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2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2018
We sailed from Vancouver on April 12. It was cold for the first 3 days and the last 3 days. Even the Canadians were wearing their coats outside. Many people hung out on the aft pool deck because there is no smoking on the ship except ... Read More
We sailed from Vancouver on April 12. It was cold for the first 3 days and the last 3 days. Even the Canadians were wearing their coats outside. Many people hung out on the aft pool deck because there is no smoking on the ship except for a designated area on the aft pool deck. There is no cigar lounge. Many people were seasick the first day due to rough seas. The mid-ship pool is in a large atrium that can be opened, a great feature for a ship especially one sailing through varying weather. It was warm in there when cold outside. In warm weather, they did open it. We had fixed dinner reservations for 5:45. A 7:45 seating and walk-in dining were also available. The dinners were all very good. Portions were right-sized but they would be happy to bring you seconds if you wanted. We ate at each of the specialty restaurants once. There were certainly good too but we thought the value proposition is questionable given the quality of the main dining room. At the Lido buffet, the food is put on plates by servers, as opposed to the self-serve we were used too. Their lunch time taco bar and hamburger stand was very good. It was hard to find a seat during breakfast and lunch, they could definitely use more tables in the public areas. Drinks were about $7 for a beer and about $8 - $9 for a cocktail. But, they have two happy hours, one from 4 - 5 pm and one from 10 - 11 pm. During happy hour, you can get a second drink for $2 more. Happy hour is only valid at two of the bars. They are named on the daily itinerary sheet that is placed in your cabin. Fountain sodas are $2:30 each. The entertainment was good. The main stage was typical cruise ship entertainment, mostly singers and one magician that was very funny. We especially enjoyed the BB King Blues Club. They have a laundry service that can be unlimited, by the item, or by the bag. The by the bag option was $20 per bag and we could stuff about 3- 5 days of clothes in a bag. Highlights of the trip included the Capilano suspension bridge in Vancouver, the Old Lahaina Luau on Maui, the Arizona Memorial, and hiking Diamond Head. Try to get your tickets to the Arizona memorial in advance or you may not get in. Hiking Diamond Head requires the ability to walk 2 miles and climb many stairs. On days the ship tenders, be sure to pick up your tender tickets early or you may be waiting a long time to get off the ship. It seemed to take forever to get anywhere on the public bus in Honolulu. We finally gave up and used Uber. The gym was large and in good shape. It had several treadmills, ellipticals, bikes and weight some weight equipment. They offered several classes for additional fee including spin, stretching, yoga, etc. Computer classes were offered daily, but they filled up quickly. You had to be there well in advance to get a seat. All are listed on the ship's daily itinerary. Classes from America's Test Kitchen were offered daily in the BB King Blues Lounge. They were informative and entertaining. You don't get to eat the food though. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2018
Everything was awesome and ate way too much food. The captain took us away from a storm. Just one glitch with communication and appreciation of different faith backgrounds. The embarkation and disemarkation went very smooth. The ... Read More
Everything was awesome and ate way too much food. The captain took us away from a storm. Just one glitch with communication and appreciation of different faith backgrounds. The embarkation and disemarkation went very smooth. The cabin steward was very attentive to our needs and the MaitreD was awesome in looking after my friend who had allergies. The food was always hot and you never ran out of water. most of the time we never had to ask for a wedge of lemon or cup of tea after dinner. The Zumba class was awesome and the hula dancing was lots of fun. It was nice to have a walk for the cure. Very poorly attended but well worth it. The evening entertainment was high class and the comedian was awesome and kept his jokes clean. The information about the various ports was very informative and the hula dancing and Lei making was lots of fun Iwoould definately go again with princess. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2018
The very best part of the entire cruise was the staff. To a person, each of them was helpful, smiling all the time, and very courteous. The 15 day round trip cruise was very restful and relaxing. The food was about as good as it can be, my ... Read More
