We choose this cruise as some of my family were cruising all the way to Perth on this cruise, we are still working and could not afford the time off
Embarkation was a bit slow but that was due to the staff having to check the visas for ... Read More
We choose this cruise as some of my family were cruising all the way to Perth on this cruise, we are still working and could not afford the time off
Embarkation was a bit slow but that was due to the staff having to check the visas for India
The ship is a lovely size not too big
Our cabin was very well situated for the pool and cafe caribe at the rear of the ship
The food was always amazing, we had a few breakfasts in the restaurant , we also had afternoon tea (a must) we had burger and chips and pizza. The international cafe was a firm favourite of ours,
The entertainment team were so good activities were plenty Choir, Zumba,dancing lessons,line dancing,and much more. The entertainment in the theatre was second to none brilliant ! A bit disappointed that the ships singers and dancers were not performing more . Liquid blue were fantastic .
The service on board was perfect every member of staff were smiling and very helpful.
This cruise had quite a few sea days which I really enjoyed. Read Less
We wanted our 50th anniversary to be the cruise of a lifetime; we wanted to visit the world's greatest monument to love - the Taj Mahal; and we were avid fans of Princess cruise lines (we're Platinum members). Given those ... Read More
We wanted our 50th anniversary to be the cruise of a lifetime; we wanted to visit the world's greatest monument to love - the Taj Mahal; and we were avid fans of Princess cruise lines (we're Platinum members). Given those criteria, the last segment of the World Cruise 2012 on the Pacific Princess (March 29 to April 30) seemed perfect, so we booked it. Once they got our money - we went through hell.
Firstly, we couldn't book any excursions. No matter how we tried, their computer had us locked out. We were told that, because the trip was part of a world cruise, the excursions had to be booked on ship, even though we continued to receive emails from Princess asking us to update our profile. Finally, in February, with the help on one of their customer relations people (Taji) we were able to get on-line.
Once she and I started the process, she stated "Oh my gosh, they're duplicating." When I asked her what she meant, she told me I was getting multiple excursions (including singles) whenever I selected a port. We then stopped the booking process, and she told me to make sure that I immediately went to the Excursion Desk on board to take care of this, because she had no control of it. I asked her to please make a note in my account data to the effect that the computer was acting up, and she said she would try. Whether she tried or not, it didn't work.
A week or so later, I called back to find out what had booked, I found that we had booked the Taj Mahal trip, but that they thought we were booked as four singles, thus charged the extra almost $500 each; plus I found the bookings were non-cancelable. I got upset: I told them this was our 50th anniversary trip - and they didn't seem to care that we were having so many problems. When I talked to different Customer Relations people, I got such a runaround, I was in tears. I kept getting told that it was the ship's fault, and they couldn't help me. Finally, I demanded to speak with a supervisor. Debbie was business like, and not a bit helpful or sympathetic - she treated me like I was an unreasonable idiot and I got mad as well as tearful. I admit, I used a word I shouldn't, but only after almost an hour trying to deal with this issue. She told me she would look into it and get back to me. I never heard from her or anyone else. I still didn't know what we had and what we could do. One thing I could not understand why I got different answers to the same questions: as a former quality expert, this told me that they had a major training problem. They didn't even understand how their computers were supposed to work.
The week before our trip, I went on line again to try to get a copy of the cruise brochure, so I could see what was available without having to stare at my computer for hours. This process took a while, so I went about doing other things, only to find that my computer screen displayed the initial screen to select the brochure. I called Customer Relations, and explained what had happened and was told it was my computer, and I needed to clean out various files, restart it, and try again. I worked for a major computer company for 25 years, and I knew that was likely wrong, but I complied, just so that could not be used against me again if the same thing recurred. It did. And I tried once more, this time I watched for the entire 28 minutes, and found the problem: their computer displayed a message stating I was being logged out because it was taking too long. After over 90 minutes of my time wasted, I again called Customer Relations and told them what had happened - they again tried to tell me it was my computer's fault, but I over-ruled that one, and asked them to please send me a pdf containing the brochure (I also explained my problems in booking and why I needed the brochure). They told me they couldn't send me any file, but that my travel agent could get one. It was late Friday, so I had to wait until Monday until my agent was available.
