20 Venice Princess Star Princess Cruise Reviews

My husband and I booked a mediterrenean cruise on Star Princess (Venice to Rome) for our one year anniversary. I was not sure what to expect as I've always been a laid-back traveller....certainly not used to travelling in luxury. We ... Read More
My husband and I booked a mediterrenean cruise on Star Princess (Venice to Rome) for our one year anniversary. I was not sure what to expect as I've always been a laid-back traveller....certainly not used to travelling in luxury. We honestly booked the cruise more for the ports than anything, however, the cruise itself was just as fantastic as the ports. Everyday we kept saying to each other...could this literally get any better! Our embarkation at Venice was super easy..maybe 20 mins max, and our room while small was cute and most importantly clean. We were exhausted from the long flight from Toronto, but we spent the evening exploring the ship...it was beautiful. Our luggage didn't arrive with us, but Princess gave us little bags of tolietries and even provided outfits for the first formal night, although out baggage arrived beforehand. Overall, we absolutely loved the ports...it was incredible waking up to such gorgeous places everyday. We did a few excursions...The Parthenon in Athens as it is such a big city, Ephesus in Kusadasi and Vesuvious and Pompeii in Naples. The rest of the time there was no need to book an excursion and we just had a lot of fun exploring the various little port towns. Evenings were really fun because the food was always so good. I don't think I can recall a bad meal. It was delicious and varied. The buffet was also good, but we prefered meeting the other passengers and dressing up a bit in the proper dining rooms. We had an anniversary meal in the italian restaurant on Star Princess....$20 extra and worth every penny. The food was to die for! Some nights we played bingo...a good laugh or went to shows or events on board...it was all good. Our fave thing though were the movies under the stars...we went often and it was so much fun. We are big movie buffs so it was the perfect way to end the day. I used the gym most mornings and it got busy quickly but it was also really nice to have use of those facilities. I also got a massage in the spa and it was fantastic...well worth the splurge! I can think of a few things that could be better, but they are so many minor it didn't change our feelings about the cruise at all. The biggest thing was I felt there was quite a bit of sales going on...trying to get people to buy stuff...the worst were the photos..that was pretty annoying, but whatever...not a huge deal. I didn't like the way some people put towels on chairs and never seemed to come back all day...I wish people were monitoring it more, but again, not a biggie. The positives of this cruise far outweighed the negatives. We met some interesting people, and found a few of the old fogies to be complaining about little things but seriously...they had nothing to whine about. I liked that there didn't seem to be kids running all over the place...I assume they were all in the kids programs during the day...fine by me. Overall, I cannot think of a better value for money than this cruise. If you drink like a fish I'm sure it would get expensive, but we don't so who cares. We had a truly amazing time and would be doing it again this summer if I weren't pregnant! I have convinced my husband and parents to go on an alaskan cruise next summer and I am literally itching to go!!! If you went on the same cruise as us and didn't like it, I don't even know what to say. Your expectations are unreasonably high and god knows what would make you happy! Trust us...it was out of this world! Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
It was in 1961 and in 1973 that we had sailed transatlantic, aboard the Augustus & the Christophero Columbus, both from the italian line Italmar. We had also done Lisbon to Southhampton aboard the Eagle. But after almost 40 years this ... Read More
It was in 1961 and in 1973 that we had sailed transatlantic, aboard the Augustus & the Christophero Columbus, both from the italian line Italmar. We had also done Lisbon to Southhampton aboard the Eagle. But after almost 40 years this was to be a complete new experience. And it proved to be an excellent one! Safety was top priority and we had to take part in the exercises immediately after boarding in Venice, and then right after leaving Rio de Janeiro. Our inside stateroom was very comfortable, nothing was missing, the air conditioning, TV, hair dryer functioned very well. Food was mesmerizing, so many gourmet choices that on the 2nd day I restricted myself to seafood, salad & fruit, which combined with daily walking, swimming, bridge & books formed the basis of our existence. mixed with some of the theatre & dancing options, all of them top quality. Customer service was outstanding everywhere, as well as organization and punctuality. From about 100 different entertainment programs we found only 2 that were below average, a pretended Chopin pianist who performed several times in one of the big theaters, and a "flamenco" couple who danced anything but flamenco, let alone the inadequate music they were dancing to. Finally, the internet connection was expensive and very slow, so frustrating that I had to go to an Internet Cafe in most of the ports we touched -I am being told Internet is a common failure in most cruises-. My wife and I, and the other couple travelling together in a similar cabin, were very happy overall, rating this cruise 99 over 100. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
The pictures are at http://www.pbase.com/wwll/4con It was the worst prelude to a trip I've ever had - 30 hours without electricity! I even had to go to the gym at 2 am to shower in hot water before I left. Venice Venice was ... Read More
The pictures are at http://www.pbase.com/wwll/4con It was the worst prelude to a trip I've ever had - 30 hours without electricity! I even had to go to the gym at 2 am to shower in hot water before I left. Venice Venice was bright and sunny when I arrived. I booked a boat directly from the airport to San Marco but it was a long walk to the wharf. After I got off the boat I had to cross two short bridges which now thankfully have ramps for rolling suitcases. The Hotel Campiello is a real gem. There is a chandelier in the room. The shower has multiple heads and sprays all over. But the room was tiny so I had to unpack everything and stow the suitcase. I was three alleys east of the Palace of the Doges and 50 meters from the Grand Canal and vaporetto stations. At the big vaporetto stations there are multiple piers. There is an electronic board that tells you which pier to go to for the next ride. Very civilized. The Hotel Campiello staff was real helpful. They made dinner reservation for me and told me about an excellent wine shop nearby. Following Rick Steves's suggestion, I had dinner at Antica Sacrestia. It was just around the corner from the Hotel Campiello. I had the three-course tourist menu. My first course was lasagna. It was a huge portion. The mixed fried seafood was the best I ever had. The batter is not even visible. The various seafoods were perfectly done. I had a half bottle of Pinot Blanc house wine for 12 euros. I had just one bite of the custard dessert. It seemed like every table spoke a different language but this is no tourist trap. It was very nice. From Hotel Campiello I walked the 50 meters to the San Zaccaria vaporetto station and took vaporetto 5.2 which left me directly underneath the People Mover. It was a short walk to the baggage drop-off point. Check-in did not begin until 12 noon and I thought it was clumsy. I was in my balcony at about 1 pm. I went back to Piazza Roma to buy a bottle of wine. The Star Princess The Star Princess was in dry dock in Trieste, Italy for three weeks before our cruise. All the staff had stayed on board. There are new appointments such as our cruise director Frank. The ship is a living and complex system so it was not too surprising that after three weeks in dry dock it still has little problems. Overall it was in very good condition. I had a surprise upgrade to a balcony. The room itself is the same size as an interior but the floor-to-ceiling windows makes it extra nice. My steward Jose from Portugal was very attentive. The capacity of the Star Princess is 2600 but on this cruise there were only 1055 passengers. This makes the passenger-crew ratio 1:1. It is very pleasant never having to wait for anything. FOOD I thought the food was just so so. There were occasional extra nice meals but for the most part the dining room fare was mediocre. In my pictures I show one particularly nice meal. The soups and breads are fantastic on this cruise. Because there were so few passengers, at first there was only one anytime dining room open and half of Horizon Court was closed. I had all my dining room meals at Portofino. There is a new layout at Horizon Court. Desserts and breads are served on a separate island from the main part. Now there are essentially eight different lines so no long lines. Sometimes the food at Horizon Court can be better than the main dining room. Crown Grill is the new addition after the dry dock. It is on Deck 6 midship and it features an open kitchen. Just walking by you can see the kitchen in action. The cover charge is $25. A group of seven of us tried the Crown Grill one night. The server took a while to get to us. Then he introduced the meats. I made the Mussel Pot my first course. It is a huge order which would be a main course in Europe. The sauce was excellent. However 5 of the mussels would not open. My second course was the Black and Blue Onion Soup. It was one of the most intensely flavorful soup I ever had. For the main course I had the rack of lamb, eight ribs. The outside of the meat was a mustard and rosemary crust. I asked the rack not be cut so that I can cut it myself. It was excellent. I provided a 2007 Camins del Priorat by Alvaro Palacios. It went very well. As a diabetic I do not eat dessert but I had the sampler. The rest of the table rushed to photograph the beautiful presentation. I did like the one bite of the cheesecake. Vines is a wine bar on deck 5. One day I had a glass of white wine and two plates of tapas which were complimentary. I really like the idea. GYM I used the gym almost every day. Most all of the machines were working and needed repairs are made promptly, which is rare on ships. The sauna and steam rooms are very nice. The changing rooms were overflowing with thick towels. The showers are a little bigger than the shower in my room. ENTERTAINMENT For such a long cruise the Star Princess had nice entertainment. There were four production shows. They had four singers who also danced. There were two apprentice singers. The production shows had a sameness to them. From beginning to end they sang at the top of their lungs. There was no crescendos. The best was flutist Bettina Clemen. She plays several flutes and show videos of herself playing for animals. She did a total of three shows. I enjoyed them all. Caroline Harris is a classical pianist who also sings. She was very good too. Music was everywhere. Often an Argentine tango group played in the atrium. This is my first encounter with Movies Under the Stars. This is a giant screen at the outdoor swimming pool. The contrast is good enough to see during sunlight. However, the noise around me made it difficult to hear the dialogue. At night blankets are provided. I never made the effort to take in an entire movie. PORTS Dubrovnik, Croatia Our first port of the cruise was Dubrovnik. Princess offered a shuttle for US$15 round trip to Old Town. I got off the ship, found an ATM and bought 2 local bus tickets for 20 kunas, about US$4. The bus got me to the Pile Gate of Old Town, just like the shuttle. It was bright and sunny so I got a ticket for the City Walls, 70 kunas. But I apparently took the wrong entrance and found myself in a very steep climb in the northerly direction. So I came down and walked the Placa, the main street of Old Town to the other end. I did some internet, had a beer and went back to the ship. I went to a money changer and tried to change the remaining kunas. I got some euros but they do not change into US$! Corfu, Greece The Star Princess docked at a container port and Corfu had complimentary bus rides from the ship to the entry of the port. From there I caught Bus No. 16 into town, 1.5 euros each way. Most of Corfu was closed for the tourist season. After a short walk I found the Museum of Asian Art. It has a surprisingly good collection of Chinese art. Two men who started buying towards the end of the 19th century donated their collections. You might agree if you look at my pictures. There were some nice bargains, like a belt for three euros. When I got back to the port I found that I had lost my key card. I had to be escorted from the port to the ship in a Mercedes. Valletta, Malta We had a spectacular entry into the Grand Harbour in a sunny day. One can see all the centuries old buildings from the ship. I went with a tour organized by our Cruise Critic group. Amy, our guide, was excellent. First we went up to a fort high above the Grand Harbour to look back at the Star Princess. We drove out to Mdina, a fortress where some of the old families have their mansions. Malta has distinctive architecture. Houses have blue doors and a small balcony over the door. The balcony is to see who is at the door. The main door have openings through which one can see a courtyard with a tall tree. It was Sunday and we dropped into a church with a service going on for only a couple of minutes. In Malta all the signs are in English although the official language is Maltese which stems from Phoenician. Towards the end of the day we went to a fishermen's wharf. It was interesting to see local life other than the glitzy parts. Amy says tourism has declined and now the economy depends on high finance. Is Malta the Cayman of the Med? Tunis, Tunisia Entry into La Goulette, the port for Tunis, is a very long channel. There was real confusion about entry into Tunisia. We had to use our passports for entry and had to fill out a form. I was on an all-day Princess tour. We had a very excited tour guide. He was literally yelling, about us coming and about Tunisia becoming a democracy. After a half-hour drive we were at where the jasmine revolution took place a year ago. There were still some demonstrators camped out. There was minimal police presence. Driving through Tunis I saw vendors on the streets selling toilet paper. That reminded me of seeing old ladies selling used plastic bags in Russia ten years ago. We walked to the Medina, an old-fashioned shopping mall. Here you can buy anything from jewelry to perfume to everyday needs. We stopped in a perfumery. That was fun. Next we walked to The Chateau of the Medina. This is a department store. They sell everything that a tourist might want. After drinking sugary mint tea, we were shown piles of carpets. From my eye, most of these were machine made. In