Bottom Line: Fun Cruise. Positives out-weigh negatives by a large margin. I would gladly recommend Star Princess to the Carib to most folks.
Our history: My wife and I are mid-fifties veterans of 9 or 10 cruises on four different lines. This was our fifth Princess cruise - - 2 weeks in the Med, 10 days to P. Canal, 10 days to East/South Carib, a South to North Alaskan cruise with some days before and after and now this one. This is really the first 7 day cruise so difficult to compare with the previous four.
General thoughts: I believe you can find someone from every cruise who hated it and someone from the same cruise who loved it. Some of that is due to differences in individual preference; some of it is due to differences in preparation. Kudos to Cruise Critic and those who contribute to the Boards for providing so much information. Because of that info and our previous experience, we always have a great time.
If your attitude is - - "OK. Here I am on your cruise. Dazzle me with your greatness," you may have problems. If yourattitude is - - "Looks like an opportunity to do lots of fun things here, I will have a positive attitude and be proactive about things," you will likely have a great time. The cruises provided by the cruise lines we have been on have varied from just O.K. to really good, but we have had a GREAT time in every case.
Going a day early: Of course, depends on where you are coming from, but generally I believe it is a great idea to go a day or two early. We went to Ft. Lauderdale on Friday for this Sunday departure. We did our research and stayed at a great hotel with a room looking out at the Cruise Terminal. Saturday night we watched 6 cruise ships depart and that made us excited for our own departure. Being there early allowed us to relax, not worry about flights or baggage or anything, and facilitated our arrival at the terminal at the best time on Sunday.
Cabin Selection: We spoke with folks who were not happy with their cabin (in one case being located so near a lounge kept them from sleeping until far into the night). We were delighted with our balcony cabin on Caribe deck. Lesson: Do your research. It may not be good enough to trust cabin selection to your travel agent. Get a room in a place that suits you based on your activities and likes and dislikes. We chose Caribe balcony because it is larger than other balconies and is half covered and half open. We also liked having 2 decks of cabins above us and several below us, so we never heard any noise from any clubs, pools, dining rooms, etc. This Board is replete with discussions about inside, outside, and balcony plusses and minuses. I think of it like this - - - your new car will be just fine without the power windows and seats, but you may enjoy the power option more, and if you also get the sun roof, you may enjoy it even more. All just a matter of preference and cost. You can enjoy a good cruise from any good cabin, inside, outside, or balcony.
Large ship/Small ship: The Star is large and therefore more passengers. However, we have felt less crowed on the Star and Grand than on smaller ships because there are more lounges, more dining rooms, more of everything to disperse the people. On this cruise, we NEVER stood in any line longer than a minute or two. We heard older passengers complain that the walk from the dining room to the theater was just too far for them.
Embarkation: Generally smooth; took a little longer than usual but nothing to complain about. We were in our cabin by noon. Lesson 1: If your cruise docs say embarkation starts at Noon, you can be in line at 11 or 11:30 and will probably be on in a short time. Lesson 2: Your embarkation will be quick and painless if you have completed ALL documents prior to arrival including signing the appropriate credit card places inside your cruise docs. Delays in lines (including Express Check-In) are most often due to incomplete docs.
Food: Was as good or better than any Princess cruise we have been on. Perhaps we generally know what to order and what to avoid but most everything was very good. Several threads on the Board lately have complained about Star food. Our experience was the opposite. We thought it was very, very good. Range from fair to great was wider in the Horizon Court, but that is to be expected from a buffet.
Dining Options: We had Personal Choice; have tried early and late traditional as well. We liked PC this time. WE NEVER STOOD IN LINE LONGER THAN A MINUTE OR TWO. Others will have had a different experience, but we went at Non-busy times or made reservations ahead of time, and other times agreed to sit with groups. We met a lot of folks; some we probably did not have a lot in common with, but most were great, and all were interesting.
Sabbatinis: We ate here 1 night. It was very, very good. You must be very hungry to come close to eating it all, but almost everything (not all, but almost all) was very good, and the service was superb. Again, we planned ahead and reserved a nice window table at sunset; worked out great.
Champagne Breakfast. We also tried room service several mornings - - always arrived on time and what we ordered. We also did the Champagne Breakfast in the cabin one morning. It is $25 for two people. We thought it was very good and will likely do it again one time on our next cruise.
