Back To Line

Princess Cruises: Ocean Princess

Fodorite Reviews

Average Rating
  • New

Jan 9, 2011

Singapore

Unable to board in Singapore along w/ 21 other passengers due to chinese visa problems. Offered very little help by staff and treated rudely. Finally boarded in Manilla after incurring several more thousands of dollars and then it gets worse. My boyfriend (attorney) destroys the room after consuming too much alcohol and assaults me. The ship doctor comes to cabin , views my injuries. The next day, we had a meeting w/ the Hotel general Manager who

is an arroganat Italian who asks me to convince him why HE SHOULD ALLOW ME TO STAY ON THE SHIP! My partner is an attorney and very good at appearing as a victim even though he had no injuries, but my entire body was swollen and bruised, documented by ship's doctor. I was asked to disembark in Viet Nam w/out a credit card while my boyfriend remained on the ship. I was told by my boyfriend that the Hotel General Mgr on the Ocean Princess confided in him on his last day that he did not like me and was happy to see me go. I have contacted an attorney and plan oin taking this all the way. it's not about money at this point it's personal! The food was excellent. Dirty If you condider an ice carving demonstration exciting, you will love it! STAY AWAY - boring and expensive! The worst vacation of my life. I was treated rudely, unfairly and was treated as a villain instead of a victim. I will not stop or give up until I expose the Ocean princess Hotel general manager for what he did and who he is!!!!!

Read More
  • New

Sep 13, 2010

Northern Europe

The Ocean Princess is the smallest ship owned by Princess with only 674 passengers. I really enjoyed the pleasant atmosphere on board this ship. No crowds or long line-ups at any time. Very friendly crew, eager to please and solve any problems. Excellent food, especially in the specialty dining rooms where we ate all our dinners except for the very first night. We had a verandeh stateroom on a high deck. Quiet and comfortable. Beds were fine.

Not deluxe, but no surprises given that the ship was built over 10 years ago. I did not participate in any on-board activities as I was too tired after taking a shore excursion every day. It was a short 7 day cruise with only one day at sea, which suited me just fine. The relaxed atmosphere was evident with all the excursions which never had more than 25 people per group. I always try to get on the last coach, because it usually has the fewest number of passengers. Be sure to take the Anne Frank House tour in Amsterdam - the official tours bypass the long queues of tourists waiting to enter. We packed a lot of activity into this cruise with visits to Amsterdam, Hamburg, Lubeck, Schwerin, transit of the Kiel Canal, Copenhagen and Oslo. The highlight of the cruise was an impromptu concert by locals at the German seaside resort of Travemunde.. Hundreds of people crowded the dock to hear the music and wave goodbye to our ship.. I have never received such a warm send-off in a port before - my arms were so tired from waving at everyone on the shore!

Read More
  • New

Sep 13, 2010

Northern Europe

The Ocean Princess is the smallest ship owned by Princess with only 674 passengers. I really enjoyed the pleasant atmosphere on board this ship. No crowds or long line-ups at any time. Very friendly crew, eager to please and solve any problems. Excellent food, especially in the specialty dining rooms where we ate all our dinners except for the very first night. We had a verandeh stateroom on a high deck. Quiet and comfortable. Beds were fine.

Not deluxe, but no surprises given that the ship was built over 10 years ago. I did not participate in any on-board activities as I was too tired after taking a shore excursion every day. It was a short 7 day cruise with only one day at sea, which suited me just fine. The relaxed atmosphere was evident with all the excursions which never had more than 25 people per group. I always try to get on the last coach, because it usually has the fewest number of passengers. Be sure to take the Anne Frank House tour in Amsterdam - the official tours bypass the long queues of tourists waiting to enter. We packed a lot of activity into this cruise with visits to Amsterdam, Hamburg, Lubeck, Schwerin, transit of the Kiel Canal, Copenhagen and Oslo. The highlight of the cruise was an impromptu concert by locals at the German seaside resort of Travemunde.. Hundreds of people crowded the dock to hear the music and wave goodbye to our ship.. I have never received such a warm send-off in a port before - my arms were so tired from waving at everyone on the shore!

Read More
  • New

Sep 13, 2010

Northern Europe

The Ocean Princess is the smallest ship owned by Princess with only 674 passengers. I really enjoyed the pleasant atmosphere on board this ship. No crowds or long line-ups at any time. Very friendly crew, eager to please and solve any problems. Excellent food, especially in the specialty dining rooms where we ate all our dinners except for the very first night. We had a verandeh stateroom on a high deck. Quiet and comfortable. Beds were fine.

Not deluxe, but no suprises given that the ship was built over 10 years ago. I did not participate in any on-board activities as I was too tired after taking a shore excursion every day. It was a short 7 day cruise with only one day at sea, which suited me just fine. The relaxed atmosphere was evident with all the excursions which never had more than 25 people per group. I always try to get on the last coach, becuae it usually has the fewest number of passengers. Be sure to take the Anne Frank House tour in Amsterdam - the official tours bypass the long queues of tourists waiting to enter. We packed a lot of activity into this cruise with visits to Amsterdam, Hamburg, Lubeck, Schwerin, transit of the Kiel Canal, Copenhagen and Oslo. The highlight of the cruise was an impromptu concert by locals at the German seaside resort of Travemunde.. Hundreds of people crowded the dock to hear the music and wave goodbye to our ship.. I have never received such a warm send-off in a port before - my arms were so tired from waving at everyone on the shore!

Read More
  • New

Sep 13, 2010

Northern Europe

The Ocean Princess is the smallest ship owned by Princess with only 674 passengers. I really enjoyed the pleasant atmosphere on board this ship. No crowds or long line-ups at any time. Very friendly crew, eager to please and solve any problems. Excellent food, especially in the specialty dining rooms where we ate all our dinners except for the very first night. We had a verandeh stateroom on a high deck. Quiet and comfortable. Beds were fine.

Not deluxe, but no surprises given that the ship was built over 10 years ago. I did not participate in any on-board activities as I was too tired after taking a shore excursion every day. It was a short 7 day cruise with only one day at sea, which suited me just fine. The relaxed atmosphere was evident with all the excursions which never had more than 25 people per group. I always try to get on the last coach, because it usually has the fewest number of passengers. Be sure to take the Anne Frank House tour in Amsterdam - the official tours bypass the long queues of tourists waiting to enter. We packed a lot of activity into this cruise with visits to Amsterdam, Hamburg, Lubeck, Schwerin, transit of the Kiel Canal, Copenhagen and Oslo. The highlight of the cruise was an impromptu concert by locals at the German seaside resort of Travemunde.. Hundreds of people crowded the dock to hear the music and wave goodbye to our ship.. I have never received such a warm send-off in a port before - my arms were so tired from waving at everyone on the shore!

Read More
  • New

Jul 6, 2002

Alaska

After 2 pleasant Alaskan sailings on Holland America (see my Ryndam and Statendam reviews), we looked at what HAL had to offer this year, especially the New England to Canada cruise. I thought it was overpriced, and I looked for some other destinations. The problem is, Alaska is just too hard to beat, but we didn't really want to take the same cruise for the third time. I ran across a Princess sailing from Seward to Vancouver, that stopped at

Skagway instead of Sitka. I had heard good things about Skagway, and decided to book an inside cabin for the first time. We went aboard the Ocean Princess in Seward, a two year old ship that was much larger than the Statendam class vessels we have been on before. It is a very pretty ship, and our cabin was handsomely decorated, but SMALL! I believe it is approximately 50 square feet smaller than the HAL cabins we were used to. I think if we had had 2 more people standing in the cabin, it would have filled it up completely. Nevertheless, it was comfortable enough, except when we were getting dressed - it was like dressing in a phone booth. The air conditioner was weak, and worked well only when all the lights were out. I must admit I missed the window, but the price difference was just too much. One of the nice things about our HAL cruises was the friendliness of the predominantly Indonesian/Filipino crew, especially on the Ryndam. Unfortunately, we did not have a pleasant experience with most of the crew of the Ocean Princess. Most of the OP crew was from Britain, Romania, and South Africa. Most were standoffish at best, many simply rude. When we boarded the ship a British lady asked if we knew our way to the cabin. We responded that we thought so, and she responded with "Then you probably don't". More to come on this topic, unfortunately. On the first evening at 8pm we were asked to attend the usual lifeboat drill. HAL had made us don our vests, then assemble at the appropriate lifeboat (shown on our ID card). On the OP, we assembled in a bar, and sat through a seemingly endless audio presentation about security (which I had already watched on the cabin television). At the end of it, they showed us how to put on our vests (for those that couldn't or wouldn't read), then we were dismissed after being told to assemble in that room in case of emergency. We never found out which was our lifeboat. This is a more comfortable way of doing a lifeboat drill, but whether or not it is as effective is questionable. After the drill, we attended dinner at our usual table for 8. It was a nice enough table, and we liked the other 3 couples we were with. However, it was a LONG way from the small windows in the dining room. On HAL, the windows run most of the length of the dining room, and we always had a wonderful view. These windows were small and it was tough the see the beautiful scenery, which is why I go to Alaska! We met our waiter, Florian, and assistant waiter, Marian, and we were very pleased with both. The dining room supervisor also stopped by from time to time and he was very pleasant. I thought the food was good to very good. Salads and especially soups were better than HAL's. The soups on the OP were quite imaginative; many were cold dairy-based with fruit. They could have been served for dessert, or poured in a glass. One in particular tasted like a fruity milkshake. The entrees were a notch below HAL's, though the Beef Wellington was better. The "Ketchikan Salmon" was a disappointment, it seemed stale and overcooked. I expect better salmon in Alaska! The rest of the entrees were good, but couldn't compare to some of the better ones on HAL like potato-crusted salmon and filet of sole. Desserts were very good, and Florian usually left some gourmet cookies "that grandma baked" for us at the end of the meal. Breakfast was another matter. On HAL, we really liked the Lido dining room. On the OP, the equivalent was the Horizons dining room (located on the Lido deck). The first morning we went up we expected a similar experience to HAL, a well-organized line similar to what you would find in a quality cafeteria. Instead, we found chaos. The Horizon's dining room is divided into many kiosks that people go to in no particular order. Not since participating in the Amarillo city easter egg hunt as a child have I ever been involved in such a competitive outing. Hundreds of people bumping each other, reaching over each other, hitting each other with backpacks, just madness. We finally got our food, but couldn't find a table - so we sat at the bar. The bar tender made it clear he did not refill beverages, but he would sell us all the liquor we wanted. We passed on the booze. There were many waiters in the area, but they were not interested in working, only visiting with each other. On subsequent visits, we adopted a divide and conquer approach, then we split up the loot at the table. I mentioned the problems in the Lido to one of the pursers, and told him to reduce the tips, charged daily "for our convenience". He rudely responded that "we are aware of the problems in the Lido". I gave the money to Florian and Marian. We liked our cabin steward, Romeo. He was very pleasant and did nice work. However, we did hear him in the hall every morning filling up people's ice buckets. He used a cart, similar to those used in hotels. On the HAL ships, the cabin stewards are like phantoms. They know when you leave, sneak in, clean the room, then vanish, silently. Princess should learn this technique! The ship was very pretty, with dazzling atriums, nice public rooms, etc. However, for some reason, there was a lot of tinted plastic above the handrails on the top of the ship, which served only to restrict the view. This was especially annoying in Glacier Bay, which was a beautiful day. The theaters were nice, and I thought the entertainment was a notch above HAL's. I particularly liked Dan Bennett, juggler and comedian. The OP seemed much more crowded than the HAL ships; it carried about 75% more passengers than the HAL Statendam class ships, but was only about 40% larger (in terms of tonnage). There seemed to be a lot fewer activities aboard the OP than the HAL ships. I did enter a putting contest, where I waited for about 20 minutes to hit a ball once. There was also a good cooking demo, but we sat so far back, it was difficult to see much. They did have a virtual golf game, but it was $20 for half an hour, so I did not sign up. Most of the decks were made of some composite material, and some of it was covered with Astroturf. I preferred the decks on the HAL ships, which are entirely wood. Skagway was a good port. The weather forecast was for a sunny warm day, but it was windy, cloudy and cool. We took a shuttle for $1 each into town, because Princess docks their ships at the farthest dock. The nice side of that is that we were next to the wall with the names and insignias of all ships that have docked at Skagway. I noticed many that had not been to Alaska for a very long time, including those that are no longer sailing. Pacific Princess, Prinsendam, and Westerdam caught my eye. There were plenty of good shops in Skagway, and we spent most of the morning in them until returning to the ship for lunch. We then took the Whitepass railway, a narrow gauge train, up to the US/Canadian border. The scenery was very nice, and I enjoyed standing outside on the car's platform. On the way back, everyone changed sides and flipped the seats over so that everyone had the same view for the round-trip. We returned to the shops before sailing at 8pm. I wished that we had finished dinner sooner that night, because the scenery out of Skagway was beautiful. The Zaandam trailed us in front of the sunset, and the mountains were spectacular. In Juneau, we decided to do some gold panning. Though it was raining at the dock, it let up during out panning, which was conducted just outside of town in a local river. The tour seeded our pans with some dirt containing a little gold, so all we had to do was shake the pan in the proper way to find it. We decided to also pan some of the local dirt, and also found some gold, but much less than in the seeded pan. Since the water temperature was 36 degrees, we gave it up and returned to the dock area, where our old ship, Statendam was parked. It was good to see her, and I have been sorry to hear the troubles she has had recently. We had a great lunch at an outdoor grill with one table - a large portion of Salmon Teriyaki was only $4, and was delicious. I don't remember the name of the grill, but it is within 50 yards of the Red Dog Saloon. The rain was getting heavy, so we headed back to the ship, a long walk from the center of town. We sailed at an unusually early 4:30 for Ketchikan. As we were leaving the sun came out, and it was a pretty day. I had booked the Misty Fjords cruise/flight for Ketchikan, but the weather forecast, called in faithfully by my friend Dexter daily, didn't sound good so I canceled it. Naturally the weather in Ketchikan the next day was beautiful. We rented a car and went to a couple of beautiful parks in the Ketchikan area, and also visited the lake that we canoed in 2000. If the weather weren't so rainy there, I think I might consider living in Ketchikan, though the winters are probably pretty gloomy, and I doubt that the job market (outside of fishing) is very strong. The last day was at sea heading to Vancouver, and it was sunny but hazy. We decided to try the "alternative dining" steak house for $8 each, and it was very good. They advertised it as an outdoor steakhouse, but on this cruise, they carved up part of Horizons, and everyone had nice window seats on the port side of the ship. The quality was high and so was the service. Debarkation went very well. We were off the ship by 9 am and we were in the 10th out of 13 groups. I was badgered by a Canadian customs officer this year for a few minutes; in the past no one asked us anything. I had noticed increased security at the Seward cruise terminal as well. I have no problem with the increased security, but to ask me several times if I have any alcohol or tobacco is overkill. The Ocean Princess was in general a good experience. The crew should be friendlier, the Horizons restaurant should be remodeled, etc. However, the ship is to be transferred to Princess's sister line P&O and will be renamed later this year. I would consider sailing with Princess again, but really prefer Holland America.

