Princess Cruises Reviews

Year Started: 1965
Ships in Fleet: 18

Summary: Princess is one of the most consistently excellent cruise lines in the upper mainstream to premium group. All the diversity of larger ships but personalized service.


Princess Cruise Ships

37 Reviews

Regions:Alaska, California Coastal, Panama Canal

Good for: Teens. First-time Cruisers. Families.

40 Reviews

Regions:Alaska, Asia & Africa, Australia

Good for: Families. Teens. Children`s Programs.

15 Reviews

Regions:Canada, Caribbean, Europe

Good for: Teens. Children`s Programs. Group.

62 Reviews

Regions:Alaska, California, Hawaii

Good for: Teens. Children`s Programs. Group.

7 Reviews

Regions:Caribbean, Europe, Transatlantic

Good for: Seniors. Value for Money. Group.

14 Reviews

Regions:Caribbean, Europe, Transatlantic

Good for: Seniors. Disabled Travelers. Overall Service.

35 Reviews

Regions:Alaska, California, Hawaii, Mexico

Good for: Teens. Children`s Programs. Families.

69 Reviews

Regions:Alaska, California, Hawaii, South America

Good for: Families. Overall Service. Seniors.

66 Reviews

Regions:Canada, Caribbean, Europe

Good for: Families. Seniors. First-time Cruisers.

28 Reviews

Regions:Caribbean, Europe, South America

Good for: Teens. Children`s Programs. Families.

33 Reviews

Regions:Asia & Africa, Australia, Europe

Good for: Group. First-time Cruisers. Families.

80 Reviews

Regions:Alaska, California, Hawaii, Mexico

Good for: Overall Service. Seniors. Families.

23 Reviews

Regions:Alaska, California, Panama Canal

Good for: Seniors. Group. Singles.

12 Reviews

Regions:Asia & Africa, Australia, Europe

3 Reviews

Regions:Asia & Africa, Australia, Europe, Hawaii

Good for: Seniors.

12 Reviews


Good for: Overall Service. Foodies. Seniors.

13 Reviews

Regions:Asia & Africa, Australia, Panama Canal

Good for: Seniors. Group. Families.

33 Reviews

Regions:Asia & Africa, Australia, South Pacific, Tahiti

Good for: Overall Service. Disabled Travelers. Seniors.

User Ratings

Overall Rating
from 582 reviews


Service Level

Value for Money

Ship Décor

Public Rooms


Kid's Programs

Daytime Activities


Shore Tours


Alternative Dining

User Reviews

582 User Reviews of Princess Ships
Publication Date: June 1, 2011

ISLAND PRINCESS ~ 10 Voyage to the Glaciers ~ June 1-11, 2011

Itinerary: Vancouver-Ketchikan-Juneau-Skagway-Glacier Bay-College Fjord-Whittier-Denali-Talkeetna-Anchorage

If you're reading this then you may be debating whether or not to take this cruise. Sea Dawg says you should because it promises to be among the most scenic of cruises available. Compare to discover how this is not the same as an inside passage cruise. Or you may have already booked and now you might be wondering whether or not you messed up. Sea Dawg predicts this is the cruise you'll want to take again. Princess is the cruise industry leader in Alaska.

Or you might be hoping to learn a few things from a salty dawg. Sea Dawg will try to do just that. Is Sea Dawg critical? You betcha. I call it like I see it. Criticism, if any, should not be equated with dislike of cruises. You should know ahead that I am an ex-Loyal Royal Caribbean diamond member.

ARRIVAL: Since we had a long flight to Vancouver we decided to arrive a day early and rode the free shuttle to our hotel. We toured this beautiful city via the subway interestingly named

Sky Train. A main hub is Waterpark - very near the cruise ship port. We took the hop on/hop off trolley tour of Vancouver and especially recommend at least a drive through Stanley Park. We caught our hotel shuttle back to the airport to connect with the Princess shuttle to the port terminal.

EMBARKATION: We arrived at the terminal after 1pm and following the initial noon check-in crush. Prior online check-in expedited our process. Most dawgs knew to have their passports, travel documents, completed forms and credit card in hand as we were herded through security screenings then customs then Princess check-in. What threatened to be a hour long test of patience took less than 15 minutes we had our Cruise Card and packets and we were aboard. We have never experienced a more organized and efficient boarding process.

PHOTOGRAPHS: Photographers will greet you throughout the cruise. You should know in advance that these photographs are not complimentary or cheap. But you are not obligated to buy. If interested, stop and pose. If not, say, "no thanks" and be on your way. Sea Dawg has experienced a few times when photos go on sale or can be bargained down in price near the end of the cruise.

WELCOME ABOARD: Island Princess, (2003), mid-size class (92,000 tons - 964 ft. length) shows few signs of anticipated wear and tear. The interior is sleek and sophisticated. The ship has a welcomed intimacy without the overcrowded feeling. Sea Dawg's megaship experiences have been bigger is not always better. Most appealing to me was the quality of life aboard the Island Princess. Gone were the incessant "Bingo Time" and swimming pool water temperature announcements. I was aboard to experience Alaska, and Princess offered cruise dawgs a series of outstanding programs from naturalists, park rangers and an Iditarod race winner. In place of barmaids constantly hustling drinks by the pool, we had a crew lady politely offering warm cookies. Rather than a long hike aft, fresh pizza and hot sandwich venues were convenient to the pools and lounge areas.

You may have learned that sodas and alcoholic drinks are available for a price. But on Princess you are allowed to bring your own sodas aboard, but not alcohol. And on Princess you don't need an overpriced beverage card to receive fruit or vegetable juices! Thank you Princess! RCCL will nickel & dime dawgs at every turn and the cruise ends up more expensive than Princess.

CABIN: This is one cruise dawgs WILL want a balcony. Most cruises offer horizons of ocean for views at sea, but this cruise offers mountain and wildlife scenary almost everyday so bring good binoculars. Sea Dawg recommends selecting starboard (right) odd numbered cabins for northbound and port (left) even numbered cabins southbound. Order room service and brunch on your private balcony. We are not ones to spend much time in the stateroom. Our stateroom was small but efficient. Two people had to choreograph moves to navigate the tiny floor space. One person standing in front of the closet could be caged in if another opened the bathroom door. The bathroom was something like an airplane restroom with a tight don't-drop-the-soap shower. Sorry, no bathtub except in suites. Sea Dawg says it is a good idea to pack your own soap and specialty shampoo. Be forewarned - hot water might be in short supply during peak shower usage times. We find that we keep a small stateroom neater than a larger one - have to or else the accumulated clutter immobilizes us.

A Day 1 Princess Patter listed all the ongoing activities, information and suggestions. The lifeboat muster station location is posted. Take but do not wear life jackets to the mandatory muster drill. Muts need to be warned not to skip drill because staff is checking your name on their roll.

AROUND THE SHIP: Take time to explore the ship. If you have time, try to locate places where events happen. My advice is start at the top Sports Deck 15 and work down using the stairs. You should at least know where the medical facility is (Deck 4). You might want to inquire if your medical insurance covers you - in most cases it won't.

Sun Deck 15 is open to the sky, makes a good observation deck, and is surrounded by blue tinted glass wind screens. But camera hounds needing clear vistas were challenged here. You'll find the Cyber-Golf simulator midship.

Lido Deck 14 is home to Horizon Court and the pools. Horizon Court is the Deck 14 buffet restaurant offering panoramic views forward. You can also spot chow hounds loading plates like they're about to be stranded on Mt. McKinley for a month - only to eat half of it. And few appreciate line crashing hyenas who snatch away all the remaining servings forcing those whose mothers taught them better to wait until another tray arrives from the kitchen. Incredibly, I witnessed one Saint Bernard actually pick up the entire serving tray of pastries and arrogantly haul it to his table! Deck 14 is home to the open Lido Pool and enclosed Lotus Pool. Locate the ice cream bar. Chow hounds know to get cones and milkshakes here! The Lotus spa and gym is here. Astern is the Sanctuary, a retreat for adults that is a perk for pedigrees, available for a fee to hounds.

Aloha Deck 12 (there is no Deck identified 13) is primarily a cabin deck, but the Sanctuary and Youth Centers are astern.

Baja Deck 11, Caribe Deck 10, Dolphin Deck 9 and Emerald Deck 8 are cabin decks. Outside cabins mid-deck 8 have obstructed (by lifeboats) views though fortunate dawgs taking shoulder season cruises may get upgraded if space is available. The Library, Card Room and internet cafe is on Deck 8 at the top of the atrium.

