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Princess Cruises: Star Princess

  • Princess Cruises

Star Princess Review

The third ship introduced to Princess Cruises’ Grand-class in 2002, Star Princess remains essentially a twin of Golden Princess. Extensive renovations of Star Princess have added many of the cruise line’s most popular signature elements, including

Movies Under the Stars and The Sanctuary.

When Grand Princess was introduced as the world's largest cruise ship in 1998, futuristic Skywalker's Disco hovered approximately 150 feet above the waterline, but in a dramatic—and fuel saving—transformation, it was removed from Grand Princess in 2011 and replaced with a more conventional nightclub in the heart of the ship. Subsequent ships did not have the same design problem, so there are no plans on the drawing board to remove Skywalker’s.

All Grand-class vessels have more than 700 staterooms that included private balconies. Like their predecessors, the interiors of Grand-class ships have splashy glamour in the sweeping staircases and marble-floor atriums. Surprisingly intimate for such large ships, human scale in public lounges is achieved by judicious placement of furniture as unobtrusive room dividers. The 300-square-foot Times Square–style LED screens that hover over the pools show up to seven movies or events daily.

Princess Cruises may be best known for introducing cruise travel to millions of viewers, when its flagship became the setting for The Love Boat television series in 1977. Since that heady time of small-screen stardom, the Princess fleet has grown both in the number and size of ships. Although most are large in scale, Princess vessels manage to create the illusion of intimacy through the use of color and decor in understated yet lovely public rooms graced by multimillion-dollar art collections.

Princess has also become more flexible; Personal Choice Cruising offers alternatives for open seating dining (when you wish and with whom you please) and entertainment options as diverse as those found in resorts ashore.

Lovely chapels or the wide-open decks are equally romantic settings for weddings at sea with the captain officiating.

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What You Should Know

Pros

  • Skywalker's Disco on Golden Princess and Star Princess is virtually deserted during the day, when it's the ideal quiet spot to watch the sea
  • Self-service passenger laundry rooms have ironing stations
  • The nautical Wheelhouse Bar is a Princess tradition for cocktails and dancing

Cons

  • Sports bars get jam-packed—and stuffy—when big games are on
  • Accommodations aft and above the Vista lounge are noisy when bands crank up the volume
  • Minisuites don’t include the perks offered to full suites
Ship Stats
  • Crew Members 1,200
  • Entered Service 2002
  • Gross Tons 109,000
  • Length 951 feet
  • Number of Cabins 1,300
  • Passenger Capacity 2,600
  • Width 118 feet
  • Service

  • Food

  • Décor

  • Value

Jul 23, 2016

Terrible experience, first and last Princess cruise for us

My family and I just returned from a 7 day Alaskan cruise on the Star Princess with several other families. I will preface this review with the fact that our older daughter has life threatening food allergies will include useful information for anyone traveling with kids who have food allergies or who themselves have food allergies/sensitivities. Although we were assured they would be able to offer her foods they were unprepared for passengers with

food allergies and had next to nothing available. The typical food was bland, foods were pre-mixed, and they clearly reused earlier food at later meals. The ship was old, not kept clean, and I watched trash and empty glasses sit in public spaces for hours. The gym was outdated, small, and incomplete. Staff was unfriendly and customer service before and during the cruise was below par. The only highlight of the cruise was the destination (Alaska). This was our first and will be our last cruise with Princess.

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By NS_CR

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Jul 21, 2016

Alaska

This will be a lengthy, transparent, and fair review but anyone considering to go on a Princess cruise should read this to help make their decision. My family and I just returned from a 7 day Alaskan cruise on the Star Princess with several other families. I will preface this review with the fact that our older daughter has life threatening food allergies will include useful information for anyone traveling with kids who have food allergies or who