On Monday, he called to get the brochure, and was told he couldn't get one, and was asked why he was even trying. When I explained the entire mess to him, he got in contact with a Princess Business Development Manager to try to help. I don't know whether she did anything, but the Taj Mahal booking was corrected. I found this out by, yet again, calling Princess' Customer Relations. I asked the person with whom I spoke how many duplicates I had, and whether I was still booked for multiple singles on the Taj Mahal excursion. He told me we had a double booking and no duplicates he could see, so what was my problem. I gave up. We decided that we would never go through this again - at least not with Princess.
When we got on board, we had 62 excursions booked: we had duplicates, triplicates and for one tour, six bookings. I took the entire envelope down and told the excursion person to cancel everything. He started to ask me about it, then he looked through the stack, and said he'd cancel them, no problem. (I later found that many others on the cruise who joined as we did, mid-cruise, had duplicate bookings, but Princess maintained their 'innocence' in this issue - somehow we all had fumble fingers or something - NOT a way to solve this problem). The cruise director also verified that we did have only a double booking for the Taj trip.
On board, we found the crew to be as helpful and nice as always, our room was fine, and the passengers to be the usual mixed bag. We also found that one passenger claimed to have been assaulted by another - she had bruises to prove it - and that the person in charge of security did nothing about. This was not all that reassuring.
Another thing we found was that Princess is beginning to raise prices on many of their extras and decreasing some of the perks. For example, we were served margarine each night at dinner. And the butter served in the buffet was so old, it tasted like everything in the refrigerator - not nice. I know some things are getting more expensive, but I do not think, during this economic downturn, the wholesale costs are that much higher (I know about Zero based budgeting) to warrant such increases.
Also, we ended up booking many of our shore excursions ourselves (as I wrote, when we left, we didn't know what we had, what we didn't have, and had no help from Princess to discover either state), and, not only did we save a ton of money (a couple of thousand over the term of the trip) we had a wonderful time and saw things those on the ship's tours did not see. We also got back to the ship a lot sooner (6 hours sooner in one case).
The way we were treated prior to the cruise - our special 50th anniversary celebration - was so egregious that we have determined that this will be our last Princess cruise. We aren't happy about it - we thought we had found 'our' cruise line. We were wrong. Read Less
I booked this cruise as a present for my husband's 65th birthday & retirement. To be honest it has never appealed to me, but my husband has always wanted to go on one. I absolutely loved it. We had booked an outside balcony ... Read More
I booked this cruise as a present for my husband's 65th birthday & retirement. To be honest it has never appealed to me, but my husband has always wanted to go on one. I absolutely loved it. We had booked an outside balcony stateroom, but was given a free upgrade to a mini-stateroom which was lovely, very roomy with loads of cupboard space. The bathroom, which included a bath was of ample size. The bed was especially comfy as were the pillows. As first time cruisers we didn't really know what to expect, but were pleasantly surprised.
This was a 12 day cruise from Athens, via Patmos & Kusadasi, Turkey to the Holy Land. We booked two shore trips, one to Jerusalem, the other to Bethlehem, & Nazareth. Both trips were really full days visiting some wonderful historic sites. The price included a delicious buffet lunch with wine in a Kibbutz on both days.On returning to the ship we were met by staff with trays of cold drinks & cold face flannels with which to refresh ourselves, a very nice touch I thought, this was all before we embarked.