another showroom they sell everything from tiles to clothing. One woman wanted a shawl. The asking price was 750 dinars. She got it for 50. The highlight of the day was certainly the Bardo Museum. Here one sees wall after wall of Roman mosaics. Some are complete while others are missing small parts. Some of us wondered if we should be walking on these mosaics. By now it was 2 pm and we drove to Carthage. We had a five course lunch which was not very filling. The restaurant was next to Hadrian Aqueduct, 132 kilometers long to supply water to Tunis and over 2000 years old. Carthage turned out to be a disappointment. There was just a little bit of ruins visible. The nearby Roman bath was more extensive. I cornered the guide and asked him what does the future hold for Tunisia. Where does future development come from. They do not have oil, though they have plenty of sand. A country of 10 million does not offer much in terms of labor. He replied he does not know. They are trying to sort this out. They first have to learn how to trust each other in a democratic society. Middle aged, he voted for the first time this year. Gibraltar From my balcony on starboard I had a terrific view of our approach to Gibraltar and watched a 109000-ton ship being parked inch-by-inch. I walked into town and just bummed around. Local buses are free. I walked the length of Main Street and at last found the wine shop. Main Street is full of liquor stores but only this one serious wine store. I bought four bottles of Spanish wine which I greatly enjoyed. Gibraltar is a little like Hong Kong Island. It is hilly and rocky. Streets are narrow. Gibraltar is now the last British colony. After Gibraltar we entered the Atlantic Ocean and we were immediately hit by a major storm. For 12 hours the ship rocked and rolled. The second day in the Atlantic we heard announcements called dishwasher so and so to report. Soon the captain was making the announcements. At noon the captain came on and said this dishwasher is missing, and we are doubling back to try and find him. The ship backtracked at high speed. A little later the captain said tapes of closed-circuit TV showed the man had jumped. We spent another six hours searching but found nothing. Two days later at 12:30 am the ship lost power partially. The announcement woke me. Electricity was restored shortly. Recife, Brazil After six days at sea we all wanted to stand on terra firma. There was a free shuttle from the ship into town. I immediately found a Citibank and got some reals. I walked into town in search of internet. After much searching I found one. Recife is a third-world city. The nice looking water is smelly and full of garbage. While in Brazil one has to have coffee so I stopped in DeltaEspresso and had a cap. I should have stopped here first because there was free WiFi. Rio All nice things must come to an end. This voyage ended in Rio. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
We booked this cruise more than a year in advance, when we were aboard the Star, cruising the Eastern Mediterranean (Oct., 2010). Our first experience with the Star wasn't good (there's a review covering it), but we booked this ... Read More
We booked this cruise more than a year in advance, when we were aboard the Star, cruising the Eastern Mediterranean (Oct., 2010). Our first experience with the Star wasn't good (there's a review covering it), but we booked this Future Cruise in the second day, we could not anticipate the problems we had - if we did, we wouldn't have booked it, for shure. But we kept the reservations up, and then we flew into Venice this December, 2011, to our second cruise aboard the Star Princess. We were excited because it would be the first cruise after the Star had a 30-day dry dock period. We kept a Cruise Log here at CC and many of the facts and opinions here below were first decribed there. By the way, regarding to cruising after a dry dock period, we deeply agree with an user who said he never cruises right after a dry dock, for there's always unfinished work during the cruise. True, and we learned it the worst way. EMBARKATION - Check-in at Venice harbor was quick. Ok, this cruise was only 70% full, there were no lines (only at X-ray scanners) but time spent at the counter was minimal - everything was ready and we made our way to our stateroom in few minutes. STATEROOM - As I said, we booked this cruise when we were aboard this same Ship, so we asked for the same stateroom - B326. I have to point out that we've done it with 14 months in advance, This also means that Princess knew, with 14 months in advance, that cabin B326 would be occupied in December 2011, right after dry dock. So, it was a bad surprise when we saw a tecnician still working in the communication system at cabin B326 - things were not ready, yet! With so much time in advance, how could Princess assign us to a cabin that they knew was not fully functional? The tecnician left, minutes after, without saying a word. TV was working, but phone was off. In the following two days (At Sea and Dubrovnik), we had that same tecnician coming to our cabin many times, trying to fix the system. We could not have an afternoon nap. And, needless to say, things didn't work. We could not place a wake-up call and we lost a shore excursion at Corfu, the following day. After that, we demanded a solution from Passenger Services, and then they moved us to another cabin... B330, right next door!!!!!!!! They could have done it since the beginning of the cruise, that cabin was empty!!!!!!!!!!!!! Reminder: never take an after dry-dock cruise again. FOOD - We had a great dining experience during our 2010 cruise and that repeated this year. We had fixed seating at Amalfi, we had great service from our Italian Waiter and from our Portuguese Head Waiter. They made everything to keep us satisfied (we were 4 people in a family trip) and they were responsible for the best moments onboard. Food quality and presentation were excellent. On the other hand, our experience at Sabatini's Specialty Restaurant wasn't worth the $$$ they charged. Believe it or not, dining at Amalfi was a far better experience than doing it at Sabatini's. It's a don't go. We didn't go to the other Specialty Restaurant - Crown Grill. Everytime we crossed it's door when it was opened, we got "smoked" - there's obviously a problem with smoke exhaustion, there. And they just came from dry dock... Another good food experience was the Horizon Court Buffet, better than last year. Prego Pizza wasn't that good. Burgers and Hot Dogs at Trident Grill kept good quality. For those who are wine lovers, please consider the Vines Bar, deck 5 midships. They had a nice staff, there, and very good service. Hope they kept them. ENTERTAINEMENT - I believe that a Trans Oceanic cruise is a challenge to any Cruise Director. Things are different when you have ports of call every one or two days, but a six-day crossing... I have to confess that I'm fed up with those onboard, Broadway-style, after dinner shows. They are the same, no matter the ship, no matter the company. What else do we have? Line dance classes, bingo, trivia - that's entertainemet (?). The most original thing we had was a (very good) guy doing freestyle bike presentations right at The Piazza, deck 5 - a very tiny space. We also had Flamenco Dance presentations. And one Under the Stars party. But this was a 16-day cruise... PORTS OF CALL - Dubrovnik, Corfu, Tunis, Malta, Gibraltar, Recife and Rio. This is a beautiful itinerary. My personal considerations are: Dubrovnik: don't book the Brandy Tasting/Cavtat/Old Town tour if you're not an extreme brandy lover. The Brandy Tasting session, although located in a beautiful place, is far, then you'll spent a lot of time in Cavtat (it's only a photo-spot small city) and, in the end, you won't have enough time to visit the Old Town (it's a World Heritage!). Corfu: lost our shore excursion. Skipped. Tunis: we've been in Tunis during our last cruise. It was my first experience in Northern Africa and I didn't like it. Anyway, I gave Tunis another try. Worthless. Princess could move this stop to another place - Morocco, for example. Malta: we've also been there, a year ago, and we loved coming back. Our tour was for wine lovers (and we are) - the Meridiana Winery wine tasting. We brought very good Maltese wines. Wandering at the waterfront, by the harbour, for a cold beer and some souvenirs were a nice option for the pre-"back on board" moments. Gibraltar: we went to Europa point and to the top of the Rock, by cable car. Nice views, from both. We also visited the Great Siege Tunnels. Interesting - a lot of history and good photos. Recife: as a Brazilian citizen, I'd prefer stopping at Salvador. Recife is not ready to receive cruiseship passengers with comfort. The ship docks at a cargo terminal and the surroundings are old and dirty. SERVICE - Star Princess crew was very warm, throughout the cruise. Ok, there will always be one or another in bad mood, but the overall impression was very good. CLEANLINESS - even after a dry-dock, there are many points that still show rust stains and other marks. Despite this, the ship is kept clean all the time - there's always somebody keeping things bright. DEBARKATION - as fast as Embarkation. No lines, no rush. Good job. Now, packing for the Sapphire Princess Hawaii from LA cruise. It's only 70 days away... Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
My friend and I flew directly to Venice and got on the ship. Things had started well when we were upgraded to a mini-suite, a luxury we had not expected and which enhanced our experience. I used the bathtub nearly every day. Another ... Read More
My friend and I flew directly to Venice and got on the ship. Things had started well when we were upgraded to a mini-suite, a luxury we had not expected and which enhanced our experience. I used the bathtub nearly every day. Another great aspect of our onboard experience was dinner, as we had both incredibly nice and interesting table mates, but also attentive and over the top pleasant wait staff. We were at table 249 in the Amalfi Dining Room at 6:00 P.M. Food was good too, here and all over the ship, although I only ate in the Horizon Court, had a piece of pizza, and room service breakfast. Everything about the onboard experience was terrific. We enjoyed three of the 4 production shows, several musical shows with performers, a couple of comedy shows, and karaoke (best ever anywhere). Tommy Macphee was wonderful in Crooner's Bar, Craig not so much. He could use some personality lessons. Since my friend is really into karaoke, we really got to know the entertainment staff. We also participated in some of the onboard lectures. I did the Portuguese at Sea classes and both of us were in the Princess pop choir. This cruise featured 9 sea days, and it was easy to stay happily busy. Suggestions I would have for improvement -- have a pool that water aerobics can be done in. The tiny pool I found that was shallow enough was really a bit too warm. The three main pools are too deep for an average sized woman. Other than that, can't think of a thing. Shore excursions -- Dubrovnik: We went on the brandy tasting and it was a good tour, highlight being able to see the old town of Dubrovnik at night. Corfu: Weather not so good, but I loved this port. We visited a Greek Orthodox monastery and fishing/tourist town, then had lunch with oozo and all the wine you could drink with folk dancing. This was actually my favorite port, in spite of the weather. Malta: I did the archeological tour and it was quite interesting, especially the old ruins that are older than Stonehenge. You had to wonder how civilization got out there. Food for more research possibly. Loved this tour as well. Tunisia: Hated this tour, except for the Carthage part. We were dropped of in "the Medina" for nearly an hour to "shop," with folks jumping out at you to sell their wares. I did not feel particularly safe there, actually. The meal was also very bland, and I had expected a fabulous meal. The Carthage ruins were definitely the high point, and the museum was also interesting. I would recommend the half-day tour over the whole day tour for this one. Gibraltar: I had signed up for the pub crawl, and it was canceled, so I did the little cab tour outside the ship. It was acceptable and I actually got to see more than I would have having done the pub crawl. This was a fun port, and would go back in a minute. Recife: Icky port over all. We drove by some nice parks, but only visited 3 old churches with nice views. We saw a lot of dirty streets, and families sleeping on cardboard. If I ever have Recife as a port again, I will stay on the ship. Rio: Definitely recommend the all day debark tour if you are not staying in Rio. We saw all the major sites and the chiaroscuro was amazing. So over all, 5 out of 7 good port experiences. All Princess tours except for Gibraltar. I think Princess is particularly good at organizing their tours. One more thing -- We had a tragedy on this sailing. A crew member jumped over the back of the ship. The Captain made the decision to go back and look for him. He kept us up to date on every aspect of what was going on. In fact, this captain, Captain Kent, had a lot of interaction with the passengers. The search was in vain, but it is good to know they tried. I hope I have covered everything. This cruise was a great experience, the 4th for me on Princess, but first without my husband who passed away in January, but the very first for my friend, who I was definitely out to sell on Princess. It worked. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
Let me start by saying this. If you are thinking of cruising with Princess Cruises, DO NOT! Save yourself the time and money, they ship was terrible. Princess Star was a joke, the food was terrible, and I mean terrible. The buffet was a ... Read More