The very best part of the entire cruise was the staff. To a person, each of them was helpful, smiling all the time, and very courteous. The 15 day round trip cruise was very restful and relaxing. The food was about as good as it can be, my wife and I have been on 5 cruises and that was as good as any. We chose anytime dining for the first time and loved it. We sat with different couples each night and loved them all. I am disabled and must stay in my chair all the time. This is where the Star Princess fails a bit. The ADA room has a balcony (that we paid extra for of course) and the lip out to the balcony was 5" high. I was unable to roll out, so I never got to enjoy the fresh air at all. The Princess Theater is large and wonderful, unless you need to sit in a wheelchair. They have exactly 4 spaces per side. We must have had 40 wheelchair users on the cruise. We ended up going over an hour early to each show just to have an area to see from. This is a much older ship and was not accessible for me to enjoy the Sanctuary deck at all. There is no elevator to that section, only stairs. Getting on and off the ship in Hawaii was embarrassing, debilitating and difficult at best. The ramps are very short which makes them steep. They have ridged slats to keep the foot passengers from slipping but it makes it WRONG for wheelchairs. This was the only area where the staff was short, pushy and not good at their jobs. They put someone in front and someone in back and pretty much shove you up and down the whole time yelling; and they do it all wrong but will not listen to the person who does it daily, me. The excursions were fantastic and every bus we used (ROBERTS TRAVEL) had a lift for disabled persons. The locations and themes were perfect sights for Hawaii and we booked separately with Roberts because Princess was sold out 8 months prior to the cruise. Booking the excursions separately saved us almost half the cost and Roberts is the same company the cruise line uses. The entertainment in the Theater was over the top. Their dancers and singers are 1st class and worth seeing every show. The behind the scenes staff (sound, lights and such) were professional and managed well. Theater has the best people on the ship. Other than the main restaurants I have to tip my hat to the Trident Grill. It is simple such as hamburgers, dogs and daily specials but he meat is well seasoned and is grilled to order. Great job! The buffet is what a buffet should be - tons of food. This is one of the places that the staff was over the top. Every time I rolled into line someone would be there to see if they could carry my tray or assist in any way. The area was wide enough for me to roll through and not hit anyone. That's a bit rare from many of my past cruises. Overall, I would do it again - even on this same ship. The staff and relaxation makes it all worth it. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2018
We had done this cruise on the Star before, but in September. At the time it was our best cruise ever. So we decided to do it again, but in April. As it turned out the weather was not a s good. Hawaii had just finished the wettest ... Read More
We had done this cruise on the Star before, but in September. At the time it was our best cruise ever. So we decided to do it again, but in April. As it turned out the weather was not a s good. Hawaii had just finished the wettest winter in memory and the first 3 days of the trip out of Vancouver were pretty rocky due to a large pacific storm. Well these are the risks we take when we travel. Fortunately we do not get sea sick and the ship, being fairly large, handled the rough seas pretty well. Anyway, apart from the weather the Star in most areas did not disappoint. The entertainment was high quality and there were many choices of act. The cruise staff were excellent in all areas. Kudos to all. Food was excellent at all venues. I still think they make the best pizza ever on deck 14. On the down side I would say that despite a recent dry dock, the Star is due for a facelift. Our cabin furniture and cabinets were deteriorated and common area chairs were frayed. I suggest they cant compete with newer ships until they take care of this. Another area needing attention is the buffet. It is undersized for the number of people using it. While they try to offer a variety of foods there is not enough room to display them. this results in crowding of the buffet area. This does not compare well with newer ships. We found the gym to be crowded. perhaps more people use gyms today than when the ship was built. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
THE ITINERARY Our main objective for this trip was to visit Hawaii, and we would like to visit these interesting islands again—there’s more than you can possibly see in 5 days. EMBARKATION Embarkation at Vancouver was ... Read More