Entertainment: As others have noted, depends on your preference. The song and dance shows were comparable to those on other ships/lines. Not my personal favorites, but well staged. The comedians were OK; not great but OK. The jugglers were really pretty entertaining. We also took advantage of Ballroom and Line Dance lesson 6 times. They were fun. Caribbean night was a lot of fun. Princess Idol was a hoot. Marriage game was funny as always. Poolside games seemed just OK this time around. Piano player catered to older crowd. Various lounge acts were generally good. One group was great. We skipped other things such as Bingo, but there were many who attended. If you can't find something fun to do on this ship day/night, cruising may not be for you. Oh, yes. There was a casino. When we were there, we had no luck. Others may have done better. I hope so.
Ports. Princess Cays was cancelled and not replaced. Bit of a downer. San Juan. Lots to do here, but arriving at 4 PM makes it more difficult. St Thomas was same as always - - from my standpoint, going over to St John to beach or snorkel is the thing to do here. Tortola can be a hoot. We ferried over to Virgin Gorda on a tour to the Baths we arranged separate from Princess. It included all the transportation plus a nice lunch at a very nice price.
Disembarkation. Pretty painless. Our Platinum status got us into the lounge with newspapers to read while waiting plus coffee, juice, pastries, etc. We had no delays with Immigration or Customs.
This seems long enough (or too long perhaps) so I will close. I will be happy to answer questions as I am sure I skipped lots of things. We spent some time in work out facility, went to most of the lounges/bars at one time or other, did not do the spa this time.
My two long time friends and I were excited and really looking forward to a fun filled week aboard the elegant Star Princess. It was the first time crusing for one friend, the second for the other, however the tenth for me, my second with Princess. We arrived a day early from Canada and stayed the night at the Embassy Suites Hotel near the Ft.Lauderdale port.
The next morning we groaned at the sight of the very long line upon arriving at the pier at about 11:30 a.m. We quickly discovered that the line moved very well and in no time at all we were on board. The girls were immediately impressed with the elegance of the atrium. Our mini-suite cabin was on Dolphin deck ( deck 9 ), my first time in a suite. A "Welcome Back" card greeted me when we entered the cabin, which was a nice touch, as was having a Gold cruise card to indicate that I am a previous Princess cruiser. In the cabin there was a walk in closet with lots of space and hangers as well as a 5 shelved cupboard thatall provided ample storage for 3 women.
The bathroom was a treat. A real bathroom! Very clean, with a full size tub, lots of shelves, vanity space and towels. The balcony had 2 large high back chairs with padded covers as well as a small table and 2 smaller chairs. The only thing about the balcony is it is not covered overhead and we were quite visible to all the decks above. Not a problem for us but some cruisers might not like the exposure.
We were each given a thick bath robe to use while on board and fresh pool towels were provided daily. Our cabin steward, Boni, was one of the best if not the best I have had in 10 cruises. He anticipated our needs and provided us with excellent service at all times, with a big smile. We decided to give him a bonus tip mid-week for his efforts.
We headed for the spa after touring the ship to book a full body massage with exfoilation. It was a fantastic way to freshen our skin and prepare it for the sun. The hot stone beds in the relaxation area prior to receiving the massage, were wonderful, as was the massage itself. I had checked out the Lotus Spa treatments on line prior to our departure and was surprised that the prices indicated on line, were not what we were told when booking our treatment. The Princess web site indicates that there are in-port and sea day prices which was incorrect according to the Spa staff who told us that the prices were all the same in or out of port. The difference in the prices indicated on line was considerable so inquire as to the cost before booking. A 20% gratuity is added to your bill unless you indicate otherwise. Unfortunately the Spa pool apparently permitted children to swim there which was a bit of a disappointment as I had hoped this would be one area where small kids would not be allowed. Why do people with small children take them to obvious adult areas?? I like to think I had more consideration when my boys were little, in fact I know I did. There are plenty of areas on this ship to accommodate small children. Parents, please leave one pool free for those of us who are on vacation without our children or for those who do not have children and do not find them quite as cute as you do.
Princess allows passengers to bring champagne and wine on board. This is a definite plus! Our cabin steward had a large ice bucket and 3 champagne glasses waiting for us after we mentioned that we were going to celebrate with a bottle of Dom. The dining rooms allow you to bring in your own wine but a corkage fee is applied to your ship board account.