Let me start by saying this. If you are thinking of cruising with Princess Cruises, DO NOT! Save yourself the time and money, they ship was terrible. Princess Star was a joke, the food was terrible, and I mean terrible. The buffet was a 1.5 out of 10 (the 1.5 is only because breakfast was decent, but that's pretty hard to mess up). The restaurants where you had to pay for the meal were just as bad as the included meals, there were never more than 8 items on the menu and I had to regularly send the food back to kitchen. Steaks were never cooked correctly even in their steakhouse, they even managed to forget to put the sauce on fettucine alfredo. The staff are friendly enough and our cabin steward was great. The drinks were $11 or above for anything alcoholic, $4 for a pop or $7 for a mocktail. The water that they provided was usually brown in color and a bottle was the same price as a pop. Even the cream for your coffee at breakfast was sour. When you poured the cream in your coffee you could see it curdle at the top. The amenities on board were a joke, the swimming pools are only a couple feet deep and no bigger than most hot tubs. There were never enough lounge chairs for guests and people were always waiting for the moment anyone else stood up so they could take yours. They had movies under the stars at night, however for 2600 people they had less than 100 seats. The casino was good enough, exactly what you would expect on a boat, nothing fancy, but they had a couple tables and some slot machines. As for entertainment, they had a magician and a comedy show. The comedian was soo bad nobody even laughed at one of his jokes (not one person). The magician was even worse (I left, but my sister and brother in law stayed). Every morning at about 5 AM, the boat would be getting close to port and would turn on the thrusters. This meant every wall panel in the room would start vibrating to the point were it was so loud we would have to get up and hold the mirrors against the walls. We were supposed to arrive in Mykanos in the evening, however the boat did not have enough fresh water on board and the captain decided to circle around to collect water for the desalinzers instead of paying for water at port. His announcement to the public was "We will be delayed in arriving to Mykanos as our navigator has decided he wants to right his name in the water with the boat". We were told this only a few hours before we were supposed to arrive in Mykanos. Shore Excursions: Generally not bad, the tour guides were a bit weird though. In Croatia, the tour guide referred to the war as an "aggression" and that there general was a national hero and he shouldn't be tried for crimes against humanity by the Hague. (This is what she spoke about for more than half of our 6 hour tour) In Athens they told us Public transit and taxis would be on strike so if we wanted to leave the terminal we had to book with the cruise line transportation. (they told us this the day before we arrive in Athens, fair enough) However, when we arrived at port in Athens there was a long line of taxis waiting there to take anyone in to the city. Princess charged us 4 times the taxi rate. I mentioned Mykanos earlier so I won't talk about that again. Our other excursion was in turkey, that was good enough, however it was supposed to be their only religious excursion, people got so frustrated that our guide wasn't talking about the religious aspects of the tour they left our tour and joined other tours. Now one of the tours we were looking forward to, Hike a volcano and go swimming in hot springs in Santorini. The Volcano was a nice start, it was more like hiking up a rocky hill and wasnt really what I was expecting (I thought we'd see a huge crater in the center or something, but nothing like that). The Hotsprings were NOT HOT!!!!! Even our tour operator told us they are "warm springs" and only 2-3 degrees warmer than the ocean. He mentioned that he didn't recommend going into them, but if we wanted to it was at our own discretion, We were 2 of the 10 that went. the other 30 people stayed on the boat. The water was not even warm, maybe 15-16 degrees Celsius. Our tour description specifically said swim in the natural Hot Springs of Santorini on the side of a Volcano. This was not the case, and one of the biggest disappointments in my view. Our disembarkment tour of Rome was good, worth it for the transfer alone and not having to wait in line at the Vatican. Although most other people on the excursion were mad because the tour guide was rarely audible even on the radio system they had us wear. All in all, it was a terrible cruise. The only good thing about the cruise was the ports we embarked at. We always wanted to bring food on board from the ports but that was against the cruise ships policy. So for the most part on board we played cards (that we bought for $8/pack on the boat) and watched tv in the state rooms. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
BACKGROUND INFO: I am 45 years old and this was my 21st cruise. Princess is my favorite, but I've also cruised on all the typical lines (Celebrity, RCCL, Norwegian, Carnival, Holland America). I traveled with my mom, brother and a ... Read More
BACKGROUND INFO: I am 45 years old and this was my 21st cruise. Princess is my favorite, but I've also cruised on all the typical lines (Celebrity, RCCL, Norwegian, Carnival, Holland America). I traveled with my mom, brother and a friend on this cruise and chose it because of the fantastic itinerary. We like Princess because of the wide variety of entertainment and the anytime dining. ITINERARY: Venice, Venice, Dubrovnik, Corfu, Katakalon, Athens, Mykonos, Kusadasi, Rhodes, Santorini, Sea Day, Naples, Rome (We were unable to stop in Naples due to rough seas -â€" this was a tender port and we were unable to accomplish the tender process due to weather and extreme safety concerns) WEATHER: The weather was superb for the majority of the cruise. Venice through Mykonos was crisp, sunny and in the upper 60's to mid 70's. Kusadasi was overcast but mild. It rained during the morning in Rhodes, but then was simply overcast with temps in the upper 60's. Santorini was partly cloudy and in the upper 60's. Our first sea day was sunny and in the upper 60's, but the day around Naples was overcast in the 60's. TRAVEL TO PORT OF EMBARKATION (VENICE): I love sailing out of Venice because it's an easy airport to get to, relatively small and easy to navigate, and fairly close to the ship. We arrived in Venice at noon and immediately boarded the bus to the ship. It was full, as many passengers arrived at the same time. On our last Med cruise, we arrived in Venice at 4:45pm and the cruiseline transportation was not available so we took a private car at about 50 euros - just found the service online and it was extremely convenient. The ride is about a half hour or less to the ship. HOTEL: We did not arrive early in Venice, but instead just took advantage of the fact that you get 2 half days and a night on the ship before sailing away from Venice. We were on the ship by 3pm and so were able to spend the afternoon/evening in Venice and then the next morning we went back into Venice until about 11:30. Princess charged each passenger a flat fee of $15 (refundable if you don't use it) for a water taxi service from the ship to St Mark's Square, regardless of how many back and forth trips you make. You simply walk off the ship a few hundred feet to the water taxi (running continuously) and take the enjoyable ride for about 15-20 minutes. We went into Venice about 4pm Sunday (day before departure) and then back in the following morning. The last ferry left St. Mark's at 11:30 to get passengers back on the ship by noon. The safety drill was at 12:15 and then we sailed away at 12:30. Tip: If you have a balcony, try to get it on the port side (left side as you are facing forward), as this is the side you will see Venice from as you sail away. This is a beautiful sailaway! STATEROOM: We had a balcony room on the port side, on the Caribe Deck. In researching balconies, we realized that the size of the balconies on the Caribe deck were 1.5 times deeper than all other balconies and also half covered and half open. If you want a balcony, be sure to research the sizes and coverage, as they do vary. We absolutely loved our Caribe balcony. Our neighbor smoked quite a bit, but beginning in 2012, that will end as no smoking will be allowed on balconies. SHIP INFO: My three traveling companions (ages 73, 54 and 42) had never been on a Princess ship and they all three loved it! They easily figured out how to navigate it and thought it was set up really well. We counted over 15 entertainment locations and loved the Piazza area on deck 5 for a regular meeting place. We walked around the outside of the ship on deck 7 regularly to walk off our meals and also loved the gym. My brother commented that although the ship was full (2600 passengers), he never really felt lines or crowds because there were so many venues around the ship. DINING: We chose Anytime Dining because we did not want to commit to 12 days of regularly scheduled dining. We ended up going to the Capri dining room all but 3 nights, and tended to go earlier (between 6-6:30) because then we could get a table for 4 people without waiting. The larger the table, the longer it takes to make it through the meal, and we didn't want to eat for 2 hours. I thought the food on this cruise was the best I'd ever had on a Princess cruise. From the main dining rooms to the Horizon Court buffet, even to the pizza and burgers on deck 14. We loved getting a couple of cookies from the International Cafe on deck 5 in the Piazza! ACTIVITIES: This cruise itinerary left little time on the ship during the day, so we really only participated in the evening activities. We always found something we wanted to do and our favorites were the piano player (Paul Burton) in the Promenade Bar, Accent (the live Caribbean band) in the Explorer's Lounge, various movies shown in either the Vista Lounge or at the Movies under the Stars on deck 14, Shawn Alexander (the Magician), and some of the other shows in the Princess Theater. There was one planned sea day on the second to last day and the crew did a good job of planning various activities -â€" enough for everyone. Our last port (Naples) was cancelled because the seas were too rough to tender in. The crew did a great job of creating a last minute list of activities for an unplanned sea day and the Captain did a superb job of quickly developing an itinerary that had us slowly sailing closely past Capri and the Amalfi coast while commentating on all of the sights were were seeing from the sea. CHILDREN'S CLUBS: We did not use this and didn't see too many children on the ship at all -â€" but in general, I can see that Princess has a great area for kids with really good facilities. SERVICE: I thought the service on this ship was superb and very attentive. The crew in general seemed very happy. I had been on this exact ship in March, 2011 and had the opposite experience. The crew then was lazy and rarely smiled. Clearly, there is different leadership on this ship today and it was very obvious in the crew. ENTERTAINMENT: This ship had plenty of night time entertainment and varied enough that we always had a few options that interested us. I will say that over my 21 cruises, most piano players had one foot in the grave and were boring beyond belief. The piano player/entertainer on this ship was so fantastic that we went to see him every night and there was always a standing room only crowd. His name is Paul Burton and if you ever see his name, make sure you get there early. I loved the live Caribbean band -â€" Accent. Very good. They played good movies each day. There were the typical Caribbean type events (50's night, Country night, Deck party night), but those didn't seem to fit in the Mediterranean. I would have liked to have seen some entertainment specific to the Mediterranean. Maybe showing some movies like Shirley Valentine or Zorba that showcased the region, or even having some Greek music and dancers a few times. It wasn't really very creative entertainment, but it was good. PORT AND SHORE EXCURSIONS: We did not book any excursions through the ship, but I felt they had a good selection at reasonable prices. We chose to explore on our own and I'll talk about what we did in the port reviews. Because the Port Review section only allows 8 ports, I will not cover Venice, Rome or Naples (since this port was cancelled). DISEMBARKATION: We had a 10:20am flight out of Rome, so booked the ship's transportation to the airport and were the second group to leave the ship at 6:05am. Everything on the ship was very organized and getting off and to the bus was very quick and efficient. The ride to the airport took only about 45 minutes, but the Rome airport check-in process is an absolute nightmare, so make sure you get there very early and have lots of patience. SUMMARY: This was an AWESOME itinerary and the reason we chose this cruise. Since I had just been on the Star Princess in March and didn't have such a good experience, I warned my traveling companions to expect the worst but hope for the best. But by the end of day 2, all three were absolutely pleased with the ship, the crew and the experience. My brother even booked his next cruise while on this ship. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
We flew into Venice the day we were to board the ship. We'd had an overnight flight from the US. That evening we went down to St Mark's Square and strolled around to see the sights. The ship had arranged a ferry ride from the ... Read More
We flew into Venice the day we were to board the ship. We'd had an overnight flight from the US. That evening we went down to St Mark's Square and strolled around to see the sights. The ship had arranged a ferry ride from the ship to the square and back for a small amount (I forget) and it was very convenient and a good start to the trip. We had an inside cabin and it was fine for sleeping, We normally get a balcony cabin on a cruise, but decided that we'd be so busy on this cruise that we would not pay for the upgrade. This was our second princess cruise. They remembered my husband had traveled with them before, but not me, which is interesting because I do all paperwork for the family. The next morning we left the port an traveling down the canals, breathtaking view, headed out to see. Next day was at sea, then Athens. Our shore excursions were arranged half through the ship, half though private tours. The private tour we signed up for were through Cruise Critics Roll Call site. Met some great people this way and had much more individual experience. I would recommend this approach. You pay at the end of the tour in cash, generally Euros. And don't forget to tip. Tipping in Europe is generally not as high as the US. Athens was a private tour and we were very busy. You should train for this trip. There were a lot of stairs, marble stairs, and crowds everywhere because you bring your own crowd when the ship arrives. Our small group was 10 people and a minibus that could go places the bigger buses couldn't. We had a very busy and great day, also it was hot, but better than summertime. He also got us back to the boat with time to spare and was very knowledgeable. My husband picked up a bad cold on the flight over so we missed the next stop. That day was when we missed not being in a balcony cabin since he basically slept most of the day, then was OK. Next stop was Istanbul. The water shuttle from the ship was not owned by Princess and we were told this. However I think some people were still surprised that they had to pay for the refreshments they were serving and my husband got incorrect change in the Turkish currency that looked very much like the correct Euro currency would have. Be careful. We were warned at every port to watch for pick pockets. We used a ships tour for this port and they did a great job. The ships tours were the only tours that had access to Topkapi castle and we wanted to see it and its harem. Again there was a lot of walking over stones and a warm day, but beautiful sun. We were back to the water shuttle for the last ride. Should have been 20 min. It took close to 2 hours with the ship not wanting to make a decision to leave people, then making the decision, then when we were approaching the ship reversing the decision and sending us back to get the late people. All well we were trapped on this shuttle with heavy gas fumes and no rest rooms (my husband finally located one-they weren't marked). This left a bad taste on the day and no apology was given for the mess. When we complained about this we were told they didn't own the shuttle; however they did hire them for this service so I believe they are responsible for managing this service. Next day was at sea, then on to Rome and Florence and Naples, etc. We enjoyed this cruise based on the itinerary but the ship board activities were so,so. The food was just OK. We had opted for the Late dining option and food was frequently lukewarm when served. Selections were not particularly interesting. We tried the grille restaurant and the steaks were good, but the fish tasted reheated. This was a full ship. In fact friends of ours tried to sign on late and were told there was a waiting list. Finally we enjoyed the cruise and saw a lot, but left as not fans of Princess. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