THE ITINERARY Our main objective for this trip was to visit Hawaii, and we would like to visit these interesting islands again—there’s more than you can possibly see in 5 days. EMBARKATION Embarkation at Vancouver was very smooth and very well co-ordinated. THE SHIP Comparisons between the Eurodam to her sister-ship (the Niew Amsterdam) are inevitable. As you might expect, she is very clean and tidy above decks and below. We found the ship layout very easy to navigate, and really appreciated the unobstructed Promenade Deck (3 times around = 1 mile). The back-lit navigation signs located by each elevator provided all necessary information and directions in a highly visible manner. Likewise, the menu screens outside the Lido and MDR were easy to read, much better than paper menus. TIP: many of the comments and observations we made after travelling on the Niew Amsterdam also apply to the Eurodam. For more information refer to our previous reviews. DÉCOR We found the décor on the Eurodam to be rather sombre compared to that of her sister-ship. There are some interesting cabinets-of-curiosities near the Main Dining Room (MDR) and next to B.B. King’s and a few good paintings of ships in the stairwells, but the overall feeling is (in our opinion) rather drab and dated. A lighter palette might help – there are large areas of grey and dark blue throughout the ship and the theatre seems to be especially dingy. TIP: Sightlines in the theatre are not good from the balcony seats on deck 3 (except for those seated in the middle section). Avoid the two boxes on the port and starboard sides: it is almost impossible to see the action on the stage, and you get blinded by the stage lights located in the wings. THE CREW The crew of the Eurodam always manage to be upbeat and are very pleasant company. They are busy, but always seem able to find a few minutes to share a joke or a comment, and their hard work makes life as pleasant as possible for the passengers, so we want them to know how much we appreciate their efforts. Our cabin stewards (Mantri and Hari) were excellent. They kept our cabin neat and tidy and were always cheerful and friendly. FOOD We found no reasons to complain about the food in any of the restaurants onboard the Eurodam. The Lido Market serves a range of interesting dishes from all over the world including Asia and Italy. It tends to get a bit hectic at times, especially when people are lining up to get served at the buffet stations. The Tamarind restaurant has the same Asian-Fusion menu offered on the Niew Amsterdam, but the dishes and presentations fell short of the standard we had experienced on the sister ship. We decided to try the Canaletto restaurant, and we were pleasantly surprised at the innovative dishes presented. We believe the extra $15 was very well spent. We usually ate dinner in the Main Dining Room and never regretted any of our menu choices. The menu is always very inventive, although it does list some dishes that you might call standards every day for the less-adventurous diners (for example, salmon and strip-loin steak). For some reason seating assignments were chaotic during the first few evenings, and again on a Gala night. Passengers (including those who had made reservations) waited for ages to be assigned a table. We complained to the maitre d’ and the following night diners were issued pagers that would signal a table ready to receive them. This didn’t seem to improve matters because after being told we should expect a 20 minute wait, we gave up after 25 minutes and ate in the Lido market instead. TIP: Try varying your arrival time at the MDR, or make an early reservation. MARINERS’ LUNCH This is a special event for members of the HAL Mariners Club (aka, repeat customers). The food was excellent (set menu) and you get an opportunity to meet the Captain and the Cruise Director in person. Disappointingly, this time we did not receive a small Delft tile featuring the ship, as we have at other Mariner Lunches. ENTERTAINMENT BB King’s Blues Club featured a very capable band, who treated us to a wide range of R&B, Motown, and a few contemporary pieces, and this time the band included plenty of blues classics. This entertainment was a big attraction that helped us decide to take this HAL trip. In the Main Stage we were entertained by a magician (James Cielen) a juggler, a comedian and an accomplished flautist. Song and dance shows featured on two nights, and these were very good indeed – we appreciated them because they added to the variety. There were no guest aerialists/acrobatics on this cruise, perhaps because of the many sea days or the stage wasn’t built to accommodate them. The Indonesian crew members gave a very good cultural show one evening, but it started at 11:00 p.m., so the theatre was only about 25% full. Guest speakers Ginny Stibold and Lawrence Taglatino presented outstanding lectures on the biology and history of the Hawaiian Islands. On the outward leg of the voyage, a group of Hawaiian women presented workshops on a number of topics including making leis and hula dancing, while a musician taught volunteers how to play a ukulele. FELLOW