23 Princess Sea Princess First-Time Cruisers Cruise Reviews

This was our first cruise, so we really didn't know what to expect. After what I was told was a fairly long wait to get on board (I did not know this at the time), I went to explore the ship and have some lunch. I found a very good ... Read More
This was our first cruise, so we really didn't know what to expect. After what I was told was a fairly long wait to get on board (I did not know this at the time), I went to explore the ship and have some lunch. I found a very good range of food at the Horizon Court. We had booked an inside cabin on deck 6, so after lunch we went to look at it. Small but adequate is now I would describe it. We did not intend to spend a lot of time in there, so it was not going to be a problem. The first night sleeping was not too good, the A/C was very drying on my nose, I must remember to take a fess frequent flyer spray with my next time to moisturize the nasal cavities... I have since spoken to a lot of people who had balconies who tell me that they had their doors open most of the time, as the A/c was playing up with them too!. I have actually ended up with a very bad throat infection. It started out as a dry cough, then sore throat, now a day after getting of the ship it is fully in my head nose throat and chest! Not good. I was told that a lot of people were having the same symptoms and some of the staff had it too! The ship has sailed off to New Guinea yesterday afternoon, I wonder how many will be sick while on it up there? Entertainment was excellent, the singers and dancers were so full of energy, and I also enjoyed the lady entertainer Maggie... Saw most of her shows! I did miss out on seeing the Elvis Impersonator, I was disappointed when I found out how great he had been! Champagne bay was lovely... Clear beautiful water, locals were cooking up lobsters for sale and I bought a few little things from the markets and a sweet piece of pineapple to eat. Photos with birds, snakes, turtles and lizards where some of the offerings from the locals. We were in Port Vila for 2 days so we really got to explore the area. We hired a taxi for the 2 days with the same driver. 4 people $50 each, each day. He took us to the Tanna coffee roasting factory, the secret gardens and shopping in town for duty free the first day. Second day was a trip around the whole island, we saw a lot of the destruction from the cyclone they had had in May 2015, took pictures from the top of hills and visited the hot springs, they had been hit badly with the cyclone but we still had a dip in the pool, just like a hot bath... very relaxing. Next we visited the Blue lagoon, had a swim and some of my party were swinging off the ropes and dropping into the water, we all had a fantastic time! Next was Lifu, we started to walk around, not really knowing where things were. I wanted to go tot he vanilla plantation, but the others wanted to go swimming. We went on a 2 hour tour with a local lady in her car, went past the catholic church, to the little shops (Hardware and supermarket) and to the beach. It was a very windy day, so only 1 of our party had a swim, the rest of us just walked the beach. I must say that Lifu was not my favourite island. Mystery island was next, very small island that is not inhabited. (No one lives there as they say it is haunted!) The surrounding islander people only come over to make their markets. All of the same items that I had already seen on the other islands, nothing different. Weather was drizzly rain the whole time, my husband went back to the ship before the others in my group and was stranded on a tender for 1.5 hours. No one's fault the engines were playing up, he did get some nice chocolates for his trouble though! THe last stop was Noumea, I must say that this was my favourite! We took the Tchou Tchou train around and saw a lot, it was a guided tour and was most informative. I would highly recommend to anyone!! Next we got on the "hop on hop off" bus and went to the aquarium. Very nice, although I did feel a bit sad for the sea turtles in there big tank. 2 more days at sea and then home to brisbane, Disembarkation was very smooth and quick. All in all, I really enjoyed the cruise, i just hate the fact that I am now sick with this throat infection that I am sure was caused from the A/C. Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
I flew to Singapore and took in 3 tours before embarking on the Sea Princess as a 'cruise virgin' and 'solo sailor'. The first impression at the Singapore Terminal embarkation was not good. I assumed by arriving around ... Read More
I flew to Singapore and took in 3 tours before embarking on the Sea Princess as a 'cruise virgin' and 'solo sailor'. The first impression at the Singapore Terminal embarkation was not good. I assumed by arriving around 12pm, I'd be on board having lunch by 1pm. We were given a ticket number to wait. Some passengers got on and our group #14 waiting two hours in the terminal, with no explanation and no activity. Then passport snatched of me on the gang plank not by an officer (ones in white), but a cabin staff member. Having got that off my chest, I have to say the crew, the passengers and food were excellent. I had a great cabin location next to lifts on the level 6 close to the atrium. The shows I attended I really enjoyed and the entertainment the crew put on the last night was truely a great way to finish the cruise. The staff are multi-talented. As a solo sailor I met a lot of people and found everyone friendly and accommodating. The ship coming out of dry dock presented some minor problems, there issues with toilets overflowing and new staff not sure of some things. Problems I had were quickly fixed, except I couldn't use a HDMI cable to review photos on the TV. It worked the first day, but despite two attempts technician was unable to fix it. Communication on board was good and only major drama was the breakdown of 3 tenders (one with a rope around the prop) in Langkawi which left a never ending line of people on the dock in the hot sun for about 1 1/2 hours. There seemed reluctance to send senior officers ashore to manage the issue. I know there will be strong complaints about this. Although where I was we joked and made the best of it. But seriously the tenders are our line-line and not a good look given they were supposed to overhauled in dry dock and certified. The tour reservations I had in each port I was very happy with, Except Lombok it was expensive and the tour bus old and air con barely managed a puff of air. I leaned on one seat standing up and it broke, injuring the knee of a passenger behind me. That put a dampener on that tour and I hope the women's knee is okay. Overall, as a first cruise I enjoyed most of the cruise experience and can see why it's now so popular way to travel. If on your won a short cruise is great. Longer ones, you definitely need a companion as there a times where you feel left out and not catered for. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
This was our first ever cruise, this exact ship, date and route chosen purely to catch up with a dear old friend who was going on the round the world trip. I mention this because average age on this cruise *apparently* was 75yo and hence ... Read More
This was our first ever cruise, this exact ship, date and route chosen purely to catch up with a dear old friend who was going on the round the world trip. I mention this because average age on this cruise *apparently* was 75yo and hence activities were structured with this demographic in mind. we are aged early 40s FYI. (We kind of knew this when booking, but others unfamiliar with this ship may not be). I will try to be as comprehensive as I can. Embarkation: Very smooth process-already received SMS advising check in from 12:30 (based on deck 10), only waited several minutes in check in line, and then the security line was about maximum 5-10minutes through X-ray etc and we were on the gangplank around 12:30. Welcoming staff greeted us onboard and we were directed to elevators to our floor and found our room. We had received a free upgrade from a Balcony room to a MiniSuite with Balcony, mid forward, so we were Superimpressed with or room (who wouldn't be!) we took photos of our room before we made it look untidy, then dumped our hand luggage and we were in the buffet having lunch by 1pm! (our suitcases were in our room around 4pm) steward introduced himself and brought our complimentary champagne! Muster Drill: The time will be on your Princess Patter, ours was 4:15 or 4:30 and the location is on the back of your door...basically 30% was about muster drill and life jackets and the other 70%was really a chance to tell a captured audience what you should and shouldn't put down the toilets and other such etiquette! Took quite a while so if there is a seat try to take one! Dining and Food:  First the important thing-COFFEE! I had been told coffee is fairly average but I found it to be fine. It was very annoying being offered the Coffee Card approx (no exaggeration) 13 times at the lunch time buffet, especially in the first ten minutes of entering the buffet area. I figured out they want you to buy it before you try the machine coffee and discover it's not too bad! There are 3 jugs of cold milk ie skim, full cream and a jug of cream! There is also decaf and a hot water urn with LOADS of tea bag choices including herbal but no hot choc sachets (we brought our own). You may also want to know that at afternoon tea there is just normal tea and coffee (can't use yr coffee card as far as I could see). At the buffet there was a bar and coffee Barista area. Formal dining room was standard coffee and tea only (but they often brought hot milk for my partner and we used hot choc sachet). Around the Atrium area there are levels 5,6,7 that are comfy chairs and tables and you will have to PAY for normal tea and coffee here eg cup of tea is $1.50..but glass of tap water free so we pretty much drank that most places! This atrium is COFFEE CARD city! Okay, Food! Quality was very high, both at traditional and buffet. We mostly dined in formal dining room (5:30 sitting) as we found better for our portion control for a start, plus it is always better with food cooked to order rather than sitting in a Bain Marie for a period of time. Breakfast and Lunch was free seating rather than assigned table, and as we were a party of 3 we asked for a table of 4 each time and pretty much got it to ourselves each time. I heard some were annoyed they could not get a table for two but to be honest there were VERY few of these.  For the 5:30 seating we had emailed Princess twice prior to cruise, explaining just for the Syd-Fremantle section we want to be linked to our friend so as to sit on the same table (they were on world cruise , also 5:30 seating. The emails went unanswered and unacknowledged, and on the first afternoon of the cruise we went to the dining room approx 2pm, as we had been sat on a different table to our friend...waited over an hour to meet with the maitre d' (there about 30 or more other people, we were given numbers according to who had arrived first). The first two nights they asked us to come to door 5:55 as by then they would knw who had arrived and which seats would be free. By the third night we got a slip of paper under the door advising of new assigned table FYI. We mostly used the buffet for lunch where we could get a plate of food and take it outside on the deck ie level 12 or 14 and sit round the pool or just enjoy the ocean view and air, sometimes there is lunch time entertainment too. The Riviera Grill was great for a chicken burger or hamburger with salad , although be forewarned they use raw onion in your burger : ) plus they will automatically add the fries (in case u need to save room for afternoon tea!) Now..time for afternoon tea! No, the food opportunities just do not stop! This is served 3:30-4:30, it was on Level 5 on our cruise, had a choice of about 5 small sandwiches/savoury croissants. Bread was a bit dry on the sandwiches. Other than that, scones w jam and cream was yum, and they had different pastry or cake items each day, plus small biscuits, and offered tea&coffee. My partner drinks hot chocolate so they brought him a pot of hot milk or mug of hot milk, and he was able to use the hot choc sachets I stored in my handbag : ) Port days: Usually on the Riviera Grill and buffet were open for lunch FYI. English pub lunch: bizarrely this was held in the Italian themed Cafe Corniche (Pizzeria) area, only two english pub lunches offered on our 7 night cruise (didn't go) Cafe Corniche/Pizzeria: pretty good pizza, plus you can have half and half, design your own toppings, size is roughly a dinner plate. They have a strange policy where you cannot take pizza back to your room. You can order it via room service and pay $3 though! (you can take food from buffet to your room though-good for late night cheese platters hehe) Room service: we had breakfast once when we wanted a quick breakfast..they missed a couple of items on it but other than that was fine. The only "hot option" tho is a bacon and egg muffin...as someone on our table mentioned, not exactly a romantic/luxurious room menu option but I guess they can't offer everything! A lady on our table brought a small thermos with her and that way she could make hot drinks in her room, thought that was a good idea. Tender: we were given ticketed numbers when we walked into the designated meeting place...be prepared for waiting times, we waited 45 minutes ie got into room 0915 and boarded tender 10am, boarding started at 0700 that morning (port of Busselton). Priority is given to people who are doing tours (rightly so)- the lifeboat tender was used to take us to Buesslton, our friend was on a walking stick and was able to navigate onto the boat.  Entertainment/Activities: it was great having the 5:30pm seating because we were generally finished by 7:15/7:30 and then went and got a seat for the 7:45 or 8pm show. It meant we could also see the 9:15pm /9:30pm show. The Princess theatre filled up pretty quick and I think is better seating. Vista lounge very cold (they were trying to fix heating issues) and kind of lounge bar seating, not as many seats FYI. We had some great singers for the night time shows, and the general area entertainers were of high quality, but especially the Sun Down duo who regularly sang at the Wheelhouse Bar, poolside, just brilliant.  