Read More
  • New

Mar 20, 2002

Antigua, Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Maarten, St. Thomas, Princess Cays

Julie, Captain Stubing, Doc, Isaac, and Gopher would be very proud to see us enjoying Princess Cruises after their time on "The Love Boat". My cruise on the Ocean Princess was my first voyage on Princess Cruises. I was really excited about going because of my love for "The Love Boat" television show. I was even more excited when I started "making another run" to the Caribbean on my fourth cruise. I am proud to say that my voyage aboard

the Ocean Princess certainly exceeded my expectations! Of the cruise lines I have been on, (Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, and now Princess) I would have to say that the crew on the Ocean Princess was far more friendly than the crew of any other ship. I didn't know that crew members enjoyed their job so much! Entertainment: I enjoyed the entertainment a lot aboard this ship. There were a two show lounges you could attend at night if you do not enjoy certain entertainment types in the other lounge. There was the Princess Theater as well as the Vista Lounge. Sometimes, the Ocean Princess singers and dancers went to the Vista Lounge and then other days they were in the Princess Theater. The Broadway-type shows that I saw included "Words and Music", "Rhythms of the City", "The Century Sings", and "C'est Magnifique". I enjoyed these shows so much that I saw each of them twice. (no kidding) There were also guest performers on board as well. They were also excellent. The Ocean Princess dancers were wonderful, as well as the outstanding vocal styles of James Campbell and Liz Piazza-Davey. In the Princess Theater (usually daily), they show movies for your viewing pleasure. I went to see "Shrek" and "Hearts in Atlantis". It was perfect for that time of day when you want a break from the sun. Dining: I thought the dining on the Ocean Princess was great. The tiramisu really jumped out. It was the best I have tasted yet. There was no dish that really jumped out and made you really jump out and say "this is the best food in the entire world." To me, all cruise dining food tastes pretty much the same. Our two waiters, Viorica and Sittimath were excellent. They were very friendly and loved talking to my sister (12) and I (15) and making us feel at home. Sittimath (our assistant waiter) remembered what drinks that we liked from the bar during dinner. That was neat. As for the daylight hours, the buffet in the Horizon Court was good, but the buffet area was very crowded at certain parts of the day. Especially breakfast around 9:00. For lunch, they had the Riviera Grill, which was great too. If you want a break from formal meals, you can go up and enjoy burgers, hot dogs, veggie burgers, and fries. It's right by the pool area too, if you want to chill in the sun while eating. Personal Choice Dining: I did the formal dining arrangement, which I like. I like having a waiter for the week and making friends, but I heard people talking about the Personal Choice Dining. They said it was great because it was never crowded, you could go eat dinner at whatever time you like, and have pretty much whatever choice of food you want. There was a choice of either Fabio's Pizzeria, the Tuscan Dining Room (separate from regular dining room, the Sardinian Dining Room) as well as the Horizon Court. I don't know if the Riviera Grill was open for Personal Choice or not. The Ocean Princess is a beautiful ship. Everywhere you look, there is something sparkling. It's one of those things that makes you feel all "tingly" inside. I like that feeling. The Grand Plaza atrium was a great place to be at night. There are sitting areas to talk with friends and bars as well if you want something to drink. Plus, they give you either a little cup of either peanuts or "mixed delights" to have with your drink. It's nice right before dinner. The condition of the ship was great too. There are always people working to make the ship cleaner, even up on deck at the pool. They do a great job. The ship has been sailing for two years and it looked like it was on it's maiden voyage. Staff: As I said earlier, the staff was extremely friendly. Though we did not see our cabin steward very often, the other cabin stewards were just as friendly. There was one cabin steward down the hall from our cabin, Manny Sanchos, that we really enjoyed. He was extremely friendly, commenting on our dresses, asking how our day was. You could definitely tell he wasn't doing it for a good tip. We wrote up four people to be put in a box and chosen for employee of the month/year. You just can't help it sometimes! Cruise Entertainment Staff: The Ocean Princess entertainment staff was excellent. The cruise director, Trevor Bradford, was especially funny and was a great face to come back to every night before the shows. As usual, some staff members are more lively than others. Daily trivia games and line dance classes, as well as party nights up on the pool deck were only headed by the best. Ports of Call: Antigua: Antigua was a very pretty island to go on shore. My parents, sister, grandparents, and I took a taxi ride around the island to see the highlights and the countryside. Some places literally looked like they just decided to plant a mountain there. It was very beautiful though, excepting some of the construction on the main roads. We drove out to the other side of the island from where we docked to Nelson's Dockyard. Some people, including the lady at the ship's excursion desk, really recommended to go there. Truthfully, it isn't much. There are a couple little boats sitting in this lagoon-type thing, but it isn't exactly the "spot of the island." We had to pay $5 to go into the museum or go shopping, which we blew off because of the price. Even if you just wanted to go shopping inside the gate, you had to pay. Why spend money getting in to spend even more money? It was a very pretty island though. Barbados: I really enjoyed Barbados a lot. We took the Five-Star Catamaran trip up the coast to go snorkeling with sea turtles. They are very friendly and not the least bit dangerous. They swim below you, so there are none just floating around the surface to scare you if you turn around. On the catamaran, the crew was very nice. They didn't beg you for tips and they served you a great lunch. We got to try flying fish, which isn't fishy at all. It's better than chicken! Plus, they had a bar on the catamaran if you were thirsty. The lunch and the bar are all free of charge. The water in Barbados is very clear, but a little cold in March! St. Lucia: I was very proud of this island. In a way, it is like St. Maarten, as far as the look of the island far away. We took another catamaran ride, but this time we went to see the Pitons. It was very interesting, plus they stop so you can take pictures too. We then went to Marigot Bay, where films such as the original "Doctor Dolittle" (with the snail) was filmed. It was a nice stop. We got to get off the catamaran and swim and walk ashore too. St. Maarten: I have been to St. Maarten a couple of times and I enjoy it every time I go. We drove our own car over to Orient Bay for swimming and Parasailing. It's definitely worth the trip. (and money if you decide to go parasailing) The waves were a little rough, but it was so refreshing on that hot day. St. Thomas: My favorite island. We docked at a strange dock that I was not familiar with from previous cruises, but we did still have fun. We rented a car and drove on the mountain side. It was really fun, and pretty too when you see Magen's Bay from the road. We went to Magen's Bay on The Enchantment of the Seas (Royal Caribbean) and it was great. No shells, no big waves. Just rest and relaxation as usual. We drove over to the car ferry that took us over to St. John. That was a pretty island too. You drive through rainforest the entire time in St. John. That was really fun. There are plenty of places to shop and go to beaches too. Princess Cays: Princess Cays was the best private island I have been too. It is very developed and it is nice and big. It accommodates everyone. Plus, there is fresh fruit and everything, right there on the island. There are four buffet lines for lunch too, so it never gets too crowded. Te snorkeling in Princess Cays is great too. Even if your just standing on the dock, you can see straight down to the bottom of the reef. There are lots of different kinds of fish to see too. Bring something to feed them with when you go in for a dip. The water's pretty cold though. As you can see, the Ocean Princess is a great cruise to take. Have fun and cruise happy. The Love Boat crew will be very proud. Shelley Holtmann

Read More
  • New

Mar 20, 2002

Southern Caribbean

This was a brilliant cruise to go on. First of all, I was very excited about going on a cruise since it would be my first one and it was an awesome one at it too. It was also a 10 day cruise to the Eastern Caribbean. When we entered the port I had my mouth wide open when I first looked at it, I was amazed by how beautiful it was. My Mom, aunt, and I boarded the ship probably 30 min. after we had gotten to the port. It is nicely decorated

inside and there was the band playing Caribbean music in the atrium. We had an interior stateroom because we knew we wouldn't be spending all our time in the stateroom, and it was a perfect one too. It was just right and comfortable. The food was the most delicious food I have ever eaten in my life and the desserts were to die for. The teen centers weren't that great, but I met people and we would just do our own thing and not spend our time in the teen centers. All the crew were excellent and friendly. The ports we visited were very nice. I especially enjoyed St. Thomas the most and I loved going on the Catamaran Cruise to the Pitons in St. Lucia as a shore excursion. They also had their own private island...Princess Cays in the Bahamas where you could go on their hammocks, go snorkeling, paddle boating and much more. I would recommend this cruise to anyone, it was an extraordinary one.

Read More
  • New

Feb 18, 2002

10-Day Eastern Caribbean

Monday - Port Everglades Tuesday - At Sea Wednesday - At Sea Thursday – Antigua Friday – Barbados Saturday - St. Lucia Sunday - St. Maarten Monday - St. Thomas Tuesday - At Sea Wednesday - Princess Cays Thursday - Port Everglades Embarkation My husband and I flew into Ft Lauderdale, and we took a taxi to the port ($9.00, plus tip). We walked into the port building, and we approached the desk for the Aloha