We opted for Personal Choice dining which I was somewhat apprehensive about after reading some reviews that were not favourable to this style of dining. However we found it suited us very well. We waited only on occasion and for just 5 - 10 mins. The food and service was excellent and we always enjoyed the company of our fellow passengers, meeting new people each time we dined. We especially liked the staff in the Capri dining room and after a few days, made it our dining room of choice.The food and service was always excellent. A great selection, hot when it should be, and everything was cooked to perfection.
All areas of the ship were spotless and well presented. The only area that might have been designed better was the Horizen Court buffet as there are two ways to enter each service area causing confusion with the lines when busy. The food here was also very good, fresh and lots of variety, Never did the buffet food appear to me as something left over from the night before, as has been the case on some of my previous cruises.
The pizzeria pizza was excellent with great daily specials. There was an ice cream parlor but a charge for the ice cream.
The entertainment was very good, especially the comedians and the dueo, Live Wire. The Princess Dancers productions were satisfactory but not as good as some others I have seen on ships.
Skywalkers Disco at the top and back of the ship is an awesome place to dance, high above the water with a fabulous view and great dancing music.
We were notified prior to the cruise by our agent that the ship would not be going to Grand Cayman or Princess Cays due to damage from the hurricanes. To our surprise Grand Cayman was added to the itineary but a port change for Jamaica was announced. Montego Bay instead of Ochio Rios. This was a little disappointment as Dunn's River Falls was the only shore excursion we had booked and it had been cancelled. The Falls were added to the excursions for Montego Bay but included a 2.25 hour bus trip each way which we were not up for. We spent the day at Doctor's Cave beach which was very nice.The beach resturant served reasonably priced, good food. We went off on our own in all the ports since I had been several times and knew where to go and how much to pay.
On the second formal night, Princess' traditional Champagne Waterfall was fabulous. It is a very nice touch to the evening. Ladies took turns pouring the champagne into the top glass while everyone looked on and cheered as he ship's photographers captured it all.
I have to mention that the crew of the Star Princess always presented themselves and the activities with professionalism and enthusiasm that led one to believe it was their first time doing it all. Not once did we encounter a surly crew member. The last day of the cruise my friends received their Captin's Circle Club package welcoming them to the club. Another nice touch by Princess that demonstrates good customer service and encourages repeat cruising with Princess.
Disembarkation was smooth and orderly taking less time than I have previously experience even though we were among the last groups to leave the ship.
All in all we had a fantastic time and I would rate this cruise a 9/10. Star Princess.......Well Done!! I will definetly cruise with you again.
Our first cruise! It was our Honeymoon!
Fantastic room attendant.
Loved the buffet!
The ship was beautiful and elegant.
The dance club was so neat where it was located and had lots of fun.
We did the anytime dining and it worked, but next time we'd do assigned time at a table.
This cruise really wow-ed us! We loved it. It was a great experience. We will definitely sail princess again.
Upon check in to our cabin, they had a sign on our door for "Newlyweds Happy Honeymoon" and with some balloons! It was so much fun! We left it up all week! :)
I would definitely tell others to sail with princess!
We arrived at the Port at approximately 1 pm to board for our week long cruise. Despite the fact that next door in the convention center was the annual boat show, traffic was not too bad and Princess's porters quickly gathered our luggage from our car, we parked and entered the VERY long line for embarkation. Despite the length of the line this process went fairly quickly, after about an hour we were walking the gangplank to board. After checking out our cabin we decided to go to deck 14 where we had been told lunch was being served. Elevators were impossible to get so we walked up from deck 9 to 14 and proceeded back to the Horizon Café. What a disorganized mess this was. First off there were hundreds of people trying to get to the buffet. After waiting in line for what seemed forever we got to the buffet itself to find some of the most un-inviting food I have ever seen. To add to that, about a third of all the pans that were there were empty. I took a few small samples of things thatlooked slightly familiar, along with two rolls, I asked THREE employees for butter (It never did come) got some iceless ice tea from the drink station, Not only was there no ice but no glasses either, I had to use a coffee cup. At this point from all the confusion one of my friends got separated so my partner and I FINALLY found a seat and tried to eat. What we had taken was honestly some of the worst food I ever got from a buffet. I ate my two butter less rolls drank, the warm Ice Tea and left, more hungry than when I entered. We headed forward and I found the pizza station which had a very long line as well, I waited again, pleasant surprise, the pizza was some of the best I have ever had, I visited this station a lot throughout the cruise.
