From the Norman Love truffle pops at the Welcome Toast to the restaurant-like beverage service in the buffet, Princess is filled with surprises that make it my favorite among the mass market cruise lines.
It won’t blow you away with bumper cars or carousels, but what it does deliver is consistently solid service, attention to detail and an eagerness to please.
The recent trip on the Caribbean Princess, our fourth on the line, proved to be as good as the first. With many of the lines noticeably scaling back, Princess is an exception. Here’s some of what made it special:
Ship shape. Princess’ mini-suite is ideal for those who want more space but not at a suite price. It’s essentially the size of a hotel room with two flat screen TVs, a full-sized couch, large counter, and porch furniture featuring reclining chairs, foot stools and a large table. The closets in the mini-suites%u2014as well as the balcony rooms%u2014are the largest we’ve had on any cruise line, and can accommodate three hanging shoe bags, along with a whole lot of clothes.
The staterooms%u2014as well as the public rooms%u2014were immaculate. You’d really have to look hard tofind any evidence that the ship was built 11 years ago.
The piazza, the hub of ship activity, this trip featured a pianist, a we-can-play-just-about-anything band and singer, steel drums and a former circus performer who twirled lighted hoops in a blaze of color and grace.
The only downside to the handsome piazza is that it can’t always accommodate everyone who wants to be there. Getting a good enough view to take photos of the Mardi Gras party or a seat to eat your International Café quiche can sometimes be all but impossible.
Food; themed and otherwise. Speaking of food, it ranged from fair to good, in both the Main Dining Room and Horizon Court buffet. One innovation in the MDR was Caribbean cuisine, a welcome reminder of where we were. And it was nice to see lobster tail still on the formal night menu.
Horizon Court themed nights were a lot of fun and we found ourselves there more than the MDR. German night was alight with a color-changing, larger-than-life beer stein (in ice, not on ice), landjagger bites and German hams, pretzel rolls, red cabbage, sausages, and linzer and sacher tortes. Italian night, with its gondolier-costumed waiters, served up prosciutto and hunks of parmesan, fennel au gratin and pasta many ways.
The bakery stuff is where Princess really excels. The breads are great%u2014from the sunflower-studded rolls to the cheese-topped croissants to the onion-infused focaccia. The chocolate desserts were excellent, rivaling some of the best bakeries on land.
The ship was as generous with its buffet hours as it was with the food offerings. You can get breakfast until 11:30, lunch until 3:30 (if you miss this, there’s “afternoon snack” from 3:30-5:30, which is a scaled down lunch), and full dinner is available until 11. Late dining was an especially mellow meal, just us, a few other night owls and the crew.
Fun and games. While standard fare, the entertainment was generally good; highlights were a juggler/comedian whose not-G-rated shtick brought on belly laughs, and a magician/comedian with same-but-different sleight-of-hand tricks and fast wit.
In fact, everyone seemed to be a comedian on this trip%u2014including the cruise director, Paul Chandler-Burns. The Brit’s quips shot out like sparks%u2014in an understated, under-the-breath sort of way%u2014and made him the ideal emcee. His banter during the “The Marriage Match Game Show” made it easily one of the best we’ve seen on any ship.
There were several themed parties, the most memorable was the “Love Boat Disco Deck Party” held by the pool. The ship’s singers and dancers, dressed officer-like in white pants suits and captain hats, did the hustle and other moves, while the Movie Under the Stars screen revived scenes from the TV show, interspersing its octogenarian cast members somewhat disconcertedly jiving to a disco beat.
Well served. Service onboard was attentive from the room steward to the well-orchestrated disembarkation. Ironically, some of the best service we had was in the buffet. One night, I was asked by three different waiters within 10 minutes if I wanted any water or coffee.
With the generous room space, great service, varied entertainment with plenty of laughs, satisfying food sprinkled with surprises, and four good Western Caribbean ports (seven days of sun didn’t hurt either), we felt gloriously pampered from ship to shore. And felt that Princess did its best%u2014and succeeded%u2014in helping us “come back new.”
