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.
Regions:Alaska, California Coastal, Panama Canal
Good for: Teens. First-time Cruisers. Families.
Regions:Alaska, Asia & Africa, Australia
Good for: Families. Teens. Children`s Programs.
Regions:Canada, Caribbean, Europe
Good for: Teens. Children`s Programs. Group.
Regions:Alaska, California, Hawaii
Good for: Teens. Children`s Programs. Group.
Regions:Caribbean, Europe, Transatlantic
Good for: Seniors. Value for Money. Group.
Regions:Caribbean, Europe, Transatlantic
Good for: Seniors. Disabled Travelers. Overall Service.
Regions:Alaska, California, Hawaii, Mexico
Good for: Teens. Children`s Programs. Families.
Regions:Alaska, California, Hawaii, South America
Good for: Families. Overall Service. Seniors.
Regions:Canada, Caribbean, Europe
Good for: Families. Seniors. First-time Cruisers.
Regions:Caribbean, Europe, South America
Good for: Teens. Children`s Programs. Families.
Regions:Asia & Africa, Australia, Europe
Good for: Group. First-time Cruisers. Families.
Regions:Alaska, California, Hawaii, Mexico
Good for: Overall Service. Seniors. Families.
Regions:Alaska, California, Panama Canal
Good for: Seniors. Group. Singles.
Regions:Asia & Africa, Australia, Europe
Regions:Asia & Africa, Australia, Europe, Hawaii
Good for: Seniors.
Good for: Overall Service. Foodies. Seniors.
Regions:Asia & Africa, Australia, Panama Canal
Good for: Seniors. Group. Families.
Regions:Asia & Africa, Australia, South Pacific, Tahiti
Good for: Overall Service. Disabled Travelers. Seniors.
The Regal Princess the newest in the Princess fleet takes what we love about its ships and betters it:
More pizzazz in the piazza. The Regal’s stunning atrium is way bigger, giving a spacious and open feel to the hub of the ship. It’s all done up in marble and glass, with lounges that jut towards the center and tables positioned to eye all the action.
And action there is. In turns there was a steel drum, different bands and juggler, as well as the Captain’s Welcome champagne waterfall, a balloon drop and on our trip, even a groom whisking his bride across the dance floor.
The International Café is as good as always, with its 24-hour offerings of terrific quiches, sandwiches, salads and desserts.
A robust buffet with better navigation. Princess has always had the best buffet at sea, with quality unmatched by the other mass market lines. This new Horizon Court stretches out on both sides of the ship, with a Pastry Shop in between think “H” shaped.
Part of the buffet, “Horizon Court Bistro,” has lighter fare (Note: you can tell the difference because the furniture is white while in the regularbuffet, it’s brown. This is important because my first time there, I got seriously lost.)
There’s never congestion or seating issues, and the options are seemingly endless from American fare to Asian, some even with spice.
To this foodie’s delight, there was papaya and smoked fish such as mackerel, Mahi-Mahi and trout at breakfast (there was even an “everything chocolate” section the last morning). There were good choices at lunch, but dinner is where the really special stuff made an appearance: poached salmon; shrimp; cheeses such as Stilton, Port Salut, Havarti and camembert; and dried figs, dates and apricots.
Desserts at lunch and dinner such as opera cake, peach cobbler, various mousse-y-cakes, pineapple upside down were nearly always of good quality. And you could always rely on fabulous rolls at every meal, which varied from sunflower seed-studded to focaccia.
Love that Norman. The Norman Love desserts are knockouts as yummy to eat as to look at. The main dining room had several a kind of tiered chocolate, meringue thing, and a chocolate and pistachio dome. The Crown Grill featured a milk chocolate peanut butter bar.
MUTS is now a must. The Movie Under the Stars big screen is not just bigger than previous ships, but the picture is much sharper. We were really taken aback by the difference. It’s now actually worth watching a movie you’ve been wanting to see on that screen. And you get a blanket and popcorn to boot.
What could be improved
Like all the cruise lines and all their ships, not everything is perfect, and the Regal is no exception:
MDR a mixed bag. The main dining room food was fair, with a few decent dishes amid a sea of mediocrity and sometimes, dishes that just weren’t quite right. A mixed seafood skewer early on and lobster tail on form night were well prepared and flavorful. But the Red Snapper and Beef Wellington failed on both.
Design flaws. The Regal has some of the same weirdness in layout of other Princess ships, such as some dining rooms that can only be accessed by certain parts of the ship.
And the jogging track on Deck 18 was clearly an afterthought. While it has wide separate lanes for joggers and runners, it’s a small track (seven laps=a mile) and when we tried to use it one day, we were shooed away, as the crew was doing maintenance there at 6 p.m.
A small room with a view. The standard balcony staterooms are smaller on the Regal than the Caribbean Princess. If you can afford it, it’s a good ship to spring for a mini-suite, a Princess specialty. If you pick the right ship, itinerary and time a year, you’ll not pay much more for a mini-suite, yet the difference is enormous. Think full-sized couch vs. two chairs. More storage space than we could even fill.
The bottom line
Princess still deserves the crown for the best all-around cruise experience and the Regal delivers its best. Even the “Love Boat” “crew” thinks so.
I just returned from a 15-day Hawaii cruise on Ruby Princess and I am disappointed in what I see going on with Princess. I have cruised with Princess six times over the past 16 years and I have noticed a decline in everything on Princess. On this cruise, the shows in the main showroom were not of the quality of the past. The main production show didn't have the usual awe and pop and the specialty entertainment was sub par at best.
