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Howard McCann

Age: n/a

Occupation:n/a

Number of Cruises: 3

Cruise Line: Princess

Ship: Star Princess

Sailing Date: February 15th, 2003

Itinerary: Mexican Riviera

This was our son’s & my first cruise with Princess, my wife’s second, it had a bit of a rocky start but that was before the ship. Specifically, a shuttle ride to the Sheraton San Pedro from LAX. The Prime Time shuttle driver was not apparently having a good night and after picking up a tipsy client, the driver picked us up and then we added another couple. The shuttle driver apparently had to make two loops around the ring road at LAX which was a real joy. Then we headed out on the freeway but the driver was having problems with his first passenger and the with the other couple, seemed to be a little confusion as to where the others were going, our hotel was nearby we thought. It was two hours yes TWO of arguing, tight turns, speeding and wearing out brakes. Enough of that and in the defence of Prime Time, the driver who picked us up at the end of the cruise was the complete opposite of his cohort. He seemed as disappointed with the first driver as we were.

Sheraton San Pedro has a great location but they need to do some renos in the rooms they are well worn to say the least. The Hotel Shuttle was a real shuttle not the stretch van of the night before. We arrived at the pier near noon and a porter whisked our luggage away. I was a little leery as we’d had bags overnight elsewhere on our ship on our last cruise but he was gone in a flash and gave us directions to boot! Princess is very well organized we were soon in a very reasonable lineup and met with a very nice rep who got us on our way quickly with a boarding number. We were directed to the proper staging area and before we had much time to wait … we were on Star Princess. The boarding staff were great on the dock and on board. They really seemed to care we were there despite just offloading another bunch of us literally hours before. We were in our cabin on Dolphin deck in no time and met our cabin steward “Bong” minutes later. The next time he saw us he was calling us each by name, corny but a nice touch. We went off to check out the Star and returned in little more than an hour to find our luggage (all of it) already in our mini-suite!

We tried Personal Choice dining as we like the flexibility after a day doing the tourist thing we’re not always ready to eat on schedule. You do miss having the same waiter and his assistant but the ones we had were all great. You do get to meet a lot of different people or can request a small table if you like. HINT: The two P C dining rooms have the same menu and food but the Portafino was always busier and the Capri always had a shorter or non-existent line up, one of the few downsides to Personal Choice.

The itinerary first gives you two days at sea which is a great way to wind down but by the second day we were ready for Mexico and maybe they should consider Cabo San Lucas first so it isn’t rushed at the end there. We ate well and enjoyed the time nevertheless. Should mention we had a mini-suite with a balcony and we made good use of the balcony, don’t have to be a sun-worshipper either.

First stop Puerta Vallarta and our only booked shore excursion, snorkeling at Marietas Islands. It was a blast, the crew were funny and genuinely eager to please. The snorkeling was good, the time on the beach was just right and the food on the boat was first rate not five star but excellent just the same. Then on the way back we encountered some whales and they stopped the boat so we could marvel at their whales and we did just that. Our snorkel cruise director even got on the case of some competitors who literally chased the whales away. Bravo !

The next day we watched the sunrise over Mazatlan. The pier is nicely done but the drive across town to the Golden Zone was a little depressing, you don't realize how lucky we all are. Taxi was reasonable, ask how much first it should be under 10.00 to the zone that's with a decent tip. The Golden Zone is lots of souvenirs but you can find some interesting stuff too. They will offer deals, I don’t dicker but wife does. Food is reasonable as is the Corona. Headed to old town after the Golden Zone to the Flea Market … didn’t like what we saw nothing to buy or see..oh.Taxi ! Back to the ship, and get rid of those shopping bags.

Third and last was Cabo, our favorite. Tender into the small harbour. Word of warning on Dolphin deck you will hear ungodly sounds at dawn, they are swinging out the ship’s lifeboats for tender duty, they hang just below that deck. Cabo is a little bit old, a little bit new but nice as you can walk everywhere. Made the obligatory stop at Cabo Wabo bar of Sammy Hagar ..a little too early for Sammy I guess. We wanted to explore more but the ship was leaving at 2PM so we didn’t have a lot of time…too bad. Princess maybe that earlier suggestion … Cabo first ??

If this hasn’t put you to sleep by now it was another day and a half at sea and then back to LA.

The Scorecard:
Shuttle:
don’t ask but the second driver did save their reputation.

Boarding: Well organized and friendly, lots of people helping.

Cabin: Mini suite was a good choice balcony great Even with a chronic bad back no problems (not what I’d read from others)

Cabin Steward & Service: Outstanding nominated him for their employee of the month. Thanks Bong !

Dining Room: Not outstanding but good food just the same, personal choice for us is good. 22 yr old son was full good sign!

Buffet: Every review slams the buffet but it was always busy, few if any lines, see 22 yr old above. Lots of fresh fruit.

Shore Ex: Well organized, crew were fun and know how to make a mean Margarita. Whale watching a BIG bonus.

Entertainment: Standard stuff but good just the same. Lounge piano guy was great.

Announcements: PA not in the staterooms except lifeboat drill. Thank You Princess

Pools & Tubs: Never very busy, lots of deck chairs / loungers.

Fitness Area: Good machines a little busy on at sea days.

Other Crew: Always a smile and they did let us go first … another sore point with other reviewers.

Disembarking: Again well organized ran a little late HINT be sure to ask for earlier time if you have an early flight out of LAX.

Porter Service: On and off, well run and they were helpful, what a bonus.

Overall: Didn’t want to get off, will go Princess again, glad we have another cruise booked next year already! Princess does the little things better than their parent company. Princess caters to an older crowd, 22 yr old was definitely caught in between the youngsters and the rest of us, but he didn't starve !

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