Now able to make it to dinner and reunited with my friends we decided to explore the ship. Forget the elevators, most were out of service, I assume so luggage could be delivered to the rooms. We explored for awhile then headed back to our stateroom to find our luggage had been delivered, its now about 4 pm, so we unpacked. One thing I found real curious...our room had a refrigerator but nothing in it, I assumed that it would be a mini bar, not. Funny, there is no where on the ship to get anything to put in it. I had filled out a form online where they asked what soda I liked, what water I liked, why bother?
Fast forward to dinner...We headed down to the Portofino dining room where our group of 177 was supposed to be all seated together...NOT..We were close, but scattered around the dining room sitting amongst people that were not part of our group. I ordered the Steak rare, it came well done. Still hungry from my earlier ordeal I ate it anyway.
Being Halloween night the ship was alive with energy and people partying. The disco was pumping and a fun night was had by all. Funny thing though and this applied to the rest of the cruise, the only place one did not have to wait long for was bar service, they always had enough staff around to collect your money.
End of the night was approaching fast, we decided to go to the Horizon 24 hour buffet for late night breakfast at 3 am...Don't plan on this if you're hungry, they had no hot food at all, just some pastries, cheese and ICE for your ice tea, BUT now the ice tea tap dispensed water...
We retired for the night, ordering room service for the next morning as we did every morning. It always arrived on time, however rarely correct. One morning we got four containers full of butter but nothing to put it on, milk instead of crème for the coffee, two coffee cups instead of the three ordered, sometimes no sugar or equal.
The food problem seemed to improve as the cruise progressed, perhaps I became more tolerant. My honest opinion is there are just too many people on board for the staff to handle efficiently. Also, I mentioned earlier the elevators. There are definetly not enough of them for the amount of people on board, there was always a fairly long wait except late at night.
Tequila's Steakhouse....We did this upgrade restaurant one night, WOW fantastic food, great service. Our waiter Victor was courteous, professional, and knew their product. Highly recommended, ask for Victor.
Internet access...I was initially pleased to hear that they had wireless access onboard, this way I could do my work daily on my laptop and upload it to my server at home. Wrong again. My work uploads daily required about 45 minutes. They sell the wireless access for 35 cents a minute in 30 minute blocks of which I had purchased four. Unfortunately there is NO WAY to link these together, so after being connected 30 minutes it disconnected me. A very awkward interface to enter the 2nd 30 minute block, by the time I got this done too much time elapsed, my upload was trashed. I got in touch with the internet person and he just looked at me like I was an idiot, offered no work around and said it was out of his hands, he could do nothing. Corporate takes care of that.. My work around? I took my laptop off the ship to internet café's where they gladly let me plug in and do my uploads, all the time I needed and at a reasonable price.
Our cabin D-208 was adequate and the attendant attentive. He saw to all our needs and requests and always smiled. No privacy at all on the balcony. I ended up mooning a few people up above us, un-intentionally.
As I mentioned earlier I was in a group of 177 people, there were issues that were not handled properly by the ships staff, however since I am not one of the group leaders, I will refrain from further comment.
There was a FOD party the first full day of the cruise, I don't think they quite expected the turnout they had of close to 300 people. They found more bar help real quickly to handle the thirsty cruisers.
All in all, not impressed with Princess. I doubt very much if I will ever sail with them again. I have been on five previous cruises, all with Holland America.
My partner and I have just returned from a 12 night cruise of Europe on the Star Princess.
The ship was lovely and very clean. Food was also quite good with plenty of choices and venues in which to eat.
There was plenty of entertainment - some good and some who left a lot to be desired - especially some of the vocalists in the bars. The star of the show was definitely Mauritzio who sang and played the piano to perfection.
Having been on Princess cruise ships before, one can definitely see there have been cutbacks. No beautiful floral decorations anymore, no magnificent buffets and other little touches which have disappeared, which made the cruiseline that bit special. I just hope Princess don't cutback too far as regards this. Several other previous cruisers were also complaining about it.
All in all though it was a good cruise and the staff work very hard to make one's stay enjoyable.