Activities is where improvements could be made however near in mind the demographic has an impact...but between say 0930-1200 and the afternoon, I made my own fun by pounding the promenade daily walking, discovering the ship, people watching, spending time on our balcony...I was not interested in hoop throwing, carpet bowls etc. These activities were right at atrium staircase, meaning not a big area and hence not too many people could join in anyway. Would have played shuttle board on the deck but there was no sign displaying the rules, no organized time for this. I had been looking forward to the rumba class but it was 0900 every second day, right in the middle of breakfast, so breakfast won out! There were some talks and lectures but a lot had a commercial edge to them. I had already paid enough for the cruise and I disliked all the selling orientated tv stations, lectures, stall tables etc! The Ship: pretty impressed by the ship itself, the rooms, facilities, decor. There are always going to be things that need improving like areas of rust, worn out parts of carpet etc but I tried to ignore these as best I could. The complimentary bathrobe for our room (you only use it for yr stay, not to keep) was as thin and worn out as could be but our bathroom towels were nice and thick, we had them replenished twice daily as needed, there was a dispenser of shampoo and dispenser of body wash. I had previously read reviews of sewage smells on the ship and I must admit I also smelt this through the ship on the first two days, which did not help my sea sickness but then it either went away or I got used to it. My partner said only vaguely smelt it... Photos: take advantage of the photo portrait settings and the many backgrounds offered on the Formal nights, they are very experienced photographers and will help you pose and stand in most flattering way, and have professional lighting, mostly all around the atrium. we chose some lovely shots from the night (fairly expensive at $30 ea and no discount for multiples) and no you can't take photos of the photos! Medical room: ...we knew someone who had to visit medical centre out of hours ie mid afternoon, had to receive a few stitches to the head, little bandage, panadol, cost was $750aud..just FYI. Other: I suffer from some motion sickness on land (eg from elevators in tall buildings) so it was no surprise when I was sea sick within a couple hours of sailing ( going through the Sydney heads is known to be rough too). My husband is usually pretty good on boats, but he too was ill. Thankfully we had packed the Stemetil and he was fine from then on -in hindsight I should have taken something an hour or so before sailing. The night was rough and I was still sick the next day, lasted about 24hrs then I got my sea legs (and took Stemetil each night before bed) and we had further rough days and nights, where I thought I would be rolled out of bed, but it is funny how your ears/brain adapts! I would strongly suggest taking sick bags you can purchase from pharmacies with you-the paper ones the ship supplies on each stairwell when it is rough are not very strong and can split easily! The pharmacy ones have a strong plastic rim like in the hospital. Disembarkation: we received a letter two days prior advising when to have our suitcases outside door (they need to be put out early evening the night before) and a letter asked us to confirm whether we preferred earliest time off the ship ie between 0700-0800 or after 0830 (we chose After 0830 ) and we got a note back advising to meet in the Vista lounge 0830. We had an early breakfast and got to Vista Lounge where we basically sat around for 20 mins or so.  I guess they have a time so that people are collecting their suitcase in a timely manner from the shed but in hindsight i dont think it would have mattered if we had got off 30 mins or so later as there was no name ticking off or anything like that. We then walked off and located our suitcases waiting for us in the security area of the shed. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
Boarding ran really smoothly and it only took us about 10 minutes to board. I did find the flurry of getting on, security,people shoving coffee cards and drink package cards in our face asking us to buy, have your photo taken all very ... Read More
Boarding ran really smoothly and it only took us about 10 minutes to board. I did find the flurry of getting on, security,people shoving coffee cards and drink package cards in our face asking us to buy, have your photo taken all very rushed. I found the soft drink, mock tail package well worth it but we hardly used the coffee one. I found the photo taking at every opportunity annoying and nothing more than a money grab. I just said no to photos in the end. Not having been on another Cruise ship we have nothing to compare but we found the most things to be great. The meals were absolutely lovely. We opted for the formal dining for almost every meal. We probably only ate at the buffet about 3 times and found it basic cafe type meals. The staff were exceptional and always funny. We did however find one of the head waiters very ordinary. As my husband was on crutches it was very frustrating that we were always shown to a dining table right down the back of the dining room. This was also the case for other people on walking frames etc. We should have been sat near the door. The off shore trips were well planned but quite expensive. As it was our first Cruise we decided it was best to do everything through the Company. Next time we will have confidence to do our own thing. The shows were good however after three days on shore the entertainment gets a bit repetitive. We enjoyed trivia and Bingo. The internet was a joke and very expensive, so slow and as you paid by the time online it quickly chewed up your package. The TV in the room was OK but trying to get any Australian news was almost impossible. Disembarking was a breeze. It was a great experience and will certainly cruise again.   Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
Having neighbours who sailed with Princess Cruises annually for many years and sung their praises, my husband and I didn't look at other cruise lines when deciding to go for our first cruise. We booked a year ahead for our 15 night ... Read More
Having neighbours who sailed with Princess Cruises annually for many years and sung their praises, my husband and I didn't look at other cruise lines when deciding to go for our first cruise. We booked a year ahead for our 15 night cruise to Indonesia and were both looking forward to the experience. We weren't disappointed, this first cruise was everything we hoped for and more, and definitely wont be our last! From arriving at Fremantle to entering our cabin the embarkation process was smooth and timely. Our balcony cabin on the Baha deck did not disappoint. Very similar to the web site, comfortable with just the right amount of storage. The bathroom was the smallest I have ever seen in my life, but functional and the shower was lovely with endless hot water. Our friendly room steward kept our room perfect at all times, discretely attending to the room when we were out, with us returning to find the bed perfectly made in the mornings or chocolates waiting for us and the bed turned down in the evenings. One thing that struck us was the quietness of the room, you couldn't hear you neighbours muffled voices or televisions as you often do in holiday accommodation. We attended our Dining Room on the first evening and were pleased to meet our friendly dinner companions. Choosing to dine at a table for 10 turned out to be a good decision, with a group of mixed aged people we soon got to know and looked forward to seeing each evening to chat about our days. We also spent time together at times during the day, attending activities, or while on tours. The food was excellent with a different selection each night, and of good quality. Our friendly eager to please waiters were a pleasure to see every evening and were happy to accommodate any wishes. In addition to eating in the dining rooms for breakfast, lunch or dinner, there was also a choice of Horizon Court which offered a huge selection to suit any taste, from healthy fruit, enticing mains and decadent desserts day and night. Then there was the Riviera Grill with regular specialty lunches, the Pizzeria for tasty pizzas, or room service if you felt like relaxing in your room. An early morning cuppa delivered to your room by a smiling waiter is a wonderful way to start each day. Service was always of the highest quality all over the ship with smiling waiters happy to take your order for drinks in any of the public areas. Alcohol prices were not too extravagant and the coffee card a huge bonus with cappaccino's cheaper than anywhere at home! We booked excursions at most ports as we hadn't been to Indonesia before, and while not cheap, we felt were worth the money as we saw so much along the way to our destinations. Excursions were well organised and the tour guides very informative about both places we were seeing and their way of life. Whilst scheduled times varied due to the traffic congestion it was reassuring to know our boat would be there waiting for us if we were late returning. There was plenty of entertainment if you chose to attend, although the evening shows were crowded and you needed to get there early, but were most enjoyable and entertaining. Having an early dinner meant some nights we would attend two shows if we chose to. There was also a huge timetable of daily events and activities too. We went through the Patter each morning and decided what we'd like to do for the day. The Cruise Director and his team were friendly and approachable and ran activities well. We enjoyed walking on the Promenade Deck most days and took the stairs a lot to walk of some of that delicious food! All in all we thoroughly enjoyed our first cruising experience and can't wait to go again! Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
A reasonably enjoyable cruise for hubby and I, although sea sickness prevented me from enjoying the first few days. Fortunately, the nice Nurse gave me a needle in the butt that sorted me out. Loved the food (formal dining was very ... Read More
A reasonably enjoyable cruise for hubby and I, although sea sickness prevented me from enjoying the first few days. Fortunately, the nice Nurse gave me a needle in the butt that sorted me out. Loved the food (formal dining was very 'try-hard' but the buffet was great and loads to choose from) and we could not fault the impeccable service. The organised tours were unexciting and very average. One was cancelled leaving us to roam Noumea in the dark for 2 hours. Formal and theme nights were good and even better were the Donna Campbell shows on board - she was the highlight of our cruise! Incredible! We also got formal pics taken by a pro photographer that we would not normally do and spent $2000 on that. She was lovely and it was a very positive experience, one that I would recommend. Our mini-suite was dated but very roomy and the spa was a bonus. The balcony was divine. Although there was an Art Auction and a few art lectures on board there was nothing else that seemed remotely culturally stimulating except perhaps Pilates and yoga classes. Playing Bingo, the excessive drinking of alcohol and the gorging of food don't quite cut it for me. But don't get me wrong. I enjoy the odd slice of cake and red wine. But, I have never seen so many obese, seemingly starving and incapacitated (due to their size) people in one space in my entire life and if this is in any way an example of the cross section of the Australian community, then we are in big trouble and it's very sad. Fortunately, the passenger friendly factor on board was high. Would we go again? Probably not. But it's definitely an experience that everyone should try at least once in a lifetime. Different courses for different horses.   Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
This was a first time big ship cruise experience, not a cruise to a destination. In some respects the ship was showing its age - occasional rust spots and painting required. There were more than enough activities to make choice difficult ... Read More
This was a first time big ship cruise experience, not a cruise to a destination. In some respects the ship was showing its age - occasional rust spots and painting required. There were more than enough activities to make choice difficult - including the gym. Service was unobtrusive and more than adequate with formal dining service being generally outstanding. Port and shore excursions were well organised by the ships company but as always, then subject to shore conditions. On this cruise an anticipated late arrival and short port call put shore excursions into the "why did they bother" category. Compensation was however provided in the form of on-board credit. Embarkation could not have been faster or better organised. If only airports were as efficient. The cabin was efficiently serviced and comfortable. Again, the age of the ship showed with some minor signs of wear apparent but this really did not detract from the overall impression. Dining was varied from simply collecting a snack to formal dining to suit all tastes. It really was a case of just ask and you would most likely get exactly what you wanted in the quantity you wanted. Variety was never an issue and quality was invariably excellent. I probably never discovered all the dining options! I did not try pizza but did hear that there was a wait there (too popular at that time). Children were notable in their absence - but were on the ship as they were occasionally seen. I was informed that they were well looked after in their own area. Entertainment from the cabin TV to big screen events, and shows provided more choice than could be accommodated. Live shows were professional and classy and timed to suit formal dining. As with embarkation, disembarkation could not have been better organised. Efficiency and organisation with every effort made to enhance the cruise experience best summarises this cruise. As a first time big ship cruiser, having had previous small ship experience, the result was that I am quite prepared to go back for more.   Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
This was our first cruise and I had read everything and looked at all the pictures on the internet and determined that I was setting myself up for disappointment as it couldn't be as good as it sounded/looked. I was so wrong - it was ... Read More