Promenade Deck 7 is the main activity deck. As the name implies, this is the strolling deck. It's poor design is quite apparant as you stroll through a narrow hallway forward. Dawgs debating selecting a deck 8 cabin should anticipate noise coming from below. The Wheelhouse Bar and Crooner's Bar are here. There are two theaters that make for packed audiences: the upper levels of the Princess Theater forward and Universe Lounge stage aft. Two premium restaurants, Sabatini's and the Bayou Cafe are well worth your consideration. The art gallery is worth a look but sharp dawgs know to compare print prices online before purchasing.

Fiesta Deck 6 features Provence (traditional) Main Dining, the Casino, Explorer's Lounge, specialty shops, photo shop, and lower levels of the theaters.

The main dining room, has two levels: Bordeaux (anytime) Deck 5 and Provence Deck 6. Sea Dawg prefers traditional because the wait staff learns your preferences and can better prepare for your pleasant dining experience. At this time of year, the sun goes down late so there's not much advantage to early or late seating.

As for shopping aboard, think of pricey little shops at upscale hotels and you'll have the right idea. Resist the temptation and don't pay "retail" early in the cruise. There are usually "sales" throughout the cruise and a few good values might be found.

Thoughtful design permits dawgs to traverse Deck 6 fore to aft without obligatory navigation through the Casino. By far the largest cash intake comes from the gaming. House odds are higher aboard than at Las Vegas. In other words, there are greater odds you will lose. So consider money lost gambling the cost of entertainment. To that end there are free gaming lessons offered. Be careful, the ATM machine is here, too.

Plaza Deck 5 is where Passenger Services, Tour Desk and Future Cruise Sales are located. Some cabins are located aft. Curiously and inconveniently, the Atrium elevators do not left all the way to the top decks. Our cruise was not fully booked, so we were pleased few experienced long waits for an elevator. Even so, we found the stairs quicker at peak times. The majority of passengers were mature dawgs 50 years up. School was still in session and there weren't many pups or frisky college canines. Not to worry, we had our share of incredibly rude, line crashing, seat saving Japanese Shiba Inus aboard.

DINNER: I've read some Cruise Critics comments from Pedigrees about dinners and I have to reply that it is completely unrealistic to expect 5-star dinners at Princess' moderate prices. Sea Dawg found the quality and quantity of the prepared food consistently very good. No, it's not the best culinary offerings the cruise industry has to offer. - and while some other cruise lines lower qulity to drive patrons into premium restuarants, Princess still serves lobster. Pedigrees who want 5-star cuisine should book luxury cruise lines and pay their premium prices. For the rest of us, this is a chance to sample cuisine we don't often enjoy. If it's not to your liking, your waiter will bring you something else. Chow hounds can order a second entrée if they like. I feasted on duck, lamb, veal, salmon and prime rib. And, yes, you could order steak or shrimp cocktail every night. Vegetarian, "lite" and Asian offerings were usually available.

Dinners are an event that Sea Dawg doesn't like to rush. If you are in a hurry, do your tablemates and waiters a favor and eat at Horizon Court. If you want to know the chef's secrets, you can purchase the recipes. Waiters come from all over the world. Their English proficiency varies but is generally merely functional. Most try very hard to please you and really do earn their tips. Wit and humor were in ample supply at our table and any pretense of formality fortunately disappeared the first night. Dinnertime became an enjoyable highlight of this cruise.

Dancing Under the Stars: Romantic sounding isn't it? Weather dictates outside activities aboard. Unfortunately, on this cruise there were only limited opportunities in the clubs for romantic dancing and dance floors are small. Dances advertised as "ball room" were mostly loud rock or jazz. Never learned how to dance? There are free ballroom dance classes available. Our instructors were excellent and attentive.

Weather: Fortunately our cruise experienced mostly fair weather. This is Alaska and cloudy, rainy days are normal. Mornings are chilly and afternoons can get almost hot. Dressing in layers is necessary. Dawgs, especially shoulder season cruisers, are wise to pack hooded water-proof jackets. But also pack swim suits (for hot tubs) and sunglasses (for snow glare).

Day 1 - Vancouver If you've never seen Vancouver don't miss this opportunity. We arrived a day early to tour this beautiful city. See Cruise Critic port reviews. Once aboard, plan to take part in the sailaway party. If you pre-reserved shore excursions online, your tickets should be in or shortly delivered to your stateroom.

Day 2 - At Sea This usually means out in the open water with nothing but waves and ocean horizon in view. Island Princess transits the Straight of Georgia along the scenic coast of Vancouver Island then heads across Queen Charlotte Sound.

The Shows Current and classic movies are shown on the outdoor big screen overlooking the Lido Pool. There are two venues for stage shows, but limited seating. The Princess productions proved to be better than theme park shows. To their credit, the shows were performed live to music provided by a live band. However the sound tech preferred the volume loud and distorted. Headliner guests were hit and miss. Your cruise will probably feature different entertainers. Few presentations had show dawgs streaming out the exits mid performance.

Tonight was the first of two formal nights in main dining. Some pedigrees were dressed to the nines, but most wore their "Sunday best". A word about expensive jewelry and valuables. Leave them at home! There are personal safes in the cabin, but a master code to open them is known to more than a few. Sharp dawgs use the ship safe available through Passenger Relations to store truly valuable items. New U.S. federal law mandates the FBI be promptly contacted to investigate serious shipboard crimes for all ships that enter/depart any U.S. port.

Day 3 - Ketchikan I was up early and watched the ship navigate the Tongass Narrows toward Ketchikan. At first I thought I was in the Caribbean! Salty Dawgs promptly growled at the immediate presence of Carnival's and Royal Caribbean's Diamonds International, Tanzanite International and other cruiseline venues. But this is America and local retailers exercised their right to advertise they are independent of the cruise lines!

The Misty Fjords & Wildlife Explorer excursion is deservedly popular. Independent dawgs should stop by the Ketchikan Visitor's Bureau near the ship and pick up a free walking tour map. Hop a ride on their free shuttle and ride up the hillside to the Totem Heritage Center and walk downhill on Creek Street or on Married Man's Trail along Ketchikan Creek on down to Dolly's.

A word about shopping: make your shopping list before you leave home. Too often dawgs purchase items on a cruise destined for a yard sale. Record the local or internet price so you'll know whether you are getting a bargain. U.S. citizens who booked flights on a Canadian airline should bone up on custom limitations before you leave or you might find yourself in the dawghouse.

All dawgs had to be onboard by 1:30pm for an early afternoon departure. Unless you are on a Princess Shore Excursion the ship will not wait for stray dawgs! The ship sailed north through scenic Clarence Straight.

Day 4 - Juneau Juneau is reached by sailing up and down the Gastineau Channel. The ship arrives at 8am and departs at 8:30pm and the sun is up longer as we reach higher latitudes. So plan a full day ashore. The Whale Watching and Wildlife Quest (guaranteed sightings) is highly recommended and fills quickly. Independent dawgs will be rewarded to take the "blue" Glacier Express bus from the Visitor Center parking lot to enjoy at their own pace Mendenhall Glacier, the lake and huge waterfall! It was only $16 (sixteen) round trip and rates as one of the great values of the entire cruise. The bus driver can tell you about some other value excursions their independent company offers. And what dawg would miss the infamous Red Dog Saloon? Yes it's a tourist trap but a howling good time!

Day 5 - Skagway Skayway is reached by sailing up and down scenic Taiya Inlet and Lynn Canal. Snow-capped peaks and numerous cascading waterfalls reward watchful dawgs on a fair weather day. Our ship arrived at the railroad dock near 7am and departed near 8pm on this last port of call before reaching Whittier. The little town of Skagway exists because of the railroad and any of the White Pass & Yukon Route narrow guage train ride tours takes you to heaven and is highly recommended. Another way to be taken to heaven is to stop by the Red Onion Saloon.

Day 6 - At Sea "At Sea" would technically be correct. But this is Alaska and Princess arranges to be one of only two cruise ships allowed to enter Glacier Bay National Park a day. "Scenic day Cruising Glacier Bay" is an understatement. Remember to charge up (or put in fresh) camera batteries! Several NP Rangers provide commentary as the ship slowly sails past towering snow covered mountains and through ice strewn Tarr Inlet to the foot of Grand Pacific and Margerie Glaciers. About every twenty minutes there is the sharp crack and thunder heralding another calving. Then the ship sailed up John Hopkins Inlet and rounded Jaw (as in jaw dropping) Point to view John Hopkins Glacier. We were truly blessed to have incredibly clear and sunny weather! Every photo we took could be a post card.