Star princess, in,our experience did not compare well with all the other Princess ships we have sailed on. It certainly is not as good as P& O We would not travel on the Star Princess again and doubtful about another Princess ... Read More
Star princess, in,our experience did not compare well with all the other Princess ships we have sailed on. It certainly is not as good as P& O We would not travel on the Star Princess again and doubtful about another Princess Cruise. We are not people prone to complaining but unfortunately our experience in some areas led us to complain Our cabin steward Howard was great and could not have done more for us.Our luggage did not arrive in time for the sailing,( KLM problem) along with 30 other cabins and we did not receive it until 4 days into the cruise. We met with Passengers services management and advised them of our disappointment in their handling of this. Although not the ships fault it became apparent that there appeared to be insufficient resources allocated to dealing with the problem and communications suffered as a result. We had anytime dining and it appeared very disorganised at peak time with queues forming . One night we could not get a table until after 9. This meant we were unable to get to shows. When we did eat the food was superb best on any ship we have been on. Beware to check what the coke offer really entails as if travelling as a couple it only gives 1 person sticker for a coke for themselves !! Staff were inconsistent in their handling/ understanding of this. Our friends cancelled theirs as a result and did not get a warm response from Passenger Servioces for this and as a result an apology was given to them by phone in their cabin. Entertainment was not great. Best show was the best of British. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
This was my ninth cruise, and my Mother's first. Seeing a cruise ship through the eyes of a first time cruiser helped with a few of the disappointments that were based on prior cruising experience, such as long waits for a table for ... Read More
This was my ninth cruise, and my Mother's first. Seeing a cruise ship through the eyes of a first time cruiser helped with a few of the disappointments that were based on prior cruising experience, such as long waits for a table for two in the main dining room, and one very poorly run shore excursion. Overall, the minor inconveniences were just that, minor, and I had a fantastic time. We stayed in Venice for two nights pre-cruise and with a 48 hour Vaporetto pass managed to see quite a bit. The overnight on the ship gave us that third day to finish exploring and even though we didn't depart until 2pm, we opted to not go ashore that last morning and just relax on board. Embarkation was a breeze. We arrived at the port quite early but that allowed us to be in group #5 to board and once they called our number we were on the ship in just a few minutes time. We found our cabin, an AC mini-suite almost at the very back of the ship. Our cabin steward was friendly and helpful and got us egg-crate mattress toppers and robes when requested. The first night on the mattress I though I was sleeping in one of those stone beds in Pompeii, but the mattress topper worked wonders and I slept very well the rest of the cruise. The mini-suite was nice and roomy, and it was a nice change to have a tub size shower instead of those tiny little showers in my usual outside cabin. The food was so-so, but I don't expect gourmet food on a mass-market cruise line with well over 2,000 people to feed at each meal. We never made it to any of the specialty restaurants, although we did go to the afternoon tea (fabulous) and the pub lunch (blah). Service in the dining room was MUCH better when we had a table for two than when we opted to share. We didn't see too many of the shows, but my Mom seemed to enjoy the ship's singers and dancers. The one show we saw that I didn't like at all, my Mom loved - must be a generational thing :) All the ports were absolutely fabulous. We did some on our own (Athens, Rhodes, Dubrovnik) and did ship's tours at the rest. The only "bad" day was in Santorini when we were there with eight other ships. It was awful, in fact this was the only tour ever where I have complained and received a partial refund. Unless you are in Santorini with only one or two other ships, do not get off the ship. The port itself was beautiful, but I have never witnessed crowds like that anywhere before. Passengers services could have been better. We dealt with lukewarm water for almost two days. It took multiple phone calls and visits to passenger services before it got fixed, and even then we endured a maintenance guy in our cabin for several hours changing out the thermostat in the shower. I loved having self-service laundry on board, and our cabin was just steps away from it. Very nice and convenient. Disembarkation in Civitavecchia could not have been easier. We were scheduled to leave the ship (according to our luggage tag color) at 7:45. We could have left earlier, but weren't quite ready. So at 7:45 we left the ship, found our luggage, our driver and were on our way to Rome by about 8:00. We had arranged to share a private cab (Rome Cabs) with two people we met through our CC roll call. It worked perfectly and I highly recommend this option for getting into Rome. We paid 75 Euros per couple (150 total) and got dropped off right at our hotel door. We happened to be staying at one of the Princess hotels but it was pure coincidence. We arrived well before the bus load of Princess post-cruise passengers. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
We are loyal RCL crusiers, before this summer we have complete 7 cruise with RCL. In Europe and Carribean on various ships. Well it was time to try something new. Not really a good idea, you just compare what is in front of you to what ... Read More
We are loyal RCL crusiers, before this summer we have complete 7 cruise with RCL. In Europe and Carribean on various ships. Well it was time to try something new. Not really a good idea, you just compare what is in front of you to what you have had, really not fair to the ship. But it is also good to see what another cruise liner is offering. I would breakdown our cruise into three parts; ship, food&wine, activities/shore start with the good Food excellent, why lots of variety, always available, very good, bad, we had anytime dining which was more like line-up and wait. most nights it was an hour long wait to get seated, whether you had reservation or not...and the Matilde was very very rude. I complained multiple times to just be left standing even longer. If I want a buzzer ed and wait in line, I'd rather go to the cheese cake factory.. Wine, if you like American wine, sure lots of variety, no wine deals like on RCL, only on expensive wines they cant sell...did we drink lots of wine, yes was it good yes but hell to get! Ship, small, tight closterfobic, it felt crowded at the time, our room had double hanging bunks. we were only 2, why. i broke my shoulder, head on them daily, never again. room was also smaller than RCL.getting off the ship was a nightmare, it was the most poorly organized group ever...they just dont gett eh fact that we are on vacation and they should be taking care of us. We may try another Princess cruise, but the Star is not for us.... Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
Our Mediterranean cruise aboard the Star Princess was an amazing experience! We are an active, healthy couple in our early sixties and this trip was our first cruise and visit to Europe. We have waited 40 years to visit Europe, and the ... Read More
Our Mediterranean cruise aboard the Star Princess was an amazing experience! We are an active, healthy couple in our early sixties and this trip was our first cruise and visit to Europe. We have waited 40 years to visit Europe, and the Star Princess cruise and our European adventure were both as great as we hoped! The Star Princess experience was excellent in every respect! The attentiveness and high level of customer exhibited by each crew member was actually astounding to me since customer service is so dismal and decining in the US, at least! Our Steward in balcony stateroom C209 and our Traditional Seating waiter and assistant were the best! Our requests were consistently and quickly granted. For example, ice was in our room every day without a reminder and our room cleaned quickly and promptly. And unfailingly cheerful in the face of a lot of banter from our table of 6. Ignacio always gave us excellent menu tips and recommendations and frequently brought us extra tastes of various menu items, particularly chocolate since we expressed our addiction often! The ship was in excellent condition and the common areas kept sparkling. Although the two main pool areas were usually crowded during the day, I always could find a deck chair facing the sea,, my preference, in the sun or shade. The embarkation, disembarkation and land tour off-loading processes were amazingly easy - very well organized and did not take much time at all, considering the 2600 plus passengers! Since this cruise stopped each morning for the day at a different Med port with popular excursion options, there were hundreds of us taking tours each day. The passenger demographics were probably more in the older age range, but just barely - plenty of families with young children and teen-agers - and plenty for them to do too. More passengers from Great Britain and Canada then US -many from Australia as well -overall a nice mix and it was very easy to find "child-free" locations aboard ship for quiet relaxation. Since we picked a Med cruise to see the historical sites on the Greek Islands and Italy, we took a Princess tour almost every day and each one was excellent - (we walked the wall in Dubrovnik ourselves) The disembarking process were smooth each time with no confusion or long waits. Other US companies could learn how to handle crowds and lines from Princess! Each tour guide was pleasant and extremely knowledgeable - and of course the historical sites - Olympic Stadium, Acropolis, Delos, Pompeii, not to mention all of Venice and Rome are must-see places to visit. Of course everyplace was really crowded since this was July - but the only place that the crowds really got in the way was Santorini - the narrow little streets in Fia were just choked with visitors from several cruise lines. But the Santorini views are not to be missed! Outlined below are some specific comments prompted by my first time cruiser experience and my reading of past Cruise Critic comments. While we each have our own particular likes and dislikes, I'll add my two-cents worth to some of the popular topics discussed on CC. Princess vs private excursions - we went with Princess because as a first timer I felt they would be more reliable and certainly easier to arrange! We were not disappointed - the guides were extremely knowledgeable of the sites and ancient history, the buses were air-conditioned and comfortable, and we arrived back on time for our evening sailing every day! This is not a small detail, since several times the Captain commented as we were leaving port that some passengers were not yet aboard! Since the "Port Review" section does not allow for more then 8 ports I will add here that Santorini and Pompeii are also not to be missed - Pompeii is truly incredible - and the Princess tours are excellent!! As noted elswhere, Santorini was really crowded and the line for the cable car down to the tender was a 40 minute wait so I walked those 700 steps - very hot and crowded with donkeys and their droppings - but beat my companions who waited in line! I would book Princess excursions again - I guess if you are a very experienced traveler private tours or going in on your own might be preferable, however. We did use RomeInLimo for a one day Rome tour, where we stayed for 3 days after the cruise. RIL is an excellent as advertised - our driver Mauro and Vatican guide Aurora were excellent - make sure to book Vatican guide through RIL and purchase your Coliseum and Vatican tickets via internet before you go - you really do avoid the line this way! In Venice we walked around on our own and loved Venice - however I did a walking tour of St. Marks which was great and avoided lines - and we did a gondola tour booked though our hotel which was also great - at first I thought it would be too cheesy - but you get too experience the smaller, back canals and gondolier expertise is amazing! (Hotel Bartolomeo - small, inexpensive, great staff) What to Bring - we each packed one large bag and one carryon - the latter more as a safeguard against lost luggage or delayed bag delivery. The latter did happen because our room was upgraded and changed last minute and I forgot to change the number on the luggage tags provided by Princess. So because we had carryons with a few changes of clothes, including "smart casual" clothes for dinner - we were fine. In general I probably packed about 5 or 6 more outfits then I needed because I didn't wear everything twice- but that's what women do! I thought the 2 formal nights were a great chance to dress up and a couple of cocktail /shoes and coat/slacks and couple of dress shirts do not take up that much room! Since we went off the ship for each of the 10 ports, we needed more "touring" clothes (capris/shorts/tee shirts, etc.) then one would need for a stay on the ship type of cruise. Dining/Food - we chose the early traditional seating in the Capri dining room and it was fine - a little early at 5:30 pm, but not crowded on the other hand, and we were done early enough to catch the 8 pm shows! Plus we had a window table and enjoyed the sail-away each evening! I might try anytime dining next time, but I did notice that after about 6:30 pm there was a wait for a table. The food was consistently above average to excellent and there are so many choices it was easy to find something delicious every night! We tried both Sabatini's and the Crown Grill and they were both worth an extra $20 if you want to spend the $$- personally I liked the Crown Grill better - great steaks! For breakfast we got room service since we left on tours at 7 or 8 am every morning! It was simple (fruit/cereal/pastries) but satisfying and promptly delivered! For lunch if we were on board we went to the Horizon Ct. which was excellent for a buffet - a million choices it seemed - hot and cold. The dreaded "syrup" coffee isn't that bad - but we got the coffee card so we could have brewed at dinner. I was worried about eating too much, of course, and lost 5 lbs before the cruise in preparation! I ate very light at breakfast and lunch (salad bar!) so I could pig out at dinner and at the couple of lunches during tours (great Greek food everywhere!). My scheme worked better then expected - I came back half a pound lighter! Guess all that walking on tours paid off! Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