This was our first cruise and I had read everything and looked at all the pictures on the internet and determined that I was setting myself up for disappointment as it couldn't be as good as it sounded/looked. I was so wrong - it was better - waaaaay better! How can the Chefs and cooks turn out five star meals each and every time? The buffet was great with everything so fresh. I wanted to take the Baker home with me. We had a balcony cabin at the suggestion of our Travel Agent but it was a bit of a waste as we were not often to be found in the cabin. I was surprised at the lack of "ship" noises - so quiet and I slept really well.. Every day we had a list of activities and I was disappointed that I had to choose one over others - there was not enough time in the day. I had expected to be bored out of my brain for the five days at sea to New Zealand. I took two books and crochet and would've been lucky to even have read five pages of my book for the whole trip. We were treated to demonstrations of "food carving" (making the decorations for the buffet) and ice carving and a peek into the spotlessly clean galley. There was movies under the stars, dance parties, karaoke, zumba, line dancing, sports competitions, healthy lifestyle "lectures" etc., etc. You could indulge in free ice cream and chips, burgers, hot dogs, pizza just for the asking as well as the restaurant and buffet. Wow! too much food - too many choices - not enough time to sample everything. When the crew wished you a "nice day" they meant it! What a treat to come back to the cabin and your bed was turned down with chocolates on the pillow and our cabin steward was such a sweetie, always making time to enquire about our day (and stopping to listen). Nothing was too much trouble for anyone. The shampoo in the shower must be formulated to the water as my hair was not responding to my normal shampoo and when i switched it was fine. We only did one planned shore excursion as we couldn't afford any more but every port we visited we found we could've spent a week there. What a lovely country and in February so refreshing to have to wear a wooly hat and scarf at times. If you haven't already done a cruise you owe it to yourself to add it to your "bucket list" How soon can I go again ??? :-) Read Less
Sail Date February 2014
We were first time cruisers, family of 5, generally down to earth people who don't normally choose luxury holidays. We took two cabins, one a double, and a twin that had a fold down bed for one of my sons. Cabins were ... Read More
We were first time cruisers, family of 5, generally down to earth people who don't normally choose luxury holidays. We took two cabins, one a double, and a twin that had a fold down bed for one of my sons. Cabins were "cosy", but generally well thought out and comfortable. From the start, the staff were fantastic. Our cabin stewards helpful, always there when wanted, but not there otherwise. The waiters were likewise outstanding. During the day there was always plenty of good quality food available in the buffet restaurant, but for better family chats over meals we chose to go to the proper dining room about twice a day. For those worried about dress codes, you can wear almost anything to the buffet. In the dining room we wore what we wanted to breakfast and lunch, but for the evening meal when informal tended to be jeans and a shirt (not T-shirt). The formal meal we wore dark lounge suits, and the ladies wore dresses or skirts and a blouse. Throughout the day there is free ice cream on the top deck, delicious! You can order pizzas (free), and we saw no need to go to the speciality steak house (costs about $20) because the other food was so good. In terms of entertainment, we were disappointed not to be able to attend all we wanted to. They need to think a little more about the timings of activities for we often missed activities because the start times seemed ad hoc, so the activities overlapped. There are table tennis tables, but if you like your table tennis take your own bats, theirs have seen better days. The prom deck with its all the way round the ship walk or run is well worth regular visits, as are the shuffleboard courts on this deck. Movies under the stars (a huge screen on the top deck) is a good idea, but they frequently had the sound set so low that we couldn't hear what was going on. If this happens to you, complain till they put the sound up! The evening entertainment we went to (Queen tribute and three tenors) were excellent, we didn't go to many other evening entertainments as we were often too tired. We went along to the Bridge (card game) training and afternoon play. If you don't know how to play, or want to brush up your skills this is well worth going along to. We were on a longish cruise so did washing on board. Be prepared for a long queue for the machines, and for some of the machines or driers not to be working. Best to go along 10 mins before the laundries open, and consider going to use the laundries on other decks with less cabins! We found our clothes dried when spread around the cabin, just as well as it was difficult sometimes to get a drier. Only other advice, if you are likely to suffer from sea sickness, I advise you get sickness tablets and start taking them the day before you go. Not worth feeling grotty, and they really make a difference. Would definitely go with Princes again one day.   Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
My husband and I went on our first Cruise to New Zealand from October 7 to October 20, 2013, on the Sea Princess. Unfortunately, my mother in-law broke her foot a week before we sailed, so she was wheelchair bound. Her room was too small ... Read More
My husband and I went on our first Cruise to New Zealand from October 7 to October 20, 2013, on the Sea Princess. Unfortunately, my mother in-law broke her foot a week before we sailed, so she was wheelchair bound. Her room was too small to fit the wheelchair, so she had to hobble into her stateroom on a frame...very awkward, especially when the ship was being tossed about by rough seas! The showers didn't have any ventilation, so at times, was stifling! It was disappointing to have missed out on the South Island, due to 'inclement weather conditions'. I believe we missed out on the best part of our Cruise and in fact, New Zealand. I don't know whether the stabilisers were working or not, but the Sea Princess really struggled crossing the Tasman. I believe at one stage, the ship actually breached to one side! (very harrowing) I couldn't fault the staff; most were lovely and went out of their way to help you. The food was well presented and there was plenty of variety. The dining-in experience in the Rigoletto Dining Room was a blast...our waiters were gorgeous! The rooms were clean and we had a lovely view from our balcony and the beds were comfortable and serviced twice a day. I agree, the Sea Princess did cater more for the older population, but we did try to make the most of it. I even played Bingo! My one big complaint was the overwhelming smell of rotten eggs (Sulphar) that permeated throughout the whole ship for the entire 13 days. It was in our stateroom too and seemed to be coming from the air conditioning system. It become more intense on the Deck 12. This made my journey unbearably nauseating. Totally unacceptable! But what I found more unacceptable was that there was no explanation nor an apology from the Captain. We would really like to go back to New Zealand, but next time, we'll be flying. Maybe a cruise in the future, but perhaps in calmer waters and when we're close to retirement age. Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
It was a last minute decision to take the above cruise, as part of my annual leave. I have held a fascination for cruise liners for some time, so it was a dream come true when I eventually got to travel to one of my favourite parts of ... Read More
It was a last minute decision to take the above cruise, as part of my annual leave. I have held a fascination for cruise liners for some time, so it was a dream come true when I eventually got to travel to one of my favourite parts of Australia - Tasmania. For those who have never travelled to this part of the world, the best way I can describe it is that I think God created Tasmania first and then used the leftovers on the rest of Australia. But let's get back to the cruise. Due to the late arrival Into Sydney, the SP left 3 hours late. But to me this didn't really matter. Sailing out of Sydney in the early evening was simply awesome. My balcony cabin on SP was on Caribe deck. To awake in the morning and open the balcony door before jumping back into bed to see the world gliding by is breathtaking. My first 3 mornings of the cruise I had breakfast on the balcony. My own little world of peace and serenity. Sublime. The next two mornings I dined in the Traviata Restaurant, while the final morning I ate in Horizon Court. Each venue was faultless. As I was travelling alone, I didn't eat alone. I was allocated seating at a table that sat 10 people, 8 of whom were singles, so we nicknamed it The Orphans Table. What wonderful company. At this point I would like to mention our two waiters, Erick and Christian. I am employed in the hospitality industry, so I am sometimes critical of service standards. Not so with our two waiters, they did US proud, THEMSELVES proud, as well as Princess Cruises. Well done guys, you were thorough and professional gentlemen. Oh, the food, how could I forget the food? It was top notch, every morsel. I am now dieting. Being such a short cruise, I didn't get to sample every nook and cranny on SP, but I did find myself sampling cocktails in The Crooners Bar on more than one occasion. My favourite was a Rock Shandy. I now have all the ingredients at home to continue the tradition, a lemon lime and bitters with white rum. Excellent. As a trivia fanatic, I was delighted that SP offered frequent sessions in the Vista Lounge. Not all THAT good at getting every question right, I cannot boast joining The Brainy Bunch. Yes, I said BRAINY. A photographic 'course' was available to buffs such as myself in Razzmatazz, which was very informative, and I'm sure very much appreciated by all those that attended. I bought a new Canon camera especially for my trip and it was used extensively. At the beginning of my report, I mentioned how wonderful it was to sail out of Sydney Harbour on SP. Well, so was the return. A 7.00am berthing at White Bay prompted me to rise at 4.00am, so as not to miss the grand entrance through The Heads, although my wake up call was also the sound of the Pilot coming alongside. Dressed in a pair of shorts and a wind cheater, I made my way up onto Deck 14 for what was to be a wonderful and unforgettable entrance into Sydney. The sun was kind enough to make an appearance, which, in turn eventually lit up the eastern side of the city skyscrapers. As we glided gently towards our berth, the sight of The Opera House and the Harbour Bridge soon came into view. On the DVD slideshow I prepared of my holiday, the final piece of music was Peter Allen singing 'I Still Call Australia Home'. Every time I hear it, my eyes fill with tears. Of pride. Thanks for bringing all this to me Princess. It was such a perfect 6 nights away. I am now planning my NEXT cruise, a bit longer in duration. Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
We cruised to New Zealand in February 2013 aboard the SEA PRINCESS for 13 Nights.Before going on this cruise I searched all cruise reviews to see if they offered any information for 1st time cruisers but could find little to help me. Here ... Read More
We cruised to New Zealand in February 2013 aboard the SEA PRINCESS for 13 Nights.Before going on this cruise I searched all cruise reviews to see if they offered any information for 1st time cruisers but could find little to help me. Here is an insight to our cruise that I hope will help other people who have not cruised before. Once on board the excitement of our 1st cruise really set in. On the advice of other people who had cruised before, we paid our Cabin Steward A$50.00 BEFORE we sailed and told him there would be another A$50.00 at the end of the cruise if he looked after us. What a great idea this was.Every day our cabin was cleaned spotlessly with our our bed turned down every night with chocolates on the pillow.Even if we had a sleep during the day our bed would be remade ready for us to sleep in at night.On Valentines Day the cabin steward took the time to roll our towels up into the shape of hearts with extra chocolates on the pillow. A nice touch. For those who are thinking of doing their Laundry on board you can almost forget about it. There are a TOTAL of 6 Washing Machines and 6 Dryers on board which is ridiculous considering the amount of people on board. Unless you are prepared to spend a couple of hours watching your laundry being done, you will be in in for a shock. If you leave your Laundry unattended, other people will come along and take it out of the machines and throw it on the floor to get their washing done. The price of having your laundry done for you will send you bankrupt. We worked out that it would cost over A$100.00 for one load to be done for you. You would be better off to take more clothes or wear the same clothes twice as we did and so did about 75% of other passengers. The sea air will camouflage any smell from wearing the same clothes twice!!!!The alcohol prices on board are VERY VERY EXPENSIVE. Beer will cost you between A$7.00 and A$8.00 per bottle (Corona and Crown Lager) and spirits are about A$7.50 per glass. We did NOT tip the bar staff as we learnt that a 15% gratuity fee was factored into the price of drinks. Food on board was average but adequate. We ate on our shore excursions to break up the boredom of the ships food. A nice steak or a meat pie tastes really good after the food you have on board. On the last night of our cruise we ate on board at the Sterling Steakhouse. For a cover charge of A$20.00 per person, you can have a 3 Course meal. The steaks they served were the best I have had in a long time. You have to make a booking for this so get in early. Well worth it. For those who travel WITHOUT Travel Insurance are crazy, particularly those with a PRE EXISTING medical condition. Unfortunately one of the people we travelled with had a pre existing medical condition and had to be evacuated off the ship for hospital treatment. Her out of pocket expenses were over A$10000.00 (A$7000.00 for the ships hospital treatment), so be very careful when taking out Travel Insurance and if you have a pre existing condition, declare it to your Insurers and make sure you are covered for EVERYTHING and read the terms and conditions of your policy before it becomes a very expensive lesson.The shore excursions offered on board are once again, VERY EXPENSIVE. In every port there are tour operators on the wharf who offer your the same tour that the ship does for half the price. One tour on board was A$339.00 and the same tour offered by one of the operators on the wharf was A$86.00. Organise your tours on shore for you will save quite a lot of money and you can customise your excursion to do what you want to do. Apart from the above, we had a great time on this cruise and the hospitality shown by ALL the crew was wonderful. I am currently looking for a second job to pay for this great time we had. I hope this review will help a lot of other 1st time Cruisers. Read Less
