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2nd Time On Princess. Think we'll stay......
Publication Date: May 25, 2015

Embarkation at Port Everglades was worse than Miami. Although not under the control of Princess, they need to work with the Ports Authority on the wheelchair boarding process. They use the "Honor System" (no numbers or log-in sheet to determine who's next) and we had many jump the line causing us to have to wait over an hour before we could board in sweltering heat. There is NO excuse for this especially when you request wheelchair boarding prior to the cruise through Princess.

We had a Balcony cabin (R611) which was common in size and amenities yet these cabins have an overhang from the Buffet above making it quiet and private. NO noise heard from the buffet above at all for the entire cruise. Mattress was sub-par and we had to request foam egg crates to fill in the gully in the middle if the mattress.

Buffet was hit and miss (yet more miss). Main Dining room (Palm) was excellent with great presentation, good portions and served hot. Don't understand why people complain about portions when you are eating a six course meal!

Princess theater too small to allow access to many passengers unless

you arrive an hour or more earlier. Crew were always smiling and helpful. Customer service desk personnel need some customer service training.

Slots (penny) were VERY loose as were most of the other one-armed bandits in the casino. I hit for over $1500 in one day on the penny slots. Drinks are as expensive as any other line but you can order from Princess Cellars prior to the cruise and have a bottle of your liking in your cabin for the entire cruise. I would most Definitely sail Princess again.

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carribean cruise
Publication Date: May 21, 2015

overall good cruise. some ports disappointing as well as excursion

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Prepare For the Hustle
Publication Date: May 13, 2015

This was the “South America Passage.”

First, the up-side.

Holland America Line (HAL) delivered on its itinerary. We embarked in Valparaiso, Chile. We disembarked two weeks later in Buenos Aires having sailed around the Horn. There were two ports along the way where we were supposed to stop, but didn’t. The Captain probably made the right decisions in the interest of safety. One was weather-related. The other due to a forest fire and a lot of smoke.

The food was great, plentiful, and available just about every minute of the day.

The cabin was clean and everything worked well. The boat is getting a little old, but it is well maintained. Our cabin steward was excellent. He was incredibly cooperative, conscientious, and attentive.

Now, for the downside.

HAL maximizes its revenue by selling use of limited boat space to vendors who make good use of a captive audience. There’s a wrist watch shop, a jewelry store, people bugging you all day long to buy photos of yourself, a place that sells clothing, and a smoky casino. Pardon me, but if I want to buy a watch, some earrings, or a sweatshirt, then I’ll do it on

land before I leave for the trip. And I won’t pay an inflated price. We would like for HAL to use all that vendor space for something more productive - like a place to sit and look out the window at the fantastic scenery. The most amazing hustle of all is the Park West Gallery art “auction,” complete with the “auctioneer’s” confederates circling behind you, telling you when to raise your card. It was offensive.

HAL seems to be a generation behind in the areas of on-board entertainment, restaurant décor, and mid-ship sculpture. The comedy and dance presentations could compete for the Lawrence Welk audience. The fancy restaurants looked like 19th century brothels, complete with servers sporting costumes and a level of fake formality calculated to encourage heavy drinking. A hideous, organ-shaped sculpture consumes the middle of the ship, unavoidable on decks three through five. HAL would make more friends if it traded the artificial opulence for brighter, more contemporary furnishings and service.

In short HAL, as an independent company, was a first-class cruise line for the first nine decades of the last century. Carnival bought it in 1989, and has now fully effected the culture shift. Today HAL is a reflection of the lowest common denominator.

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