themselves have food allergies/sensitivities. This was our 6th cruise overall, 2nd Alaskan cruise, and the first time on Princess. We have previously cruised on NCL, Disney, Carnival, and Royal Caribbean. We had varying degrees of experiences on these cruise lines but all were positive. By far this experience with Princess ranked at the very bottom and was a very negative experience. Let me start with the pre-cruise issues. Due to my daughter's food allergies, we began to communicate with Princess via phone and email as they requested to make sure we knew how to manage her food situation during our vacation. When we had previously cruised we would normally provide a list of her food allergies and the cruise line would work with us to either ensure their normal stock of allergy friendly food items would work for us or, as was the case with NCL, would purchase the food and have it there for us during our trip. In this case, after providing the list, we were simply told to work with the head maitre d on board. I went back and forth with customer service and in an attempt to find what they stocked and to what degree they would be able to prepare dry packaged foods that we brought in case they did not carry the brands suitable for her. To my surprise neither I nor the customer service representatives could speak directly to the food department. After numerous attempts to obtain more information Princess stopped responding and I was forced to give up. At this point Princess was unwilling to give me any details to help us prepare and had took an odd stance telling me that my daughter's allergies are my responsibility and that I am traveling at my own risk. It was an absurd statement - it's my daughter of course I'm responsible - and was a sign of what was yet to come. Thinking ahead, we packed an entire suitcase of dry food to last the week because we had no idea what to expect. Based on our previous experiences cruising we thought it would be a lot easier once we got on the ship and that they would be adequately prepared. In fact, we thought we were probably unnecessarily worrying. After all, cruise ships have endless food and large staff to ensure guests thoroughly enjoy their vacation. Once on board the ship my wife and I were told to meet with the head waiter in the main dining room. This individual was completely useless. He told us the ship could not prepare any special items for her but that the menu would offer foods she could eat. So, we looked at the menu and for every single item he said would work, we would point to an ingredient which was not allergy friendly. It was at this point I realized this cruise line was completely unprepared for passengers with food allergies. The head waiter then had us meet with another head waiter. This person gave us the same story as the other person and then went on to say that they have a very minimal stock of allergy friendly foods. He brought out 5 items which supposedly were allergy friendly. For non-dairy milk he brought Lactaid. I had to inform his that Lactaid was milk and is suitable for a lactose intolerance but not for a dairy allergy. He also brought cheese, a dairy based cheese. The items which were truly allergy friendly was a corn based pasta, a gluten free pancake mix, and tofu (soy is not an allergy for our daughter). We asked if they could use the ingredients used for other foods and prepare meals which she could eat using the allowed ingredients. I was told that the food was made in bulk and many dishes were pre-mixed or prepared. While understandable for the general population on the ship eating at the buffet, this did not address our situation or for that matter anyone who had food limitations based on health factors or any other reason. It was at this point I broke it down for him and explained that they were totally unprepared for this. For the rest of the trip my daughter ate steamed rice, steamed vegetables, pasta (which we brought), and tofu. We had also brought vegan cheese and gluten free bread so cold cheese sandwiches were a typical lunch. I was grateful she at least had food but this was far beneath the experiences on our other cruises. This head waiter tried to accommodate us but even his hands were tied because of the lack of allergy friendly foods and the pre-mixing of nearly all meals. What was also odd was that we were not allowed to communicate with the head chef. In every other cruising instance we would always speak to the head chef to help plan the meals daily. Rather than being understanding or helpful some of the people, like the first head waiter, acted annoyed. Upon returning to my room after the first night I found a postcard in the onboarding package stating that the corporate offices had "received my pre-boarding food requests" and that they went through "extra care" to ensure there would be product available for her. I certainly don't want to accuse anyone of being dishonest but how on earth do these experiences equate to corporate going through "extra care"?! I even took a picture of the postcard in the case someone from Princess contacts me so I can ask exactly what extra care and efforts were done on our behalves. Let me give some highlights of the ship itself. The gym equipment was outdated and in need of an update, and there wasn't enough equipment for a complete workout. I'm a workout enthusiast and working out on vacations is important. The gym on this ship was very small and the equipment was from the 1990's. You'll be able to get on a treadmill and if you're lucky get in a small amount of dumbbell exercises. Personally, I did enough just to get in some form of exercise but this gym pales in comparison to other cruise lines. Also, it opened late at 7am and everyone I spoke to complained about that. 5am or 6am is typical if not 24 hours. If you want to work out before going on an excursion you probably won't have enough time. The laundry centers were in terrible shape. 1 of the 3 washers on our floor was broken as were 2 of the 3 dryers. The families we were traveling with were on different floors and those also had broken washers and dryers. The quality of the entertainment was just average and the timing of the shows were such that you would either be late for dinner or have to rush in order to not miss the beginning. The ship itself was not dirty but it was a little unkempt. For example, I would see glasses on top of trash cans for hours and in some cases overnight. My experiences with other cruise ships was that any trash would be picked up in a matter of a couple hours or less and the crew would be constantly (literally) wiping down rails, elevators, and doorknobs, etc to avoid spreading of any germs or bacteria. On this cruise I would see staff cleaning the ship in the mornings only. Staterooms were cleaned twice daily, which is normal. The ship also needed maintenance. There were condensation leaks in the hallways that left the carpet wet in a couple of spots, great for growing mold. Our interactions with the staff were inconsistent. In most cases the staff at the buffet were rude and unfriendly. In one instance a waiter brought hot tea and dripped some on the lap of one of the kids traveling with us while pouring into the cup. The waiter's response