The food in the Club restaurant was very nice, & the service impeccable. We preferred to eat in the Panorama Buffet restaurant,where you could eat when you wanted not timed as the Club was. The food in the Panorama was plentiful, fresh & very nicely presented. As the passengers aboard were from numerous countries, there was something to please all tastes.There were never queues for tables or food, maybe because this ship is of a smaller size with just over 680 passengers. Small but perfectly formed!!
The entertainment was mainly in the cabaret lounge, resident singers & dancers young & energetic. When we were docked in Egypt we had local dancers, including an authentic belly dancer, & a young male dancer who was absolutely amazing.
The pool, which isn't huge, had plenty of sunbeds to relax on & even on sea days was never really crowded. There was also two hot tubs in which to unwind.
All too soon our holiday came to an end, & like everything else during the cruise the disembarkation went like clockwork. This may have been our first taste of cruising but it certainly won't be the last. Read Less
Holy Land in November
We returned to the Pacific Princess seven weeks after our Black Sea cruise. Our original intention had been to book the same itinerary on Azamara, but they cancelled the trip that suited our dates, so we switched ... Read More
Holy Land in November
We returned to the Pacific Princess seven weeks after our Black Sea cruise. Our original intention had been to book the same itinerary on Azamara, but they cancelled the trip that suited our dates, so we switched back to Princess.
The cruise started on a Thursday and this time we decided to use Princess flights - never again. The flight out was from Gatwick and the flight back was to Heathrow. We are lucky as we live in central London and either suits, but there were several unhappy British couples who lived in the Midlands and the West Country. If Princess is selling a premium brand they need to sort this out with British Airways or use other airlines. That aside, the meet and greet at the airport was excellent, as was the short tour in Athens on the way to the airport at the end. Princess does appear to have the boarding and embarkation side well sorted.
We had booked another balcony state room on the 7th floor - this time on the Port side so we could see Venice as we left. Again our room stewardess was fine -and she found us a decent hair drier to supplement the rather basic one in the bathroom.
The dining room has fixed seating but luckily we had a table for four - then our first night companions decided that second sitting was too late for them, so we were on our own from then on - perfect. The food was very good, as before, and the menu continued to reflect some of the countries we were going though. The waiters were great and the Maitre D (Carlos) was superb, ably assisted by his head waiters - perhaps you get better treatment on a table for two!
Some Americans we met on the previous cruise had recommended that we try the evening at the chef's table (75$ a head) and it was well worth it. You have a tour of the kitchen from the Maitre D and the Head Chef, champagne and snacks while you are there, and then a superb meal in one of the specialty restaurants complete with quality wine, photos and a cookery book. The Chef and Maitre D are on hand all the time and it made a splendid evening. We will certainly do it again next time we are on Princess.
We weren't impressed by the entertainment last time but perhaps we have mellowed. The dancers, who appear to be mostly Aussies, gave it their all, but the feature performers repeated their acts exactly as before. Princess also used the dancers as quiz masters in the trivia - a problem since some of them could hardly understand the questions and seemed very surprised when the groups knew the answers. The sea day programmes were still uninspired and the music between 5:00 and 7:00pm limited - as usual.
The Casino remained empty most of the time and the shops were very average - but people were buying - don't they have shops at home?
The cruise had apparently been marketed in the USA as a special 'art lover's cruise and Princess, who run the art auctions on their ships (they are apparently not subcontracted out) had secured three artists to come on the cruise and talk about their work and give painting demonstrations to a select group of 'art lovers' - but ordinary passengers could attend as well. The special group had various private functions, and sat in one particular area in the dining room, but, other than the vast number of paintings stored in the main lobby and the consequent trip hazard, it was quite good fun - there was some serious bidding at the art auctions.
Since our last trip the captain has changed. The new one was again Italian but his English was not as good and he was less proactive with the passengers - though you have to admit that his duet with the cruise director (in Italian) was special. There were comprehensive port lectures - the lecturer was good on information for the more independently minded guest, but, again, there was no 'enrichment' programme - this was another itinerary that cried out for in depth talks on the Holy Land and Egypt - I know the guides covered the basics on the trips but it would have been good to have a wider view in advance.
