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Sail Date: November 2017
I had heard many good things about Princess Cruise Line and I found the right itinerary and dates. Reality, a little disappointing. The Pacific Princess (a.k.a. reborn "Love Boat") is a small ship carrying 600+ passengers. ... Read More
I had heard many good things about Princess Cruise Line and I found the right itinerary and dates. Reality, a little disappointing. The Pacific Princess (a.k.a. reborn "Love Boat") is a small ship carrying 600+ passengers. Overall the ship is very nice. Few venues, public rooms elegantly appointed: Library reading room a la "Downton Abby-esque". I sailed on a back to back from Venice to Fort Lauderdale. Cabin on the first segment (6062) nice and comfortable and pleasant although Bathroom needlessly small and tight (One needs to step out to change ones mind). Second segment cabin (7033) the same. Main dinning room very nice: service excellent food nicely presented but a bit bland and sometimes insipid for my taste. Very disappointed with the food offering at the Panorama Café buffet. Breakfast & Lunch never very appetizing and I can eat most anything. Poor and limited selection and looked as if it was out far too long, perhaps because it is a small venue. The entertainment was nice, a few excellent others not so much. It was none the less enjoyable. Staff service, in all venues and areas, was very pleasant and attentive, no complaints. Although we skipped 3 ports, due to weather, the Ports and tours offered were very nice and well prepared and staffed. Price, not bad. Crossing the Atlantic was wonderful, 8 days. The sea was extraordinarily calm and pleasant weather: I enjoy sea days. The entertainment staff did a nice job keeping all entertained that wanted to be entertained. Good job!! I May, I'll be on the Regal, I will see how that goes. Hopefully better. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
Cruised from Venice to Rio over a 3 week period. Had been to most of European ports before, but chose this cruise for the stops in Brazil. Unfortunately had to miss Fortaleza due to strong winds, and it rained most of day in Buzios. ... Read More
Cruised from Venice to Rio over a 3 week period. Had been to most of European ports before, but chose this cruise for the stops in Brazil. Unfortunately had to miss Fortaleza due to strong winds, and it rained most of day in Buzios. Overall we liked the ship having a comfortable balcony cabin, although the wardrobe space was a bit small. The ship was in good condition, but there were some signs of wear and tear. The main let down was the food in the main restaurant which often got to the table Luke warm, and once was actually cold. The service in both the main and buffet restaurants was hit and miss. The entertainment team worked very hard and provided good varied things to do and take part in. There were also lots of dance classes. The evening shows were mostly very good and varied. There were bands duos and singers in all the bars who in the main could actually sing and play. The gym was much too small for the size of ship, with queues to get on the equipment on sea days. We would go on this ship again for the right itinerary and price. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
My wife and I have wanted to do a cruise for sometime. The ports of call were mostly what we wanted to do so picked this cruise. Liked most of the shore tours but would do less full day tours and spend more around the towns visited. ... Read More
My wife and I have wanted to do a cruise for sometime. The ports of call were mostly what we wanted to do so picked this cruise. Liked most of the shore tours but would do less full day tours and spend more around the towns visited. Overall really enjoyed the experience. As we wanted to have a fine dining experience went to Pinnacle and Pop up 3 star dining, food was great. However, was disappointed when we were one of the very few who seemed to make an effort by dressing up. If you have a dress code enforce it or let people know it's causal so they don't overpack. Carted a suitcase of non neccessary clothes through Italy after the cruise. Also, did not like the upsell with the fitness centre and spa services, which were way overpriced in the first place. In addition, when a shop has two items on a pedestal and one price tag I would assume that is the price for both items, NOT SO! Felt as though we were being gouged. Fairlly small whinge as overall we had a great time. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2017
We did this cruise because of the itinerary and timing, having done the return trip via the W. Coast 4 times before - but never on the Sinfonia. We had been told that she was a nicer ship than the Opera, but did not find that to be the ... Read More
We did this cruise because of the itinerary and timing, having done the return trip via the W. Coast 4 times before - but never on the Sinfonia. We had been told that she was a nicer ship than the Opera, but did not find that to be the case. The good stuff first: Cabin. We had booked an Aurea Suite and were not disappointed - best position and cabin (and bed) we have ever had - spacious and comfortable and, as always, the cabin attendant, this time Putra, was superb. He could not have done more for us. On moving in I needed WAY more hangers, within minutes he was there with a huge stack of wire hangers. I could have kissed him! As far as the cabin was concerned I only had one gripe: when we had high winds for 2 days there was a lot of eerie whistling down the passage and no way to stop it. Entertainment. The entertainment was wonderful - very high quality and varied. Loved it all - BUT the high volume at times was painful to the ears and the visibility from some seats was nil. But they know that. The Operatic concerts were briliant. The Spa. We so enjoyed the massage that was included that we went for 2 more each, superbly executed. Bad Stuff: Food..... we didn't starve BUT I could count on one hand meals we enjoyed. The buffet was very disappointing, the Il Covo ditto - BUT as usual, the dining room service in the evening was outstanding. At lunch time, not so... The loud, screechy "music" in the buffet sent me running out - thankfully the pizza and burger bar on the deck was there to fill in. Pre-dinner entertainment. We were on anytime dining and would have liked a longer cocktail hour with music - but that stopped in the bars at around 6pm so we had to have a drink without until going to the Il Covo at 6.30. Sunbeds - with 'reserved' towels on them unattended for hours - unpoliced as usual. Sad that the lovely pool is now a spray park (unused) but I suppose it would be busy and noisy on other itineraries. So - this is not really a complaint. We enjoyed the cruise very much despite the above and made many lovely friends. The service was excellent as always. We did not take part in many of the activities but appreciated having a formal Duplicate Bridge arrangement set up and thoroughly enjoyed the entertainment. It would have been better if there had been more music in the bars. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2017
The middle eastern ports of call appealed to us and the fact that the cruise went along the East coast of Africa. We have already done the voyage along the west coast of Africa. We also looked forward to going through the Suez Canal as ... Read More
The middle eastern ports of call appealed to us and the fact that the cruise went along the East coast of Africa. We have already done the voyage along the west coast of Africa. We also looked forward to going through the Suez Canal as that was a first time experience. WE were disappointed in the excursion to King Solomons mines as we were given the impression we would visit a kibbutz but instead were just driven around one. WE have been on several MSC cruises in the past and were disappointed in the quality of the food on this cruise. We used the main restaurants whenever possible, only using the buffet on the pool deck when returning from an excursion too late to use the formal diningrooms. Fresh fruit became less and less and near the end of the cruise we were told that the kitchen had run out of biscuits to have with the cheese. The meat from the carver was hacked rather than sliced. Service at open seating times was frustratingly slow and one was shunted from one member of staff to another, It was almost impossible to find someone to order something from the bar like a cappuccino at breakfast. The waiters at the evening meals were top class and did their best to accommodate our needs. The seating in the theatre is absolutely terrible now that there is the row of loose chairs in front of fixed bench seats. Embarkation was a nightmare and we were never told what caused the delay. Other than that the running of the ship was excellent. Pronunciaion of staff doing multi language quizzes was so bad that one didn't understand the questions. The bridge classes were great and the presenters very helpful. Documentaries were very interesting. we requested a small table at first sitting for dinner and it took 3 moves before we were finally allocated a nice table. the room we were offered at the hotel in Venice was below par in the annex but the breakfast was good. we weren't offered to start the trip from Cape Town and had to find our one way to get to Johannesburg for the flight to Dubai. this obviously made the journey much longer and baggage could. not be booked straight through. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2016
Pacific Princess is a great little ship and we have travelled on her before. Great crew but I have to say the worst Cruise Director that we have come across on any of the Princess ships. Also the entertainment on the leg from Venice to ... Read More
Pacific Princess is a great little ship and we have travelled on her before. Great crew but I have to say the worst Cruise Director that we have come across on any of the Princess ships. Also the entertainment on the leg from Venice to Rome was way below Princess normal standard, although has picked up on this leg. Captain has done a great job and has at all times kept everybody informed as to what is going on. Dining has been great as has the general service throughout the ship. Yes we had a bit of rough weather and missed a couple o ports as a result but the replacement ports were good especially Funchal. Shore excursion have been good in the main with a couple of "duds" only. Still think it is a great ship and Princess a great line so we will be back although maybe find a different Cruise Director. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2016
We really enjoyed the itinerary; especially with the overnight in Venice to start the trip. We really enjoyed our ports of call: Koper, Slovenia, Kotor, Montenegro, Dubrovnik, Croatia, Corfu and Rhodes, Greece, Naples and Sicily, Italy. A ... Read More
We really enjoyed the itinerary; especially with the overnight in Venice to start the trip. We really enjoyed our ports of call: Koper, Slovenia, Kotor, Montenegro, Dubrovnik, Croatia, Corfu and Rhodes, Greece, Naples and Sicily, Italy. A highlight of our trip was the Corfu walking food tour (3+ hours, 64 euro each...https://corfuwalkingtours.com/product/corfu-walking-food-tours/) as our guide provided a historical narrative to the highlights of town and the best of the island's Greek food. We were a group of 7 and it ended up being more cost effective for us to go through Princess for a private van and driver for the Naples port. We were happy with our decision as we were able to dictate our day as we chose instead of being on a coach with 40 other people. Embarkation and disembarkation were really smooth processes. With the Pacific being Princess's smallest ship, we expected there to be fewer things to do which ended up being the case but we did not care as we had so many port days on this trip. The staff were spot on, like always, and out of the other Princess ships I'd been on (Coral and Emerald), the Pacific had the best food quality and variety. Entertainment exceeded our expectations. The dance/production team were pretty spot on and we really enjoyed a guest musician, Phillip Browne, from the UK. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2013
The Divina is a beautiful ship. I like the staterooms. In the staterooms I especially like the folding shower doors that give extra room when you're not in the shower. Departure from Venice was very unpleasant. You have to walk, ... Read More
The Divina is a beautiful ship. I like the staterooms. In the staterooms I especially like the folding shower doors that give extra room when you're not in the shower. Departure from Venice was very unpleasant. You have to walk, dragging your luggage from the people mover to the ship. Thank goodness it wasn't raining! It's about one mile... honestly a mile. Regarding the food I always found something I liked. The "Ethnic" corner was a go to place to tasty dishes at lunch time. At breakfast, it's basic. There wasn't any fresh pineapple, and there were canned fruits everyday. And, someone has got to tell the chef that both baked beans and baked apples actually need to be baked! In both cases they were passed by the front of an oven. Dinner upstairs in the buffet is basically the same every day with really minor changes. MSC wants you in the dining room. Many passengers were upset that MSC canceled a scheduled stop in Nassau so they could have a publicity stunt with Fiat 500 cars, and have a travel agent inspection day. There was typical MSC confusion (everything goes to Sorrento, to Geneva, back to Sorrento, to Miami, and then back to Sorrento all over again) regarding the canceled day. Some passengers got off, some didn't. Everything was last minute and completely confused. But, MSC saved the worst until the last minute. After the big good-bye production on stage, after the helicopters in Miami, and after we filled out the questionnaires, MSC forgot to offload the luggage... Yes, that's right, they didn't have the luggage on the dock, it was all still on the ship in the morning. There was chaos in the luggage hall. People standing around, no luggage. Local staff could only say that they had never seen anything like this. Absolutely NO MSC staff anywhere! Luggage was coming out with all the colors on all of the carousels. People who got off first were still waiting for their luggage THREE HOURS LATER. And, I might add that's three hours of STANDING AND WAITING, for their luggage since there was no place to sit. Some passengers were telling local staff that MSC could send their luggage since they were not going to miss their flight. I waited over two hours for my luggage, which came off on the wrong carousel. I like MSC but this certainly left a very bad impression. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2013
Divina...November 2-20....Trans Atlantic...Venice to Miami This was our second cruise with MSC....first one a 14 day New England to Quebec City...and this one an 18 day repositioning from Venice to Miami.....right off I must say that ... Read More