This cruise didn't have the usual quality Vegas style magic act, and the two comedians were just mediocre and boring. One singer that impersonated Nat King Cole was great and the other singer was just ok. It seems that Princess is also attempting to save money on the entertainment. The showroom seats 800 and the first show always filled up fast. You needed to get to the first show at least 45 minutes early to have any chance of a good seat. With two shows most nights and 3100 passengers, only half the people had a chance to see the show. Princess is now attempting to squeeze everypenny from its passengers.
The adult sanctuary now charges to use its services. In the past, it was free unless you wanted to rent a cabana. Princess has seriously increased their price for shore excursions and I believe it is to offset the free room credits they now give. As an example, on our previous Hawaii cruise, the cost of a shore excursion to Pearl Harbor was $89 per person. The same excursion now is $129 per person and all but $22 of that cost is for the round trip bus ride. The $22 was the veteran discount cost for each person to see the Missouri battleship which offers a free shuttle from the Arizona memorial. The Arizona memorial and all of its various museums are free. To get there, the cost to take a city bus one way is $2.00 and $1.00 for seniors and takes about 1/2 and hr. The cost to take a taxi (regardless of the number of people) was $39 one way.
On this cruise, we decided to do this excursion ourselves and the total cost round trip including transportation for five people was $127. The same excursion through Princess would have been $635 for five people and not veteran discount available. The specialty restaurants are great, but have increased their surcharge by $5 to $25 per person.
The alcohol drinks have increased to an average of about $9.50(they were about $6.50) and I noticed that very few people were drinking the beverages. Princess has priced themselves out of the alcohol market and either don't know it or don't care. Coffee is free in the buffet and restaurants however, the 24hr international cafe' sadly charged for a basic cup of coffee.
The anytime dinning was a joke to get reservations. Each morning when I attempted to make reservations, I was told that only 5:30 and 7:45 were available, but they would accommodate walk-ins. If you walked into the restaurants without a reservation, you had a wait of 10 minutes to almost 1 hour. One restaurant only accepted walk-ins from 5:30 until 6pm, then closed its doors to walk-ins until 7:30 pm. The staff in the dinning rooms were hurried and were assigned too many tables to handle. In the past, one team of waiters were assigned one or two tables and the service was quick. Now, the service was slow. The time it took from the moment the waiter took our order until the entree' arrived averaged one hour and 15 minutes each night and this is unacceptable. I noticed several people would get up and leave because the service was slow. It appears Princess is cutting costs in the wrong area.
In the buffet, waiters now serve you beverages that passengers can easily get themselves. One can see where the much needed help in the restaurants has been needlessly diverted. In the new specialty restaurant called Share, the cover charge was a whopping $39 per person. The food was great however, you were limited to selecting only one entree" and the portions were small.
On a few nights, the Cafe' Caribe buffet was converted to a seafood restaurant called the Crab Shack and the food was great. The $20 per person cover charge was worth the all you can eat king crab. I noticed this ship no longer has the midnight bistro and found this very disappointing as it was a great place to go for a late night bite to eat.
The ship now has a free ice cream machine however, if you wanted the same ice cream mixed with milk in the form of a shake, they charged you $1.50.....more money squeezing. On to the gym to work off all those calories, but wait. This ship charges an insane $60 or so to take an aerobics class. What next? Will they charge a fee to use the workout equipment?
We went ashore in Hilo and wanted to use the free shuttle to go to town. We were told that tickets were no longer being given out. This is very poor planning on the part of Princess with a ship this size. Princess does not prepare towel animals in your stateroom and this takes from the cruise experience that other cruise lines offer. I asked my room steward if they could prepare towel animals each night and was given a "yes". I never got one towel animal. Overall, the waits were longer, the quality of food was not as good as in the past and the assorted extra charges were more and higher cost. I don't think I will be traveling with Princess any longer.
Beautiful ship, but nothing like what Royal Caribbean offers. We have sailed about a dozen times but mostly with Royal Caribbean. Tried Carnival once, that was all we needed. This was our first with Princess, beautiful, but since I am only 50, and my wife is only 43, and the average age on our cruise with Royal Princess was 75, with tons of scooters and walkers, wasn't for us. Don't get me wrong, my mother needs help at times, but I didn't know the scooters had the right of way, and my toes paid dearly for it several times.
The boarding process was very outdated, they need to see how RCCL (Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines) does it. The facility was old and dirty and the wait was too long to get on, where with RCCL I walk on every time.
The rooms, not very big and the small couch was a joke, again apples to apples, RCCL was much nicer.
The Dining room for dinners, well the staff was untrained, and slow. The food lacked the quality. The buffet was AMAZING, the staff was great the food was awesome!!!
Again, it is abeautiful ship, I would go on it again once I was in my 70's or 80's.
I have been on all the big new RCCL ships and a few of the smaller ones, so RCCL has my heart!
THE BEST PART OF THE CRUISE ....... when we pulled out of port each time and they played the theme from The Love Boat
This review involves a 19 day cruise/tour during which we voyaged for two weeks on the Caribbean Princess, October/November-2015. Beginning in Toronto and ending in Houston. My rating is an overall 4 points, however, I give the land tour portion a # 5 rating. We have sailed with Princess since 1990, over the last year we have sailed on the Regal Princess, Regal's sister-- Royal Princess, Coral Princess and now the Caribbean Princess which gives us 209 total days sailing with Princess. Would we sail again with Princess? You betcha.
We find much to like in the Princess overall cruise product, this sailing on the Caribbean was no exception; we encountered the same on our three previous Princess cruises during the last year. We prefer the smaller vessels but lately have began to see some benefit of voyaging on these larger ships. So, this was a very good memorable cruise, it would rate a four plus star in my opinion except for the main dining room, which has a few issues.