Tonight was the second of two formal nights in main dining. It was also lobster with giant prawns night. For Sea Dawg is was a perfect ending to a perfect day!

Day 7 - At Sea Today we sailed across the Gulf of Alaska toward College Fjord, and salty dawgs know to anticipate a sea day. The weather turned cold, windy and rainy. Long but narrow beamed Island Princess (designed to cross the Panama Canal) gently rolled through moderate seas. It wasn't so rough that seasick bags for green dawgs appeared, but dawgs sensitive to motion sickness should be prepared to medicate before crossing this open expanse of water.

College Fjord was socked in with cloudy weather and some showers. We could not see the mountaintops but could discern the beautiful glaciers through the mists.

CHECK OUT: You'll receive a bill for $11.50 ($12.00 if in a suite) per person/per day gratuity, any shore excursions and any other expenses you put on your Cruise Card. That's when many discover their bar tab, purchases, casino gaming and excursions cost more than the stateroom! Even though we had Express Departure, we checked our account for charges and accuracy at Passenger Relations before the crowd formed a long line.

You'll receive a comment card. My thinking is that if you mark everything "excellent" then Princess will have no incentive to improve anything. But what most cruise dawgs want to improve is not even on the comment card. You'll have to write in comments like "enforce the rules", "need more crew checking Cruise Cards and attending the Passenger Relations Desk", etc. yourself.

We packed our suitcases and affixed the proper "Meet Us Tonight in Denali" tags.

Day 8 - DISEMBARKATION and Bus to DENALI We ate a final breakfast then got to our assigned departure meeting place.

Departure went well. Princess has this well-organized so there were few rude line-breakers trying to beat the system. I can't figure out why line-breakers think they're the only ones in a hurry or why they are more important than anyone else in the scheme of things.

Post-cruise plans vary. Some catch a flight home from Anchorage. But most continue north either by train or by bus. We were placed on a bus and spent the day going up Alaska 3 to Denali. We had high hopes of seeing some wildlife and maybe a glimpse of the elusive, cloud shrouded Mt. McKinley along the way. We saw neither. The harsh reality of the end of the cruise stared back at us as we looked at the menu prices at the Denali Princess Lodge. The Denali Princess Lodge is fairly rustic and informed dawgs were glad they heeded the advice to pack powerful bug repellent. Sunset at midnight. Sunrise at 3am. No night - just twilight.

Day 9 - Talkeetna The next day we rode the free shuttle to Denali National and took their free park tour. We saw some wildlife in the distance but no Mt. McKinley. Here Sea Dawg made a quick change in plans. Princess had us scheduled to ride the bus from Denali to Talkeetna, but I decided to buy the inexpensive Alaska Railroad ticket to ride the Denali Star to Talkeetna instead. I called Princess from the Denali rail station (right by the Denali NP Visitor Center) and made arrangements. Princess agreed with absolutely no hassles to shuttle us to McKinley Wilderness Lodge along with other Princess passengers on their private cars on the train. Our luggage would be waiting for us in our room. It was among the best decisions of the vacation. Though we were "Adventure" class and not "Gold", Alaska Railroad has several cars for passengers to use including a dining car and, on our train, a domed car! Though the rail trip followed the same highway we traversed the day before it was far superior in scenery and comfort to the bus trip. We saw a lot of wildlife, some close to the tracks, but still no Mt. McKinley.

Arrival at Talkeetna Depot happened much too soon. Princess put us aboard their shuttle to McKinley Wilderness Lodge. We checked into our room and our luggage was awaiting us inside the door. How's that for great service? Princess has Alaska cruising and vacationing buttoned down!

McKinley Wilderness Lodge is so remote it generates its own electricity. Even so, there are hot tubs with a view here! We found the 20320 (twenty-three-twenty - named for the height of Mt. McKinley) Restaurant to be fairly reasonably priced and serving Alaska sized meals. But be prepared to wait for a table. We made arrangements for a "Mountain Out" call before we collapsed into bed.

Day 10 - Anchorage We were sound asleep when the almost midnight "Mountain is out" call came. We scurried out with bug repellent and camera in hand to join the sleepy-eyed "30% Club" of tourists who actually get to see the cloud-free and beautiful Mt. McKinley as the sun slowly set behind it. We gawked at the mountain in the comfy chairs of the main lodge until we both were nodding off to sleep. We retired to bed a second time - another perfect end to another perfect day.

The sun was high in the sky when we woke up - at 8am. Princess had us scheduled for a train trip from Talkeetna to Anchorage that afternoon. After breakfast we affixed "Meet Us in Anchorage" tags to our luggage and caught the free shuttle to spend the day in tiny Talkeetna. This is a town that exists on the tourist trade. Locals know the McKinley Wilderness Lodge prices and charge accordingly. We found the best priced food in town to be at the Roadhouse that has catered to mountain climbers for decades.

Soon we were aboard the train in the Princess private domed car taking a scenic rail to Anchorage. The bottom level of the car is where the kitchen and dining are located. We spotted numerous moose in the afternoon, especially as we neared Anchorage. I have to admit that I preferred Alaska Railroad's Adventure class.

We arrived at the Anchorage Depot and had a 5 minute shuttle to the Captain Cook Hotel. We opened the door and our luggage was already there. Our room was an absolutely luxurious suite! Thank you, Princess! We had an early flight from Anchorage to home. Princess was there again for us to the very end as a Princess representative greeted us to bid us farewell as we caught a very early shuttle to the airport.

Should You Take This Cruise? My recommendation is an unqualified yes.

Expand Review
Read More
Repositioning Cruise
Publication Date: May 11, 2011

We just completed a short three (3) day cruise up the Pacific Coast on the Golden Princess which we had booked for our wedding anniversary (May 11) while on the Sea Princess in November last year. The cruise was from Los Angeles USA to Vancouver BC Canada and was May 11 - 14, 2011.

As we live in Victoria British Columbia , Vancouver Island Canada I arranged for us to fly Victoria via Vancouver to Los Angeles the day prior to the cruise and fly from Vancouver to Victoria the day after the cruise.

If I say so myself that was a wise (Owl pun of course) move as when we docked in Vancouver on May 14, 2011 another four ships also docked at the same time. Instant pandemonium had by all who were waiting for taxis and busses including the ones arriving to get on these ships.

As we got off the ship, I saw a person with a shuttle bus sign to hotels or airports so was able to get the shuttle in about 45 minutes later and in our hotel by about 11:30 am while our friends were back

at the terminal still waiting for the ferry bus to Vancouver Island at 1pm. We did stay at a boutique hotel (Sutton Place) in Vancouver that for dinner also had a Chocolate Fountain Buffet and all the sins you could eat. My wife was very excited.

Back to going down to LA. We flew to Vancouver then went to USA pre-clearance where they showed us our luggage on the computer screen in colour to verify it was ours, nifty as we did not have to transfer then between fights.

We must have been asked five times for our passports and boarding cards while going through Homeland security area and I got moved aside for extra wand checking where it beeped on top of my bald head and my shoeless feet. Give me a break.

We flew on an Embrer I90 , about a 2 hours 30 minutes flight into LAX and our bags arrived on time but to get to the pickup area you have to walk by where all the outbound security are is, a tight squeeze.

We took a taxi to Long Beach where our Hotel Hyatt Regency is located as were told more shops existed in that area as I originally wanted to stay at the Queen Mary Hotel . The taxi ride was about $65 US and the ride from that hotel the next day to San Pedro for Princess cruise port was about $30 US.

WE took a walk around the Hotel which is lovely but went the wrong direction as the next four blocks were all dining or fast food places, no shops or malls in sight. Had we gone the other direction we would have seen the marina and shops and the beach but we had fun. The staff at the hotel are very nice and say hello, it is a clean and safe hotel but no safe in the room for passports and tickets and they charge for WiFi. Otherwise we had a good time and used room service for our supper while in the morning we had coffee and muffins in thr lobby then they ordered a taxi for us to the pier. Next time I might use the hotels in San Pedro but taxi costs will still be about the same.

If you use a taxi, tell then you want to pay by CC when you get in and they do not carry change over $5 US. I elected to get cash prior to our trip.

Finally , we got to the ship about 12:30pm and boarded in about 30 - 45 minutes. I tipped the porter who I had to find as our taxi dropped us off behind a pile of bus passengers, she was only a few feet away, gave her $5 or two bags and she just smiled at me called me "dear' and pointed to where I should go and promised my bags would be on the ship. At least I made her day.

