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floyfish

Age: 23

Occupation:student

Number of Cruises: 5

Cruise Line: Princess

Ship: Star Princess

Sailing Date: July 27th, 2004

Itinerary: Mediterranean


REVIEW of 12day Mediterranean Star Princess Cruise BY FLOOFYFISH, Review stealers and shameless private shore excursion self promoters beware! I am watching out for you! P.S. I am an avid promoter of taking Princess shore excursions, so don’t even try!

Embarkation


Was super efficient. Princess took our bags from the airport and sent them directly to our rooms; they arrived about 2 hours after we first got on the ship, which we thought was amazing because we are used to our bags coming after dinner. In fact we had express check-in and ended up in our cabin 30min after getting off the transfer from Barcelona airport. There was a huge line-up (about 400 people maybe more) for the people who hadn’t done their forms ahead. I don’t really understand why they wouldn’t fill them out ahead of time rather than stand in a hot sticky line-up with their carry on luggage. That did not look fun, I felt sorry for them.

When we got to our cabin our cabin steward Cathy was waiting for us, she was nice, did an ok job, but boo hoo she had a moustache. I had to try really hard not to look at it when I was talking to her which made me feel terrible. My mother was upset that she didn’t vacuum at all the entire 2 weeks.

Our Lovely Stateroom

Our cabin was the most forward interior cabin on the portside of the Lido deck. This put us right next to the bridge and very very sadly right below the aerobics area of the Lotus Spa. Damn, the mornings and afternoons and evenings that followed could be miserable. I imagine this was the same for all the cabins in our area, both suites and interiors alike. We could clearly hear the words and bass of the music that was playing for the aerobics class and the thumping of elephants doing step class, how fun…..not really. This is especially not true when you are sleeping at 7am trying to recover from 6 straight exhausting days at ports, on your first at sea day. Of course given that I couldn’t sleep in the morning I would try to take naps in the afternoon to be faced with the 5pm class of stomping jiving elephants. Just couldn’t avoid them. We heard noise complaints of a different nature from other people on the Lido deck with us, they were further from the bridge/gym area, but were faced with yet another horror, the elevator/stairs area. Children were stomping and running up and down the stairs in the very early hours of the morning, an unpleasant noise that could even be heard from our area. The gym closes at 10pm so we have no other explanation of where it came from at 3am in the morning. I heard that quite a few people asked to be moved to other rooms, but since the ship was sailing completely full, there was no luck for them. We are normally very patient people and simply take both the good and bad with a smile, although sometimes forced, so we didn’t complain. I doubt it would have done much, given that I’m sure many countless other people have experienced the same thing being in that area of the ship. So my suggestion is, don’t get a cabin on any part of the Lido deck! On an up note, I liked the layout of the cabin much more than Carnival staterooms, much more open I think. The hallways in the cabin areas were also much nicer and brighter. Carnival hallways are grey and dark and remind me of the trenches during WWI. I was disappointed that there were no towel animals; I really look forward to those little touches.

Dining Room

After getting encouragement from these boards about how easy it was to get a standing reservation for the whole cruise in the Personal Choice Dining rooms(we were 249 on the waiting list for traditional after starting at 340), went to the Capri dining room to speak to the maitre’d, to request our 2 person table for the whole time. Was not impressed by him at all! What a total dingus! Princess is always advertising about personal choice and blah blah blah, so he should be used to doing this with a huge smile by now.

First we were ‘screened’ twice by two dining room attendants at the door and then the little hallway just into the dining room before we could even talk to him, and they really tried their best to get rid of us and change our minds on talking to him. Apparently they were doing quite a good job because there was no line-up and he was talking to only one person at the time. However we would not be swayed and later we thanked our lucky stars that we got that reservation. We asked for a 7:30 standing reservation for a table for 2 and he said this wouldn’t be possible because it was too busy for then. Then we asked for 7pm and he grudgingly agreed. It seemed like he didn’t want to do it at all for any time. His whole attitude towards the whole situation was very upsetting, he made us feel so small, like we were asking the hugest favour ever and inconveniencing him a great deal, when I knew that this was something that was done very regularly.