The Caribbean is eleven years old and one of the Princess "Grand Class" ships, however it carries 500 more passengers thanits three sisters do, this is due to an added deck, the Riviera Deck, otherwise it is pretty close to identical in most aspects to the Star Princess which we have also sailed on. Princess actually reduced the crew on the Caribbean over that on the Star, so the obvious is evident, one gets significantly less crowding and more service on the three sisters. We have read and heard comment that this vessel is not kept up. I find that not accurate at all. The ship was very clean, with new carpets throughout. One person told me on this cruise that it was a "rust bucket" another C.C. review commentator mentioned the "dents" in the interior walls. I find the crew continually painting and scraping, rarely do I notice rust spots. Sometimes on cabin balconies next to the gutter area, subject to salt water spray, one sees rust but only because it is difficult to remove since the cabins are almost in constant use. If one wants to moan about a bit of rust here and there, then look at the HAL ships or even Regent's for that matter.
With respect to the "dents" the commentator does have a point, however, I believe that is in reference to a design deficiency with placement of the wainscoting in all corridors in almost all of the Princess ships constructed within the last 15 years or so. These "dents" are all located on the corner of the alcoves leading into stateroom doors. (Alcoves are great, in that they allow a space to get out of the corridor when entering or leaving ones cabin and a place to leave baggage during disembarkation/embarkation.) The corridors are wainscoted with a beige colored rug material, the dents occur on the corners leading into the alcoves. This means that the wall board material to which the wainscoting is attached is not strong enough to withstand impact by utility carts, motorized wheelchairs, etc. We first noticed this on the Royal when it was less than a year old, on the very new Regal last month we did not notice any dents, if so, perhaps they beefed up the supporting material on the corners under the wainscoting. It does look terrible on this ship and other Princess ships, particularly when the rest of the corridor and rug is maintained in impeccable order. Almost 80% of the alcove corners on the Caribbean suffer this damage. Princess has let this go on for too long, new ship after new ship, makes for a blemish on their normally good creditability.
Here is my "Outstanding" through "Ugly" assessment for this particular cruise/tour and ship:
---I consider the "Skywalkers lounge" on the Princess Grand Class ships to be an outstanding feature. They are located high up on the stern, higher than anything else except the stacks. A panoramic view exists from them and during daylight it is something else to look forward as the ship races through the seas.
--On the ground portion of our cruise tour they had names on all the coach seats each morning. This was great, no pushing and shoving to get ahead in the queue and the first on each morning, your seat is ready for you regardless, which makes for a much more relaxed start to the day. Also, they switched name tags around each morning to make certain everyone got a good seat at least once. First time we experienced that. Bravo.
--Formal Nights--We do love formal nights, they had three on this cruise. Quite a few appear to prefer no formal nights at all. For us, it hearkens back to the days of yore, days of romantic ocean travel which many yearn for the return thereof. Those who shun the penguin suit nights try to avoid the MDRs in favor of the buffet and other venues. It appears that among those other "venues" the specialty high end restaurants are being targeted. So, Princess has responded by requiring formal dress in their specialty restaurants on formal nights, you have to agree to that or you get no reservation. They are supposed to not sit those who dress inappropriately. Humorously and coincidentally, as I was composing this review we had a formal night dinner reservation in Prime Seven. Soon after being seated, there erupted a heated altercation between the maitre d' and a guest, the guest, dressed in a white short sleeve T-shirt with a collar, commonly called a "polo shirt", was getting the heave-hoe, and not liking it at all.
--The specialty restaurants were pretty good, particularly Sabatini's and the Crown Grill. We also booked the "Crab Shack" almost every time we had the opportunity (Do yourself a favor and don't miss that if you love shell fish). The only disadvantage is the specialties have the same menu each night so if you eat there a lot it can become mundane. Be advised to keep track of what is going on in other eatery venues too, since some of them have specials that you will only know about by reading the daily "Princess Patter". For instance, one Sunday morning on the Regal I noticed that the Crown Grill/Wheel House Bar was having a "Traditional British Pub Lunch" at no extra charge except for drinks, it was outstanding, it was from 11:30 AM-2:30 PM we got there about 12:15 and joined a small line, when we left the line was over a 100 feet long.
--We had a very clean mini-suite with a new carpet and were pleased with the size of the room, but it does not have a curtain divider making for a clear separation of the bedroom, which has a new flat screen TV, refrigerator (ice bucket therein kept full every day), open cabinet and a desk, from the living area which has a large sofa, coffee table, seat, open cabinet and a new flat screen TV. Pulling the curtain allows one to read while the other watches TV or sleeps. The balcony size is significantly larger when compared to the two new and larger Princess ship's mini-suite balconies, Regent and Royal; also the suite proper is slightly larger on this ship as well. (I'm torn between preferring a curtain separating the room in two parts or liking the layout of this cabin which does not have a curtain but has a half moon shaped open and closed cabinet system against one wall in the middle and against the opposite wall, is a partial divider wall with a desk connected to it).
--I use the hot tubs everyday, there are nine hot tubs on this ship while the huge newest Princess ships offer only six and one of the six has no jets. Two on the Caribbean are much hotter than the others which is about time they got the temperature exactly right for me. Those two are found along side the outside adults only swimming pool you can access from the Lotas Spa and Fitness center. The other hot tubs are a little too cool for my taste, too cool is what I found as well on the Regal, Royal and Coral as well as most voyages we have taken on Regent. Unlike our sad experience on the Coral Princess in January there were always towels everywhere all the time, and I mean all the time, no exceptions, good going.
--The before dinner Exclusive Elite Lounge for elite and platinum guests where hors d'oeuvres and half priced cocktails are available is much appreciated. This occurs in one half the Skywalkers Lounge high above the rest of the ship in the stern rendering a beautiful panoramic view of the surrounding sea.