PASSENGERS A much older demographic (our opinion) than those we met on other HAL voyages. The number of passengers using walking frames, wheelchairs, scooters, or sticks was incredible, and we wondered how the crew would cope during a real emergency in the event of needing to evacuate the ship. Waiters in the MDR had to valet-park the scooters! No wonder many reviewers refer to it as a floating retirement home. We met plenty of Canadians, some Americans, and a few Australians. A FEW PROBLEMS TIP: If you have any problems or concerns, raise them with appropriate people (usually the Front Desk) immediately. They are very responsive, and take all complaints seriously. SMOKING Smokers are no longer allowed to poison themselves (and others) in the casino nor on their balconies. Smoking is now restricted to on the starboard side of the Lido deck aft, allowing most of us to avoid the deadly cancer fumes. However, there will always be some determined puffers who think the rules do not apply to them. For example: we detected the smell of smoke in the corridor outside our cabin on a several days and reported this to the Front Desk. Guest Services came to our cabin, agreed that the smell was noticeable and promised to investigate. The problem occurred a few more times, and Guest Services eventually discovered the source (a balcony suite opposite ours). The problem did not recur. Full marks to HAL for eliminating this menace. GENERAL TIPS Bring jackets or wraps as the temperatures vary widely in different public areas around the ship. B.B. King’s is predictably chilly. If you need to use the mid-ship elevators, the glass ones on either side of the ship are much faster than the regular ones in the middle of the ship. PORT REVIEWS We went ashore at every port of call, and took four excursions from the ship. Hilo—Hawaiian Tropical Botanical Garden. A do-it-yourself walking tour of a lush, tropical garden that was created in a valley reclaimed from a previous garbage dump. TIPS: Steep hills and a vertiginous boardwalk to descend into the valley. Golf carts run continuously up and down the narrow path (there are one or two passing places). You may need some DEET-based insecticide or some drinking water (both available at the on-site shop). Be smart and bring your own from the ship. Honolulu—Blue Hawaiian helicopter flight The flight lasts 50 minutes, and cameras record you in cockpit and the outside scenes. We flew over Waikiki Beach, Diamond Head, and Pearl Harbour. Weighing in, but they keep it secret—6 persons per copter pilot plus 2 passengers in front, 4 behind. Only the two outer seats offer decent photo-opportunities. You will be buckled into the harness by company staff: they are not trying to grope you, so don’t be offended. TIPS: If flying over active volcanos and flowing lava is on your bucket list, book the helicopter trip in Hilo as soon as you get onboard the ship—it sells-out very quickly! We were too late, so we had to sign-up for this trip instead. Dark clothing is preferred because light colours reflect off the canopy and spoil any photos you might take. Wear a dark shirt if you have it, but if you don’t, Blue Hawaiian Helicopters will lend you a dark T-shirt. You can’t bring anything with you except a camera; excess items must be checked before you board the helicopter. Lahaina—Atlantis submarine trip Passengers sit back-to-back along central seats, each seat has an individual porthole. The sub dives to a depth of 124 feet taking you over coral beds and the wreck of sailing ship called the Carthagininan. This vessel was deliberately sunk as artificial reef. We saw a range of different fish including White-tip Sharks, Barracuda, Puffer Fish, Porcupine Fish, Moray Eels, Surgeon Fish, etc. TIP: If you think you might be even slightly claustrophobic, give this trip a miss. After the crew closed the hatch, one female passenger panicked and had to leave the vessel. Nawiliwili—National Tropical Botanical Gardens. A guided tour of two gardens (Allerton and McBryde Gardens) led by a very knowledgeable guide. We also stopped for a brief visit to the Spouting Horn volcanic lava tube. TIP: This is a chance to visit some of the locations used for filming Jurassic Park and for birders to see a rare Hawaiian Gallinule. This tour involves step climbing and negotiating muddy paths so if you have mobility issues, consider carefully before you sign up for it. A FEW GRIPES! Yes, we have a few! We sincerely hope HAL is listening: Eurodam’s library is very poorly stocked. No pins as prizes for winning games—winners receive a bottle of sparkling wine instead! No Trip Log at the end of the voyage to keep as a record of the trip, describing distance travelled, ports of call, etc.! This was particularly disappointing for us. DISEMBARKATION Very smooth and fast because HAL uses a system of numbers and colour-codes to direct disembarking passengers off the ship, but there was a long wait to load the buses to the airport, with only one bus being loaded at a time. WOULD WE SAIL ON THE EURODAM AGAIN? Possibly, it really depends on the itinerary and we will always be open to trying different HAL ships. While we enjoyed our trip, the ship fell short of expectations because of the missing items we had anticipated after previous HAL trips. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
