Number of Cruises: 2
Cruise Line: Princess
Ship: Star Princess
Sailing Date: December 14, 2002
Itinerary: Mexican Riviera
My family and I were aboard the Star Princess for the Mexican Riviera cruise on December 14, 2002. We have only cruised once before on the Celebrity Millennium so I will write this review comparing it to the Celebrity cruise.
Embarkation was relatively smooth although the line up was long. It is to be expected as everyone was anxious to get aboard. Luggage delivery was excellent. Received our luggage promptly. The ship is very large with lots of areas to explore. We found the first two days at sea were great as it gave us time to familiarize ourselves with the layout. My 11 year old son knew where he was going within 24 hours!
We asked for fixed dining but were put on a wait list. We ended up having personal choice dining for the whole cruise. This method of dining certainly lacks in the service department! We found the Portofino dining room too crowded and very noisy. We never received the same waiter and found the whole dining process rushed. Sort of like conveyor belt style. Meals were brought to you under a plastic cover, like at the hospital. The food was mediocre at the best of times. Often overdone and cool, not hot and fresh. Waiters seemed unhappy and generally bored with their jobs.
The Horizon buffet, where we ate breakfast every morning, was okay. The food was again, luke warm and I found the selection of fruit rather boring. On the Celebrity cruise, wonderful fruit and vegetable carvings were artistically placed in front of the buffet and stewards were standing there handing you your plates and cutlery. They even helped my children by carrying their plates for them and seated us at a table! That is service. On the Star, get your own plate and cutlery and find your own seat. The only good thing about the terrible food is that your chances of gaining any major weight are slim! Unless you eat the delicious desserts they had!
The cabins were quite spacious. We had two cabins and had the steward open the adjoining balcony door so we could walk between balconies to each room. I have to say that our Room Steward, Ninito, was exceptional. Anything we needed, we received. We paged him, he was there within minutes.
The bathroom facilities were okay. Plenty of shelves for your hygiene items. Typically, the shower was small. It is interesting for us ladies when we try to shave our legs in there!! You have to be a contortionist! The beds were terrible. Too soft! I was so surprised as this ship is just one year old, that the beds felt lumpy and old. Very uncomfortable, but you ended up getting used to it. The pictures of the cabins on the Princess website are deceiving for sure. The cabins are not as big as what they seem in the pictures.
As we traveled with our children, we looked forward to the Kids Zone program, but were once again disappointed. Celebrity’s kids programs were poor too. My daughter was placed in the 7-9 year old group and my 11 year old son was placed in the 10-12 year old group. That group wasn’t too bad offering karaeoke, kids disco and some sports related activities. But the 7-9 group was, in my opinion, too babyish. T-shirt coloring, drawing, crafts, etc. 9-10 year old girls would have loved to do what the 10-12 year olds were doing. I asked if it would be okay to move my daughter up since she is almost 10 anyway, but strict rules stated there would be no moving up! We could have brought my son down a level to the 7-9 group to keep them together, but weren’t allowed to move my daughter up to the 10-12 group. I was also very surprised that they had planned very little outdoor activities for these kids. 90% of the activities were indoors! The beautiful weather outside would have been missed by these kids and they would have gone home pale-faced not even looking like they had been on vacation!
So we ended up having the kids hang with us the whole trip. We took them to the basketball court, played some tennis and played virtual golf. They had more fun with us than they would have in the kids zone.
Entertainment on the ship was good. Good comedians, music and the karaeoke was fun. There was a lot of activities going on that you could choose from.
There were two formal nights during this week. Formal attire varies tremendously. I got away with a black skirt and white blouse, no pantyhose and sandals for both nights. Some men went in tuxedos and some went in a jacket with no tie. Some women glitzed to the max and like me, some toned it way down. It’s really your choice. I am not one for the glitzy look.
Even though there were close to 2800 passengers on this boat, it didn’t feel crowded. The fresh water pools were great. Never over crowded. Celebrity’s pools were salt water and the kids didn’t like that.
There were laundry facilities on this ship, unlike Celebrity’s millennium where you were limited to paying for drycleaning services. It is nice to be able to do a load of laundry without breaking the bank.
The three ports (Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas) were interesting and worth the visit. However, all ports offered pretty much the same things. Souvenier stuff, tours and the constant annoyance of peddlers!
Disembarkation was smooth, although a long process. But what do you expect when you have 2800 passengers to unload and clear customs!
So overall, here is my report card for the Star Princess Mexican Riviera cruise…
Just to compare…here is my report card for the Celebrity Millenium ship to the Carribbean in January 2002.
So, to summarize, it was nice to experience the Star Princess and the Mexican Riviera. I am glad we went in order to have something to compare. I have decided I like the smaller ships which, in my opinion, offer better service overall. So in the future, having to choose, I will try another cruise line or go with Celebrity for my next cruise.
Thanks for reading.