cabins. There were 2 people waiting in line, for guests who had pre-registered. Although we had pre-registered, we went to the regular line, where no one was waiting. He looked at our documents and he handed us our Sign & Sail cards. That was fast. From exiting the taxi to entering our cabin, it took about 20 minutes. As far as embarkation and disembarkation, Princess rules. Cabin Our cabin was nice, we had plenty of lighting and I liked the colors in the cabin. There was a desk, with a mirror above it, a standard 110 outlet and a hair dryer. The desk has 6 drawers for storage. There was also a 6 drawer chest, near the bed(s). The closet had plenty of wooden hangers, and it also had several drawers. The TV, refrigerator and safe, were on a slim, vertical unit, right in front of the beds. This unit also had storage space. This cabin was small, but it was easy to get around. I could sit on the foot of the bed, curl my hair with a curling iron, use the safe, open the fridge, and rearrange the closet, all at the same time (but only when I used my feet, too). What a cabin. The bathroom was roomy, with areas for storage, and the shower was large. Unfortunately, the shower head did not move. How do people bathe small children in a shower like this? It also must be difficult for some handicapped and/or elderly people to rinse off all the soap. This was the first inside cabin for my husband, and he was worried that he would not like it. I keep telling Sammy that I look better in the dark! I think he agrees with me. He loved the cabin. Dining - Here are their dining options on the Ocean Princess. Sardinian Dining Room - Emerald Deck 6 Breakfast 7:30am - 9:30am (Open Sitting) Luncheon 12:00- 2:00pm (Open Sitting) Dinner 6:00pm, First Sitting 8:15pm, Second Sitting Tuscan Dining Room - Plaza Deck 5 Personal Choice Dinner, 5:30pm - 10:00pm Horizon Court - Lido Deck - Open 24 Hours Breakfast Pastries and Beverages 4:00am - 6:00am Breakfast 6:00am - 11:30am Luncheon 11:30am - 6:00pm Dinner 6:00 - 10:30pm Bistro 10:30pm - 4:00am Riviera Grill - Lido Deck 14 - 11:00am - 6:00pm Sterling Steak House - Lido Deck 14 7:00pm - 10:30pm (reservations only) Sundaes Ice Cream - Riviera Deck 12 8:30am - 6:00pm (you pay!) Afternoon Tea - Sardinian Dining Room Deck 6 3:30pm - 4:30pm Fabio's Pizzeria - Dolphin Deck 8 11:30am - 4:00pm and 7:00pm - 12:30am (you tip) We chose Personal Choice for dining. They ushered us to table number 87, and it was a table for 8. We liked our waiter and our assistant waiter. As soon as we finished one course, the next course arrived. Princess has done a great job with Personal Choice, at least on this ship, and on the Grand Princess. We never had to wait for our table, and the service was good. We only ate in the dining room 3 times, and we asked for table number 87. We had the same table and the same waiter, each night we ate in the dining room, but we dined with different people, on each night. It was a great way to meet new friends. If we wanted to be alone, we could have always asked for a table for 2. The soufflés were great, so was the chocolate mousse. Horizon Buffet This is where we ate breakfast and lunch, and most of our dinners. The only beverages Princess offers in the buffet, is tea, coffee and water. At breakfast, they made omelets and they fried eggs. They offered standard breakfast fare; french toast, pancakes, scrambled eggs, lox, fresh fruits, bagels, toast (white and wheat), English muffins, donuts and pastries. Fresh and sliced fruits were offered almost all day; mango, papaya, pineapple, watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, figs, prunes, pears, peaches, apples, bananas, oranges, plums, grapes, etc. The pastas in the buffet were good. They offered baked potatoes in the buffet, which made my husband very happy, he also enjoyed the asparagus. I had the sushi twice. One day, they offered fried shrimp, but they always had a fish, and they had scallops several times. They offered prime rib, roast beef, chicken, roast turkey, pork loin and lamb chops. Sammy did not like their cookies, which surprised me. If he can eat my cookies, he should be able to eat anybody's. Riviera Grill They cooked hamburgers, hot dogs, bratwurst, knockwurst, chicken, veggi-burgers and french fries. This is located outdoors, right outside of the Horizon buffet. Fabio's Pizzeria We arrived at 7:00pm, and we were seated right away, by a very nice waiter. There were only a few diners that night having pizza, the room was almost empty. Maybe they are busier at lunch. I ordered a Caesar salad and a pepperoni pizza, my husband ordered a Caesar salad and a calzone. The pizza tasted very good, and it was hot. I had heard a lot about their pizza, and I will probably try it again. IMO, Carnival's pizza is better, it has a nicer crust, more cheese and more toppings. Like I said, I will try it again. My husband thought the calzone was great. We were not sure how much to tip, so we left him $5.00. We never tried the Sterling Steak House. I had two steaks in the Tuscan dining room, they were cooked perfectly, and tender enough to cut with your fork. I could not imagine going to the steak house and finding anything better. Maybe I will try the steak house on another Princess ship. Entertainment They had a couple of production shows in the showroom lounges, which were nice, but the band never appeared. We saw 2 stand up comics, each were good. One of the comics was very funny, but he used "R" rated material, which wasn't mentioned in the Patter. They had a juggler, who was also very funny. A couple of singers also entertained us. Laundry They had a laundromat on our floor (Aloha, Deck 11). The washers are 50 cents, and I think the dryers were $1.00. Don't touch the sprinklers in the ceiling, that is all I will say about that. ;-/ The Passengers This was a 10-day cruise, and the cruisers were a little older, most people were over 60. It was a great group of people, a lot of fun, and very friendly. I will cruise with older folks any day. There was only 2 people on scooters, and maybe 4 people in wheelchairs. Most of the people were older than I am, but they were all in great shape, a few of them went kayaking. There were more children on board, than I expected on a 10-day cruise. These kids were well behaved, they never caused a problem, that I noticed. They were a joy to cruise with. This is a semester break for the children in England, so many of the children on the ship spoke with an accent. They sounded like Sunny. I noticed few tuxes on formal nights. While sitting In the Princess Theater, I looked around, and I only saw 4 tuxes in the middle part of the theater, and one of those was on my husband (someone asked me to notice, so I did... I generally don't care what people wear on formal nights). The other men wore suits, and they looked very nice. Maybe tuxes are not being worn as often. The Ports Antigua We walked into town, to use an internet cafe. We stopped at Cable & Wireless to use the internet, which was $10.00 for one hour of internet use. Barbados We took a guided tour, by taxi, the drivers name was Mervin. This tour was arranged through Port Promotions http://www.portpromotions.com/ The cost was $39.00 per person. This was a 5 hour tour, and we covered the whole island. We saw St. John's Parish Church, the Gun Hill Lion, and a cavern called Harrison's Cave. We also visited a couple of sugar cane plantations, one was the Francia Plantation and the other was the Sudbury Plantation House. Both of the plantation houses were around 400 years old. I once read a book called Plantation Slavery In Barbados, by Jerome Handler and Frederick Lange, so I found the plantations interesting. Our tour with Port Promotions was a great value, and it was a wonderful tour, but I may try Foster and Ince Cruise Services next time. I have an acquaintance there, named Sarah. http://www.caribsurf.com/fosterince/barb.htm After the tour, we walked back through the shopping area, to reach the ship. Sammy found a watch, an Omega Seamaster. He already has a Seamaster, but this one was different.(?) He was tickled with his new watch. At another store, I bought two candy bars. Each were made by Beacon, in Africa. One was "Niki", it tasted like an Almond Joy, without the almonds. The other was called "All-In-One". This candy bar was crunchy muesli, topped with caramel and covered in chocolate. They were both delicious. I wish I could review a cruise as well as I can a candy bar. St. Lucia We rode the water taxi ($1.00 pp) from the ship, into a shopping area, this is where we rented the car ($82.00). Driving on St. Lucia, what a nightmare. The next time I ride with Sammy, along steep cliffs, I will bring along a parachute. We drove on the left side of the road, up steep, narrow roads, to a volcano. I looked down, and I was about 4" from falling off a cliff. For a thousand times, I thought he was going over this cliff. I complained so much, he threatened to open my door and push me out of the car. This drive took one hour, but it seemed like a lifetime. My knuckles are still white. We drove by the mouth of a volcano, that was still bubbling and spewing steam. We also visited a beautiful flower garden. St. Maarten The ship took us to a new pier in St. Maarten, and car rentals are available there (Hertz, Alamo, etc). We chose a Suzuki Vitari at Safari Rentals , for $40.00 per day. Now, I want to trade in the Mercedes for a Suzuki! I enjoyed that a lot. We drove by Orient Beach (the water was really rough), then we went to a beach called Baie Rouge, over on the other side of the island. The water was nice and smooth. They rent chairs and umbrellas for $5.00 each. After the beach, we went towards the airport, where I found a Starbuck's. I used their internet cafe, it was $4.00 for an hour. On the way to the ship, we drove through the old shopping area. Sammy saw a vertical sign that said "ROLEX" in big block letters, on the front of a building... he came to a dead stop. After I pulled myself out of the floorboard of the car, we went shopping at the jewelry store. I can't believe it, but he bought himself a new Rolex watch, too. BTW, I have a Timex that keeps perfect time. I will save my money to buy a Suzuki. St. Thomas We had to go through immigration before we could leave the ship. We arrived at immigration 30 minutes early (they go by your last name), but that was no problem. No one was waiting in front of us. There were a couple of women in the front of the lounge, sitting at a table. They took our yellow sheets of paper, that had our names on them (these papers were left in our cabin). They marked through our names on a list, then we walked through to the next man, who glimpsed at our documents, and it was all done. It only took 30 seconds. We walked to K-Mart to buy a new curling iron, then I used the telephones at AT&T, right across the street from where the ship was docked. I did not go to the beach, I had too much sun on the day before. At Princess Cays, we found two lounge chairs in the shade, and I enjoyed reading a book. The weather was beautiful, and the food was good. Disembarkation We had yellow luggage tags. We waited in a lounge area, until our color was called, it was called at 8:15. We had another sheet of yellow paper, with our names on it, to hand in as we disembarked the ship. We went through customs, caught a cab, and made it to the airport by 8:30. Miscellaneous Stuff I like this ship, but this was the roughest ride I've ever experienced on a cruise ship. This lasted for the first 2 days and nights. In the showroom lounge, people were walking down the aisles to find a seat, and they had to hold on the seats beside of them, to keep from falling down. In bed at night, we rolled back and forth, due to the ship rocking. Finally, some action in this cabin! LOL One day, they announced pool games in the Princess Patter... I waited for 30 minutes, but the games never began. I went into the lounge, and I heard a motivational speaker named Ilene Savin. She was very good, in fact, I went to her next two talks. I also met her at the airport on my way home. She was on her way to spending 30+ days on the Caronia, doing her speeches there. What a way to earn a living, by cruising on different ships! I wish I could do public speaking, but I am not good at it. I can belch the alphabet, but nobody wants to hear that. LOL The Promenade deck was nice for walking around the ship. I walked outdoors, and I noticed that there was a teak deck, with real, wooden (teak?) chaise lounges. In the library, they have leather chairs, where you can put your feet up, relax and read. These chairs are so comfy. They also offer CD's, which plug into your chair. I read 4 books on this cruise, all of the books were provided by Marie... thanks, Marie. I used the Internet Cafe twice. This area was crowded, with only a few computers, and there was always a wait. Their charges are $7.50 for 15 minutes. The casino is located on Deck 8. Nothing is located on this deck, but passenger's cabins, the casino and Fabio's. Going to Fabio's, was the only way we saw the casino. For those who want to avoid smoke, you did not have to walk through a cloud of smoke, on this ship, to get to the showroom lounges each night. There was no English Pub Night, which I had heard about. There was not one on the Grand Princess, either. Maybe Princess has discontinued these, or they are just held on other ships. Summary I enjoyed the Ocean Princess. This ship is the right size for me, not too large and not too small. Our cabin was nice, the employees were friendly, the food was good, and I liked the entertainment. We also had perfect weather. Still... ten days may be too long for me to be at sea, at least for now. I missed my cat, who recently had surgery, I missed my job and I missed my coworkers. I will try to stick to 7 day cruises for a while longer. There are still lots of 7-day cruises, I would love to do, and many I would love to do again. Any questions, feel free to ask. Becca

Read More
  • New

Feb 8, 2002

Southern Caribbean Medley

This was our second cruise, but first with Princess. We cruised Royal Caribbean’s Enchantment of the Seas in 1999. We booked with an Internet agent almost a year in advance. Prices dropped on this cruise over $400 per person after the 9/11/02 terrorist attacks. We booked our own airfare through Orbitz.com, and Access America Insurance. Pre Cruise: We booked the pre cruise hotel with Princess. It was the Ft.

Lauderdale Airport Hilton. Nice hotel, but would rather spend the extra to stay on the beach next time. We had Princess transfers as well. An agent was waiting at the gate for us. We identified our luggage and a porter loaded them onto the bus. This didn’t seem to go too quickly for a cruise line that does this everyday. Luggage goes with you to your room in the hotel. You set it in the hall the next morning and porters take it downstairs. Embarkation: The bus picked us up before noon, and we were off to the port. We had express check-in, and walked right up to the counter and checked in within 4 minutes. Security is a little tight getting onboard. They searched us good, and we boarded. This was a real smooth process with no congestion. We were onboard by 1pm. Cabin: We had an inside cabin (C516) on Caribe deck 9, amidships. Very nice layout, plenty of storage and room for two. There was an unused fold down bunk for a third person in the cabin, refrigerator, safe, and TV. No clock. Shower was very functional, and not as small as I had expected. Beautiful and well maintained. Very clean. Always some painting going on. Decks are washed down each night. Freshwater pools and hot tubs open 24 hrs. Most impressive areas: Wheelhouse Bar, and the Atrium area. Favorite area: Outer decks of the Promenade. Keep in mind that the Starboard outer decks are nonsmoking. We used FRS radios to keep in contact with our party. They worked well. There were a few others using them as well, so we changed our channels a couple times. Ship movement was very noticeable. Even in mild seas, there was movement amidships. One night we had seas of 12-14 feet and it was hard to walk without running into one another. Bring your Bonine if you think you will get seasick, and there won’t be a problem. I find the rolling comforting myself. I love the movement of the sea. Staff: Very friendly people. Cabin steward called us by our first names whenever he saw us. Other staff always said hello when they passed you. Princess has some really nice and dedicated staff. I did meet a couple I would have liked to throw over the rail though. (Dallas at the Shore Excursion Desk, and the rude lady in the gift shop!) The Entertainment staff is the best. They do their job well. Dining: Traditional late seating. Here is one of our low points. Our waiter was very good, but too distracted by another table. He simply had too many people to please. This table of 10 was very demanding, and drank several bottles of wine each night. He had a tendency of spending much of his time trying to please them, and would forget about us. Our assistant waiter would be called away mid meal each night to help elsewhere, leaving our waiter alone to tend a table of 10, our table of 6 and a table of 4. Here is a tip. If, after the first night or two you are not pleased, switch to Personal Choice Dining. I wish we had. I had looked forward to dinner in the past, but was not thrilled at all with this. Food: Horizon Court Buffet is congested at peak times, food is plenty and good. Typical buffet. Two things that could be better: coffee and toast. The coffee is terrible, and the toast is like rubber. Most other things are quite good. Nice omelet / egg station for breakfast. Dining room food was very good. Each night is a different theme. Some menu items included prime rib, filet mignon, halibut, lobster, king crab legs, frog legs, pasta, duck, pheasant, turkey, tilapia, lamb, and scallops. There is usually something on the menu to suit your taste. We tried the Sterling Steakhouse one night. I found it to be quiet, but nothing special. The food was good, but nothing better than that in the dining room. You pick your own cut of meat, and have a bloomin’ onion. This was not a very busy place. Entertainment: Shows were good, movies were good, comedians were funny, and bands were good. Overall entertainment was good, not great. Entertainment Staff was great. They made everything from Bingo to pool games fun. Cruise director (Trevor Bradford) was very entertaining. Most evening entertainment seems to be geared toward older cruisers. We had a hard time finding a good party. (under 40) Royal Caribbean does a much better job at entertaining younger cruisers. Love the steel drum band on deck called Sugar Cane. Excursions: We took 3 with Princess. 1. Barbados 5 Star Catamaran with lunch. This was top notch, and a highlight of the cruise. Tiami Catamarans took us out to swim with sea turtles. Then we went to a beach on the Gold Coast for lunch and snorkeling over a reef. Open bar was good, and the crew was GREAT! Fun and friendly. This is a DON’T MISS trip. 2. St. Thomas Sailboat & Snorkel Adventure. This catamaran takes you to Buck Island for snorkeling. (not Buck Island near St.Croix) This is a fun half-day trip, but not the caliber of the Barbados 5 Star trip. Snorkeling was good, and the trip short but scenic sailing out of the harbor. Open bar after snorkeling. 3. Ft. Lauderdale by Land & Sea. This was a post cruise bus tour of the city, followed by a trip on a paddle wheel boat for a tour of the canals and Port Everglades. You will pass the houses of the rich and famous on this trip. On our Own: We took a taxi to the Curacao Seaquarium on our own. I did the Animal Encounter SCUBA dive there. It was fun feeding the sharks, turtles, rays, and fish there. They have a beautiful beach a short walk away. ($3 each) It’s tops optional for women. Beautiful aquariums, and great snorkeling. (for a fee) We took hired a taxi van for the day in Dominica ($30 each). It was a GREAT day! This was a fascinating tour of a beautiful rainforest island. It is another highlight of the trip. The lush vegetation, flowers, and fruit trees made this a spectacular trip. The driver was a great tour guide, and took us to a sulfur pond, Trafalgar Falls, Emerald Pool, and a black sand beach. (Note: some hiking up steep slopes and rocky loose terrain required) We made many stops at interesting places. Dominica is unspoiled, and not really set up for mass tourism. I love Dominica, and it was MY favorite port. People were the friendliest I have seen. Do not leave this island without trying the fresh fruit grown there. I never knew a banana could taste so different. There is a fruit stand where you can try all kinds of fresh fruits for free. (tips only) The man who runs it is entertaining and funny. Go see him. Highlights: Dominica (WOW!) Champagne waterfall and atrium party Sunsets Napping on Promenade deck (relaxing) Barbados 5 Star Catamaran (Tiami) (A DON’T MISS EXCURSION!) The ship (beautiful) Low lights: The coffee (seems to be a little better in the dining room…but not much) Disembarkation (you would think they could come up with a better plan) Dining room service (need more personal attention) Missing shows because of time (dinner takes forever…see above) AFTER THOUGHTS: I had a very good cruise on Ocean Princess. What drew me to booking her were the size, age, and itinerary. I was not disappointed. Sun Class ships have it all. I don’t know if I will ever be happy cruising anything larger. Having cruised both Royal Caribbean and Princess, I would have to say that Royal Caribbean is perhaps, a better fit for me. I still like to kick up my heels until the wee hours, but still like the royal treatment. Princess is a class act. I know now why older cruisers are drawn to them. I will surely cruise with them again, but will more than likely try Celebrity or RCI again. I am the sort of person that will not let ANYTHING come between me and a good time on a ship.