Go in the terminal, a pile of people , a lot of families with children from Disney World and five bus loads of folks from Las Vegas, Lots of Canadians on this trip. Quite a mixed bag of cultures onboard.

It was a sunny day, left port on time and averaged 20.7 knots for 2,700 kilometers from Wednesday afternoon to Saturday Am at 7am.

It was all sea days and the dress code was smart casual , staff were fine considering they would only know us for a few days and we had a mini-suite with two TV's but the remote batteries were weak so one had to stretch to adjust the controls. Balcony was fully out from the ship , not enclosed but the weather of course dropped into the fifties F so we did not sit out a lot but we could have course enjoy the breeze and the sea.

We had swells such at lunch the MDR windows were clear from middle of MDR and then the you could see the swell come up halfway in the window. Stabilizers help and one lady ssaid as she walked , I've not had anything to drink.

We were at a table for eight for 1st seating (6pm) but felt like Mum and Dad . One were a young couple in twenties, other a brother and sister (she left hubby and son at home) in thirties and another couple who must have just got connected (fifties) as he fed her food all the time and she just smiled and said nice things. They were great to know as we all got to know each other but we were a diverse table.

Service was very good and prompt as we got to see the shows this time and our wine when ordered was delivered on time. Lately I noticed on last two Princess Ships you have to remind staff in MDR to give you your receipts while elsewhere not an issue. Front desk and cabin staff were great but the Library has been reduced to about three chairs inside the Internet Cafe which as usual has it often slow moments.

Casino was running all day and night as we were cruising for three days and it was doing a good business , course on the Golden Princess you still have to walk through the casino to move from stern to bow and the MDR you have to walk down the photshop deck to use the stairs to get to the MDR as the kitchens are in the middle.

Art Auctions was doing a great business and people were buying anything for hundreds of dollars in a fast pace, still amazes me. One day they had a Trivia contest in the main bar while we sat near the windows reading as my E-Book (a Kobo) while Liz shuffled her paperback and tried to prevent ourselves from yelling out the answers.

All the meals were great including room service and we really had no complaints but you do notice a slight difference when on a short re-positioning cruise in that all of a sudden you have to pack on the third evening and Princess has not yet gotten to the point where you can stay in your cabin till your number is called as we had to leave the cabin by 8am Saturday. We met in the Vista room for a scheduled 9:05 am departure but did not leave till 9:40am approx. as Canada Customs had only assigned four staff to the 2,800 people leaving our ship.

All in all we had a great time and going back to my earlier entry in this post, 'Owl' made a very wise decision to book a hotel for the night after arriving in Vancouver and getting the Shuttle Bus to the Hotels instead of a taxi.

The lesson here is that if five ships are unloading passengers in Vancouver and getting new passengers on the same day be prepared for a wait or find alternatives as in take a cruise ship bus to the airport or a post cruise hotel to bypass and relax as you deserve it.

Cheers Rob (aka robh) (aka Owl)

Expand Review
Read More
by Bud Lockwood
Publication Date: November 21, 2010

Princess Cruises Ruby Princess by Bud Lockwood Eastern Caribbean November 21, 2010

My wife and I sailed on the Ruby Princess Thanksgiving week (November 21st to 28th ) from Port Everglades in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida to the Eastern Caribbean ports of Princess Cays, St. Maarten, St. Thomas and Grand Turk.

OUR ARRANGEMENTS We booked cabin D219, a mini-suite on the Dolphin deck, and selected "anytime dining" for our dinner dining option. The cabin was nicely appointed, comfortable and conveniently located on deck 6. It should be noted that the balcony is totally exposed overhead unlike the balconies on higher decks. This leaves you exposed to the elements and to people on balconies just above.

Any time dining worked well for us. We tend to dine early and the Michelangelo dining room opened at 5:30 PM for anytime dining. Reservations for dining are advised for formal nights and sea days if you plan to dine at 7 PM or later. We had no significant wait earlier.


We drove from the Melbourne area (near Port Canaveral), therefore we entered the Port Everglades via auto and parked in the garage adjacent to the embarkation terminal 2.

There was minor congestion getting into the port at noon. Parking was easy and the walk from the vehicle to the terminal was short.

The embarkation process was smooth. Princess checks passengers in by deck with a special line for preferred customers. Just hope that everyone on your deck doesn't show up at the same time. After check in photos are taken and you are free to go to your cabin. Interestingly, Princess did allow us to go to our cabin before 1:00 PM which allowed us to leave our carry-on bags and freshen up before lunch.

Disembarkation was a mess! The ship returned to terminal 29, a shuttle ride from the parking garage at terminal 2. This may be caused by the fact that the Emerald Princess shares terminals and takes 10 day cruises.

The instructions for disembarkation preferences were unclear to us so we ended up being scheduled to disembark at 9:30 AM when we would have preferred, and could have had, an earlier time. We finally disembarked at 10:30 AM because the regular ramp wasn't working. Not good! We collected our bags from the baggage area and checked through Customs with no unusual problems. We then lined up for the shuttle, along with a lot of other passengers. Our bags were loaded on the shuttle along with those of 15 to 20 other people and we were taken to terminal 2 where the reverse baggage process took place. It was not a pretty process. Leaving the port was easier than arriving.


The Ruby Princess is a beautiful ship with elegantly appointed public areas including the restaurants, lounges, casino, theater and pools. There were no unexpected crowds at any of the venues. Unexpected means there were crowds at the normal times. For examples, the theater and lounges were crowded during after dinner times. The atrium also attracted large crowds because of the entertainment.

The staff were excellent. Everyone we encountered was cheerful and helpful, even during high stress times. They were obviously well trained and seemed to enjoy their work.


Like most modern cruise ships the Ruby Princess offered several dining options with the main dining rooms being the centerpieces, followed closely by the specialty dining options. The food was very good with a couple of exceptions. Highlights included: Sabatini's. The Italian themed restaurant is excellent! Plan a before dinner cocktail at the adjacent, elegant Adagio lounge then enjoy their multi-course dinner complete with samples of all the pre and post-entrée choices. The entrees were very good. Crown Grill. The "steakhouse" is an elegant setting with excellent service and food. It is adjacent to the Explorer's lounge. If you like lobster, steak or chops this is an ideal place! Reservations are needed and can be a problem so make them on embarkation day. Pub Lunch. A pub lunch was served in the Wheelhouse Bar on sea days. The Wheelhouse bar is a nice pub setting. The food included fish and chips and ploughman's lunch along with a selection of English beers. International Café. The café is a nice setting for people watching as well as tasty snacks. We stopped by almost every day to sample the good food. Michelangelo restaurant. Our choice for "anytime dining" with a nice selection of food. The traditional Thanksgiving dinner was disappointing . Must have been someone else's traditional dinner. The salmon, one of the daily alternative choices, was excellent. The daily alternative choices are frequently some of the best choices and often overlooked.

WORTH NOTING Grand Turk. This is a recently developed port complex and promises to be a very good one as it grows. It is anchored by Ron Jon's Surf Shop and a Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville with several other shops right at the end of the relatively short pier. There are also beaches at the end of the pier. The facilities are similar to those at the end of the pier at St. Maarten, but more extensive. Safety Drill. The Ruby Princess still requires taking life jackets to the safety drill. Many other ships no longer require that, reasoning that dragging the jackets with their straps is dangerous. Gratuity Envelopes. Gratuities are "automatically" charged to the shipboard accounts and no envelopes are provided. You can obtain envelopes if you desire to give additional gratuities. Satisfaction Surveys. They are emailed to your home after the cruise. Special recognition cards are provided should you want to recognize and individual. We did that for our room steward who was "old school" excellent. Electronic Casino Accounts. This is a good and growing trend on cruise ships. Casino Hours. The slot machine hours were extended beyond those published on a couple of days so if you enjoy the slot machines checking the unannounced availability is a good idea. Formal Nights. They were on Tuesday and Thursday. These are good to know if you are planning specialty restaurant or other events. Evening Buffet. The buffet was extremely busy on port evenings! The ship's planners could have done a much better job accommodating the crowds for these days.


The Ruby Princess was very good overall. Every venue and all the staff were excellent. The disembarkation process, highlighted by the shuttling to another terminal and a malfunctioning gangway, was a significant negative.

