lounge where a juggler was finishing his act, again to a small crowd. I then went to the Explorers lounge where some music was playing (recorded, not a DJ), and only a small group of people were present. Ended up having a relatively early night. Overall, this was a good experience. The staff aboard were friendly and provided good service. I enjoyed the food, especially in the restaurant (as opposed to the buffet). If you are choosing between a two-night and three-night cruise I would suggest the three-nighter. This is not because a longer cruise is necessarily better (though it almost always is), but the first night we were just getting settled in, and the second-night had that "end of cruise" feeling and so you just don't get to feel like you've had that full cruise experience. Thanks for reading this, and I hope you will enjoy your next cruise!   Read Less
Sail Date May 2008
This was my 14th cruise on RCCL. Reason for this one was, to once sail out of San Francisco which was really wonderful. We had the best cabin, an aft Junior Suite on deck 10, next to the corner Grand Suite. Loved it. Our room steward was ... Read More
This was my 14th cruise on RCCL. Reason for this one was, to once sail out of San Francisco which was really wonderful. We had the best cabin, an aft Junior Suite on deck 10, next to the corner Grand Suite. Loved it. Our room steward was probably the best we ever had. Concierge service was equally excellent due to the fact that the "cocktail hour" each night was held on deck 13 in the viking crown lounge/disco due to the many diamond members on this cruise. Free drinks and the view - what more can you ask for... Maritza the concierge was wonderful and she made up for the poor finger food they served each night (the exact same every night!). Ports were good, overall a really nice trip, just to short for my taste as I like 12 nights or longer. Now on to the "not so good". First of all the food. The buffet was extremely boring with the same food every day. Bland, often warm instead of hot and almost no variety from day to day. Dining room experience was not much better due to different facts though. The food itself was OK, much much better than in the Windjammer (buffet), but - please RCCL , I hope someone reads this, it is definitely time to change the menus!!!! How can a cruise line, that pretends and promotes to serve excellent food ( yes I know it is not a 5 star cruise line but still not one of the cheap ones either ), keep the same menus and thus serve the same food for 7 years and longer? This is how you get rid of your loyal customers. Very simple. I also cannot believe they still do the Italian night the way they do it. It was nice and somewhat funny the first 5 times but that was years ago. Please come up with something new. I feel sorry for both, dining room staff and customers... Besides, and this is maybe even my biggest criticism, it does not look any funny with the all Asian/Indian waiters anymore, "singing" O Sole Mio... It looks cheap and stupid these days. What happened to the good old days, when the staff came from all over the world? These days, especially true on the Serenade and the Freedom ( at least this is where I experienced it ) they all come from the Philippines and India. No offense, but sorry , they don´t ( or should say didn´t ) do it right. They don´t have the slightest feeling for providing good service and for being somewhat charming. They are often pushy, don´t listen and have no table manners, this experiencing especially with the Filipinos. Again, no offense, just my experience. I know they are cheaper and especially Eastern Europeans get better jobs somewhere else these days but RCCL must know that it will not pay off in the long run if they continue that. My next cruise is on Celebrity and if I experience the same with them I will move on to another cruise line, despite my status with RCCL and Celebrity, simply because it takes away a lot of what a cruise means to me. Interesting though, I was on a short cruise 3 weeks later, this time on the Jewel of the Seas, leaving from Hamburg, Germany. It was a completely different experience, almost like being on a different cruise line. Happy staff from all over the world, lot´s of eastern Europeans, South Africans, a good mix of Indians and Asians but not as many, people from the Islands, from New Zealand and Australia. The atmosphere was completely different. Everybody was in a good mood. Service was great everywhere and from everyone and that does include the Indians and Asians this time, even in the windjammer it was very good and noticeable. When asking the staff, why it was so different on all other ships now, those that do not tour Europe, I was told that hiring mostly Asians is today´s trend, simply because they save money that way... Now figure, obviously Americans don´t seem to mind that or even notice that change or trend, but in Europe they don´t do it that way simply to keep up the good service and please the European customer... That´s at least my conclusion... Says a lot... So, in the future, if you want the good old RCCL experience, make sure you sail in Europe! So these are my biggest complaints. Please change menus (and the themes), yes that does include the specialty restaurants (!!!), and please go back to dining room and wait staff from all over the world, not only from Asia! I hope nobody feels offended by my criticism. It has nothing to do with general attitude towards people from certain countries or areas of the world. Not at all. I respect every human being, no matter where they are from. But when it comes to good service, especially when I pay a lot of money for it, I expect something else, and certainly not what I experienced with RCCL lately (except on the Jewel). However, I am looking forward to the Millenium doing transatlantic in December. Read Less