Sail Date February 2013
This was a first cruise experience for my partner and I, to give some context, we have no children, earn a very good wage and holiday a couple of times a year, usually in Europe. Our friends and family had recommended cruising so we ... Read More
This was a first cruise experience for my partner and I, to give some context, we have no children, earn a very good wage and holiday a couple of times a year, usually in Europe. Our friends and family had recommended cruising so we thought we would give it a go as a quick break away. We embarked in Sydney to a room that was on first glance clean but small, however after a little closer look I noticed dried blood on the drinks tray and then we noticed dried blood all over the sheets.....it was a nice introduction to our room. We went for a walk around the ship, and found the golf driving range - 3x old squashed plastic balls and a couple of rusted Iron's, the ping pong table - in constant use by every child on the boat, the hand ball court again in constant use by all the teenagers, adult only pool area - in constant use by children, the shops were terrible, very limited in what was available ie 6 books to choose from, no magazines and lots of clothes with elastic waistbands. We were unable to find any of the specialist restaurants mentioned in the brochures and then we told that the 'Steakhouse' is a partitioned off area of the buffet that only opens at night. There are no other restaurants, so slim pickings if you are a vegetarian like me. So we settled on the deck to watch Sydney disappear with a (over-priced) cocktail in a plastic glass and listened to a very loud 80's band. We went to the formal dining restaurant on the first evening, the service was disjointed. Food appalling - prawn cocktail for me, the prawns were not Australian or NZ and looked like the type used in Fried rice - tiny, frozen and tasteless. My partner had a Spring Rolls - undercooked, tasteless and fatty. The mains were just as bad and desert was sugar with a extra serve of sugar. The food and drinks were the biggest disappointment to me, we were travelling from a country that has fantastic natural foods to a country renowned for its food and on-board everything was imported from a cheap port in Asia, powdered milk, powdered scrambled eggs, stale bread, reconstituted mashed potato. I have never eaten food as bad as on this cruise even in a hospital canteen. It was terrible. We ended up buying cheese and fruit in Port and smuggling wine on board so we could drink and eat on our balcony. New Zealand is lovely a place of great natural beauty and welcoming people, but we jumped ship and headed home after 6 days of our 14 night cruise as we could not stand the boat a single day longer. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
Background We are a couple in our early 50's, traveling with our teen daughters, 17 and 15. This was our first cruise. We were celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary. We chose this Princess cruise, because we did not want to fly ... Read More
Background We are a couple in our early 50's, traveling with our teen daughters, 17 and 15. This was our first cruise. We were celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary. We chose this Princess cruise, because we did not want to fly anywhere, and the port of San Francisco was closest to home. Travel to Port The embarkation port was San Francisco, California. The traffic along the Embarcadero took almost an hour to travel the 2 miles from the Bay Bridge to the drop off point curbside in front of Pier 35. If you embark from San Francisco in the future, Leave lots of travel time. The Embarcadero is a traffic nightmare. At curbside, two uniformed traffic officers directed traffic and allowed double parking in front of Pier 35 to unload. The sidewalk was amassed with people: tourists headed towards Pier 39 and passengers who had disembarked from the last cruise and where waiting for rides home. Princess personnel in their blue suit jackets and straw hats were present to help us. They called over the porters dressed in yellow vests who took our baggage from the car and loaded them to carts and brought them to the ship via a separate entrance way. A tip of $2 per bag was definitely in order and well worth it. Check in and health issues We started to follow our bags, but Princess personnel directed us to the passenger entrance and then to a table to fill out health forms that asked "Are you currently suffering from diarrhea? Or have a fever?" Not a great way to start our relationship with Princess, but understandable amid fears of the Noro-virus. There were no health issues on this trip. Purell was available from hand dispensers outside the dining rooms and stewards dropped dollops of sanitizer into our hands like candy. The check-in line was long, but the wait to get to the check-in person was quick. We got a map of the ship and our personalized cruise card, which was also the cabin door key, the credit card and identity card. It had our dining time, and table number printed on it. We went through the metal detectors and then had pictures of our faces taken which were linked to our cruise cards. When leaving and returning to the ship, the scanned cards brought up our pictures confirming our identity. The entire process took 45 minutes from curbside to stepping on the ship, where the first of many group photos were taken in front of fake scenic Alaska backdrops or with funny dressed characters at every port disembarkation and formal events. There was no hard sell to buy any pictures, but they had the photos on display in a well-travelled corridor on board. We later decided we wanted a family portrait of us in our formal dinner wear and paid $25 for an 8x10. Upon boarding, we were told our cabins were ready for us, but our luggage would be delivered later. We found our cabins and were greeted by our steward, George, who learned our names and always had a pleasant smile and greeting. He always knew when we went to meals and that is when he cleaned our room, made the bed and changed the towels. His service was exemplary. Ship Info The Sea Princess is a mid-size ship with just over 1900 passengers and it was a sold out cruise. Other than at mealtime in the Horizon buffet, it never felt crowded. I found the ship to be in excellent shape, the decor in many of the lounges and MDR were done in wood veneers, brass fixtures and tastefully decorated. The seats and sofas were clean and comfortable. The ship decor was NOT outdated. So ignore those negative reviews. The elevators were painfully slow and we took the stairs to the MDR and the activities on Deck 7. After all the eating we did, we needed the exercise and you will too. The dance floor in the Vista Lounge wasn't big enough for everyone in the line dancing classes. My only complaint was the Razzmatazz lounge smelled of heavy smoke and my wife refused to go into it. Smoking was allowed outside on Deck 7, but despite the strong ocean winds, the smoke was still noticeable as we took our daily stroll around the ship. (3 times around is 1 mile) There was no smoking in the casino and that seemed to upset some die-hard gamblers who needed to light up but didn't want to leave the gaming tables. Stateroom We booked our cruise in early January, so we had a good selection of rooms to choose from. We booked a balcony on the starboard side in the middle of the ship because we feared we would have motion sickness issues. The middle of the ship is more stable and rocks less than the front or rear of the ship. We did feel some motion in the middle, but it was negligible compared to the bow or aft. We also chose B deck, with state rooms above us and below us to avoid noise issues from people walking on deck above or music coming from the lounges below. In all, it was a perfect room. Our daughters had an inside cabin across the hall. I felt that there wasn't enough overhead light in their inside cabin, but the girls had no problems. The balcony room had a flat screen TV, which had an HDMI and VGA port, so I was able to plug in my iPad and display cable to play a pre-loaded movie, but we were so busy with the ship activities that we never got around to watching it. After unpacking, the empty suitcases easily fit under the bed and out of the way. George brought us robes to use and 2 large pool towels were also in the room and were changed daily when we used them at the spa. Dining room and meals We were hungry after boarding. George directed us to eat at the Horizon Buffet on Deck 14. The buffet was open seating, so after waiting in line and getting our plateful of food, we had to wander around to find a table for four or a large table to share. The waiters then asked for our drink orders and the soft-sell began. We declined to purchase the commemorative drink glass and the unlimited soda sticker for $39 and we stuck to the free lemonade, ice tea, water and coffee. We did buy the $29 coffee card (for 15 drinks) for the specialty coffee drinks like mocha, espresso and lattes. But they weren't as good as Peet's or Starbucks. The regular coffee at breakfast seemed fine to us. The food in the buffet was plentiful but not very good. We did not like the rushed atmosphere or the scramble to find an empty table. We never ate there again. We ate the majority of our meals in the Main Dining Room and we loved the atmosphere, the service, the ambience and the food. We had traditional dining time of 5:15 pm. We thought this was early, but in retrospect, by the time the main entree was served, it was 6 pm, our normal eating time, and we were finished with dessert by 6:45 pm. We had ample time to go to the 8 pm shows, which meant getting a seat by 7:30 as the Princess Theatre filled up quickly. The later 7:15 pm dining time meant we would have to go to the 10 pm second shows and we were not night owls. Roberto was our waiter for the entire trip, and he quickly learned our names and our dining preferences and drinks. When lemonade was not available in the MDR the first night and we made it clear that we would not buy the soda card for health reasons, he had a pitcher of lemonade and ice tea waiting for us at every meal thereafter. Dinner fare included appetizer, soup and salad, and main dishes such as lobster, steak, filet mignon and seafood, and dessert, all presented in the nouvelle cuisine style. The menu varied each night and meals in the MDR were one of the highlights of the trip. Breakfast in the MDR was open seating, and we always asked and got a table for four by the window. The food was freshly made. I had papaya every morning and highlights were the Eggs Florentine and the Eggs Benedict. We decided that for breakfast and dinner, we wanted a table just for the family as we were not awake enough in the AM to be sociable with others, and dinner was the time for the family to meet and talk about our day. But at lunch, when our daughters were not with us, we asked to share a table of 10 and met other couples and had pleasant conversations. (Politics was never discussed, thank goodness.) We also ate at the outside Riverview Grill when the weather was nice and had freshly made hamburgers and fries, and ice cream cones at the sundae bar, and at the Cafe Cornishe there was freshly made thin pizza. My wife discovered tea time at 3:00 pm and we did that several times for the tea, scones, clotted cream and jam. We ate 4 times a day and needed exercise. Exercise The fitness gym is in the rear of the ship on Deck 12 and consisted of treadmills, a couple of stationary bicycles and some weight machines. There was rarely a wait to use them. I paid extra ($40 for 4 sessions during sea days only) for the spinning (cycling class). The 10 spinning cycles in the aerobics room were for the class use only and I exercised with same 5 other passengers the entire trip. Yoga was offered but sparsely attended. The beginning Zumba classes were jam-packed and held in the Vista Lounge with participants in the aisles and dance floor. My wife and I soaked in the adults only spa, but there always seemed to be kids there. The staff never kicked them out. Teen Club I worried that my teenage children, 17 and 15, wouldn't be happy. (at this age, they never are.) But I convinced them to go to REMIX, the teen program, on the first day and try it once. There were 79 other teens on this cruise and they met about 50 of them the first night. They formed their core friendships of 8, and hung around with about 20 others. They did most of the organized activities in the teen center with their newly made friends and by the end of the cruise were trading Facebook addresses. My teens report that there were some teens who played video games all day long, and some who found everything to be "lame", but my teens had positive attitudes. If they didn't like what was being offered in the teen center, they grabbed their new friends and did the line dancing classes or other activities offered to the rest of us. On sea days, after breakfast, we never saw them until dinnertime as they were doing all the activities with their new friends. Entertainment The family-oriented (PG-13 rated) entertainment in the Princess theatre was varied and of Las Vegas showroom quality. We enjoyed the comedy magic of Garry Carson, and comedian Scott Wyler's ship jokes, but his attempt at political jokes fell flat. The International crew talent show was inspiring, as was the cruise staff's sketch/song. (Don't want to reveal any spoilers here). I liked comedian Billy Vader, but could see how others would not. His shtick was sophomoric, some jokes were old and bawdy. We had mixed feelings about the show "British Invasion" as we could tell some of the singers were lip-syncing and we did not like the choice of songs in