16 night cruise from Van to Hawaii and back....No flying which is the way we like it! This was a very enjoyable cruise.Lots to do and also lots of time to relax on your own. I took in the windows 10 digital workshop classes which were good ... Read More
16 night cruise from Van to Hawaii and back....No flying which is the way we like it! This was a very enjoyable cruise.Lots to do and also lots of time to relax on your own. I took in the windows 10 digital workshop classes which were good ( there's always something to learn) Thanks Scott. . Mainstage shows were pretty good..dancers and singers top notch..enjoyed Dan St paul the comedian...Vivian Guzman, Frances Dilorinzo,Brett Cave.Hawaii night was very good..Billboard on board (pianos)John & Jason? ) was well received..very enjoyable but crowded.. Lincoln center stage was wonderful. America test kitchen was very interesting and well done.Kathleen did an awesome job! BB King Blues,very talented but was not really our thing...crowds were hit and miss.Would prefer 50s-60s music and dance . Happy hour at 4pm..otherwise drinks can be expensive. We enjoyed the Hawaiian Ukulele music and the dancers at 5pm on our way to the Islands. Would recommend the New York pizza place and the Dive- in was good ( I tried the sauerkraut hot dog and the chicken burger) Food was good, generally small portions except the schnitzel which was very good! Prime rib was excellent as was surf and turf. Dining went pretty well with open dining and the reservation team was very accommodating. Staff was excellent...always cheery and helpful.Getting the daily itinerary on our ipad was great. All day info at your fingertips! Appreciated Catholic mass onboard which is missing on other cruise lines.My wife enjoyed the tea time at 3pm ( getting to visit and chat with other ladies) We would highly recommend this cruise! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2017
We chose this because it ended in Honolulu, our home. We sailed from Vancouver and stayed at the Pan Pacific which was right on the pier! I highly suggest that hotel if you are sailing from Vancouver. Bags went from hotel room to ... Read More
We chose this because it ended in Honolulu, our home. We sailed from Vancouver and stayed at the Pan Pacific which was right on the pier! I highly suggest that hotel if you are sailing from Vancouver. Bags went from hotel room to stateroom!!! We were on the Oosterdam last October and November in the Mediterranean and many of the employees were on this cruise so it was like home! They remembered us and what we liked! They will also be on in March and April when we do the other part of this itinerary beginning in Sydney and ending in Honolulu. The ship is definitely worn..."tired" is a better word. We were told it was to be dry docked soon but apparently not for another year plus. We were on the Noordam in 2014 and it was old then and has not been upgraded that we could see. We enjoyed the famous daily Happy Hours, buy one get one for $2...it used to be one dollar...but the servings were small! We normally get a bottle of champagne from the company, nothing this trip! We really felt unappreciated this time from the company. My main complaint was the On Deck For A Cause. I did it last October and it was wonderful. This year we all met before the walk and were offered "refreshments and fellowship" after the walk. After two rounds on the deck (less than a mile) most people had dropped out. I ran and walked and when I finished 3+ miles (it was a 5K) I went in and found everything cleaned up and the place empty! I had to go to a bar downstairs to get a drink of water. Others who finished after me were also surprised. We had been abandoned and only an hour out! What a slap in the face for those of us who did the entre walk! Again, it seemed as tho we were very unappreciated by the higher ups! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
There were 6 adults traveling together on this cruise, 2 of us live on the West Coast. We chose this cruise mainly because it departed from and returned to Vancouver, BC, our home port so there was little traveling for 2 of the 4 of us. ... Read More