This aside, our saving grace from the whole dining room experience was our waiter in Capri Dining Room Florentin from Romania. He was absolutely amazing, very attentive, patient, and honest about what were his favourites and what didn’t taste so good. He is by far the best waiter we have had in our 5 cruises, and probably the highlight of our trip! It is so awful princess works their dining staff down to the bare bone they only have 1 hour off during the day or something like that.

I was somewhat disappointed about the food in the dining room and in the horizon court. It was mediocre and at times downright yucky (lobster was really not so fresh and bland). I was so excited to taste the food on Princess and I am pretty much a human garbage can, I eat everything, and especially love seafood, but a lot of the seafood was not so good and tasted ummm unpleasant. The only thing I would give rave reviews for would be the chateaubriand and filet mignon (surf and turf; the shrimps were yummy!). I always thought, having sailed on Carnival the past 4 times, that Princess was much more upscale and classier, so maybe I had my expectations set up too high. Anyway, I ‘m not sure whether it is just a general decline in the quality of cruising, or the carnival vs. princess factor, but the quality of the food was just not up to the standard as was on our previous sailings with Carnival. We used to order a couple appetizers and entrees because there was so much variety and the food tasted so good. However, on this cruise, on many of the nights I found it difficult to choose even one entrée selection or to finish the one we chose, here is where our waiter excelled, with his suggestions of his personal favourites. Another thing was that I found the presentation of the dishes lacking. It just didn’t have that Grande appeal anymore. It didn’t seem like there was a great effort to arrange the food in an aesthetically pleasing manor, which is something that I always find very important. I felt more like I was in a cafeteria than in a dining room of a cruise ship. I must say I do like the china that Princess uses; this is more of what I expected from them.

What happened to all the frills???? The different ice sculptures every night in the dining room, the elaborate bread creations, vegetable cut outs etc. I’m thinking this is a general decline of cruising, but there were only 2 ice sculptures on the entire cruise. I even went to the galley tour hoping to get great pics of the critters and elaborate decorations that they usually have. There were only 2 carved watermelons! Kind of sad if you think about it, they are showing the galley and trying to impress you…not very impressive.

Patisserie: what is up with this; it’s advertised everywhere, by Travel agents, on the princess website, etc. that there is a patisserie and caviar bar on the ship. It is a big fat lie. It got swallowed up; maybe they were scared of the evil children.

Horizon Court

Ok I am by no means a coffee connoisseur, so again being the human garbage can, pretty much every kind of coffee, especially of the instant variety is perfectly fine with me; but ew! It was disgusting! So yucky it was sour tasting. During the 2 weeks, I kept craving coffee for some odd reason, because I don’t drink it much, so I kept trying to drink it, but couldn’t get 4 sips down in a row. I can’t imagine how the real hardcore coffee drinkers must have felt, and now I am understanding why I read on this board that some people actually bring their own. I reverted to tea, which was super. They had this weird skim milk which looked like cream and tasted the same……what was going on??? Still don’t know what the stuff was. It probably could have held a pencil up straight, and I don’t think it was curdled.

Which brings me to my next topic: the lemons in the drink area. The first day I flipped off the lid to put some in my ice tea and found the nastiest thing I have seen in a while. They were all brown and looked like they were sitting in that white opaque fluid for 5 weeks, and to add to that, there was green mould on a bunch of them! I didn’t even know that lemons could go bad???!! I suppose they must because everything breaks down, but I have never heard of that. It put me off so much that I never even touched another lemon for the next 2 weeks. I found that all the other drink stations were in the same state, the lemons all crawling with little unfriendly animals. I guess no one ever told the horizon court wait staff that lemons could go bad either. Incidentally, I don’t think that the lemon tray was ever changed, it was there for at least the next 3 days I think. Don’t ask why I didn’t say anything. I am generally a person who doesn’t like to inconvenience others, so I didn’t want to bother anyone about it…which I guess sounds kind of foolish but oh well.

Breakfast was pretty um disappointing, but then breakfast in the lido restaurant has never been a strongpoint of cruise lines. I really missed the make your own omelette station from carnival. Dining room breakfasts were much better, but with the schedule, it was difficult to get to the dining room when you had to meet so early for shore excursions. The food in general left quite a lot to be desired, a lot of oily and unappealing choices, and again I will remind everyone that I am a human garbage can.