what was supposed to be a retrospective of British rock music. The dancing and choreography was so-so and the dancers reminded us of where dance show rejects end up when they don't get enough TV votes to become famous. The musical bands in the smaller lounges were good and the piano music of Larry Dunsmore in the Crooners lounge and his banter was your stereotypical lounge lizard act. Activities On Sea days, my wife and I did a fitness hour on the treadmill or spin class after breakfast. No crowds at all. Then headed to Naturalist Doug Capra lectures on Glaciers, Marine Mammals, Alaska Nellie and Alaska history. These four lectures were a highlight of our cruise. Doug was an excellent speaker, had good Keynote slides and good material to present. Doug also narrated on deck at Tracy Arms Ford and during the whale watching in the Tongass Narrows. We did the line dancing classes, the afternoon tea, and the afternoon trivia contests. (won twice) On the complaint side, the advertised Bridge classes were not for beginners. The instructor made it clear that his tips were for advanced players. I wish there would have been a class to teach beginners how to play Bridge. Also, I sat in on a health seminar that turned out to be an infomercial and a come-on to pay $50 for a private consultation to find out how to detox for weight loss. What a waste of time that was. Nothing on the ship was ever a hard-sell, but you couldn't escape the tables of discount jewelry for sale, the over-priced Alaska souvenirs (but 20% off today ONLY), the art auction, and the ever present waiters willing to serve you a pricey alcoholic drink with a swipe of your cruise card. We asked for the free lemonade or ice tea, and they acted like they would have to swim to Seattle to get it. We also wanted to use our coffee card to get lattes in the Vista Lounge. The waiters complained that it would take a while because they had to go to some unknown place to get it and would do it when they weren't busy. But the coffee eventually showed up in a plastic cup with a lid- lukewarm. There was also Bingo at $30 for 6 cards. We did not participate in this, but the activity was well attended. Movies Under the Stars (MUTS) One night, we tried to watch "Hunger Games" outside on the big screen, but it was too cold, so we tried to watch it in our cabin, but there were satellite reception issues and we missed a chunk of the movie until service was restored. There were theme dancing parties in the evenings. One night, we danced 50's music at the sock hop, (with a hilarious hula hoop contest) but passed on the Disco and the country-western nights. TV The TV service did not get the regular network channels. For news, there was BBC, Fox and MSNBC. Wish they got comedy central. They had a romance movie channel, a channel that showed the view from the bridge, the Princess channel with their infomercial. We enjoyed the Wake Show each morning, where the cruise director, Neil and his deputy cruise director, John, would do a short live show on board that featured the day's events and notes and shout-outs from the passengers. In summary, there was so much to do on sea days and nights that we barely cracked open the novels we brought. We had the mistaken impression that we would be sitting on wooden lounge chairs on the open deck, wrapped in wool blankets, reading our novels, but that never happened for us. Excursions- Ports of Call Ketchikan: You can see everything in this town in two hours by walking, which left lots of time for souvenir shopping and visiting the overabundance of jewelry stores. The highlights for us were the Ketchikan Welcome arch, historic Creek Street and the totem poles around town. We took the free bus from Creek Street to and from the Totem heritage museum and the Salmon Hatchery ($15 for both). Another passenger paid for the motorized tour of the town and said it was a waste of money. The visitor information center at the cruise dock was just a counter full of tour operators peddling their expensive tours. We just grabbed a free walking tour map and ignored the sideshow barkers beckoning us to buy their tour. We liked Ketchikan as a port of call. Juneau: Our ship dropped anchor in the middle of the inlet and we tendered to the Juneau docks. We rented a car from National, who picked us up in front of the Red Dog saloon (across the street from the tender drop off) and drove us to the AJ dock to get our car. We drove out to the Mendenhall glaciers and spent 2-3 hours there on a hike to Nugget Falls. If you take an organized tour that only spends an hour here, you won't have enough time to do the hike. You cannot bring food or eat food outside at Mendenhall because of Bear activity. So we drove into the suburbs of Juneau to get lunch. We found out Juneau has a Safeway, a Starbucks AND a Costco! We drove out to the shrine of St Therese. It was idyllic and scenic, and free, so it is not worth paying a tour company to take you there. Other passengers liked the whale watching tours at Juneau, which got closer to the whales than the cruise ship could ever get, but we did see whales from the cruise ship in the Tongass Narrows outside Ketchikan. The naturalist got on the ship's speaker to guide us where to look and what to see. Haines: this port of call is your quaint Alaska town by the water with majestic snow covered mountains as a backdrop. So after ten minutes it was boring. You can walk the entire town and hit all the souvenir shops in an hour and a half. It's a 0.5-mile walk from the cruise dock to the main street. I would have rather docked in Skagway. A lot of passengers paid to go on the ship excursions to the Bald Eagle Preserve and to Skagway. Tracy Arms: this is worth getting up for and being on deck at 6:00 am to see. Dress warmly as it was cold in the early morning. The cruise ship goes into the ford, and the scenery on either side of the ship is awe-inspiring. But the ship cannot get close to the South Sawyer glacier due to the ice and narrow channel. The show is over by 8:30 am, when the ship turns around and heads out to sea. Next time, I'd book a ship that went to Glacier Bay instead of Tracy Arms. Victoria, B.C.: Beautiful, and worth seeing, but there was not enough time in port. We rented a car and went out to the Buchart Gardens on our own to save money, ($150 for a family of four vs. $300 if we had done the ship excursion tour to the same place. One hassle we had, doing the excursion on our own, was that our cellphone reception at the dock kept switching from Bell (US) to Rogers (Canada) and we couldn't call Budget Victoria to send a shuttle to pick us up. The clerk in the gift shop was kind enough to let us use her land line to call for a pick-up from the Ogden Cruise dock and time was wasted when we didn't know where the Budget van would be. The Budget driver walked around looking for us and we walked around looking for him and his van, but it all worked out in the end. The drive out the gardens took a half hour and was easy to get too. With our portable car GPS, we had no problems finding the gardens or getting back in time for the 1:30 pm on-board deadline. The garden can be walked through in 2 hours. We rated the gardens as a highlight of our vacation. Disembarkation We chose a late disembarkation time of 10:00 am, so although we had to vacate our rooms by 8:30 am, we had a leisurely breakfast in the MDR and then a short wait in any seat we could find in the lounges. They called our group to disembark early at 9:45 am and it was an easy walk-off to the specific luggage area where our bags were and we wheeled them out to the sidewalk and waited for our friends to pick us up. But the sidewalk outside the Cruise terminal was jammed pack with people trying to leave, people arriving early to board the ship for the next cruise, and hundreds of tourists walking the streets to Pier 39. Just like when we started our vacation. Back to reality. Summary We loved the cruise and look forward to another one with Princess in a couple years. Princess seemed to be the perfect fit for us and a good value for the price. Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
Embarkation: It went relatively smoothly. However, 1) the embarkation pier was kind of a zoo; 2) I was irritated that (apparently) I had to use a porter to bring our 4 bags to the loading area when we were perfectly capable of doing it; ... Read More
Embarkation: It went relatively smoothly. However, 1) the embarkation pier was kind of a zoo; 2) I was irritated that (apparently) I had to use a porter to bring our 4 bags to the loading area when we were perfectly capable of doing it; and 3) it wasn't until after dinner that my wife's 2 bags were delivered; my 2 arrived soon after we got to our cabin. Dining: We ate dinners in the dining room; breakfast and lunch in the Horizon Court or Cafe Corniche (pizza). Service was excellent; the food generally good, not great. "Anytime dining" seemed like a great idea, and we opted for it. Never again. What it meant for us was that you get in line "anytime," after which you get a pager and wait for up to half an hour for a table. I tried to reserve a table several times and was told that nothing was available until 8:30, later than we like to eat.Entertainment: I can't comment on the entertainment since we had no interest in and didn't attend any shows, etc. Cabin: Our balconey cabin was clean and comfortable. I would have liked more than one chair, but there wasn't room for one. Our steward was excellent. My wife appreciated that I was not permitted to smoke on the balconey. Staff: Overall, we found the staff to be friendly and helpful. This is contrary to what I've been reading in some comments about cruises on other Princess ships in the Caribbean. Shore Excursions: We each took six, four together and two each apart. We enjoyed all of them. My favorite was a Zodiac expedition in Ketchican -- we were the only two passengers signed up for it and, so, had a boat to ourselves. According to the tour operator, Princess requires a minimum of four for any excursion, and Princess had picked up the tab for two so that we wouldn't be canceled. Kudos to Princess if this is true and, if so, they did it behind the scenes. You can likely save money by booking excursions on your own. Princess is upfront about this, saying that about 20% of excursion fees go to them.Other: My wife has multiple chemical sensitivities and also requires a gluten-free diet. Princess was very accommodating in this regard. Indeed, there is an "accessibility person" in the home office; she was very helpful. But for the assurances she gave in advance, we would never have dared to try the cruise. Kudos also to Greg, the head waiter in the Rigoletto Dining Room, who went out of his way insofar as my wife's gluten-free diet is concerned. Value for money: Due to my wife's problems noted above, we paid considerably more to get a specific cabin. Based on our experience, next time we'll pay less for whatever balconey cabin we are assigned. Overall: As stated above, we were very satisfied with the cruise and are already planning our next one with Princess, to the Caribbean. I must admit that I'm a bit put off by some of the reviews of the two ships, one of which we will be on, but we'll likely give it a try nonetheless. Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
When I noticed on the Internet that Princess was sailing from San Francisco, I knew I wanted to be on one if their ships. The fact that Sea Princess is one of their smaller ones was even more appealing. When I boarded the ship, I was ... Read More
When I noticed on the Internet that Princess was sailing from San Francisco, I knew I wanted to be on one if their ships. The fact that Sea Princess is one of their smaller ones was even more appealing. When I boarded the ship, I was pleasantly surprised by the total atmosphere of the public areas. While busy with the rush of people boarding, the atrium was still a roomy area that never felt crowded. My first stop was my stateroom, located on the starboard side near the front with an ocean view window that was not a large one, but the right size for viewing. Being a single traveler, I never felt jammed into a small space or crammed into the shower or bathroom space. After watching us pass under the Golden Gate and out to sea, it was time for my first seating time at dinner. I had opted for traditional dining since I knew that I would always have dinner companions, and for the early seating so I would be able to see the earlier shows. I ate with a couple from Arizona, one from Napa, California and a third couple from San Francisco, but originally from Guangzhou China and limited in their English. We got along fine because I knew a little Cantonese.I was always very satisfied with my meals. I selected items from the menu that were not foods I would normally get at home.Breakfast and dinner were always an adventure, and never rushed. While the seven of us visited at dinner each evening, there was never a feeling of slow service, and dinner usually ended in two hours. Our waiter and his helper were very friendly and accommodating. After dinner and a short walk around the Promenade Deck or within the ship, I went to the shows in the Princess Theatre or the Vista Lounge and was disappointed in only one, but was informed the next day by one of the Cruise Director staff that the situation had been taken care of. It was a case of an extremely bad comedian with no comedy. He was paired with a fantastic ventriloquist, so that show was not a total waste of time. I have always lived by the Golden Rule, so enjoyed talking each morning with the Stateroom Steward and felt he did an extraordinary job in taking care of his assigned rooms. Being the lone traveler that I was, I had opportunities to visit with crew and other passengers, making some wonderful friends. I feel that it makes for easier traveling and faster connections to have personal cards in your pocket with name, address, phone numbers and email addresses. They are easy to pass out and have resulted in continued connections after my cruise.Of course, Alaska is further north that I am used to and July is perfect for late sunsets, lengthy dusks and early sunrises. There were several days of cloudy weather, but only one day of real rain and that was the day we cruised Glacier Bay. By staying on the Promenade Deck, I was under cover and still able to see spectacular calving. I found this cruise to be very pleasing. There were over 300 children on the ship with families, but the programs for them were numerous and you never felt like they were in the way or bothersome. In fact, in looking back, I cannot recall any crying from unhappy, hungry children, nor any rude behavior from any of the teens on board. With 2,000 passengers, there will always be the pushy, rude, snobbish ones. But they have to be overlooked. Sometimes, it is necessary to be aggressive with them, but also there are times to let them have their way. They are also the ones who complain about the food, the service or anything else, but they should be complaining about their lives instead. My cruise experience was so positive that I have decided to travel on Princess to the Panama Canal, but I will always travel alone. Hope to meet you. Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