Divina...November 2-20....Trans Atlantic...Venice to Miami This was our second cruise with MSC....first one a 14 day New England to Quebec City...and this one an 18 day repositioning from Venice to Miami.....right off I must say that “we WOULD sail again with MSC ”..that statement is for those who think that any sort of criticism is bad-mouthing the company and its ships.... We had just finished two 7 day B2B’s on the Splendour of the Seas...RCCL around Greece, Croatia and Turkey....that ended on Nov 2 so had fresh memories to compare things between RCCL and MSC....it was our first time on RCCL The Ship and Demographics..... The ship was almost sold out....apparently it had been heavily marketed in Europe and Turkey for a cruise with air package.....so according to the front desk and CD there were over 900 Swiss/Germans and 700 Turks and the rest from all over Europe and Britain....a minority were the 100 Canadians...most from a package from Sunquest...200 or so from Australia...a package with air and Las Vegas...their package was interesting as it included the 7 days before this cruise, the 18 days and then the 3 day intro with all the travel agents from USA..... and lastly perhaps 75 from USA...(an Australian review would be very interesting to read as it would highlight three different cruises on the same ship) The ship is beautiful and fairly well laid out.... deck #7 allows you to go from one end of the ship from the Black and White Lounge area in the aft to the Theatre at the bow....the others go part way so you have to go up or down stairs to deck 7....there was no way to go to the bow of the ship outside unless you were a Yacht Club customer...this is kind of a negative as it is nice to go to the bow area ......the ship is spotless and well maintained....could not believe the number of crew members we saw cleaning all times of the day and night....they also appreciated a comment that showed some interest in what they were doing...ie vacuuming, polishing, cleaning windows...etc....the bars and lounges were well designed and packed at night with lots of entertainment....each lounge had a band or singer night after night for listening pleasure and dancing if you wanted.....there were 17 of them.....probably too many but with 4000 passengers you have to have places to go at night......pools in the day were crowded as the weather was hot and sunny....far too many people would get up early...stake out their loungers, put out their orange towels and leave....and come back hrs later... it was like a contest to get the best positions...for 18 days the same people were in the same spots....the pools were nice and warm and filled with salt water....after the whole day of use the water was not as clear as in the AM....suggestion is to change some of the water as the day goes on.......currency on board was in US$....which came into effect the day we boarded...so some strain on the staff to adjust so fast....casino went from Euro to $ also....some machines still had the Euro symbols....a fun place but we thought the slots were tight......gratuities were the least expensive at $8 per day....we had a Cruise Critic group and had some meetings...if you do some digging you can find comments about that process.....Andre, the new Assistant Cruise Director attended the meetings and was very candid....which was a good thing.... Ports... Venice, Malta, Malaga, Madeira, St Maarten, St Thomas, San Juan, Puerto Rico and supposedly (Nassau) which was exchanged for an extra day in Miami....we loved all of them....sunshine, hot, and interesting places, easy to move about and sightsee....our favourite was probably Madeira....beautiful location...did the Hop–on, Hop-off bus for an overview of the area, the gondola up the Monte, then lunch and a leisurely walk about the main part of town and back to the ship.....never took a ship tour in any of the ports as we did our own thing which was very easy...most of these ports you could just walk off the ship and were right in the middle of things..... Cabin We had an aft balcony cabin....11266....quite large, full sized couch, queen bed, flat screen 24”, desk area, fridge....(mini bar), nice sized bathroom with glass/plastic doors for shower, robes, two large closets, balcony with two loungers, two chairs and a table.....excellent to while away the 18 days.....cabin steward gave great service and did little extras for us....we liked chatting to him and he appreciated it....we kept getting fruit bowls...who knows from where as there never was a note....there was a slight problem with the balcony...if you do some research you can find out why as it was under the aft pool.....there was hardly any rumble from the engines.....so fairly quiet........and no loud neighbours......sometimes smelled smoke in the hallways but apparently some nationalities were not told about the new smoking rules....signs for no smoking showed up on the balcony door two days before the cruise ended....... Dining We had fixed seating at 6pm (don’t like to wait until 8:30) in the Black Crab....deck 6....table for 6 by a window in the port aft section of the restaurant.....great table mates.....two from Belgium and two from Ontario....looked forward to going to dinner each night as had so many nice chats and laughs....sometimes this makes the cruise in our opinion.......our waiter and assistant were fantastic.....after a few days the wine, water, bread, etc was always waiting for us when we arrived......service was off and on but no fault of the waiters....it was due to back-ups and problems in the kitchen, new menus and new ways of doing things......ice water was available at the table (something new).....as we were from NA we had free vouchers for bottled water, gas or no gas....so we used them up....a nice perk...(at $3.25 natural or $4.75 for San Pelligrino) ..and shared the water with our new friends from Belgium....they thought that was great.....we had the NA wine package of 7 bottles for $85....very nice house wine.....Trebiano Rubicon and Grillo Tratt....both white.....(there are also two reds and one rose to choose from )...buy before you go on the cruise and save the service charge....also had the NA beer package at $52 for 14 bottles or cans... had the odd MGD 16oz...cost at $5 each in the bars and restaurants....Food....well that is always subjective.....in our humble opinion it was fine....when compared to RCCL which we had just come off for 14 days, we felt the food and variety was better on MSC....you could have 5 or more courses each night.....appetizer, soup, salad, pasta, mains, dessert.....who would starve?....food preparation was usually good but you could never tell....if we did not like it just asked for another course and got it really fast.....gelatto was always available for dessert so would usually order a dessert and gelato....super......beef could be ordered by cooking style now....rare, med-rare, etc....previously you could not do that.....and cuts were thicker.....had lobster one gala dinner....nice and ordered the steak also to go with it......delicious....we never starved.....Breakfast in the buffet was hectic but lots of choice.....however, the stations never changed for the whole cruise.....major problem was that fresh fruit was only at the front station which was quite the hike from the back of the buffet...... better to have a quiet breakfast in the dining room.....service was fast.......Lunch in the buffet....again hectic....and repetitive.....we started eating in the dining room as was more civilized......most stations had the same stuff day after day....there was an ethnic station and things did change there..... salad was only in the front station....again a major flaw in the design.....they should have had a mirrored design front and back....would clear up many problems as most people were rushing back and forth.....so for 18 days all was fine....the staff tried hard with all the new menus and serving style....and yes....we had coffee each night with our dessert....waiters got into the flow and got the coffee cups ready as dessert was served....never went to the pay eating venues...mostly they were empty....MSC never had any outside eating areas or barbecue which was too bad as the weather was great each day....perhaps they will do that later on the Caribbean cruises.... Entertainment I think the shows were geared to an audience that speaks different languages.... hence no comedians, English production shows etc......mainly impressive visual shows, dancing, acrobatics, juggling, physical stunts etc. with names such as “Billy Bones”, “Wonderland”, “Mime Mix”, “Il Sole Mio”, “Elvis Tribute”, “Starwalker”, “The Best Of”, “Frank Sinatra” ...some were loud and impressive with costumes and activities.....the best one that we liked was “Starwalker” which was a take on Michael Jackson music and dancing.....the theatre holds 1670 people on three levels.....so really no problem getting a seat....arrived sometimes 5 minutes before the show at 9pm.....they did two shows usually, one for late seating and one for early seating.....Introductions by the CD took forever as they repeated things in 5 languages and then sometimes 6 for all the Turks.....I wonder if they will just stick to English for the Caribbean ones. The Black and White lounge was the hub of activity after the shows....with the Entertainment/Animation crew doing their stunts.....each bar also had music...really liked the couple that sang in “La Luna”.....Shops and Shopping......lots of them...most we have ever seen on a ship.....even a candy store.....final thoughts....well for five days in a row we also had “Opera Shows”....good for some but the theatre was half empty....and the big production shows had the same stunts but with different music and costumes.....so lost some of the thrill after seeing the same thing over and over.....as there was no TV for several days there was no entertainment or news in our staterooms...some problem due to the change-over of satellite feed from Europe to North America...should have been addressed sooner than it was On/Off Great embarking in Venice....dropped off our tagged luggage and checked in....on ship in probably 15 minutes....MSC had this port down pat.....Miami....well another story.....perhaps there were problems as it was the first time...but....we were to be off the ship at 8:45 to pick up luggage but were still waiting for it 2 and half hrs later.....lots and lots of unhappy customers missing planes etc.....major concern....did not see one MSC officer trying to help out and explain the problems...I think they were getting ready to have the 3 days of Travel Agents aboard..... .....only people about were the Port of Miami helpers and employees...mainly women.... and I felt sorry for them...they did their best Summary We had a good cruise....great dinner mates, nice table location, good wine, fantastic weather for 18 days, interesting ports of call, and a new, well looked after ship.....and the food...well no one would starve....there was always something to eat and if it was not what you expected or felt was not up to snuff, just order another dish......and excellent service from our waiters and cabin steward.....what can you want! Sure there were minor/major glitches depending on your point of view...organizational skills of the senior management, luggage problems, lack of information, having to call 4 different head offices before someone could make a decision, chaos at the buffet at times, loud multi-language announcements, few English books in the library, pool lounger hogs, dropping Nassau without giving a reason, misinformation as no one really knew what was going on at times. All in all we will remember the great time as the positives outweighed the negatives. We hope MSC will address the issues that caused concern and upset for many of the passengers and succeed in the North American market. As a line they cannot put their image ahead of the things that most passengers expect. A case in point would be the fantastic arrival in Miami with helicopters, fireboats, “Fiats” and Diva sunglasses followed the next day by the disembarkation and luggage retrieval fiasco. That left most people with a bad taste and that was unfortunate as the last thing they remember of the cruise..... Thanks for reading....   Read Less
Sail Date: October 2013
Our Royal Adventure – 9 – 27 October 2013 Executive Summary My wife Louise and I booked this trip within an hour of the voyage being published. Although we have sailed 18 times with Princess we have never done a TA and we thought ... Read More
Our Royal Adventure – 9 – 27 October 2013 Executive Summary My wife Louise and I booked this trip within an hour of the voyage being published. Although we have sailed 18 times with Princess we have never done a TA and we thought that the opportunity to do it on a new ship could not be missed. Since there were many stops in the Med and we thought the Atlantic crossing could be cool we opted to settle for an interior cabin (A725). This is only the third time we have taken an interior cabin for more than two days. Having keenly followed the construction of the ship and avidly read the posts of this summer’s early passengers we must admit to having some reservations about the ship to the point of considering cancellation of the voyage. We have spent considerable time comparing the Royal to our favorite ships the Sapphire, Diamond and Ruby. Despite what we consider to be deficiencies of the Royal design we decided we had to make our own observations. Details of our actual cruise will be found after the summary. The summary expresses our opinions about the ship more or less as we discovered them and NOT in the order of their importance. PLUSES: • As usual we were impressed with the friendliness and professionalism displayed by all of the crew we interacted with. • Outstanding execution of the Piazza. It is larger, more elegant and welcoming than in other ships. • Much improved Horizon Court. The new design reduces congestion, offers more seating options and allows for specialty areas. Pastry area very inviting. • Great flat screen TV in the cabin with much enhanced programming. • Ability to verify account from personal computer. • The elimination of the Promenade has allowed for the creation of several new semi-private open deck lounge areas. • A much longer and improved walking/jogging track on the upper deck. • Enlarged and very up to date exercise room and equipment. • Great Crown Grill as part of the Wheelhouse Bar with a pianist. • Great theatre. • We had the misfortune to have a clothing item go astray in the laundry. Our steward advised us to make a claim at the Purser’s desk. The agent there was empowered to give us an immediate credit to our account. Late our last night our steward arrived with several missing laundry items. We had the desk remove the credit. Well done all around. NEGATIVES: • Elimination of the Promenade. We miss the opportunity to have our long morning walk there.. • Narrower balconies. I would never book a balcony cabin on this ship. • Many balconies are exposed from above, in particular the stern balconies and those below the new Sky walk. • The upper level walking/jogging track is subject to smoke and soot depending on the wind. • Water show is a waste of space and money. • New or increased charges for many items. • Steam rooms no longer available for everyone’s use. • Retreat area is of limited use when underway because of lack of adequate wind protection. • The centre pool arrangement under the MUTS will be a madhouse when there are many children aboard. • Princess seems unable to have their Spa tubs at the recommended 102 degrees F. At night they are barely body temperature and therefore uncomfortable. • Loss of the Explorer’s Lounge. • The terrible waste of space and environmental pollution devoted to and caused by the photo department. Why are they still printing thousands of useless pictures? Other cruise lines have fully digitized their operation allowing their guests to view only their pictures on kiosks then selecting what they want printed. • We find that the dinner menu choices are not to the same calibre as before. • Loss of the aft pool and spa. • No longer have trays or even glass holders in theatre seats. • Nautical chart of voyage not posted (usually posted on the LIDO deck aft of pools). • Menus not posted on both sides of dining room. • Senior Staff photos not posted as on other ships. • We find the seating in the center of the Vista lounge impractical. • The Princess Live Theatre is not a practical setting for the team games because of the row seating and its relatively small size. • The Library seems to have been an after-thought. Barely the size of a cabin, few chairs and very few books. • The laundry has been overwhelmed by the number of Elite passengers and their free laundry privilege. Many passengers arrived aboard with significant laundry because of previous touring. The laundry never caught up and it is taking 3 to 5 days to have things returned. Even then things come back piecemeal. • This has been the worst internet service I have experienced on any voyage perhaps due to too many Elite passengers. Even alongside it is next to useless. • Poor/broken TV reception of live TV programming. Might expect this in mid-Atlantic but not when tied alongside in Europe. • We’re disappointed that there are no “Special Edition” souvenirs for this inaugural crossing. All that is offered are souvenirs stating “Inaugural Season”. On other Princess ships there have always been at least coffee cups depicting the route of a particular voyage. Princess dropped the ball here. • In our opinion the ship is too cool. Not only that, but there are marked temperature differences between zones. What is the point of wearing a bare shouldered or backless dress if you have to wear a shawl? AC gone wild! • The starboard side of decks 7 and 17 have been designated as smoking areas. The only notice of this is in the first “Patter”. There are no signs on the port side of these decks indicating they are non-smoking. People are smoking throughout these deck areas and staff is not correcting the situation. A complaint to the Purser’s office brought no results. Considering the observations above the Royal is not the ship for us and we would not book another voyage on her or her sister the Regal. However, we remain loyal Princess passengers. Full Report For the first time we made our flight reservations through Princess eZair. We required flights from Ottawa, Canada to Venice and return from Fort Lauderdale. This was easy to accomplish and we obtained good flights at very competitive prices. We requested departure for 6 October with a return on Monday the 28th. The routing provided was Air Canada to Toronto followed by Air Canada’s new discount airline “Rouge” to Venice then using Westjet for Fort Lauderdale - Toronto – Ottawa. We arrived at Ottawa airport at 2:30 for our 4:00PM departure. To our surprise there was no one in line. We got our baggage tags from the kiosk and proceeded immediately to baggage drop off then to security. Again no one in front and quick process through security. This was the fastest airport processing we have ever encountered. Now we have time to kill. I hope the rest of the trip to Venice is as simple. Departure from Ottawa is on time aboard an A319. Easy flight to Toronto. After