P.s. My pet peeve with the horizon court, there are big signs at all the entrances that say no beachwear in the restaurant, but seems none of the kids or their parents took to following this. How skanky.

Entertainment

I spent a good amount of time in my cabin watching movies on channel 23. I was hiding from the 500 Mexican children(more on this later), and plus the movies were really good. Caught up on a lot that I had wanted to see for a while. My mother said I was wasting the money spent, but the thought of going out to face screaming and running children everywhere terrified me. I’m not really into the las vegas type of show, too glitzy for me and I’ve seen enough from carnival so I didn’t really go to any. My mother did, and left after awhile. I heard the disco was empty and that a lot of people were bored like me. The cruise director was Tim Donovan and apparently his wife is a woman that he met on one of his cruises, which leaves something to the imagination about the intent of the entertainment staff or staff in general. Well at least they got married, that sounds cute, but I wonder how many there were before her?! Maybe this is too harsh, but I always feel like the staff are sizing up potential prospects in cruisers. I’ve been hit on a lot by staff and feel weary about the whole thing in general, but I guess it gets lonely being on a cruise ship for so long.

Layout and Décor

Again I think I must have been expecting too much. I wanted something classy but not quite as flashy as Carnival. I found the ship to be terribly bland and not very visually appealing. One word: Mehn. There was no promenade boulevard walkway that I so enjoyed on other ships, and the library looked like it had less funding than my public library at home. I just think they could have made everything a little fancier. I didn’t like the atrium; only 3 floors instead of spanning multiple floors. They had this little tiny fountain on the plaza deck that you would have missed if you blinked, and I would have imagined that it would be much nicer to have a huge centrepiece for everyone to admire from the atrium. I understand the concept of having small public spaces on a large ship to convey a more private feel, but I guess it just wasn’t my style. Even the dining rooms were bland, there was no grand entranceway with marble stairs, and it just wasn’t very inviting. I really liked the fact that there were deck chairs on the main promenade deck on Carnival ships, for people who didn’t want sun but just wanted to be outside and relax a little. This is something that I really missed on the Star Princess. I tan really easy, so one day out in the sun is all I need to be really dark so I like to sit outside in fairly shaded areas after, and I didn’t find that there were many options. I liked the deck chairs a lot more though, there were 4 different types I think, much more comfortable as well. You had to bring your beach towel from your cabin, maybe I missed it, but I think that there should be a station where you can get beach towels from the deck, it would be a lot more convenient.

Lotus Spa: sadly became the bane of my existence.


On top of the fact that it was on top of our cabin, the gym was in very poor condition and quite small. I am a certified personal trainer and my god I must say that this gym is lawsuit waiting to happen. The weight machines were falling apart. It is not a good thing when the rod you put in the plate has broken off. If the rod falls out when you’re lifting the plates you could be seriously injured. Machines are supposed to be checked daily, and it looks like they haven’t been in months and months, maybe even a year! There wasn’t any supervision at all. People were running backwards on the treadmills at great speeds and if there had been even one attendant in the gym, they would have been able to warn those people that they could be seriously injured. Very young children were free to roam around gallivanting in the gym and around equipment. I was absolutely shocked. Again with the young evil Mexican children. They would meander into the gym take their shoes off and turn the treadmill up to the highest possible speed and stomp like crazy, while the whole gym was shaking from their misuse of the equipment. Then they would move on and use the weight machines!!!! Again there was no supervision at all. From where I come it is illegal to operate a gym with no supervision, and having a receptionist down the hallway does not count. I have no idea how no one was hurt, actually on the second last day the ship had to make two emergency stops to drop off a sick person, and a sick child. Who knows what happened to them I didn’t want to be nosy, a lot of people ran to the side of the ship to watch the coast guard come in and get the patients. I know curiosity can get to people, but by god why on earth would you take pictures and film the whole thing….how sadistic!!! I met a lady who was quite shaken when she was in the aerobics area doing sit-ups and a swarm of children arrived to play with the stability balls and free weights. She was lying on the floor and a very small child was struggling with a weight and kept walking over her! She almost dropped in on top of her!

Evil Children

There were over 500 children on this cruise, which completely blew me away considering I don’t think that a European cruise is the best vacation choice for young children. I would have thought that they would be more suited to a cruise in the Caribbean. I was distraught to hear that there were only 34 children booked on the cruise after ours. I have never met such unruly, out of control, and misbehaved children. They were a threat to both their selves and to everyone around them!