This was our 2nd time on this ship and our 10th cruise overall. We previously sailed on her in 2004. We booked B749 cabin with an extended balcony overlooking the wake. The best cabin we ever had. We stayed the previous night at the Hyatt Regency Pier 66 which was very close to the cruise terminal. We had booked a Jr executive suite in the tower on the 7th floor with views to ocean and cruise terminal. Hotel was pretty good and we had zero complaints.
The next morning we woke up around 6am only to see the ship already docked and some others coming in as well. It was pretty cool to watch! We checked out at 11am and took a very short cab ride with another family to the cruise terminal <7$> was the fare. Check in procedures was pretty easy and everyone was friendly. Now Princess only lets people onboard when cabins are ready. We entered the ship around noon and went straight to our cabin. The cabin was spotless and our very friendly cabin steward greeted us. We gave her a small tip up front andwe always got treated by her like royalty and she kept our cabin in great shape.
Once we entered our cabin we called the desk to make reservations for Sabatini's and also a balcony dinner the following night. We are not too fond of buffet food in general and we don't mind spending a little extra on better food. We toured the spa and inquired about the spa schedule. We did not book anything and received a rather cold shoulder from the sales rep after that. We never went back for that very reason. We stopped at the buffet and the lines were super long. I did not liked the food at all.
It was better then our previous cruise on Royal Caribbean The Jewel of the Seas for sure but still mediocre. We found the International Café where we purchased a coffee card for $30 and it was in our opinion well worth it. Also purchased for 20$ a soda card which gave us a coca cola cup but we only drink club soda but it suited us well. The International Café also served pastries and cold foods and hot croissants and we really liked the place A place to have our coffee was at times difficult to find and the seats are not compfy at all.
Which brings me to our balcony. Seats are small and a small very ghetto looking plastic table. We had coffee on our balcony every morning and it was not easy to balance this small table with our coffee and sometimes a muffin. We had requested a lounge chair but did not get one. Anyways the muster drill went fast and efficient no complaints. Our dinner at night was disappointing and I advise future cruiser to skip it. Nothing remotely outstanding or worth writing about.
The following day we stayed at the aft pool pretty much all day. We had breakfast in our cabin and during the day grabbed coffee and something small from the crowded buffet lines. We played scrabble by the pool deck and enjoyed the sun. Our balcony dinner was $100 total and worth the event. Food again wasn't the greatest but the event was romantic and the waiter very well trained and did an awesome job spoiling us. My steak was totally undercooked and had to be sent to be redone. Lobster in my opinion was too chewy as well. But we loved the event and would do it again.
The following day we docked in Grand Turks and we got off the ship and rented a moped and explored the Island on our own. We found a secluded beach and stayed there for about 3 hrs and just swam or sun tanned, it felt like paradise. On our way back entering the cruise area they had many shopping stores and also a pool area with bar. But we did not explore it and went back on the ship to our aft pool lol. That night we ate in the anytime dining room. We had some nice table mates and the evening was lovely. We ordered a nice bottle of wine with our dinner as well. Again food was okay but nothing special. For the following evening we decided to see if we could get a table at the Steakhouse but it was fully booked. We tried several times and finally they squeezed us in and for a surcharge we dined on some great food. The waiter let us wait 20 min before asking us if we wanted anything to drink and he brought us our wine from the following night and seltzer water. Service was terrible but the food outstanding. It truly was delicious and highly recommend to eat there.
The power went off on the entire ship the last evening and the person speaking on the intercom was very confusing. Back up power came back and the entire event only lasted for maybe 30 min? We did not watch any shows or attended any kind of events. The Sanctuary was something I wanted to do but the place looked very worn and frankly old fashioned.
The furniture is totally out of style so we decided to just hang out by the aft pool which btw is an adult only area. We did see a few kids but they left in a hurry when told it was an adult only area. The pool lounge chairs are not very comfortable and wish they would change that. Overall we thought most of the staff had an attitude and was not very friendly. We heard this from several other cruisers as well. I could not for the life of me get a muffin toasted from the gal that made toast at the buffet. She had a terrible attitude as well. We also noticed a lot of staff having language issues. This being said we encountered some very friendly staff and our room attendant was the best we ever had.