There were 6 adults traveling together on this cruise, 2 of us live on the West Coast. We chose this cruise mainly because it departed from and returned to Vancouver, BC, our home port so there was little traveling for 2 of the 4 of us. Canada Place had 3 ships in port the day we left which made downtown traffic bedlam. We had hired a limo to take us to the port and our timing was perfect. We were downtown before 11 am but sat, waiting to make a turn into the port for over 20 minutes due to heavy traffic in and out. We were in our cabin by 12:45 which was pretty amazing. People arriving later, weren't so fortunate. The Cabin was the same as on all Princess ships I've been on, basic but large. We were on Caribe deck so had the lovely big half covered, half open balcony with plenty of room to party with 6 people even after bringing out the cabin chairs to add to the 2 deck chairs and 2 foot rests. The shower on this ship, has the annoying stationary shower head. The beds were comfy. There was only water in the fridge to buy, no pop or anything else. Everything on the Star Princess is showing it's wear and is need of an update. It would be nice to see some more exciting colours in the cabin decor rather than the drab, faded blues. Princess is still catering to a dead generation as far as their choice of music goes. Someone should tell them, this is 2017 and the 20's & 30's generation is no more! Those of us sailing these days are children of the 50's and 60's and Frank SInatra & his cronies are NOT our music idols. Wake up Princess! We'd sooner hear some good old rock and roll or Andrew Lloyd Webber in the atrium rather than chamber music. There were some good entertainers on this cruise though, Tom Franek and the Folkloric dancers that came on in Honolulu to name two. Christian Beer, who sang country and western, was a distraction and was not a good alternative to silence! Dining options are few on Princess ships. The Crown Grill and Sabatini's are the only 2 choices and at $29 US funds per person, they are pricey. Unlike NCL, which offers numerous different eating venues, Princess has chosen to give us only 2 and have raised the prices. We didn't eat at either of the restaurants this trip, though I have eaten at both before and would not spend the money they are now asking. The dining room food is good and the portions were huge. A dinner salad option would be so nice here. The servers in the dining room were efficient and friendly. The buffet on the other hand, is sometimes a necessary evil. Nothing like getting your food then walking all over looking for a seat from which to eat it, only to finally sit down and bite into a cold meal. Surely, there is a cruise line out there somewhere, that has a better system for the buffet experience! Can it be so hard to be able to get a table, have a reserve system, so once you have your meal, it is still edible when you sit down?! We would have one person hold the table, while the other went and got their meal so no one ate at the same time! The food on the buffet was acceptable. I can't remember anything that stood out as being particularly good. The deserts were just OK. There was an equal mix of sugar free, gluten free and normal . Again, none were memorable. We drank lemonade on the buffet which was served by servers, who for the most part were attentive. Soft Ice cream from Sundae's was good but a milk shake would cost you $2.50 US. None of our party took excursions because most of us had been to Hawaii before. There were free shuttles in the ports to different stores as well as some local tours. The weather was lovely for our whole trip. We were tendered in Maui. It would have been nice to have more time in Maui. The ship was in Honolulu for a longer time. Disembarkation was a breeze and once our luggage number was called, we were off and out through customs and awaiting our limo in minutes. I chose Princess this time primarily because the cruise left and returned to Vancouver. Princess has quite a few sailings from the west coast and goes to some interesting places which is why I seem to end up sailing with them so often. It is time, though for Princess to update it's whole cruising experience and get some life in the life on board. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
Our 19th Princess cruise – escaping kitchen renovations with a home-town round-trip – illustrated the considerable challenges Princess faces if it wants to continue its 52-year record of financial success. The most ... Read More
Our 19th Princess cruise – escaping kitchen renovations with a home-town round-trip – illustrated the considerable challenges Princess faces if it wants to continue its 52-year record of financial success. The most daunting prospect stems from the fact that the line’s core audience – baby boomers – is, to put it politely, aging out of its cruising years; more bluntly, we’re dying off, one by one. This cruise had an average age over 65, I’m sure: maybe one passenger in 15 was below that age. Second, we’ve seen before, as this time, that Princess has done a good job of attracting non-Americans to its brand; more than six of 10 of our fellow passenger were Canadians, not a big surprise when the trip began and ended in Vancouver. To be successful with nationally diverse audiences, though, at least token gestures would help. There were no