Me and my wife went on the Alaska cruise that disembarked from San Francisco. We had both never been on a cruise, so didn't have high expectations or any biases as to what to expect. To sum it up, between the Norovirus and and ... Read More
Me and my wife went on the Alaska cruise that disembarked from San Francisco. We had both never been on a cruise, so didn't have high expectations or any biases as to what to expect. To sum it up, between the Norovirus and and jail-like "balcony" experience, we were clawing to get off the ship mid-way through the cruise. If it wasn't for the Alaska ports, this would have utterly been the worst experience of our lives. I don't even know where to start. The minute we walked into this insanely tiny room (1.5 feet around the bed to wiggle by) and a toilet where your left leg is in the shower stall because there is simply no room, we realized it was going to be a bit cozy. That's fine, we can deal with that if the trip is good. We weren't here to complain, we wanted to have a good time! I went out on the balcony when the ship was preparing to leave, and realized that my hands and white T-shirt stuck to the newly varnished balcony railing. It was stuck to my hands for three days and my shirt was ruined. Can't understand why they decided to do this now of all times, but whatever, lets move on. I believe it was the second day of the cruise where the Norovirus issue was announced and that there would be preventative measures in place. These measures basically caused an hour + delays to be seated. We waited nearly an hour to receive our food. During which, I watched a cockroach scramble by the waiters jug of water. When I told him about it, he seemed unimpressed and said sorry and walked away. It took three hours in total to check in, eat, and leave. The problem here is that this was the issue everywhere, it wasn't a one night kind of thing. If you went to the buffet you had them put the food on your plate for you, which is fine, but we found hair in our food between the two of us three times throughout our experience. The wife literally ended up ordering food that was pre-packaged such as yogurts from the room service menu, 5 at a time, so she could be assured she was not eating something with person's bodily fallout in her food and/or Norovirus possibly infecting her. When browsing the ships activities, you quickly realize that the Sea Princess is severely over-booked and a small ship. Every activity in the auditorium you had to get there an hour before it started to get a seat. If you didn't, you were forced to stand and watch. A presumably 70+ age woman with air tubes had to stand and watch the show because getting there 20 minutes before it started was not sufficient for finding a seat. We did the arts and crafts option because the wife loves these type of things. We went there and waited 20 minutes in line before a girl tells us all that the 3 (yes three!) tables were full. The literally had 12 chairs available for this project for the ENTIRE SHIP. The girl was obviously annoyed, probably because she knew this was ridiculous, but she failed to tell people waiting in line for almost half an hour that they weren't going to get to do the activity this afternoon. She snapped at the lady in front of us and cut her off and told her there is nothing she can do and to come back tomorrow and that's all there is to it. Well, we came back the next day, this time an hour ahead of time and played a board game on the table until the wife could go get our materials (I had to fend off the rights to our two chairs, fending off numerous dissatisfied people who couldn't participate). An hour later she comes back with our materials (you only get 2 hours to work on your project). We rush through our projects and the deal is you come back the next day to pick up your oven-baked piece of art. We came the next day, and it wasn't ready. Fast forward a few days because they don't offer it on port days, and again, it was not available. The very last possible day we went down there at 10 am, and again, it was not available! They told us all the items would be available by 1 pm and they were finishing them up. We come back at 1 pm and our items aren't out on the table. I ask the girl where our pieces were. She says if they aren't there then they "blew up" in the oven. At least two people were looking at her like, are you serious? The apathetic girl said that many of the items blew up. My guess is some idiot over cooked the items on too high of a temperature to get them all done within time and they don't want to take responsibility for it. The quality of the food was overall terrible. Given that you had to wait 3 hours to eat at one of the restaurants, you were left with either two choices: wait three hours for food that coexists with cockroaches, or eat food prepared and served by people with hair in it from the buffet. We ultimately used room service quite frequently, also to avoid Norovirus. At least half the time they sent the wrong items. You order a turkey sandwich and they send you a Roast beef sandwhich. You order a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and they send you nachos. The TV channels were all centered around trying to get you to buy overly-priced items. I get it, they want to get you to buy the art and jewelry items, that's all fine. It came across though as though they care more about making a buck than they do the quality of the customer experience. We tried to watch the movies under the stars, but due to it being an outdoor theater, you had to battle the wind and children screaming in the pool directly below it. You literally could not hear 90% of the words. We went back to our jail cell to finish the movie. There are too many things to list for this review, but the last one I will mention is not to use their wake-up service and early departure option. On our departure day, the courtesy call came in two hours earlier than it was supposed to. We packed everything up, forced ourselves to be awake, and walked out of our cabins with bags in hand and quickly realized it was still 4 am. For whatever reason, they screwed up the time to receive the call. This happened twice. I can only assume it has to do with the change in hours when going to Alaska, but if this cruise is your specialty, shouldn't you have this figured out by now? Anyways, we went down at the proper time to leave the ship early (literally wanted to be the first ones off if possible!) and there was no one directing anyone on where to go or what to do. I asked the security officer at the exit and he said this would be the exit and to wait here if we wanted to start the line. We obliged. As more than half an hour passes, the room just gets congested and none of the workers took the initiative to put out poles, dividers, or verbally instruct people on what to do. It was a logistical failure and it boggles my mind as to how a cruise ship can be so disorganized. The people on the ship were nice. Even though we were a younger couple than the average age, everyone was for the most part pleasant. Even though children were screaming in the pools during the movie under the stars, the ship really was a good mix of people and we felt comfortable despite being younger. The onus of our experience falls directly on a cruise ship that cares more about making money than the quality of their customers experience. We will never cruise with Princess again. Many echoed our thoughts, and suggested to try other cruise liners. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
It does not give me any pleasure in writing to inform you of a holiday which fell far short of what I expected. Had my "gripe" been in one particular area, I would have found it easy to ignore, but alas this is not ... Read More
It does not give me any pleasure in writing to inform you of a holiday which fell far short of what I expected. Had my "gripe" been in one particular area, I would have found it easy to ignore, but alas this is not possible. Prior to departure I found that the literature and itinery had to be pursued on more than one occasion, and it was my own enquiry through the internet that helped to alleviate this. This was a matter I took up with the travel agent directly. What should concern you is: • The lead up to the actual cruise was for the most part well handled, right up until we arrived on board ship. Unfortunately, I did find that Ketchikan was a port deleted, and a half day visit to Siskin was substituted. • On board ship the daily running events were printed in a "Princess Patter" magazine. In the first issue of this, a full calendar of the trip was printed on page 2. Unfortunately, it was printed referring to Wednesday, July 19. Perhaps you will recall that Wednesday was in fact 18th. The lack of proof reading meant that the entire cruise had wrong day/dates according to the opening issue. When I tried to clarify this with the crew, I was scoldingly told that "the first day out is not Tuesday but Wednesday". Silly me. • On the Wednesday (18/19) we went down for dinner dressed as required "Smart Casual". On arrival, I found that those who have sailed with you before, were in fact dressed "Formal" whilst 50% of the guests were dressed as we were. We dined self service. • On the second Wednesday (25/26) the roles were reversed. This time those who had previously dressed casual made the effort, only to find that those who had previously dressed "formal" decided not to bother. Not satisfactory once more. • Proof reading of the magazine caused further confusion in the theatre. On another occasion, the "Patter" gave a running order for the day and announced that the theatre show was due to start at 10pm. At the given time, the start was delayed as it was clear that the audience was still arriving. A guest who sat beside me could not understand why she had been so late. It transpired that the timetable announce a start of 10pm, while a "boxed" advert in the same "Patter" had announce a start time of 10.15pm. Again a proof reading shortcoming. • Early on in the cruise, we were told that the ship had an engine failure, thus leaving us running on three of the four. Arrival times would be delayed accordingly. This was going to have a detrimental effect on excursions. Having invested $1034 in these excursions I was bitterly disappointed, but then insulted by the paltry refund of $50 issued on the Captain's authority. • We arrived four hours late in Victoria, BC. With an arrival of 7am and departure of 2pm, I had arranged to meet relatives there, but due to the delay I called to put them off. A number of passengers lobbied for a longer stay and the Captain's committee permitted a further 45 minutes. The end result was a stop of 3 ¾ hours instead of Seven Hours. • On leaving Victoria, miraculously the erring engine had been repaired and the Captain had pleasure in announcing that we could now have a "Quick Cruise to Frisco". Obviously this would mean no delays for the new cruise starting. Really? • Disembarkation. This was an unmitigated disaster from start to finish. • On the final evening, we attended the "debriefing" in the theatre and were told that some of the times had been changed and that the notes to staterooms were wrong. We were assured that new notes would be delivered before morning. When this did not happen, the crew were contacted and we were given a "new note" which unfortunately contained the unaltered times. • We were told that colour coded luggage labels would be delivered to the staterooms and we duly received "Green 1" labels. These were attached and the luggage removed on the night before disembarkation. • The timetable instructed us to be in "Razzmatazz" lounge at 7am for customs procedures. This meant being up at 5.30am for breakfast. • At 6.45am whilst still at sea, I looked from my balcony a watched the Pilot leap on board. No Customs? • At 7am I attended "Razzmatazz" with many others and sat inside the lounge. • At 7.20 am a uniformed officer of the crew entered and reported a change of time and put everyone out of the lounge to stand in line in the corridor. • The Customs staff in fact did not attend till after to ship had tied up two hours later. • At 9am everyone had to re-enter the "Razzmatazz" lounge to have the passports seen and then march back out another door into the previously mentioned corridor. • At this point there were no crew/staff members on hand to inform anyone what the next procedure was. • With little accurate information, a number of us made our way to the "Atrium" where we were confronted with a large number of experienced "Princess Cruisers" who were well versed enough to keep a close hold of their own cases and leave unaided. Their departure was greatly delayed even although the gangway, staff and card swipe machinery was all in place at 9am. We noted that two members of staff and two dancers were waiting to "swipe" everyone off. • At 11am, four hours after assembling for customs, we were eventually allowed off and saw that our "Green 1" labelled cases were on the quay on the other side of a temporary barrier. • Harbour staff, armed with clip boards, would not allow us to collect our cases, so we stood there and watched as the airport buses left without us. • At noon we were grudgingly allowed to retrieve the cases and spoke to YOUR transport stewards/staff on quayside who confirmed that we had been given the wrong "GREEN 1" labels and should have been given "PINK". • At this point we discovered that another two passengers were in a similar position re cases and buses. We were also told that there were apparently another thirteen passengers lost in the warehouse, all waiting to go to the airport. • We were now left to hang around the diesel fumed area till the last of the airport buses returned with passengers joining the next cruise. At 1.30pm a bus arrived and this carried only we four passengers to the airport as the other thirteen were still missing. Perhaps they caught a yellow cab? Many of the features on your cruise were very good, but to have them interspersed with chaotic disorganisation was extremely disappointing. Various theories for engine failure went around the ship, mainly based on how we were able to depart on time, were then late for ports and excursions, and yet were able to start the next new cruise on time once more. One common thread was voiced at disembarkation when it was clearly agreed that when the credit cards had been settled, the crew vanished like snow off a dyke. The saving grace for the cruise was the staff that cleaned, catered for and entertained the guests. Unfortunately, when you scratch the surface? Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
