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John Hitchcock

Age: 56

Occupation:Self

Number of Cruises: 5

Cruise Line: Princess

Ship: Star Princess

Sailing Date: October 31st, 2004

Itinerary: Eastern Caribbean


My partner, a friend and I were three of a group of 177 men sailing on the Star Princess which departed Fort Lauderdale October 31st, 2004 for the Caribbean.

We arrived at the Port at approximately 1 pm to board for our week long cruise. Despite the fact that next door in the convention center was the annual boat show, traffic was not too bad and Princess’s porters quickly gathered our luggage from our car, we parked and entered the VERY long line for embarkation. Despite the length of the line this process went fairly quickly, after about an hour we were walking the gangplank to board. After checking out our cabin we decided to go to deck 14 where we had been told lunch was being served. Elevators were impossible to get so we walked up from deck 9 to 14 and proceeded back to the Horizon Café. What a disorganized mess this was. First off there were hundreds of people trying to get to the buffet. After waiting in line for what seemed forever we got to the buffet itself to find some of the most un-inviting food I have ever seen. To add to that, about a third of all the pans that were there were empty. I took a few small samples of things that looked slightly familiar, along with two rolls, I asked THREE employees for butter (It never did come) got some iceless ice tea from the drink station, Not only was there no ice but no glasses either, I had to use a coffee cup. At this point from all the confusion one of my friends got separated so my partner and I FINALLY found a seat and tried to eat. What we had taken was honestly some of the worst food I ever got from a buffet. I ate my two butter less rolls drank, the warm Ice Tea and left, more hungry than when I entered. We headed forward and I found the pizza station which had a very long line as well, I waited again, pleasant surprise, the pizza was some of the best I have ever had, I visited this station a lot throughout the cruise.

Now able to make it to dinner and reunited with my friends we decided to explore the ship. Forget the elevators, most were out of service, I assume so luggage could be delivered to the rooms. We explored for awhile then headed back to our stateroom to find our luggage had been delivered, its now about 4 pm, so we unpacked. One thing I found real curious…..our room had a refrigerator but nothing in it, I assumed that it would be a mini bar, not. Funny, there is no where on the ship to get anything to put in it. I had filled out a form online where they asked what soda I liked, what water I liked, why bother?

Fast forward to dinner…..We headed down to the Portofino dining room where our group of 177 was supposed to be all seated together...NOT….We were close, but scattered around the dining room sitting amongst people that were not part of our group. I ordered the Steak rare, it came well done. Still hungry from my earlier ordeal I ate it anyway.

Being Halloween night the ship was alive with energy and people partying. The disco was pumping and a fun night was had by all. Funny thing though and this applied to the rest of the cruise, the only place one did not have to wait long for was bar service, they always had enough staff around to collect your money.

End of the night was approaching fast, we decided to go to the Horizon 24 hour buffet for late night breakfast at 3 am…..Don’t plan on this if you’re hungry, they had no hot food at all, just some pastries, cheese and ICE for your ice tea, BUT now the ice tea tap dispensed water…..

We retired for the night, ordering room service for the next morning as we did every morning. It always arrived on time, however rarely correct. One morning we got four containers full of butter but nothing to put it on, milk instead of crème for the coffee, two coffee cups instead of the three ordered, sometimes no sugar or equal.

The food problem seemed to improve as the cruise progressed, perhaps I became more tolerant. My honest opinion is there are just too many people on board for the staff to handle efficiently. Also, I mentioned earlier the elevators. There are definitely not enough of them for the amount of people on board, there was always a fairly long wait except late at night.

Tequila’s Steakhouse…...We did this upgrade restaurant one night, WOW fantastic food, great service. Our waiter Victor was courteous, professional, and knew their product. Highly recommended, ask for Victor.

Internet access…..I was initially pleased to hear that they had wireless access onboard, this way I could do my work daily on my laptop and upload it to my server at home. Wrong again. My work uploads daily required about 45 minutes. They sell the wireless access for 35 cents a minute in 30 minute blocks of which I had purchased four. Unfortunately there is NO WAY to link these together, so after being connected 30 minutes it disconnected me. A very awkward interface to enter the 2nd 30 minute block, by the time I got this done too much time elapsed, my upload was trashed. I got in touch with the internet person and he just looked at me like I was an idiot, offered no work around and said it was out of his hands, he could do nothing. Corporate takes care of that.. My work around? I took my laptop off the ship to internet café’s where they gladly let me plug in and do my uploads, all the time I needed and at a reasonable price.

Our cabin D-208 was adequate and the attendant attentive. He saw to all our needs and requests and always smiled. No privacy at all on the balcony. I ended up mooning a few people up above us, un-intentionally.

As I mentioned earlier I was in a group of 177 people, there were issues that were not handled properly by the ships staff, however since I am not one of the group leaders, I will refrain from further comment.

There was a FOD party the first full day of the cruise, I don’t think they quite expected the turnout they had of close to 300 people. They found more bar help real quickly to handle the thirsty cruisers.

All in all, not impressed with Princess. I doubt very much if I will ever sail with them again. I have been on five previous cruises, all with Holland America

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