A lot of the kids spoke Spanish, at first we thought they were from Barcelona and got a good deal because they didn't have to pay for air, which would explain why there were so many of them, but later found out that they were Mexican. They became notoriously famous throughout the cruise. There were huge groups of Mexican families, I think there was at least one family of 25. The parents would let their kids go on their own and basically the older children were looking after the younger ones, which is not a good scene at all. When they were with their parents, the parents did absolutely nothing to discipline them and didn’t seem to care at all that the people around them were being disturbed. In fact I think they actually told their kids to be rude back. The parents were always pointing at everyone around them and speaking in Spanish. The princess staff took a much laid back attitude like they didn't want to offend anyone, so they did nothing either, and when people complained, they denied there was any problem. A couple cruisers tried to say things, but the children would rudely reply and chastise them.

On our trip to Pompeii, we were unfortunately placed with a particularly obnoxious large Mexican family. They sat near us on the bus too and terrorized everyone around them. The small children were looking after the even younger ones and encouraging them to kick the seats in front of them. They were yelling and screaming and no one could hear the tour guide, which seem to bother everyone except their own parents, so one of the people in front of me kindly asked the children to quiet down because they couldn’t hear, to which the child responded: “shhhh I can’t hear”. The trip got even less pleasant when the children would walk by and hiss at us. I’m not kidding. I AM DEAD SERIOUS. They hissed at us and the people who had spoke to them, spittle actually shot out of the young child’s mouth! That family was really special. Pompeii has very uneven ground with large stones and sand that is difficult to walk on by foot. I have no idea how the chariots used to go through, but this family brought strollers! I was waiting for the kids to fly out, I was sure it was going to happen. The children cried and screamed the whole tour. No one could hear anything yet again.

Our waiter told us that one of the Mexican kids was throwing plates off the side of the ship one day and finally one of the waiters told him to stop, to which the child replied "NO WAY!" and continued to throw off the stack. Very very surprisingly, the child's family was fined $15,000, which I was amazed to hear. This was the only indication where Princess acknowledged the unruly children during the entire cruise!

The pools were constantly cloudy, I can’t even begin to imagine how much urine was in them, gives me the chills thinking about it.

Shore Excursions

Were the highlight of our trip, the ports of call saved the trip from being just plain ridiculous. I’ve already been to Europe and it was nice to see all the sights again, but definitely difficult to really see the cities for what they are when you’re only there for a number of hours, especially Florence and Rome where the cities are about 2 hours drive away, and it really eats up your stay there. WARNING: every time you get off the ship there a vultures waiting for you; the ships photographers. I know they are just doing their jobs, but they are very very pushy. We said no quite a few times as we were pressed for time but they wouldn’t let us go.

With all that drama with the private tour companies that were shamelessly self promoting themselves in disguise as cruise reviewers, I can say I am glad that I took the shore excursions offered by Princess. There is always that worry in the back of your mind that the ship will leave without you when you go ashore, but when you take tours through Princess they will wait for you if you are delayed, which eases the paranoid mind. While I am sure that there are a lot of respectable private tour companies, there is always the risk of getting a shady one. This risk seemed too great for us, which is another reason we went with Princess instead. I think I just felt safer too, being with a large tour group, with the pick pocketing and gypsies you really have to be vigilant and look after yourself. I also get bored a lot from listening to the tour guides and feel much less guilty walking off a bit further when the guides are talking in a site, than if I had my own. I think I would feel really rude to do that with a one on one tour guide.

I brought a 1 litre nalgene water bottle. It was my best friend. I filled it with ice and water everyday before we set out. It saved me!

Barcelona, Spain

We took tour A: Barcelona highlights. It was a half day tour that drove by a lot of sites. The bus stopped in front of the Casa Mila for a short while for people to take pictures. The main stop was the church: la sagrada familia. It was spectacular. Really, really breathtaking. We then went into the little museum under the church where the guide went into far too much detail about the architecture, the people on our tour looked really bored. I think I would much rather read that stuff out of a textbook at home than stand around listening to a tour guide. The time she spent droning on and on could have be better spent visiting other spots. There was a little time to shop in the stalls outside of the church before we got back on the bus and drove around the city more. Before the tour was over, the bus stopped again at this lookout of the city on the mountain. You could see the ship and the church, which from there was tiny. I was laughing because there were ads everywhere for Will Smith’s new movie: I, Robot, but the Spanish translation made it: Yo, Robot, which I thought was ridiculously funny given Will Smith’s expression in the ad.