killing about three hours in the Terminal and a pub we board our Venice “Rouge” flight and push back about 10 minutes early. Flight is about 70% full and my gamble to re-book centre isle seats pays off with an empty centre seat. We receive an evening meal which was not indicated on our ticket. Nice surprise but it made up for a very disappointing continental breakfast. Overall good impression of this new airline. Arrival in Venice is impressive compared to North American misery. We’re quickly off the plane and Immigration /customs consists of nothing more than a smile and a stamp of the passport. Not one question to any passenger we saw. Canada Customs take note! Our bags also arrive much faster than they do in Canada and the US. We try to collect our pre-paid airport shuttle bus to the Mestre train station across from our hotel, from the available Kiosks, but the machines refuse. We go to the staffed counter, get the prepaid tickets and also buy a 72 hour bus/vaporetto pass. We get wrong directions to the bus platform and end up getting a bus to Venice proper. Eventually get returned to the right place. We drag our bags about 300 feet to our booked hotel the Bologna. We’re very pleased with the hotel and the price. After check-in we locate an Ali grocery store about four blocks away which also sells wine, beer and liquor . We make a purchase to tide us over. After further exploration we find a shop, Antica Botreza del Vino, located at the corner of Via Cavallotti and Via Felisati, that sells bulk wine near Hotel Aaron but it is closed when we visit. We return in the evening and find that there are about 10 to 12 varieties each of red and white wine that sell for under 2 Euro per liter. Bring your own collapsible bag. We have dinner at Soul Kitchen across the street from the Bologna which was quite good. See report in Trip Advisor. Tuesday 8 Oct - We enjoy a very good complimentary breakfast at the hotel. We are off early to visit Venice using our 3 day bus and Vaporetto pass. We no sooner board the water bus when I believe I failed to close the room safe. We get off at the next stop and get back to the hotel. Sure enough I had left the safe open but all is still there. I don’t believe anyone had yet been into the room. We return to Venice and spend about five hours walking about and exploring. The day is overcast with occasional sprinkles of rain. The tide is in and some canal side plazas have some water on them. We return to the hotel late in the afternoon. After a little rest we decide on an Asian dinner. We walk about 200 paces along Via Piave and discover Ristorante Oriental a small Asian restaurant next to the Ali grocery. This was an ideal for a casual inexpensive meal. See restaurant review in Trip Advisor. Wed. 9 Oct – Boarding day - On the advice of an experienced Venice traveller we take the airport bus at 10:40 back to the airport then join a group for our pre-paid Princess shuttle. Princess people are very well organized. We are met, identified, our bags are dropped off to next appear in our room and about 10 minutes later we leave on our coach. A 20 minute ride finds us at the pier. Processing has already begun so we walk directly to check-in, go to the holding area and two minutes later our boarding color is called. We are in our cabin by noon. Very impressive boarding procedure! While waiting for our bags we take the opportunity to have a quick walk about. The ships appointments are very beautiful. It’s a delight to be on a brand new ship. Unusually slow baggage delivery. We have received 3 of 4 bags by 3:50PM. Of course the missing bag is one that I surrendered just before check-in and it contains a med which required refrigeration. On the other hand all liquid supplies have arrived intact. Missing bag arrives at 4:00pm. We complete our unpacking and head off to the city on foot looking for a “grocery” store. Walking from the pier we make our way to the causeway leading to the city, about 20 minutes. We turn left beside the motorcycle parking and head to the main bus stop and city parking building. Within 300 feet we spot a COOP sign which is a local supermarket chain and the shop turns out to be adjacent to the “A” vaporetto stop. We find our way there and make a further purchase of “supplies”. This time we return to the ship using the “People Mover”, one euro/person, and have no difficulty with security. We return to our cabin, freshen up and proceed to the deck area aft of the Horizon Court to watch all the water traffic while enjoying a bucket of beer. We’re established! First Impressions – Our cabin, interior A725 is a little larger than our previous experiences. The new flat screen TV is multi-purpose and seems to have much more capability than in the past. The TV has a USB pigtail to the right but no HDMI input. My wife’s opinion is that the overall cabin lighting is brighter. You can now check your account from the cabin by creating an account on your device. This is a separate account from the Internet account. Someone re-measured the shower curtain and it now reaches the inside of the shower pan. No more flooded bathroom! My wife reports the hair dryer which is installed and stored in the drawer is impractical as the power switch must be held on, there is only one heat setting with two speeds and no diffuser. Bring your own. On the other hand there are more power outlets. To the left of the vanity there is a 120 and 230v outlet, while on the right there is another 120v outlet. To the right of the wall mounted TV there is another 120v outlet. There is a duel voltage outlet in the bathroom. We are travelling with a “Belkin” three outlet surge suppressor with duel USB charging ports. This unit’s plug head rotates to four positions allowing it to be inserted to any wall outlets orientation. I purchased the unit on Ebay for about $15. In our opinion the vanity is wider and there is more space around the “queen” configured bed. We’re very happy with our cabin selection. We met Jason, our steward, shortly after boarding and we had an immediate rapport. This is a great start to our journey. We have explored more of the ship and have found more differences and changes. There is no more “power hour” on any of the ships. The coffee card is more expensive and the mug is no longer included (add $5.00). The steam rooms are no longer available to everyone. They have created a new area called the Enclave that has all the features of the Thermal Suite. For this voyage they require $499.00 per couple for their use. Limited sales available. We cast our lines about 4:30 PM. For us, long time boaters, one of the highlights was to watch the intense boat activity all around us. Many others have described the passage down the Grand Canal and out the lagoon so I won’t try to elaborate. Suffice to say that it was impressive despite the cool temperature and brisk wind. We had found a sheltered corner on the deck behind the Horizon Court. The very appropriate sailaway music was piped to this area as well as most of the ship. Oct., 11 – This morning started with a treadmill walk followed by a light breakfast in the Piazza. At 10:30 we had the CC meet and greet. There are over 400 people signed up for this roll call. There was a great turn out and a warm welcome from Samantha our CD. At 2:00PM we will have a slot pull. The group has many other activities planned for the remainder of the cruise. The slot pull resulted in a draw. Sixty seven people played 15 dollars each and after over an hour we were each about 17 cents ahead. Don’t think we would participate in this event again. Internet service reliability is always inconsistent but on this cruise it is extremely slow if not dysfunctional. Perhaps it is because of the over 3000 Platinum and Elite members using up their free minutes. During the day we have spoken with a number of experienced Princess cruisers that are less than enthusiastic with the Royal design. We attended our first Platinum/Elite lounge event. There are so many members aboard that the event is held in the Vista lounge. There was a very heavy turnout for a smoked salmon theme. We’re not impressed with the new layout of the Vista lounge which is now configured in essentially a theatre seating. We met a couple we had met in January on the Emerald and have agreed to meet for a walking tour of Messina tomorrow morning. Oct., 12 – Messina, Sicily. We arrived here very early in the morning in order to take advantage of high tides. The ship was cleared shortly after six AM. We met up with Alain and Helene and proceeded ashore shortly after nine. We purchased tickets for one of the walk on walk off bus tours (15 EU each). We did a complete circuit in about 50 minutes. This provided a good overview of the city. We took the bus again to the main shopping area then walked back to the “Duomo” a cathedral having a bell tower containing the world’s largest astronomical clock as well as many animated features that are activated at the stroke of noon. We purchased some inexpensive wine at a nearby super mercato, about 5 blocks south of the ship on Corso Vittorio Emanuele. We returned early to the ship for lunch and a sailaway about 4:00PM. Temperatures improved so we enjoyed the rest of the afternoon on the aft deck. Oct., 13 – Naples. We awoke today to a bright sunny day. The port stop is from 7:00AM to 7:00PM. We leave the ship shortly before 10:00AM with the objective of seeing Naples Underground. The entrance to this site is at Piazza San Gaetano, 68. This turned out to be about a 25 minute walk from the ship. If you are not physically fit don’t read any further about this adventure. The entrance turned out to be down a short narrow alley left of a church. When we arrived there was a throng of people awaiting entrance. We discovered that tours were offered in different languages and those waiting were waiting for a specific tour. We purchased our tickets (EU9.5) and waited for about 10 minutes for the English tour. His tour takes your over 200 feet underground to the former Roman and Greek theatre, aqueducts and cisterns. Many of these areas were used as bomb shelters during the war. The tour lasted about one and a half hours and was really worth the visit. It is difficult to comprehend how these very extensive caverns were constructed about 2000 years ago. This experience is very worthwhile but you must be fit to climb the extensive stairs. We followed this with a walk down Via Tribunali. It was a Sunday and the street was alive with the colorful Neapolitan life. Highly recommended! Next we went to the Galeria Umberto located near the Palazzo Reale a short distance from the dock. This structure is remarkable for its incredible dome. Although a major shopping centre most of the shops were closed on Sunday. Nevertheless there were throngs of people in the area and it was fun to be among the crowd. The disappointment about all this walking was the amount of litter we saw. The people are careless and the city is dirty. Finally, we returned to the port area. Just outside the secure area there were several kiosks/restaurants catering to the ferry passengers. We enjoyed a large Peroni beer for EU3.5 each and were able to use the WIFI and toilet (may not be satisfactory for some ladies). That was the end of our day in Naples. Tonight we enjoyed dinner in the Concerto Dining room. We had a table for two (348) which is well removed from a serving station and separated from other diners. The noise level was good and we had excellent service from Lesly and Julius. After dinner we attended the Majority Rules game hosted by the Deputy Cruise Director (DCD) Dan the followed this by the comedian Rikki Jay in the Princess theater. Dan is a great entertainer and could be a full time comedian. Rikki Jay was less entertaining and many of his jokes were stale or re-hashed. Oct., 14 – Civitavecchia/Rome. We awoke to a sunny day and promising temperatures. The plan for today was to go to the town of Tarquinia about 20 km north of the port. We obtained bus tickets from a little ladies shop just to the south of the port exit. The tickets were EU5 each for a round trip. The bus runs about every one and a half hours (Blue bus route A) so check the schedule especially for the return. The purpose of the trip was to visit this walled town and in particular to see the Etruscan Tombs. Unfortunately our visit was on a Monday and the town visitor’s centre and the Tombs were closed. We returned to the port on the 13:35 bus and walked about the port and its walled portion. Many shops and restaurants were again closed because it was Monday. Walk up “Corso Centocelle” on the right side about 8 blocks (15 minutes) from the port to a Todis grocery store if you need supplies. This evening we had dinner in the Crown Grill. Service and food were very good. We enjoyed the quieter atmosphere and occasional piano music. We followed dinner with playing Liars Game with Sam, Dan and Rikki in the Princess Live theatre. The theatre was filled to capacity and we enjoyed a great game. Our next attraction was first opportunity to see the Water show at the pool. This was advertized as being from 10:30 to 11:30 with the show repeating every 15 minutes. We arrived between shows and caught the 11:00 display. The display was given to the background of James Bond music. Great music but the show only lasted 5 minutes. What a waste of valuable space and money. Big disappointment! Oct., 15 – Cannes. Arrive at about 8:00AM and anchor. Tender service began about 8:30AM. The Horizon Court area has experienced a really effective transformation on this ship. It has many more serving stations and corridors which go across the ship as well along the ship axis. This really disperses the crowd and allows for areas to offer theme dishes. This morning we used the Horizon Bistro. This is a relatively undiscovered area where you will find the waffle man and lighter breakfast fare. We took the 20 minute tender ride at about 10:00AM. No wait for the tender. At the tender dock there is free WIFI available. We walked the shore size promenade (La Croisette) to admire all the yachts and high end hotels and shops on the off shore side of the street. We returned to the “Cannes Cinema Tour” mini train stop and took this tour, the Big Tour, one of three offered (EU10 each). This was a very worthwhile tour lasting about an hour and taking us to the less travelled streets and to a church located on a mount overlooking the city. This is a recommended tour. Tonight we are dining in the Concerto dining room followed by the Name That Tune game then Showtime with Ventriloquist Jimmy Tamley and Vocalist Paul Baker. The Name That Tune show was well attended. We had an unofficial team which I think did fairly well but we left a few minutes early in order to attend the Show. The ventriloquist was excellent. He was followed by Paul Baker a star of the London stage. He sang a number of his major stage songs. He is a wonderful singer. Oct., 16 – Barcelona – We start the harbour approach about 8:00AM and finally get alongside and cleared about 9:00AM. Shuttles are provided by Princess and the Port Authority at a fee for transport to the World Trade Centre (About $10 round trip). We decide to walk to the World Train Centre which takes us about 25 minutes. There we board the Barcelona City Tour one of two operators giving very similar tours. This company offers two Hop on Hop Off routes for EU26 or seniors rate of EU20. This was an outstanding tour and we would highly recommend it. We left the tour at stop #1 then walked the length of Las Ramblas, a broad pedestrian thoroughfare back to the Trade Centre and this time took the city shuttle back to the ship for EU2.50 each. In our opinion Barcelona is the most beautiful and well maintained city we have ever visited. City planning at its best! We departed Barcelona at about 8:00PM and set out for Madeira, our final port of call. After dinner we went topside to participate in a Latin night deck party. Dancers from the theatre performed and it was a well attended and entertaining party. Oct., 17 – Sea Day -We awake to a bright warm day and find many ships around us. We are heading for the Strait of Gibraltar then out into the Atlantic. We enjoy a wonderful sea day starting with a workout then we attend two lectures and end with a few hours on one of the decks. The most enjoyable lecture was given by John Maxtone-Graham, a maritime historian, on the subject of “The Only Way To Cross” ocean liners of the past. We decide to go to the Symphony dining room for the first time. We’re warmly greeted by the Maitre D and given a very good table for two. Following a good dinner we are offered a standing reservation for the rest of the voyage. The warm welcome and better environment make us decide to accept. We try to go the Marriage Game show but are unable to get into the Princess Live theatre. This venue is too small for such a popular show. We follow this with a movie at MUTS. It’s a cool evening and a poor Tom Cruise movie forces us to quit. We go to the rail at about 11:30PM to watch the coastline as we sail pass Gibraltar. Oct., 18 – Sea Day - A cool and cloudy day. Too windy for the deck! We have an easy morning then attend the second lecture by Mr. Maxtone-Graham this time about Titanic