Read More
  • New

Jun 11, 2001

Alaska

Cruise Alaska Alaska, where the Odds are good and the Goods are odd. Based on a Princess Cruise Line Alaska Land Tour to Mt. McKinley and on the Ocean Princess. This was our first cruise and real vacation/honeymoon/20th wedding anniversary June 7-18, 2001 Top 10 "What We Liked the Best" Trip List 1 - Glacier Trekking - Mendenhall Glacier. Very expensive, strenuous, exhilarating, but worth every penny.

2 - Ocean Princess - Good grief, this ship is huge, beautiful, fascinating, big, roomy, spacious - did I say big? Having your hotel room follow you from interesting place to interesting place without having to pack, drive, fly or be hassled in any way is terrific. The first vacation we could totally relax on. 3 - Anchorage bicycling - A great inexpensive excursion. 4 - Cruise Dining - An experience not to be missed. With the wait staff, the formal nights and theme nights, especially Italian night, it was just an all round treat. 5 - Princess Personnel - Everywhere we went, from the day we arrived till the day we checked in on the plane, you could not walk 20 feet without tripping over a Princess representative that could answer your question. Is this the right way to the bus? Where does our excursion leave from? Where is the bathroom? How long till we leave? What should I pack? I don't know how they pay all of these people, but if they don't know the answer, they will go find it right away for you. All around great people who really seem to enjoy their jobs and have fun at it. 6 - Glacier Bay - An incredible experience that should not be missed. 7 - Cruise Activities - From line dancing (we won a contest) to exercise, to shows, to movies, to comics. You just can't do it all. We were never bored. 8 - Cabin Attendant - Getting pampered with a clean room twice a day, always around to take a picture, chocolates on the pillows at night. 9 - The balcony. For first timers to Alaska, worth it. For repeats on a budget??? We probably won't. 10 - Size of the stateroom - Plenty of room for us for all seven days. Everything fit in closets and under the bed. Top 10 "What We Liked the Least" Trip List 1 - Coffee - No coffee to be found in the lodge or the hotel before 0600. 2 - Smoking Policy - If it does not say non-smoking, you can smoke. This kept us out of the clubs at night and away from the casino and parts of the decks. 3 - Soft Drinks - Very expensive, not included with meals. 4 - Ship Buffet - The buffet breakfast and lunch at the Horizon Court was very disappointing. 5 - Hamburgers - Don't even try one. They are steamed then reheated on a grill to ensure that no bacteria could survive along with any flavor. 6 - Ice Cream - Costs extra (outside of dinner). No soft serve at the buffet. 7 - Talkeetna Fishing Excursion - Definitely overpriced for 4 hours of fishing. Hike around the lodge instead. 8 - Jetboat Safari Excursion - After a long train ride of lots of trees, jetboating to see more trees was kind of overkill. We wanted to get to our rooms, shower and do some hiking or other fun stuff. The jetboat wouldn't have been too bad except we had to wait 3 hours in Talkeetna to do it. Not much to do in Talkeetna - a three block town. 9 - Horseback Riding Excursion - Boring and painful, especially for experienced riders. Hike or bike instead. 10 - Flight Arrangements Home - Princess sent us up on Delta, but back on America Worst...West. Late flight, but at least they did not lose our luggage. Summary A great trip, but hopefully not the trip of a lifetime. Like a new movie, the buildup from everyone far exceeded the reality. Hopefully with the experience from the first trip, our second, third, fourth, etc., will get better and better and better. General Tips For Cruise/Land Tour - Extension cord with at least three outlets. Ship cabin only has a single-single outlet. - Cabin away from deck noise. People running overhead interferes with naptime. We were on Aloha deck, just below the main pool deck, so afternoons were relatively noisy. - Safari vests. You can never have enough pockets. - Hats and Sunglasses. Sun protection for head and eyes. Sunglasses are essential if you glacier tour at all. - Layered clothing. Everyone talks about it, but its essential. We had t-shirts, fleece jackets and rain/wind jacket shells. At times we needed every one of them and at times we had to strip down to t-shirts. - Double amount of film and tape for cameras. You may still end up buying more. Take disposable cameras for kids. Take waterproof cameras for water excursions. - First aid kit with extra band aids for foot problems. Moleskin is handy. Sunscreen for obvious reasons and sunburn cooler for when you forget to use sunscreen. Sea Bands and or Dramamine to prevent motion sickness. - Portable computer to load your digital images onto. The ship has services to load photos onto CD, but not on land tours. - Spend at least two nights in one place. You will want a full day to explore each place. - Tripod for camcorder. Even the steadiest hands are not good enough. - Make sure you scheduled your excursions so that you get back in time for dinner. - Get plenty of Formal and Simi-formal photos taken. You'll probably want at least one from each night. But it takes many to get that one. - Still camera with large telephoto. Ship wildlife shots will be very far away. 6x is not even enough. My 250X video camera was about right. - The land tour is cash or credit card for food and shopping while the ship uses the cruise card. Make sure you have plenty of cash since ATMs are few and far between outside Anchorage. - The Ocean Princess does have self serve laundry facilities, but these are pretty packed after day one. Their on board service is very reasonably priced - similar to a budget hotel in a medium sized city. - A journal to write in. If you want to remember names, places, times of day (since the sun shines most of the time) it is essential that you write it down. The weakest ink is better than the strongest memory. This will also help with your photos (Memory Book) later. June 07,2001 - Trip Up Delta connection through Salt Lake City to Anchorage. No problems, connections were fine. We carried on 2 pieces of luggage, one with a change of clothes in case another got lost. One had Judy's computer and all of our paperwork and tickets. I had the REI backpack - carry on (with detachable day pack) with all of our camera gear and a change of clothes. Checked 3 pieces of luggage. Garment bag with formal wear and two large suitcases with clothing for 11 days and all kinds of stuff, including a duffel bag to ship back shopping loot. PROCESS NOTES - Princess meets you at gate in Anchorage. Goes with you to collect luggage in baggage claim. Takes luggage to Coach (bus). Bus driver drives you around anchorage, very nice guy and gives you a little mini-tour. Princess meets you outside the Capt. Cook hotel and gives you room key. Hotel personal take luggage to room. No need to check in at hotel unless you want to charge stuff to room. June 07, 2001 - First Night - Exploring Anchorage Captain Cook hotel is nice, quiet, but NO COFFEE. (Coffee availability will be our main gripe for the whole land tour.) An afternoon of shopping in Anchorage was great. Lots of bargains. The Polar Bear Store was our favorite. (10 postcards for $0.88.) Clothes, hats, moose droppings, spoons, cards, you name it. Guess what everyone is getting for Christmas. Everyone was going to get a postcard on this trip. TIP - Bring your own stamps and address labels to whom you are sending the cards to. Makes mailing a breeze. TIP - Pack an empty bag, like a duffel for shipping home shopping stuff. All Christmas shopping done in one fell swoop. (So he thought). Dinner at Simons and Seafort. Very expensive. >$80 for two (plus tip of course), but the best King Crab legs we have every eaten. Great view of Cook Inlet. Good service. Restaurant food in Alaska is very expensive and portions are not large. June 08, 2001 - First Day in Anchorage Country Kitchen. No coffee in room, what a bummer. Headed for Country Kitchen, which is 5-6 blocks away. A nice little Diner open 24 hours. Great coffee, very good service. The best pancakes in Alaska. We tried Reindeer sausage. It was very good, but we still don't know what Reindeer tastes like (it was cut with a lot of pork). Blue Bird Sky Day! Stopped by Grizzly Bear Gifts on way back from breakfast. Started Christmas list. Still had a lot of shopping to do. Tony Knowles Coastal Trail. Rented bikes next to Blondie's. Only $15 each for 3 hours. Best $30 we ever spent. Had the bikes for four hours and was not charged any more. We rode the trail from second street to the end. Blue Sky Day! Perfect weather. Trail around airport was gorgeous. Planes landing and talking off right over trail and one moose near the end. A 23-26 mile round trip (not sure exactly), but it was great! The distance depended on who you asked. We got two definite answers, 23 and 26 miles. I think it depended on where you started. The I-MAX Theatre Alaska - Spirit of the Wild. Good show. TIP - There is a separate ticket office in back of the performing arts center next to the I-MAX, not the performing arts ticket office where the movie is advertised. Alaskan Mint Lots of coins for Christmas presents including a Cruise 2001 coin for us. Glacier Brewhouse Fantastic Food, Great Prices (for Alaska). Good service. A nice break from all that shopping and biking. The Alaskan Amber beer is great. Moose Ala Mode Small ice cream bar next to Captain Cook Hotel. With all the daylight available, an ice cream late at night is a special treat. June 09, 2001 - Train Trip to Mt. McKinley PROCESS NOTE - Separate your luggage into three piles at the hotel - carry-with, direct to ship, to McKinley. We carried on Judy's briefcase and my REI backpack with cameras and another change of clothes and water. Sent one bag to Mt. McKinley and 3 bags to the ship (garment bag, suitcase and souvenir bag). Left the four bags in the hotel room and went down to catch the bus. You are assigned seats in the train, so no need to hurry. There is plenty of room under the train seat for moderate carry-on. If you are going on to Denali the next day, then you need to pack a change of clothes in your carryon since your luggage will only catch up to you at Denali. The train trip was OK. The breakfast was very good. Has some more Reindeer sausage (none of which belonged to Santa - Santa really uses Moose). Trees were everywhere. After a while it was same old thing, trees, trees, trees. Booked Mt. McKinley excursions on train. Our Hiking and Kayaking excursions were canceled so we had to choose another. PROCESS NOTE - You can book your Mt. McKinley excursions, if you are staying for a full day, on the train. The helicopter tours to the Mtn fill rapidly. The Jet Boat trip was ho-hum, but part of our tour package. After a long train ride, the jet boat was really unwelcome. At a later time or day it might have been fun, but not between trips. We were ready for a nice nap. Boated on three rivers, then walked a short stroll to a trappers cache and cabin. Had life in the back country explained. Talkeetna is an interesting town to walk around in. No fast food restaurants, just diners and sandwich shops, but the town thrives on tourism and the people are very friendly. PROCESS NOTE - Your luggage should be waiting in your room at the lodge if you are staying two nights. If you are leaving for Denali, then only your carry-on will be with you. June 09, 2001 - Mt. McKinley PROCESS NOTE - If you charge anything to your room, you will have to check out the morning you leave. The lodge is very nice and well laid out, neat and clean rooms. The room was larger than our cabin on the ship, more than adequate with a sofa and king size bed. The trails around the lodge are short and easy but with great views. Coming from Colorado, it was OK. People from the city would probably appreciate it much more. Cub Café An inexpensive alternative to the dining room. Small buffet breakfast, limited dinner menu, but reasonable food with a salad bar. Dining Room Reasonable prices compared to Anchorage. (no gouging). Good service and great view. Atmosphere is semi-formal. Have to try it at least one night. June 10, 2001 – Talkeetna PROCESS NOTE - Bussed (coach) from lodge to Talkeetna for excursions - about an hour. There is an airport there and all fishing or rafting excursions take off from there. Interesting place. Talkeetna is said to be basis of 'Northern Exposure'. We didn't see anything that weird. Fishing Excursion Disappointing to say the least. A quick jet boat trip to a small creek is where we did some trout fishing and Sockeye Salmon snagging. Judy and I caught one salmon each. Judy caught the first Salmon (Silver), I caught the largest (Sockeye). With only four hours of fishing, it's not really worth it. Waders and rain gear are provided. The float trip back in a rubber raft was the best part of this excursion, although our guide was a very nice guy. Tipped him $20 for helping Charlie bring in the BIG ONE! June 11, 2001 - Bus Trip From Mt. McKinley To Seward Dreaded the bus trip, but it was very nice. Scenery to Anchorage was the same as the train trip, trees, trees and more trees. Used this trip to sleep. The Native Heritage Center outside anchorage is a great stop. Not long enough though. The next time we go to Anchorage, we're spending at least half a day there. It takes more than two hours to go through the five villages. We had a special treat when a tribe elder showed up to help explain some of the more complicated rituals. Could have listened to his stories for hours. Scenery is much better on bus trip to Seward. We saw tall peaks, Moose, Eagles and Mountain Sheep. Our bus driver