Sea Princess Cruise Review by BungyCruiser
- Sail Date: September 2016
- Destination: Asia
- Cabin Type: Interior
We have only ever cruised with Celebrity in the past, and even then, not that many times. So we are relatively new to cruising and don't have that much experience to make comparisons anyway. Anyway, we think comparing the two would be like apples and oranges anyway, with both pitched and priced at differing sectors of the market.
Embarkation at Fremantle went as smoothly as could be hoped, we think mainly because we had stuck to our pre-arranged arrival time. On and having an explore around the ship in around thirty minutes. Even without any welcome drinks, we felt there could have been a bit more enthusiasm and staff for that initial greeting, but we were soon off discovering/getting lost on our new home away from home.
We had opted for an inside cabin, up the front on Caribe deck - more details on this in the cabin review. This was already available for us from the time we got onboard. Introductions with our ninja steward Edgar (and his fellow 'shadow' steward Edgar II down the corridor) out of the way, and we were unpacked and ready for the lifeboat drills and sailaway before we knew it.
Because of a rather last-minute booking, we had no choice but to accept second sitting dining (there is no 'anytime' dining on Princess out of Australia), and as it turned out, this ended up suiting us just fine. On port days, it meant there was no rush to get back onboard, and let's face it, on sea days, if you don't think you can last until 7:45 in the evening before you can have dinner, there are many options to 'load up' around the ship to keep you going.
On the whole, we were very impressed with the standard and choices of food available for all meals, from breakfast through to dinner. One of the obvious things that can't be avoided is the fact that you are going to see the same cycle of menus come around again on a B2B, but on a positive note, that actually had us looking forward to some of the highlights from the first time through (definitely chilled fruit soup in a glass converts now!).
Other reviews have commented on the availability of seats in the buffet (not just on this ship, or indeed Princess), but there's an obvious easy answer to that. Structure your days so that you have that glorious long lay-in and then lo-and-behold, you're turning up for your meals two hours after everyone else. Whilst they are not yet sweeping up around your feet, you'll have no problems finding a table wherever your favourite spot turns out to be.
Afternoon tea was a bit of a let-down, as we thought it would have been more appropriate to have at least two or three types of tea available, and those in a pot that could have been left at the table - instead it was just tea or coffee.
Seemed to us to be a severe lack of speciality restaurants- maybe just on this class of ship. The only one with a pay-per-use, was The Steakhouse, which turned out to be a section of the buffet 'converted' after the luncheon rush in a part of the main buffet area. We didn't use this offering, so can't really comment, but feel if you are going to have a cover charge, there should be a definite unique permanent venue for those special occasions.
Cafe Corniche, the pizza venue, seemed to be much under-utilised and we weren't sure if this was because it a little bit tucked out of the way, or if people thought there was a cover charge, or what. Nevertheless, the pizzas were superb and many a day they got us through to dinner without filling us up.
Neither of us are big drinkers and after the initial onslaught of spruiking drinks or wine tasting packages, we were left to our own devices, and all of the venues had the option of pour your own water or served by the waiters. There was very little hard sell once everyone had realised we were more than happy with just having plain old water. That's not to say we didn't fall off the wagon for a drink or two occasionally, and Princess still have their two separate happy hours where the second drink is only one dollar - doesn't that cheaper one always taste that much better!
As mentioned, this was a back to back and even though we were expecting it, didn't the demographic change once the second cruise leg commenced in Singapore! On came all of the school children, not in their hoards by any means, but enough to mean your tranquil morning laps in the pool were now a thing of the past. Princess does have a children's club, but it was pretty obvious that some of the older kids had exhausted the options and were board with this after the first few days. One big dampener as a result of this, was the two main pools had to be drained on three separate occasions, which the captain and crew apologised for, but had no control over (perhaps better supervision of the pool areas after the first instance may have prevented a repeat).
Entertainment was a little bit hit and miss for both legs of the trip. Again, we were expecting the main shows to be repeated, so used our imagination there and watched them from opposite sides of the theatre on each occasion. When are cruise lines going to realise that hypnotists are not that entertaining - unless they have comedy talents too. The party band changed over at Singapore, and if we were to be brutally honest, any one of the karaoke singers could have covered for their vocal efforts, which was a shame as we would have liked to put some of the dance lessons (taught by the wonderful Jodie) into practice. Perhaps it would have sounded better if we had been drinking! Singers and comedians were well up to scratch and were usually worth a second show visit. We've heard comments about getting to the theatre early to ensure you get a seat; only relevant for the first shows, as second performances always had spare capacity (another advantage of second seating dining).