was "sorry" and he hurried away rather than checking if the child OK. Luckily he had thick pants on otherwise he might have been burnt. On the other hand, our dinner staff were very friendly and served us with a smile every night. These little things, and everything else above, are signs of bad management and a lack of training. It seemed like there are substantial cost-cutting measures in place at the expense of customer satisfaction. Before going on the trip our group discussed how we would communicate with one another. We were excited to hear that Princess had an IOS and Android app with a built in messaging feature. In fact, their website has links to the app. Unfortunately, those links are broken because the app doesn't exist. We did find out that all we had to do was connect with the onboard wifi and that the website internal to the ship had the messenger app. Unfortunately we couldn't have all our party in a single group message because of the 120 character limit on the names. Although the website was very limited in messaging features and was non-intuitive, it was better than nothing. However, the wifi dropped literally every 5-10 minutes. It was completely unstable and required us to refresh our wifi connections continuously all week. On top of that, since they were not using an app there was no vibration notification when a new message came in. I would have rather had clunky walkie-talkie then dealt with this. In this day and age I can't imagine why they would not have a messaging app with online maps as opposed to a website-based messaging system with limited features and giving us paper maps which we have to carry around. After coming back to land I wonder what we paid for. This was not a relaxing vacation for us and we were constantly on edge about out daughter's food situation. Princess was completely unprepared for my daughter and we used our own food daily. The ship was old, small, and the food was both limited and unappetizing. I don't know if the experience was limited to just this ship and/or crew but I will never be vacationing with Princess again nor will I be recommending them to anyone. My advice to anyone would be to avoid them at all costs and go with another cruise line. It was heartbreaking to see what my daughter had to eat for an entire week, 3 times a day. We ate at the buffet and at our assigned dining location (for dinner). They were all consistently bad. The selections were extremely limited. For example, breakfasts lacked dairy alternatives found on every other cruise line which we have traveled such as individual cartons of almond and soy milk. Lunches lacked typical things such as a create your own pasta station as well as a create your own sandwich station. Additionally the food was bland and in many cases the recipes were odd. The staple salmon dish was a fillet covered in a maple syrup and honey concoction; who does that? I was expecting to get some amazing seafood on an Alaskan cruise but that wasn't the case here. If you are vegetarian or vegan, there won't be a single thing for you on the menu and you'll be limited to fruits for dessert (if they don't cover it in rice pudding, which is what Princess typically did). Many things are pre-mixed so there is very little room to adjust any of the dishes. The salad bar at the buffet was worse than what you'd find at typical grocery stores. The specialty coffees (latte's, cappuccino's, etc.) were good but the normal (free) coffee was very watered down and barely drinkable. As all cruise ships do, this one had a pizza bar. The only toppings they offered were pepperoni and onions and it closed at 10:30 pm. We would go to the salad bar to get bell peppers and take it to the pizza stand to have them place it on our order. This was the first time we had to do this and other cruise lines would offer an array of toppings directly at their pizza stand. At dinner it was quite clear they were reusing food from previous nights. For example, chicken soup was the previous days vegetable soup with bits of chicken added. The vegetable samosas (Indian appetizer) was the vegetable mix from breakfast wrapped in a shell and fried. During the week they had 2 specialty lunches, a seafood buffet and a fajita station. These were better than the buffet food but stayed open for only 1.5 hours. We did appreciate the fact that their refried beans were vegetarian (at least that's what they told us) and it was a nice treat since typically refried beans have animal products. But, due to the short time being open many people missed out on the opportunity to enjoy these specialties. They should have been open for at least 2-3 hours. Many people were visibly upset about this and complained. Drinks were below average. I'm not a big drinker but I do enjoy wine. I had only one sip of one glass during the entire cruise. I tried a well-known California Merlot which tasted like it had come from a bottle that was opened for a week. After returning it I tried a basic light beer which tasted equally old. Imagine leaving a beer in the hot sun for several days and then refrigerating it again before drinking in an attempt to "refresh" it. That's what this beer tasted like. For the rest of the trip I drank water, club soda, tea, and cappuccinos. I was traveling with friends who hadn't bought the drink packages and according to them the mixed drinks were ok, on the weaker side, but the prices were reasonable. Our stateroom was aged and small, typical of any cruise, but what was concerning was that it wreaked of urine when we entered for the first time. The smell originated from the bathroom so we asked the stateroom attendant to thoroughly clean and sanitize it again. They were cleaned twice a day although not as thoroughly as I have seen on my previous cruises. Activities were very limited and geared towards a senior crowd. There was a visible lack of variety in the events and they did not cover all ages. What I did like was the daily movies. It did offer a nice addition since the other activities were not of our taste. Alaska is a fantastic place to visit. Don't miss opportunities to see glaciers or go whale watching. Skip out on the totem and village tours in Ketchikan. The people giving the tour are nice but they are manufactured for tourism and don't give the full culture behind the totems and the people. The White Pass Trail excursion in Skagway is very good. We took the bus and train excursion but there are others (longer duration) that do that plus other things. If you have young kids the bus and train version is recommended. I would also recommend booking excursions outside of the ship if you go through a travel agent. We went through Costco and they have an arrangement with an third party excursion company. They were very helpful in picking the most popular excursions and those with the best experiences. The are largely the same as the Princess excursions but are cheaper and offer some things that Princess does not. The review speaks for itself. The high point was, of course, being in Alaska and seeing the natural beauty. The low points were the cruise line, the ship, the food, and the customer service experience. I would definitely go to Alaska again but never again will I go on a cruise with Princess.