Expand Review
Read More
Publication Date: November 6, 2010

This was our first cruise on board the Crown Princess, but her class includes the Ruby and the Emerald Princesses which are exact replicas, and we have sailed on both of them. The tradition of creating new classes of ships built to one basic engineering design is a good one, since passengers feel that they already know the deck plan well from sailing aboard a sister ship. It also reduces time spent looking for various locals on board --- theater forward, dining rooms mid to aft, Piazza or centrum Decks 5, 6, & 7, Buffet and pool areas Deck 15 etc. etc. etc. The Crown Princess Captain Andrew Proctor can usually be seen at morning tea with his lovely wife in the International Cafe'. He says that he enjoys this area of the ship immensely because the open atmosphere invites informal conversations with passengers. This kindly gentleman sets the warm mood of the Crown Princess.

EMBARKATION On Princess ships embarkation is speedy and orderly. Baggage is taken at curbside and for wheelchair passengers there is direct access to Priority Check In counters. All passengers go to Check In counters individually marked with

each deck name. This system reduces long lines and needless waiting. The gangway once again was quite steep, which means reversing the swing away pedals on the wheel chair to protect them. Vincent also shut off his scooter to avoid jamming the motor or gears. This was our 88th cruise, so by now we know how to avoid equipment damage.

We arrived in Port Everglades, Fort Lauderdale, FL at 12:30pm and had assistance all the way to our cabin C303 where we dropped off our walker and hand luggage and were off to the buffet at 1:00pm. After lunch Vincent went to the Crown Grill Restaurant where Maitre D'Hotel Francesco Ciorfito assigned us an exquisite table for two, by the window, in the Da Vinci dining room. Personal Choice Dining allows us to dine at the same table every evening with the same wait staff. Now all that remained was the Boat Drill at 4:15pm. On Princess this is painless since the Muster Stations are indoors and seating is available.

THE SHIP The Crown Princess is the first of three ships in the Crown Class. She was built by Fincantieri Shipyards at Montefalcone, Italy in 2006. She is Hull #6100 to come from this venerable builder. There is an abundance of wood, brass and marble which contribute to its elegant interiors. Throughout the ship are many paintings and mosaics. Her Port of Registry is Hamilton, Bermuda. Her gross tonnage is 112,894, her length is 951 ft. and breadth is 118 ft. Passenger capacity is 3,150 and she sails with a crew of 1,200. She has a cruising speed of 22.5 knots. There are three sets of elevators: one forward, one aft and a Panoramic set of lifts mid ship.

Gala Deck 4 has crew areas and the Medical Center.

Decks 5, 6, & 7 (Plaza, Fiesta & Promenade) are all public passenger areas. Forward on Deck 5 there are passenger cabins and the Laundromat (other Laundromats are on Decks 8, 9, 11, 12, & 14 aft, and on Deck10 midship). The theater is located on Decks 6 & 7 forward.

Plaza Deck 5 midship are the Piazza, with live music and entertainment and the International Cafe', with terrific coffees and hot chocolates, not to mention marvelous desserts, salads, soups and sandwiches. Here is also served Italian Gelato (three huge scoops on a special elongated dish for a $1.50). There is a beautiful Peacock mural and mosaics everywhere and even on the floor. Midship are also the Internet Cafe', with its many interesting chiaro-scuro photographs of Venetian scenes, the Travel Cafe' Escapes, the Vines (a wine and cheese bar), the Future Cruise Sales and the Art Gallery. Aft is the Michelangelo Dining Room.

Fiesta Deck 6 midship has the Gatsby Casino, Reception Desk and the shops of Meridian Bay. Aft is the Da Vinci Dining Room, with its light maple wood walls and low ceilings and lovely art work. Aft is the Botticelli dining room, accessible only from the upper decks by the aft lifts. On Deck 6 forward is the lower level of Princess Theater with wheelchair accessible seats through a corridor.

Promenade Deck 7 has the promenade around the ship with the exception of the forward part, which continues through the stairs on Deck 8, Emerald deck. On Deck 7, forward there is wheelchair access to the upper level of Princess Theater. Here are also the Wheelhouse Bar with its nautical décor and the Library with its excellent stacks.

Decks 8 through 14 (Emerald, Dolphin, Caribe, Baja, Aloha and Riviera) are mainly for passenger cabins and suites.

Lido Deck 15 forward has cabins, midship are the Trident Grill with more mosaics, the Neptune's Reef & Pool with the Pizza and Ice Cream station. At midship there are also the Pool and the Movies under the Stars. Aft is the Horizon Court & Terrace for buffet dining.

Sun Deck 16 forward has the Lotus Spa with the Beauty Salon, Sauna and Massage rooms, Aerobics, Fitness Center and the Hearts & Minds wedding chapel. Aft is Sabatini's gourmet Italian Restaurant and the Adagio Bar with elegant entrances of wrought copper grape vines.

Sports Deck 17 forward is the Sanctuary, an exclusive area reserved for sunning and relaxation. All the way aft are the Teen Center with Chill Out, The Fun Zone, Off Limits and the Video Arcade.

Sky/Star Decks 18/19 have the Center Court, Cybergolf and the Jogging Track and the Skywalkers Night Club at the top.

This is a beautifully kept ship with much to do for all ages.

FOOD & SERVICE The service on board is top notch -- fit for a queen -- every afternoon at 3:30pm High Tea is served in the Da Vinci Dining Room. This is a must experience. Maitre D'Hotel Francesco Ciorfito is a patient and kind man dedicated to giving the passengers a wonderful experience on board. Head Waiter Giuseppe Renda made us welcome each evening in the Da Vinci. Sous Chef Federico Femiano sent us some marvelous specialities like Lucullus (egg plant rolled around angel hair pasta, baked with a tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese and topped with Parmigiano Reggiano), and a Risotto ai funghi (mushroom risotto) that was delicious. Our waiters each evening were the very adept Douglas Garcia and his assistant Despot Cvedanovic. They served the meal at a nice pace and always with a smile. We especially like the crisp salads and innovative soups including the cold ones (Pina Colada, pear and peach were superb).

Lunch time was always pleasant with the the very cordial waiter Enrique. Head Waiter Mihai Baroi was everywhere on board and overlooking everything. The luncheon menu is quite good, in fact we think the best afloat: including fried Calamari, Vitello Tonnato, osso buco, etc., items usually found in upscale restaurants only!

We ate dinner in Sabatini's ($20) with what seemed like 18 courses. Our table was next to a fountain and the delightful room design is repeated circles of round tables and wood décor with a huge Tiffany ceiling globe, similar to the one in the centrum. All in all a gorgeous room. All the breads on Princess are exceptional, but the Food & Beverage Supervisor Claudio Guarnieri told us that the Corporate Executive Baker was on board to "Tweak" the recipes and has already had great success with the focaccia.

Since this was our fifteenth cruise with Princess, we are now Elite members and were invited to breakfast in Sabatini's. Excellent! Mary recommends the poached eggs served over tiny roasted potato cubes in a snifter of sorts with Hollandaise sauce on the side. Vincent recommends the freshly squeezed pink grapefruit juice with James Beard's French toast, or an excellent Belgian waffle. Sous Chef Ivano Milani (a student of Executive Chef Antonio Cereda) makes Sabatini's a terrific place to dine. Vincent, as an Italian, usually avoids Italian food when dining out, because he is afraid of being disappointed, but not on Princess with her many terrific Italian born chefs. We feel Princess has the best food on the seas. Hotel General Manager Martin Ford has every right to be proud of the service aboard the Crown: It is superb!

CABIN C303 on Caribe Deck 10 is a wheelchair accessible cabin with ample space. When entering on the left is a parking area for the wheelchair and next a triple armoire, with two sections for hanging clothes and one with shelves and a personal safe. Next, there is a flat screen TV and a refrigerator, a long counter area and one cabinet with two drawers. There is also a small round coffee table and two chairs.

When entering on the right, there is a large bathe with a fold up shower seat and a single sink with shelves for amenities. All was nicely tiled and kept exceptionally clean by our Steward Marius. There is a large queen bed with a puff quilt. The bed is flanked by two bureaus with four drawers each and a reading lamp too far away to shut off from the bed. The décor is blue, gold and cream, very cool.

The balcony is oversized and held two lounge chairs, two chairs and a table. There was a cover over half of it. It was very convenient, private and protected. We were very comfortable here and the chocolate dipped strawberries and fresh fruit daily made life a dream.

ENTERTAINMENT Princes always has excellent music in the Piazza, the Dining Rooms and on deck poolside. Cruise Director Ron Goodman leads off the cruse with a Sail Away at Neptune's Reef on Deck 15 and the music and dancing begin. In the Explorer's Lounge on Promenade Deck 7 there was an early movie "Oceans" and the cruise was off to a great start. The Princess Theater usually has two nightly shows: 7 and 9pm. We dined at 5:30 and sometimes made the early show. The Princess Orchestra and Dancers star in two shows "Motor City" and "Destination Anywhere."