--This ship's fitness center is great. Not overcrowded and has plenty of good equipment so there are almost no wait lines. We use it every sea day.
--Shore excursions including the land portion on coaches, were all well organized and very good, at least all those we took, which involved every port. The area tour in Newport, Rhode Island and the New York Brooklyn Bridge walk and area tour rate extra credit. So did the day at Niagara Falls on the land portion.
--After we began to get some sea days to do it on, Princess provided an excellent enrichment lecture series by Dr. Harold Tinberg. Judging from the way he absolutely packed the theatre, standing room only, others must share my opinion. Princess has always done a pretty good job in my opinion of providing for good lectures, this often is one of my favorite aspects of the voyage. I would suggest however that the lecturer presentations get back to focusing more on the areas being visited from historic, cultural and political perspectives, instead of dealing with subjects not remotely connected to the pertinent voyage. For instance, on this voyage and associated cruise-tour we traveled the entire length of the St Lawrence Seaway, an area of the world rich in hundreds of years worth of history and historic events, not one mention of this at all on this ship. This is not to say they shouldn't have had Tinberg or another equivalent, they should have both. I have a hunch that two enrichment lectures on a sea day might detract too much from art auctions, the casino, wine tasting and other money raising events.
--The "Elite" Captain's Circle benefits, like complimentary wine tasting, initial free mini-bar set up and upgraded bathroom amenities, are greatly appreciated. Number one of these perks, for my wife, is the free laundry and for me, the free internet time.
--Unlike Princesses' newest and larger ships, Regal and Royal, this ship does have an real promenade deck, deck 7, and if you include the staircases leading up to the deck 8 wrap around walkway at the bow it is a complete wrap around promenade. It is fascinating that the cruiser's so called foremost authority on ships, Berlitz, edition after edition is fixed on trying to convince guests that the Royal and Regal have wrap around promenades. "The ship features a complete walk around Promenade deck." Actually: That statement is completely false, not anywhere close to being accurate. On those ships the promenade does not go around the bow or the stern. In fact, in the stern one is met by an almost vertical wall of steel where the promenade terminates. There are two bulged out areas on the promenade, one around mid-ship and one close to the stern, on each side of the ship. These are relatively small deck areas, 50'-75' in length on which they place a few recliners. Other than the bulged out portions most of the promenade deck area is closed to guests "crew only" however there are a few short walk-way interconnections between the bulged out portions which run between the windows and the life boats. These are approximately four feet wide where numerous pipes and other fittings occupy a good portion of those walk ways rendering them single file. I use this quote this from Berlitz, just to show you how even professional reviews can be grossly misleading, do your research before booking.
--It appeared to us the buffet area (Horizon Court) had better than usual good quality food. The ship did not seem to run out of desirable food and drink items which is often common on ships toward the end, like bananas, other fruits, good wines, ect. Like all buffets there is crowding at times but it was really bad during many our visits to the buffet and at times almost impossible to locate a place to sit. I do much prefer the layout of the Horizon Court on the Caribbean to those on Regal and Royal though, in that the seating and tables are much more cozy and private and pleasant to sit at while the seating in the two larger ships is more like a army chow line setup. Unfortunately, the space available in the buffet on the Caribbean is grossly inadequate for a full boat. Now, in fairness most this voyage occurred in fairly cold climates, spitting snow at times, therefore all the very abundant outside seating for eating was not used, forcing everybody inside, once we reached warmer climes, i.e. Charleston and south, the outside seating was utilized and the buffet seating situation became tolerable.
Wife says she misses the custom made omlets of the past, now all you get is a pretty much generic omlet, take it or leave it, on the Caribbean the special order options are even more limited and worse, she says. The crew must bring you a juice drink after you locate a table, this is okay and the juice glasses they use on the Caribbean Princess are of a decent size, the problem on the larger ships in this regard is that the glasses they serve you the juice in are half the size of what they used to be. What is next, orange juice in a shot glass?
--We used Princess Air, Princess transfers and Princess hotel accommodations at the beginning of the cruise and at the end we had our own air but used the Princess airport transfer which included a local tour of Houston before airport drop off. Were well satisfied with each.
--Sure nice to have free ice cream available almost all day from the ship's "Scoops" shop. No nickel and diming there. Even though I watch my diet, a little, and don't eat ice cream, I do like malted milk shakes and they make those for me for a couple of bucks extra.
--Some of the musicians playing at various times throughout the ship are pretty good.
--Princess Stateroom new large flat screen TVs (two in mini-suites) on the Regal are great. I certainly appreciate receiving BBC, MSNBC and CNBC and inclusion of major sporting events, for instance, just about every big NFL game was provided on the big screen over the swimming pool, in the bars as well as cabin TVs. The same held true for the World Series baseball games. Good going.
--We have earned free laundry perks but it is nice that Princess still has self service pay laundry facilities on their ships as it takes the load off of the ships laundry facilities, so we don't have to be rationed. HAL has quit putting self serve laundry facilities on their ships so you have to pay them to do it.
--The ships main desk personnel and its shore excursion personnel were very knowledgeable and due their hard work and attention handled most awkward situations professionally. Actually, all this ship's personnel are very friendly and exhibit excellent demeanor, I suggest a Christmas bonus for them all.
--There were very few times we had to wait very long for an elevator. Same number of elevators as the two larger new Princess ships have, where we were continuously waiting and waiting, however, those two both lack a central public staircase, which the Caribbean has in all three elevator towers, this may have a lot to do with the elevator jam ups on the two other ships.