We booked a Everglades airboat ride after the cruise and this little event went very well. By 9am we left the ship and headed to a bus to drive to the Everglades. Afterwards it brought us to the Ft Lauderdale airport. Overall the cruise was nice and we would do it again. Ship was in pretty good shape and clean. I am cruising again for 13 days in June on the Star Princess Alaska land/sea tour. I am looking forward to another great cruise!
This is a review of the Princess CruiseTour we took May 31 â€“ June 14, 2014. The selected tour was a 7-day â€œOff The Beaten Pathâ€ land tour followed by a southbound â€œVoyage of the Glaciersâ€ on Coral Princess. The selected tour punched our three buttons; Denali National Park, Alaska Railroad and Kenai Peninsula. A similar tour was offered as a Connoisseur tour. We decided the amenities offered were not worth the additional expense.
The travelers were my wife and I (mid 50s) and two friends (mid 60s.) This would our first CruiseTour experience. My wife and I were embarking on our fourth Princess cruise, eleventh overall. Our friends were experiencing their first cruise.
Overall impressions: Four thumbs up. I am so glad we went to Alaska and spent the time we did on land. Of the land based lodges our favorite was Keani. The best overall experience was at Denali lodge and then the train trip between Denali and Talkeetna. Wish we had given ourselves a little more time to go into Fairbanks. Seemed like there was much to see there and we were too tired to take advantage of it. They toldus there were such things as â€œsunsetâ€ and â€œsunriseâ€ which may be true but it never really got dark, even when overcast, while with we in the Alaskan mainland. We did see dark again while cruising the inside passage.
A word about logistics: We arrived at Fairbanks airport, collected our luggage (at least most of it) and reported to the Princess table next to the baggage claim. We were given an envelope with our room key, luggage tags, and information regarding our stay in Fairbanks. The information sheet had our room number, information about the lodge â€“ map and restaurant hours â€“ and information regarding booked tours, as well as meeting information for our next destination. While the key looks generic it is specific to each lodge, so leave them behind you.
The luggage tags included a â€œmeet me on boardâ€ tag for a suitcase that would be transported directly to the ship, and a â€œtravel with meâ€ tag for a large bag that would be moved from location to location. There was also a separate tag indicating our next location. As we arrived at each lodge we were met by a Princess employee with similar envelopes containing lodge information and luggage tags for the next destination. (I assume for post-cruse tours you receive your info for your first stop either at embarkation or arrival at the lodge.)
I think this is going to be wordy. I have divided the review into four sections; Lodges, Land Activities, Coral Princes, and Bays and Ports. Feel free to skip past sections that are not of interest to you.
Each lodge had at least a coffee bar of some sort, a casual-ish bar
We just returned from a week aboard the Caribbean Princess and must say we had a very good trip. This is our third cruise aboard this vessel and for being almost ten years old, it is in real good shape. There was some rust and wear and tear here and there,but that is to be expected. They will be relocating after this week's cruise to Europe. We saw a carpet installation company aboard replacing all of the outdoor carpet. But I give them credit since they only worked in a small area at a time.
We never had a problem with finding a deck chair. Except around the pools which happens on every cruise. Of course we saw towels on almost every chair by 6:00 am and nobody around until hours later. It would be nice if Princess enforced their no saving chair policy.
This is the first cruise in years where we had to turn the a/c down in our stateroom to keep from freezing to death,it worked great. We had cabin R524, close to all.
Princess Cay was nice, but do they really need to charge for everything! $5.00 torent a noodle float that probably cost Princess less than a dollar. We enjoyed Curacao, but it was very overpriced in all the stores and even outdoor vendors. Plus getting in so late made it hard to really enjoy the island. Aruba was great and we went into the downtown area and had a very nice day, away from the cruise crowd.