A word of warning, we met a lady who was mugged here. She was walking with her husband and friend during the early evening when it was bright still, a day before the cruise started. A man in a scooter came up between them and separated the three of them, and then another man grabbed her purse. She lost a lot of money and credit cards. She was badly injured and had to go to the hospital, because she tried to hold on to her purse. I think she severed some tendons or something, she had a cast on for the rest of the cruise. The doctors told her not to continue her trip because she would need surgery when she went home and the longer she waited the worse it would get, but she continued anyway after consulting a doctor friend at home. It would be a lot of money to lose. I think it was really amazing that she continued on the trip without letting it upset her. She was really strong and brave.

Monte Carlo, Monaco

We went on our own. There was a tender service, and no wait. Very well organized. I felt like I was in a Caribbean island at first like St. Thomas. There were multimillion dollar yachts everywhere, tons of them. We walked to the Palace, it was up top a huge hill/mountain. We were exhausted when we got there, and it was so hot out. Was like 12 euros for entrance, kind of pricey for what you saw. We were so tired after seeing the aquarium(which was amazing and you should definitely go see) that we skipped out on going to the casino. The heat really got to us. We went back to the ship right after to the lovely air conditioning, yay!

Livorno(Florence), Italy

We did tour D: Florence on Your Own. The trips are definitely not worth it because a lot of the places they visit are all in the same area or even piazza(square). Generally, the attractions in Florence are very close together. If you read up on the sites you want to see ahead of time, you will enjoy the city a lot more on your own. It’s not really worth your time to go to see Pisa, it takes up half your day and there is so much to see in Florence that is much more interesting. I know it’s like an Italian landmark, but I think it’s really overrated.

I’ve already been here so it was nice to guide my mother around. We went to the Pitti Palace, Duomo, Church of Santa Croce. There wasn’t really time to check out the museums; (I love the Uffizi) as there is a ridiculous line to buy tickets and then to go in after that as well. You can buy tickets online ahead of time, but you still have to wait in the second line, and with so little time in the city, it’s hard to fit in. I bought a Louis Vuitton bag from one of the Nairobi guys for 15euro. He initially wanted to sell it for 45euro. They are quite persistent. Be careful, they have to run if police come so make sure that you make your purchases quickly. They are sneaky too, after we agreed on the 15, I was paying him and he was like: 20 euro. I gave him a really bad look and he backed down. You have to be careful of pickpockets in Florence too. I wanted to see Hannibal before I went, it was based in Florence and you can see a lot of the sights, but I didn’t get the chance.

Civitavecchia(Rome), Italy

We took tour A, Rome, the eternal city. I really liked it. There is so much to see in Rome, you definitely can’t do this one on your own if you have never been, the city is too large for that. It is impossible to see everything, so you have to choose the sites that really interest you and save the rest for next time. We went into the colosseum which is right next to the roman forum. They have added a partial floor for people to understand how it used to be since I was last here. The structure is really not very attractive as there are many holes in the wall and all the marble is gone because materials(metal was removed from the walls, hence the holes) were used to build palazzos and for the wars after the colosseum was not used anymore. It must have been spectacular in its day. We visited St. Peters Basilica after and you can take flash pictures inside, which is really nice. This is because all the pictures are made of mosaics instead of frescos. It’s amazing. We had lunch next and it was pretty good, you had a huge bottles of red and white wines as well as water(which tasted soooo good, after being scorched outside) pasta, salad, meat entrée and dessert. The restaurant was very well organized and ready for us to come in, the food came out so quickly too. I was very impressed. After lunch we went to the Vatican museum which we were told opened specially for our cruise since they are normally closed on Saturday afternoons??! The gift shops were closed though…boo hoo I wanted to get a poster of the Delphic oracle from the Sistine chapel. The ceilings are amazing in the museum, really really breathtaking. I know I keep gushing. I’m not even religious. You can take pictures, but flash is not allowed. Unfortunately you’re not allowed to take any at all in the Sistine chapel because nipon camera has the photographic rights for 25 years since they were the ones that funded the 10 year restoration. I am bad, I took secret pictures. They didn’t turn out so well. I was so shocked when this one guy took a flash picture! He got yelled at, I thought the guard was going to hit him. Apparently every flash picture you take of a fresco is the equivalent of leaving it in under the sun for one full day. We were exhausted and got back to the ship later, thank god we didn’t have to worry about them leaving with us.

