David and Diana Noer
Number of Cruises: 27
Cruise Line: Princess
Ship: Sapphire Princess
Sailing Date: January 6th, 2005
Itinerary: New Zealand, Australia
1. Embarkation: It took nearly three hours and was the most confusing, disorganized, and slow process of all of our 27 cruises.
2. The ship: It was clean, new, and very large. We like large ships, but this one suffered from too many passengers, and a staff that didn't quite have their act together.
4. Our main complaint: I don't know if it is the influence of Carnival or simply a desire to increase revenue, but it seemed that everyone was trying to sell us something. For example, on all of our previous cruises, the purser's desk gave out seasickness pills. When we asked for them we were curtly told to buy them at the gift shop. We went to the gift shop and they were out and when we inquired we were told that it had been "a rough trip from LA and they didn't know when they would re-stock. Another small example, on all our past cruises we were provided a summary of news but on this ship we could "buy" newspapers but the were not provided by the ship. There are many more examples, but it leaves a bad taste and is "penny wise and dollar foolish."
5. The communication process: The daily hand out was not very helpful, and seemed mainly a place for advertising more things we could buy. We had to work hard to find out the dining options, hours, and how to make reservations (they seem to be making a transition to "free style" dining, but many of our fellow passengers were denied the standard seating and didn't understand their options. Another example had to do with port information. In past cruises, port maps and highlights were distributed to your cabin the night before. On this cruise, it took us four days to discover that the information was buried in a notebook in our cabin.
6. The cruise director and staff: They were very good with one exception. The assistant director and the director had a morning TV event which seemed to be more of an attempted comedy act than a format to provide information. One morning in port, I simply wanted to know if there was bus transportation into the city. I had to listen to ten minutes of lame comedy before one of them gave a port summary.
7. The art auction: This was a two man show and was way overdone! The two "experts" were more like used car salesmen and the "art" was placed on chairs, and tables in public sitting areas - it was very intrusive.
8. Private use of public areas: The cruise was full and public areas were always very crowded. There were permanent tables set up for a travel agency and for a Japanese group on the fifth deck. This took up public space and was not very professional.
9. The Bridge director. In past cruises we enjoyed playing bridge. On this trip the person in charge was rude and sarcastic and was offensive to some of our fellow travelers. And, yes, he charged for his bridge notes if you went to his lectures - really in bad taste!
10. While all these seem like small things, together they are not. I will never take this ship again and probably will not try Princess again either. This is sad, because our past Princess experiences have been very good.