Sail Date May 2007
Did this very nice, short three day repositioning cruise on Infinity. (Disclaimer: We have been on Infinity four times in the last 18 months, so it is our home away from home.) Embarkation was WONDERFUL! We always arrive early and hope ... Read More
Did this very nice, short three day repositioning cruise on Infinity. (Disclaimer: We have been on Infinity four times in the last 18 months, so it is our home away from home.) Embarkation was WONDERFUL! We always arrive early and hope to get on early. In the past we have actually been the first people aboard twice so this time was no exception. Especially for a three day cruise. So we left our hotel at 10:30, arrived at the terminal at 10:45, were checked in by 11:00 and let onboard by 11:15. OUTSTANDING!!!! Once onboard we dropped off our carry-ons in our cabin (we had been in the same aft CC cabin on a 14 night canal crossing in 2004 so we knew it well), met our stateroom attendant whose name was Meriam. She had taken good care of some friends on a previous voyage so we knew we were in good hands. Then off to the outdoor hamburger grille to meet our Cruise Critic group, as we had volunteered to give them a tour of the public areas of the ship. As usual, Infinity was immaculate. We had been on her in the Caribbean in February, just before her dry dock and thought she was clean then. About the only things we could see that were changed during the dry dock were upgrades and rearranging of some of the shops and changing of the art around the ship. I need to mention that X did a wonderful job of making a short cruise easier but it was still very strange to find our disembarkation documents waiting on our bed when we walked into our cabin the very first time. By making a short cruise easier I meant that X was great about making the lifeboat drill earlier, skipping the disembarkation talk and other little stuff. Some general observations: Food: Breakfast for us was in the AquaSpa cafe. Always good. Best lox and bagels ever! Lunch was wherever we found it, AquaSpa, pizza, grille, etc. Dinner on nights one and three were in the main dining room. We had early seating and some very nice tablemates but I thought the food at dinner was rather bland on this trip. It was not up to previous Infinity cruises. First night I had a mushroom appetizer that I had eaten on a previous cruise and it didn't hold up. Had a decent soup and a normal shrimp cocktail and then prime rib. Pretty sad when then the best part of a meal is the horseradish you get to put on your prime rib. And dinner on night three was just about the same. But in between came one of the best dinners we have ever had. We and five other Cruise Critic friends met at 6:30 for a superb, five hour dinner in the wine room of the United States restaurant. The service, the food, everything was fantastic. Seriously, we arrived at 6:30 and ordered the menu speciale (sic) with the wine pairings and it was superb. The chef first sent us a wonderful taste of some type of chicken dish that I can't describe. Then our first course was a lobster bisque or a borscht. I had the bisque, my bride the borscht. Both were excellent. Second course and everyone had the goat cheese souffle. What else? Main course and both of us had the absolutely wonderful rack of lamb in puff pastry. It was superb. Then the cheese course and finally the chocolate souffle for dessert. Outstanding and we really did walk out of there at 11:45. What service, what food, WOW! Entertainment: We can't say a lot about the evening entertainment because we skipped it all. Not because we don't like to be entertained but because we had seen them all before. In fact, the Rock and Roll Show on the first night was the same one we had seen in October 2004. You would think that they could change the shows at least once every three years. Service: Was and is the finest on the seas. Elesio in the Martini Bar is still the finest bartender on this earth. He takes care of everyone so well and makes the Martini Bar our favorite place to be on board. Everyone else from our asst. waiter to the cabin attendant was fantastic. For a three day cruise, it was great. Infinity is a wonderful ship, its crew is the best at sea and the CC folks we cruised with were outstanding. This was our second repositioning cruise on Infinity and we are only sorry that they aren't doing another next year. Read Less
Sail Date June 2006
This was our second cruise in 6 months and we chose this short Princess cruise for our honeymoon since we were recently married in Vancouver. Having previously cruised on RC and Carnival, it seemed we were prone to comparing this cruise to ... Read More