Naples, Italy

Took Tour F: ruins of Pompeii. It was only a half day tour thank god. Just plain Awful. I already wrote about the evil children. It was hot and the sun was scorching, and I was bored the first time I came here and it was in the month of March. So this time it was just tortuous. My mother really wanted to see it though. She doesn’t want to go back either. Hahaha. I think it would have been nicer to see Sorrento and Capri. There are a lot of wild homeless dogs in Pompeii. It is so sad, they have no energy and it’s too hot for them, so they are just slumped in corners. They are friendly, but a lot of people were scared of them. I gave one doggie a muffin. He could barely walk and needed to lean against the wall.

We didn’t go into Naples, it is very decrepit and organized crime is a problem, along with scary drivers. We were happy to go back and relax on the ship after 6 straight days of walking and exhaustion, especially since the next day was HOORAY, at sea.

Athens, Greece

We took tour B: acropolis, plaka, and temple of Poseidon. It was a full day tour and one of my favourites. The Olympics are about to start so the city was bustling getting ready for this week. We first drove to cape sounion where the temple of Poseidon is. It’s about a 1 hour scenic bus drive away. You drive along the coast, it’s beautiful. Ew we passed by a beach, and this large potbellied man had his doodle all hanging out. In fact I think in Barcelona it was the same thing, I am scarred for life. I really like this temple because there aren’t as many people milling around as the acropolis. It is really really beautiful and I’d already been here but convinced my mother to see it with me, she really loved it too. We went to the acropolis next but drove by a lot of sites along the way. Again it was a scorcher. You are not allowed bags into the acropolis, even large purses, so make sure you watch out what you bring. There were all sorts of athletes from different countries walking around, I wish I could have stayed to see the Olympics  I love Athens. Lunch was at a little restaurant near the acropolis, I love Greek food, but it is very oily I must admit. My mother hated it. They gave you a real sampling of all the traditional foods: moussaka, cheese pie, Greek salad( the real kind without the lettuce), spinach pie, beef something(?), Greek pasta, Greek meatballs, orange cake and you could drink as much wine as you wanted. After lunch we had 1 hour to walk around the Plaka. I bought the cutest earrings ever at this fabulous store, and lots of Olympic memorabilia; the mascots: Athena and phevos used to be one ancient Greek statue. Both sides had faces, but one side was a boy and one side was a girl( she had boobs; its funny they are on the mascots as a cross with the circle around it, which I laughed at because there are similar markings on the side of the ship). I really would have liked more time to shop, especially on Ermou, but I guess you can’t always get what you want. We were st
eamed though this one family was 30 min late( time which I would have loved to shop around) and the guide waited for them. I guess it’s good for them that they took a Princess shore excursion.

Kusadasi, Turkey

Dear god, where do I start. This was my least favourite port. In fact I hated it all together. I was absolutely miserable until I set foot back on the ship.