The overall itinerary is excellent but why don't Princess allow a day at sea for recovery between the two days in Israel and Egypt - we are on holiday, it's not an assault course. Some of the older passengers looked pretty worn out after two days in Israel and another two in Egypt almost finished them!
Ravenna was the first stop and was a very pleasant surprise (perhaps we should have done more homework) - there was a free shuttle into what turned out to be delightful Italian town. The mosaics and churches were great and there was a chocolate festival on at the same time - the perfect cruise stop.
Dubrovnik is always worth a visit if only to walk around the wall. The shuttle here was 14 dollars, which struck the American passengers as a bit on the high side, but it would have been a long walk and the taxis were no cheaper. Had a great lunch and enjoyed the views.
Next was Patmos. Again easy to do on your own - the local taxi drivers have a very good deal (35 Euros) which takes you to the main sites and leaves you long enough there to enjoy them before picking you up (on time) and going back to the ship.
We took a ship's tour in Haifa up to the River Jordan and the Sea of Galilee - it was fine though the guide let too many people shop too long. We did the same in Ashdod for Jerusalem and Bethlehem - Jerusalem was excellent but Bethlehem was debatable - the church is very crowded and you cannot see the actual tomb - and the stop for obligatory souvenir shopping on the way back (very expensive) combined with the problems of getting in and out through the gates was probably not worth the hastle.
The one thing you remember of Israel though is not the sites, great as they are, it's the litter everywhere - paper plastic bottles etc etc - no one seems to do refuse collection.
Next was Egypt - we have been to Cairo and the Pyramids before so stayed on the ship and took a horse drawn buggy around Port Said - not much to see. Alexandria was far more interesting and the ship's tour went to the main points - the new library being the best. The ship also organised a good folkloric show on the ship just before we left - complete with belly dancer and whirling dervish.
Kusadasi was the last stop - again we have been before so we just walked round the town but friends who went to Ephesus enjoyed it.
Our flight to Athens was early afternoon so princess provided a short tour of Athens with time to see one or two sites - a good way to pass the time rather than sitting at the airport.
Overall a great cruise. An excellent itinerary, but another sea day would have made it even better, and excellent service from a friendly crew. Read Less
We have taken many cruises to Europe on Celebrity and Princess but this was our first experience on a small ship. We were a little apprehensive, but chose this because of the itinerary. The ship, a refurbished Rennaisance ship, was ... Read More
We have taken many cruises to Europe on Celebrity and Princess but this was our first experience on a small ship. We were a little apprehensive, but chose this because of the itinerary. The ship, a refurbished Rennaisance ship, was elegant, comfortable, and relaxing. The crew bent over backwards to make us happy and assisted in every sitiuation we needed them to.
Food was wonderful! We missed the anytime dining, but we found that there were no long waits for dishes, hot food came piping hot, and the head waiter came to every table every night to check in and chat. We felt totally pampered! One afternoon we ate lunch at the buffet and when we went back for the chocolate ice cream, it was gone. My husband was a little disappointed, and they went to find, and bring him, a tall dish of his chocolate! We were blown away! This would never happen on a large ship.
There are no bells and whistles on this ship. There is just excellent service, comfort, and quiet elegance. On our last voyage on a larger ship, (the Crown Princess)they repeated entertainment the following evenings, so that every other night there was nothing to see. The last evening there was nothing. Even the comic they brought on board repeated his exact stand-up routine two times! On this ship, there was new entertainment EVERY night, and they even brought on local whirling dervishes and belly dancers in Egypt. It was great!
Here is just one example of how fabulous this crew was: We bought a coffee card. On the first day, we went to Deck 5 and had a custom, iced, chocolate/coffee drink blended for us. The next day, we were instantly recognized, and the drinks completely recalled and duplicated. Amazing!You really get to know the staff and crew on this ship, and they quickly become like old friends.