The Piazza has many entertainers among which were "Duo Alia" (two gorgeous girls who did "adagio body balancing" a unique acrobatic routine. Then there is the Champagne Waterfall Party hosted by Captain Proctor and built by Maitre D' Francesco Ciorfito, where many ladies had their pictures taken with the gracious and patient Francesco. This was formerly held at midnight, but has now been moved to 7:30-8:30 pm with free champagne for all. There was an abundance of comedians on board. We thought the best was Cary Long in the Explorer's Lounge. The well organized "Princess Patter" lists all the daily activities and events—Go have a ball.

PORTS OF CALL Day 1. Ft. Lauderdale, FL Depart 5:00pm Day 2. At sea Day 3. Grand Cayman Arrive 7:00am Depart 4:00pm Day 4. Roatan, Honduras Arrive 10:00am Depart 5:00pm Day 5. Cozumel, Mexico Arrive 7:00am Depart 8:00pm Day 6. At sea Day 7. Princess Cays, Bahamas Arrive 9:00am Depart 4:30pm Day 8. Ft. Lauderdale, FL Arrive 6:00am Disembark 7:00

DEBARKATION Debarkation was as organized and simple as embarkation. Passengers were called by their luggage tag colors. Wheelchair Passengers met at the Crooner's Bar and, since our color was already called, we had immediate assistance, thanks to our new acquaintance F & B Manager Claudio Guarnieri. We were off, collected our luggage, and were through customs, passport check and outside awaiting our son Marcello by 8:30am. Excellent!

CONCLUSIONS This was our fifteenth cruise on Princess and another pleasant one. We are now Elite members of the Captain's Circle, so we look forward to more cruises on Princess ships for the enhanced benefits, such as complimentary Mini Bar set up, free laundry and professional cleaning services, deluxe canape selections and, most of all, the special breakfasts at Sabatini's! However, our next cruises will be a three day cruise to nowhere on the new Allure of the Seas Nov. 23rd and a seven day Eastern Caribbean cruise on the same ship Jan 23rd, 2011. Happy Cruising!

Expand Review
Read More
Publication Date: September 11, 2010

Just back from a 7-day on the Golden Princess. First let me say this was my 10th cruise overall, first on Princess, 8 on Carnival and 1 on NCL. My wife and I are both in our 50's and are real easy to please. I'm not going to get into great detail on everything, but will try to keep things to a point.

We booked this cruise on Princess mainly because of the itinerary, ship times in port, and price. We chose an inside room for this trip. This being my first trip on Princess we really didn't no what to expect but were expecting just a little more than we got, I'm talking cruise ship. Our first impression of the ship was rather dull, not much done to the interior to add that bling affect. The ship was very clean and well maintained, but just didn't sparkle. I will get into that later. First the ports and check-in.

Seattle Check-in: If you fly in it's a 40-50 dollar cab ride depending on number of people. This is way cheaper than the ship offered transfer. The terminal area is rather small

but these people really knew how to get you checked in promptly, this had to be the easiest check-in we have ever had, showed up at 12.30 and was on the ship by 1.30 very impressive.

Juneau: We booked a ship tour of the Glacier and Fish Hatchery, well worth the price. If you haven't seen a Glacier up close this is a must see in your life. The town in general was awful, the same Jewelry stores that you find in any cruise port, and for that matter it was like being at any other cruise port with one exception, everyone speaks great English. If you travel here get outta town fast and see what they have to offer, which is the real beauty of Alaska

Skagway: The ship offered many tours but we decided to venture out on our own. We rented a mini van and traveled the Klondike Highway all the way to Emerald Lake, which is in Canada; this was another one of the great experiences of my life. This is the only way to see Alaska, plenty of stops that offer real souvenirs not the crap they sell in town. Be prepared to be stopped at the Canada border, these guys are very hard-core so don't make any jokes they are way too serious. The same for the trip back into the US, our border guards are the same but it gave me a good sense of security. (DO NOT FORGET YOUR PASSPORT) Both ways don't care if you're on a cruise ship or not. The town was just like I said for Juneau.

Tracy Arm Fjord: One word AWESOME, this is a must see in your lifetime. Nothing else to say.

Ketchikan: We decided to just walk the town, Creek Street and the town is very pleasant, the town still has the same stores as in each port but it was still a nice place to visit.

Victoria B.C: Not much to say, we stayed on the ship.

We stayed on deck 10. Room C532, our room Stewart had to be the hardest working gal on that ship, her name was Lilia and was just Outstanding, she was courteous, kind, and gracious. She seemed to always be at your door greeting you with a smile. She was by far the best we have ever had on a ship. Now for the not so good, this was the only ship we've been on that did not display any towel animals on your bed, way disappointing. This was always something we looked forward to at night, but not on this ship. Sorry Princess you missed the boat on this one. Every previous ship that we've been on was designed with some theme in mind, this ship was about as plain as you could get.

We had assigned dining at 5.30 in the Bernini Dining Room, our waiter and busboy did a superb job, they truly seemed like their jobs. The weeklong dinner menu was just ok; they seemed to put more emphasis on how fancy to make food vice making it taste good. A+ for creativity and a C- for taste. The only night that we truly enjoyed was Lobster night, hats off to the cooks on that night.

Shipboard shows: In twelve words ( The worst shows on any cruise ship we've been on to date), if I was the Princess show director I would resign, the shows had very little flair, no talent and frankly lacked that showroom experience. Very disappointing.

Tours: Be prepared to spend a lot for these tours, I'm by no means tight, but I think with the seasonal tours they have to up the prices to cover their yearly cost.

Disembark: Like check-in this was just way too smooth, we stayed in our room until our assigned meeting time of 9.45 in one the lounges, once we arrived in the lounge we were allowed off the boat and our luggage was waiting for us. (Way too easy). Was kind of hard to get a cab but nothing to complain about.

Overall we would rate this cruise as an 8 out of 10, so taking the good with the bad at least we got to see Alaska. The cruises we've taken on Carnival were always a 9 out of 10. Now, having said that, we always talk to a lot of people while cruising and find many with more cruises under their belts than us. Each of these folks had the identical experience we had. So if the issues we had don't seem big to you then Princess may be the way to go. For me I am going back to Carnival.

Expand Review
Read More
Publication Date: September 5, 2010

Overall the cruise was great. I went with my husband , 15 year old son and extended family . We stayed on Emerald Deck 8. Our room had a window (partially obstructed view). We were on the lifeboat deck but were located between lifeboats, so the view was still good. We couldn't afford the balcony room, but this allowed natural light in and I didn't feel as claustrophobic. My parents had a balcony room, (Caribe Deck 10), so we took advantage of their room too. Balcony was larger than we expected. It fit a round table and 4 chairs. If you get a balcony, go deck 10 or higher. Deck 9 balconies did not have overhead covering and were exposed to sun/rain. My sister and husband had an inside cabin. All three cabins/bathrooms were the same size. We had a room that could sleep 3-4 persons. Each bed had another that pulled down from ceiling above it to form a bunk bed. Steward will put bunk beds back for you during the day. Room service is included. You can get breakfast delivered to your room - just ask. You can

order fruit to be delivered to your room in the afternoon also.

Ask for egg crate foam mattress toppers for the beds and robes (can be ordered online or calling Princess Cruises in advance). We were missing both when we got there but we told the Steward and got them within a day. We didn't have top sheets on our beds and my comforter did not smell like it was freshly washed so we requested the sheets and got them the rest of the week. Do not over pack! They have laundry mats on each deck. $1.00 for washer, $1.00 for 30 minute dryer time (I used two cycles per load, and $1.00 detergent. Change machine was finicky. Had to get quarters at purser's desk. Ironing board and irons also available in laundry room (they were free to use). There were large sinks for hand washables too. When packing - remember - layer, layer, layer. I didn't take enough short sleeve tops. There will be times when you're spending time mostly inside the ship. You can always keep a sweater or jacket with you if you go out on deck.

We had great weather. Every port was sunny and warm (even in September). This is not typical from what we were told, but if you layer, you'll be prepared for any weather. Raincoat with hood is best.