--Very little smoking on this ship. It is only allowed at: In the casino at a limited number of slot machines except on non-smoking days and no smoking at gaming tables, the port side of the open deck Tradewinds Bar on deck 16, a 30 foot or so stretch for standing only on the open deck portion of the promenade on the starboard side, and in a enclosed lounge called "Churchill's" dedicated for smokers only. It appears smokers shun this Princess ship or refrain from lighting up on it. We observed no cheating, that is someone sneaking a puff where they were not supposed to, I'm sure there are exceptions but rare. That is good.
--Normally I'm not much on onboard shopping but I have to admit I'm impressed with the selection of sundries, drugs and other items in the boutique shops. One advantage the larger ships have over smaller vessels is the ability to stock and sell a lot of items not otherwise available. For instance, if your luggage doesn't connect with your sailing or if you forget something it is a comfort to know you might be able to find it on the ship, some of our cruises have resulted in weeks on end in parts of the world where ports had no helpful retail outlets.
--On port days, when we have to muster early, we have began to use room service for a hot breakfast. This works out well and Princess does a great job with the meal and getting it to the cabin on time. We notice some lines now charge for room service or only allow you to have a continental breakfast unless you pay for "butler service". Hang in there Princess.
--Princess is very good at keeping the corridors uncluttered. They don't like it if you put your dirty dishes out in the hall and if you do the steward usually asks you to keep it in your room. But for those who ignore this, dirty platters are usually whisked away. One time a couple stuffed their trays right out in the middle of the corridor so wheel chairs couldn't get by, didn't even bother putting them in their alcove. Some people just don't have any couth.
--Embarkation and disembarkation on cruise lines always seems to be controversial and stressful. We really can't complain, no long line waits, things actually went pretty smooth, coordination as to where you are supposed to muster at disembarkation could use some improvement though.
--I almost dread going to the Main Dining Rooms anymore (except on the almost all inclusive's). In the past, for an enjoyable cruise experience one needed to appreciate the MDR. Not always possible today, unfortunately, in my opinion. The MDR really had me debating whether or not to reduce this cruise's experience rating. At the risk of being too harsh on dining experience here, I must point out that ironically, on this cruise, the MDR kitchen and service staff were pretty good and worked very hard, plus, the food not bad at all, (That was not the case on the Coral in January, in addition to long wait times the kitchen and service personnel were grossly understaffed resulting in a very poor dining experience.) However, overall, the Caribbean dining rooms are grossly inadequate for the volume of guests they serve at dinner time. We only use "anytime dining" as we do not want to be relegated to two time slots for dinner as is the case with "traditional dining". On our first four visits to the MDR our wait times averaged about 45 minutes. This MDR problem is seemingly axiomatic throughout the majors as rating services now often say "At open seating you may have to wait a considerable time for a table". Some argue that a 30 minute plus wait time for any good restaurant on shore is the norm, therefore, cruise lines should not be held to higher standards. We are working our way toward 600 sailing days. Rarely have we ever ran into a situation where we had to wait more than a few minutes before being seated in the MDR, until last January on an 11 day voyage on the Coral Princess and now on the Caribbean Princess. Oh, yes, you can make reservations for anytime dining, LOL.
Maybe traditional diners do not experience the grief, confusion and long seating wait times that anytime diners do. Or, perhaps the dining venues are adequate in size and layout but the organization and scheduling of such is deficient to the point it creates much more confusion and consternation than is necessary. Speaking of organization and scheduling, we do know this, there are three main dining rooms on this ship, 1.5 dedicated to traditional and 1.5 to anytime. Except, traditional gets the first two hours of the dining room split between the two. When that dining room finally opens up for anytime, a "cannon could be fired through it" so to speak, without hitting anybody. Us on C.C. also are aware that 75% of us usually book anytime. Those of us who also use all inclusives are aware, that for the most part, they only offer anytime dining. The all inclusives have very little problem with seating, why doesn't Princess get rid of "traditional"? Who knows, except Princess, but they better start paying attention as it is getting worse in their MDR.
Toward the end of this voyage, however, things became more tolerable for us in the MDR because we delayed our preferred dinner time from 6:15 PM until about 7:15 PM.
Tip #1: If the MDR becomes objectionable, try to eat as many meals as possible in the specialty restaurants and other venues, such as on "Crab Shack" nights. The buffet isn't all that bad either, except of course when the crowding there is severe and service is limited, which is often, due to the relatively limited passenger space on the Caribbean and the poor staff to passenger ratios--most all these problems result from the addition of another passenger deck. In summary, limit the use of the MDR to about 25%-40% of your dining on board, that is if, you can not come up with a combination to get you into the dining room after a reasonable wait.
--It has been our experience to find, as a general rule, the Princess captains more outgoing an informative and easy to comprehend than captains with the other two lines we use, HAL and Regent, who often times offer only a dearth of information about what is going on. That does not mean however we haven't had a bummer for a captain on Princess in the past or real good captains on both HAL and Regent. That said, we never heard from this captain once, or at least I didn't hear him, the officer of the watch did all announcements. It would be nice for the bridge crew to explain difficulties they appear to be having, for instance with the stern thrusters, all one day they had a big marine outfit with divers and all working on this problem, parts and stuff spread all over the dock near the aft portion of the vessel. Other passengers with cabins in the stern had been talking about the heavy vibrations resonating throughout the ship when the stern thrusters were being employed. Judging from all the difficulty the ship had during sail away at Fort Lauderdale, apparently the deficiency is not yet corrected. Hope the next cruise isn't goofed up because of this thruster thing, when we disembarked in Houston there was quite a bit of attention being paid by the crew to this area of the hull, up to and including the bridge, who would activate the thrusters at a signal from those on the dock, only to be met by a grinding roar. Previously, our Princess captains and others have kept their guests in the know regarding similar problems. So, the captain might be great, who knows, he kept us safe though, which is the main thing.