We were new to cruising so unsure of what to expect, a few reviews on here about the sea princess were not great and the panic set in! However we didn't need to worry as it was absolutely fantastic. Our room was spotless and our ... Read More
We were new to cruising so unsure of what to expect, a few reviews on here about the sea princess were not great and the panic set in! However we didn't need to worry as it was absolutely fantastic. Our room was spotless and our stateroom steward, Homer, was brilliant. The room was cleaned & towels changed twice a day, he always had a smile & spoke whenever he saw us. The ship itself was clean & food was plentiful. we chose anytime dining but to be honest only went to the restaurant 3 times as we preferred Horizon Court & their buffet. Every evening you are left with a Princess Patter which gives you all the information ready for the next day.The entertainment left a lot to be desired, if you want to hear singers that can't sing & comedians that are not funny then you'll be ok, also look out for alan & alana, they play piano & sing - they are just horrendous! We were looking forward to movies under the stars, however the films they were showing were mostly from the 1940's (my partner and I were born in 1979 & 1980) so they were not our cup of tea, one night we decided to watch a film that was out last year, there were only 6 people there ready to watch the film so we asked for our blankets, and they had run out, which was odd as there were only 6 people, then the popcorn machine had been abandoned, so no popcorn, then the movie started, although we couldn't hear it properly due to the bar being located right behind the seats, we gave up and left after half an hour! Alcoholic drinks are very, very expensive, so when you are in a port buy a bottle of wine and take it back on with you. You can take back a bottle each, saved us a fortune. also had a soda package for $73.These were the only down sides to it. The cruise itself was amazing, most of the ports were beautiful, Grand Turk in particular was the most stunning place we have ever seen. Grenada, Tortola & Trinidad felt very unsafe to us so we only went where the ship had sectioned off the border control & went back. Trinidad was only a port day so that the ship could re-stock but this port was by far the most dangerous, that day the ship was heaving! On sea days sunbeds were hard to get if you weren't out by 8am, one day we had to share a sunbed & another we put our towels on the floor. We did the zipline adventure in St. Lucia and that was out of this world, if you want to do any trips i would pre-book online before you go as it is a lot cheaper, the zipline trip if pre-booked was $79 if you booked on the ship it was $119! We really enjoyed our first cruise & it was made even more special as we got engaged while we were there! We are already looking at another princess cruise for next year & we haven't even been home a week yet! Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
We had never thought about cruising until we met a couple whilst on holiday in Cuba that had done a couple of cruises and got us thinking. We checked several travel companies for quotes and then went to our usual travel agent to see if ... Read More
We had never thought about cruising until we met a couple whilst on holiday in Cuba that had done a couple of cruises and got us thinking. We checked several travel companies for quotes and then went to our usual travel agent to see if they could match or better one we got off the internet, we wasn't disappointed when they came up with a Caribbean cruise with Princess cruises.We did as most people do check tripadvisor and other forms of reviews and to be honest some of them scared me and i was begining to wonder what we had let ourselves in for, but in hind sight i didn't need to worry.Our holiday started with our flight from Birmingham airport and we soon found out that everyone on our flight was going to be on the cruise aswell.The check in so quick the best we have ever experienced. We got chatting to a lovely couple at the airport that had done several cruises, they were also sitting by us on the plane.The flight was superb, staff very attentive and smiling, we had paid extra for premium upgrade but worth every penny. When we arrived at Barbados everything was done with military precision, from getting off the plane right through to boarding the ship and getting to our cabin and having our cases delivered to it. We have heard that other flights were not so lucky as us. We decided to familiarise ourselves with the ship rather than go back ashore and go round Bridgetown, plus we were not sure of the protocol at this point.The Sea Princess was beautiful, spotlessly clean very much a WOW!We had booked anytime dining and on the first night we went to the Rigalleto restaurant, we were taken to a table for 8 people and were not served until it was full which took a while and caused ourselves and others to miss the important emergency drill as we were told there would be another later but this wasn't true. We used the Horizon Buffet restaurant after this which we found fantastic, the service, choice of dishes etc, on a couple of times we used the Corniche when we fancied Italian.The entertainment was good and Marvin, Kez and the others worked hard to keep everyone entertained and boy did they entertain you, Marvin only had to give one of his looks or poses ( when he saw anyone with a camera) and you were in fits of laughter. The island party night they put on was out of this world with music from the ship's band 'Magnitude', we went to the theatre every night to see a show and was never disappointed especially the show the crew put on, although the DVD didn't sound anything like the actual show did.Our cabin steward was named Elric and he was always smiling and kept our cabin spotless and changed the towels twice a day. At night he always put 2 chocolates and the Princess Patter on the bed after he had turned it back, it's the little touches that mean so much.Most of our trips we did ashore except Jamaica as we were advised by others that had been before to book with the ship and go with them which we did. There were 2 places we didn't like and that was due to the locals pestering us and not taking no for an answer, at which they became a bit intimidating so we went back on board and spent the day on deck and in the pools. Our favourite place was Tortola and the visit to Cane Garden beach, although Tobago, Bonaire and ST Ktts was also lovely, Aruba was very cosmopolitan and very expensive mainly jewellery and designer shops, Grand Caymen was also very nice.The security on boarding and dissembarking the ship and around it at each port was first class. They seemed to take passenger safety very seriously as when we were in port they were always doing some drill or another with the crew and there was always someone painting the exterior of the ship.To sum this review up it was FANTASTIC and something we would definately do again. Our only downside for this review is that we were told that Princess cruises are no longer going from Barbados and that they are mainly going from Fort Lauderdale which we were told IS A NIGHTMARE, so we will not be doing that.One last thing you are given the option to opt out of the daily Gratuities except for hotel/bar bills which we did and just left tips for specific people you can save a fortune doing this and you know the ones that matter get their reward. Read Less
Sail Date March 2011
I have seen some reviews of this ship which complain about how dull it was - with few "fun" activities on ship. That because it's aimed at "the Brits" and not the Amerians, it is dull. Well - I applaud it ... Read More
I have seen some reviews of this ship which complain about how dull it was - with few "fun" activities on ship. That because it's aimed at "the Brits" and not the Amerians, it is dull. Well - I applaud it for being so. The thought of 2 weeks of organised fun and games is what would have me running away screaming. Not that we stayed on the Ship very much except where we were forced to on the "days at sea". We did not go on any organised tours, but simply walked off the ship and found a driver in each port to either take us to a beach - or to go to some place on a mini-tour before finishing at the beach. And that approach was perfect - especially for Dunns River Falls... we got there around 9:30am and had the whole place practically to ourselves. Climbed the falls twice (the 2nd time, the organised tours had started to arrive and it isn;t nearly as much fun in a group of 30 people... believe me). This approach was far cheaper and much more relaxed (and relaxed is precisely what we were looking for... if you want "get up and have fun" then perhaps club 18-30 is what you should be looking for). Annoying things... as has been commented on... the "German" approach of grabbing sun loungers before 7am and then waltzing off to bed befor finally taking your place at 11am... Very tempted just to wander around chucking towels and books into the sea. It wasn't too bad - we would find somewhere around 8:30am on the back of the boat and stay there until we fried... Often surrounded by sun-bathing towels. And smoking.... We had a balcony and it was great to sit out in the sea breeze as we approached each island in the dawn light. Until the people in the cabin next door woke up coughing and spluttering, desperate to light the first cigarette of the day. And promptly the smoke would blow into our balcony. So much for fresh sea air. If Princess allow smoking, then they should group all the smokers together on one side of the boat and on the lower decks and let them poison each other instead of letting them involve everyone in their habit. That one really annoyed me. One of the kids (16) found lots to do when we were on the ship. The other (15) was "bored" a lot... but that's teenagers for you. We ourselves enjoyed the fact we could relax and not have to do anything unless we chose to. We found that it was advisable to book the table (we were on "eat anytime" in the Rigalettos restaraunt). Not booking meant often being in a 20 minute queue to be seating. Booking is free and meant no waiting. DO NOT think that if you have 2 kids, you can share a "double room". They do have some of these where they will fit extra beds in somehow. I cannot imagine how cramped that would be... the double was fine for two of us, but we could never have fitted the kids in there... We had them in an inside cabin (originally we were going to have them in our room but thought better of it... thank God!). Other reviews mention bad attitudes from the staff - we never saw that. Except for the Thomas Cook check-in lady in Manchester who was the most miserable and rude person I have ever met (and I travel A LOT). As the first point of contact for Princess, I think they might want to reconsider using TC ... But I got over that fairly quickly and really enjoyed the 2 weeks... How can you not enjoy all those perfect beaches, crystal clear waters and fantasticly relaxed locals? Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
This is our second trip from SF to Alaska on the Sea Princess. The first time was 2010 had a scenic cruise through Tracy Arm Fjord and this time was through Glacier Bay (highly recommended!). We didn't go on the train excursions and ... Read More
This is our second trip from SF to Alaska on the Sea Princess. The first time was 2010 had a scenic cruise through Tracy Arm Fjord and this time was through Glacier Bay (highly recommended!). We didn't go on the train excursions and did not go through Glacier Bay which is much nicer. So I decided to use my cruise travel points (saves us $200) I went to the Princess website and their prices were quite high. Expedia had a great deal with an additional $200 in credits, but I can't use my cruise points. I told my wife and booked it and she was a bit surprised it was the same ship. It seems like SF is quite picky on which ships can dock on its ports. I. Overview: My first time on the Sea Princess the general feeling was how it represented the classic cruise experience. For a ship that is mid size, the atrium felt very grand and classy. There are traditional tea times and many activities and shows for the passengers. Sea Princess Fellow Passengers Unlike Carnival with more party goers, Spring break frat boys and first time cruisers or Norwegian with more serious, experienced cruisers, Princess passengers are more mellow. The demographics are mostly seniors and families. Not too many kids and hardly any teens. Very friendly and mellow people. Sea Princess Dress Code: It is mostly smart casual with two nights for formal nights. Gratuity: Like all cruises, Princess deducts $11.50 per person per day for tips and also have the option for us to provide additional tips at the end of the cruise. The crew is very nice and helpful and I would recommend providing additional gratuity in a discreet fashion for the wonderful services. Sea Princess Cabins: Like all cabins, it is small for the average big man. The steward kept it very nice and clean. They don't fold a towel like a stuffed animal like all cruises since the demographics are more senior. Since our second cruise was a last minute deal and a savings of 40%, we had an obstructed view. The window shows the tender ship and we see the crew members preparing it. No complaints from me. Rating is an 8. Dining: Traditional restaurants the Rigoletto and La Traviata are very classy. My only complaint was how low the ceilings are compared to other cruises. Service was great. Breakfast and lunch are for anytime dining. For dinner it can be anytime or a set time. Our second cruise, we had to share our table. This maybe