This is my second cruise with Princess and third overall. I cruised Princess two years ago (Sapphire) and had some serious issues with wheelchair accessibility. Based on Princess indicating that was not the norm and the rave reviews of ... Read More
This is my second cruise with Princess and third overall. I cruised Princess two years ago (Sapphire) and had some serious issues with wheelchair accessibility. Based on Princess indicating that was not the norm and the rave reviews of those on this forum, I figured that I would try it again, given that they had such a superior itinerary to any other carrier (Glacier Bay, specifically). I couldn't have been more wrong.
I don't want to get in to a long and drawn out explanation here, but I will simply say that if you are in a wheelchair and would like to function with some degree of independence, this ship is going to present some real challenges for you. First, the balcony ramp design is grossly flawed. The first issue is that the ramp going to the balcony was not wheelchair accessible unless I would get someone to help me. There was a metal bar on the ramp that had to be manually pushed down to mitigate the gap between the two ramps and that bar had to be pushed up to be able to close the door. It took until Monday at 3pm until this issue was finally resolved (A ramp was installed that didn't have this metal flap/bar). It is mind boggling to even think about what Princess was thinking when they designed this. There were also some serious issues with the bathroom setup, which I was told was "by design." After two days of back and forth, I finally told them to forget it as they couldn't come up with a solution. It made for an uncomfortable trip. There are also significant thresholds on many entrance ways that you will have to take on with care. You will also need to be strong to wheel through some really tough spots in the carpet where it is extremely thick and hard to wheel. You will also encounter a challenge in getting out to the Promenade deck due to big lips/thresholds on the ramps. It really is a challenge. If you aren't going to have any assistance, I'd advise to avoid the Star Princess. The Princess attitude on this seems to be "Just ask a crew member for help," but I don't want to constantly have to ask for help. I want to be able to do it on my own.
We also requested that our Mom be delivered balloons and a Happy Anniversary (for her 41st) card/sign. This wasn't done. When I called at 3pm the day of the anniversary, we were told it would be taken care of. It wasn't done before dinner (5:30pm) but when she got back to her cabin at 8pm, she had balloons and a "Happy Birthday" sign when it was her anniversary. Unlike the accessibility stuff, this is a really straight forward request that shouldn't have been messed up.
As far as service, we found that some staff members (Hilario and his assistant Angelito and Dejan and his assistant Nikola in the dining room) (Cabin Stewards Edgar and Roderick were also excellent) were terrific while others weren't particularly helpful.
Regarding food, I would say that it all depends on your point of comparison. If you come from a big city (NYC, DC, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Los Angeles etc.), it isn't 4 or 5 star restaurant quality food. It is probably more like 3 star quality of food. Some things were very good (Goat Cheese Souffle) while others (Gnocchi) were very poor. With that being said, if quantity is your thing, you will like this cruise. There are tons of places to get food.
On the Alaska side, Alaska was just awesome. We flew in to Anchorage, took the Alaska railroad to Whittier, and then embarked there. The embarkation process wasn't too bad. Hubbard Glacier was incredible as was Glacier Bay National Park. Whale watching (done through an outside vendor) in Juneau was amazing (Got to see Orcas). In Skagway, we did the free ranger guided tour, which was just okay. We also did Jewell Gardens glass blowing experience, which we enjoyed (Also booked that outside of Princess). In Ketchikan, we did the Misty Fjords cruise through Princess and found it disappointing in that there was so much travel (1-1.5 hours each way) that we didn't get to enjoy the Fjords or wildlife (Harbor Seals) as much as we would have liked. Three hours of travel on a 4.5 trip makes for a less than interesting adventure. We also didn't get back to the ship as the tour was 30 minutes late until 20 minutes after the all aboard time, but we were fortunate that this was a Princess excursion so they were aware that the tour was running late. We disembarked in Vancouver, which was complete chaos. It is probably the worst I have seen on a Princess ship. In Vancouver, you will be asked for your Passport about 6 times and I would plan on getting there a good two hours before your flight. It was a complete mad house at the airport. As far as food at the Vancouver Airport, Tim Horton's was the best bet, in our view. It is reasonably priced for the airport and the food was fresh and pretty decent (for airport food).
As far as entertainment, some activities were interesting (Trivia) while others (the shows) seemed really geared to the older crowd (Lots of old songs). We all felt that the offerings as far as entertainment are concerned were really limited. On a previous cruise, the naturalist had a bunch of presentations on what kind of wildlife one might expect to see and where they might see it. That wasn't done on this cruise. It was odd because on previous cruises these events drew a full house in the theater. On this cruise (as far as the naturalist goes), there was a seminar on the sounds sea creatures make, an informal Q&A, and a seminar on creatures after dark (which I didn't attend).
As a wheelchair bound individual, I won't be using Princess again after having two bad cruise experiences. The company's approach to accessibility is really flawed in my opinion. I would heartily recommend a cruise to Alaska though (with another line). Princess gets a 2/10 and Alaska gets a 10/10 from me. Read Less