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Meredith

Age: 39

Occupation:teacher

Number of Cruises: 7

Cruise Line: Princess

Ship: Sapphire Princess

Sailing Date: 2008-12-20

Itinerary: Mexican Riviera

We have cruised NCL, Carnival and Holland in the past. We love the cruise experience. However, this being our first Princess cruise we were highly disappointed. We traveled as a goup of 7. We had 5 adults and two children in our group ( 7&8). This was my children's 4th cruise and they agreed that it wasn't their favorite. My children utilized the children's program, but it felt more like babysitting than structured play. I was disappointed with the drop off and pick up system. No one required us to comment on where we would be or how they could get a hold of us. No pager was offered for my 8 year old. They actually asked me if he had my permission to leave on his own. Are they crazy? Also, during the lifeboat drill there was no mention of how to obtain your children if they were in the kids area. I had to ask and got two different answers. I finally just figured if something happen I would go and get my own children and then take them to our muster station. Our overall cruise experience was poor. There were so many disappointing things I hope there is room for me to list them all. We will not cruise Princess again.
I thought the food was poor. So many items each day at the buffet was a repeat from the day before. There were no theme meals other than a mexican feast on a day at sea and it was served out at the pool deck. The buffet area is very small and they hardly ever open both sides at once. As for their anytime dining that was joke. They may as well call it reservations only dining. Twice we tried to get a table right at 5:30 when the restaurant opened and were told they were booked until 8:30. That we needed to make reservations. Well, to me that defeats the anytime dining concept. If you choose to cruise Princess you should select traditional dining and then if your plans change just don't show up. All the restaurants have the same menu so it doesn't matter which one you choose. Also, the menus really don't change much each day. Your appetizer, salad and starter menus are the same everyday. The only thing that changes is your main dish. We were upset when our 7 year old was told that he couldn't take a cookie into the lounge where we were going to play bingo. GIVE ME A BREAK! Not enough h2o available either. I found myself dehydrated several times.
Our state room was ok. The plus was that the closet area is very nice. We had four in our cabin. My husband and I had to sleep in seperate beds because when the bunk beds were down the ladder had to be placed right between our beds. When the bunks are down you can not see the tv. We have cruised several times with our children and never had this problem. It was very cramped when all the beds were down. There was also never any laundry service offered. There was self serve laundry, but who wants to do laundry on vacation. By time I got home I had about 15 loads of laundry to do. You can imagine how it all started to smell. Four people 8 days of sweating and swimming in salt water. We had a great room steward, but Princess doesn't do any towel art and our kids were disappointed with that.
I was disappointed with the lack of activities on board. It seemed like there were so many lounges and bars, but no fun family spaces. If you wanted to watch the movie you had to watch in one of the bars. There were no real family shows offered. This was a family vacation and we didn't get to spend much time together. We were happy that since it was Christmas they had Santa arrive. I felt like other than bingo all there was for me was to lay out by the pool. The pool areas are nice however, there are no lifeguards or staff on duty. There are rules, but no one to enforce them. We had a couple of incidents where my husband had to talk to people about their actions in the pool around so many kids. One family with six teenagers was even trying to walk across each others shoulders and then trying to hold each other down as long as possible. It was ridiculous. Their parents were right there encouraging them. What kind of parenting is that??? I took several photos just in case someone got really hurt. There were all kinds of small children in the pool. It was frightening at times. Princess should be ashamed!
In PV we visited Las Caletas beach. It was great. It took 2 hours to get there because we kept seeing whales migrating. Even though it was a long trip is was worth seeing the whales. The staff on the boat was great. When we arrived the food was ready and we had a great lunch. The bad side of this excursion was that we had booked the sea lion encounter for our children. After waiting about 20 minutes we were finally informed that they hadn't gotten the reservation for any of the children. We were told that our children could do the adult version if they wanted. There was no way my youngest was going to snorkel out in open water with a sea lion. My older one went, but only with my husbands help. When we got back to the boat it took Princess three days to resolve the matter. We were finally refunded some of our money. I would double check before you go that your excursion on this beach is actually going to happen. It was a wonderful excursion, but stressful at times. My husband and older son did the snuba excursion in Cabo and they had a great time.
Our overall experience was disappointing. One major issue I had with Princess is that using the hand santitizer was not encouraged. On all the other ships we have cruised on there were hand santitizer machines all over and everyone used them. There were no towels on deck so if your towel got wet you were out of luck. I missed the chocolate buffet, or midnight buffet - Princess had nothing like that. The photos were expensive and not the greatest quality. They print almost everything in 8x10 and then try to charge you $25 for each print. If you want a 5X7 it is still going to cost you $25. Every public area restroom I went into had at least one stall out of service so that made lines everytime you had to go. My family will continue to cruise, but we will not choose Princess again. We will not recommend them to our friends or to anyone else that asks. We enjoyed our time together as a family, but will stick with NCL or RC next time. NCL could give lessons to Princess on what freestyle dining truly means.

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