Canadian beers or wines or news or sports TV channels. Comedians and the Cruise Director made jokes about us, two of the Assistant CDs were fellow citizens, but that was it. I’ve seen that Princess attracts Chinese citizens in the Far East by offering extensive menus geared for them; similar consideration for other passenger groups should be a given. Cruise lines need to use their power as cruise-port customers to demand efficiency for passengers getting on and off their ships. On September 23rd, Vancouver’s terminal was chaotic, with too few taxicabs (no Uber or Lyft), too few US border agents, some poorly trained check-in staff and an inadequate wheelchair operation for the scores of people who needed them. Three ships were docked, with nearly 7,000 passengers. By contrast, when we returned October 8th, with one ship and 2,600 passengers, the offload was delightfully easy. Either the port of Vancouver fixes this problem or it will lose more business than it has already. Third, good entertainment is an important component of a cruise and on this one the entertainment wasn’t very good. The production shows were mediocre at best, the “fly-in” performers uninspiring (but for Joe Yanetty, comedian) and the in-house musicians good but by no means great. Too many passengers, we were told, would watch a seven o’clock show then go off to bed. Fact is, though, that even old people will stay up late if they believe there’s something worth staying up late for. Except for the Voice of the Ocean finale and a newlywed-style game show, too little was. All that said, the cruise staff was outstanding. The Brit Cruise Director, who goes by JC in lieu of his real name (James Cox), was at times a preening egotist but displayed his considerable comedic talent in due course. And he must, despite the annoying low-rent music-hall style, be doing something right, for he was hired away from another company and has three assistants who show every sign of being excellent CDs sooner rather than later. Fourth, food is important and this cruise had very good food, in the dining room and, particularly, in the Horizon Court buffet. The challenge is to adjust menus to appeal to younger and less traditional tastes while retaining the loyalty of cruisers who like things just the way they are. We are late, traditional diners, which means we ate at 7:45 p.m. But entertainment schedules on board were nicely set up to make it difficult for us to see what we wanted to see before or after dinner. Our entreaties resolved nothing; if things continue that way, Princess will test our loyalty. Service, a core component of the cruise experience, was excellent on this ship, led by the redoubtable captain, Stefano Ravera, as good as we’ve ever cruised with. Fifth, Princess, like some other lines, needs to resolve the shore excursion dilemma: will enough people want to take them, given that virtually all are egregiously over-priced? We paid US$79.95 each on Kauai for a bus ride and a $19 train ride. The two of us paid nearly $320 on Oahu for an excursion which should have been half that. On Maui, we saved $88+ by taking a public bus to and from the local aquarium. Truth is, we avoid ship-bought excursions whenever we can reasonably do so; given what cruise lines make from these tours, the more people do that, the worse things get. To attract younger cruisers, Princess will have to offer a wider variety of choices, with lots of participatory activities, while keeping prices at inducive levels. We noted as well that booze and wine prices on board had gone up markedly since our last Princess cruise; keep that up and it becomes yet another deterrent for audiences that need to be attracted, not repelled. And speaking of money, the automatic gratuity – US$13.50 pppd – can no longer be removed by the passenger, so it is, in effect, mandatory and should be part of the quoted fare. But most big cruise lines play silly games with these numbers (as with so-called taxes and fees) to make cabin fares look lower than they really are. Overall, though, a good cruise. No flights, no surly airline people, no weigh-scales for luggage, decent weather to and from and in the islands; a pleasant experience and fair value. As a 30-year customer, I hope Princess meets its challenges successfully so my wife and I can happily continue to enjoy our vacations of choice. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
Princess Cruises exceeded our expectations. It had been at least four years since we last sailed with Princess, but they have won us back with this cruise. Port of Vancouver – Embarkation: With three ships loading passengers, ... Read More