Traditional dining at 5:30 pm worked well for us. Waiters got to know us by name, and anticipated our drink orders and preferences. Get a table by the window if possible. We saw some wonderful views while dining. Buffet was open very early till late at night but we didn't like eating there as much. Waiters were sometimes slow bringing our drink orders. Twice I tried to get a waiter's attention and they acted like they didn't hear me (when it was obvious that they at least saw me trying to flag them down). Drinks that are available anytime are water, unsweetened ice tea, coffee, hot tea, and hot chocolate. My husband and son got the soda sticker for their cards. It totaled $34.00 for the week. It is only available for purchase on the 1st day. A sticker for $9 a day (more like $11.00 when you add the gratuity and taxes), is available for soda, milkshakes and mock cocktails. I didn't end up getting it and was glad I didn't. I don't think I drank enough to justify it.

When choosing room location, I'd recommend the Starboard side (when facing front of ship). The views were best on that side. Also try to be mid to aft of the ship. Most nightclubs/shops/restaurants are located on that end of the ship. The only exception is the theatre which is in the front of the ship. The carpet color is different on the starboard and port sides of ship. This is helpful when returning to your room. Odd and even rooms are on either side of the ship.

Activities are fun. Just make sure you get there about 10 minutes in advance for ballroom and line dancing classes. The instructor always started them early. Shows in Princes theatre are good too, but get there at least 20 minutes in advance to get a seat. Some were standing room only. Naturalist is great. I loved her lectures. She speaks over intercom in common areas while cruising through Tracy Arm Fjord. Trivia was our favorite. We won once and got medals and champagne for a prize. Bingo is expensive - starts at $10 a card. Still popular though. Comedians were very good. Especially like Ron Lucas.

Ports of Call:

All ports have tour information available when you disembark. Ship's excursions are more expensive. There is a large tour building at Ketchikan with every tour available. You can bicker with the operators for a better rate! Tour of Ketchikan cost $50 a piece. My sister managed to get them for $40. My husband, son and I took the Duck tour. It was disappointing. We did get to see some bald eagles up close but wished we had spent more time in the town. Make sure you get to Creek Street. Salmon were spawning on our trip. Very thick in stream and saw them jumping up the falls. Two large seals were feasting on the salmon when we were there. Fun to watch. Lumberjack show a little overrated. Similar to other lumberjack shows that we've seen at local outdoor show. Incline plane to Fox Lodge was a little disappointing too. Not as scenic as I expected.

Juneau - We paid extra for city tour but there wasn't a whole lot to see. Breezed past Capitol building and state buildings. They took us to an island across from it but there wasn't much there. Recommend the bus to Mendenhall Glacier for $7 each way and walking through town on your own. Must see - the Red Dog Saloon. Sky ride was extremely expensive. We opted out.

Skagway was our favorite port but we didn't have enough time there. Shuttle bus to town is $2.00 each way or $5.00 unlimited. White Pass Scenic railway was awesome. If you buy the ticket as an excursion from the cruise line, you have to catch the train at the dock. Would recommend doing the train first and walk through town afterward. We took the afternoon train and had to shuttle to town, and shuttle back to dock to catch the train. Shuttle lines got long at times. More inconvenient. The train followed the trail of the miners during the Yukon Gold rush. Not good if you're afraid of heights. Try to get on the left side of the train (while facing the front of the train). Will change seats with those across the aisle from you at top of mountain, but best narration is on the uphill climb.

Architecture of town was just like the late 1800s. We didn't have time for the museum -very disappointing. Park service offers free tours. We had to leave it midway through to catch the shuttle to the train in time. Must see - Red Onion saloon. You'll feel like you stepped back in time.

Beautiful views on port side of trip after you leave Skagway. Lots of snow peaked mountains/glaciers/waterfalls. Liked it as much as Tracy Arm.

Victoria B.C. is the only place I would recommend getting a cruise excursion. Shuttle to town was inexpensive, but line was very long. We took a taxi for 4 which cost $10 each way. We didn't get to town until 8:00 pm and the stores closed at 9:00 pm! It beautiful to see but there wasn't much we could do at that time of night.

Teen program is great. We went after Labor Day so there were only 5 teens participating (the week before there were 80). They played video and board games/cards together and had karaoke/dance parties. My son loved it.

We began our trip with a few days in Seattle. Stayed at Maxwell hotel. It was close to everything. Don't need to rent a car. Walk to Seattle Center (Space needle/monorail). Monorail is $2.00 each way and will take you to downtown. Free bus service in town until 7pm. Don't miss Pike's Place Market and Underground Tour . Ferry ride is fun too.

Try to take the 10 day cruise if you can. I'm disappointed that we couldn't see Glacier Bay. Even so, it was a great experience overall. All the staff were friendly (not sure if it was sincere sometimes), but they did go out of their way to accommodate us. I've never been so pampered. I would highly recommend it.

Expand Review
Read More
by Marcia
Publication Date: April 10, 2011

Princess Cruises Ruby Princess by Marcia Eastern Caribbean April 10, 2011

Food NOT fit for a Princess

Over all summary: Food was poor. Room steward was fabulous. Princess shore excursions were OK but costly. Onboard activities were varied and available. Both embarkation and disembarkation were a breeze in Fort Lauderdale. However, if you put aside the food [why would you? you are on a cruise for goodness sake!], the shows were good, there was a good selection of current movies, there were plenty of activities onboard and all the usual cruise ship things [photographers, pools, casino (even had a non-smoking night), exercise room, etc.] I looked forward to 2 things: great food and spending a few hours in the Sanctuary enjoying peace and quiet, but they had the nerve to charge $10 for each half day [0800 - 1230 or 1300 - 1700] and it was closed for 30 minutes at noon. I guess you have to go somewhere else for that 30 min. They do not charge for the pool so why charge for peace and quiet.

As an experienced traveler, cruiser and great cook, I was extremely unhappy with the food

throughout the ship, the Ruby Princess. Our first night we chose from the nightly menu and had good prime rib. That was the last good meal in the dining room or buffet. On 3 of the 7 nights we chose to eat in the buffet because nothing on the menu in the dining room sounded good. What a shame! On the last night I had beef tenderloin medallions cooked rare in the dining room. I have no idea what cut of meat it was; neither texture nor flavor were what I expected. Being a nightowl, I tried their buffet served from 2300 to 0400 one night. I was astonished that they had the audacity to serve left-overs from lunch and dinner. {Note: the 24 hour buffet is only 22 hours.} I love ice cream and the only way to get it was as dessert in the dining room. It was a good quality, but not available any other place or time. They only had soft serve in the ice cream shop or gelato for $1.50 a scoop in the pastry shop. A coke was $2 whenever you wanted one with a meal or at other times unless you paid $40 [$6 a day] for an insulated coke tumbler that you could have refilled all week with coke, diet coke, club soda or water. If you wanted to spend $56 [the kids cup, $8 a day] you could also get fruit juice, smoothies and milkshakes. You could get pineapple juice for breakfast by asking/begging for it but not at any other time without a kids cup. The extra "nickel and dime" for everything is terrible. Why don't they charge an extra $25.00 in the fare include the items and let the crew focus on doing their jobs rather than selling.

As for the stateroom: The best part of the cruise was our cabin steward. He was fabulous. When that is the best you can say about a cruise, it is a sad thing indeed. We had a balcony on the port side, forward, Riviera deck, R210. It was the first time we had a balcony and enjoyed it a lot. Also the port side of the ship had the better view at all ports. Since we have a nice RV the shower did not seem tiny. The shower, toilet, vanity area was adequate. Plenty of hanging space, about 6.5 feet, for a 7 day cruise; had a shelf above; a 12x14" cupboard with the safe with about 7 shelves. Each night stand had 2 drawers and a shelf. There was room for luggage under the bed. The desk had a cupboard with 2 shelves, mirror, phone, hairdryer and desk chair. There was a small refrigerator in another cupboard with a top that doubled as a bar and a flat panel TV on the wall above it. There was a club chair with arms and a small oval table for drinks or treats. The deck had 2 chairs and a small table.

In St Thomas do not bother with the B.O.S.S. underwater scooter trip. I thought it would be unique and it was, but it was not worth the time and money. The boat owner and his crew were exceptional and accommodating, but the scooter is difficult to maneuver and your view is restricted. The place they take you , Turtle Cove, is terribly overused and overpopulated with snorkelers so there is very little to see. The water is about 15 feet deep and your head is about 8 feet below the surface. I saw more while snorkeling while waiting for my turn than while on the scooter. I am a certified diver and should have gone SCUBA diving. I never have trouble clearing my ears while diving, but on this scooter I was clearing them the entire time. Later I found out that it is because your ears are under air pressure being inside the bubble helmet and your breathing is constantly changing the pressure rather than in the open water where once you get them cleared you are finished because you have equalized then to the water pressure.