also got special permission to stop at a wild life preserve where we saw some of the native wild life and bought a snack. Ocean Princess GOOD GRIEF THIS SHIP IS HUGE. My videotape recorded me saying this at least a dozen times as we explored the ship. We could have got off the ship and explored Seward, but we wanted to see the ship first since this was our first cruise. PROCESS NOTE -In processing was a breeze. Walked off the bus, got cruise card, went through security, had boarding picture taken and on to the ship. You do need picture ID. We carried and used our passports, but a driver's license would have sufficed. My rented Tuxedo was waiting and fit just fine. Our direct to ship luggage was waiting and our Mt. McKinley bag showed up about an hour later. TIP - Try on rented clothes ASAP in case an exchange needs to be made. Storage space was surprisingly large. It took us about an hour, but everything fit in the closets and drawers and all the empty bags fit under the bed. The balcony was very nice. Large enough for a table and two chairs. Worth it for our first trip, but we may forgo it on later trips to save a little money. Conventional Dining We chose conventional dining and late seating based on our TA's recommendation. We are very glad we did. Having never been in this kind of a dining situation, we were sort of taken aback by the wait staff. Our waiter, Francesco, assistant waiter, Antonio and our head waiter, Gino, were all Italian and very up front. Almost "pushy" to us who are used to waiters simply taking your order, delivering your food and taking your money. These guys wanted you to have a good time, wanted to ensure you enjoyed all of your food and wanted to get you into the cruise dining experience. They were not there to simply feed you, they were artists and took great pride in their work. By the end of the cruise, we had thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and were hooked on this new level of service and dining experience. Late seating was a great call by our TA. It allowed us time to get back after excursions, clean up, get ready for formal night, take pictures, take a nap, take a shower and work up a good appetite for dinner. We ate in the Sardinian dining room. The Tuscan was for alternative dining. Same menu, but no set seating. You showed up at any time and made your request to the head waiter. You could wait for a window seat, a table for two a certain wait staff position or you could be immediately seated in first available. Very very flexible, but I noticed a line to get in almost all the time. You could also eat at the buffet in the horizon court, but we only made it there for breakfast and lunch. Dinner portions are small, but this was a good thing. When we normally eat out and the portions are typical American, we can't even think about desert. On the ship, the portions are small, but you can order as many as you like and the great thing is that you can enjoy all the courses including desert. We were never hungry enough for seconds, but we always enjoyed deserts. June 12, 2001 College Fjord Raining, misty and cold. Here's where the layers of clothing pay off. You can watch from your balcony or from the deck. A naturalist, Michael Modzelewski, provided PA system commentary as we entered. We arrived about 0600 and departed around 0900 so to see everything you must get up early. The glaciers are majestic and we saw otters and eagles. I actually used the gym on the first morning. Drug Judy up to join me. Not many people were there early in the morning. All of the machines are the state of the art, but they do need a roman chair or two. Buffet breakfast in the Horizon Court was pretty disappointing. The food is adequate, but the service is down right lousy. You have to ask for refills or water or juice, or go get it yourself as you walk by 2 or 3 servers on the way. We only had the buffet twice, and spent the rest of the time in the formal dining room for breakfast. Much better food and service. First Formal Night Both of us were apprehensive about our first formal night. That's why I rented a tux. Actually two, one white, one black. Judy wore a long blue formal and I wore the white. We were neither overdressed or underdressed. Most men were wearing tuxes in the traditional dining. (We actually saw one guy in shorts and t-shirts in the alternative dining room.) The wait staff is in tuxes also and the atmosphere is one of elegance. It's an experience everyone should go through. We thoroughly enjoyed it. TIP - Photographers are waiting in 3-4 different locations and backdrops. There is no charge for you to sit, but the 8x10's will be around $20 if you want one. They do a good job, but remember to smile. Its hard after the 10th picture to force another smile, but try. June 13, 2001 - Glacier Bay Park rangers gave us a running commentary all the way in. It was overcast, old and misty, so we spent the trip in on our balcony. Went all the way in to the Marjorie and Grand Pacific Glaciers and parked with our balcony pointed to the glacier to watch for calving. After about 20 minutes the captain spun the ship around for the other side the see. We went up on deck for the trip to the Russel Glacier and out of Glacier Bay. We got several good calvings on video. Seals were pupping up further on one arm of Glacier Bay, but several had drifted down with their mothers on bergy bits. We got many good pictures of seal pups and their mothers. The most impressive time is at the Marjorie. The engines stop and everything gets real quiet. Then you hear the white thunder of the glacier as it expands and moves. When a calving occurs, you hear the AAHHH of the crowd. BTW - there were supposedly 2000+ people on this ship, but we never were crowded until disembarkation day. I don't know where they all went. June 14, 2001 – Skagway Skagway dawned clear and sunny. Sunshine washing down on snow capped peaks. The view from the balcony was breathtaking. Fresh air and sunshine first thing in the morning. Can't get any better than that. The pierside rocks at Skagway are painted with the flags and names of ships and captains. The story is that the tradition started back in the goldrush days when ships would get their orders from containers at the base of the rock painted with their name. No one could tell us, but apparently ships and captains would have their names and flags painted for each season they docked, but the Ocean Princess wasn't on the rocks at all. Skagway was our first shore excursion port. We had bicycling and horseback riding lined up. The Dyea bicycle adventure was an easy, short 2 hour tour of the old town site of Dyea, now just a field of trees. The town was the start of the Chilkoot trail - the golden staircase, but was abandoned after the railway was completed. Dyea is also interesting because the valley floor, a glacial valley, is rebounding from the weight of glacier being removed. It has risen 75" since 1900. The most interesting part of the trip was driving back to Skagway. We saw about 8 eagles combat fishing in a tidal pool. They were lined up, shoulder to shoulder, on the edge of the creek channel apparently waiting for a fish to swim by. Very cool site. TIP - The bicycle shop, Sockeye Cycle Co, in downtown Skagway, rents bikes by the hour. Next trip, we will simply walk downtown, rent bikes and do our own trip out to Dyea. The coupon book we got when we boarded the ship had several Skagway shop coupons for free or reduced price items. We went and got them all between excursions. The afternoon excursions was the horseback ride. It was a mistake. First of all it covered the same ground as the Dyea bike excursion, so nothing new there. Secondly, the horse I rode was about 4 feet wide and I was in pain for most of the ride. The horse was stiff legged and the saddle did not fit properly. I have ridden horses before, most notably my dad's horses in Oregon, for 8-10 hours over mountain trails with minor stiffness, but this was very painful. We could have skipped this one and biked. Italian Night At Dinner This was the best meal and evening on the whole cruise. It was a casual night, but Francesco, Gino and Antonio were in fine spirits. Gino was cooking pasta for us. By this time I simply turned to Francesco and told him to bring what he recommended, along with a recommended bottle of wine. I guess we had our first "wine experience". (We are not wine drinkers at home.) The wine and the food complemented and enhanced each other in a way that is hard to describe. Each bite of food, followed by a sip of wine was a taste treat delight. And Gino's pasta...AHHHH...that was fantastico. June 15, 2001 – Juneau The day dawned rainy, cloudy, stormy. This was to be the site of our big heli-hiking adventure, but the rain made it seem like it would not happen. But it did. After a short bus ride to the airport north of the dock , the rain slacked to a drizzle. By the time we took off, it was down to a fine mist. They outfitted us with boots, pants, gators and a pull over outer wear. Strip to a t-shirt. Don't wear a fleece jacket or vest under the outer wear. I almost did and would have sweated to death. They also give you a belly bag with water and a Luna bar. The flight in is a tour of the Mendenhall glacier. A helicopter tour is incredible, but if you get motion sick, you will on this one. Judy did. She was in the front seat with the video camera and made the mistake of trying to look through the camera. This is a true glacier hike. Expensive, dangerous, strenuous, exciting and beautiful. This is not a woosy walk, 15 minutes walking around on the flats. This is a strap on the crampons, grab the ice axe and belay your way to the top of a tall serac to see a crystal blue pond of glacier water or a house sized boulder perched on a ridge of blue striated glacier ice. We stomped, climbed, belayed, slipped, fell, jumped, leaped and waded up, around, back and forth, over and under the mid-moraine of Mendenhall glacier for four hours. During that time, the clouds parted and the sun came out, it was hot. Judy and I were the only ones on the extended tour. Christa, our guide, took very good care of Judy, who is essentially afraid of falling off a curb, much less a 50 foot serac (ice ridge). We were having so much fun we lost track of time and had to leap a crevasse to get to a decent, not very flat, helicopter landing place. It took him 3-4 tries to set it down just right so it wouldn't slide off or tilt too much. The trip out was in blue sky and you could see the Ocean Princess in the distance. We got back to the ship around 3pm, an hour before she sailed. Semi-Formal Night: French Night This night was our only real disappointing dinner. Partly because Judy was totally exhausted, partly because the French food was so-so. We had to have the escargot, just to try it. Tastes like the garlic butter sauce it is cooked in. The sauce is great to dip your bread in. The highlight was the Cherries Jubilee, which Gino was cooking. Actually, we wanted to see if there was any left over pasta. There were photographers available on the semi-formal nights. We had black and white photos taken which turned out to be very good. June 16, 2001 – Ketchikan Ketchikan was our Tatoosh island kayaking adventure. They provide a splash suit, life jackets and the kayaks. A bus ride to the docks north of town, then a high speed zodiak ride to a little island. A couple of minutes of instruction and your off paddling around. We might just get us some of these kayaks. It was fun. Saw a bear, sea lions and harbor seals. The weather was misty and wet, but not bad. You get about 2 hours of paddling around the islands. There is no set agenda. The water was about 50F, so it wasn't too cold. TIP - Do not take expensive camera gear. It will get salt water on it even if you don't drop it in the water. Take water proof disposables. Second Formal Night Our second formal night was a lot of fun. We were really getting into this cruising thing, the whole dining experience and were thoroughly relaxed and at ease. It was like eating with old friends. June 17, 2001 - At Sea The inside passage was incredibly beautiful. Blue sky, clear water, snow capped peaks. It even got warm enough on deck for an ice sculpture demo and even a few bikinis. A thoroughly relaxing and enjoyable day. Porpoises played in our wake and Michael Modzelewski narrated the passage. We spent a large portion of the day up on deck in the warm sunshine. We got a tour of the Tuscan kitchen area with our waiter and assistant waiter. A lot of stainless steel. Spotless and very impressively organized. That afternoon we spent packing. All bags would be picked up by 900PM so we had to sort out all of our stuff and leave enough for changing that night. We would be carrying on two bags and checking four bags. The four bags were left in the passageway on our way to dinner and after dinner they were gone. Even though we had the automatic tip added to our bill, we tipped the wait staff with cash in addition. We had a lot of fun at dinner. June 18, 2001 – Vancouver Debarkation was straightforward and direct. First of all, you were assigned a color code and number based on your plane schedule or Vancouver departure schedule. We had plenty of time to have breakfast, wander the deck, take final photos and say goodbye to people we'd met on the trip. Our color and number was called and we tromped through customs to a waiting bus ride to the airport. At the airport we claimed our luggage and trucked it to the airline counter. After checking in, and finding out our America West flight was delayed, we proceeded to pay our airport fee and have lunch in the concourse. The plan delay put us in later than normal, but we arrived home safely with all of our luggage.