We did our own at ports of call and where we wanted to see more of the surrounding areas, had pre-arranged tours with other like-minded souls on Cruise Critic. Can't comment on ship's tours other than the usual that they appeared to be very expensive. Still can't get over the scam that is Vietnam/Cambodia visa charges (for Australians). We had done these ports previously, so were intending to just stay onboard. As many already know out there, it matters not a jot and you'll still get stung! There goes what little OBC we already had. Out of protest, went ashore anyway and re-confirmed we'll be looking for itineraries that avoid these countries until our two governments can sort something out!
With both cruise itineraries joined together, this is a fantastic way to experience a broad 'sample' of south east Asia in the one go. Grab it if you can! We made many a good friend on our shore excursions and an honorary mention to Nyoman Ariasa of BaliIslandTours wouldn't go amiss. Nothing was too much trouble for him and he provided an excellent, value for money service for our Bali stopover.
To sum up... did we have a good time and will we cruise Princess again? Yes on both counts. It was great value for money all up, and seeing as it doesn't appear to be that hard to claw your way up the loyalty ladder - up to Ruby even after just one more cruise - we'll be back for more in the future. It would be great to see a newer class of ship in Australian waters, but that might be something we'll have to wait for, or head off to Europe instead.
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Port & Shore Excursion Reviews
BaliTook this opportunity to see more than the 'touristy' bits of Bali that we had been to on previous holiday. Ventured up into the hinterlands on a self organised small group tour with two other couples. Took in Ubud (alright, it's already going down the tourist route, but not yet quite as busy as Kuta or Legian), Monkey Forest, Batuan Village compound, Ubud Market and a few other places squeezed into a five hour tour. Had a great guide/driver with Nyoman Ariasa of BaliIslandTours doing everything he could to make it a memorable day.View All 109 Bali Cruise Port Reviews
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Bangkok (Laem Chabang)Took the ship's offered shuttle service to Pattaya on this occasion (had previously visited Bankok and didn't want the four hour round trip on a one day visit this time around).View All 212 Bangkok (Laem Chabang) Cruise Port Reviews
Not a huge amount to do in the city itself - especially in the daytime - unless you like shopping or water sports.
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Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)Had visited Ho Chi Minh on a previous occasion, so took the ship's shuttle bus service to Ba Rai (about 25min bus ride). Not a great deal to see, so if you really only want a short leg stretch, ask directions to the large multi-storey market about 300-400 mtrs away. We just got lost!View All 164 Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) Cruise Port Reviews
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Batu CavesUpgrade works were underway - well overdue.View All 16 Batu Caves Reviews
Quite a big hike to the top - especially on a hot, humid day, but worth it for the views. Most entertaining was watching the monkeys steal food from unsuspecting tourists!
Petronas Twin TowersTickets for this must be booked in advance - either online yourself or via a tour operator who will arrange as part of a package. Well worth it for some of the outstanding views. Be warned, you don't get very long up there!View All 19 Petronas Twin Towers Reviews
Royal Selangor ClubOnly dropped outside for a walk around the square and nearby attractions. Ideal opportunity to see the east meets west architecture and culture. Joining fees for this club far too steep for the likes of us!View All 1 Royal Selangor Club Reviews
Koh SamuiOnce again, not much at the tender drop-off pier. A single strip of the usual shopping 'tat' and not much else. We would take a self organised tour next time around as there seemed to be many of them picking-up/dropping-off at the jetty.View All 93 Koh Samui Cruise Port Reviews
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LangkawiOrganised our own tour here and well worth it. You have to get a bit further out from the cruise port. Duty free haven apparently (found out afterwards, after seeing the mountains of duty free alcohol on return to the ship).View All 88 Langkawi Cruise Port Reviews
Will have to do this island again for a longer stopover.
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LombokProbably not a fair comment on the whole island, but if you are intending to just go ashore and have a walk around, don't bother.View All 32 Lombok Cruise Port Reviews
After the barrage of taxi/moped/horse and cart spruikers, you won't be that impressed with the first kilometer walk.
Might be worth arranging own/ships tour.
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PenangCruise port is right near the action. Hop-on, hop-off is nearby, but do your research and just find the nearest circuit transit free bus service (it goes in a loop, so you'll eventually end up back where you started).View All 102 Penang Cruise Port Reviews
Plenty to see and do for a days visit even if you just stay in the city.
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SihanoukvilleUnless you are a beach lover, not a great deal to do here.View All 56 Sihanoukville Cruise Port Reviews
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SingaporeWhat's not to love about Singapore - although we're still trying to find that one day of the year when it isn't humid!View All 569 Singapore Cruise Port Reviews
If you want a fast, cheap and easy way to get around, invest in an MTR card. This is valid for years and can be re-charged for future visits. Will get you just about anywhere on the island, the hardest part is the 500m walk from the cruise terminal to the the nearby train station.
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