Embarkment and disembarkment went quickly and smoothly. We were surprised to have to surrender our passports for Egypt when we got on, but we had receipts to put away for getting them back. The morning of visa stamping went very quickly. There were no long lines in hot sun to get on and off the ship. There were no long lines for ANYTHING! When we entered our stateroom for the first time (in Venice),here were tender transfers to go into the San Marco Square if you wanted, and if not,youjust had to turn them in and then you would not be charged the $15 each for them. Very thoughtful...a nice touch, I think.
You get tendered into this port. Rating: 2
This is quiet, small-town island. The town itself was limited, the main attraction was a monastery that we did not go to. We shopped a bit, and went back to the ship. It was torridly hot that day, and we really did not see much there. It could be lovely...I honestly cannot say much about it.
Ravenna, Italy Rating : 2
The ship provided shuttles into and out of Ravenna. We did not know this in advance and had already booked our only ship's excursion into Brisghella and Faenza. DO NOT BOTHER TO DO THIS EXCURSION. We were taken to see an old, faded, mostly emptied palace that did not hold any one's attention for long, a ceramics factory (that was interesting but limited)and a small church. We walked empty streets to see Brisghella, not much to see there-colorful, quaint, limited. We returned in rain, and so we honestly did not see Ravenna.
Kusadasi, Turkey RATING: 4
We have been here before and already seen Ephasus, so we strolled the city and shopped the bazaar for the things we had no time for in Egypt. Spent half a day and went back on the ship. We were hot and still tired from Egypt and Israel in the 120 degree heat wave. Saw the rug making demonstrations, the "genuine fakes-- buy 2 Cartier watches for $35 and they throw in a pashmina shawl!!!! " I bet that those watches work for at least 3 days, too! Read Less
Midday on Thursday the 25th March found us landing at Beijing Airport after two Emirates flights from the UK totalling over 17 hours. The flight from Dubai was quite an occurrence as we were seated amongst a group of itinerate Chinese ... Read More
Midday on Thursday the 25th March found us landing at Beijing Airport after two Emirates flights from the UK totalling over 17 hours. The flight from Dubai was quite an occurrence as we were seated amongst a group of itinerate Chinese workers returning home, and the whole experience could be likened to a Sunday School outing of excited children who wanted to talk with everyone and would just not sit down. The highlight of the flight being the spectacular views we had flying over the Himalayas.
Arriving at our Hotel in Bangkok, the superbly located Novatel Peace, we were warmly and efficiently greeted and checked in.
Waking early the following morning we were met with clear blue sky, none of the smog for which Beijing is renowned. After a super 'western' breakfast (which was replicated for the duration of our stay) we set out on our first tour, Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. Far better descriptions of these than I could possibly give can be found elsewhere. Sufficient to say it was a marvellous experience. What was a little surprising and somewhat unnerving at first was the number of Chinese who approached Maureen and I requesting to have their photos taking with us. We now know how Posh & Becks must feel.
Another early breakfast and we were boarding our coach to the Great Wall at Badaling, Nothing can prepare you for the wonderful sight of the wall stretching up and away into the distance; and the bragging rights that I climbed on the Great Wall of China will be with me forever. We then sped off back towards Beijing to visit the Summer Palace, returning knackered to our hotel mid evening.
Sunday was a rest day; however a friend, a Secretary at the Embassy took us out to see the Olympic Stadium, visit a Hutong where we were transported around on a rickshaw, sampled the fantastic metro system, and dined in a local's restaurant.
A cold cloudy Monday morning saw us leaving Beijing for our 3 hour journey to join the Diamond Princess at Xingang. Despite our driver getting lost and having to enlist the help of a local taxi we arrived at the Port early but with just a half hour wait before boarding.