Read More
  • New

Sep 26, 2000

Panama Canal (West to East)

We just returned from a 12 day cruise through the Panama Canal on the Ocean Princess. Having sailed on Princess twice in the past (out of the 46 total cruises I have taken) I am reminded of what I like about the Princess Cruise Line. Everything was wonderful and I have to say without reservation, that in my opinion, it ranks among the best in the mass market cruise lines.  We stayed at the Acapulco Princess for a couple of days

before embarking on the cruise. Rather than booking through Princess Cruise Line (who charges US$129.00 per person per night), we booked on our own at US$99.00 per night per room. We also took a taxi on our own at the cost of US$20.00 per cab (compared to US$19.00 per person transfers) There was little, if any, language problem. The Acapulco Princess was lovely. The views were spectacular and the variety of recreation and choice of restaurants were excellent. For those who enjoy golf - the golf course was in good condition and offered both a challenge as well as beauty. The staff was friendly and helpful. A taxi to the port (at US$16.00 per cab) was comfortable and reasonably priced. The vistas en route to the port were breathtaking and our cabby stopped to allow us to photograph the ship from above. As for downtown Acapulco...it has changed in recent years. Having been there in the past, it has grown in size and seemingly in crime. There were machine-gun armed security posted on nearly every intersection and it was extremely congested with typical "tourist" shops and restaurants. That was the only disappointment of the trip. Once we boarded the Ocean Princess, we embarked on one of the best cruises that I have ever taken!!! Embarkation Embarkation was a breeze. There were over 20 ground agents to assist with check-in. We arrived at 3 p.m. to check-in. A porter took our bags from the cab directly inside to the check-in counter. We walked straight up to an empty desk and within 3 minutes we were on our way. Because we had sent most of our information in via the internet (captain's circle), we merely signed the back of our sail and sign cards (which doubles as your room key), presented our completed embarkation forms, and our same porter followed us with our bags to the ship. The porter handed our bags to another ship attendant, and we watched our bags be loaded onto the ship as we walked up the gangway. (By the time we arrived straight away to our Deck 10 stateroom, our bags were delivered to our cabin!)   First Impression The Ocean Princess itself is beautiful. It is a wonderful combination of light wood and pastel colors. Of course, because of its newness, everything is spotless. We found that the crew works tirelessly to maintain this spotlessness with daily exterior window washings and constant maintenance. Having been on numerous ships, including HAL and Celebrity, where you could barely see outside the public room windows because of the saltwater and dirt...trust me when I say that these windows were spotless! The grand atrium is a lovely three level area (Decks 5, 6 and 7) where you can sit and people watch while enjoying live piano music throughout the entire day. The 5th and 7th levels of the atrium offer cozy lounges and areas to sit, while the 6th level offers my favorite area...SHOPS!   Most Memorable If there was one thing that stood out the most about the ship, it was the friendly staff. From the Captain (who was always walking about chatting with passengers) to the maintenance staff, EVERY single employee would greet passengers with a smile and a big "hello, have a nice day!" We encountered a minor problem with being overcharged for a drink at one of the lounges and presented it to the Purser's desk. By the time we returned to our cabin, we had a voice message waiting to tell us that we were credited the difference! We also had a question for the tour desk about a golf course in Barbados (the ship did not offer golf there), and once again, by the time we returned to our cabin there was a voice message telling us that they had checked the internet and had some information for us. The tour desk personnel had printed out information on 5 different golf courses with details as to the courses and the costs. They also provided the information to reserve a tee time. We felt that they certainly went above what we expected to answer our question! Speaking of going beyond their duty, within only a couple of days on the ship, the cruise staff had learned our names and would stop and address us by name when they saw us about the ship. If they knew what we were going to be doing in any particular port, they were uncanny in their recall as to ask us specifics about our day! This was most impressive since there were over 1500 passengers on board (the cruise was undersold) and yet the staff made the passengers feel as if their experience was far more intimate. Ports The ports included Acapulco, Costa Rica, (through the Panama Canal - no stop), Cartegna, Aruba, Barbados, Dominica, St. Thomas, San Juan. We rarely take shore excursions through the cruise line, however this time we did take every single one through Princess. The prices charged were only a minimal amount of money extra over the actual cost and we wanted to see how the line's excursions fared. They were excellent! River rafting in Costa Rica is a must! A 4x4 Land Rover excursion in Barbados was spectacular! Golf in Aruba and golf also in St. Thomas was great! Mountain biking in Dominica was a thrill! The port lecturer, Chris Walker, was a nice blend of knowledge and wit...without "cutsey". He was informative as we went through the locks in the Canal. If you chose to watch from your private balcony, you could merely switch onto the ship's TV channel and listen to his lecture. I would highly recommend that everyone who enjoys cruising should take a cruise through the Panama Canal. It is a "must see" for sure! Cabins We had a Category BB, Deck 10, mid ship Balcony stateroom. It is always nice to see your name on your door...it makes it feel like it is your "home". The mail slots are also a nice touch instead of hearing paper being slid under your door. At first glance the cabin appeared to have little storage...however, we had packed for two full weeks and were able to comfortably stow all of our clothes (including Evan's two tuxedos and two suit jackets, and my 3 formal gowns and countless other "necessary" items of clothing) with room to spare. There was even room for my dozen plus pairs of shoes!!!! Our two golf bags and empty luggage fit nicely under the beds which were high enough to accommodate them. That has never been possible on any other ship! Speaking of beds, they were quite comfortable and pushed together to form comfortable king size bed without too much notice of the crack where they join. The bathroom was small, however, you don't want to spend too much time in there anyway! The two vanity areas in the main cabin were helpful for getting dressed for dinner as was the hairdryer out at the vanity desk. Voice messaging is a nice plus for the telephone. The television channel selections were more than adequate and having the choices of music piped through the TV is always better than the attempts at a stereo in the cabin...inevitably the speakers never seem to work. The light switches have a tiny illumination on them which make them easy to find in the dark and were a pleasant extra. The refrigerator is a "true" refrigerator, and not just a stocked mini-bar where you could not put your own items! A negative - we golfed with a couple who had one of the owners' suites in the stern, and they said that although spacious, they did feel the noise and the vibration from the thrusters when the ship was coming into/going out of port. It does seem odd that the best cabins are placed there. Entertainment What a pleasant surprise!!! The production shows were fantastic! The quality of the shows -costumes, choreography, music, sound, vocals, were all extraordinary! It was a true surprise to me that Princess had such quality entertainment! The comedians catered to the older generation - one was okay, the other adequate. Recent top rated movies were playing every afternoon and most nights in the Princess theatre. (sans popcorn - about the only negative I found with the ship!) Many small lounges with live music of differing genres were available for dancing every evening. Probably the most popular night time spot was the Atrium Lounge with music trivia every evening at 10:15. You could not get a seat in the lounge where "the older crowd" would arrive over 30 minutes prior to get their seats to play the live music game each and every night. The champagne waterfall is always a crowd-pleaser and this cruise was no exception with complimentary champagne and plenty of dancing into the wee hours of the morning! Karaoke was offered four nights. The casino is your typical casino - I try to avoid it! Dining Another pleasant surprise! Breakfast and lunch selections in the Horizon Court were plentiful! Eggs made to order and wonderful oriental soups for breakfast were my mainstay. Fresh fruits, cereals, cheeses and meats....you get the picture! Lunch offered over a half dozen different hot entrees in addition to the pasta, fruit and salad selections. A carving station and soup station also topped off the fare. Every single day was different! And it did not appear that you were getting last night's dinner transformed into today's lunch! The entrees were innovative and different. I especially enjoyed fresh sushi offered on three of the days at sea! Fruit kabobs were another favorite. The Rivier Grill offered hot dogs, brat worst, hamburgers, veggie burgers and chicken out at the pool. And not to be forgotten is Fabio's Pizzaria where the gourmet pizza was excellent! The Horizon Court offered dinner selections as well. Actually, it was open 24 hours throughout the day for some type of food! The two Dining rooms are identical in appearance. Our waiter and assistant waiter were great. Again, as with all of the staff, they addressed you by name and had your beverages waiting for you and your favorite foods ready to recommend. Evan enjoys a simple salad of iceberg lettuce. It was never on the menu but ready for him each evening! Wine can be pre-ordered in any of the ship's dining areas throughout the day so that your wine selection was waiting for you at the table when you arrived for dinner. I recently read some   comments about Celebrity Cruises and their belief that the food had gone down in quality. I agree with that statement and having sailed on the Century this summer, the dining experience on the Ocean Princess relative to service and quality of food preparation, presentation, and selection was superior to that offered on the Century. The appetizers, soups and pastas were especially wonderful! My dining mates enjoyed the many desert offerings! Our waiter gave our table a private galley tour – a nice difference over the usual en mass tours with hundreds of passengers . Other Extras The ship has laundry facilities on each deck. A golf simulator, basketball court, shuffleboard table tennis, etc. offered plenty to do. The pools were never too crowded with plenty of deck space and chaises available. Numerous whirlpools were available. The fitness center and spacious aerobics room were great! I did not use the spa or beauty salon, however, I heard from others it was more than adequate. A business center was available for internet access; however, it had only four terminals and could probably be larger! The library was wonderful with a nice selection of current books and also with many listening chairs available for audio books or current music CDs. The card and game room seemed popular with bridge lecturers on board to help organize games. Although I did not attend, the Art Auctions were well attended and enjoyed by many who bought! Wine tasting (which I did attend – surprise, surprise) was informative in addition to fun! The talent show was a popular event as was the Captain's Circle reception – 1022 passengers of 1500 were repeat passengers! That certainly says something for Princess!  I never saw children (there were only a few) and can not say with personal knowledge how the children's programs are. Disembarkation Disembarkation was every bit as stress free as embarkation. Two days prior, we received a packet of information to assist us with any questions. It gave people plenty of time to seek answers. Although the port in San Juan is nothing but a large warehouse, the bags were easily marked by color and passengers were able to move through quickly. Although we did not purchase our air through Princess, we checked in with the airline on board and once we claimed our luggage, simply walked through customs and then placed our bags with an airline attendant who tagged them and placed them on a truck to be taken straight away to the airplane. We were checked straight through to Tampa and had boarding passes before leaving the ship! A cab, which is metered, cost US$16.00 to the airport. Sorry for the length of this review. There were so many extraordinary things that I wanted to share. Overall, this was a wonderful cruise. I will definitely go out of my way to recommend Princess to friends, family and future customers. Jaclyn Fletcher

Read More
  • New

Nov 30, -0001

Southern Adventurer

Ocean Princess (Princess) Southern Adventurer, April 1-8, 2000 My husband Randy and myself, 37 & 34, are first time cruisers. I am an online junkie so I did a bunch of research and booked 11 months in advance. I chose Princess because I wanted a slightly higher-end cruise experience and it just sounded good. I was interested in a more exotic cruise to celebrate 10 years of marriage so we decided on a southern Caribbean cruise out of San Juan,