This was our second cruise in 6 months and we chose this short Princess cruise for our honeymoon since we were recently married in Vancouver. Having previously cruised on RC and Carnival, it seemed we were prone to comparing this cruise to our previous cruises. While this was distinctly different and better than the others in many ways, I still maintain that all of our cruises have met or exceeded our expectations. This was a short cruise so we wanted to embark early and enjoy the ships amenities. With this in mind, we flew into San Francisco the evening before having found a nice hotel ($85) on hotwire.com. The hotel was near Union Square so we took BART from SFO (fare: $5.15) to the Powell Street station. We then walked a few blocks up Powell to our hotel. The next morning we walked back down to Powell and took the F-Line Streetcar (fare $1.25) down Market and Embarcadero, getting off at Pier 27. The embarkation process took about 40 minutes and we were on the ship at 1:05pm. Overall the cruise staff was friendly and attentive. Cocktail prices were reasonable. The Internet Cafe had approximately 18 computers and internet access was super-cheap at 35 cents/minute. The ship hosted a Friends-of-Dorothy meeting on the second day; about 20 people attended. While standard on many ships, we had never been on a cruise that offered this social gathering and were happy to meet people from different places. We even met 5 others that work for the same company as us. Small world. It was a nice touch for the ship to buy a round of champagne for everyone. Im stunned by a previous reviewer comment that the Dawn Princess is, aging and should be retired. This Ship is in excellent condition! I admit I was skeptical when I saw that she entered service back in 1997. It doesnt look that old. Its immaculately clean and the public areas are mostly neutral colors using marble, granite and medium wood tones. Color is added with the carpeting and beautiful artwork. Although it was only 4 stories, the Atrium felt open and spacious with cantilevered stairways flowing from floor to floor. There are twin glass elevators and huge fresh floral arrangements on each floor adjacent to the elevators. Boutique shops and cocktail lounges lined the different levels giving it a feel of a nice hotel or upscale, exclusive shopping mall. The pizza restaurant is on the top level. The ship is easy to find your way around. Most of the inner walkways span the entire length of the ship so its easy to get from "point A" to "point B". We especially liked the wrap-around Promenade deck. The wooden deck, wooden entry doors and teak lounge chairs give a nostalgic feel of the old cruising days. Having a balcony room meant sacrificing space that would have been part of the room but we enjoyed the openness of the balcony and sliding glass doors. The closet provided ample storage space. We rarely saw our cabin steward but he always freshened the room with clean towels, ice and nightly turn-down. When we first found our room, he came by to introduce himself. We asked that he convert the twin beds into a king, and he did it that evening while we were at dinner. My only disappointment in the room was that the TV was small, only 12. The TV programming was good and featured a channel showing the bridge-cam so we could always see off the front of the ship. We chose to have dinner in the Sterling Steakhouse the first night. I thought it was odd they charge the $15 fee prior to ordering your food. The ocean was very rough with 13-foot waves and I got motion sickness right before our dinner was served. The captain had warned about gale force winds and hence, choppy seas but I usually dont get motion sickness so this was an odd occurrence. With the food on the table in front of me, I chose to leave it, untouched, go back to the room, take Dramamine and go to bed. (I felt better later that evening.) My husband stayed and ate alone. I think he enjoyed telling me it was one of the best steaks he had ever eaten. I finally concluded maybe there is a reason they charge the fee prior to ordering the food. I certainly was in no condition to argue about a refund, and honestly, I was too sick to care. Although I felt better a few hours later, the seas were very rough all night long. The other two nights we did Anytime Dining in the Florentine dining room. No problem making reservations each morning for 8pm that evening. When making the reservation we were told they could not guarantee we would be sitting alone. In the end, we never had to share a table. Ive forgotten the name of it, but I had a fabulous seafood appetizer one evening. It was bay shrimp, scallops, etc, marinated in a light lemon mayonnaise sauce. I followed that with an excellent swordfish steak. It was cooked perfect and the accompanying fresh vegetables were slightly crisp, not overdone and tasty. I guess I could say the service was a bit slow the first night, but really, it made for a leisurely dinner. We ate in the Horizon buffet twice a day, each day. The food was well-prepared, good variety, served fresh and hot by an attentive staff. Simply put, its the best buffet I've ever seen on a cruise, and rivals some of the best buffets on land. I tried the $3.50 