We tried the anytime dining room 1 time during the week and then just ate in the buffet the rest. We have a hard time sitting there for a hour and a half to have dinner, seemed like it took 10-15 minutes to get anything. The buffet food was better than average and the desserts were very good, compared to our last cruise aboard Carnival where everything was tasteless and plain. Their 24hr pizza was really good and the special order room service pizza was fantastic. I believe it had a $3.00 extra charge and then the tip, but well worth it for an entire pizza to enjoy on your balcony.
I hate to say it but the shows put on by the ships dancers and singers were very poor, only cruise where the theater was only half full and people left during the show. The special one time shows featuring the comedian and the magic/illusions was standing room only and well worth the wait.
Our only real complaint would be with the spa. My husband and I always pay for the thermal package and use it several times a day. During the week the mild steam room only worked 2 days and the aromatherapy room was so overpowering that it was hard to stay in there more than a minute or two. Then the steam rooms in the mens/ women locker rooms never really got hot like they should have.
Getting off the ship at the end of the week could not have been easier. We always travel light with just 2 small rollon cases and we got off and thru customs in about 10 min. A word of advice to everyone paying for the bus transfer to the airport, its only 5 miles away and much cheaper and faster to take a taxi. We always go that way and never have a problem with finding another couple to share the taxi and cost. So in closing I'll say it was well worth it and will be trying the new Royal Princess in July, can't wait!. But before that we will be aboard the Allure of the Seas in three weeks and will report on that cruise when we get back. Happy cruising to all out there!!!!!!
Princess Cruises Caribbean Princess by Eileen Flynn Bermuda October 27, 2012
My husband and I are east coast residents and we believed the weather reports issued from October 24 to October 27 and so did not board the Caribbean Princess in Red Hook, Brooklyn on 10/27 for a 4-day cruise. We are senior citizens who laid out $3,400 to celebrate our 45th wedding anniversary in style. We also consider ourselves reasonable people whose reluctance to embark upon a dangerous voyage would be respected by Princess Cruise lines. Our expectation was that Princess would refund our fare, and, failing that, would at least credit us with a future cruise. We learned to our dismay that Princess Cruises holds to the fine print on its contracts and, even in the face of an approaching super storm that was 1,000 miles wide and held the lowest barometric reading ever recorded, does not give an inch.
My attempt to reason with Customer Service prior to the cruise was futile. A few calls from our travel agent to the cruise line yielded nothing. Dispute resolution through the credit card company was fruitless. The bottom line from Princess: CM(Card Member) needs to learn a lesson; purchase travel insurance next time. Enlisting Carnival Cruise executives to assist was useless. (Carnival is the parent company.) The lesson here is not to buy travel insurance; it is not to travel on a ship owned by Carnival.
Instead of the celebratory bottle of champagne we were promised on our way to Bermuda, we have been left with a bitter taste. Do we regret that we did not board the boat to get our money's worth? Not in the least. Our car would have been ruined. The pier flooded with several feet of water. The ship limped into Boston on Sunday night, after cruising in gale force winds. There were no shore excursions in Boston because the city was under a state of emergency. The waters were so rough in the port that the ship came close to coming off its berth. Scheduled arrival in NYC on 1/31 did not happen because stormy seas coupled with closed ports kept the ship in Boston. When the ship finally arrived in NYC on Friday evening passengers had to disembark in the dark. This would have literally been a nightmare scenario for my husband and me given vision deficiencies and night blindness.
Had Princess administration heeded the warnings of meteorologists and municipal authorities, as my husband and I did, they would not have known in advance the specific horrors that befell cruise passengers, but they would have known that they were taking a huge risk with peoples' safety and that terrible things were definitely in store for Voyage B237..
What we regret is that a company as large and powerful as Carnival Cruise lines, which owns Princess, and that the subsidiary Princess Cruise can be so callous and unyielding. In its advisories on the ill-fated voyage the word "unprecedented" was used; this usage is appropriate given the fact that Hurricane Sandy was the most devastating storm to ever hit the northeast. Unprecedented situations call for consideration to passengers like us; we are active older people who are not thrill seekers. We heed warnings and come inside in thunder storms; we evacuate when municipal authorities tell us to leave in advance of hurricanes. We are the market to whom the cruise lines direct their advertising dollars. Is the bad publicity that they generate from the way they treat people like us worth it? No way!