We just got back from a 12 day Star Princess cruise through the Greek Isles. We had a great time. The embarkation procedure was very easy, once we arrived at the terminal. Getting from the Venice Train station to the port turned ... Read More
We just got back from a 12 day Star Princess cruise through the Greek Isles. We had a great time. The embarkation procedure was very easy, once we arrived at the terminal. Getting from the Venice Train station to the port turned out to be a bit of a pain. Word of Warning: I'm going to vent about the people we encountered in train stations in Italy. If you want to read the review, just skip the next few paragraphs... We tried to cross the constitution bridge from the train station to get to the people mover to the port. As we started to cross, an older man walked up and took my wife's luggage from her. He came back to me and took mine. I told him 'No' several times and he just grabbed and pulled harder on my bag. I was so taken aback that I let go and he just took off going across the bridge. He wasn't trying to steal them, but I didn't want him to take my bag and he took it anyway. I wasn't ready for how rude he would be about it. At the other end of the bridge he dropped our bags and stuck his hand out. I gave him the change in my pocket which was about 3 euros and he acted quite offended and wouldn't get out of our way when we tried to leave, still holding his hand out. We had a similar experience in the Rome Termini a week earlier. We were trying to get onto the First Class car and a man stood in our way and took our bags. He heaved them up the two steps onto the train and set them down. He then stuck out his hand. I gave him 2 euros and he started acting offended. He stood in our way so we couldn't continue into the seating area of the car. He was speaking loudly in Italian something about how hard is was to move our bags about 2 meters into the car and how offended he was at my offering of 2 euros. We had people behind us trying to get on. One of his cohorts was yelling loudly for us to move as this man stood in the way with his hand out wanting more. After what seemed like a long time, he grudgingly moved aside and gave me a dirty look and saying something I didn't understand. 30 seconds later he and his cohort started the same routine, this time the other man was standing in the way with his hand out and our beggar was behind him and his marks yelling for them to get out of the way. I just wanted to get that off my chest. I wasn't prepared for either case. We never had these kind of problems at any of the ship's ports. Be prepared to fight these guys off. I wasn't prepared for an older man to physically pull my bag away from me even though I told him no. They were both rude, counting on us not to make a scene. Be prepared to be rude back. OK, back to the review. We had bought our passage 6 months before the cruise and we paid what I thought was a decent price for an inside cabin. We knew we would be busy every day and we didn't want to spend extra money on a balcony that we would rarely use. The upgrade fairy visited us and gave us an obstructed view room. It was nice to see the port before we left the room. The room had plenty of storage and we never felt too cramped after 12 days. Having the fridge in the room was very handy too. The ship seems to be in pretty good shape. The food in the Anytime dining area was quite good. We never had to wait to get a table. It was the first time we tried Anytime dining and we really enjoyed it. Each night we met some new people and had some fun conversations. Two or three nights, we were all still talking when the restaurant closed and they were waiting for us to leave. They never once pressured us though. Very nice. The Horizon Court 24 hour cafeteria on the 14th floor was like an upgraded Golden Corral or any other All-You-Can-Eat restaurant. The food was OK. Not bad, but not great. It was nice to have a decent selection of fruits everyday. We tried the Crown Grill the second night of the cruise and it was very good. I considered it worth the extra $20 each. I've had better steaks, but overall it was a much nicer experience and the food was very good, including the steaks and the rack of lamb. The Hamburger/hot dog grill was pretty good and the fries were very good. The pizza place had some interesting specials of the day. Some were pretty good. The crew was very friendly. The shows were just OK. The British Invasion show and the Destination Anywhere shows were good, but the rest were fairly boring to me. The Movies-Under-The-Stars was fun and they had some pretty good movie selections in the evenings. We went to a few of the pools but for the most part, we were off of the ship during the day and getting some rest in the evenings. The Internet is dial-up speed slow and VERY expensive. We ended up using the Internet cafes at the various ports. Most of the restaurants have free Wifi if you eat lunch there. That's when we did most of our email checking and blog updates. The IPad came in very handy for that. In general we had a much better time with the private tours that were arranged by a friend we met on the Cruise Critic message boards (thanks again YaYa). The Princess tours were much more expensive and weren't nearly as much fun. Next time, we will do mostly private tours. We also picked this cruise because of the number of Greek Isles and ports that we would visit. It was great to see all of these places. Next time, I would pick a cruise with a couple more sea-days. We felt like if we were in a port, that we should be touring. We were exhausted by the end of the trip. Leaving Venice was fantastic. If you go, be sure to be on the port side deck as you leave to watch the city cruise by. It was a great way to start a cruise. Dubrovnik is an easy town to do on your own. Very much worth going to see. Corfu was much prettier than we thought it would be. Just get out of the town by the port. The island is beautiful. We had a private tour here with Dimitris with 4 people in each taxi. We had a blast. Olympia and the original Olympic sight was interesting, but I don't think I'd go back again. We did a private tour in Athens and it went very well. We were able to decide where and when we were going to see the sights. A very nice visit. My wife loved the fact that the bus had a fast Wifi connection and she took advantage of it by uploading pictures for our friends and family as we moved from sight to sight. Mykonos was another port that we did on our own. We didn't see all of the sights, but we did see the town and it was easy to do on our own. Little Venice is a lot of fun and the whole area is postcard beautiful. Ephasus in Turkey was an interesting tour. The Terrace Houses were especially interesting. Our Princess tour ended in a rug distributor shop with a demonstration. They said no one was obligated to buy, but they did put on the hard sell. Walking from that shop back to the ship was like running the gauntlet. We were approached by every vendor on the street, trying to get our attention. Kind of crazy. We decided to take the next day off in Rhodes and go to a beach. We went to a Golden Sand beach and had loungers and an umbrella we could use. It was a very welcome relaxing time and the beach was great. Santorini was beautiful. The Princess bus we were on did not have a working Air Conditioner and it was very hot in there. We were glad to be done with the tour and visit on our own. The town of Oia is just gorgeous. Again, this would have been much better on a non-Princess tour. In Naples, we went to Pompeii and Sorrento. Sorrento is a great little town to get lost in. Pompeii was very interesting and our last big 'pile of rocks' to look at. We didn't go to the museum and is sounds like the most interesting pieces found in Pompeii were in the museum. Next time... Overall, a very good trip. We would definitely suggest it. 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Sail Date June 2011
We took this cruise because it was our Pearl wedding anniversary and we wanted a short get away to celebrate. Star Princess was perfect for us, we were able to get a table for 2 every evening in the Portofino restaurant with no trouble at ... Read More
We took this cruise because it was our Pearl wedding anniversary and we wanted a short get away to celebrate. Star Princess was perfect for us, we were able to get a table for 2 every evening in the Portofino restaurant with no trouble at all. With the exception of one evening the menu was excellent, the only poor menu was the "Chef's Menu" which was the worst menu we hae seen on any Princess ship, the usual regular alternative choices were not listed and since I had not had need to look at them previously I didn't know what they were and the waiters at our table didn't know either. I requested a small portion of a pasta dish as a starter because there were only 2 starters on the menu and I disliked both dishes, the waiter brought out a very large portion of gnocchi and when I said that I had requested pasta she replied that gnocchi was same thing (not in my opinion as I don't like gnocchi). My only other problem with the food was that quite often I thought that it was over salted but this maybe because I don't use salt at home so I notice it when it is present in food. With the exception of the one female waiter who thinks that gnocchi is pasta the restaurant staff were wonderful and our cabin steward was second to none. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
I've been waiting for a while before writing this review, just to cool down - I didn't wanted to write upset and biased with the facts. So, more than a month after cruising, I think it's time to share our experience aboard ... Read More
I've been waiting for a while before writing this review, just to cool down - I didn't wanted to write upset and biased with the facts. So, more than a month after cruising, I think it's time to share our experience aboard the Star Princess, who left Venice October, 5th, to the Eastern Mediterranean. Service is fair, restaurants are good, overall cleanness is good, shore excursions are well organized, so what's the point? The point is, some days, you don't have any activity in the morning; some days, you don't have any activity in the afternoon - or you just returned from your morning shore excursion. Time for a nap, uh? No, not aboard this ship, not with this Captain. Every day, every afternoon - I said EVERY - Mr. William Kent, the Master of the Ship, will wake you up with all sort of navigation and weather data - JUST THRU YOUR STATEROOM SPEAKER SYSTEM!!!! OK, I've been cruising every year, over the last 10 years. I've been cruising with Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Carnival, Celebrity, Costa - even with Princess, and I've NEVER seen such an abuse, such an invasion to my privacy and rest!!!!! The only time I've heard something thru the stateroom speaker was during the safety drill - never more. Of course, we complained to the Purser's Desk. I'm sure the Captain received the message, because he said he was worried with this complain, during the Captain's Cocktail. The next day, he kept silent - but, the day after, things went back. This demonstrated that they CAN address to the passengers only thru the public areas PA system, if they WANT TO. In every ship I cruised before, this kind of announcement and information was made thru the PA system in public areas, only. But this sir - the Captain - seems to be in desperate need for audience, so he has to bother every passenger inside their staterooms. And, of course, for safety reasons, you can't turn the stateroom speaker off. You can't even adjust the volume - it's always high. Unfortunately, I've booked another cruise aboard the Star Princess to 2011, in the very first day of the cruise. If I only knew..... Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
My wife and I sailed on the Star Princess in mid-October out of Venice through the Greek Isles with stops in Athens, Croatia and Ephesus, Turkey. It was a beautiful ship. The accommodations were very comfortable and the staff, for the most ... Read More
