Number of Cruises: 3
Cruise Line: Princess
Ship: Sapphire Princess
Sailing Date: July 7th 2007
My family and I were passengers on a recent Alaska cruise. We have cruised on three prior occasions with Disney Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean Lines. We enjoy cruising and based upon my experience, I have the following comments re the cruise experience on Princess:
Disembarkment: This was by far the worst experience of the entire trip, and really the only place where the Sapphire and its crew totally fell flat. The disembarkation process was disorganized and passengers were frantic, angry and frustrated. All that would have been required was some MINIMAL ORGANIZATION. Instead, it was “every passenger” for him/herself. There was no direction on WHERE to disembark (fore, mid or aft ship). There was NO crew member to direct people where to go.
Express Walk Off option was a nightmare. I lined up with hundreds of other Express Walk Off passengers (with all of our luggage in tow) at 7am in front of the mid-ship exit. By 7:30, all of us with our luggage BLOCKING the elevator lobby and the hallways, waiting. Then, the crew began to announce exits for the various colors BEFORE the Express Walk Offs were even off the ship. It was chaos. No one could MOVE. Our luggage was blocking the hallways. And the Crew refused to allow us to disembark because Express Walk Off was to exit in the AFT of the ship. (Which no one told us, no announcements were made as to where the Express Walk Offs were to exit.) So, hundreds of passengers with all of their luggage had to wind our way to the AFT of the ship.
So if you're going -- be sure to insist that you be told the time to disembark and where to disembark (fore, mid or aft ship).
Service: Both Cabin and Food service failed to meet our expectations and were inferior compared to Disney and RCL. We attribute this primarily due to the “guaranteed” $10 per day gratuity the staff is paid. There appears to be no incentive for the staff to do more than the bare minimum.
Anytime Dining: This feature is very convenient and superior to the assigned seating. That said, the fact that you have “different” wait staff each night may be one reason why the service quality of the wait staff is not very good.
Internet: The internet charges for WiFi is excessive. This is particularly a problem for the guest who combines business with vacation. The charge for the WiFi per minute is outrageous.
Excursions: The only excursion that I went on was the Rainforest Sanctuary in Ketchikan. It was a waste of time and money. The advertising should state that this is primarily a flora and fauna walk. We expected to see to come wildlife and instead saw caribou which were in “cages”.
Overall: Other than the nightmare disembarkation process, the cruise was a good experience. Alaska is a wonderful cruise destination. Some minor adjustments in the areas of service and food quality would make this cruise an excellent experience.