Princess Cruises Caribbean Princess by George British Isles & Ireland June 7, 2012
I recently travelled with my wife on a Princess cruise to the United Kingdom. It began in Southampton and was supposed to go around Ireland, Liverpool, Scotland and one stop in France. This trip was meant to be a celebratory trip for our 35th wedding anniversary.
There were countless delays. First, boarding the ship on embarkation day. The ship failed a security test, and then there were mechanical issues. Passengers were stuck at the cruise terminal for hours waiting without enough food. Once the ship passed another security test, the cleaning staff were delayed with the staterooms, so we could not enter our rooms. The dining rooms were chaotic as everyone was very hungry after waiting for about 4 hours in the cruise terminal.
The ship did not end up leaving Southampton until 24 hours after the original departure time. We were unsure how this would affect the itinerary, and passengers were not updated very quickly. People were walking around the ship complaining about sitting and not actually cruising, and not knowing what was going on. The next morning (two days afterdisembarkation), we were told that Liverpool (our only stop in England) was going to be cancelled. They should have cancelled Guernsey or Cobh instead. This opinion was voiced by many, many people onboard.
The food was fine (as it should be for the price). Nothing excellent. Entertainment staff continually made jokes about other cruise lines. Holland America was particularly picked on, which is ironic considering we had a MUCH more enjoyable time with that company and not a single complaint. The service from waiters and room stewards was great. Because passengers were on the ship much more than expected with cancellations and delays with the ports, the staff was unable to have the breaks they were entitled to. Other passengers were also taking out their frustration on the stewards, which we thought was so unfair.
If you do go with Princess, be aware that their shore excursions are extremely overpriced. This information is not made clear ahead of time, and they have strict rules about cancellation. One trip in Greenock cost us $140 (for two people) to simply get a ride into Glasgow. We later found out that if we had done it independently, it would have only cost $30 together. We found out in time to cancel our trip in Invergordon (which cost $110) and paid $40 for the both of us to get a ride into Inverness AND shown Loch Ness.
The weather was not great throughout the trip, but that should be expected in the United Kingdom. In Edinburgh, the weather was so poor that we were told we would be unable to tender into the port. This was a huge disappointment on top of the already cancelled Liverpool. What annoyed us, however, was that the decision was made by 7:30am when the weather could have improved in an hour or two. As a result, we had another day at sea. We got very restless and bored with the options available on the ship. We were continually thanked for our understanding, which obviously was not the case.
The night before disembarkation, we put our luggage outside of our stateroom. The morning of disembarkation, there were further delays. We left the ship nearly an hour later, and were rushed when claiming our luggage in the terminal. My wife's bag (which was bought specifically for this trip) had been badly damaged, and she was missing some possessions. There was no one around to speak to about this due to the rush. If staff had 12+ hours to transport a regular suitcase from the stateroom to the terminal, there is no reason for so much damage to the luggage. Because we were late leaving the ship, many passengers were worried about missing their flights from London (about a two hour drive from Southampton where the ship was). It was a very stressful morning and very disorganized. The staff seemed more concern with preparations for the next group of passengers than those they already had. As "compensation" (offered after Liverpool was cancelled at the beginning of the trip), they offered everyone onboard a "gesture of goodwill" in the form of $75 onboard credit. Quite frankly, this amount was insulting. My wife and I chose this specific trip to see Liverpool, Dublin and Edinburgh. All in all, we saw one out of three ports we really cared to see. We could have easily taken a trip around Alaska for a MUCH lower cost.
When we returned home, we tried to file a claim for compensation by detailing all these issues. We were immediately and flatly denied any form of compensation. Princess is not a company that cares about customer satisfaction. They rely entirely on their passenger contract and care nothing about a truly enjoyable travel experience.