My wife and I sailed on the Star Princess in mid-October out of Venice through the Greek Isles with stops in Athens, Croatia and Ephesus, Turkey. It was a beautiful ship. The accommodations were very comfortable and the staff, for the most part, quite helpful. We were very satisfied with the ship's tours: they were well arranged with excellent guides. We took this cruise because of the locations offered and came away well satisfied with with where we went and what we saw. This was all to the good but not everything was. There were 2600+ passengers on board and although the ship obviously had room for all of them, there was a constant sense of crowding. Moreover, we and our group --- we travelled with 4 other couples --- were part of the 8 PM Dinner Seating. At least three times during our cruise, this seating started late, once almost 15 minutes late while everyone waited in the halls and on the stairs. Even when we were seated on time, there was a constant sense of being rushed as waiters hurried by trying to serve everyone. More than once we were obliged to leave before dessert so that we could make the 10:15 show. The best we could say for the food is that it was ok, nothing more. As one of our group described it one night, "This is like eating in a cafeteria." We made sure to get copies of our ongoing bill every few days from the Purser's Office and I recommend strongly that anyone cruising do this. The very first print-out contained a charge that was incorrect: we were charged for using a water taxi from the ship to Venice on the morning of our sailing. My wife went to the Purser's Office to contest this. They told her that they had placed two water taxi tickets in our room and unless they were returned, you were automatically charged. She pointed out that l) we had never seen the tickets and 2) how could we have been in Venice that morning when we were on a ship's tour of Murano! The charge was removed but not on her first visit. They insisted that she search our room for the tickets and return them. When she returned the next day with no tickets and insisted that the charge be removed, it was removed finally and reluctantly. The people in the next cabin had the same problem. Don't miss the method the ship was using here: they leave you the tickets and presume you use them unless you return them. Is this any way to do business? Now we come to what constitutes the heart of this cautionary tale. A few days into the cruise, I was returning from a tour and, following instructions from Security, placed my camera on the X-Ray belt. The person in front of me was wanded and while I was delayed 30 to 45 seconds, my camera was stolen from the belt, presumably by a fellow passenger. This was bad enough but how it was handled by the ship's personnel made matters much worse. The immediate response of Security was, "We didn't do it" and "Go to the Purser's Office and fill our a Loss and Damage Report." I did that. There is no "Stolen Property" report. The following day, the manager of Passenger Relations contacted me and through her, I received the loan of a digital camera for the rest of the cruise plus the assurance that the ship would develop the pictures gratis. (They did). I told her that I had asked at the Purser's Office for someone from Security to contact me and no one had. She arranged for that to happen the following day. The Security person who called me at 8:15 the next morning told me that they were reviewing the tapes of the incident to see if they could determine who had taken my camera from the belt. That evening the Passenger Relations manager called me with a request from Security: Security had determined that I had reentered the ship 2X on the day of the theft and wanted to know at which time the camera had been stolen. This question told me that when the Security person said in the morning that they had been reviewing the tapes, he had not been telling me the truth. It was more than 48 hrs. after the incident and only now was Security trying to ascertain when the camera had been stolen. I will cut to the chase here. The "Loss and Damage" Form I filled out on the ship made it clear that no further action would be taken until I returned home and either called, faxed or e-mailed the company's "Loss and Damage Department." I did call the phone number and the extension number on the letter from the "Loss and Damage" Form and was told by the young woman who answered that she was a reservationist, that "Loss and Damage" Personnel never spoke directly to customers, that I needed to write a letter regarding the incident and follow it up with a phone call. Then she or some other reservationist would put me on hold and check with the "Loss and Damage" personnel regarding my situation. Ultimately I received a letter from the "Loss and Damage" Department denying my claim and pointing out that Princess was not legally responsible for the loss of my camera. The lesson here is that if you take a Princess Cruise you will do well if you do not have any problem along these lines. If you do, the attitude of this cruise line is to convey the impression that they would like you to go away and stop bothering them. What can you say about an organization that tells you in writing that even after filling out a "Loss and Damage" Report nothing further will happen unless you contact them and when you do you discover that they will not talk to you directly but only through one of their reservationists. This is a company that has a lot to learn about customer service! Read Less
Sail Date October 2007
Star Princess- Transatlantic repositioning cruise- Venice to Ft Lauderdale, Oct, 2004 (17 day cruise) (Note- ship was fully booked) Embarkation & Disembarkation -- Boarding & Ships departure from Venice -- Excellent. No line ups. ... Read More
Star Princess- Transatlantic repositioning cruise- Venice to Ft Lauderdale, Oct, 2004 (17 day cruise) (Note- ship was fully booked) Embarkation & Disembarkation -- Boarding & Ships departure from Venice -- Excellent. No line ups. Excellent commentary over the ships loud speaker system describing the sites as we cruised down the Grand Canal and out to sea = a memorable experience. Disembarkation -- Disembarking 2600 plus passengers is going to be a delay. They try to minimize the discomfort by allocating baggage tags with different disembarkation times. We had arranged early departure and were given red #3 baggage tags. Procedure -- Directions were to wait on Deck 7, but deck does not have sufficient public areas resulting in people standing and sitting on the floor. We avoided by waiting and relaxing in the public area on Deck 14. Disembarkation in Ft. Lauderdale was a smooth procedure where we were quickly processed thru Princess exit machine using security card they provide you on Embarkation followed by swift processing thru immigration and then directed to waiting luggage. NOTE: They never checked our departure luggage tags to ensure we were getting off the ship when we should be; and all luggage appeared to be on dock. Cabin -- Balcony cabin D327 on Dolphin Deck (Princess calls it a mini suite) -- We were celebrating our 40th anniversary and splurged with an upgrade. Good decision for a cruise of this length = gave us more room and we really enjoyed the luxury of a bathtub. Veranda -- Has two small plastic chairs and table large enough for breakfast; plus two cushioned chairs (small lounge chairs). No privacy since the verandas are stepped (like a pyramid) with Dolphin Deck being the bottom of the pyramid. Also noisy = can hear conversations of guests above on their veranda. Sitting area in cabin -- Comfortable two seat sofa and one chair with coffee table large enough for breakfast. Greatly enjoyed our many breakfasts on the veranda and in the cabin. Sitting area has its own TV and HVAC thermostat. Sliding patio doors onto veranda. Sleeping area -- Twin bed configuration made into queen. Comfortable. Desk with chair, mirror, hair dryer, telephone and two electrical outlets = which was an excellent work station for me with my laptop. Area had a separate HVAC thermostat. Would keep the room temperature at 70F. Also has a second TV but not able to use both TV's at one time since no divider from sitting area and sleeping area. Closet next to Bathroom -- Ample hanging and cupboard space. Bathroom -- Good size, large combo tub/shower. Good size counter for personal effects. Location -- Cabin on starboard side generally puts us on the dock side for each port. However, since we were cruising westward, we did not get the sun we would have if our cabin had been on the Port side = if ever cruise again for a long period of time over the Atlantic or Pacific consider the location of the sun and pick the sunny side of the ship. Noise -- No noise from adjacent cabins or hall. However, in rough seas there was substantial noise and some vibration, likely from the stabilizer system which kept us awake one night = need to collect further information as to whether this is a problem throughout the ship. Cabin Steward -- Angelo -- Excellent. Shore Excursions & Itinerary -- Itinerary good, providing us with many new ports. However, had the following problems with Princess shore excursions -- i) buses -- on the whole had uncomfortable seating and no leg room, ii) Rome and Seville were a 1.75 hr. bus ride away = shortened up the time for touring, iii) Ratio of one tour guide for every 40-45 passengers on the tour = too large, iv) Insufficient time allocated to stops on tour = were too rushed, v) Were assembled in Princess Theatre rather than go ashore to meet tour bus (except for one port) = lost 15 minutes of valuable time. Conclusion -- i) One day short stops do not do the cities justice = not the way to visit a city that may not get backed to: ii) Try to do on own unless can determine that Princess has allowed adequate time for each visit (i.e. night in Venice); and iii) Princess should reduce the number of ports and increase the amount of time in the ports (i.e. as being done by other cruise lines such as Oceania). Ship  -- i) DEcor/finishes -- Very pleasing, well done, ii) Feel- have created many areas where one can comfortably get away from the "crowd" = well done; iii) Flow- worked well, except for deck 5; iv) Elevators -- did not work well = slow doors, noticeable waiting times, noticeable multiple stops with phantom passengers (would stop for passengers and no one waiting = persons had given up and walked). Activities Aboard ship -- Size of ship permitted a multitude of entertainment options, with some nights having two featured entertainers = great for a voyage at sea such as a transatlantic crossing. Note: Must arrive at main events at least 15 minutes early for the first shows or may not be seated. Found a full day of interesting activities available for each day at sea. Line ups -- i) Into dining areas initially/first two days were noticeable, but then disappeared; ii) For shore excursions noticeable, sometimes line ups were an annoyance; iii) From time to time at Purser's desk; iv) Always at Future Cruise desk (used a number system to overcome). Dining -- Quality of food and service was a disappointment, ranging from poor to excellent but on the average good. We had some major problems in the Portofino Dining Room = slow service, some meals not that good. Lucked out by one night sitting at table #6 in the Capri dining Room and thereafter booked this table each night = excellent service and no further problems with food. Jun, the waiter, allowed us to put extra plates in the middle of the table to be shared by all = his efforts and that of his assistant waiter resulted in a memorable dining experience (screened all food he brought to table and if not to his standard would return it to the kitchen). On the average, pastries lacked quality. Three main Dining Rooms -- i) Portofino Dining Room (open seating) -- initially our regular dining room, trying to sit at a table of four or six rather than the table of 8 where found it difficult to communicate with all eight persons. Service varied depending upon the section of the dining room in which you were seated. One lunch in Portofino took 1.5 hrs to get main course -- one of the couples left; several dinners were slow, meals taking two hours to complete. Note: reportedly same kitchen is serving the Portofino and Amalfi Dining (Fixed Seating) rooms and this could be the cause of the slow service vs. Capri which has its own kitchen; ii) Capri Dining Room (open seating) -- We had two good dining experiences and settled in with table #6, Capri Dining Room serviced by Jun (excellent). Reservation possible -- We had to phone each day to book the table at a specific time = unnecessary nuisance, but gave you all the benefits of fixed seating and a more flexible time tailored to your preferences. Buffet Dining -- Horizon Court -- on the average food did not meet our expectations (bacon, greasy sausages, week iced tea, tasteless pastries). Policy of closing one of the buffet service areas leads to congestion/crowding. At time found the layout of the food in strange order, requiring breaking in and out of the line up. Bonus -- Could make special order for an omelet. 3:30 p.m. tea -- A touch of class; all waiters in tuxedos with service in white glove. Excellent Service. From time to time some of the small sandwiches dry, on average food very good. Special restaurants -- i) Sabatini -- Extra charge of US $20.00 per person. Service excellent, other than as noted. Person in charge needs further training (I had a problem with a tasteless main course of prawns. When drawn to his attention, said would mention to Chef, and five minutes later was back at the table asking how meal was). My wife's meal was excellent. ii) Tequila -- Extra charge of US $15.00 per person. Service and meal excellent; with three piece band providing background music and dancing a touch of class = a memorable evening. We had to leave for a show and as a result unable to stay for the dancing; but returned several times to a few extra tables not being used for dining to have drinks = great location and band to relax, have a drink, and dance. Fixed vs. Open Seating -- When traveling on our own we always arrange for fixed seating. This time were unable to get a fixed seating reservation and we missed the experience of dining with the same group every night, comparing our notes, arranging excursions together and getting to know the staff/having the staff provide us with personal service based on our needs. Started to get tired of meeting new people every night and forced small talk. Whether want early or late seating should be determined by the itinerary and ships departure (on this itinerary early seating would be the best. When chose late seating, for days when this would not work, could take meal in open seating restaurants). The risk of fixed seating is that you might be assigned a table with an incompatible group. Another option when you are cruising with others is to take the open seating, find a waiter that you like and then make reservations every day (in Princess case, over the telephone), which we did in latter part of the cruise to get the same waiter = gives you the best of two systems. Entertainment -- Size of ship allows you, on several nights, to see two different shows. Quality of entertainment is equal to Las Vegas = was the best we have experienced on a cruise ship (other than for the excellent specialized entertainment provided by the locals at each ports on the Tahitian Princess). Princess Theatre has good site lines; theatre level stage props (props, entertainers can entry and exit thru floor elevators). Some of the seats uncomfortable in that all seats are the same configuration, not taking into consideration the slope of the floor underneath = results in one sliding forwarding on the seat. Internet -- At a cost of $10.50 for 30 minutes was able to hook up laptop (wireless) to ship's system in one location -- Atrium. Very slow connection (lower end of telephone speed) and not a user friendly connection system -- could only purchase in 30 minute increments, when came to end of 30 minutes and tried to send an e-mail lost the e-mail, does not appear to sign off until you shut down the computer, when you run out of 30 minutes, you have to close out Explorer and sign on again. Tour desk -- Staffed by one, who thought it was appropriate to handle the passengers waiting to see her by using a numbered system rather than to expand her hours or have an additional crew member assist, as we have found on other cruise lines (RCI). A disappointment. Fitness -- Promenade deck -- Excellent for walking in quiet sea; on deck 7 & 8, with stairs up to deck 8 at the bow -- 5 times around reportedly mile. Gym -- Good. 15 treadmills, all on 30 minute reservation periods, basically same equipment as our club's fitness facilities in Thornhill. Good weight equipment. Exercise room next door with mats. OVERALL CONCLUSIONS -- Tahitian Princess Cruise, our other Princess experience, was a memorable cruise vs. Star Princess a good cruise with some noticeable problems = Star Princess -- Great Ship with management problems. This ship is capable of moving from a Berlitz Cruise Guide rating of four stars to five stars, joining Celebrity as the only large cruise ships receiving this rating. Will be interesting to monitor other members' experiences on whether they solve the problems. Read Less
