Number of Cruises: 5
Cruise Line: Princess
Ship: Star Princess
Sailing Date: December 7, 2002
Itinerary: Mexican Riviera
Throughout our cruising adventures, we've never thought we could find a ship that was too big - until now.
Star Princess is too big. Massed produced food is well below standard cruise quality. Some staff members are wonderful but we often saw them getting a 'talking to' for spending an extra minute or two being pleasant with us. This is the type of service which is encouraged on other lines.
Unfortunately most other staff members are just generally inconsiderate or uncaring. Many haven't learned the simple courtesy of letting a passenger pass first, instead of cutting in front of us - and this happened constantly. Others seem to get a kick out of ordering passengers around during embarkation, debarkation and preparations for excursions.
While waiting for one excursion to depart, we watched a passenger ask a staff member if she would be allowed to take her bag along with her (horseback riding in Cabo). Instead of trying to find out the answer, the staff member just said 'I don't know," and turned her back on the lady. (The answer is 'yes' you can take a bag with you for towel, water, bathing suit, etc. You'll leave the bag at the beginning of the ride, then return to the same location for your swim). When we got up as our Horseback riding excursion was called, we were told with a great deal of emphasis to sit back down, it wasn't our excursion. Luckily we're seasoned travelers and knew that was our tour - so we questioned what they were telling us. It turns out we were correct and the crew had us sitting in the wrong section. No apologies were given for embarassing us in front of 200 other people, but by this point we'd learned not to expect one.
Speaking of excursions, few at the excursion desk could actually answer questions (for example: as one was telling us at the desk we'd have no problem with back-to-back excursions on the same day in Puerto Vallarta - another was calling our room to tell us the half-hour between excursions was too tight and we should cancel one).
Swimming with the Dolphins was a wonderful experience (Puerto Vallarta), but we have some concerns for their health. The large swim tank was filled with slimy green mold along the sides. It's an experience you shouldn't miss, but you'll want to take a shower as soon as you can afterwards. We wish we could give the Dolphins a shower too.
Backtracking a bit, Embarkation is horrible. We had the 'express' boarding or something like that. It took two hours (we've never been on a cruise where it's taken more than 15 minutes - and in fact Royal Caribbean's Monarch of the Seas boarded us in just 5).
Baggage delivery was even worse than embarkation. We got one of our six bags almost immediately --- then had a loooong and worrisome wait. Another bag came a couple of hours later... not ours - we had to flag someone down and practically drag them to our room to take it away. Finally, well after sailing and just before our 8:30 dinner, the rest of our bags arrived. If we had the early dinner we'd have had to go in t-shirts and shorts. We met other passengers who also had a long wait for luggage: SUGGESTION, make sure you take a carryon with your first night's clothing. (We'd been 'ordered' - and I do mean ORDERED - to give ALL our bags to the porter - but saw nearly every other passenger take carry on bags on board).
The rooms are very nice, but if you have a mini-suite balcony on Dolphin deck, other passengers can stare down at you since their balconies are recessed. Our cabin steward was excellent, and our room always well taken care of.
It's not so much that the entertainment was bad, it just wasn't what we expected for such a large ship with a roundtrip to the world's entertainment capital. You would think they could get one headliner each cruise. For example, on Monarch of the Seas a few years back, the Spinners did shows on two different nights. Ok, so they're not a modern headliner, but surely Princess could get a similar entertainer or group.
It wasn't a bad cruise, just one that wasn't up to our expectations especially after all the build up of a new ship. We really think a lot of the problems are due to the sheer size of Star Princess. From this cruise we've come to the conclusion that smaller is better. We won't be sailing on a mega ship again. It's not worth being treated like cattle.