Puerto Rico. Then I sat back and impatiently waited while following the cruise message boards daily. I found 2 other couples through the Meet On Board message boards that would be on the same cruise. I never got to meet Pam and Michael, but Doug and Debra and I had email conversations for a couple of months and we were able to spend part of an afternoon with them. I will try to be brief, but I have so much information to share that I might go long. We chose the pre cruise stay in San Juan and booked into the Wyndham Old San Juan hotel through Princess. It was the cheapest choice so I thought that it would be a lowend hotel, it wasn’t. We were met at the airport by a girl with a Princess clipboard, she wasn’t quite sure what to do with us, since she was looking for the passengers for that night’s Princess ship departure, not hotel people. Her boss sent us to a truck to drop off our luggage and then took us to a shuttle, we were transported over to the hotel with Radisson pre cruise people. Our luggage arrived 30 minutes behind us and was automatically brought up to our room.  The hotel was great! The pool is outside on the 9th floor and looks out over the port. RCCL had a ship, as did Radisson and the next morning Carnival pulled in. Unfortunately, the Ocean Princess berths back towards town about 2 miles. That night, we walked out of the hotel and around the piers and then down the Old Town wall, it was beautiful in the dark. We found the people to be very nice, this was a spot for teenagers to neck and be warned that San Juan is the tight clothes capital of the Caribbean, booby shirts and brief skirts everywhere J . The next morning, we went out looking for breakfast, Randy wanted to venture into Old San Juan and find the Denny’s, I refused, so we stumbled onto the best little French pastry shop, it is behind the hotel diagonally. To get there, go past the little square (triangle) directly behind the hotel and then towards the bigger square that is on the way to Cristobal Fort on the hill. Boulangerie St. Honore is right on the corner between the two squares and is in a mustard colored building. Randy had an amazing asparagus omelet and I had ‘to die for’ croissants. We shopped, then stopped in the internet café at the shops by the hotel, ($3/15 minutes, to check in with our small daughters), then got back by noon to board the bus to the ship. We sat on the bus for a couple of minutes while we waited for all of the passengers to board and Randy decided that he wanted to get off and walk. I didn’t mind walking but didn’t want to have to lug my carry-on and he said that he would haul it. So we got off of the bus and told the driver that we were walking to the pier. He looked at us like we were crazy and then instructed us that when we got to the public housing to stay right and don’t cross the street. It isn’t that far to walk, but not at all scenic. We never felt threatened, it was industrial and we walked by the housing projects. Those poor people don’t have windows, they just have metal horizontal blind things. Anyway, we almost beat the people on the bus to the pier, but the walk was hot and the humidity was high, so our photos reflected our melting look. Embarkation was smooth and fast, no line for the check-in. The only time that we waited was for the photo and the crew said that they had never seen the photo line that long before. The ship was fabulous !! We were directed through the atrium to the elevators and were dropped off on Caribe deck, C310. We selected our outside deluxe cabin because it is the first outside cabin next door to the balconies, so that all of the length that is taken for the balcony is included into our room. The cabin was large, lots of space, and the bathroom was, as expected, small. We had friends from home also taking this cruise, Kim and Ron, and they had an inside cabin on the same deck, C621. Their room was surprisingly roomy for an inside cabin, they had the extra, unused, upper berth and a much bigger bathroom. We met our steward, Jose (with a hard ‘J’), an older man from Portugal, he gave us the first-timer look around our room. Throughout the cruise, we saw Jose at least twice a day, and he did a fabulous job with our cabin. We went up to the Horizon Court for lunch and were pleasantly surprised, the service was very attentive, the food was tasty and plentiful and the plates are massive. I have read some reviews that knock the lack of trays, but I never found it to be a problem. I discovered that I could hold wrapped silverware underneath my plate in one hand and then grab a drink with the other on the way to my table. Really, if you have to get another plate of food on that first run, you are planning on eating way too much. The attendants recognize children and persons unable to carry and help them immediately.  We explored the ship from top to bottom and didn’t use the elevator once. Definitely don’t miss at the back of the ship where the oasis bar, pool and 3 spas are, it’s a great place. I had posed a question to the rtc group about getting back off of the ship and buying some pop to put into my cabin refrigerator, but the several responses that I received said that there is nothing close to the ship from that pier. Here’s a funny story. On the deck above the pool, I stopped a wandering bar waiter, Daniel from New Zealand, and asked if he could recommend a place to buy pop. He looked stunned for a second and asked me to repeat my question, he still didn’t get it, so I rephrased and said "soda". He laughed and said that he thought that I was asking where I could buy pot. Well the answer to the POP question is that it would cost more to hire a cab to a convenience store than to just buy the $1.50/can sodas from the bar. I never found out where to get my pot, (you know that I am kidding), and Daniel and I had something to laugh over for the rest of the cruise. The crew is always cleaning and sprucing up, the ship is only 2 months old and they were already stripping and re-varnishing the handrails. Randy was back in the room one afternoon laying on the bed resting without clothes and he glanced up to see 2 guys washing the windows hanging off the side of the ship, so pull your drapes if you don’t want anyone to see in. We had late sitting in the Sardinian Dining Room, table for 8 with our friends and 2 other couples. The other couples had gobs of cruises under their belts, one was on their 27th cruise and the other on their 40th, so you would assume that they enjoyed cruising? They complained and gave our wait staff grief the whole time, they compared this cruise to previous cruises and always found this one lacking. Because the ship was completely booked, they didn’t get the massive upgrades that they were hoping for. Our waiter was Phillippe, from France, he was quiet, shy and very efficient. Leonardo from Mexico was our assistant server and he joined us in our joking. Both did a great job. I won’t go into the meals that we had, suffice it to say that we never had a complaint. When I got Tournedos of Beef, the kitchen had neglected to give me potatoes, and I didn’t notice until I had cut into my meat and tasted it. So they took it back for potatoes and I got a whole new plate with another well done piece of meat just as I had ordered. They did nothing halfway. Randy enjoyed being able to try new and different things, even the slimy stuff. He actually ate caviar, squid, escargot and frog legs, . Ron took the opportunity to order 2 extra lobster tails in addition to the regular portion of 2, then he had seconds… anyone out there ever polished off 8 lobster tails in one sitting? As has been said before, Princess does a fabulous job with pasta, try it. The desserts menu was huge, it had about 7 choices per night. If offered, definitely get the soufflé. We had chocolate/hazelnut one night and orange with vanilla sauce another, scrumptious. The entertainment was plentiful, all of the musical and dancing shows were good. The country music singer was great, and the comedian was great. Here’s a personal soapbox: please don’t bring your children to the late comedian show, that is why there is an earlier one. Someone brought their 10 year-old(ish) child to the 10:45 show and the comedian did a great job of censoring himself, but he shouldn’t have had to. We only went into the disco once, but the teens had already massed there and we didn’t enjoy the music. We spent very little time in the casino. The opening night act was a flamenco guitarist, Juan Carlos, if you have a chance see him, do it. And pub night was fun, hint- don’t volunteer. I danced my heart out on island night by the pool, they had a sail away party every evening and line dancing one night. There was never a dull moment, you will have to work very hard to find nothing to do. We found out late in the week that we should have been playing the afternoon games all along, Kim and I won Pictionary and got a Princess bag. Don’t miss the Newlywed/Not so newlywed game, they held it on our day at sea, the couple that was the funniest was the one married the longest. He refused to say anything negative about her and she called him a pig. Here’s some advice for someone sailing with a group, my friends Doug and Debra had a good idea, designate one place on the ship where people can meet at an approximate time. For them it was outside of the buffet sometime around mealtime. For us it turned out to be on the promenade deck towards the back of the ship when the ship cast off every evening. Ports Trinidad is new to the Princess itinerary, earlier cruisers this year weren’t too appreciative because they arrived during the festival. The island people were pushy, drunk and grabby, and the place was mobbed, so the word on the message boards was to stay on the ship. We didn’t have any problems, we fended off miles of taxi drivers trying to take us somewhere and still ended up with a cab. We negotiated for a rate to see just what we wanted, and not go to the beach. We saw the Trinity Cathedral, the Magnificent 7 (seven mansions along the fairgrounds, spaced widely apart and occupied by mostly diplomats), the botanic gardens, the lookout from the big hill and some shopping downtown. It took about 4 hours and cost $10/person. The taxi was little and falling apart and as we found for the whole week, the people drive like maniacs. Others on the ship went to Maracas Beach and enjoyed it, all of the beaches are on the north end of the island and at least a 45 minute drive. Barbados is beautiful, it is the only port that we booked for a shore excursion, (Princess sends the shore excursion docs out 2 months prior to the cruise, so that you can pre-book.) We did the New Waves Catamaran and Snorkel trip, the catamaran is right in the port where the ships are, so you jump on board immediately. The captain was friendly and funny, and the crew was very helpful. We motored out and around the ships to Carlisle Bay and dove on 2 wrecks. It was our first time so we were thrilled, experienced people would probably be disappointed. The wrecks are in 10-20 feet of water and one is older and has more growth and fish. Then the boat went up to shore and we could play on the beach or in the water. Rum punch was served in quantity for the rest of the morning. By far the best was when we motored out to the south side of the island and they put the boat under sail. We flew! We got back about noon, and ran to the ship to rinse the seawater out of our hair and then went back out to take a look at the town. As in all of the ports that we saw there is a great deal of shopping in the port building itself. Don’t pay more than $10 for the small rum cake, there is a shop that sells only rum cakes in the port building and is somewhat reasonable, yet another store just down the row wants $17.95. And if you don’t know what I am talking about you haven’t tried these yummy treats. Bridgetown isn’t very accessible from the port, it is a walk. We walked for a ways then turned back at the fish market when the scent got too strong. Antigua, (don’t pronounce the ‘u’, hard ‘g’), turned out to be one of our favorite stops. I had read in a guidebook that there is a hiking trail up to the tallest mountain on the island, Boggy Peak. It is only 1300 feet high but you are supposed to be able to see for hundreds of miles from the top. We hired a cab and had a hard time getting what we wanted, we wanted to be dropped at the trail head on the other side of the island, then picked up after the climb and taken to a beach then picked up for the last time and brought back. So we decided that we could probably walk from the bottom of the mountain to the beach, and only need to be dropped off and picked up. It takes 25 minutes to get to the trailhead, the countryside is hilly and green. You can see Boggy Peak the whole time, it is the one with the satellite/radio tower. There are cows all over that are chained down in the middle of fields. It had rained the night before so that the driver didn’t want to take us closer to the mountain on the muddy potholed road between the "highway" and the bottom of the mountain, so we walked. The climb up isn’t technically difficult, once you get to the mountain, the road is paved, but it does get very steep. It is amazing that they can drive a vehicle up this incline, a Suzuki 4x4 passed us and it was the only people that we saw on the climb. After I ran with sweat and my calves were screaming, I started thinking that this was a bad decision, but we pressed on. It took us 90 minutes to get to the top and the first 1/3 and last 200 yards were killers, otherwise it was pretty easy and the scenery was great when you could see above the trees. If you are active, it is a great outing, bring at least a quart of water for each person. When we got to the top there is the Antigua/Barbuda telephone and cable facility and there were the 2 guys that passed us on the way up. They congratulated us and said that they travel from island to island working on these stations, some have bigger mountains and no roads. The view was fabulous and we took tons of pictures, unfortunately the day was hazy so we couldn’t see all of the different islands, even Monserrat, which is close, wasn’t visible. The walk down was quick, but the steep parts are even more hazardous on the way down, watch your footing! When we got back out to the road, we still had a couple of miles to Turner’s beach, the taxi driver had suggested catching the local shuttle that runs the road all day, so we did. Evidently it isn’t very often that the tourists use this shuttle, they were surprised to see us and weren’t very talkative. We got to Turner’s beach and dove in the water, heaven! Our poor bodies needed the rest. They have a bar/grill with a patio and there is a block of condos(?) with cabanas. There wasn’t very many people and we were the only Princess people until one member of the cruise director’s staff showed up. I highly recommend this as a way to avoid the crowds. The driver picked us up as promised and delivered us to the ship, we showered and ran back to the shops to get some gifts and postcards. St. John’s is right up next to the port, I wish that I had bought more of those pretty shell necklaces, they were not available or double the price at later islands. And if you want to get your hair braided, you will not have to wait long to get solicited. Ron and Kim taxied to a beach near the ship and rented jet skis, they had a blast. I guess that Ron had a near death experience. He doesn’t care to be in the water over his head, but wanted to jet ski, and then he slowed enough that the thing overturned and dumped him, he sputtered and splashed as Kim laughed. HE COULD HAVE DIED!!!! Or so he thought. It became a continuing joke, thank goodness he lived long enough for his lobster dinner. Martinique was okay, ever since Barbados we were trying to avoid the cruise crowds and do our own thing. We walked along the water to the ferry stand, I had gotten instructions from someone on rtc to visit an out-of –the way beach across the bay from Fort de France, on Ponte du Bout. We boarded the ferry, and went across the bay, it is more of a resort place, with big hotels and quaint shops, the ferry docked at a really picturesque marina with private sailboats. You can use the beach at the Bakoua Beach Resort but my instructions told me to go past there through the shopping to Anse Mitan. The beach is long and rocky, not as scenic as we had seen on other islands, so we walked back to the Bakoua to see what their beach looked like. It is a nicer beach, manmade and smaller with a gazebo bar out in the water, but it was pretty crowded. So we went back to Anse Mitan, we arranged our stuff and paid way too much to use lounge chairs. Then we went swimming and thought ourselves lucky to have found this beach that no one else had. And just then a ferry pulled up and disembarked 150 Princess passengers, you could tell by their blue and white striped towels. The beach became towel to towel with ship people, so we finished our swim and went shopping. You have to have a pastry while on the island, we had one with meats in it, kind of like a calzone, it was great. The people spoke at least a little English were nice and you will probably get change from $US in francs. This was the only time that we saw any inclement weather, it rained a light misty rain for most of the afternoon. St. Thomas , no ship leaves the area without stopping there. The tablemates were waiting for this island to buy some jewelry, everyone knows that it is a shopping paradise. We got a cab to Red Hook and then took the short ferry to Cruz Bay, St. John. 2/3 of the island of St. John’s belongs to the US Park Service, so it isn’t very developed, there is also camping and hiking trails and many beaches. Most people know St. John for Trunk Bay, but there are quite a few others. We took a cab past Trunk Bay to Cinnamon Bay, the beach is much longer and less people use it. There is a general store, a restaurant and campsites, you can also rent snorkel equipment and other stuff at the beach shop. We loved it, you can see every ridge in the sand on the bottom of the bay floating 15 feet above. There are palm trees and the campsites are private because of the heavy foliage. We had about 100 yards of beach all to ourselves. We spent a couple of hours sunning and swimming and then explored the wooded area and took a shower. We wanted to catch the 1:15 long ferry all the way back to Charlotte Amalie on St. Thomas, so we taxied back to Cruz Bay. While waiting for the ferry, we had lunch at Margaritas, I highly recommend them for the Mexican food. Randy had grilled grouper and said that it was the best fish that he’d ever had and I ate wonderful taquitos. The ferry back to town took about 45 minutes and the large homes along the shore of St. Thomas are fun to see, we didn’t dock next to the ships but downtown, it is walkable but not worth it. Randy went immediately back to the ship in a cab, I stuck downtown to finish my souvenir and gift shopping. The prices on jewelry are a little bit better than back home, definitely shop around and know if you are receiving a bargain. Kim got a beautiful tanzanite pendant and Ron bought a crucifix, he was pretty pleased with his haggling skills. It didn’t take me long to finish and I taxied back also. This would be our last afternoon on the cruise, so we were already starting to get melancholy. As our tradition, we watched the ship leave the harbor from the promenade deck, the sunset was stunning but a little bit sad. Disembarkation was easy, we were 4th category off of the ship, a porter snagged us and our luggage and he knew what to do. We declined taking the provided transportation to the airport, we didn’t want to have to blow 3+ hours there. And since the walk to the ship from Old Town San Juan was so much fun, (not), we did it again. We cooled down back at the Wyndham and poked around Old Town. We specifically went back to the Boulangerie St. Honore to buy pastries for the airport, then caught a cab closer to our flight. It was great, and I don’t have any complaints! Princess was definitely the perfect choice, and we will go with them again. I think that next time we might have to bring the kids and will try Disney. Here is something profound that I thought of last night: If you bring your children, it ceases to be a vacation for the mom, it is just reality in a different and more difficult venue. Think about it, you have to worry if everyone is adequately covered in sunscreen and you have to be able to find an emergency soda machine/bathroom/snack bar when a little person needs a drink/potty/food. You cannot have late nights or you will have nasty little monsters the next day. I would recommend that your first cruise be without kids, and enjoy it! First timer observations: I have seen no discussion about how a woman shaves her legs in those tiny showers, my answer was to stand in front of the toilet and put my foot in the sink. You will need more sleep and less activities. If at all possible, try to take a nap everyday, otherwise you will be dead by the end of the week. Take extra towels to the beach, sand gets everywhere. If you want to shower and dry off, don’t use the towel that is full of sand, it is pointless. Also, take the little shampoo/conditioner containers from the ship to the beach to wash your hair. Do not get sunburned on your first sea day! Use good sense and adequate sunscreen. You guessed it, Ron fell asleep by the pool on our first day and he had at least 2nd degree burns on his ankles. He did great, but it was very painful. Also, it is posted in both the Princess brochure and at all of the bars that you must be 21 to be served alcohol. I don’t know why, but if you want your children to drink, maybe buy something and keep it in your cabin? (I saw a complaint about this in a recent review.) Plan on getting ripped off, remember that the taxi drivers/market people do this every day and you and I do not. I was stupid about the exchange rate with local money on Trinidad and the cab driver told me that I didn’t give him enough and so I gave him more. Just shrug and don’t let it ruin your holiday. Yvonne Stephens