Sail Date October 2004
We did back to back cruises, total of 24 days, both in Balcony cabins having booked BD guarantees we were assigned a BC on Aloha- 226 for the Venice to Barcelona cruise and a BA on Caribe-632 for the Barcelona to Civitavecchia cruise. ... Read More
We did back to back cruises, total of 24 days, both in Balcony cabins having booked BD guarantees we were assigned a BC on Aloha- 226 for the Venice to Barcelona cruise and a BA on Caribe-632 for the Barcelona to Civitavecchia cruise. Having read reviews about the many children causing problems on this ship while doing this itinerary we were very pleased to have the announcement made that there were 32 children on the first cruise and 7 on the second cruise. Passengers were from all over the world with groups from China, Philippines, and Russia. The majority seemed to be from the United States and Europe. There was a wide age range from early 20s to 80+ with the average age probably around 60. The ship was in very good condition. The crew was friendly and always greeted you with a smile. Service in the dining room was very good but in the Horizon Court it was lacking with tables being slowly cleared and infrequent beverage service. We had "anytime" dining and found the perfect table for two in the Capri Dining room, which originally was for four giving us a great deal of room, on the second evening. Our waiter was very good so we then made a standing reservation for that same table. On the second cruise the dining room staff moved up to the Portofino dining room keeping the same station so we moved our reservation up with them. Several of the head waiters and the maitre'd would stop by our table and chat each evening. When we arrived at the dining room for breakfast or lunch one of the waiters, Jorge, would greet us with a smile and select the perfect table for two by a window for us. Food was very good and prepared just to our liking. We had dinner in the alternative restaurant serving steaks which are brought to your table for selection. We enjoyed this meal but found there was just too much food with so much going to waste. We tried to order half portions but were told that was not possible. Food in the Horizon Court has never been our favorite and we visit there mainly when time does not allow us to go to the dining room. This cruise, we found several things were better than on previous cruises, but still cannot rate it more than fair. There were 3 production shows and the dancers were very good. The remainder of the entertainment in the evening was composed mainly of comedians with one singer, one magician, and a juggler. Several evening a movie was shown and there was also an evening of Big Band Dancing each cruise. Our ports of call were: Venice, Kusadasi, Athens, Naples, Civitavecchia, Livorno, Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Casablanca, Gibraltar, Cannes, Valletta, and Messina. Naples and Livorno were repeated giving us the opportunity to do something different on the second visit. The itinerary was all that we had hoped for and more - a perfect cruise in the Mediterranean. Read Less
Sail Date September 2004
Star Princess August 8, 2004 We are a married couple in our 50's and were traveling with another couple who are friends of ours. This was our third Princess cruise and we have cruised previously on Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and ... Read More
Star Princess August 8, 2004 We are a married couple in our 50's and were traveling with another couple who are friends of ours. This was our third Princess cruise and we have cruised previously on Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and Renaissance (our favorite!) We flew directly from JFK to Venice on Delta. The flight was fantastic- left exactly on time and arrived a little early. We were even lucky enough to get Emergency Row Exit seats which made the leg room great. I did not use Princess for flights but made airline reservations on our own, as I wanted to be sure to have a direct flight. Embarkation was easy although a little slow. We were there early so had to wait awhile to embark but we were on the ship around 12:30. We had booked a BD guarantee (balcony) and were upgraded to a BC on Baja deck. This was a good location and we liked our cabin. I think I would have preferred to be on Lido, where we were last cruise but this worked out fine. Since we had cruised last year on the Golden, it was easy for us to find our way around the Star. She is a beautiful ship and in excellent condition. The service was excellent and we loved our days at sea as well as the wonderful itinerary. We had opted for traditional late seating and found this fit our schedule the best. We were seated at a table for 8 with two other very enjoyable couples- one from Scotland, the other England. The four of us all live in New Jersey. Our weather was beautiful. We did not have any rain at all and except for the last day in Barcelona, it was not too hot (no hotter than where we live). It was very hot while in Barcelona but it may have been because we used the Bus Tourista and sitting on the top deck was unbearably hot. Most other days were in the mid to high 80's but there was often a nice breeze. In Venice we explored a bit on our own the first day. We took the Princess water shuttle into town for $10 each. This was great and you could ride it as often as you wanted. We walked around, found an ATM right off St. Mark's Square and got the Euros we needed. We found a gondola ride for 70 Euros for the 4 of us for a 45 minute ride through many of the back canals. This was in the afternoon and without a serenade. I had read the further you were from St. Mark's the easier it was to negotiate the price, and this seemed to be the case. This was a lot of fun and something we really wanted to do. Monday we took a ship's tour of Doges Palace, St. Mark's Cathedral and went to a Murano glass factory downtown. My only complaint was that we had very little time in St. Mark's and were rushed thorough it. We didn't have to wait on the long line though so this made the tour worth it for us. This was the only ship's tour that we took. After this we walked all over Venice, as far as the Jewish Ghetto. We ate lunch near the Rialto Bridge and had wonderful pizza, salad and wine. We were back on the ship by three and enjoyed a wonderful sail away to "Time to Say Good-Bye" by Andre Bocelli. This was a really nice touch. It is so beautiful leaving from Venice. It was a very picturesque site. Tuesday was a day at sea and we really needed this day to rest and get over our jetlag. I am so happy we took the tour in this order as I think we needed the two days at sea much more in the beginning of the cruise. This was formal night and the Captain's Welcome Aboard cocktail party. Lobster Thermidore was one of the selections this night and it was wonderful. Wednesday was another day at sea and was just as beautiful and relaxing as could be. Kusadasi, Turkey. My husband and I had been to this port before and had spent a full day at Ephesus and the surrounding sites so we opted to just walk around downtown. I am sure there were many good bargains to be had but the high pressure sales just turned us off. We wound up going back to the ship and having a marvelous day without any crowds. The hot tubs were all empty and we relaxed on the sun deck with good books while enjoying the scenery. Our friends did a ship's tour of Ephesus and visit to Mary's House and enjoyed it. Rhodes, Greece This is another port we had been to before so walked to town and strolled around the city. We found a lovely taverna, The Odyssey and had a great Greek salad, soulvaki and pastitsio. It was wonderful to sit outside and enjoy the sites. We did some shopping here and visited the castle. We had already toured Lindos last time we were here. Our friend's did a ship's tour again but were not too happy with it. They felt rushed and didn't have any time to walk around Lindos. We thoroughly enjoyed our day here. Tonight we decided to eat at Sabatini's. It was OK, not terrible but nothing spectacular. I thought the waiter had a bit of an attitude and although it took 2 hours I would rate the service only fair. In fact they forgot our pizza and brought it with our main course when reminded. For $20 a person, I don't think I would go again. But that was just our opinion; others seemed to enjoy it much more. Saturday was another day at sea and the second formal night. There was also a cocktail party for repeat Princess cruisers. Princess gives a lot of perks the more you cruise with them and is an incentive to stick with the same cruise line. After 5 cruises you get free Internet access and a Platinum Members Lounge for disembarkation day as well as some other" member's only" perks. Sunday, Naples. Because of the info on the Cruise Critic board I had booked Salvatore from Drive Amalfi several months ago. We met another couple at lunch one day who agreed to join us and help defray the cost as it was the same cost for 4-6 people. (500 Euros). Salvatore picked us up in a beautiful Mercedes van. The air conditioning was wonderful and he was a great driver. He gave us just enough information without being over bearing. We opted to just see the Amalfi coast and were very happy with our decision. Salvatore will tailor the day to whatever you want. We stopped in Sorrento for a short while and had some time to shop. We had several photo stops along the way also. We stopped in Amalfi and had some time here also. We then drove to Positano and Ravello and had lunch at a wonderful restaurant on top of a hill, San Giovanni. We were able to order whatever we wanted here and most opted for pizzas, pasta and salad. We had delicious complimentary lemoncello liquor for dessert which they make in this region. It was a delightful experience. While we were eating lunch we met two women from our ship. They were touring with Marcello. Suffice to say that Salvatore was a very nice, unassuming man and we were very happy that we had him as our tour guide. After lunch we drove back to the ship another way and saw more beautiful vistas. Our biggest concern, of course, was not to miss the ship. Salvatore was well aware of this and reassured us that he would have us back in plenty of time. He was true to his word. The scenery all day was spectacular and Salvatore showed us the most beautiful areas of his homeland. We all enjoyed our day and recommend him without reservation. Monday, Civitavecchia I had booked Claudio from limoinrome, again after many recommendations from this board. He was a fantastic driver and gave us so much information. We saw so much, many more things than would have been possible with a larger group. I had met another couple on Cruise Critic message board and they joined us for these two days with Claudio. He too had a comfortable air conditioned Mercedes and met us at 8 AM as promised. It took us less than an hour to reach Rome. We drove by the Vatican which had people on line for blocks and blocks. People on board told us that they waited over 2 hours to get into the Vatican in the morning. Claudio told us first we would see Imperial Rome and after lunch go back to the Vatican as it would not be crowded then. We drove by Piazza Venezia and saw the tomb of the Unknown Soldier. We went to the Roman Forum, the Coliseum and drove by Circus Maximus and went to the Pantheon. We also went to Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, a very interesting Church, where Michelangelo's "Risen Christ" was housed. We also saw the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, The Fountain of Four Rivers and many more things which I can't remember. We then went for lunch at a place Claudio takes his family to, I think it was called Mezzana. He recommended the lasagna and pasta with lobster that was excellent. Around 2 PM we went to The Vatican and, just like Claudio had said, there was not any line. He had secured a private guide for us and Natasha was a delight. She was an art teacher and gave us more info in the two and a half hour tour than we could have ever asked for. She made our afternoon in the Vatican very memorable. We spent time in the Vatican Museum including the Sistine Chapel, went to St. Peter's Basilica, which was extraordinary and St. Peter's Square. Her cost was 100 Euros. We met Claudio outside and headed back to the ship. We were back a little after 5:30; we had to be back by 6:30. He told us he always leaves some extra time since you never know what the traffic will be like. It was a perfect day and we saw more than we had ever hoped to. Today's cost was 420 Euros for the 6 of us not including admissions and lunch which was very reasonable. Claudio drove up to Florence to pick us up for the tour there the next day. Tuesday, Livorno Again Claudio was waiting at 8 AM and whisked us off to Pisa. We were here before anyone else and had time for a few pictures and a bit of shopping. We were then off to Florence which took about an hour to get to. First we stopped at the Piazza Michelangelo for a great view of Florence and the Arno River. We then went to Church of Santa Croce where Michelangelo is buried and had some free time to shop a bit. We saw S. Maria del Fiore and the bell tower. We had reservations at 12 for the Academia and saw the spectacular statue of David without any wait at all. It was everything I expected, a true masterpiece. We went to a restaurant, Nuti, off the square and although service was erratic and slow our meal was good. We did have some more time after lunch to stroll the open street vendors. We then went to the Palazzo Vecchio and Ponte Vecchio. We had some more free time here and left Florence a little after 4 for our trip back to the ship. Claudio was a great guide and a very nice man. He was very knowledgeable, intelligent and informative. He gave us just enough information without overwhelming us. He made these two days one of the highlights of the trip. We were all very pleased with him and highly recommend him. The cost for today was 480 Euros without admissions. Dinner tonight featured King Crab legs that were out of this world! Wednesday, Monaco After reading much info on Cruise Critic we decided to explore on our own here. We walked up the steps (over 200!) and enjoyed the spectacular views. Someone told us there was an elevator but we didn't find it. When at the top we bought tickets for the tram ride but first we went to watch the Changing of the Guard (unremarkable) and then toured the Palace (wonderful). The tram ride was a great overview of the city and was well worth it. It was a great way to see the city. We really enjoyed it here but after our three full days of touring were happy to get back to the ship and relax a bit on our balcony. Tonight was another Lobster tail dinner. They were excellent and done to perfection. Thursday, Barcelona We were up early so we could enjoy our last