Leaving Xingang that evening we set off towards the Yellow Sea for our two day sail to Shanghai. Unfortunately the weather did not improve, but became increasingly foggy. We now had found our way around the Diamond, met our dining companions, Kevin & Sue from Yorkshire and Jim & Gloria from Florida. Nestor our Cabin Steward was a friendly and efficient guy who just got on with things without any fuss. The trio, Phoenix Rising played our sort of music in the Wheelhouse Bar; IMHO a much superior venue than it cousin Ramblas on Ventura. Once gain we found the cosmopolitan feel and can do attitude of Princess much to ourliking. Early Thursday morning we found ourselves adrift at the Pilot boarding ground some 40 miles from Shanghai. Having been informed that the Port had been closed because of the fog, It was not until late in the afternoon that we eventually berthed. By this time Princess with its customary efficiency had arranged night time tours and a shuttle bus (40 minutes) into town. BIG mistake! We decided to stay on board and missed out on Shanghai at night. The following day we took a tour into this fascinating and very modern city, visiting amongst other things the Jin Mao Tower.
Having spent an extra day in Shanghai, there was much speculation as to what would happen with the rest of our itinerary. The hope amongst the Brits was that we would not call into Okinawa. However Princess decided that we would only now be calling into Hong Kong for one day only. This on reflection was the correct decision as there were many war vets onboard to whom the Okinawa call was important. Saying this Okinawa proved disappointing with a high street resembling Blackpool and given we was to leave around 2.00 pm, not enough time to chance doing your own thing.
Monday we arrived in Keelung, Taiwan a tatty port town. By this time the weather was improving a little and we set out for Taipei. The first surprise on leaving Keelung was the rich tropical vegetation and the pretty undulating countryside. Taipei is a wonderful modern city with wide boulevards and fine squares where we watched the changing of the guard at the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall.
The one place we really wanted to visit on this cruise was Hong Kong as our sons had built up our expectations. Unfortunately it rained for most of the day and the cloud level was only a few hundred feet. Despite this we took the shuttle bus from the container port where we were berthed to the Ocean Terminal. Then, flashing our pension books got a free ride on the Star Ferry across to Hong Kong Island with the intention of taking the open top bus tour and a cable car up to the top of Victoria Heights. At this point a friendly local we got chatting to said that we would be wasting our time and money as the bad weather was set for the day. Returning to Kowloon we went shopping in Nathan Road and replenished my Gin stock. Again the weather spoilt things as the Captain informed us that the pilot would not take the Diamond out through the channel between Kowloon and Hong Kong Island and we would therefore miss the spectacular light show.
It was now Thursday of the second week and we were tendering to Nha Trang in Vietnam, the place where the American soldiers enjoyed their R&R. Hurrah! today was hot and sunny at last so we decided on a 'Caribbean' beach day. We found a quiet spot where a delightful lady said we could rent two loungers and a umbrella for only $4. Now what I hate is being pestered by beach vendors, but these lovely people managed to relieve us of $40 for a load of the usual junk, but it didn't seem to matter, we shared such a delightful day. Returning to the tender station I managed to purchase a 'genuine' Omega Seamaster watch for only $15 before returning to our ship.
Another early start, unfortunately after a late night, saw us leaving the port of Phu My for our tour of Saigon. A two hour drive over dusty bumpy roads with a hangover. I don't know what I expected of Saigon but I didn't expect the French boulevard , the number of 5 star hotels, the head post office which looked as though it had been designed as a railway station, Notre Dame Church where the local wedding groups came to be photographed, irrespective of whether or not they were being married there. We lunched in an excellent restaurant, very cosmopolitan which could have been in London or New York other than the price was two thirds lower.