---We don't attend the theatre productions very much anymore in order to see the comics, jugglers, and dance entertainment groups. One thing I do not care for is the crowded theatre in the evenings where some of the rows have close to 24 seats in them; many people come very early and grab the isle seats compelling those coming later to squish by the knees of as many as 12 people to get to a open seat, furthermore, these people are reluctant to stand when someone walks by and there is not much more than a few inches between their knees and the seat in front. If one chooses to order a cocktail while seated like that, forget it. I miss the theatre layouts from before, although there is one advantage with this ship, there are no ceiling posts to block views. I do use the theatre for enrichment lectures, although these draw impressive audiences it isn't as overcrowded at those times.
--Finally and unlike the newest Princess ships, this one does have navigation charts posted on the ship. Daily progress however is not updated and other seagoing information pertinent to the voyage is still lacking. After we passed Charleston an additional chart was put up, so we could see how we navigated the Florida Keys, which was good. Apparently the Carnival Corp is beginning to rely on passengers to glean info regarding the daily progress of the vessel from their cabin TV. It is true that technology has allowed for this but we find that info on the Royal and Regal TVs is not all that informative. On this ship I couldn't find any daily voyage info on the TV, in the daily Princess Patter there is an abbreviated comment or two about this from the "Navigator". Maybe most passengers don't care where they are or what surrounds them, position wise, channel wise, country wise, etc. Not me though?
--Not certain why Princess has significantly reduced the number of hand sanitizer stations once found abundantly throughout their ships. Are they going back to the era of mass epidemics or do they know something we don't about sanitizing? Certainly hope it is not a cost saving ploy. For what it's worth though, this voyage was "bug free". I.e.,no hacking and coughing all around in theatres etc. late in the voyage. Hurray.
--There were a couple of smudges on my white dinner jacket, so before the next formal night my wife sent it to the ship's cleaners, which you pay extra for. They sent it back, saying they didn't have the necessary equipment on board to remove spots. First time we ever ran into that.
--Their Internet cafe is small but larger than those on the much larger newest Princess ships, Regal and Royal. Both it and the library are obviously not designed for long world excursion style voyages. The library and the internet cafe on the Caribbean Princess share the same location. The internet is very good and one of the fastest we have experienced on ships, additionally, we get the signal on my laptop almost anywhere on the vessel. Pricey, but we have some internet perks due to our "elite" status so that helps.
--Big on this ship as well as most others in the industry is that many cruisers like the art auctions, part of the on board entertainment programs. Okay, but not for me. These art appraisal prices are done by the art provider, a company that pays the cruise line to be onboard. I guess that is acceptable since so many guests seem to like this, the same goes for the casino as well, even though they know the house always wins in the long run. However, as with the casino, the art exhibits take up huge amounts of on board real estate. I find myself tripping over these exhibits when trying to negotiate the cluttered maze they present when trying to find my way around the ship. They simply get in the way and detract from a quality cruise for yours truly.
--Shore excursions and overloaded coaches---Apparently the days when Princess didn't load the coaches to the max on shore excursions is gone, I guess. Just about every coach we traveled on during this cruise/tour was almost packed. Speaking of coach travel problems, one of which is not necessarily a problem relegated only to Princess tours but one I have a real problem with, is the people who pull the window shades down during sightseeing. Twice on the ground portion of this trip folks felt compelled to pull their shades down due to "sun", they could see the landscape under the shade though while folks behind and across the isle could see very little in that direction. Unfortunately, due the packed coach, there was no seats to move to in order to get away from the curtain pullers. Makes one wonder why they even booked a "sightseeing" tour.
--Princess just can't seem to get a handle on developing a functional system under which they can locate passenger wine bottles stored between meals. It is not just us either, we have witnessed similar wine debacles taking place at tables near us. Tip: take your wine bottle or what is left of it to your room after dinner, I think they prefer you do that and it works out well for us. Make sure they leave the cork at your table and not take it with them, they usually do but not always.
--I am not at all satisfied with the emergency procedures, facilities for such and the drills etc, or the lack thereof, needed to cope with a disaster at sea involving a vessel of this size. The complexities of such give me the chills when I contemplate the potential of a catastrophic accident at sea involving fire, collision or other seagoing eventualities, particularly if the vessel experiences a rapid list to one side or the other. It doesn't appear to me that Carnival Corp learned much from their Costa Concordia sinking.
--Already mentioned, wainscoting dents on corners of cabin alcoves.
--Throughout the cruise, but more noticeable toward the latter days, "really bad" the last day at sea, is the smell of sewage in the forward elevator lift area of promenade deck 7, this is immediately outside of the Princess Theatre. It is also noticeable on the starboard outside promenade deck at that location and sometimes wafts upward to where it is noticeable on decks 9 and 10 balconies. Since Churchill's Lounge must also vent out near that same location the cigar smoke is almost a relief when it overcomes the smell of the sewage.
--One area that has always irritated me on all our cruises and most buffet venues on shore is that tongs are allowed to drop back into the food after someone has handled and touched them. Princess is no exception. In fact some buffets have little trays where one is supposed to lay the tongs or forks or spoons after dishing up the food, for the most part Princess has very few places to lay the tongs so many passengers just drop them right back into the middle of the platter, they might as well handle the food directly.
The cruise was a 7 days cruise and was and my husband and I would not recommend to anyone. The cruise left out of Houston late and it was not because of the weather. but was because we left Houston so late. the We wee to port In Rotan Honduras, but were not able to because arriving so late. Then we were told that we would be stopping at another port but we were not able to do that because of the weather. We were not able to get of the ship for 4 days until the next port. We rocked back and forth on the ship the whole time and some people fell out of their beds because of the rocking back and forth. Princess will not compensate you in any meaningful way for cruises that are a disaster. Also, the food on the cruise was horrible. It is a cruise line that I would not recommend to anyone. Also, we were not able to go on excursions because of the bad weather. So many of them were canceled.