survivors. He is a fascinating speaker. Prior to dinner we watched comedian Darrell Joyce give an extremely funny routine in the Princess theatre. We dine again in the Symphony dining room table 165 with Sopha as the waiter. Another great dinner! We follow dinner by watching the International Music Event from deck 7 of the Piazza. This was a varied and thoroughly enjoyable spectacle. Oct., 19 – Funchal, Madeira – We arrive here in the port just about sunrise around 8:00AM. From the sea the town looks very attractive. We learn that there are two hop on hop off operations the Red and Yellow. We opt for the Red promoting a two hour tour for EU12. This turns out to be money well spent. We have a very extensive tour of the area as well as a climb to a lookout well above the city. Recommended! We had planned to take the cable car to a hilltop but when we get there we see that cloud is building at the summit and decide against this option. Instead we opt to visit the Madeira Story Centre (local museum about EU8) just behind the cable car station. This turns out to be a worthwhile stop. We follow this with a walk of the nearby streets, the local market and a beer stop near the market before returning to the ship about 3:00PM. All aboard is at 5:30 when we will start out across the Atlantic! We had a good dinner again at table 165 with Sopha. Tried a couple of venues but nothing attracts. We make a nightcap and enjoy it on deck 16 aft. Good night. Oct., 20 – Sea Day. Awake to a mostly cloudy day. Sea slight with SW wind about 15. Easy morning and then we attend the lecture by Mr. Maxtone-Graham with part two of the only way to cross. Dinner with friends and early evening back to our cabin. Oct., 21 – Sea Day – Much the same as yesterday. Seas remain gentle. High wind across the deck make the Retreat area nearly unusable. Oct., 22 – Sea Day – Sunny and warm day. Tried the shooting gallery. Ate at Alfredo’s for dinner. First visit. Disappointed. Food good but service very rushed and indifferent. Evening entertainment very good tonight. We had comic impressionis Joey Vant then a Mentalist later. Mentatalist Brent Webb put on excellent show. Decided to end evening with a visit to the spa tub on deck 16 under MUTS. Lone Ranger is the movie playing again tonight. Spa again too cool so we leave after about 15 minutes. Why can’t these small problems be addressed? Oct., 23 – Sea Day. – We’re a little more than half way across the Atlantic. Terrific crossing so far. Warm day but seas a little choppy, maybe sea state 3. Afternoon turned out like the Caribbean. Seas abated to SS1 and very warm. Outstanding! Looking forward to comedian Al Katz before dinner tonight. Oct., 24 – Sea Day - Awake today to high thin overcast and SS 0. Warm already. Last formal night tonight. No other commitments. Oct., 25 – Sea Day – Another gorgeous day. SS about 1. We attended the final production show followed by a show in the Vista Lounge. We find the productions shows repetitive and dated. We ate in the Horizon Court then watched a new murder show in the Princess Lounge. Oct., 26 – Last sea day. Awoke to generally low overcast and higher winds. SS4 to 5. Plan to start packing this morning. Clouds broke and winds abated resulting in another great day at sea. Oct., 27 – Fort Lauderdale – We arrived alongside about 4:00AM. The ship plans to begin dis-embarkation at 7:00 with ours due at 10:10. At 8:00AM the usually difficult US Customs and Immigration have still not cleared the vessel. While waiting I’ve tried to use the Internet. Although I’ve been able to connect to the ship nothing downloads. This has been essentially an absolutely useless service on this ship. Summary This has been an exceptional voyage. We have been very pleased with the itinerary and we would be happy to repeat it at this time of year. We are amazed that we were fortunate enough to have light seas throughout. As usual the crew has been exceptional. We have been pleased with our inner cabin and would select this again for this type of crossing. We have not any significant complaints with the entertainment. We have found the food in the Horizon Count more varied and of very high quality. We have really enjoyed the enhanced Piazza and Horizon Count. We find the other design changes on the Royal have seriously detracted from the features we enjoyed on such ships as the Sapphire and Emerald. We are very unlikely to ever book another voyage on this class of ship.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2013
EMBARKATION: easy, peasy. We arrived about 2pm and walked right on CABIN: we had a deluxe balcony on Emerald deck with obstructed view - but there was NO obstruction, we had an unimpeded view thru glass. Also the extended angled balcony ... Read More
EMBARKATION: easy, peasy. We arrived about 2pm and walked right on CABIN: we had a deluxe balcony on Emerald deck with obstructed view - but there was NO obstruction, we had an unimpeded view thru glass. Also the extended angled balcony was bigger than the standard balcony so we could turn our chairs outward to view the ocean. There was a 2 cushion loveseat, and desk, with a nice handy drawer to hoÅ‚d hairdryer, toiletries, etc. Bath was standard except for the larger shower with handheld shower head and wall mounted shampoo/ shower gel dispensers. Bed was very comfy ( no gap in the middle) and the down pillows were big and fluffy. AC worked well. The flat screen TV was great except that it broke 4 times. We called and someone always came within 24 hrs to fix it. The on demand selection of movies, tv shows, HBO, Showtime, and misc ship lectures was fantastic. For news, you had Fox, BBC, and MSNBC, no CNN. Closet space and lighting were adequate. Our room steward was not good, had to ask for towels, ice, water glasses, breakfast cards, etc. Could not get Internet in our room, had to stand in the hallway to connect. DINING: We did anytime dining and loved CONCERTO dining room mainly because of the maître d Elena. We always asked for a table for 2 and only had to wait 1 night ( about 5 minutes) out of 18. Food was exceptional, we liked almost everything and only sent 1 entree back. Service was not good IMO. Sometimes we sat down to a table which was not completely set. We had to ask for butter dishes, butter knives, wine glasses, water glasses, etc. Generally, although not always, the servers did not introduce themselves, or suggest special appetizers or entrees as they did on other ships. They immediately asked us what we wanted to order, and then we had to ask for a wine list and explain we weren't ready to order until we had time to peruse the wine menu and food menu. Everything seemed rushed. The waiters were not trained well, and insisted on filling our wine glasses to the top instead of half way, & were bringing food almost before we were ready. Maybe they are used to being rushed because people want to go to shows? WINE PKG: we bought the silver for wines up to $29. Be careful if u order a more expensive wine - Twice they did not credit us the $29 & charged us for the full amt of the more expensive wine instead of the difference. Got resolved at Passenger Services. BELLINIS: menu looked good, reasonable, but we did not eat there Ditto for the CRAB SHACK. VINES: nice venue for wine w/complimentary sushi appetizers while overlooking the goings on in the Piazza. ALFREDOS: this was a highlight and very popular for lunch and dinner. Free venue with salads, pizza and several pasta entrees. The veal ravioli in white sauce was to die for! CROWN GRILL: food was good but it was not private - it was open to EXPLORERS which was a kind of weird venue. Open on both sides it offered no intimacy. SABATINIS: was a delight! Great service, quiet, intimate, good food. HORIZON COURT; I was not a fan. There were lots of seats, and the salad bar was great, that's the only good things I can say. Food was spread out all over the place - English muffins waaaaay at the other end of croissants - I never did get the hang of it. People just wandered around till they found something they liked. Food was warm/cold buffet food and not very tasteful to me. (Others loved it). The pastry shop was a huge waste of space and was nothing more than what was offered anywhere else on the ship - ok they did have fondue there one day I saw. HORIZON BISTRO was closed it seemed randomly, I don't know why. Coffee wasn't very good either place ENTERTAINMENT: I did not go to any shows, but the piano player in Explorers & all the musical combos/acrobats/demonstrations, etc in the Piazza were enjoyable. INTRANET: this was a great feature! you could check the Patter, browse the Princess website, or check your account balance anytime. POOL/OUTDOOR AREAS: pool area is noisy because of MUTS. Lots of people r ok w noise, I'm not. There were lots of loungers on 2-3 decks and also rattan sofa groupings people were using a lot. I found some quiet areas aft on deck 7 with real deck chairs/cushions for reading/relaxing to the sound of the ocean. 2 outdoor deck areas on deck 7 midship were also nice and quiet. Deck 16 Aft of HC also had great seating areas for playing cards, talking, relaxing, getting online. 3 hot tubs were never really crowded. The pizza poolside was outstanding, hamburgers not so much - they tasted like cardboard. Brats were good. Ice cream was delicious. I did not use the Retreat or Sanctuary areas. No promenade, but many people on the walking track aft at the top of the ship. There were outdoor stationary exercise stations which were easy and convenient for a quick workout. SEAWALK & Seawalk Bar: both were a novelty and not well used. You def COULD see fully onto the balconies and partially into the actual cabins on deck 14 under Seawalk. The lower the deck, the more privacy you had. INDOOR PUBLIC AREAS: PRINCESS LIVE a TV studio, had several interesting lectures, and trivia and Zumba was there, as well as the morning show. INTL CAFE: loved this. Paninis, Cubans, mozzarella/tomato, tuna salad, Waldorf salad, desserts, pastries, cappuccino, latte, espresso. I bought a COFFEE CARD -15 punches was just right for an 18 day cruise. CROONERS: great bar, great bartenders - Raphael & Tatiana, this was the place for the get-togethers, always crowded at night. VISTA LOUNGE: ok but tables r crowded with no knee room. PRINCESS THEATER: no tables for drinks, no center aisle CASINO: large w spiral staircase up to deck 7. Unfortunately this allowed smoke to waft up. Bad design!! CLUB 6 next door was nice at night and didn't smell smoke there. PIAZZA: is huge, elegant, lots centered here at night and is the place to see and be seen. Nice for evening dancing. ELEVATORS: midship a total disaster!!! Take the stairs or stay forward or aft & use those elevators. LOTUS SPA: located on deck 5 forward, much more convenient and more likely to get walk-in business. Had a great massage/facial combo w/Chachi. PASSENGER SERVICES/FCC/SHORE EXCURSIONS: never seemed to be long lines here. In the FCC area, there were no computers to browse while waiting for a consultant. INTERNET CAFE: was always crowded, long lines. Don't understand why more people don't use smart phones, laptops, or tablets. Wifi signal was strong in most public parts of the ship. DEBARKATION: a mess as always OVERALL IMPRESSION: this is an indoor oriented ship with smaller balconies, no aft pool and no promenade. I think lack of shaded lounges will be a problem in the Caribbean (attention chair hogs). And it has many more indoor pay-for options. My impression is that not many people used the new pay-for options, I don't know how profitable they will be. That being said, the ship never seemed crowded, but it did seem understaffed. Major flaws r: no midship stairs, no promenade, no aft pool, Internet did not work in many staterooms, and open casino allowing smoke out. Best things not found on other Princess ships: intranet, larger showers, more outdoor rattan sofa groupings, & large elegant atrium for evening gatherings. If I didn't write about something, that means I either didn't do it or didn't go there. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2012
I love long sea days, so I looked forward to trying a TransAtlantric crossing for the first time. The last half of this 20-day trip is mostly at sea and I loved it. Big hint: if you are sailing from Europe to the US in December, book a ... Read More
I love long sea days, so I looked forward to trying a TransAtlantric crossing for the first time. The last half of this 20-day trip is mostly at sea and I loved it. Big hint: if you are sailing from Europe to the US in December, book a port balcony cabin if you want the sun. We booked Baja 708 on the port side and soaked in a week of beautiful sun every day. The weather on all crossings varies, of course, but it is also true that the starboard side was shady every day, so keep that in mind. We had two rough sea days out of 20, and I thought that was pretty good, considering this was December on the Atlantic. The Norovirus broke out in Venice, when we boarded, and this meant that the buffet meals were time-consuming. Passengers could literally not touch anything. You were given one plate when you entered the buffet line and a staff person placed anything you wanted on your plate. A salad could take five minutes to have someone else construct, one item at a time. The drink stations were the biggest problem, as 3,200 people all wanted their coffee differently every morning and no wait staff- no matter how cheerful- can handle this for 20 days in a row. This all sounds petty but it is amazing how annoying this became after a few days. We were overjoyed when we were finally allowed (on day 18) to make our own salads and coffee. The virus is serious, of course, but we didnt get it, no one we met on the ship had it and there didnt appear to be many people missing from the diningrooms or activities, so it is hard to evaluate the true impact the illness had on this trip. The ship is very simple, which may or may not suit your tastes. There are no rock-climbing walls, ice-skating rinks or deluxe swimming pools. On the other hand, the Movies Under The Stars had an excellent mix of old movies and new, the ice cream bar stayed open late, the beds are very comfortable, the cabins are silent, the hot tubs that were open were immaculate and the main dining room staff was very good. Our room steward was a typical Princess steward: discreet, thorough, fast, always friendly and quiet. The ports were all great (see below)but beware of the transfer shuttle Princess sells in Barcelona: they charged us $32 for (literally) a five minute bus ride, when local cabs and buses were plentiful and cheap. I know they have to make money somewhere, but this was a blatant ripoff (the only one we experienced on this trip, and we did take quite a few cruise-sponsored excursions.) Live and learn. I loved this trip but it was too long for my husband, who likes a port every day and lots of choices on things to do. If you like drowsing in the sun, watching movies under the stars, reading on your balcony, eating ice cream and taking your time over dinner, then a long TA voyage like this might suit you. Boarding in Venice was fast and simple, and even the self-debarkation in Galveston was quick and painless. All in all, despite the Norovirus, the slow buffet lines and the rough sea days, I loved the ports, the sunshine on the port balcony and the quiet. I will definitely do another TA crossing.   Read Less
Sail Date: October 2012
This was our first cruise on a Princess ship but we have cruised on other lines many times. It is not my intent to compare Princess with other Cruise lines. This trip was from Venice to Ft. Lauderdale, transatlantic. We arrived a few ... Read More