This is probably an opportune moment to consider in a little more detail the Diamond Princess. She is very similar in size and construction to Ventura, which we last sailed on in November. However with one big difference; she has one deck less off passenger cabins so consequently carries 500 less passengers, but with the same public spaces dining areas etc. It was most noticeable when using the buffet restaurant, finding a table never presented us with a problem, likewise finding a sun bed was never something to concern us. The menus this time had quite an Oriental slant, not surprising considering our destinations, and the number of folk of Asian descent on board. Again it was noticeable that the food budget appeared higher than that of P&O. Unfortunately the ubiquitous Norovirus hit the ship, but the outbreak was well handled and quickly brought under control. As for the Entertainment, the shows are very similar to P&O so for the most part we gave them a miss. The bands that played in the lounges were a league above those found on P&O with the exception of Natural High and Caravan. The guest entertainers? well it's all down to personal taste, however, we did enjoy Linda Genteel "The Piano Princess" Liberace was quoted in 1986 as saying: "Linda plays as beautifully as she looks!" For us the thing for us that's sets Princess apart the positive attitude and friendly approach of the staff. Like P&O, Princess also host a lunch with the captain and senior officers, but only for the 40 most travelled passengers, this is still a silver service affair.
It was now Monday 12th April and our last port of call, Singapore. Once again we docked in a container terminal, a massive pristine facility where one could imagine that a dirty container would be refused and put back on the ship. This terminal is so large that a system of traffic lights is in place to control the traffic. It was in Singapore where the heat and humidity really started to get to us, we aborted our walk to Raffells and ended up with Maureen buying clothes in M&S.
Our last night on board was a really enjoyable affair with our table companions and other friends all getting today to round off what had been a super cruise. Embarkation in Laem Chabang Thailand was a painless event and after identifying our luggage and we were soon setting off on our 3 hour coach journey into Bangkok.
Our first and only(at that time) full day in Bangkok entailed our River Kwai tour, again a very early start and a two hour drive to the JEATH museum inside Wat Chai Chumpho, this has been constructed largely in the form of an Allied Prisoner of War camp which is managed by a Thai monk. The thatched detention hut with cramped, elevated bamboo bunks contains photographic, pictorial and physical memorabilia dating from the Second World War. We then visited the immaculately maintained Kanchanaburi War Cemetery. It is located opposite Kanchanaburi's Railway Station where we caught a train taking us over the River Kwai Bridge and North to for lunch and a ride on the elephants.
It was on arriving back at our hotel and checking the BBC World Service that we realised the ASH CLOUD had struck and we were not going home the next day. What followed were many days of uncertainty, as our first estimate of a return date was the 7th May. However our tour company Spectrum Cruises and there local Agents Tour East worked tirelessly in our interests. Initially to confirm that our hotel costs would be covered and then to get us home ASAP.
Not wishing to sit on our hands for the next week or so the group went about organising its own excursions, and we had the delight of visiting many of the cultural, historical and nature-based sites. The most impressive being the Bang Pa In, summer palace of the kings of Thailand. By that time the riots were starting to kick off again, the Consulate was visiting us at the hotel , and some of our group had a lucky escape when one of the rocket fired grenades hit just yard from where they were imbibing.
It was on the Friday morning, nine days after we had checked in, that we were informed that Emirates was running an extra flight the following morning to London Gatwick and we were booked on. We departed Suvarnabhume Airport about midday landing Gatwick late evening where Spectrum again stepped up to the plate and had representatives and a coach waiting to transport us back to Manchester England. All said a holiday in a lifetime which we would recommend to anyone.
Ray & Maureen Read Less
Most of the passengers that we spoke with, like ourselves, chose this cruise based on the outstanding itinerary - Rome-Naples-Alexandria-Port Said-Ashdod-Haifa-Ephesus-Patmos-Santorini-Athens. We could not fault the itinerary - where else ... Read More
Most of the passengers that we spoke with, like ourselves, chose this cruise based on the outstanding itinerary - Rome-Naples-Alexandria-Port Said-Ashdod-Haifa-Ephesus-Patmos-Santorini-Athens. We could not fault the itinerary - where else can you take in the ancient civilizations of Rome, Egypt,the Holy Land, Turkey and Greece all in one trip.