ice cream sundae bar by the pool. It was nothing special and I felt ripped off when I walked downstairs and found that sundaes were being served for FREE in the Horizon buffet. Apparently its an occasional feature at the buffet. We chose self-help disembarkation. It was smooth and quick. A Royal Caribbean ship was disembarking at the same time so the taxi line was quite long. We decided to walk around the taxi line and go out of the Cruise terminal. Walking a few blocks, we stopped at Starbucks and then found a taxi on the city street. Taxi fare was $27 to the airport. There was almost a 1-hour wait to get through airport US Customs and Immigration and even with that we had a couple of hours to kill before our 1:30pm flight to Dallas. Overall this was an excellent cruise and can easily recommend Princess. Read Less
Sail Date May 2006
Let me start this by saying that my dh and I booked this very late. This was an unplanned vacation that came up because my good friend found this deal, and I mean deal, for us to take a 3 night cruise out of SF. We live just south of SF, ... Read More
Let me start this by saying that my dh and I booked this very late. This was an unplanned vacation that came up because my good friend found this deal, and I mean deal, for us to take a 3 night cruise out of SF. We live just south of SF, and felt it was too good to pass up. Overall we enjoyed ourselves, and felt we got money's worth. Embarkation went very smoothly. We boarded early and enjoyed a leisurely lunch by the pool, while the kids swam in the pool. It was a rare warm day on the Bay, and we took advantage of it. We have sailed Princess before (Sapphire to Mexico in 10/05) so we knew what we could expect. This time we had an inside cabin and were pleasantly surprised at how spacious it was. Because we got such a good deal, we had 2 cabins for our family of 4. The cabins were clean, although the bed linens looked a little worn. My room had much storage space and was ample room for 2 people. The balcony room my friend had was more cramped. Our shower was even bigger than the shower we had on Sapphire in a Balcony room. We took the advice of other CC members and found the deserted Baja deck at the front of the ship and watched us sail under the Golden Gate from there. It was perfect as we had this deck to ourselves. Thank you cruise critic. The kids programs never disappoint and my children are eager each day to participate. I can't speak highly enough of them. They are the main reason we sail on Princess. The main disappointment to our family was that there was no covered pool. For a trip to a cooler climate such as the Pacific Northwest or Alaska, there is no pool. The only pool is uncovered, which meant too cold for anyone, even kids. We knew this in advance, but hoped for warmer weather. We had the early seating this time, vs. anytime dining. Felt it might be easier for the kids. We ate in the Venetian dining room. After having raved about the food aboard the Sapphire, we were quite disappointed in the quality of the food. It was unimaginative, bland and greasy. The meats and fish were overcooked, the vegetables were unseasoned and the salads seemed flavorless. The buffet was almost a better choice for each meal and my dh said he had the best meal of the cruise from the buffet. However, when we ate in the buffet, we got no bussing service or drink service. We finally had to request drinks for our children from a passing waiter. We did eat in the Sterling Steak House one night, and it was fine. Nowhere near as good as the food at Sabatini's, but better than anything else on the cruise. Our disembarkation from the ship went smoothly, but when we got in the port building we found an hour long que for taxi's. Had we known, we would have walked out of the port building and up the street a few blocks and hailed a cab from there. This was terrible and my friend missed her 12:30 flight when we disembarked at 9:30. Two ships came in at the same time which meant over 4000 passengers looking for cabs and transport. Not Princess's fault though. We did not use Princess for our shore excursions. My friend and I attended a class on detoxing for weight loss. It ended up being a glorified sales pitch. I was quite angry about this. I had read, and concur, that Princess has their hand out a lot. They charge too much and are looking for more money at every turn. This is a real turn off for me. As I said earlier, we were overall pleased with the cruise. We love Princess and are booked in July on the Coral, but I would not sail on the Dawn again. The lack of a covered pool, and the poor food took away from the experience. Read Less
Sail Date May 2006
This was our 16th cruise for my wife and I. We are mid 50s and usually have adult family members with us. Most of our cruises have been with RCCL but sometimes we try other lines. This was our second Princess cruise. The Good: Off and ... Read More