This was our first cruise on a Princess ship but we have cruised on other lines many times. It is not my intent to compare Princess with other Cruise lines. This trip was from Venice to Ft. Lauderdale, transatlantic. We arrived a few days early in Venice and totally enjoyed the extra time. Embarkation was somewhat slow. After checking in and receiving our cruise cards we were given a number and waited for over an hour to board. When we did board the cabin was ready and our luggage was delivered soon after. The Ruby Princess was staying overnight in Venice and not sailing until the next afternoon so there was time for further adventures in Venice. On the negative side, there were tours during the morning and the muster was held at 1:00 and the dining room closed at 1:30 that meant that all the people who toured Venice was sent to the Horizon Cafe since the dining room had closed. Needless to say that dinning venue was a zoo. The sail away was awesome, down the Grand Canal. Ports and tours: All the ports were as expected. Princess tours were handled very well with the exception of Casablanca. More on this later. The one down side was the cost in several ports of having to take a shuttle bus to the city center. Princess charged for this service, from $5.00 to $8.00 each way. That is a case of nickel and diming. Seems just like the airlines. Now for Casablanca. I don't know if this was true on other tours in Casablanca, but the one that we were on was a disaster. At one stop the tour company sent our bus, with belonging on it, to another location. When we went back to go to the next stop the bus was not there. It took 45 minutes to find it and return it to our location. Beyond belief our belongings were still there. However, the rest of the tour was very rushed and not at all enjoyable. It took many complaints from the passengers to get Princess to take action and they did refund part of the cost of the excursion cost. But passengers had to demand it rather than having them identified and the refund posted automatically. We had to divert to the island of Madeira instead of Ponta Delgarda to avoid a tropical storm. This little island in the middle of the Atlantic off the coast of Africa is a jewel. Well worth a visit. Dinning: The food on this trip was uniformly excellent. Service in the dining room was great. Down side, Princess has a dress code for evening in the dining rooms. The problem is they don't enforce it. Where smart casual was mandated men in tee shirts and hoodies were allowed in. On formal nights, open collared shirts were permitted. If you are going to have a dress code, please enforce it or don't have a code. At the start of transatlantic portion of the trip it was announced that Norovirus had been identified on the ship and the number of cases tripped the CDCs protocols. All the signs seem to point to Casablanca as the place where the virus came aboard. This caused extra work for dining room staffs and they were over taxed. We were not allowed to even touch a salt shaker. The outbreak also curtailed activities during the long transatlantic days. We were even not allowed to get playing cards in the fear of spreading the virus. Disembarkation: This was a total disaster. 3,200+ passengers were herded into the arrivals hall without any organization. Speaking to the Head of Station in ft Lauderdale, she blamed the Port and a faulty gangway, then the Captain of the Ruby Princess for wanting to get all the passengers off the ship so that decontamination could began and not impact the next cruise and then the US Custom and Immigration for not having enough agents in place to handle the situation. Princess did a poor job in this situation and many people missed flights because it took over 90 minutes to clear Customs and Immigration from the time you left the ship. This situation almost ruined a great experience. In summation given the few problems the cruise was well worth the effort and I would give Princess a chance to redeem its reputation as a upscale cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2012
This was a Mediterranean + Transatlantic cruise -- we started in Venice and ended up at Fort Lauderdale for a total of 19 nights. At the outset of this review we should say that we were very appreciative that Princess corporation and the ... Read More
This was a Mediterranean + Transatlantic cruise -- we started in Venice and ended up at Fort Lauderdale for a total of 19 nights. At the outset of this review we should say that we were very appreciative that Princess corporation and the Ruby's Captain successfully kept us away from hurricane Rafael and navigated the ship around Sandy so that we only experienced some roughness the last night of the cruise. Keeping the passengers safe was their first priority and they performed excellently. Any other comments and criticisms are minor in comparison. The main problem with the Italian ports Venice, Naples, Rome, Florence and Pisa was that they were swarming with tourists even in mid-October which was nearly low season. For example, during our visit to Florence the crowds were so thick we could hardly move. Cannes is a nice place but not really all that interesting to visit -- Nice would have been much better. Barcelona now has a very pleasant new cruise ship port and we spent hours just walking around and enjoying the Ramblas. Casablanca was very much a third world city but trying hard to develop there wasn't much to see and it was a shame that some on the Princess sponsored tours to Marrakech apparently got food poisoning. We were pleased that we stopped at Madeira instead of Ponto Delgado - it was just a lovely place to visit.Generally the food was good but not great. We ate at the Crown Grill for dinner one night and found it to be excellent. Since we were in a suite we often ate breakfast at Sabatini's which again was excellent. Generally the food at the Horizon was reasonable but the self service restrictions imposed after the Norovirus appeared made it a much less attractive place to eat. The Trident Grill had good hamburgers and hot dogs and we thought the Pizzeria was very good. The International Cafe in the Atrium was very pleasant but no one we met could understand what the Vines concept was intended to be. Sushi plus tapas with wine wasn't an appealing combination and after it seemed to be implicated in the Norovirus outbreak it was pretty dead at Vines. It needs to be repurposed or dumped. Mostly the dining room was OK but like others we grew tired of it after a couple of weeks. How many of us eat out at restaurant every night at home? We took the "Anytime" dining option but found we still needed reservations which took away some of the flexibility it was supposed to have. The cruise lecturers were very good and we thought that making up a program guide and having an introductory session were really good ideas. Mr. Scott's talks on aspects of the NASA space program were authoritative and interesting because he had personally participated in many of the events he talked about. Mr. Dalton's "adventures" were a bit tame in the sense that the hype was more than the actual content deserved but somewhat interesting. The best talks were from Dr. Detrich particularly on ports. He was honest and forthright in his comments and certainly wasn't selling tours. We took particular note of his negative view of Casablanca (turned out to be true) and his prediction of the long lineups for St. Peter's in Rome (also true). This information was very helpful in making our choices of shore excursions.   Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
We booked this cruise more than a year in advance, when we were aboard the Star, cruising the Eastern Mediterranean (Oct., 2010). Our first experience with the Star wasn't good (there's a review covering it), but we booked this ... Read More
We booked this cruise more than a year in advance, when we were aboard the Star, cruising the Eastern Mediterranean (Oct., 2010). Our first experience with the Star wasn't good (there's a review covering it), but we booked this Future Cruise in the second day, we could not anticipate the problems we had - if we did, we wouldn't have booked it, for shure. But we kept the reservations up, and then we flew into Venice this December, 2011, to our second cruise aboard the Star Princess. We were excited because it would be the first cruise after the Star had a 30-day dry dock period. We kept a Cruise Log here at CC and many of the facts and opinions here below were first decribed there. By the way, regarding to cruising after a dry dock period, we deeply agree with an user who said he never cruises right after a dry dock, for there's always unfinished work during the cruise. True, and we learned it the worst way. EMBARKATION - Check-in at Venice harbor was quick. Ok, this cruise was only 70% full, there were no lines (only at X-ray scanners) but time spent at the counter was minimal - everything was ready and we made our way to our stateroom in few minutes. STATEROOM - As I said, we booked this cruise when we were aboard this same Ship, so we asked for the same stateroom - B326. I have to point out that we've done it with 14 months in advance, This also means that Princess knew, with 14 months in advance, that cabin B326 would be occupied in December 2011, right after dry dock. So, it was a bad surprise when we saw a tecnician still working in the communication system at cabin B326 - things were not ready, yet! With so much time in advance, how could Princess assign us to a cabin that they knew was not fully functional? The tecnician left, minutes after, without saying a word. TV was working, but phone was off. In the following two days (At Sea and Dubrovnik), we had that same tecnician coming to our cabin many times, trying to fix the system. We could not have an afternoon nap. And, needless to say, things didn't work. We could not place a wake-up call and we lost a shore excursion at Corfu, the following day. After that, we demanded a solution from Passenger Services, and then they moved us to another cabin... B330, right next door!!!!!!!! They could have done it since the beginning of the cruise, that cabin was empty!!!!!!!!!!!!! Reminder: never take an after dry-dock cruise again. FOOD - We had a great dining experience during our 2010 cruise and that repeated this year. We had fixed seating at Amalfi, we had great service from our Italian Waiter and from our Portuguese Head Waiter. They made everything to keep us satisfied (we were 4 people in a family trip) and they were responsible for the best moments onboard. Food quality and presentation were excellent. On the other hand, our experience at Sabatini's Specialty Restaurant wasn't worth the $$$ they charged. Believe it or not, dining at Amalfi was a far better experience than doing it at Sabatini's. It's a don't go. We didn't go to the other Specialty Restaurant - Crown Grill. Everytime we crossed it's door when it was opened, we got "smoked" - there's obviously a problem with smoke exhaustion, there. And they just came from dry dock... Another good food experience was the Horizon Court Buffet, better than last year. Prego Pizza wasn't that good. Burgers and Hot Dogs at Trident Grill kept good quality. For those who are wine lovers, please consider the Vines Bar, deck 5 midships. They had a nice staff, there, and very good service. Hope they kept them. ENTERTAINEMENT - I believe that a Trans Oceanic cruise is a challenge to any Cruise Director. Things are different when you have ports of call every one or two days, but a six-day crossing... I have to confess that I'm fed up with those onboard, Broadway-style, after dinner shows. They are the same, no matter the ship, no matter the company. What else do we have? Line dance classes, bingo, trivia - that's entertainemet (?). The most original thing we had was a (very good) guy doing freestyle bike presentations right at The Piazza, deck 5 - a very tiny space. We also had Flamenco Dance presentations. And one Under the Stars party. But this was a 16-day cruise... PORTS OF CALL - Dubrovnik, Corfu, Tunis, Malta, Gibraltar, Recife and Rio. This is a beautiful itinerary. My personal considerations are: Dubrovnik: don't book the Brandy Tasting/Cavtat/Old Town tour if you're not an extreme brandy lover. The Brandy Tasting session, although located in a beautiful place, is far, then you'll spent a lot of time in Cavtat (it's only a photo-spot small city) and, in the end, you won't have enough time to visit the Old Town (it's a World Heritage!). Corfu: lost our shore excursion. Skipped. Tunis: we've been in Tunis during our last cruise. It was my first experience in Northern Africa and I didn't like it. Anyway, I gave Tunis another try. Worthless. Princess could move this stop to another place - Morocco, for example. Malta: we've also been there, a year ago, and we loved coming back. Our tour was for wine lovers (and we are) - the Meridiana Winery wine tasting. We brought very good Maltese wines. Wandering at the waterfront, by the harbour, for a cold beer and some souvenirs were a nice option for the pre-"back on board" moments. Gibraltar: we went to Europa point and to the top of the Rock, by cable car. Nice views, from both. We also visited the Great Siege Tunnels. Interesting - a lot of history and good photos. Recife: as a Brazilian citizen, I'd prefer stopping at Salvador. Recife is not ready to receive cruiseship passengers with comfort. The ship docks at a cargo terminal and the surroundings are old and dirty. SERVICE - Star Princess crew was very warm, throughout the cruise. Ok, there will always be one or another in bad mood, but the overall impression was very good. CLEANLINESS - even after a dry-dock, there are many points that still show rust stains and other marks. Despite this, the ship is kept clean all the time - there's always somebody keeping things bright. DEBARKATION - as fast as Embarkation. No lines, no rush. Good job. Now, packing for the Sapphire Princess Hawaii from LA cruise. It's only 70 days away... Read Less
Sail Date: November 2011
We are from the UK travelling on our second Cunard cruise out of about 30 in total. We tried the QM2 in her inaugural year and been slightly underwhelmed, nothing to put us off Cunard particularly but we felt it lacked the value for money ... Read More
We are from the UK travelling on our second Cunard cruise out of about 30 in total. We tried the QM2 in her inaugural year and been slightly underwhelmed, nothing to put us off Cunard particularly but we felt it lacked the value for money of, say, NCL, Princess or Celebrity. However, we bought some cheap one-way airfares with the intention of doing a westbound transatlantic cruise this year and when we started to compare the itineraries on offer the QV itinerary stood out a mile, by calling at both Madeira and Bermuda it took a southern route with only 4 days at sea to cross the Atlantic (I don't mind a few sea days if it is calm and sunny but not too many at a time, especially if the sea gets choppy). Price-wise it was only slightly more expensive for 16 days than most of the other lines were offering for less interesting 12/14 day voyages and we were pleased to have the chance to give Cunard another try. Sadly it got off to a bad start before we even left home. First, shortly after booking and a couple of months before departure, we got an 'emergency notification' that the unusual port of Charleston has been cut out apparently due to lack of customs officers to perform the US immigration procedures. We later found that the same thing had occurred on the QV's eastbound crossing earlier in the year. I fully understand that many guests were put out about the substitute port of Nassau, after all that is a much visited port for the American guests in particular, but having never been to either Nassau or Charleston we were not particularly bothered - any cruiseline changing itineraries after taking bookings gets a big black mark from me on principal, but in this case a beach day quite appealed. However, one of the big attractions of this itinerary was the late arrival into Fort Lauderdale at 11am, we had thought how lovely it would be NOT to be thrown off the ship at the crack of dawn for a change especially as Miami-London flight invariably depart in the evening. Now the substitute of Nassau meant that we were scheduled into Fort Lauderdale at 6am to clear customs there so no relaxing last day after all - oh well, we cancelled our airport shuttle that had fitted beautifully between scheduled arrival and earliest possible flight and booked a hire car instead so that at least we have somewhere to keep our luggage, and I will now be able to take advantage of some of Miami's shopping opportunities. Next communication from Cunard was that departure from Venice was brought forward from 9pm to 5pm on the 2nd day. Oh well, we thought, we have been to Venice a few times, not a problem but a shame for anyone visiting for the first time to have their time cut by 4 precious hours. A week or so before sailing another 'emergency notification' this time regarding Madeira, apparently QV had originally been scheduled an afternoon and evening in port on the first day there, which I had seen on some documentation and thought it odd as our schedule said 6pm arrival, but apparently this was another change for the early bookers - oh well, it does not affect our expectations. At this point I noticed that the Bermuda stop had also been extended by an hour until 5pm and that our guarantee inside cabin which had already been upgraded to an obscured view outside had now been changed again to a 'proper' outside so emergency notifications are not always bad news. So the evening before departure we were packed and ready to go and I logged into our CC rollcall for the last time and what do I see but a Cunard Emergency notification - yes another one but we had not received it - saying that Venice is fogbound and the ship is in Trieste and that we have to proceed to Venice port as normal and a shuttle coach will be provided from there. By this time the UK office was closed so I phoned the US office (not inappropriate as we had booked through a Canadian travel agent friend, a fact that had caused Cunard's UK office to tell me they could not help me when I phoned with a simple query just after booking). The person I spoke to told me curtly and word for word exactly what the kind CC person had already posted, I asked whether there would be a shuttle into Venice on the Monday but he just kept repeating that the ship is in Trieste and will depart at 5pm on Monday. Oh well, we have been to Venice before, Trieste will be a new port for us, but anyone taking a long flight in the hope of seeing Venice must be very disappointed. In fact on arrival at Venice airport about 