Number of Cruises: 9
Cruise Line: Princess
Ship: Pacific Princess (New)
Sailing Date: August 22nd, 2006
Itinerary: The Orient
Embarkation in Bangkok was very easy and well organized. Although embarkation time was listed as 1:00, they started boarding at noon. We were there at 11:30, so were among the first to board. Princess had a great welcome aboard buffet ready and serving as soon as we boarded. We were in a balcony cabin (6074) on deck 6, (a lower-end balcony cabin price wise) and at first thought it was very tiny, but there ended up being plenty of closet and drawer space, although counter space was limited. I brought extra hangers with me and needed every one, the biggest problem with the closet was that the lighting is arranged so that very little light shines in the closet, making the closet a dark cave. Next time I'd bring a flashlight.
The best thing about the cruise was the itinerary, which we absolutely loved. We try never to take ship shore excursions, and didn't do one this time, because we detest the motor coach, cattle herd atmosphere. Using the internet, I arranged for private tours in the majority of the ports, having a private car and guide meet us at each port - this all worked perfectly and resulted, I think, in our being able to see a lot more than on a ship excursion. Often, we saw the same things we would have had to go on two excursions to see. The one we had planned on taking was the Angkor Wat excursion. Princess was a little misleading in that they advertised the port in Cambodia with (Angkor Wat) in parenthesis, which is the main reason we booked, but after booking found out their overland excursion to Angkor Wat was sold out, so we had to scramble to try to put together our own overland excursion, which we were able to do, although we were a little nervous about it. However, the Cambodian people were very friendly, we always felt safe, and we were able to arrange everything on our own, and actually were mirroring Princess' excursion except we had private vehicles and guides.
The biggest disappointment with the Pacific Princess was the bedding. It was awful. Worst I've ever had at sea. You could feel the bed springs through the mattresses. I don't usually complain about things but this was so bad I requested a new bed, and they put a foam topper on it, which did help but only raised them from a grade of F to a grade of D+. The linens, too, were terrible. Sheets were so pilled up, it felt bumpy like sand in the sheets. Maybe if we had booked a more expensive cabin the linens would have been better. I do know that I will not book Pacific Princess again unless I know they have upgraded their bedding. My last cruise was on Oceania (also an old Renaissance ship) and their beds were the best, so I guess I was spoiled.
I'm not sure the new tipping policy of adding tips to your cruise tab instead of tipping everyone at the end of your cruise works as well. Seems like it has removed the motivation for doing good from some of the staff. Our cabin steward was below par. She never could understand that I needed a new laundry bag when she picked up the old one to go to the laundry. Nor did she ever seem to get that I wanted the mini-bar stocked with colas and water. I had to ask every day. The food in the dining room was not great when we started the cruise, but seemed to improve as we went along. The food in the alternative restaurants was wonderful, though, and well worth the extra money. Sabatini's was great, with so much food you were overwhelmed. Lecturers on board were really good, gave great informational talks about our ports - don't miss them. Entertainment was okay, not great. Cruise director, J.J. was really good - had a great singing voice.
Princess did not do a very good job of organizing things when it was necessary for passengers to pick up their passports prior to arriving at ports. Very confusing and congested - always try to either go immediately or at the very last minute.
India is a must-see if you are an avid traveler. It was like being on another planet. The people, though, were very friendly, smiled a lot, and loved having their pictures taken. We enjoyed each of our ports, always felt safe, even though we were not with a Princess crowd, and would not hesitate to return on our own.
I would be happy to answer any questions or give more information about this cruise.
Overall, we are pleased with Princess and would cruise with them again, although I will sure check into the bedding situation next time.