Princess Cruises exceeded our expectations. It had been at least four years since we last sailed with Princess, but they have won us back with this cruise. Port of Vancouver – Embarkation: With three ships loading passengers, getting on the ship seemed more difficult than it should have been. We checked in with Princess within 20 minutes of arriving at the port via 4-hour shuttle from Seattle-Tacoma airport. We were then sent into a large room to wait 90 minutes to get access to another waiting area, where we sat for 45 minutes. After that, we stood in a snaking Disney-like line to show our passports to one of 12 US Customs agents. It makes it so you don’t have to do US customs in Hawaii, but we weren’t prepared for it. We weren’t the only ones who were uncomfortable. Best advice it to be knowledgeable about the process and pack a lunch and lots of patience. It might be better if only one ship is in port, but three definitely strains the facilities at Canada Place. Disembarkation: Very smooth. Just had to give a Canadian customs card to the agent. Did not have to show a passport until we got to the US/Canada border. Princess shuttle took three hours to get from Canada Place to Sea-Tac. Well worth the cost. Itinerary – Five sea days, four days in Honolulu (Oahu), Nahwiliwili (Kuaui), Hilo (Hawaii), and Lahaina (Maui), five sea days. Too many sea days for my taste, especially since the weather on the return trip made going to the pools not a good option (rough seas one day, too cool/raining two days). Bingo gets expensive when you’re playing twice a day. A nice trip, but I don’t think I’ll do it again any time soon. We took shore excursions in Hilo (Hawaii Volcanoes National Park) and Nahwiliwili (Wailua River Cruise and Fern Grotto) - both were good. Traveled to see friends in Honolulu and walked up and down Front Street in Lahaina. Be sure to book your shore tours early as many were not available once you got on the ship. And Princess Cruises is now requiring pre-payment of tours when you reserve on line, unless you have sufficient credits to cover the cost. (I had a military benefit that covered mine, but had to pre-pay my wife's tours.) Ship – In good shape for its age. Scheduled for a two-week dry dock maintenance period soon. If you look, you can see where repairs are needed, but nothing detracts from an overall excellent onboard experience. Captain Stefano Ravera – Can’t say enough about him. He was always about the ship several times a day, including the evening hours before dinner. Friendly and charming. If the passengers needed information about the schedule or weather, he wasn’t afraid of getting on the announcing system throughout the ship, including the passenger cabins. Crew – Cruise Director James Cook was okay; we rarely saw him and he was usually smarmy when we did. Assistant cruise director Arris was our favorite – he had personality to spare. Assistant cruise directors Jodie and Jessica were good, too. Our cabin steward, Nick, was terrific. No request went unmet. Passengers – Older crowd. Several families, but average age easily in the late sixties/early seventies. 60% were Canadian (go figure!). Cabin – L218. Standard cruise ship balcony cabin. With a balcony, it doesn’t feel cramped. Still wish Princess would follow Royal Caribbean/Celebrity lead and put sliding doors on the shower instead of using shower curtains – the doors make the shower roomier and removes the worry of flooding the bathroom floor. Food - Overall excellent. We ate breakfast exclusively in the buffet. The omelets had a funny taste to me, so I generally avoided them, but everything else was good. Lunch was usually taken poolside from the Trident Grill (hamburgers and hot dogs). We ate dinner in the buffet as well, where there was a good diversity of foods and themes. Definitely did not miss the dining room experience/drama. We ate dinner two nights in the Crown Grill. It was worth the cover charge ($29/per person, with a $10 charge for a second entrée or a lobster tail). Our steaks we cooked to our liking (not over- or underdone) and had great flavor. (I recommend the filet mignon.) You can only reserve spots in the premium dining areas up to 7:30 pm and after 9:30 pm on line; wait until you get on the ship to book between 7:30 and 9:30 pm. Crown Grill wasn't busy on most nights, so getting a good time shouldn't be a problem. Entertainment – Did not see any of the stage shows. We had seen the “party band” Fusion before on Celebrity Cruises. Though the lead singer is good, sometimes the band just does instrumental sets, and that’s okay, I guess. They just seem to run hot and cold to me. We had usually had pre-dinner cocktails in the Wheelhouse Bar where the entertainment rotated among guitarist-singer Christiaan Beer, pianist Antoni, classical musicians Amethyst Trio, and dance/popular music quartet Tempo Quattro. All were very good and we enjoyed their varied musical styles. We got to be friends with the lead singers of Tempo Quattro and Christiaan. Can’t wait to see them again. Again a good cruise and one that won us back to Princess after sailing with two other cruise lines the last three years.. Too many sea days for me, but the wife loved it. Read Less

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