My wife and I just returned from a 12 day cruise (Barcelona to Venice) on the Star Princess. Let me just say that the cruise, in most respects, was as advertized. We saw some very interesting ports such as Monte Carlo, Naples, Rome, and Athens. The ship carried approximately 2900 passengers,but in no way did it seem crowded. In fact the de-embarkation was the smoothest I ever saw and this was our fifth cruise. The food was generally good and there were alway seconds if you wanted them at meals. We especially liked the non stop pizza, fries, and hamburgers.
Now for the one thing that really made the trip not as great as it could have been. It was the kids, about 750 to be exact. We don't mind children but when they (the teenagers) are running around the ship between 11:00pm and 4:00am unchecked, well lets just say sleeping was a problem. Princess's response, "We have no control over the kids unless they are doing something illegal. It is up to the parents to reign them in". The only suggestion I would have for future cruisers is to avoidJuly and Augest cruises when children are on summer vacation.
Mediterranean Cruise with a 6 and 9 Year old -- Or how we went half way around the world to hand feed the pigeons. The room: We splurged on a mini suite on the Star for our anniversary, and it will be difficult to go back to an inside double. Our cabin was quite far aft -- advantages included proximity to the self serve laundry, a few flights downstairs to dinner, a few flights upstairs to breakfast and the kids club. No excessive vibration or movement noted.
The food: OK--Acceptable for a cruise ship this size but not great. Beware -- Princess has unbundled some of the standard perks of all-inclusive cruising -- there is now an extra charge for espresso etc., and most galling, for ice cream (except at dinner). The breakfast room service menu is very limited. A sticker for unlimited fountain sodas was $30.00 per person.
Food Service: We opted for the traditional fixed seating for dinner-- advantages with our children included that by the second day the kids had extra cushions placed on their chairs for them before we arrived, our son had a standing order for chickenstrips and french fries, two shirley temples would appear, and our decaf coffee, with cream, not milk for me, was poured before dessert arrived. Having the same wonderful waitress each night, Anna Maria from Romania, made dinner wonderful. As long as you arrive within 15 - 20 minutes of the stated seating time you can enjoy the most personalized service available to you on this ship. We ate in the "personal choice" restaurant on one night -- service was efficient but nothing like fixed seating.
Horizon Court offers a decent array of foods at all times. Atkins/South Beach and picky eaters should be able to find something.
Kids Club: No matter how nice the facility, and this one is, your child's experience will depend on the counselors on board and the other kids who participate. We were lucky this cruise and our kids loved it. The staff actually played with the kids, rather than watching them play. Please note that the Child Care staff does not share in the automatic tip pool, so please take them some cash on the last day if your kids enjoyed the club.
Excursions: If at all possible book your own. If you go with the Princess trips, you'll waste a very significant amount of time waiting for fellow passengers who can't be bothered to be on time, and you'll spend a lot more money than you have to. If food is included it will be horrible. Don't even think of securing a driver with a car or van through the excursion desk -- you'll pay many times more than if you booked it yourself.
Do not under any circumstances book any Princess excursions within Monte Carlo -- you can WALK or take the city bus to the palace and casino (hint -- the excursion charters a city bus). The casino is not interested in afternoon cruise ship gamblers, by the way, you can play the slots but there were exactly four tables open with people 4 deep around them -- high roller rooms (an extra 20 E) were closed. Overall not worth the 10E to get in the door -- use the money to rent a James Bond movie or buy a postcard to see the inside.
If your kids are not up for an entire day of ruins/art/churches, combine a morning of culture with an afternoon at the beach. We did that in Pisa and Athens.
For two of our tours we knew that we would have a mini van, so we recruited another family to share the tour (and cost) with us once onboard the ship.
Spa -- Steiner runs the spa. Staff is trained to perform the service and hard sell you product (expect ten minutes of your appointment to be a sales pitch). They also offer some miracle treatments with absurd claims, such as that your body stores one pound of "toxins" each year which can only be eliminated with their expensive products and treatment.
At-sea days, particularly those with formal nights were hectic (book sea day massages as soon as you get on board) I enjoyed a peaceful pedicure (after four ports in four days) at 9 pm the night before the formal night.
Gym -- well equipped. There is now an extra charge for some classes. The current pool is great. Kids were allowed in it from 12 noon to 3:00 pm -- plan on a serious swim before or after this time.
Our kids were most impressed by the pigeons in St. Marks Square (Venice), so perhaps we did not need to leave the country. On the other hand our 6 year old earnestly and accurately explained to a friend what went wrong with the leaning Tower of Pisa --
In June we made 12 day Mediterranean Cruise with Star Princess and had a wonderful time.