We did tour A: ancient Ephesus, st. johns basilica and virgin mary shrine. My mother is religious otherwise we would have just gone to ancient Ephesus. We first went to St. Johns it is a very old church that is in ruins now, before we got off the guide warned us that there would be people trying to sell us ancient coins which are fake. She didn’t however warn us how aggressive they would be. Holy! We weren’t even off the bus and you could hear the badgering begin. Extremely aggressive men and children trying to sell cheap wooden recorders, postcards, the fake coins etc. I thought it was a universal body language that if you walk away from a person you are not interested in what they are doing. Apparently in turkey it means that you are extremely interested in what they want to sell you and that they should especially come after you. They really got into your personal space, right in your face, spitting on you while asking you to buy their goods. They are like vultures and they chase after you. Very disturbing. St. Johns was: MEHN. I was bored. Virgin Mary Shrine was our next stop, it was very crowded and hot and there was a long line up to get in. There is this sacred spring you can get water from and there were huge line-ups for that too. Ephesus was the next stop. It was hot and scorching yet again, with no shade. The Celcius library was beautiful though. Everyone on the trip looked pretty bored and pooped from the heat. We all wanted it to end sooner rather than later. There are photographers(not from the ship) that follow your tour around and then sell the pictures at the, again they are pushy and take pictures of you without asking. There was a little bit of time to shop in the area outside of Ephesus, and this is where it started to get ugly. Extremely aggressive merchants herd you into their stores and start bargaining with you for stuff if you even glance in the direction. I found them very upsetting because they would say things like: hey beautiful girl take off your glasses I w
ant to see your beautiful face, and it was really off putting because it was so insincere. I felt dirt hearing the stuff they were saying. It made me sick to my stomach because they were just saying those things to get you to buy stuff from them. We went back to Kusadasi and were informed that there was a carpet demonstration with free snacks. I don’t think anyone went. Those Turkish people are hardcore about their carpets. I think the tour guide said: “we will never be offended if you don’t want to buy, but we will if you don’t show interest in our arts”. Translation: “you’d better get your ass into the carpet room or I will beat you down”. Just kidding. They are all just very supportive of each other I guess because the country is not doing very well economically. Their inflation is outrageous. It costs half a million to go to the washroom. So we were dropped off away from the pier instead of right where they picked you up beside the ship because this is their way of trying to get you to buys things from them. Again the obnoxious merchants. The stores are in rows and rows. Outside of every store there is a huge number of men, it seems like the stores get every member of their extended family to stand outside of their stores and harass you to go into the store. Many of the shoppers did not want to go in, but the shopkeepers were insistent. Then the shoppers would just move on. They really have to rethink this whole method, because it is very off-putting and not conducive to their success in selling things. I think most north American shoppers like to look on their own and if they want something they will buy it. Obnoxious soliciting for things that they are not interested is not going to convince them otherwise. Neither is trying to butter them up and tell them how beautiful they are. My mom got less of the sexual comments, but again I was sick to my stomach from hearing them. If you try to ignore them, they just follow you up the street until you acknowledge them. Everything looked really dirty and old, like the silver jewellery was all tarnished, I think it’s probably a bad indication if the silver tarnishes even before you sell it. My patience finally got the best of me and I split up with my mother and tried to escape back to the ship, but I encountered about 5 more men who followed me up to the gate.

Venice, Italy

There was a little card on our pillow when we came in from dinner, they automatically charged you $10/person for water shuttle from the pier to St.Marks square. I thought this was kind of stupid, but whatever.

We took the half day tour A: gondola ride, murano glass factory, San Giorgio. The water shuttle first dropped us off at a somewhat plain church, San Giorgio, it was across the canal from St. Marks Square. It was boring. I think they all start to look the same, but this one was much less elaborate than the other ones that we had visited. We then had a 30 min gondola ride. It was nice, was smelly at some points but I really enjoyed it. I really enjoyed the murano glass factory, but wish it had been a weekday so that I could have seen the factory at its busiest. The glass blower made a vase and a horse, it was amazing how quickly he finished them, and I was heartbroken, he did numerous demonstrations and threw them out after!!!! The glass showroom was spectacular, but so expensive!!! I was so upset I took like 50 pictures, and I think it was too hot and my camera errored. Boo hoo. We went back to the ship and had lunch freshened up and trekked back out to St. Marks and Doge’s Palace. There were more Nairobi guys selling Louis Vuitton bags, that were of lesser quality. Most of the shops just sold glass and those hideous masks. Everything was expensive.

Disembarkation

We had a super early flight at 6:20am which meant we were the first to disembark at 4am. The bus took us to the airport, where our luggage was waiting for us, everything was perfect. Princess must be commended on their embarkation and disembarkation procedures, they really have it down to a science.

All in all, it was an ok trip, but I was really happy to get home. I really tried not to let the kinks get to me, but I feel like my patience was really tested. I think this is our last Princess cruise, which is sad because we would love to have our amazing waiter again. At most I may try an Alaska cruise, but it looks like we will be moving on the RCI, HAL, and Celebrity. Thanks to everyone who helped answer so many of my questions before the cruise, it really helped us during our trip.

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