Even with the baggage damage and lost property, we were offered nothing. The Princess passenger contract outlines that passengers are entitled to a maximum of $250 for these issues. We were given the run-around between Princess departments over the phone. We were assigned a particular compensation advisor and she was the one who initially denied us. We tried to speak with someone at the Property Claims Department and they told us they could do nothing as the compensation advisor had put a note on our file that we had been denied for any form of compensation. When we approached her following that, she said that we must not have called them (essentially saying we were making this up) and that we should fill out a "Missing/Damaged Luggage Report Form" which says on the first line "This request form does not constitute a claim against Princess Cruises." After three emails back and forth, she simply ignored our messages.
We are beyond disappointed with our travel experience with Princess. These feelings were compounded with the customer service experience we had after. We asked for a credit to use towards a future Princess cruise as form of compensation, which would have ensured we would be on another Princess cruise and pay them even more money. This possibility was flatly denied. We will NEVER go with Princess again, nor will we recommend to anyone we know. We wish we had read other passengers' reviews before we booked our trip.
Princess Cruises Caribbean Princess by Trish New England June 22, 2011
BEWARE OF BOOKING WITH PRINCESS CRUISE LINES
We were booked on a New York to New York, New England cruise and wanted to get off in Rhode Island and visit with our friends as this was the last port before the end of the cruise which was the next day in New York.
We were told we were not allowed to and we would be fined $300.00 each plus $1,000.00 each, they claimed there were no immigration people to handle us which I told them can't be true as they have crew and entertainers leaving the ship constantly.
I suggested getting off in Boston in a larger port and they again said no way.
Yesterday Princess called us directly and told us we were not welcome on their ship and they would only refund our cruise costs nothing else, as they did not want us to talk to any other passengers and felt we would be a detriment to the ship.
We are Platnuim with Princess and do three to four cruises a year and have done over thirty cruises.
So please bewarebefore you book a Princess cruise Thank goodness there are other great cruise lines to choose from.
Remember the Jones Act that Princess likes to use.
Sincerely, A fellow world traveller
Princess Cruises Caribbean Princess by Marc Eastern Caribbean August 13, 2009
AVOID THIS CRUISE LINE AT ALL COSTS! The cruise we took was the worst vacation we have ever had. As experienced travelers and cruisers we had a good idea of what to expect. We were disappointed in almost every aspect of the cruise. One expects a certain amount of "nickel and diming" as that is the nature of cruises. But Princess takes this to a bizarre extreme. Every possible way to separate one from his or her money is exploited.
The ship is completely and totally overcrowded. There is no where to go and nothing to do without being crowded by other passengers. The dining rooms, the fitness center, the decks, the pools….everything was crowded. The anytime dining rooms had lines frequently an hour or more. In the buffet areas the dining areas were always full leaving no place to sit. Princess cruises staff actually took up tables while passengers had no where to sit.
Early in the morning passengers would spread towels on lounge chairs since if one waited until late morning there would be no available lounge chairs to use. Eventhough there are signs asking passengers not to reserve lounge chairs, this was never enforced. The pools were always packed, the adults only pools frequently had many children in them.
The staff seemed simply angry. From the cabin steward to the bar tenders to the front desk it was clear that they were overworked, mistreated, or just unhappy to be there. Our cabin steward was frequently AWOL. On more than one occasion we actually had to go to the front desk to request someone clean our room and bring some fresh towels. Our room was not clean when we arrived. My wife actually had to do cleaning in the bathroom area. The towel she used was filthy when she finished.
When calling for room service or any other service the phone would ring, on some occasions 20 times or more. Both times we ordered room service they said they were extremely busy and the service took over an hour. There was never a time when anything was done in a reasonable amount of time. The ship was too crowded.
There are many other examples of poor service and a lack of promised facilities. I rarely write reviews for cruises but in this case I wanted to warn those who may be contemplating booking a cruise with Princess. What is promised in their promotional material will not be delivered. You will spend far more money than you expect due to the extreme "nickel and diming" that is practiced by princess. You will receive poor service.