8pm, nearly 2 hours late, we were met by 2 very pleasant Cunard representatives who confirmed that the ship was indeed in Trieste, 2 hours drive away, apologised for the inconvenience and told us to leave or luggage with the porter and wait about 20 minutes for the bus. In fact it was quite a lot longer until the bus came but there were only a dozen or so of us so we were soon underway and the time soon went, check in was smooth and we were on board shortly after midnight. Very hungry by then, we found our cabin, which was very nice and larger than most, dumped our carry on bags and headed for the lido buffet, to find everything covered in clingfilm. I took this to mean it was closed but in fact one section was open with staff serving over the clingfilmed-off displays meant for self service. It soon became apparent that this was because of an outbreak of norovirus on the ship. This cruise was starting badly. By the next morning our luggage had arrived (along with somebody else's, inexplicably intended for deck 4 - they were delighted when we reported it as they had waited up most of the night for it). After breakfast at the 'buffet' we headed out to explore Trieste, along with most of the ship, to find that it was freezing cold and most shops close on Mondays. But it is an attractive city, we wandered around for about 3 hours, found a couple of department stores and some supermarkets open, saw the Roman amphitheatre which is right in town, admired the typical Italian architecture, and generally enjoyed being somewhere different - but Venice it is not, of course. It was indeed very foggy and we could understand why a big ship could not safely navigate into Venice. There was no shuttle bus back to Venice and, surprisingly, the only tours on offer were a walking or bus tour of Trieste - cancelling the Venice tours must have cost Cunard a fortune. The next day at sea was cold and wet and got quite rough as the day went on.We attended the first of an interesting series of lectures about the Olympic games which, along with an ex-BA pilot who spoke about navigation, kept us interested throughout the voyage. Our allocated dining table was right by the aft windows, above the propellers, unfortunately the position I could most feel the ship's motion and also very awkward for DH to weave his mobility scooter through the tables and people to the back to the restaurant. I would have liked to have moved but it seemed so rude to our table companions, who were delightful so we opted not to leave them. We arrived into Katakolon to find that the weather had improved and the sun was shining. My research had led me to have low expectations of this port, the main attraction of course being nearby Olympia, but we long ago gave up on visiting ruins with the scooter. However Katakolon itself is a pretty village with a street of quite a few tourist orientated shops and several bars and restaurants long the seafront. We set off somewhat ambitiously towards the 'best beach' of the area at Agios Andreas. Surprisingly we made it, although the beach was nothing spectacular and nothing was open there, it was a truly beautiful walk about 2 miles each way through peaceful quiet countryside edged by orange, lemon and olive trees. One elderly lady saw us admiring her garden and presented us with a freshly picked orange, which was amazingly sweet. We walked back a slightly differerent route along Katakolon beach itself, which is compressed enough to take the scooter without getting stuck in the sand as the locals, bizzarely, drive their cars along it. Nice sandy beach but covered in washed up seaweed and large jellyfish, some the size of dinner plates, not somewhere I would want to swim even if it was warm enough. Our short morning call at Gibraltar was pleasant, Cunard surprised us by NOT collecting up duty free alcohol purchased ashore, maybe redeeming themselves slightly for the unforegiveable faux pas of stating in the previous 2 daily programmes that we were (I quote) "en route for Gibraltar, SPAIN" ! We got back on board to find the norovirus precautions ended, so the buffet was back to normal and the other food outlets - Cafe Carinthia, Todd English and the Lido burger bar - open for the first time. Actually we struggled to see why they were ever closed as none of them have the same potential for cross infection as does the buffet, I suppose just to minimise the number of places to be sanitised each time. Madeira was also very nice, we docked at 6pm on the first day, at the furthest berth from the city, there was a free shuttle bus into town but it was complete choas, we walked/scooted there along the seafront and got back on board just in time for our evening meal. On the Monday we used the shuttle, explored Funchal town, market, 3 or 4 shopping malls and 2 lovely parks and then walked/scooted back to the ship. Funchal has developed almost beyond recognition since our last visit about 10 years ago, another lovely day. The Atlantic crossing passed quite well, some days pleasantly sunny and others windy with rougher seas. It was particularly rough when we arrived in Bermuda and some doubt as to whether we would be able to dock. After a few attempts and with the aid of a tug and a rope taken across by the pilot boat we made it into Heritage Wharf, part of the old Royal Naval Dockyard. This was another itinerary misdescription by Cunard as it was listed as Hamilton but we had long ago checked the Bermuda Port Authority website (thinking it unlikely that a ship the size of QV would get into Hamilton port itself) so we were prepared. However I was furious to find that our departure time had been brought forward to the original 4pm rather than 5pm as it had been extended to following the loss of Charleston. There was no emergency notification, in fact no notification or explanation at all, just the all aboard time printed in the daily programme delivered to our cabin the evening before. I rang pursers desk to see whether it was another printing error (as had happened in Gibraltar) but no, we sail at 4pm and they did not know why it had been changed. We wanted to see as much as possible so joined with 2 other couples and hired a taxi van for the day which cost $40 each,it was supposed to be a 3 hour tour but we left at 10am, drove to several beaches along the south cost, the lighthouse, a couple of the best hotel, a private golf course, nearly to St Georges, then had a free hour in Hamilton and got back to the ship about 2.30pm, our driver was called 'Hop', he is 79 and a really fantastic guide to his beautiful island. It is over 20 years since we went to the Bahamas on our first ever cruise, it was grotty then and does not seem to have improved much, judging by the condition of Nassau. That said we spent most of the day wandering around the town, looking at the shops and the Straw Market, and a couple of hours on Junkanoo beach, so not such a bad day. Things we liked about the Queen Victoria: The air conditioning - it sounds stupid but my sinuses invariably react badly to the cold air on a cruise ship, the QV temperature was comfortably warm and not the usual fridge-like temperature in the public rooms (except the front fews rows of the theatre) and it was the first cruise for ages that did not give me cold-like symptoms - wonderful ! The winter gardens - a really nice (and not air conditioned) seating area for when the weather was not good enough to be outside. Entertainment - good mix of original shows, guest acts, classical music, lectures, quizzes and comedy - probably among the best cruise entertainment we have experienced, not to mention the famous themed balls, which we did not really experience much as they seemed to be aimed mainly at early sitting diners. Things we disliked: DH hated having to wear a jacket every evening, even on 'casual' nights. The 3 gentlemen on our table all became uncomfortably hot on most evenings and DH felt it discriminatory that ladies could and did wear blouses or low cut dresses but he could not wear a smart shirt without a jacket. The most unnecessarily pompous part (in our opinion) is that the dress code applies in all public areas from 6pm, so in effect rules out staying out beyond that time in daytime clothes and making it a very long evening of hanging around waiting for late sitting dinner. On most lines we would not go to our cabin to shower and change until about 7.30pm. Fixed seating dining - I know, of course we knew about the dress code and the dining arrangements when we booked, and we could not have asked for nicer tablemates than on this particular cruise, but it made me appreciate the benefits of flexible dining times on other lines and that would certainly be our preferred option for the future. Cunard seem completely clueless about disability issues. We informed them we were bringing the scooter and that we did not need a wheelchair accessible cabin. We did not need or expect ant special treatment, but surely it would have been common sense NOT to allocate a scooter user to the least accessible table area in the entire Britannia restaurant ? In Madeira we were repeatedly told that we should use the deck 2 gangway 'because it is a slope' (even though it was 2 storeys high and an incline of close to 45 degrees that no scooter could possibly cope with) rather than the few tiny steps from deck 1, which as we demonstrated each time was dead easy for DH to walk and me to carry his folded scooter. On return in Madeira the low gangway was closed and the steep ascent was very difficult for him. Ok close a gangway during quiet times but surely keep open the more accessible one ! Now to the food, which is certainly not a dislike, we thought it was roughly on a par with Princess/NCL but nowhere near the standard of our all time favourite Oceania. The desserts, in particular, were disappointing. I usually struggle with too many sweet choices but on the QV I skipped dessert completely many times in both the buffet and restaurant because everything contained fruit, which I do not like. Once the buffet was properly open it was quite good, we liked the freshly made pizza and pasta stations. Cunard make a big fuss about afternoon tea in the Queens Room and it was nice but we have been spoilt by Oceania's far superior afternoon tea offerings. Evening meals varied from excellent to fair but our waiters were both always very pleasant and efficient, as indeed were all the crew. Will we book Cunard again ? Possibly but they are certainly not my line of choice and it would have to be a good enough bargain to be considered a ''mystery cruise" as I would not trust them to honour a published itinerary. Naturally the Venice situation was not anyone's fault, last minute changes happen occasionally and I think overall Cunard handled it very well. My problem is that they clearly have no qualms about substituting less desirable ports or changing shore times after bookings have been taken, airfares arranged etc leaving guests with no real option but to put up with the changes. We got a refund of $11 each on our account which we put down to the Trieste port tax being less than Venice, but would have far preferred to have followed the itinerary we booked and paid for. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2011
Having read all the previous reviews, I found that all the positive experiences and observations about the fabric of the ship were borne out on this transatlantic cruise. Cunard's pricing policy on beverages encouraged me to take ... Read More
Having read all the previous reviews, I found that all the positive experiences and observations about the fabric of the ship were borne out on this transatlantic cruise. Cunard's pricing policy on beverages encouraged me to take care of my liver function, although it was really good that Cunard are relaxed about guests having a private supply in one's cabin for a pre-dinner snifter. We chose to travel White Star steerage class, and we found Brittania dining perfectly acceptable. The segregation of Grills and Brittania facilities/guests is not discrete; it is not my 'cup of tea' and will influence whether I cruise with Cunard again. Embarkation was disrupted by matters outside of Cunard's control. Because of fog the ship couldn't berth in Venice and went to Trieste, and guests were bussed from Marco Polo to Trieste (2 hours). The difficulties were further aggravated by fog and delays to flights from the UK and continental airports with guests boarding from 2 hours to 3 days late! In the circumstance, matters were handled reasonably well BUT communication could be much improved as well as the reorganisation on the ground. Disembarkation at Fort Lauderdale went smoothly. I think the FL home security services must have gone to a better class of Charm School than at other US ports/airports! Getting onto buses and then transferring from the 'holding' hotel to airport was again somewhat disorganised. One wonders how the Americans managed to put a man on the moon (or was that a spoof event as some suggest.) I cannot fault the cruise experience itself, but I have come to the conclusion that No Fly cruises from the UK has great attractions. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2011
My wife and I are just just back from a Ruby Princess Transatlantic cruise Venice, Italy to Fort Lauderdale, Florida - October 19 to November 6, 2011. Our primary motivation for taking this particular cruise was its origination from ... Read More
My wife and I are just just back from a Ruby Princess Transatlantic cruise Venice, Italy to Fort Lauderdale, Florida - October 19 to November 6, 2011. Our primary motivation for taking this particular cruise was its origination from Venice, Italy and to the transatlantic crossing, both of which were new experiences for us. This was also our first cruise with Princess cruise lines, our most recent prior cruise being last year on a Celebrity Constellation Panama Canal full transit cruise. Venice was as wonderful and beautiful as we anticipated, and certainly the highlight of the trip. We did a pre-cruise stay for a couple of days in a B&B, the 3749 Ponte Chiodo, which was fortunate as the ship's overnight at Venice was accompanied by terrible weather. The six sea days of the transatlantic crossing were enjoyable. We had less free time than we thought that we would have. Given dining, entertainment, gym exercise, lectures, etc., we had far less time for reading than we anticipated - Boredom was not a problem. Princess' port stops in the Mediterranean were too hurried. For example, Lisbon was only a 5- hour stop. Princess' target demographic may like as many ports as possible, even if the stay is brief, but my wife and I would prefer fewer ports for longer durations, preferably always an overnight stay. We loved Lisbon and would have really liked an overnight stay. Also, Barcelona deserves an overnight stay, preferably more. We found the food comparable to that of other mass market cruise lines - similar to good quality hotel catered food, such as for a wedding. However, in our experience, Princess' anytime dining didn't run as smoothly as our experience on other cruise lines - long lines were commonly encountered. The entertainment was generally mediocre, but I have read that this is often the case with a relocation cruise. This criticism is caveatted by the fact that my wife and I are not fans of the broadway-style musicals that are so common with all cruise companies. Nonetheless, the alternative entertainment of comedians, magician and juggler were definitely mediocre. We know that better entertainment exists on the seas because we experienced it with, surprisingly, NCL. I should mention that the lecture series was excellent. In summary, the cruise was good but not great. There was no cruise killer problem but rather an accumulation of irritants that got in our way of total enjoyment. On a scale of 1-to-10, we rate the overall cruise experience a 6. Now, given our recent cruise on Celebrity's Constellation, we naturally compared our experience there with what we experienced aboard the ruby Princess experience. Ruby Princess versus Celebrity Constellation Observations: Given that we did a Panama Canal full transit cruise on the Celebrity Constellation one year earlier in a comparably priced cabin (Celebrity Concierge Class vs Princess Mini-Suite), a comparison is appropriate. The ships are similar in size (within 20%) but Princess squeezes in 22% more passengers per ton of ship tonnage (tonnage/passenger_capacity). This means that, on Princess, more people compete for similar sized common spaces: Anytime Dining - In our experience Princess' anytime dining was poorly run with long lines and waits to even get a beeper so that you can wait more - we regretted switching form early seating to anytime dining. Our only salvation was to establish reservations for 6pm for every remaining night through tips to the head waiter - effectively recreating traditional-like dining. Food - The general quality of the food in the main dining room was, on average, comparable to Celebrity if maybe a notch lower. The buffet may be a notch better than Celebrity. Coffee - Celebrity has brewed coffee everywhere. Princess has terrible coffee, made from a concentrate, everywhere except at the extra charge restaurants, and even in the main dining room on formal night. Freshly brewed, real coffee is only possible if you purchase coffee cards for $31. The problem is that the ONLY place that the 3,000 passangers can easily get the brewed coffee is at the one small coffee bar on deck five and it frequently has slow lines. Room service has the same from-concentrate coffee. All dining venues can fetch real coffee (when shown your coffee card) but wherever they go to get it adds an unnecessary delay - the delay at the Horizons buffet is fifteen minutes from some waiters but most simply say that brewed coffee is unavailable. In my opinion, brewed coffee should be available everywhere and the deck five coffee bar should be limited to extra-cost specialty coffees, such as Cappuccino, lattes and espresso Cabins: Celebrity Concierge Class balcony cabin versus Princess mini-suite: These were comparably priced cabins. The Princess mini-suite is larger than the Celebrity Concierge Class balcony cabin and is a very nice cabin and the Ruby is six years newer than the Constellation. However, Celebrity's amenities are superior. Celebrity - welcome bottle of champagne; Princess - welcome glass of champagne. Celebrity - plush, full-length bathrobes in the cabin upon arrival; Princess - no robes unless requested and they are thin waffle weave, short length with 3/4 length sleeves. Celebrity - nice fruit basket in room upon arrival, automatically refreshed every day; Princess - no fruit basket until requested and then a skimpy affair and never refreshed unless requested each time. Celebrity - afternoon canapés every afternoon; Princess - nothing. Celebrity - several Concierge Cabin class events on a 2-week cruise, such as a party/gathering , special galley and bridge tours, etc.; Princess - nothing. Celebrity - special Concierge Class embarkation and debarkation (the debarkation was VERY useful); Princess - nothing. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2010