awkward for folks to share the same dinner table for the whole cruise, for lunch and breakfast we only shared a table once and people are generally very happy to be on vacation. Rating for the dishes is a 9. THe pizza cafe has thin crust pizza and a limited number of choices for lunch. Dinner has pasta and desserts. Sometimes the pizza may be a bit soggy due to the thin crust. I would rate the food a 7. Horizon buffet is for breakfast, lunch and dinner and is not 24 hours. They shut off a side of the buffet for dinner for the steak house which has a cover charge. Unlike other cruise ships, the tables are set up in a very classy manner, however there are limited space to sit and I find myself sitting outside by the pool area most of the time. Mostly a mix of European, classic America and Asian food with a bit of Mexican cuisine. There are not too many dessert choices and no ice cream. There is a sundae restaurant by the pool and it is open for a limited number hours too. We skipped the buffet most of the time to go to traditional dining. I would rate the food a 7. The Riviera Grill is outside of the buffet and has grilled food and a drink station. Perfect area to sit by the pool, eat lunch, watch a movie and the view. Rating of 7. Entertainment: There are movies, music numbers and comedy/music acts at the Princess Theater and the Vista Lounge. We really enjoy the friendly crew when they performed and had a talent contest for the passengers. Rating of 8. Public Areas: The Atrium is the best part of the ship. The shopping areas are good and the watch store is not too big and does not have enough selection. That is my only complaint. Overall an 8. The photo gallery is nice to buy pictures. The library is nice, but a bit small. There's the internet cafe, however cruise speeds for the net is slow. The Razzmatazz nightclub is big but narrow. We played XBox Kinect there. The pool is not too big and has a children's pool. No water slides. There is an additional pool area for adults to relax. A few hottubs and an additional hottubs by the spa. A plus is the movie theater by the main pool. What better way than to enjoy a movie in a pool. Rating of 8. Spa and Fitness area. Not the biggest gym compared to other cruise ships. There is an extra studio for classes and I was able to use it to practice karate and other passengers used it for stretching and special exercises. There's a salon for manicures, teeth whitening and other stuff. Rating of a 7 since it's too small. Family Accommodations: The childcare center for youth is great with many games and activities. The hours are 9AM-12N, 1P-5P (yes!) and 6-10P. The teen area is not really used since there's hardly any teens there. On my first cruise a few teens just sat there playing Guitar Hero. Rating is 9. There is a kids pool, ping pong tables, ball court. No water slides. Scenic: The depart from SF is very nice as we sailed by Alcatraz and under the Golden Gate Bridge. The scenic cruise to Tracy Ford is limited (6AM-10AM). This time to Glacier Bay (6AM-3P) had many glaciers and park rangers to answer our questions. Alaska: Juneau is the capitol of Alaska. Had many stores. The prices are quite high. I would recommend the excursion to see the glaciers when you are there. Skagway is an old town. I rented a mountain bike last time. This time the whole family went on a train ride. It was through the mountains. The price is less if we had purchased it from the train stop. Ketchikan is a small town with nice stores. Most people recommend the helicopter ride over the glaciers. Victoria, British Columbia We were there from 9A-1:30P. The city reminds me of an American city, has a downtown area, a mall and Chinatown. Free wifi for the downtown area. A few Starbucks, but the most charming thing were the mom and pop stores. There was a street with 3 competing comic book stores on the same block next to each other. It's nice to see stores that sells cool stuff you don't find in the malls. Overall it was a great trip. The ship is not the most modern or spacious of all the new ships. I give it extra points for the service and the style which is very classy and traditional. Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
As first time cruisers our excitement (and anxiety) was ever increasing as our sailaway date approached. Weeks (months?) earlier, we had arranged car parking at East Midlands airport and booked a night in a nearby hotel to make sure ... Read More
As first time cruisers our excitement (and anxiety) was ever increasing as our sailaway date approached. Weeks (months?) earlier, we had arranged car parking at East Midlands airport and booked a night in a nearby hotel to make sure everything went smoothly on the day. Then, with just three days to go, Princess contacted us. They had apparently 'overbooked' on our flight and were seeking volunteers to relocate to Gatwick. They immediately offered to reimburse our hotel and car parking charges, upgrade our flights to Premium Economy (both outbound and inbound) and dangled $250pp OBC before our eyes. The idea of driving to Gatwick, and particularly the drive home on our return, was daunting but the offer was too good to refuse and so we accepted. Princess' organisation was great and we were able to use our East Midlands 'Thomsonfly' tickets to board a Thomas Cook flight from Gatwick without any problems. I should add that, while the on board entertainment wasn't too good, Thomas Cook looked after us well and quickly got us into the holiday mood by plying us with complimentary drinks! We arrived in Barbados and stepped off the plane and straight onto a bus that whisked us off to the ship. We joined the fast moving queue to be checked in and were escorted aboard the Sea Princess. Just one negative here: we really don't want to be pulled aside for 'embarkation photos' when we look like we've been dragged through a hedge backward after a 9 hour flight. We were met by our cabin steward (Moises, who was great) and shown our "stateroom". The cabin was somewhat compact but it was very clean and functional with enough storage space to hold and hang everything. And we soon developed a 'passing places' system which allowed us to get from one side to the other without getting wedged against the furniture! We were keen to get cleaned up and start exploring the ship but PA announcements made it clear we wouldn't have time as we were to have muster drills 15 minutes later. Once that was over it seemed like time went into overdrive and we were soon on deck for the sailaway. A warm Caribbean evening, a glass of something cold, Barbados behind us and our first cruise ahead of us... bliss! It wasn't long before we were able to explore and were soon learned that what we called 'the pointy end' was the bow and that our cabin was on the port side and not 'on the left'. That did lead to some confusion when we were alongside in St. Lucia. I said we were facing 'to port' and my better half contradicted me to say we were facing 'out to sea'. Each evening your bed is turned back and adorned with chocolates and the 'Princess Patter', a news sheet containing information on the next day's destination and an entertainment schedule. We have read a lot of critical reviews of the entertainment on Sea Princess but we found it varies from 'average' to 'excellent'. The cruise director's staff lead some daytime activities (games and quizzes etc) and are very good at what they do. However, we found that occasionally an activity would be advertised but the staff didn't turn up for it. Perhaps they hadn't been told themselves? Obviously a communication breakdown somewhere along the line. It has to be said that daytime entertainment isn't what it could be. When you're in port and the majority of passengers are ashore then it's not a real problem but on sea days (we had two) then you can be left kicking your heels. Some people are happy to vegetate on a sun lounger all day so, if you're not quick enough in the morning, you'll never find a vacant one. The evening entertainment takes place in the Princess Theatre and the Vista Lounge. The resident singers and dance group put on a few very good shows. I'm sure these shows are repeated many times and, if you've seen them before they won't be as appealing but, to the first time cruiser at least, they provide an hour of reasonable entertainment. The guest performers included very average magicians, good comedians, very good musicians/singers and the excellent Kyle Esplin (if you ever get a chance to see him, take it!). When the show is over you can head for the Wheelhouse Bar or Crooner's Bar. Both of these feature live music from resident duos of varying quality - each to their own, I'll say no more. There is also the Monte Carlo casino, if you like that sort of thing, the Premier Cru champagne bar and the Razzmattazz night club. Like it or not, these three all have areas which allow smoking. Of course, before you take in a show, you have to eat and the Sea Princess has plenty to offer. Horizon Court offers buffet style self-service dining 24 hours a day with sea views. We had the occasional lunch here but found the food to be a bit hit and miss. It was often luke warm and not of the quality found in the main restaurants. Horizon Court is ideal for a salad or snack if you're out on deck but be warned - you may have to tolerate people in vests or swimming costumes at the next table and you run the risk of eating food others have handled! In the evening, part of the restaurant is screened off to become the Sterling Steakhouse. We planned on eating here but never actually got around to it. There is a $15pp cover charge for eating in the Sterling Steakhouse but I understand the steaks are among the best you can get and it's well worth the extra cost. Overlooking the swimming pools on deck is the Riviera Grill. I'm not entirely sure of the opening hours but this offers burgers, bratwurst, hot dogs etc. Again, it's OK for a light snack. The good thing is the food is served to you on a plate so it hasn't been touched by other passengers! At the top of the atrium is Cafe Corniche, an Italian style restaurant offering pasta dishes and pizzas. We used this for lunch a couple of times and the quality is very good. We saw people eating there at dinner time time and have no reason to think the evening quality was anything less than it was earlier in the day. The two main restaurants are the Traviata and the Rigoletto. These are identical in both appearance and menu. The only differences are the Traviata offers 'fixed seating' dining (same time, same table) and the Rigoletto offers 'Anytime' dining (eat when want to eat, sit at any table). We opted for the anytime dining in the Rigoletto and we couldn't find a single fault with the service or the food. The staff were brilliant. When the time was right they could be very chatty and entertaining but at all times they were polite, helpful, professional and efficient. First time cruisers please, please note that there is no additional charge for dining in either of these restaurants. They should be considered your first choice for dining but we have heard of people who ate every meal in the Horizon Court because they mistakenly thought there was a charge for eating in the restaurants. There isn't! With the exception of the Sterling Steakhouse there is no charge for dining on the Sea Princess. You have paid a lot of money for your cruise so sit back and let yourself be spoiled rotten at mealtimes! Another nice touch is 'afternoon tea'. At 3.30 the Traviata opens it's doors for refreshments. It's all very "British" with the string quartet playing quietly in the background and the waiters don their white gloves and serve delicate sandwiches, fancy cakes and cookies... and the most amazing scones with jam and cream! There is a charge for drinks however and a glass of wine or two with dinner each evening will soon add up. You would be best advised buying a bottle (it works out far cheaper). Even if you only have one glass from it, the staff will mark the label and put it away for you for the next night. Whether we like it or not, all drinks on the ship have an added 15% gratuity so it's easy to assume your drinks bill will quickly get out of control. In reality if you're not a big drinker and just want a few quiet drinks in the evening you'll pay around £6.50 - £7 for a couple of beers/lagers. When that's coming out of your OBC it's not a problem - but keep a regular eye on your account by asking for a statement at the purser's desk! As a side note, some people seem to believe you can't bring alcohol aboard. In fact you can't bring spirits aboard (though some do succeed in getting it on). You can bring a bottle of wine (per person) back from your shore visits so you can pick up a cheap bottle and put it in your cabin fridge - ideal for a pre-dinner drink! Those trips ashore can be expensive if you decide to buy Princess excursions in every port. We found it cheaper (and just as enjoyable) to do your own thing and pick up a tour with one of the many taxis/shuttles in port (be sure to only use the authorised taxi drivers that you find immediately at the gates and check and double check the price before you go). You'll find other passengers doing the same trip so you're never alone. Bear in mind though that this advice only really applies to 'island tour' type excursion. If you want to go diving/snorkelling/whale watching/swinging through tree tops then you probably won't find those tours being sold at the port gates and you may want to book with the ship to avoid disappointment. Princess were a little unfair when, three days before the cruise was due to end, Moises approached us to say he had been assigned to a different task and introduced us to his replacement, our new steward. We didn't catch his name but he wasn't a patch on Moises. Whereas we were greeted with a smile by Moises every day, we never saw his replacement again after that introduction and we were never happy with the standard of service over the next few days. All in all though, we found the Sea Princess to be a wonderful introduction to the world of cruising and would happily recommend her to other first timers. Read Less
Sail Date February 2010
Sea Princess Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 3.9
Dining 4.5 4.1
Entertainment 4.0 3.6
Public Rooms 4.0 4.1
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.7
Family 4.0 3.7
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.6
Enrichment 3.0 3.4
Service 4.0 4.3
Value For Money 4.0 3.8
Rates 4.0 3.8

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