The food was ok, not great. Trying to get a table in the anytime dining rooms is impossible. Expect to wait in long lines. The buffet areas are so busy that it's very difficult to make ones way through. Fining a place to sit is also very difficult. If you’re expecting gourmet meals served by good waiters then you will be very disappointed. The cuisine is similar to what one would find in a chain restaurant. The service will be far less than one would expect.
We had a balcony stateroom on the Riviera deck. The room was small as one would expect. The balcony was small. There is a plastic pane that is about 4ft high. This piece of plastic was so filthy that one could not see through it. I requested that it be cleaned and was told that nothing could be done. I have been on other ships and this pane of plastic is cleaned each day.
The television would frequently lose its signal. The only stations that would be available were the ones that have promotional commercials. It was actually comical to see them trying to market their cruise showing people in different parts of the ship. In their infomercial nothing was crowded. On the ship everything was crowded.
The bottom line: The room was about what was expected as far as size, but unacceptable dirty.
The onboard activities were lacking. The swim against the current pool NEVER worked not once when we were on the cruise. Each time we inquired as to the reason, we got a different answer as to why it was not working.
The internet cafe charged exorbitant rates to use the computer. The connection was frequently poor, resulting in the need to reboot. The shows in the evening filled up very fast. If you did not get there early, you would not get a seat. The cruise director staff in general seemed to think that we were there for them instead of them being there for us. Plan on entertaining yourself on this ship.
Lesson to the wise: DO NOT PLAN AHEAD FOR SHORE EXCURSIONS. Our itinerary was changed while we were on the cruise and we were not able to attend any of the shore excursions we had booked. Princess re-routed us to ports of call that had limited shore excursions and extremely limited tourist amenities. The alternate route was clearly chosen to save Princess money (i.e. a lot fewer nautical miles traveled). It was clear to us that more desirable ports could have been chosen with no danger based on weather conditions.
AVOID THIS CRUISE LINE AT ALL COSTS! You were warned. The culture of this cruise company is designed to make money and not to satisfy the customer.
Princess Cruises Caribbean Princess by TerryTwo Southern Caribbean November 23, 2008
First, a bit of useful information. While this was our fifth cruise with Princess, this was the first time I noticed it. I was told that it is like this on all Princess ships. That I cannot confirm. I can confirm that on the Caribbean Princess the color of the passenger cabin walkway carpet side trim is a different color on the port and starboard sides. A light red on both sides of the carpet on the port side and turquoise on the starboard side. A quick glance when you exit the elevator and you'll easily find your side of the ship.
After having written several cruise reviews and read a hundred or so, I have come to the conclusion that they are better left to the professionals for an accurate review of what to expect. Why? There are several reasons.
Look at the number of reviews that passengers write compared to the number of passengers. It's about one in five to ten thousand that write a review. Human behavior being what it is, we are far more likely to write areview if our expectations are not met than if they are. It is almost a certainty that at least one of the two to three thousand passengers will be unhappy. (You cannot find two thousand lottery winners that are all happy that they won.)
Cruise ships try to have something for everyone. I, like most cruise passengers, have little to no interest in some of what they offer. (Personally, it would take a very serious inducement to get me into a cigar lounge.)
We all bring a different experience to the cruise. If you live in Vegas and travel to New York a couple of times a year to see some "real" theater, then you'll probably find the entertainment a bit boring. If, on the other hand, this is your first trip outside of French Lick, you'll probably find the entertainment awesome.
So, if you want to know what to expect on a cruise, or from a cruise line, or from a specific ship, read the professional reviews. What we passengers can, and should, provide are bits of useful information; such as the bit about the carpets I provided at the beginning of this review. With that in mind I offer the following information.
Princess has two post and/or pre-cruise hotels in San Juan, PR -- The Marriott and the Sheraton Old San Juan. There is almost nothing within walking distance of the Sheraton. Nice hotel with a small casino, but very little around it. When we next cruise with Princess out of San Juan in February of '09, we'll try the Marriott. When we drove by it on the way to the Sheraton there appeared to be many more places to shop and dine in the immediate area.