Flew into Venice one day early to rest up for cruising. Stayed out in Quatro d'Altino which was fine. Have been in Venice before so knew we would save the city for our port day. Embarkation was easy. Was glad that we could sign up for ... Read More
Flew into Venice one day early to rest up for cruising. Stayed out in Quatro d'Altino which was fine. Have been in Venice before so knew we would save the city for our port day. Embarkation was easy. Was glad that we could sign up for spa while waiting to board as that is a priority for us. Loved all the ports on the Greek portion. Did things on our own everywhere except Santorini where we took the ship's tour that including eating, dancing and breaking of plates. Great fun. All the ports: Split, Mykonos, Iraklion, etc. were easy to get around and had so many things you could do. The transAtlantic portion was equally good and we had better weather in Spain and Portugal. Again, we did things on our own. Don't miss the Alhambra. Cadiz is great to do on foot. Loved Lisbon. Would love to return and spend more time there. Only other NCL tour we took was whale watching in Ponta Delgado and that was cancelled because of weather. Nice town for walking though. Wish we had more time on Crete. This was our first balcony room on deck 10 midship. We were on port side and that was perfect for all our ports. For the first time we used doctor's services--for back problems not related to cruise. Saw 3 different doctors. All had different ideas. Despite many tests and medications nothing worked. Hours are not adequate for this large a ship. Ship's store ran out of cough drops, tylenol, etc. You could get tylenol at main desk, but it's not strong enough. We had no problems with any of the restaurants. Usually Cagney's is our favorite, but on this ship it was Le Bistro. We used the main dining room and buffet a lot. Had no problems with waiting or food quality. One time I didn't care for what I ordered, but that was not their fault. It just wasn't my cup of tea. They offered to replace it, but I ate it and just knew that wasn't what I would get next time. Everyone was polite and really aimed to please. Loved Asian restaurant too. Being a Latitudes member helps with those extra charges. Would have liked to have done Teppanyaki, but never had a special for it. NCL has listened. We didn't see near as much selling in the shows and we try to attend all of them. Also, did not hear as many announcements of what was going on. They seemed to just do it all at once. Most of the entertainment was good. Just missed two of them during the storms. Gem band is really good. I thought all staff were incredible under difficult circumstances. They were trying to cover restaurants they don't normally work in and running room service too. It was obvious that some were overwhelmed, but who wouldn't be. The storm didn't effect us as much because we were midship on 10. NCL might consider opening up other restaurants for lunch if something like this happens again. We would have loved to have eaten Asian or TexMex for lunch on those days. We made good use of the library and also used the gym this time. Debarkation was not good. We were glad we had a late plane trip. Would we sail NCL again? Yes, we can afford it. The ships are beautiful and the itineraries are good. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2009
We are just back from a 17 day Transatlantic on Poesia. Whatever MSC's policies may be when cruising in European waters, American usages prevailed on this crossing. Dinner was early, the sittings were at 6:15 and 8:30. As much ice ... Read More
We are just back from a 17 day Transatlantic on Poesia. Whatever MSC's policies may be when cruising in European waters, American usages prevailed on this crossing. Dinner was early, the sittings were at 6:15 and 8:30. As much ice water as one asked for was available at meals; free coffee was available from 6:30 to 10:00, again from noon to 2:30, from 4:00 to 5:00 and again at dinner, which seems sufficient to us for anyone, except perhaps those with a severe caffeine addiction. The food was more than ample, and if one stayed away from steaks and roasts, which tended to be tough, was, for the most part, good. The service in the dining room, if one overlooks an indifferent and disinterested restaurant manager, was excellent. The stewards were pleasant, helpful and did their utmost to satisfy requests, even if these were not always entirely reasonable. While it is true that wine, beer, bottled water and drinks were more expensive than on comparable lines by roughly half, if one was willing to settle for simple Italian country wines, it was possible to purchase a package that provided unlimited quantities of wine, beer and bottled water for $16 per person per day, which seems a reasonable expense. As for drinks, MSC made no objection to each passenger bringing aboard a bottle or two at every port, so that one wasn't at the mercy of the bars. The breakfast and lunch buffets were plentiful, if not Lucullan. The lunch offerings did vary from day to day, and if breakfast stayed the same, at least there was sufficient variety so that one wasn't forced to eat the same thing every day. Or one could eat a splendid breakfast as well as a constantly changing lunch in the dining room. The cabin personnel, a team of two for each cabin, was unfailingly pleasant and helpful, the cabins were cleaned within minutes of our leaving them. Requests for ice, glasses, snacks and the like were promptly and cheerfully fulfilled. The cabins themselves were of a standard size, as were the balconies. Closet space was just adequate as was drawer space. The bathrooms, while not large, had ample under the counter storage space. The shower was adequate for anyone weighing in at under four hundred pounds. The ship's officers were just that, ship's officers who ran the ship with considerable efficiency. Anyone who requires ship's officers to fawn over him had probably better buy his own yacht. The ship was exceptionally clean and well kept, a large number of crew were continually at work, washing, wiping, vacuuming, painting. The entertainment, at least that part of which that we attended, was exceptional. A quartet of opera singers who would find a place as soloists in any opera house in the world, gave several recitals, accompanied by a first rate pianist. While we did not see the dancers, by general agreement they were excellent. For those so inclined, the Italian national chess champion, an International Master, gave lessons every day and took on all comers. We encountered very few queues aboard ship, and when there was one, no one attempted to cut into it. There were four banks of elevators and there was no time at which one encountered excessive waiting periods. Embarkation was exemplary. One could check in one's luggage at the Venice railway station, walk a short distance to the Piazzale Roma where buses were waiting to take you to the ship and, if one had taken the trouble to pre-register on line, be aboard within minutes. Disembarkation was something of a muddle - some passengers waited over two hours in the lounges—but this was not MSC's fault, the U.S. customs and immigration services hadn't assigned sufficient personnel to cope with so many passengers. This is not to say that we have no criticisms. Most annoying were the announcements, which were read off in five languages three times a day for a total of 45 minutes, were stridently loud, and mostly consisted of hypes for various money earning on board activities. Deck chairs and tables, in spite of posted prohibitions, were, almost without exception, reserved with towels throughout the day. Given the nature of the case, it was impossible for us to determine if, as has been alleged, the absentee culprits were mostly German and Italians, or if all nationalities sinned equally, but the point is that no attempt was made by the crew to remedy the situation. Smoking was permitted only on one side of the swimming pool deck, but as some genius had decreed that this was to be the windward side, everyone got the full benefit of the tobacco fumes. Dinners were consistently themed, a different nationality was featured every evening. The results varied, running from the good to the mediocre. MSC would have done better to stick with Italian cuisine, which they did very well indeed. Dinner, moreover, was painfully long. It never took less than two hours, sometimes it was closer to three. This was not the fault of the stewards who did their best; they simply had too many diners at their stations and there seemed to be a serious bottleneck in the kitchen. The shore excursions were ludicrously overpriced, one was always better off making one's own arrangements. Get your information before you get on board as the "travel desk" did not provide any information on ports. We arranged for an historical and cultural tour of Carthage, and were quite pleased, but tablemates took a similar tour and got the usual "carpet sales" stop which robbed them of precious time in port, at top dollar! So, do your homework and ask questions about the tour in advance. In short, this is not a luxury cruise line, but then it isn't priced like one either. In our opinion it is comparable to Celebrity and Holland America: Some things are better, some not as good, but that is the level one is talking about. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2009
Overall we enjoyed the cruise, the ports and transatlantic crossing. There's plenty to eat and activities galore. Unfortunately, due to inclement weather, we were not able to dock in Marseille. We'd recommend the cruise to ... Read More
Overall we enjoyed the cruise, the ports and transatlantic crossing. There's plenty to eat and activities galore. Unfortunately, due to inclement weather, we were not able to dock in Marseille. We'd recommend the cruise to anyone. We are however not as glowing of some specifics of the cruise as some posters. A summary of specifics follow: Cruise Highlights The following on-board sights were especially memorable: Departure from Venice, transiting through the Straits of Gibraltar and entry into Lisbon. Overall, the employees were friendly and helpful, especially the waiters and waitresses in the Wheelhouse Lounge and Crooner's Lounge. Venice Embarkation While Princess had some sixteen check-in counters, there were only three security scanners. Consequently, we stood around for three hours waiting for our boarding number to be called. Ft Lauderdale Disembarkation All passengers were requested to leave their staterooms by 8:00AM to allow for cleanup. We then waited in a public area for three hours waiting for our turn to officially disembark. Our scheduled departure time was 1.5 hours later than scheduled. Stateroom We had an interior stateroom midship on the Baja deck. It was quiet and well-sized. I would have hated to have had a room further down the hall adjacent to the dish washing area. In walking past that section, you could frequently hear the loud clattering of dishes in the hallway. We also talked to a passenger who boarded at Barcelona and was assigned to a stateroom beneath one of the lounges. After considerable complaining about the noise, he was moved to a different stateroom room in Venice. Public Areas The SkyWalkers lounge was excellent for a quiet reading location and great view. In general, the public entertainment areas for shipboard events and showrooms are generally too small to accommodate 3100 passengers. Consequently, the Princess Theater and the Explorer's Lounge have the same shows multiple times per day over a couple days. Also, the Piazza is woefully inadequate for events such as the Captain's reception. Entertainment The major entertainment was fairly good, especially the comedians and solo singers who were very good. In general, the lounge entertainment was merely "acceptable". An exception however was the rock group "Junction 21" which was very good. Unfortunately, the timing of entertainment in the various venues was awkward. Most of the performances are scheduled at the same time and the entertainers took breaks at the same time, making it difficult for passengers to enjoy the wide variety of groups and a full evening sampling of the different entertainers. Food and Dining You could eat at anytime. We especially enjoyed mid-day snacks consisting of ice cream, cookies, pizza and hot dogs (what a combo!). In the evening, we usually ate in the Michelangelo dining room. The food ranged in quality from excellent to average. It seemed that dining room service was better earlier in the evening. Perhaps as the evening progressed, the staff was getting tired. We tried the Cafe Caribe on the German and Curry buffet nights. Both meals were disappointing. "Movie Under the Stars" We attended one of the movies at night for an authentic theater experience. You need to arrive early to claim a "good seat". The theater event includes a lap robe, popcorn, cookies and milk. Information Desk In general, the ship's information desk was dismal. They gave incorrect information as to when we were passing Gibraltar. Additionally, they were unable to provide any useful information on the upcoming ports. Money My advice is to bring your own shore spending money. The ship's on-board ATM charges a minimum of $6 (or $8) for ATM withdrawals. Transportation in Ports If you are traveling as independent passengers (i.e., not scheduled on a Princess cruise excursion), each passenger is charged approximately $8.00 per person per port for bus transportation from the dock to the town center in several of the ports. Considering the overall cost of the cruise, this seems excessive. In several of the ports, the bus transport was necessary since the ports are large industrial areas lacking other transportation options. The bus drop-off points were located conveniently near rapid transit options and information centers with return schedules maintained throughout the day. Cruise Director James Ibrahim, the cruise director, seemed both patronizing and immature. The ship's "The Early Show" is intended to be an important source of information for passengers. Unfortunately, the television program was frequently frivolous and superficial, lacking quality information concerning ports and events on the ship. You had to intently listen through the whole program to filter significant information from the blather. Communication It used to be that passengers would get a daily news summary of current world events. Princess does not provide that. The assumption is apparently that we will access the internet or watch the news on the television. This however is not always possible. During the Atlantic crossing, most network channels including CNN were not available on the cabin televisions. As for the computer center, it is quite small for the size of the ship, and it was not always easy to access a computer. Also, the cost of accessing the internet promotes cautious, careful use. Laundry The ship has numerous high quality, self-service laundry rooms spread throughout the ship. Most of the laundries are small (2 washers/2 dryers). Our experience was that they were frequently very busy. The machines were efficient. We were able to dry a full load of jeans, t-shirts and socks in one drying cycle. You need to plan a couple of hours minimum depending on how long you have to wait for the machines. The change machine did not work one day, so I'd recommend you come prepared with plenty of quarters. Each machine costs $1.50 (quarters only). You can also purchase soap and fabric softener. The laundry room also had two ironing boards and Rowenta irons with automatic shut-off timers. In this day of luggage weight restrictions, there is no need to pack a personal steamer. In closing The above commentary is intended as an open assessment of the cruise. Overall, the cruise was enjoyable, relaxing and worthwhile. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2008