We ended up with approximately 2000 passengers. There were about 900 from the USA, 700 from Canada and 400 from Great Britain. There also appeared to be a pretty large contingent of Russian and Asian speaking passengers.We were quite aft and never felt any motion from the ship. That, of course, could be due to the fact that we had perfect weather the entire cruise. Our cruise docs said that embarkation started at 5pm. I sure didn't believe that. Since we had been in Barcelona a day early, we arrived at the ship at 2pm. There was no one in line and we got on the ship within 3 minutes. The next day, while looking at embarkation pictures, I noticed that they had them categorized by time of embarkation and it looks like passengers had been arriving since 11am.Barcelona - We stayed at the Regencia De Colon hotel. It is a sister hotel to the Colon, both which sit at the foot of the Cathedral and a 2 minute walk from La Rambla.
The room wassmall, but well appointed in a great location. We had to go to the Colon to get ice for our drinks. We had dinner at Neya's. A small tapas bar 1 1/2 blocks from the hotel. The food was great-tapas and paella. and very inexpensive.We really enjoyed the city. La Rambla is maybe 6 blocks long and activity abounds! We spent much of the time just watching the street mimes. They get dressed up in amazing costumes and hold perfectly still till you come up to have your picture taken..then they go into action! Quite a site to see. La Rambla is also lined with plenty of street vendors, artists etc. But they even have street vendors that are pet shops along with the normal florists and trinket sellers. We had sangria at a street side cafe. Ugh...it was thick and really sweet and reminded us more of children's cough syrup than a cocktail.On the day of embarkation we took the hop off/hop on bus. We took the north route to catch all of the architecture and it really was a beautiful ride. It did, however, take the entire morning as the traffic in the city was really bad. We bought a one day ticket that would have allowed us to take the south route if we had the time. Two day tickets are also available. Cash only, but you purchase the tickets at the boarding stops. We thought Barcelona was beautiful, we were pleasantly surprised. It is a very easy city to do on your own.Cabs are very easy to get either in the city or at the pier. It is about 10-15 E from the pier to the close end of La Rambla. Make sure and negotiate price before you get in.We had late seating, traditional dining. We love traditional dining, however, due to the lateness of some of the tours we ate every night at 8:45 pm. That's pretty late even for folks who like to have prolonged cocktail hours! We were rarely finished with dinner by 11pm. I won't comment too much on food...but...all of the soups were absolutely fantastic. we never had a bad one. Many of the nights I had a hard time choosing which entree to select as none of them completely excited me, but they were all good.
Sail away was also our 1st formal night.We never had any pomp or circumstance for any of the sail ways. I find that disappointing..I really used to love watching the bands or school children perform as we sailed away.PORTS OF CALL :* Monte Carlo: We took the ship tour of the medieval village of Eze. It was a beautiful little village..lots of steps with a cactus garden at the top..not what I would have expected for a Mediterranean town! The drive to the town was spectacular and the guide pointed out the homes of Bill Gates, Tina Turner and Bono from U2. * Livorno : After much deliberating we took the Princess transfers into Florence instead of trying the train. There was just too much at risk if the trains went on strike. The transfer was pleasant and the guide gave us a nice history/cultural lesson on the area. It was 1 ½ hours by bus and then a 5 minute walk from the drop off point into the city.The queue for Uffuzi is very misleading. They have a sign out front telling you how long the outside queue is, but there is also a queue once you get inside. We got in line before the gallery even opened, but still had to wait almost an hour before we were admitted. There are 4 or 5 very long/steep sets of stairs to climb before you even get to the showrooms. Also, the showrooms are very poorly labeled. A good guide book of the gallery is a must or you could wander for hours aimlessly. Unless you're really into the masters..I'd pass. It was also hot in the building.The open air leather market had spectacular shopping, but it was very crowded. If you're willing to pay cash versus credit card you have more price bartering ground to work with.We loved the food markets and bought 6 bottles of Tuscan wine (red and white) for 5 euros each. When our waiter wanted to charge us corkage we jokingly stated that we hadn't been charged in the past. This was the first time that the new ownership was mentioned to us.they said that the new policy no longer allows for waiters' discretion on charging corkage. Oh well..we figured with such inexpensive wine we were still way ahead based on the wines Princess offers. Oh..and the local wine was superb.The street cafes had big umbrellas for blocking the sun and we had a great lunch. Everyone we encountered spoke good English. The bus picked us up at 3:15 for the transfer back to the ship.