Princess Cruises Caribbean Princess by Melissa Eastern Caribbean August 15, 2008
My parents have been cruising for years, and I had tagged along for a few when I was a teen. Now that I am in my late 20's and engaged, my fiance and I have taken to cruising as well.
This is the second ship that we have been on in the past year and we prefer Carnival, hands down. We are not big drinkers or partiers, either.
PROS Princess has embarkation down cold. They are excellent at moving a line and getting you on your ship very fast. You get your luggage within an hour or so of being on the ship, too. Very nice starting point, in my opinion.
The ship is pretty big in comparison to others that I have traveled on. Therefore, you are less likely to feel it moving, rocking, etc. Because it is so large, you can find a lounge chair in the sun (but if you want one by the movie screen, you need to get there before 10am).
The cabin steward was a doll. He worked hard and was always pleasant and helpful.
Entertainment wasabove average. The comedian was funny and the hypnotist was enjoyable. I looked forward to the nightly shows.
CONS The senior cruise staff was often rude and rushed. They would host a trivia game and want to get through it as quickly as possible. My fiance and I went to a Wii bowling tournament one afternoon and the guy in charge was so annoyed at the people who had never used the Wii. We ended up teaching people to play (we own one and had played before). The guy just kept saying he couldn't believe that they had never done it before (the people playing ranged in ages from 20s to 60s -- give them a break). The cruise director's staff did little to make me feel comfortable or even happy all week (I am not including cabin stewards -- they are sweet and helpful). I'm the easiest person to please, and they just didn't even try. This was very disappointing.
The casino staff weren't very nice, either. I play roulette and my fiance plays poker, blackjack and tried craps. I like to banter with the dealer when I play, try to establish a little relationship with the person taking my hard earned money, etc. There was only one dealer who would talk back and joke with me. The others were quick to roll the ball and call "no more bets." I lost enough over the span of the cruise, but I could have lost a lot, lot more if there was a decent dealer on deck.
Every activity listed in the Patter (the onboard itinerary) has a "nominal fee." On Carnival, my fiance got free golf swing lessons, played ping pong, golf, trivia, etc., etc. On Princess, he ventured up to the golf area and was told that he could sign up for a clinic at $40 per half hour. We would go to bingo and the card packages were in a range from $10 to $50, and you need to buy a bingo dauber to play. The Scholarship at Sea was offered each day for fees ranging from $25 and up. Temporary tattoos are $7 and up. It just never ended with the nickel and diming on this ship.
The food is, quite simply, bland and cold. The buffet was boring and inedible. The dining room was decent, but not what I have come to expect from a cruise ship. I CRAVED Carnival's warm chocolate melting cake every night. Princess had little selection and almost no taste. I was actually excited to get home and cook my own meals with some flavor (and seriously -- whoever says that after a cruise?)
Everything must go to your shipboard account. I like to pay a little cash here and there, but Princess makes you sign for everything. And, they charge a little more than other ships for their gratuity. It is $10.95 per person/per day. I was tempted to have it taken off of my account and just give cash to the room steward only (let's face it -- the maitre d' doesn't really deserve his dollar a day but the steward should get more than $3 of that $10.95). I didn't bother, in the end. I wish that there was a way you could adjust the gratuity to who you felt deserved it more.
And finally -- the ship's design is one of the worst ever! The dining rooms are at midship, but you have to walk past them and then go down a flight of stairs -- they are not accessible from all sides. It is strange. You can't just walk around and find things to do -- you need to know where things are. I like to take stairs (a little exercise, I figure), but it was annoying to navigate the levels. It is hard to explain, but those who have been on the ship will understand.
I heard throughout the vacation that the staff was ready to leave (our Carribean cruise was the last for the ship -- it is now doing tours of New England and a majority of the staff was getting their month off at the end of our cruise). I spent almost triple on the Carribean Princess than I did on the Miracle last year and was so disappointed that I came to Cruisemates to give a review. I don't mean to bash it, but seriously -- I'd need to be offered some AMAZING deal to travel with Princess again.