My partner and I decided back in June of 2014 we would bite the bullet and take a cruise.
My first time for a holiday out of Australia at the age of 53 I was ramped up like a kid with a new toy, about having a holiday and leading up to it, we went all out, bought all new clothes, suits, fancy dress wear for the themed nights and seeing we were allowed to take come wine on board we took a bottle each even though my partner doesn't drink. We boarded at White Bay Terminal, and the 1st impressions were OMG, what a beautiful vessel the SUN PRINCESS IS.
We unpacked as we still had 2 hours before departure, got everything organised and went for a meander around the ship, totally impressed, went to roll call and safety call, then headed for the front top deck, everyone was there, it was a fantastic departure, approached the coat hanger (the Harbour Bridge), and the horns blasted it was fantastic, the is was time for the seas, nothing to high and it was smooth sailing all the way to our first of7 ports of call.
All we can say, if you want a fun Adult ship and or cruising company, PRINCESS LINES will always be up there for us, we have never heard anyone bad mouth princess against here sister company ships like P&O and some people say Carnival are good, but not one has ever discussed cruising with us and never said a bad word about PRINCESS. Cant wait for our 2nd cruise once again out of Port Jackson (aka Sydney Harbour) Feb 16th 2016 15 days New Zealand bound, then two weeks in fabulous N.Z'd and so looking forward to meeting all the our fellow cruisers and all the locals.
3 years in a row we have taken this cruise to Hawaii. This year it has gone downhill. Food is terrible. Served pork loin in the buffet 12 out of 15 days. Waiter said there was no butter anymore (asked for some with my lobster). Both of us came home with weight loss. Everyone was complaining. Also, huge outbreak of flu on ship. People coughing everywhere and didn't want to go to infirmary and spend $500. We did and my husband was quarantined. They need to offer something cost effective to people when there is an outbreak of influenza like that. Movies were no longer first-run as before. Cutbacks were obvious everywhere. Very disappointed - we will be trying a different cruise line in the future. Couldn't wait to get back home.
On Ruby Princess there were two huge problems.....Tournament fixing or allowing cheating. With the karaoke tournament, they said the voting in the qualification round would be done by the audience, but in reality it was done by the two Asst. Cruise Directors. There was no time for the ballots to have been counted before they announced the results. BEWARE! And on the Blackjack tournament, they allowed people to help others in the final round of the $500.00 blackjack tournament...even when protested by a player in the round. All they did was to warn the person giving advice 6 times on the final 7 hands. Never did anything to actually prevent him or disqualify the person (family member) he was helping! I guess a high time cruiser with Princess gets special treatment!
We just finished the Mexican Rivera Cruise on Dec 20, 2015. It was great. We love the Grand Princess. It is our second home. The safety and security are second to none. The food is delicious. The entertainment is the best. The people are ALL so friendly. The corporate culture is one of family and all newbies get with the program very quickly. You can not go wrong with Princess.
The only reason why I gave Royal Princess 2 stars was because the ship did not sink and our Steward was amazing. Everything else on board was mediocre. This was my 5th cruise and 1st time on Princess. I will never travel with them again, we did not receive what we paid for.
Underwhelmed by Stateroom: We booked a cabin on the lido deck forward hoping that this would be a great cabin, but we were quickly disappointed after entering the room, and the feeling increased as the days passed by. The cabin had a plain design that looked outdated, and the amenities appeared old and worn. The room was definitely not worth it cost.
The first night we were startled by a loud bang sound at around 11:30pm. The following morning we woke up and discussed the sound that we had heard one more time throughout the night. We honesty believed that the ship had hit something, but during that morning we heard that sound again. The following night beginning at 11:00pm we started hearing that sound that made the cabin shake.
On the third day I couldn't take noises thatkept waking me up in the night – I was honestly jumping in the bed each time I heard it. I went to the customer service desk and explain the situation. I was told to call the desk when I heard the sound again. So that night at about 11:30pm the sound began and I called the desk. A crew member arrived, but he could not do anything since the sound was not going on. About 5 minutes later another crew member came to take a report of the complaint. I explained that this extremely loud 'bang' sound does not occur all the time, but it happens often enough to affect our sleep pattern since it wakes us up in the middle of the night. He said that the sound was coming from the waves and in his own words ' that is the problem with booking forward cabins' .
I was not satisfied with his answer since we were on floor 16th. I felt deceived into believing that this cabin would be great and based on the price it was a great investment for a 10 day cruise, but then this person tells me nonchalantly how we purchased one of the worse cabins on the ship.
The conversation later moved to another noise that was occurring during the day and night. I explained to him that the noise sounded like carts hitting something. He said that the night crew began working at around the time when we were talking. He said that he would go speak with the manager upstairs and explained that the crew is creating noise that is coming into the cabins below. He then left and five minutes later another crew member came in response to my complaint. I explained about the noise of the carts and he smiled at me and simply said that there was no one above us. When I tried to explain that the crew that I was speaking with right before him had told me that he would go upstairs to speak to the manager, he once again smiled and repeated himself as if I was making up this information.
I was disgusted by the experience and just went to sleep. I found it very interestingly that after my complaint we rarely heard that loud noise that according to the crew was coming from the waves, for the remainder of the cruise. We would hear the sound about twice per night, but it was much subtler than before. Take into consideration that we had very bad days at sea for the remainder of the cruise including lighting at night and a tropical storm that we barely missed; and, based on their explanation we should have still heard that loud sound due to the poor weather at sea.