We spent the 3 days prior to the cruise touring on our own in Venice and Rome using the rail system for transportation between cities and the metro for transportation Rome. We also used the railway for our transfer to the port. The port is a short walk from the railway station however there were no taxis to be found. Not a major problem unless you have lots of luggage. Once you reach the port (about 1000 yards) there is a shuttle bus to the ship. Embarkation went smoothly. We arrived about midway through the allotted time and walked straight up to the desk and were onboard within 10 minutes.
We were greeted by a staff member on arrival and given directions to our cabin. We were not escorted to our cabin as we have been on some other lines. Cabin was as expected however proved to be very noisy. This particular cabin has a door to the adjoining cabin. Not sure if this was the problem but it was almost like being in the same room as our relatives who were in the adjoining cabin. Note to self - no more connecting cabins!
Food onboard was average to good. I have had better on Princess in the past. The menu was not as rich as on past voyages on larger ships. We did try the Sabatinis Italian and it was up to the usual high standards and was surprisingly almost empty. We did not try the Steakhouse. Royal Princess is not your typical Princess ship. She is considerably smaller (around 670 passengers) and hails from the Renaissance Cruise lines R series of ships of which Princess has 3 (Royal and Tahitian being the other 2 with Tahitian being renamed Ocean in 2009). The ship is small and intimate with almost no lines other than for tenders. This also translates into not a lot to do when on sea days unless you like bingo, trivia etc. In fairness we had not so great weather (rather cold) so that pretty much eliminated any poolside activities or use in general. Entertainment was average at best. Due to small size, there is no Theater but rather a cabaret lounge. Entertainment troupe was very small (8 members). They were very good but you get tired of the same faces! Orchestra is a quartet who were also very good. Not much opportunity for dancing (ballroom). We did check out the disco a couple of nights. Music left a lot to be desired, I think in part as the DJ was not western (probably Filipino) and did not seem to be in touch with western tastes. We left the village people etc in the 70s. Not what we want to listen to today. They did cater to requests which my wife kept them busy with! Other entertainers were mixed in quality. Ports of call
Naples: we took the ships excursion to Pompeii which was very good other than the rain!. Note that this as is common with most excursions on this voyage has a lot of walking over uneven surfaces and a lot of stairs and small hills. Not handicap friendly at all. This was not a problem for my wife and I but grandma had some trouble with this but did very well overall. Be careful to check this out before spending a lot of $$ on these excursions.
Alexandria: we organized our own excursion with www.temotours.com and were delighted. We did an overnight to cairo including hotel for under $300 per person, rejoining the ship the next day in Port Said. Good thing because there were no excursions offered in Port Said by Princess and those who did not book overnights were very disappointed in Port Said. We saw the Pyramids, Sphinx, Step Pyramid Mohammed Ali mosque, light show, Egyptian Museum, bazaar and had a Nile dinner cruise. All went well. Don't be alarmed at the armed police escort that joins the convoy of buses part way on the trip to Port Said. This is normal.
Ashodod: we took the Princess Grand Overland excursion and stayed overnight in Jerusalem. We entered the West Bank uneventfully to visit Jerusalem and also took in all of the major Holy Land sites in Jerusalem, Galilee and Nazareth, returning to the ship in Haifa.
Ephesus: we did the Best of Ephesus excursion through Princess which was very good although very similar to Pompeii.
Patmos: we did the Best of Patmos excursion which was good but probably not worth the money as there is really not much to see.
Santorini: we passed on the organized excursions and spent the day wandering in the quaint villages. We took a cab up to Oia where the views are magnificent.
Athens: we booked with Georges Taxis for transfers and an 8 hour tour by taxi. Service was excellent and we were able to see all that we wanted in one day. We stayed two days in Athens but could have seen what we wanted to in one.
All in all a vacation to remember and one that we would highly recommend. Read Less