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Jul 4, 2016

Anchorage to Vancouver

The excursions did not match the description on the Princess marketing. For example, I paid $1,760 to go fly fishing in Juneau. The Princess description was to take a float plane to a remote stream. We flew less than 10 minutes and fished on the beach. We did catch one salmon. A second fishing excursion in Ketchikan for $800 had us fish on a commercial fishing boat and it was the captain's first day as a charter fisherman - we did not catch

a fish. Cabin had Stains on the walls. Stains on the curtains. Stains on the furniture. Balcony furniture was old and had paint drops on seats. Balcony flooring was some type of plastic decking that was full of dirt and broken pieces. Rust stains everywhere you looked. The excursions are a rip off. We had an an excursion where the vendor did not show. Princess would not refund our excursion fee and accused us of not telling the truth by citing a record that said we did not show. We tracked down the vendor and they admitted that they did not show and we had them tell Princess. Princess then refunded our money. The excursions did not match the description on the Princess marketing. For example, I paid $1,760 to go fly fishing in Juneau. The Princess description was to take a float plane to a remote stream. We flew less than 10 minutes and fished on the beach. We did catch one fish - a salmon. A second salmon fishing excursion in Ketchikan for $800 had us fish on a commercial fishing boat and it was the captain's first day as a charter fisherman - we did not catch a fish. I spent almost $30,000 for this trip and it was a a total failure. Stay away from Star Princess. Nasty!

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Jan 2, 2016

South America

I needed to get away from a depressing time of the year (late autumn, holiday season, feeling cold) and leave some personal problems behind and get away from it all. Princess' slogan is "come back new". I came back travel-weary and with a case of jet-lag due to the numerous time-changes on our journey and on my flight back home. But it's winter and I'm in hibernation mode anyway, and I haven't slept like this in too long, so I can't complain