We booked a tour with AAA for a tour of the island on St Maarten and were very happy with the driver and the tour. He made a point of telling us that he was our driver for the day and would take us anywhere we wanted as long as we were back by 1600. There were 8 of us in the van at about $50 a head. Next time we will hire a taxi when we get ashore as many other reviewers have suggested.

Do NOT go to the shops recommended by the cruise, not even for the 'free' trinkets they offer. They are not worth the time or trouble. Some shops gave them freely, but others made it difficult to get the freebie. AND different people got different treatment even in our small group of 4. We each went at different times and got different hassles. Furthermore, the cruise line is getting a kick back from the stores so you are not getting the best price. Do some research before you go to find some stores to patronize. Also be sure you know the price of gold and the price of whatever jewelry you think you might consider [diamonds, rubies, emeralds, sapphires, etc.] before you go. In one shop I had on my new diamond and ruby ring and I asked him how much it would cost there. He said $2500; I paid $2600 for it in Vegas so I would not have been worth the cost of the cruise to save $100.

On Princess Cays, check out the Bahamian shops behind the Princess store. They will appreciate your business.

I completed their post cruise survey and they called me to acknowledge my responses. They did not offer any kind of compensation or inducement to return for another cruise. I have a 3 page letter that I will send by email and snail mail and they gave me the addresses. I also wrote a one page letter of commendation for our steward. I gave him a copy before disembarking and will send copies of it to the addresses also. They printed it from my thumb drive at the customer service desk. Strangely, she blew on the USB connector before she inserted it into their computer.

It is not likely that I will travel with Princess again. This was a last minute, spur of the moment trip. I'll think harder and read some reviews before I spend this kind of money again.

Expand Review
Read More
Western Caribbean
Publication Date: April 2, 2011

Our first cruise,we had the most awesome time!! The cruise member ALL were great. entertainment, food, everything! I have not a bad to say. We even sang in the Pop Choir and Sara is a great crew member. Zumba fun also. We are in our 50's and are still on a vacation high after a week. Loved our cruise! thank you

Read More
Eastern Mediterranean
Publication Date: November 20, 2010

After booking our next cruise last April (we sail in Novermber) with Princess, a few months later we saw a better price. We called Princess and requested the lower price. Princess said they no longer honor the "low price guarantee." And the more we read, we see more and more cruise lines are following this policy. So, what advantage is there to booking early?

Read More
Sea Princess
Publication Date: November 15, 2010

Official Barbados Tourist link;

Our 5th cruise is now completed (November 15 - 29, 2010) We completed all our packing, clothes, monies, electronic gadgets including sanity ready to see family in Barbados and then get on the wonderful 14 day cruise of the Islands around Barbados (Grand Caribbean Adventurer Round-trip Barbados). We live in Victoria , Vancouver Island , Canada so ahead of us were two main flights, Victoria to Toronto than Toronto to Barbados but we would have 10 days in Barbados to relax before boarding the Sea Princess.

We overnighted at the Airport Hotel in Toronto at Terminal 3. Beware of Airlines these days who change aircraft on you. Air Canada changed their aircraft from Boeing 763 / 767 to an Airbus 321 / 319.

We had booked Executive Class and were looking forward to those new 'Stretch and Lie Down seats. Well at least we still had more leg and seat pitch room plus were able to relax in the lounges. In all our years visiting family in Barbados I had not seen any of the Islands around Barbados


The cruise itself...(14 days) Left on a Monday, November 15, 2010

Bridgetown, Barbados with days being, Grenada, At Sea, Bonaire- Aruba , Curacao- Antilles, At Sea, Grand Turk- Caicos Islands (became an extra Sea Day) , At Sea, Tortola- B.v.i., St. Maarten, Antigua, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, Trinidad , Barbados. Arrived back on November 29, 2010

I did a couple of things prior to the trip. Bought Trip and Medical Insurance, ordered Rum and Coke and Ginger for the cabin, new summer clothes bought, as I discovered I had no short sleeves shirts and found four pairs of pants bought last year hidden away. My Bajan wife was right, you need more clothes in the tropics and wear shorts. In our case we travelled with an extra suitcase which came in handy for all the gifts we bought on the islands for grandchildren and dirty clothes. For dirty clothes we had a plastic bag that compresses air.

As we were walk-on passengers not Air/Cruise then we were driven to the terminal where you can get a porter to take your bags to the ship ($1 each bag minimal) as you have to walk through the actual terminal which is full of great shops, phones. A person is at a table to ensure you sign the health form questions, then checks your name off a list. In our case we confused them as the list was really only Air/Cruise passengers so I just said look we do have our tickets, where do we board.

You have to walk outside the terminal , across a road and into the shed near the ship. The shed is where most of the Brits on the Air/Cruise arrive by bus around mid afternoon, in our case we came about 2pm and were able to miss all the hordes arriving by bus that day. As we walked in the shed from the ship side then we had to navigate the ropes to control the mob, just us two to see about 15 check-in folks wondering who we were. In two minute we were checked in , CC verified, and then stopped by the photographer as were his first ones.

On to the ship, sea card into security unit and SMILE. Nobody takes you to your cabin but they do ask what deck and point to elevator. We were on Aloha (deck 10) A327 Balcony which at first we found small because we had been on Golden Princess a few years back which is a newer ship. Not to worry , once we had our bags and unpacked, lots of room for two adults and the balcony does help for privacy and quiet.

The service by our room steward was great in he respected our times in the room and we told him when we would be out, it also helps to place the card that says clean or leave us alone please in the lock. One day our toilet overflowed by not stopping when filling during the ships emergency practice day and our steward responded to my cry for help as he was out in the hall, five minutes later our safe would not open as I had accidentally pressed a reset button. The Pursers Office sent some one up to reset the combination. course leading zeros are not recommended. A few days later our shower control knob parts flew off onto the shower floor. I had a small set of tools and fixed it then called our steward to let him know.

The ship is about 2,200 passengers of which we had 1,915 Brits on board, 25 USA , 26 Canadians and a mix of others which means when the sun is out then you better get a lounge chair early as all the Brits will be SUNNING themselves.

Our table mates were great as we had a table of 10, all with different accents including us and our servers were great but over worked as they had three other tables of 4-6 each plus they get your wine and rum for you. We closed the room most nights as we were on 2nd seating and because of that missed some of the shows. The main theatre is not that large and only one aisle is in the middle which makes moving through the seats ugly at times so you normally have to arrive 15-30 minutes prior to a show, not my style. Shows were not bad but I found the bar and movie better , the shows tend to repeat including the daily events each day.

It is a nice ship and had been adjusted for British tastes in food, beer but the only Caribbean food offered was Jamaican Jerk Chicken, they could offer more variety of Island food but I understand majority of food, is out of the states and shipped frozen. The food was good and meals were hot. Wine testing event was not expensive ($15) for five samples and a free glass. We had an extra sea day when we could not dock at Grand Turks due to waves and wind and as this is a port intensive cruise , my thought would be to introduce a 4th sea day in the last five days.

All the Islands offer different variety and experiences but when it comes to shopping it is better to space your purchases out per Island otherwise you might have bought everything in the first few days.

The ship offers specials on the first sea day and Internet specials as in coupons of xn free minutes are offered the first day and then some others. The only add-on expense is when they charge you $4 for an admin fee to setup your Internet. The speed can be very slow , stick to emails or use Internet cafés on Islands , most Islands will not give you free access unless you buy something.

St Lucia was one of our best islands including its rum and tour. The ships excursions were fine as we normally take 1/2 day type ones and take other days to tour by walking around the dock area ourselves. St Maarten is wild when six cruise ships are in, like 20,000 folks.

What seems to be new is that every island wants to see your sea card for security and you must have your passport on your person, no exception. Some of the docks are large to walk to the ship, so ensure you are on board before the appointed time. If it rains on the way back the crew offer towels and coffee on the dock, nice gesture.

The only thing that bothered me was when having lunch or an afternoon snack at the buffet as most times a section was closed off to allow setup for supper . The food and choices were fine and they do come to your table offering drinks , coffee , tea .

Most of the crew do go out of their way to help you and it is a nice ship. The cruise itself is busy but that is me as I like to have some do nothing days We had a wonderful time and will do it again.

Cheers /Rob

My Blog:

Expand Review
Read More
Write a Review
Results 51 - 60 of 582 3456789