Four passengers did not make it back to the ship before we sailed. Never found out what happened to them.* Civitavecchia : Civitavecchia is a nice port town in its own right and some who had seen Rome just stayed there. We had a private driver to take us to Rome for a General Audience with the Pope (he does these Wednesdays). Very nice. Many taxis at the port and prices are not bad. A free shuttle takes you to the train station and its about an hour into town. The Vatican by itself took us all day. Museum, Cistene Chapel, and St Peters are all breathtaking. If you want to see more than a couple of sights take the city tour. The distances via the subway or on foot are too far. You need to buy subway tickets at a tabak or newspaper shop with a "T" sign.
* Naples : We used Marcello Maresca from See Sorrento - www.seesorrento.com Our trip included a visit to Pompeii, Pompei is amazing, a not to miss site. I had no idea how huge the city was and how well preserved it is. You can still see many frescos. The walking is extensive on very uneven cobblestones and it was HOT. We found that in all of the sites where we visited ruins (Ephesus, Acropolis, Pompei) that it was always hot.up on a hill, no trees for shade. Be prepared to wear as little clothing as possible and carry water bottles. * Athens: We used Spiros from www.athenstaxi.net He is very reasonable. He took us to
Acropolis and Plaka. Acropolis is really really really crowded and the stairs up and down are narrow. You can have quite a queue just getting up and down. Great food (I'm Greek) and great shopping. I got lots of kisses from the older ladies when they found out I was Greek.sure didn't help get me any better prices tho'!* Kusadasi: For the Ephesus Tour, we used Shorex Turkey - www.shorexturkey.co.nr We had a fantastic guide with great knowledge. We were so thrilled to make it to Turkey and they were thrilled to have us. This was definitely the highlight of the trip. What amazed us all was how clean and beautiful Turkey was. No garbage in the streets, beautiful parks and landscaping everywhere. And the architecture wow. * Venice: We did Venice on our own for both days. Princess offered a free boat shuttle from the pier to the city..took about an half an hour and dropped you at San Marco. Get a good street map..we used Streetwise. It was a lifesaver. Prices for glass are the same in Murano as they are in the city and there is very little bartering. We bought lamps for our screen porch, Christmas decorations and quite a spectacular statue that is being shipped.Everyone spoke great English. We had an early evening flight out to London. The last Princess transfer to the airport left at 3pm. Perfect for us. Even though it was more expensive than a cab, it was well worth the money as they held our luggage for us. So..we were able to spend the day of disembarkation touring (without worrying about what to do with our luggage) and then get to the airport in a timely fashion.ENTERTAINMENTLest you think we completely skipped the entertainment on the ship, we did eventually catch some shows. We really loved DANCE! and Give My Regards was also good, two Vegas-style shows on the Star. The singers and dancers were top-notch and very enjoyable. We skipped "Da Beat", as we didn't want to see the same entertainers three nights in a row. Maverick the magician was excellent and the comedian Jim McDonald was great too. The only entertainment that was bad at any time was the passengers attempting Karaoke, which was not fault of Princess! Be sure to arrive early for shows. most let you sit a half hour before showtime, and some even earlier. We were turned away from the Princess Theater when attempting to see DANCE! on the second night, arriving 15 minutes prior to showtime we were told it was already full. The two showrooms are very impressive. The Princess Theatre is situated like a normal theatre with rows and rows of seats. Its big and impressive, the stage moves and drops as impressively as any big production stage you would see elsewhere. It is at the extreme fore of the ship. The Vista Showlounge is at the aft and is designed like a Las Vegas showlounge with rows of little tables for two with chairs next to them. Behind each set of chairs and tables is a custioned bench seat with more small drink tables. Both venues work well.