too much. My clothes still fit by the time I returned too. This is an odd 'complaint' to have, but -- why didn't I gain weight? In fact, once I was back home after this 17 night cruise, I found that I'd lost a bit of weight. Okay, I look better thinner and am hoping to lose a few more pounds, but I recall many years ago taking a 7 nighter on Royal Caribbean and working out a lot daily, and younger with a faster metabolism, that I couldn't help but rapidly put on 8lb that time because the food on that liner was gourmet, several courses, and blew me away. Not saying that the food on Princess was bad, just that I'd been spoilt for it long ago in comparison. One time on my Princess cruise, the Horizon buffet had some luscious raspberry mousse pastries that made my tastebuds sing to the heavens! I took seconds, but wish I'd demanded the recipe from the pastry chef, or at least hoarded several more of those delights and kept them in my cabin's fridge to eat daily for breakfast. I had an inner stateroom. The floor popped under me like a pounding bubble in some spots. I did complain to the maintenance supervisor and on a form in the suggestion box. Some sort of supporting construction pin may have been needed for that flimsy floor. I felt sorry for my downstairs neighbors. I'm under 90lbs and don't walk heavily, and it was only lil' ol' me in the cabin. Also, one day, there was this horrible loud violent disturbing knocking going on above my cabin several times per minute, all day long! I'd also complained about that one to the right outlets. My cabin steward tried blaming it on particularly choppy waters, but I didn't buy that. The carpet was stained even before my stay. I had reserved for a twin bed, but it was 2 twins pushed together, plus a twin bunk on each side (I had to watch my head not to bump into them). So although it was just myself, the cabin accommodated 4 people. Other than that, it wasn't as cramped and claustrophobic as I'd anticipated. A bonus to not having a porthole or balcony was that I USUALLY got to sleep and sleep and sleep with no light seeping in, save for the peephole on my door and the gap under it. The time just FLEW by each and every day. I loved that we had mailboxes and our cabin stewards delivered a copy of the captain's paper nightly, advising us of the following day's weather, nautical stuff and daily schedule of activities. It made for good bedtime reading and helped me plan the next day's activities. There were shows, movies, karaoke. I don't dance or drink or gamble, but there was plenty of that as well. There were various pools, but it was quite windy and not so warm during my voyage, so I didn't get to spend as much time there as I'd hoped. I tried to make it to the gym most days, but I found it on par with that of your average YMCA gym (except for the sea view!). Treadmills weren't monitored for maintenance issues by staff. I had to be told by fellow passengers if one was out of order. It's up to staff to put those sorta signs up on the equipment when needed. The women's locker room/showers/sauna/steamroom were also no more impressive than that of a YMCA. What really upset me the most was that on our last night of the voyage, I went up there to use those facilities, expecting to get to stay until 10pm, when they normally closed. As I approached, the staff welcomed me nicely, no sign on the women's locker room door notifying of anything unusual, and then suddenly, I guess around 8 or so, the steamroom was off and I couldn't open my locker. I told a staff member about it when she came in, and she told me that it was because they were closing early because it was the last night of the voyage. SOME ADVANCE NOTICE WOULD'VE BEEN NICE! Then, she used the master key to unlock my locker, and I told her how long I'd need to shower and dress, but before I could even dry off, 2 maids came in and kicked me out! They wouldn't even let me use the toilet there first; they felt if more important to take the evening off early, so I had to hold it until I got back down to my cabin. Ugh. Even worse, was the so-called 'library'. It was just pitiful! Maybe unless you play mahjongg...the kind with the actual Chinese tiles. If you read, definitely pack a book, or word game puzzle book! And I won't even put into words what I think of the extortionist internet usage fees, but then again, I was on there to unplug anyway. My biggest complaint though was that throughout the decks - especially at the Vista Lounge - there was just too much damned air conditioning! I was freezing, and often retreated early to bed just so I could thaw out! I wish I could've afforded Macchu Pichu, I suppose, and if I could handle the altitude and have better balance to handle it. I went on a few excursions. I complained to the excursion dept about one guide - it may have been at Lima- who seemed to be just "phoning it in". Lima was just too urban for me anyway, even if the guide had been more enthusiastic. On another one, in Costa Rica the guide encouraged us to use the restrooms after getting off the bus and before getting onto a particular numbered boat, but I guess I'm too slow or something because by the time I'd finished, the boat had long left without me and I felt lost and abandoned. I told another boatman, and fortunately, he sped me to the boat I was supposed to be on, and went on with it. Also, if going on your own at ports of call, be extra vigilant about getting scammed. I got scammed by a doctor in Cabo who didn't stamp my prescription as the pharmacy required. As if I knew the law about that in the first place? I guess he knew I didn't. A cabbie in Lima scammed me by not returning for me when I went back to meet him after getting the money for him to take me somewhere important. And I believe a postwoman in Nicaragua scammed me out of $1 by not sending off the postcard and its postage to its proper destination. I had the address right. The purser did not have stamps onboard as advertised and did not accept U.S. postage to send a postcard from the ship's location. Waiters and hosts were super! The perfect balance between acting charming and not fraternizing with passengers. I was very impressed and felt so welcomed at the dining rooms. I also was impressed with my cabin steward. He made a point to not only not wake us, and keep the cabin tidy and stocked, but he always greeted my by name as I went down the hall. Now, that's service. The pursers (or "customer service" or "passenger relations" or whatever they wanna call themselves these days) were always very helpful.

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Jun 26, 2013

Alaska-Inner passage

Our cruise started off with champgne and a greeting from our cabin steward. He went over everything we needed to know about our suite and the services he will be providing and other then that we had limited interaction with him. As for the food, the main dining room was good, the specialty restaurant we had dinner in one night was good, but the buffet was not that good. It did not have a good variety and a lot of the times there were empty bowls

of food with no backup in sight. The food seemed geared for the European traveler and not the American traveler. Since we were upgraded to a suite, we have no complaints about our stateroom. Plenty of things to do and something for everyone. Even though we booked a couple of excursions through the cruise line, we found that you can get a better price booking it online direct from the tour provider. We also found that you can bargain with the tour operators once you are in port, Overall we had a good time, but might look at another cruise line next time.

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