Read More
  • New

Nov 30, -0001

Panama Canal

Originally we were not scheduled to take this cruise as we had done the exact same cruise last year on the Sun Princess. We had booked the 7 night Southern Caribbean itinerary for January of 2000 on the Sea Princess. About 8 weeks before we were scheduled to leave, our TA got a phone call and Princess had overbooked the Sea Princess cruise and if we could wait until April they would put us on the 11-night Panama Canal itinerary on a brand

new ship AND refund us $2000 and identical cabin type. Well, it was definitely a no-brainer for us. Following is a review of the Panama Canal cruise. This was the first time to have a cabin all the way at the back and we would do it again. It is definitely a different feel than being in the middle but it wasn’t a bothersome difference. You feel more vibration for sure. It was as wonderful as last year’s cruise, with a couple of negatives (not major) and a couple of pluses so it evened out overall. The average age on this cruise was about 65 and we loved it! I much prefer an older crowd – makes me feel young again! THE SHIP The Ocean Princess is identical to the Sun, Sea and Dawn. The ship was spotless as it was only two months old. There were a couple of MAJOR positives in this ship over the Sun Princess. a.The air conditioning in the cabin was FAR superior b.They have put an indoor/outdoor material on the balcony floor and it virtually eliminates any noise from the cabin above – no more dragging plastic chair noise. A minor change but makes a big difference. .c. New cardiovascular equipment in the gym. I don’t know if Princess upgraded equipment on all ships but the Ocean had the new elliptical machines and more treadmills. We worked out all but one day (sometimes twice a day) and never once had to wait for equipment. The treadmills do require sign-up. The ship is beautiful! ITINERARY I will just list the itinerary as most of the islands have been reviewed before. Embark in San Juan  St. Thomas  Martinique  Grenada  La Guaira (Caracas) – why they still stop here is beyond me  Curacao (favorite port)  At Sea  Panama Canal  At Sea  At Sea  At Sea – arrive in Acapulco/overnight on ship  Disembark Acapulco  Even the Acapulco Airport has improved. Those of you who have been there will know what I mean. It was actually totally air conditioned. CASINO The slots were as tight as any cruise we have taken – terrible. However, they had some new slot machine games that provided brief moments of excitement. Only a couple of times did $20 last more than 5-10 minutes. SHOWS Definitely weak this cruise. Most of the production shows got cancelled due to computer problems but this was not a big deal to us. The comedian Billy Vader was hilarious and really made up for the rest of the bad shows. The comedian/juggler (can’t remember his name) was TERRIBLE. FOOD The food was WONDERFUL! Much better this time but the service was a bit slow (no big deal). I am not a big dessert fan but Princess home made ice cream is to die for. I am not talking about the ice cream on the pool deck, I am talking about the ice cream on the dinner menu – YUM! MISCELLANEOUS At the captain’s club party they awarded champagne to the most traveled couple – 38 cruises and 400+ days at sea…..I aspire to reach that total someday. OVERALL SUMMARY It was a fabulous cruise and as usual, Princess outdid themselves in most areas.

Read More
  • New

Nov 30, -0001

Cruising the Southern Caribbean

Number in our group: 9 Two couples aged approx. 50 Five 20 year olds Number of cruises taken: One couple: 6 One couple: 2 One 20 year old: 6 One 20 year old: 2 Three 20 year old: 1st one Embarkation: This was smooth. We arrived at San Juan at 8:25 p.m. (if you can arrange it, try to arrive early in the day, otherwise you lose an entire day of your vacation) and were met by a Princess representative who directed us to a waiting area.

Our vouchers were collected and we boarded a bus that took us to the ship. We DID NOT have to claim our luggage. It was picked up and delivered to the ship shortly after we arrived. Luggage: Be sure that you put your tags on your bags securely and that all luggage tags attached to your bags are correctly identifying each bag. We had 9 in our group and one of the tags was put on the wrong piece of luggage. It was still one of our groups and wouldn’t have been a problem except that it went missing. When it was reported who lost the bag, the wrong name was given to the purser and he had some difficulty finding it. Jones lost a bag, but Brown was the name on the airport luggage tag. So there was some confusion. The bag finally caught up with us on the 2nd day into the cruise so it wasn’t too bad. Check-in: After arriving at the dock, we were escorted to the check-in area. This was very fast and efficiently done. We received our room cards that also acted as our I.D. and charge card while on board. Cabin: After the obligatory photo op before boarding, we found our way to our cabins. We had two cabins w/verandas and two inside cabins directly opposite the others. The cabins are not the most spacious but they are very well laid out and pleasantly decorated. There is plenty of storage room for two people and the closet has lots of wooden hangers. There is a safe provided for passenger’s use in every cabin. The veranda was a bit of a disappointment. It was smaller than those on other ships we have sailed and there was not as much viewing space. While other verandas have had Plexiglas as the bottom half of the veranda, this ship had steel. Still it was a pleasant place to sit and watch the water or have breakfast. I did notice that the room steward was a little chintzy when it came to towels and toiletries. If you need more than one set of towels for each person during the day, you need to ask for more. Food: We ate all evening meals in our restaurant: the Sardinian. This is a large room with what appeared to be low ceilings. I felt they could have done a better job designing this room to make it look more spacious. The food at dinner was good. There were very few items that I would term as excellent. Having taken several cruises on different lines I have some basis for comparison. I felt that the choices were limited and the quality, especially of the steaks, was not what I have expected. The members of our party who had never sailed before had no complaints except for what you might expect from 20 year olds; “sweetbreads are WHAT?” “Are you really going to eat those SNAILS?” “What’s that paste stuff that is on top of the beef Wellington?” etc. You get the picture. Breakfast and lunch for our group was in the Horizon Court on the Lido deck. There was plenty of food and it was good, but the variety of items was limited. They repeated some items daily or every other day and it did get a bit boring. One complaint I had was the desserts offered. They had cookies, Jell-O or fruit tarts, every day, every day. Once in a while if you were lucky, there were a few desserts left over from dinner the night before. The way that the Horizon Court serving area is set up is kind of …….stupid. They hand you a platter and silverware wrapped in a napkin. No trays are available. The food stations are all separate from each other. Fruit and cheese in one area, entrees in three places, drinks in another, bread someplace else, etc., so if it is even slightly busy, you wait in several lines just to get your plate filled. By the time you are done at each station, your food could be cold. My advice is to go get your cold items first and then the hot items, that way, you will only have to wait in the beverage line before you can eat. It makes it awkward to have to carry your plate and get a beverage too, so they usually have someone there to pour your coffee or put ice in your glass for tea. It seemed to be inefficient at best. While most of the food was good, it was also ordinary. Midnight buffets: There weren’t any. We were not aware that Princess eliminated this about 3 years ago. While we usually didn’t eat much at the buffets, having just finished a late dinner, it was always something to do and a spectacle to see. We were disappointed that this was not part of the day. Casino: Forget it. Those slot machines are so tight that you almost have to use a crowbar to get a coin to come out of them. I did not play any of the table games. Bingo: We did not play bingo. Our 20 year olds would have liked to play buy were told that since they were not 21 they were not allowed to play unless we bought them the cards and yelled “bingo” if they won. Pretty stupid I thought. Pools: There are two pools on the main deck with lots of deck chairs and tables nearby. We never had a problem finding a place to lounge in the sun. I did find one thing to be kind of strange though. On other cruises when a drink is ordered from the bar to be drunk on the deck, it is of course not served in glass. Usually the cruise line will use a plastic, disposable glass with their logo or name on it. Princess served their deck drinks in brown plastic, re-usable glasses, the type you would expect to find in a hospital cafeteria. This did not make the best presentation of the drink nor did you get a very big serving. Entertainment: My husband went to every show offered. Most of them were pretty good he said. The talent show was not anything to write home about. To our vast disappointment, there was only one event on deck in the evening. This was Caribbean night. I think everyone on the ship was there! It was a great deal of fun and I wish they offered something out on the deck each evening. It was certainly something else to do and you got to be outside. If you did not attend the shows after dinner you could go to the casino, go to the disco, sit in an inside bar, or go to bed. There was not much to do, which is why we missed the deck events so much that were offered on other cruises we have taken. Shore excursions: What a disappointment! We were allowed to sign up for excursions before we boarded the ship, which we thought was a great idea. We asked for 4 different ones, we were able to book one of them. We found out later that Princess lets past cruisers have first pick of excursions and the leftovers go to first timers. The folks at the excursion deck were not very helpful nor were they very nice about it. The excursion was full, too bad. Having cruised before we knew that we could get off the ship and find a cab to take us anywhere we wanted to go, so that is what we did. Itinerary: 1. Curacao: This is a pleasant island with lots of shopping. It is a short walk from the pier to the downtown. They have a bridge, which connects to the downtown shopping area. This is a moving bridge that is not in operation when a ship needs to get out. There is a ferry, (free) which will take you across in the event the bridge is unavailable. If you happen to get on the bridge when they sound the horn to start moving it, get off if you can. If you get stuck on the bridge, you will be there for 45 minutes. 2. Isla Margerita: A semi-desert island that is somewhat primitive. I did not go on the island having chosen to spend the day on the ship. The rest of our group took a taxi to a beach and had a most enjoyable day. They did mention that there were several checkpoints they had to stop at and there were guards at the checkpoints armed with Uzi’s. Also, on the beach there were many beggars and “in your face” vendors, so be prepared. 3. St. Vincent: A lush, very pretty island just beginning to get into the tourist thing. We took a cab to Young Island, which was recommended by the cruise director. Don’t go there. You will have to pay $2.00 per person to take a dinghy for a short ride to the island and back. Once there, you will be told that you cannot sit on any of the lounge chairs, nor may you rent them. You are not allowed to go past a certain point on the beach and the free ferry is for the use of the resort guests. We left after about an hour and had our taxi driver take us on a little trip around the island. There are banana plantations all over and the roads are tiny and full of curves. There are junked cars and trucks all over the place and the people seem to be very poor. This island has a lot to offer and will someday be a jewel once they get it cleaned up a bit. 4. St. Kitts: After tendering to shore, a short walk will take you downtown. This area is smelly, dirty and there is not much to see or do, or even shop at. Several of our group took a taxi to Turtle Bay which they found to be great. There are tons of monkeys there that you can feed peanuts to (for a price). The monkeys are very friendly and will come right up to you to get the peanuts. It was really fun. 5. St. Thomas: We docked at Havensight, where you will find about 50 stores all selling the same things. The evening before we docked, the shore excursion desk called us and asked if we were still interested in booking a private sailing boat. This was one of the excursions we tried to book originally and were told was full. Well, we said yes and it seems that they had called ahead to St. Thomas and arranged for several more private sailboats to take passengers for a ride. We had a marvelous time and would do this again. There were 6 of us that went and we had our own snorkeling guide and drinks, cheese and crackers and apples after snorkeling, and all for a total of $264.00 plus tip. A real bargain we felt. Complaints: 1. Several times during the week, someone in our group was presented with dirty silverware. Not a big deal, but surprising. 2. Princess seems to be quite; well I guess I have to use the word “anal” when it comes to a few things. Such as the bingo I mentioned before. They do say in their brochure that the drinking age is 21 as well as the age to gamble in the casino. All of our guys were just a few months short of being 21. It was a big deal to them to be able to get a beer or a drink at dinner. We did mention this to our travel agent and she assured us that as long as parents were there that it would not be a problem. Wrong. They had signs plastered all over the bar areas saying that they would not serve anyone under the age of 21 because they would be subject to a fine of $5000 and go to jail for 2 years. We did try to order for the guys and were lectured at by 20-year-old waiters, which we didn’t appreciate. I kept waiting for the black helicopters to descend on us and take us away to prison. After all, we were at sea in international waters, who was going to arrest anyone? It was interesting to note that after two days into the cruise, no one seemed to be too worried about serving a beer to our guys. 3. Desserts. Yes, I know I’m being petty. I love desserts and was expecting to be dazzled by the variety and presentation of fabulous desserts. It was not to be. This isn’t much of a complaint but I did want to mention it in case anyone else out there is a dessert nut. Disembarkation: This was a breeze. You put your tags on the bags the night before disembarking and put them out in the hall. In the morning, after breakfast, you wait for your color tags to be called. Go to the dock, pick out your bags (hint: put bright colored yarn pompons or ribbon on your bags, there are about a billion there and you can find yours easier this way. Also, pay a porter to carry your bags through customs and to the luggage truck. This is faster, less work and it seems to get you through customs without any hassle.) If you were lucky enough to be traveling with American or Delta, you were able to get your flight tickets checked in on board the ship, so all you had to do was take your bags to the luggage trucks and see that the luggage tags were put on them and then you were on your way. Otherwise, you had to stand in line and get your tickets checked on the dock. We did sign up for a resort get-away excursion that was offered in the middle of the week. Our flight did not leave until 4:30 so we paid for a bus to take us to a very nice hotel where we were given several rooms to use to shower and change in as well as a lunch buffet, use of the grounds and beach and transportation to the airport. This was a very good way to spend the last day in San Juan. Overall: The cruise was a great deal of fun and Princess does a good job in many ways. However, the next cruise we take will be on another cruise line.

Read More
  • New

Nov 30, -0001

Southern Caribbean Explorer

BEWARE OF PRINCESS CABIN SWAPPING!!!! We had reserved 2 highest level balcony rooms in Dec. All paid for & documented by a reputable agent. When we boarded last Sun. in San Juan we were informed that we had been downgraded 20 CATEGORIES to a window cabin in the bow! No explanation was given. We went to extraordinary measures to reach our travel agent who faxed proof of our cabins directly to the ship. The ships' staff told us numerous lies

and basically kept us waiting 5 hours in the lobby. They would not let us speak to Princess headquarters in LA. I was sick every night in the bow. We ran into 2 other couples on board who had the same thing happen. Princess blames the travel agents, even though we clearly had proof. Interesting thing, 2 days before the cruise, Princess said they were overbooked & asked if we'd be willing to give up our balcony room for an inside room & the cruise would be free. We said absolutely not. This was a horrific experience and legal action will be pursued.

Read More

Cruise Forums

Have a cruising question? Ask our Fodorite community.

Cruise News

Read our latest news about cruises.

Store

Shop our travel guides on European, Caribbean, and Alaskan cruises.

Back To Top