THE LOTUS SPAI had two treatments in the spa while on the Star. I was very pleased with the standard facial. Upon embarking there was a coupon for $15 off any hour long spa treatment on an in-port day found in my shore excursion ticket envelope. The facial was very relaxing and the lady was very nice. The other treatment was a head and shoulder massage called Frangipangi Conditioning and Scalp Ritual, found in the Salon brochure. What I found weird about this, is that on the Star they didn't do it exactly as advertised in the brochure. One of the best parts of this ritual is getting your head wrapped in a steaming towel, which they didn't plan to do. Also, rather than just applying massage oil to my scalp to massage it, the lady slopped oil all through my very long hair, which I could NOT get out on my own. She did say I could come back and get it shampood out if I wanted later. which I did end up doing a couple days later. Her explanation as to why the ritual was different on the Star than what I had experienced on another Princess ship is that they do it a little different on every ship. I think that's a lousy policy if they use the same advertising brochure / explanation on all of the ships! I guess I just suggest you ask ahead, because I LOVED this treatment on my last Princess cruise.. its only $26! LAUNDROMATOn the Star the self-service laundry is not free. You can buy individually boxed soap in a dispenser for $1 each, or a liquid one-dose in the gift shop for a few cents over a dollar. The washers cost $1 a load and the dryers are $.50 a load.. both high capacity. And just FYI.. Princess casino .25 tokens work the same as quarters in the washer and dryer (a great way to get rid of any you find in your pocket at the end of the cruise). We found the laundry facilities busy all the time and had a hard time getting in. I was quite bummed after hearing that they were lightly used by many frequent cruisers. I ended up doing laundry late at night on the first formal night and during the prime dinner hour a few nights later, as I couldn't get in there during the day. The laundry rooms are different sizes on different decks. We were on Baja, which had the laundry room at the aft (a far hike for us) and with only two washers and dryers on each hallway. The laundry rooms were bigger on the Caribe deck below us, and they were closer to amidships there. There are free ironing boards and irons in the laundry facilities, but they are also very busy.. especially on the formal nights. Try to plan ahead and go at an off hour if you want to use these too. Done with the generalities of Star. on to the specific sights and ports!... In conclusion.no problems, no complaints. Yes, I would've liked a bigger cabin and yes, I would've liked the wait staff to be better, but all in all.we had a lovely time.Enjoy your cruise !
To our great surprise, the cruise far exceeded expectations. The stateroom was reasonably sized, the ship's service was excellent, and the food was very good. We chose the open seating option, which gave us the choice of three dining rooms in which to take our meals when we wanted and to sit wherever we wanted. In one of the two formal open-seating dining rooms, we found such a terrific waitress at one of the few tables for two, that we reserved this table for the bulk of the cruise, saving breakfasts and lunches to dine with larger groups.
At most of the ports, the Star Princess was able to dock pier-side, and disembarking and embarking was a piece of cake. On those two or three occasions when tenders were necessary, getting 2600 people on and off the ship was a nightmare. For those of us who were able to get on the ship early in Bangkok, getting through the embarkation process went smoothly and quickly. For those poor souls who arrived later in the day, it was a horrendous crush, with people standing in the sun on the pier in 97degree heat for over an hour.
We had signed up for several of the ship's excursions, but were fortunate one night in meeting a passenger couple who were travel agents and had booked vans (with English-speaking guides) in key ports for trips to Petra, Luxor, and Cairo. In addition, we went with them and took taxis in other ports and canceled all of our Star Princess Excursions. This not only saved us hundred of dollars, but spared us from the disaster awaiting the several hundred passengers who took the Princess buses and had to stand for over an hour waiting to get back on board after returning from a long day's excursion. We would recommend that future passenger try to book their own vans or taxis in port.
Entertainment on the Star Princess seemed to be everywhere in the evening, with music, dancing, and performers in a half-dozen different venues, including two main theaters. One very enjoyable feature was a string quartet which performed in the atrium three times each day, for an hour per performance.
While this was a great cruise, and we would recommend Princess to our friends, our own inclination is to sail on a much smaller ship, with less than 500 passengers.
Just completed an 18 day cruise from Sydney Austrilia to Bangkok Thialand aboard the star.The ship is very clean,well managed,polite crew. The food overall was good and the buffet serves a very good varity of food for all three meals. The enterainment was standard cruise line stuff. Some good and some not so good. A couple of the tours provided by princess lines had much room for improvement.
The great barrer reef was the worst tour for $150.00. There was no color to the coral and four hours out at the pontoon was to long.The only major complaints were that they changed the schedule of stops and didnt notify us and the worst is we paid top dollor for a mine-sweet on the 9th deck with a balcony, and they did not advertise the fact that the balconys on the 9th deck are not covered.Could not use the balcony because of the hot weather and rain.