Number of Cruises: 3
Cruise Line: Princess
Ship: Dawn Princess
Sailing Date: May 13, 2006
My girlfriend and I sailed on the Dawn Princess, round-trip from Seattle on an Alaskan cruise on May 13, 2006.
We have cruised on other ships before and decided to give Princess a try for our Alaskan cruise.
Here is a list of our issues:
The ship was in shabby shape. The carpets were dated and dirty. Our room wasn't as clean as it should have been. The bathroom was dirty. The bed linens were worn out and ripped in spots. The towels were obviously heavily used and not of good quality. The room reminded us of an old Holiday Inn or a Days Inn. Even the plastic mat on the balcony was badly stained. It was not what we expected from Princess, which is supposed to be a good quality cruise line. The Carnival ships we traveled in the past were actually much nicer, cleaner and more elegant (even though Princess is supposed to be a step-up from Carnival).
The beds were very uncomfortable. We're talking two cots pushed together with a thin mattress on top. You can actually sink into the middle section and feel the frame of the beds. Even the pillows were really thin. Don't expect to get a good nights sleep on these beds.
The balconies are small and closed in. The view is obstructed by the metal which surrounds the balcony. I'm not sure why it was designed this way, but it hinders the view. Most other ships have wide open balconies.
There was no buffet at night. Not even the normal midnight buffet you get on other cruise lines. The travel agents and Princess reps will tell you there is a midnight buffet, but don't believe them because there isn't.
The highlight of the trip was a bust -- our ship turned around at the beginning of the Tracy Arm. The cruise director said that the ice in the water was too dangerous. But this didn't make sense because there weren't any large icebergs in the water and the Holland America ship that followed us the whole route (and which stopped in the same ports) made it all the way in and got close to the glaciers without a problem. We know this because we talked to people on their ship in Victoria the next day. This was very disappointing because this is a national park and offers the most beautiful scenery of the entire cruise. This is the part of the cruise that is always advertised on TV commercials. "Get close to the glaciers," etc. My gut feeling is that we were running behind schedule and they shaved a few hours by turning around quickly. The ship never got within viewing distance of any glaciers. We felt cheated and no one who worked on the ship seemed to care.
There is nothing to do at night on this ship. The nightclub is a cramped, dark, well-worn Holiday Inn type disco. We walked in, laughed that it was for real on what is supposed to be a nice ship, then walked back out as did most people. It's sad that Princess would position themselves as romantic and classy, then have such a small and depressing nightclub on their ship. There were a few other bars on the ship, like the jazz club, but they were equally weird. For example, they had a Japanese band singing American oldies. It was like bad karaoke. The shows and comedian were pretty bad as well, but we still watched them because there was nothing else to do. The casino was pretty bad as well. It was very small and dated. We actually spent a lot of time at the tiny casino bar because all of the other hangouts were dead. I don't think any of the other bars were even open past midnight. There was never even a bon voyage party from any of the ports. This is normal for ships to have a small celebration when leaving port, and Princess didn't do it once.
The last problem we had was leaving. We were supposed to be among the first off the ship to catch an early afternoon flight. Princess made a computer mistake so everyone in our boarding group got off last. This was after we bought a Princess transfer to the airport in advance. We ended up just scrapping the transfer and getting a cab to the airport. I highly recommend anyone cruising to keep their luggage in the room and walk out with it the next morning, rather than trusting it to the ship's personnel. Especially with Princess. There were a bunch of unhappy people waiting more than an hour for their luggage and Princess could have cared less.
I complained to their corporate office after we returned, but they brushed us off with a letter. Apparently our complaints were common to them and customer service isn't important to them.
On a positive note, Alaska is beautiful and the scenery and wildlife was amazing. I would highly recommend anyone take a cruise to Alaska, but I would highly discourage anyone from going on a Princess ship (especially the Dawn Princess) - to Alaska or anywhere else.