The sound of the carts continued and the morning after making the complaint I asked our steward what was above our room. He said that it was the sanctuary, and informed us that he would speak to the manager of the place. I can honestly say that after John, the steward, spoke with the manager the sound did diminish. Out of all the people I dealt with regarding this issue this man was the only person who cared enough to try to help us get through this cruise.
Poor food quality and selection: The food was mediocre and offered a poor selection. The portions in the dining room were ridiculously small. The three courses all seemed like appetizers.
Staff appears to need training: Staff did not appear to know what to do. I found myself sitting in the buffet trying to get the attention of a server to ask for water, since most were just standing around. Some worked very hard while other worked the minimum and it was easy to pick put which server belonged on each extreme. They also seem to be inexperienced. i.e. on one instance a server put his arm over my boyfriend's plate full of food when he handed me my water across the table - he could have just given me my water first since I was farther and then place my boyfriend's drink down.
Slow service in dining room: There is a lack of servers, and too many staff not helping. Every night we watched an observed the Maitre d' and other higher staff just stand around and talk to each other while we waited 15-20 minutes after we finished one course for the other course to arrive at our table, and/or sat with empty water glasses in front of us. When they got tired of talking they would just walk around the dining room and rarely helped the servers, who wore many hats (like busing, running food from the kitchen, preparing tables for the next group, etc.). It seemed like a very inefficient way of serving, especially since some crew did not even lift a finger. The servers' uniforms were also shabby and extremely worn out ( I had never witnessed this in any of the cruises that I have been on before).
Unprofessional and Unfriendly staff: Many of the staff we came across did not seem very happy and looked tired throughout the cruise. I overheard crew on multiple occasions say that they did not even know what port we had been in during the day or what port we are going to next. Some were rude, my boyfriend had bought an internet package before the cruise but it was not reflected in his account when we boarded. He went to the help desk and was told that they couldn't do anything and that he could come speak to the manager during later hours. We went to speak to the manager regarding the situation, and this man's response to our issue was 'So, what's the problem – I'll still give you the deal' . We were already assuming before we say the manager that we should still buy the package at the price we were offered before, but the problem was that the representative we had spoken with was very unhelpful and could not even calm my boyfriend who believed he had to pay double the price he was offered before. On another instance, we were at the theater and right before the performance began the Cruise Director retold a story of what had occurred earlier that day. The story was of a crew member, Giuseppe, of the in the bridge who said over the microphone, which he did not know was on, that he was waiting to get off his shift to go have a cappuccino and have sex with another crew who worked at one of the boutiques. Regardless of whether this story was true or not, it was of bad taste and it leaves a poor image of this company in my head.
Mediocre entertainment at best: The singers and dancers seemed amateurs. The dancers were not very skilled and the singers appeared to try too hard to be performers. The shows were silly and artistically of bad taste. Each show the dancers danced the same steps to different songs while wearing different costumes. The comedian and the ventriloquist were also mediocre.
Dull activities schedule: On one of the nights of the cruise the schedule listed music by the DJ in the club. When I went to the club there was a baseball game was playing on the TV. I was told by the bartender that the game was not showed on the past cruise and would be showed tonight until it finished. I was told to come back later that night at around 11 when the DJ should be playing music. I came back at midnight and the game was still going on. For the next few days a sports game was shown at night in the club, even though if was not listed in the schedule. The only game on the schedule was being shown in the lido deck.
Lack of activity variety and organization: Every morning we looked through the princess patter and realized that the activities were the same as those offered the day before. The staff was not very enthusiastic about leading these activities. At first some were fun until we realized that we were playing for a cheap gift that even the staff told us was not worth exerting oneself to win. I often went to the game room, but could not work there long due to the dim light in the room. I went there due to the lack of other activities on board, but could not even enjoy this room.
Inadequate/dirty elevators: Taking the elevator at a lower level 4th of 5th floor is almost impossible during peak demands, which occur often during the day due do to the number of cruises on board. The elevators were also dirty, had old and small. The capacity that listed on the plaque were 18 persons, but usually the elevator barely held 10 people.
Lack of info regarding ports: On each cruise that I had taken before the TV in the room had a channel that shows current information of the ports we have arrived to, were we can go in the island and the ships departure time. This ship had no info., instead we had to listen for announcements that would not even play in our room due to privacy issues we were told. The captain's announcements were the only heard in the room, but the staff did not feel that keeping cruisers informed of their travel was important.
Excursion no tour: We took an excursion in which the microphone for the guide was broken therefore he silently drove us to the destination. Since this was an excursion that princess supports I thought that the cruise line would make sure to work with companies that provide what they sell.
Captain no show: We were not aware that the Captain does not come to captains dinner as we expected, especially since we dressed up for the event in his honor. Instead he was at the Piazza having a champagne toast. When we asked the Maitre d' he told us that the captain did not have time to visit all the dining rooms since he was very busy. His excuse did not sit well with us. The captain could not spend at least 5 minutes at each dining hall introducing himself- he only had to go once go once to be seen, yet had time to drink champagne and post for photos.
Inadequate elevators during peak demand: Taking a lower level elevator from the lower levels 4th of 5th floor is almost impossible during peak demands, which occur often due do to the number of cruises on board. The elevators were dirty, small and had worn out carpeting. The capacity that was listed on the plaque were 18 persons, but usually the elevator barely held 10 people.
Photographer on board: The photographer was not in the dining room during half of our cruise. Due to the slow service we were in the dining room for a long time, but a photographer was nowhere in sight. There were also few photographers on the floor taking photos. This meant that we had to wait a while to have our photo taken. We chose to just skip the photos like we should have skipped this cruise.