morning aboard the ship. We went back to our favorite spot on the Sport Deck; it was again empty and we spent some time reading and enjoying the hot tub. We arrived in Barcelona around noon. We waited and got off the ship around 1. We had to wait quite a while (½ hour) for a shuttle to take us to town. When we got off the shuttle we saw the Bus Tourista and got on for a trip around the Blue route and then got on the Red route bus. We got off at Sagrada Familia and this was well worth seeing and truly extraordinary. My one complaint would be that the bus is really just a means of transportation. They do not give you any info about the sites you are seeing and all the descriptions are doe in Spanish. We were lucky and arrived at Sagrada Familia just as an English tour was beginning so we got to learn a great deal about Gaudi and his remarkable style of architecture. We truly enjoyed this. We got off the bus at Las Rambles and walked back to the shuttle to take us to the ship. I was sorry that I had not arranged a private tour in Barcelona but I had read that it was completely doable on your own. Yes, it was easy to get around but I don't feel that I really learned anything about Barcelona except for what I saw at Sagrada Familia. I definitely would recommend some type of tour here if you want to learn about the history of Barcelona and appreciate this beautiful city. We didn't get back to the ship until almost 8 PM and had to really rush to make dinner. Friday Disembarkation We had a flight at 10:40 AM and were told to be ready to disembark between 7:15 and 8:00 AM. We went up for Breakfast at the buffet. This was our first breakfast here as we used room service every day for breakfast. We were called to disembark around 7:30 and were able to locate our luggage immediately. It was all together which was very nice. We got right on a bus and were taken to Barcelona airport within 25 minutes. This was such a smooth and well organized disembarkation. There were no lines at the airport when we got there. We were again fortunate enough to get an Emergency Row exit and our flight again was wonderful and on time. Even arriving in JFK was stress free. We were off the plane, got our luggage and were through customs in less than ½ hour! What a wonderful vacation. I am already staring to do research and plan what we want to do next summer. I really appreciated all the advice I received from CC. The helpful suggestions and tips really made our trip one to remember in every way. I think Princess does an excellent job and I would be more than happy to cruise with them again. I also took the advice from this board and made an open ended reservation for a future cruise. It is a no loose situation and something I would never have thought about had I not read it here. There were over 600 children on this cruise and you would never know it. Of course, we don't go to the main pool with music that tends to attract the kids, so that might have been why. We also enjoy sitting on our balcony and use that area a great deal especially in the late afternoon. We ate all our breakfasts out there and room service was reliable, on time and very good. We just love having our coffee outside each morning .There was a nice mixture of nationalities on board. There seemed to be a lot of people from United Kingdom as this was their holiday time. Everyone we met was friendly and pleasant. We had some nice lunches in the dining room (open seating) with some interesting people from many different places. At first I thought this would not be a good time to cruise because of the heat and the crowds. It turned out that many parts of Italy were less crowded now since many of the shops close for their vacations during this time. It worked out to be a good time to tour and the weather was just wonderful too. My only regret is that I didn't have the time to shop that I would have liked to especially in Rome. We were on such a whirlwind tour though there really wasn't time to do anymore than we did. It was the trip of a lifetime and we were so fortunate to have experienced it all. Read Less
Sail Date August 2004
We are, or were, first time cruisers and did not know what to expect. The Star Princess Greek Isles trip April 10-22 was a dream. The Star Princess was a beautiful ship and as everyone has mentioned, despite the number of people on the ... Read More
We are, or were, first time cruisers and did not know what to expect. The Star Princess Greek Isles trip April 10-22 was a dream. The Star Princess was a beautiful ship and as everyone has mentioned, despite the number of people on the ship, it never felt crowded. The only time we ever felt like we were in somewhat of a crowd was occasionally in the evenings on the Promenade Deck. Horizon Court would also get a bit crowded at peak times, but not enough so that you couldn't get your food and find a place to sit and eat. The Fitness Center and jogging track were impossible to use in the early morning, our preferred time to work out, so we just decided to let all the walking in port be our exercise for the trip. I guess the fitness facilities were the only areas I really felt were not designed to handle the number of people on the boat. We thought the food was excellent for having to feed that many people. Naturally there were a few selections that were so-so, but also many selections that were very good. We loved the freedom of Personal Choice and the 24-hour food at Horizon Court, especially the constant selection of freshly cut fruit. What a treat! We were able to eat on very odd schedules, which suited us just fine. We only ate in the dining rooms for dinner a few times during the cruise, and only once for breakfast. Never having experienced traditional dining, we found the different tablemates and servers to be just fine, and enjoyed meeting different people. The entertainment on board was constant and covered the entire spectrum. I was amazed at the variety of activities they had going on. The production shows with their singers and dancers were quite good, but we found some of the other acts to be more mediocre. Our favorites were the mock game shows put on by the cruise director's staff - always very funny. The public rooms of the Star Princess are all nicely appointed, and always very clean. We enjoyed the low-key, elegant atmosphere of the ship. The only wear and tear noticeable to me was the worn carpet that pervaded the ship. Otherwise, everything looked very well maintained. One of our favorite spots was Skywalker's - day or night. Loved the atmosphere and views from up there. The indoor pool was popular, and was actually the only one I saw being used on our cruise. Of course it really wasn't warm enough yet to use the outdoor pools. The hot tubs also seemed quite popular, though there were so many of them spread around, it seemed you could usually find a deserted one if you were willing to go the distance. With the breezes and it still being April, the decks were not really used all that much from what I could tell. We certainly did not feel the temps were comfortable enough for lounging outside. We had a balcony cabin more aft on the Baja Deck and it suited us just fine. It was certainly bigger than many hotel rooms I've had in Europe. The balcony was roomy enough for our needs - a table and two chairs and we thoroughly enjoyed the views from the balcony. I've never cruised before but I probably would not be able to do so again without the balcony. We woke up each morning in a new port and it was so fun to jump out of bed and see where you were. Then, when exhausted after our day in port, we could relax and enjoy the sail away from the balcony without having to move our tired bodies somewhere else. Our cabin steward, Jaime, was great and kept the place spotless. The only negative we had on the room was that twice during the cruise a horrible sewage smell permeated the cabin. We determined it was coming from the air vent and that was a bit disturbing. Thankfully it didn't last too long and only happened twice while we were in the room. The reason we picked this cruise was because of the time of year and the itinerary of the cruise, and it all exceeded expectations. The ports were not too overly crowded for the most part (Venice being the exception, but it was also Easter weekend when we were there) and the weather was perfect for site seeing - mostly right around 60 with a breeze. Except in Venice, Athens and Rome, we were also the only cruise ship docked at the ports, and I imagine that changes during the summer with more cruises in the Mediterranean. A brief remark on each port: Venice - Venice was beautiful as always and the sail away is not to be missed. It was awfully crowded for Easter weekend when we were there with long lines for all the sites. We paid the $10 per person for unlimited use of the shuttle to and from the Star Princess to San Marco Square. We arrived via a bus from the airport at Piazzale Roma and tried to walk to the boat but could not find the way. We ended up taking a taxi for the 5 min. ride. I think it cost maybe 10 Euros. Dubrovnik - One of our favorites of all the ports of call on this cruise. The medieval walled city is picture-perfect. Transportation from the port was a bit interesting. We ended up paying the $10 per person for the cruise-arranged bus. It may have been walkable, but the bus trip took 20 minutes. Corfu - We walked the two miles from the ship to Corfu Town and spent the day there and walked back. Taxis were available but no bus. Katakolon - We did a shore excursion to Olympia and enjoyed the guided tour and not having to worry about transportation to Olympia - about a 30-40min. drive from Katakolon. Piraeus (Athens) - We also did a shore excursion, though I've been to Athens and Piraeus before and had no problems getting back and forth. We wanted the guided tour of the Acropolis and Athens. Traffic was awful and we ended up spending a lot of time in traffic. Perhaps that could have been avoided with public transportation? Mykonos - It was very windy the day we were in Mykonos. It was about a 30 min. walk from the dock to the town. There was a cruise-arranged bus available and just a very few taxis. Since we didn't try to go to Delos, we didn't spend much time on shore in Mykonos. Walked around the town, enjoyed a cafe for a spell and walked back to the ship. Kusadasi - We did a shore excursion to Ephesus and had an absolutely wonderful guide. She really made the ancient city come alive. It was a half-day excursion and so we had the afternoon for shopping and walking around in Kusadasi. The boat docks basically right in the town, so it is easy access to everything. The vendors seemed desperate for the tourist $ and since we were pretty much the only game in town, there was a lot of yelling to get you in their shops. Security was very tight for the entire cruise, and the only visible difference I noticed in Kusadasi was a police boat, which patrolled around the ship while we were in port. As in all ports we had to pass both our person and bags through x-rays and dock access was limited. No one needed a visa for Turkey. Rhodes - Rhodes Town is charming and the boat docked close enough so it was an easy walk to the old town. There was a bus station in town, just outside the old city walls, with local buses to Lindos. It was Sunday and they were not running very often and unfortunately we felt it was too late in the day by the time we got there to try and get to Lindos. I saw a sign saying a taxi to Lindos was 30 Euros. Santorini - This was another of our favorites. Such a beautiful island, and so dramatic with the calderas and towns perched on the edge of the cliff. This was the only port where tenders were required. We found that whole process to be very smooth and didn't have to wait at all to get on one. We took a local bus out to Akrotiri, but unfortunately had not done our homework and it was closed for all of April. We ended up riding around with some friends from the ship in the car they rented for the day. I think it cost them $25 to rent it for the day. Day at Sea - and boy were we ready for it! We ran into a storm that evening after passing through the Strait of Messina. I guess the swells were 8-12ft. Though the boat was rocking a bit, I did not think the motion was bad at all. And this is coming from a person who has been seasick before and who vowed never to let that happen again! I did not take any medication or anything and did not feel sick in the least. Mostly I didn't think you felt much motion on the boat. Generally I could tell we were on a boat when we were at sea, but there wasn't much rocking. More of a steady vibration I guess. Naples - We walked about 20-30 min. or so from the dock in Naples to the train station and caught the train to Pompeii Scavi. As it said in my guidebook - Naples is not for pedestrians and it was not the most pleasant walk, but the price was right. Once at Pompeii we got in with a small group and local tour guide. I don't know if he was an official tour guide or not, but he took us to the highlights of Pompeii and at least seemed to know the basics of what we were seeing. Because Pompeii is so massive, it was helpful to have him take us to the more major sites and then we spent another hour or so exploring on our own which worked out perfectly for us. I have to say, having visited Pompeii around the same time of year about 10 years ago; I was amazed at the number of people. Maybe we lucked out before, but 10 years ago we had the place to ourselves. Not this time - and the crowds weren't from the cruise ship. It seemed to mostly be school groups. Civitavecchia (Rome) - We arrived at 4am and our color/letter assignment was called at 7:30am. We walked the 30min. to the train station, which even with our rolling suitcases wasn't too bad of a walk (it was probably 30 min. because we had our luggage to slow us down). Otherwise there were some taxis available. We were in Rome by 10am and had the whole day before us with our flight home not until 10:30 that night. We had just been in Rome a few months before so we had seen all the sites and so spent our day revisiting a few of our favorites and enjoying the fabulous weather and a good book on a park bench in Villa Borghese. All in all it was a fabulous cruise. The only negative, and I shouldn't even call it a negative, just a possible improvement I guess, is that Princess really didn't make an effort to provide any local culture. Some Greek specialties in the dining room, or some Greek folk dancing, etc. would have added to the whole experience. But that probably also adds to the price. Definitely a vacation to remember and hopefully we'll be doing another cruise one of these days. As cruise director Tim Donovan was apt to say, it was a "cracking" time. Read Less
Sail Date April 2004
Star Princess Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabin 4.0 N/A
Dining 4.0 3.9
Entertainment 3.0 3.7
Public Rooms 4.0 4.2
Fitness & Recreation 4.0 N/A
Family 4.0 3.8
Shore Excursions 4.0 N/A
Enrichment Activities 4.0 N/A
Service 4.0 4.2
Value for Money 4.0 N/A

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