This was our 16th cruise for my wife and I. We are mid 50s and usually have adult family members with us. Most of our cruises have been with RCCL but sometimes we try other lines. This was our second Princess cruise. The Good: Off and on the ship was the best we have ever experienced. Our mini suite was beautiful. The public rooms...bars, lounges, etc. were very impressive but no outside viability. Overall service was good and friendly. Food in dining room was decent...not great but pretty typical. The ship was clean and in good repair. People at the pursers desk were friendly and solved our problems. The Bad: The Horizon Court buffet is stuck in the '70s...poor selection, taste...the desserts were few and far between...the soups were horrible ...the lay out was cramped with people on top of each other...and not enough staff. They have a lot of work to do here to catch up with RCCL or Celebrity The dining rooms are one story layouts that again are a throw back to much older ships...Can't believe a ship of this age doesn't have a multi level configuration...it adds so much to the room. Sabbatinis Specialty -- A seafood restaurant that calls itself Italian.Lots of seafood on all the menus. There is no place on this ship to view the scenery...very closed in except for the the Horizon Court....the ship needs much more glass. Summary: Certainly not our best cruise experience...will probably not try Princess again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2006
I haven't cruised since '70s,on Carnival. Embarkation was a breeze. We arrived at 11:30, were given snacks in waiting area, boarded within 45 minutes. The ship had just come out of drydock. There were new carpets, furniture ... Read More
I haven't cruised since '70s,on Carnival. Embarkation was a breeze. We arrived at 11:30, were given snacks in waiting area, boarded within 45 minutes. The ship had just come out of drydock. There were new carpets, furniture redone, brand new state of the art exercise equipment, and much more. We experienced polite and helpful staff, our cabin was well cared for, animal towels, an eggcrate on our bed (without asking for it),and anything we needed was provided. The one glitch, the room keys had to be rekeyed. It took an hour or two. So what, where were we going? What was the hurry? It was freestyle cruising. I couldn't belive the bitchy people. NCL even had an open bar for two hours to compensate us. We felt the food in the main dinning room was wonderful. The breads were great. The choices were wonderful. I think I had a tough pork chop once, and I am not complaining. My husband ate three entrees, two soups and two appetizers every night. On lobster night we were offered as many as we wanted. Our waiters were all wonderful and accommodating. We ate twice at the buffet. Yes it was a bit bottlenecked as mentioned, but manageable. We never had a problem getting a table for two, anywhere. The food was what it was, A Buffet....(It amazes me when I read people critique a buffet). We only went to one show, the Juggler. He was great. We didn't take excursions, we chose to do our own thing. We loved our balcony room, we are spoiled now and don't think we could cruise any other way. There is just something about the door cracked open and the ocean breeze while you sleep, or a pot of coffee amongst the stars at port. Well , one more glitch, disembarking, strong currents caused the ship to take more time to pull into port.....my god, people crowded the halls, the elevators, bitchy people everywhere, thank god there wasn't a fire or we would have been trampled to death. However, the crew kept their cool, tried to encourage the passengers to do the same. We loved NCL, and look forward to cruising on all their ships. Happy cruising!!!! Read Less
Sail Date October 2005
This was our first cruise on HAL. Our check-in was okay, except for filling out the same boarding forms in the terminal that I previously filled out online. The terminal agent could pull them up on her computer screen, but said she ... Read More
This was our first cruise on HAL. Our check-in was okay, except for filling out the same boarding forms in the terminal that I previously filled out online. The terminal agent could pull them up on her computer screen, but said she couldn't print them out. Other than that our boarding was uneventful and our luggage was at our stateroom when we arrived. We found the stateroom to be very nice. We had more room than on Celebrity's Mercury with the same category. Lots of closet space and the whirlpool tub was a special treat. The Mercury did not have a tub. The dining room service and food were excellent. The portions were smaller than Celebrity's, but that was a plus in our minds. We also liked the idea of having nightly substitutions available, such as sirloin steak, in lieu of the offered entrees. I opted for the sirloin steak on the last night just to try it out and found it to be very good and cooked as I ordered. The buffet was very good every day as was the hamburger, pizza, and taco venues. Since this was a coastal trip, the weather was variable between sunny and light rain. We enjoyed having the movable cover over the Lido pool which was adjusted according to the weather conditions. While we did not attend any of the onboard entertainment, we just enjoyed the laid-back feeling of the ship. Our first port was Astoria, Oregon. It was raining, but we had prepared ourselves with raincoats and rain pants which proved to be invaluable. The local townspeople were very helpful in directing us to transportation to the