The alarm bells should have been ringing loud and clear when we first encountered the standard of organization at the embarkation, If you have ever seen the feature film Titanic the try to imagine the panic in reverse!! This was after we ... Read More
The alarm bells should have been ringing loud and clear when we first encountered the standard of organization at the embarkation, If you have ever seen the feature film Titanic the try to imagine the panic in reverse!! This was after we struggled to remove our own cases from the bus and drag them to a holding area. Now I am reasonably fit and this was not a problem for me but there were many elderly passengers on this cruise so goodness knows how they managed with no assistance. After a 4 hour waiting in a sort of line we were shown to our cabin on deck 11. We were pleasantly surprised with our balcony state room, it was spacious and well appointed with a bowl of fruit as it transpired was topped up daily if required. We have cruised on many occasion and attended many passenger safety drills but this one was very strange. They had the drill the day after sailing at an evening time about half an hour before first sitting, { very sensible } maybe ships do not sink on the first day of sailing!!! The drill was very loose and not organized with passengers at our muster station shuffling about listening to public announcements not knowing what was being said These drills are old hat to us but I am sure there were many first time cruisers, there were because I spoke to a few. Pity help them if there was ever a real crisis on board this ship!! We had a couple of fabulous and experienced waiters at our table at second sitting dining in the evening but I have to say the the service at breakfast and lunch was quite dreadful, I lost count of the times the order was wrong and slow to served. I recall waiting one morning 30 minutes for my first coffee!!! The food also could vary from superb to very average, it was as if they had alternative head chefs!!. it was rumored that 40% new inexperienced staff boarded at Venice. if this is true then that would make sense of the inconsistent service. The lounges and wine bars were well appointed with reasonable tariffs and grab this, no 15% gratuity charge on drinks!! which was appreciated. But can I just say what was not appreciated and did not make any sense was the staggering decision to withdraw jugged water from from the dining tables then asking the passengers to buy bottled water at $4.80 for a 750cl!!!This coupled with charging for after dinner coffee`s only fueled the discontent among the passengers. I can only say who ever decided on this policy should be dragged away into the real world before this person can do any more damage to the image of the MSC Cruise Line. I would suspect a lot of future cruising has been lost because of these niggardly decisions. Voracious strive for profits and credit crunch come to mind!!! The theatre had brilliant viewing and was very comfortable but the productions were all a bit of a sameness with repeated opera singers or Brazilian dancers. I was also surprised that there was no orchestra backing the acts with a ship this size but only background tapes although there was a very different and excellent illusionist act one night. We had four formal nights two of which were the Captains treat with free drinks at his parties. This again did not make sense to me as the cost to splash free drinks to 3000 passengers on two occasions for an hour must have out weighed any saving with selling bottled water and charging for coffee`s!!!! The ships on board activities crew worked their socks off on cruising days but some of the games the only qualification required was a pulse! or be under 10 years of age!! I would say that the quizzes very good and varied as well as being well supported We only had one excursion to Sugar Loaf Mountain and Christ the Redeemer when in Rio De Janeiro, we found the trip well organized and value for the money. The whole cruise itinerary had excellent ports of call with places we had not been before which was our reason for taking this particular cruise. We did have another small criticism about our cabin and that was the television channels. We had no channel to view for five days when crossing the Atlantic but only pay per view movies at $12.95 which I thought it was a bit of a liberty as they had a locked audience with no option. I would have thought some of the old standards could have been shown free of charge or even a nominal would have been sensible. But I am afraid the sense was completely divorced from the administration on this ship Read Less
Sail Date: October 2004
Star Princess- Transatlantic repositioning cruise- Venice to Ft Lauderdale, Oct, 2004 (17 day cruise) (Note- ship was fully booked) Embarkation & Disembarkation -- Boarding & Ships departure from Venice -- Excellent. No line ups. ... Read More
Star Princess- Transatlantic repositioning cruise- Venice to Ft Lauderdale, Oct, 2004 (17 day cruise) (Note- ship was fully booked) Embarkation & Disembarkation -- Boarding & Ships departure from Venice -- Excellent. No line ups. Excellent commentary over the ships loud speaker system describing the sites as we cruised down the Grand Canal and out to sea = a memorable experience. Disembarkation -- Disembarking 2600 plus passengers is going to be a delay. They try to minimize the discomfort by allocating baggage tags with different disembarkation times. We had arranged early departure and were given red #3 baggage tags. Procedure -- Directions were to wait on Deck 7, but deck does not have sufficient public areas resulting in people standing and sitting on the floor. We avoided by waiting and relaxing in the public area on Deck 14. Disembarkation in Ft. Lauderdale was a smooth procedure where we were quickly processed thru Princess exit machine using security card they provide you on Embarkation followed by swift processing thru immigration and then directed to waiting luggage. NOTE: They never checked our departure luggage tags to ensure we were getting off the ship when we should be; and all luggage appeared to be on dock. Cabin -- Balcony cabin D327 on Dolphin Deck (Princess calls it a mini suite) -- We were celebrating our 40th anniversary and splurged with an upgrade. Good decision for a cruise of this length = gave us more room and we really enjoyed the luxury of a bathtub. Veranda -- Has two small plastic chairs and table large enough for breakfast; plus two cushioned chairs (small lounge chairs). No privacy since the verandas are stepped (like a pyramid) with Dolphin Deck being the bottom of the pyramid. Also noisy = can hear conversations of guests above on their veranda. Sitting area in cabin -- Comfortable two seat sofa and one chair with coffee table large enough for breakfast. Greatly enjoyed our many breakfasts on the veranda and in the cabin. Sitting area has its own TV and HVAC thermostat. Sliding patio doors onto veranda. Sleeping area -- Twin bed configuration made into queen. Comfortable. Desk with chair, mirror, hair dryer, telephone and two electrical outlets = which was an excellent work station for me with my laptop. Area had a separate HVAC thermostat. Would keep the room temperature at 70F. Also has a second TV but not able to use both TV's at one time since no divider from sitting area and sleeping area. Closet next to Bathroom -- Ample hanging and cupboard space. Bathroom -- Good size, large combo tub/shower. Good size counter for personal effects. Location -- Cabin on starboard side generally puts us on the dock side for each port. However, since we were cruising westward, we did not get the sun we would have if our cabin had been on the Port side = if ever cruise again for a long period of time over the Atlantic or Pacific consider the location of the sun and pick the sunny side of the ship. Noise -- No noise from adjacent cabins or hall. However, in rough seas there was substantial noise and some vibration, likely from the stabilizer system which kept us awake one night = need to collect further information as to whether this is a problem throughout the ship. Cabin Steward -- Angelo -- Excellent. Shore Excursions & Itinerary -- Itinerary good, providing us with many new ports. However, had the following problems with Princess shore excursions -- i) buses -- on the whole had uncomfortable seating and no leg room, ii) Rome and Seville were a 1.75 hr. bus ride away = shortened up the time for touring, iii) Ratio of one tour guide for every 40-45 passengers on the tour = too large, iv) Insufficient time allocated to stops on tour = were too rushed, v) Were assembled in Princess Theatre rather than go ashore to meet tour bus (except for one port) = lost 15 minutes of valuable time. Conclusion -- i) One day short stops do not do the cities justice = not the way to visit a city that may not get backed to: ii) Try to do on own unless can determine that Princess has allowed adequate time for each visit (i.e. night in Venice); and iii) Princess should reduce the number of ports and increase the amount of time in the ports (i.e. as being done by other cruise lines such as Oceania). Ship  -- i) DEcor/finishes -- Very pleasing, well done, ii) Feel- have created many areas where one can comfortably get away from the "crowd" = well done; iii) Flow- worked well, except for deck 5; iv) Elevators -- did not work well = slow doors, noticeable waiting times, noticeable multiple stops with phantom passengers (would stop for passengers and no one waiting = persons had given up and walked). Activities Aboard ship -- Size of ship permitted a multitude of entertainment options, with some nights having two featured entertainers = great for a voyage at sea such as a transatlantic crossing. Note: Must arrive at main events at least 15 minutes early for the first shows or may not be seated. Found a full day of interesting activities available for each day at sea. Line ups -- i) Into dining areas initially/first two days were noticeable, but then disappeared; ii) For shore excursions noticeable, sometimes line ups were an annoyance; iii) From time to time at Purser's desk; iv) Always at Future Cruise desk (used a number system to overcome). Dining -- Quality of food and service was a disappointment, ranging from poor to excellent but on the average good. We had some major problems in the Portofino Dining Room = slow service, some meals not that good. Lucked out by one night sitting at table #6 in the Capri dining Room and thereafter booked this table each night = excellent service and no further problems with food. Jun, the waiter, allowed us to put extra plates in the middle of the table to be shared by all = his efforts and that of his assistant waiter resulted in a memorable dining experience (screened all food he brought to table and if not to his standard would return it to the kitchen). On the average, pastries lacked quality. Three main Dining Rooms -- i) Portofino Dining Room (open seating) -- initially our regular dining room, trying to sit at a table of four or six rather than the table of 8 where found it difficult to communicate with all eight persons. Service varied depending upon the section of the dining room in which you were seated. One lunch in Portofino took 1.5 hrs to get main course -- one of the couples left; several dinners were slow, meals taking two hours to complete. Note: reportedly same kitchen is serving the Portofino and Amalfi Dining (Fixed Seating) rooms and this could be the cause of the slow service vs. Capri which has its own kitchen; ii) Capri Dining Room (open seating) -- We had two good dining experiences and settled in with table #6, Capri Dining Room serviced by Jun (excellent). Reservation possible -- We had to phone each day to book the table at a specific time = unnecessary nuisance, but gave you all the benefits of fixed seating and a more flexible time tailored to your preferences. Buffet Dining -- Horizon Court -- on the average food did not meet our expectations (bacon, greasy sausages, week iced tea, tasteless pastries). Policy of closing one of the buffet service areas leads to congestion/crowding. At time found the layout of the food in strange order, requiring breaking in and out of the line up. Bonus -- Could make special order for an omelet. 3:30 p.m. tea -- A touch of class; all waiters in tuxedos with service in white glove. Excellent Service. From time to time some of the small sandwiches dry, on average food very good. Special restaurants -- i) Sabatini -- Extra charge of US $20.00 per person. Service excellent, other than as noted. Person in charge needs further training (I had a problem with a tasteless main course of prawns. When drawn to his attention, said would mention to Chef, and five minutes later was back at the table asking how meal was). My wife's meal was excellent. ii) Tequila -- Extra charge of US $15.00 per person. Service and meal excellent; with three piece band providing background music and dancing a touch of class = a memorable evening. We had to leave for a show and as a result unable to stay for the dancing; but returned several times to a few extra tables not being used for dining to have drinks = great location and band to relax, have a drink, and dance. Fixed vs. Open Seating -- When traveling on our own we always arrange for fixed seating. This time were unable to get a fixed seating reservation and we missed the experience of dining with the same group every night, comparing our notes, arranging excursions together and getting to know the staff/having the staff provide us with personal service based on our needs. Started to get tired of meeting new people every night and forced small talk. Whether want early or late seating should be determined by the itinerary and ships departure (on this itinerary early seating would be the best. When chose late seating, for days when this would not work, could take meal in open seating restaurants). The risk of fixed seating is that you might be assigned a table with an incompatible group. Another option when you are cruising with others is to take the open seating, find a waiter that you like and then make reservations every day (in Princess case, over the telephone), which we did in latter part of the cruise to get the same waiter = gives you the best of two systems. Entertainment -- Size of ship allows you, on several nights, to see two different shows. Quality of entertainment is equal to Las Vegas = was the best we have experienced on a cruise ship (other than for the excellent specialized entertainment provided by the locals at each ports on the Tahitian Princess). Princess Theatre has good site lines; theatre level stage props (props, entertainers can entry and exit thru floor elevators). Some of the seats uncomfortable in that all seats are the same configuration, not taking into consideration the slope of the floor underneath = results in one sliding forwarding on the seat. Internet -- At a cost of $10.50 for 30 minutes was able to hook up laptop (wireless) to ship's system in one location -- Atrium. Very slow connection (lower end of telephone speed) and not a user friendly connection system -- could only purchase in 30 minute increments, when came to end of 30 minutes and tried to send an e-mail lost the e-mail, does not appear to sign off until you shut down the computer, when you run out of 30 minutes, you have to close out Explorer and sign on again. Tour desk -- Staffed by one, who thought it was appropriate to handle the passengers waiting to see her by using a numbered system rather than to expand her hours or have an additional crew member assist, as we have found on other cruise lines (RCI). A disappointment. Fitness -- Promenade deck -- Excellent for walking in quiet sea; on deck 7 & 8, with stairs up to deck 8 at the bow -- 5 times around reportedly mile. Gym -- Good. 15 treadmills, all on 30 minute reservation periods, basically same equipment as our club's fitness facilities in Thornhill. Good weight equipment. Exercise room next door with mats. OVERALL CONCLUSIONS -- Tahitian Princess Cruise, our other Princess experience, was a memorable cruise vs. Star Princess a good cruise with some noticeable problems = Star Princess -- Great Ship with management problems. This ship is capable of moving from a Berlitz Cruise Guide rating of four stars to five stars, joining Celebrity as the only large cruise ships receiving this rating. Will be interesting to monitor other members' experiences on whether they solve the problems. Read Less

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