downtown area, which looks as though they are trying to develop into a tourist area. The best spot we found was Lindbergh's Danish Bakery which had great pastry and really great prices. We walked back to the ship, approximately a mile or so, along a pleasant waterfront walkway. Astoria does have a weekend tram, but we found the walk very nice even in the rain. Our second stop was Victoria, Canada. We had bought a Butchart Garden and winery tour, but the night before arriving in Victoria, the ship's tour officer called to say the tour had been canceled and would we want to go on another tour. We had made previous appointments onboard the ship, so all the other tours we considered interfered with those appointments. A reason was not given for the cancellation. We took a bus to Victoria's inner harbor which was very nice. We walked around some shops and through the Empress Hotel. Upon our return to the ship, my fiancee (Vicki) went to the ship's spa for an "exotic" manicure which was to include a neck and shoulder massage. Vicki was extremely disappointed and quite upset at the results. The manicurist ripped and tore at her nailbed (didn't bother to soften the cuticle), which was quite painful and left Vicki's cuticles sore, jagged, and very unattractive. Thank God for Neosporin which she began applying immediately once she was back in our stateroom. Vicki had received a manicure in Sacramento just four days prior; the amateurish manicure given on board the ship left her nails in far worse shape. In addition, the neck and shoulder massage was extremely disappointing. The entire experience was far from relaxing or beneficial. In order to avoid this experience, Vicki recommends that you check credentials and inquire about experience. All in all, we had a nice, albeit short, cruise. HAL is in our plans for a possible October cruise to the Eastern Caribbean. Read Less
Sail Date May 2005
My family of four sailed on the inaugural Pride of Aloha sailing from San Francisco to Los Angeles on June 7 through June 11. The ship stopped in Monterey, Santa Barbara, and San Diego. My philosophy is that every cruise is a good cruise, ... Read More
My family of four sailed on the inaugural Pride of Aloha sailing from San Francisco to Los Angeles on June 7 through June 11. The ship stopped in Monterey, Santa Barbara, and San Diego. My philosophy is that every cruise is a good cruise, but some are better than others. This was the worst cruise I have experienced. I've cruised eight times on most of the different cruise lines. It was still better than being at work. The ship just came out of dry dock where it was refurbished with a Hawaiian atmosphere and now is a United States flagged vessel. Embarkation was terrible. The ship was supposed to begin boarding at 2:30 PM but didn't start boarding until after 3:00PM. We stood on the sidewalk in the sun and wind for almost 3 hours until getting inside the pier to register and board. No one at NCL seemed to know what was going on. Passengers were calling out groups so we would know it was our time to register. The only bright spot was our inside cabin was upgraded to a balcony because the inside cabin was not finished. The carpet was still being laid in many cabins throughout the cruise. Once on ship we headed for the Hukelau Cafe since we were starving. While we were eating the muster drill went off on time even though there were still hundreds of passengers still on the dock registering. The ship sailed about three hours late. The excuse used for the entire cruise was that the ship had come out of dry dock and things were being worked out. The main problem with the Pride of Aloha is the service. All of the employees are United States citizens and do not give the excellent service I have experienced on all my other cruises. They have no incentive to provide excellent service because you do not tip them personally. There is a $10 per person resort charge per day. I tried to lower my service charge but was told I could not do this because it is a resort charge not a service charge. The employees will receive the same tip no matter how well they serve the passengers. Dinner took at least 2 hours each night. The only area that I was pleased was the cabin girl. She kept the small cabin clean and tidy like I've experienced on other cruises. Food was average. Entertainment was good. Tenders were unsafe. The first day in Monterey the employees on the tenders looked like pirates. In Santa Barbara NCL had them wear a uniform but the results were the same. Inexperienced tender employees rammed into a parked boat in the harbor of Santa Barbara. They didn't know how to tie the tender up to the ship properly so it was dangerous to get on and off the tender. I hope NCL can get their act together and make this idea work. They have a marketing advantage with the Hawaiian cruise market and a US flagged vessel. I hate to say it but the US employees are not hard workers and do not give the service that one would expect on a cruise. There was a lot of goofing around and talking that I've not seen before. I would not cruise again on The Pride of Aloha unless I see that the service has improved. Read Less
Sail Date June 2004

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