Number of Cruises: 18
Cruise Line: Princess
Ship: Star Princess
Sailing Date: October 31st, 2004
Itinerary: Eastern Caribbean
This cruise was inferior to every other cruise we have ever taken. Even though it is billed as a "five star cruise", the standards were below those of three star cruises we have taken. Consequently we felt that this offered no value for money.
Our major complaint was with the quality of the food. It comprised very poor quality, inexpensive cuts of meat and seafood that tasted like it was about to turn. The overall impression of the generally tasteless and sometimes bad tasting food was that it was not fresh, probably previously frozen and was in limited quantities. On every prior cruise (including those three star cruises) the food has always been exceptional and of a very high standard. The Princess desserts were unimaginative, bland and fairly tasteless and the fruit was second quality under-ripe or bruised.
When I indicated at the pursers desk that I was unhappy with the food I was told I could not submit a written complaint, but had to face the Maître d'hôtel myself and tell him, which I was not prepared to do. Alternatively I was advised that I could go to one of the select restaurants (at a cover charge of $20 or £15 per person) if I wanted better food. The select dining is the premium dining so it seems that it is acceptable that the standard service has become the second rate dining. Fine dining is a big part of the cruise experience and without the fine dining the experience is not the same.
The service was also very bad, caused I believe partly by a reduction in the passenger/crew ratio since Carnival acquired Princess, and partly by the fact the tips are added automatically to ones account. For myself, my husband and 7 year old, $19.50 was added to our bill each day for dining room gratuities. As we took breakfast and luncheon buffets, at 18% that would equate to per $110 dinner. Firstly we were probably receiving $20 worth of food (if that) and secondly the service was so bad that it deserved substantially less than 18%. There was no incentive for the waiters or busboys to go that extra mile and believe me they didn't. Again, I have never had a cruise where the waiting staff did not make one feel quite special, that was until I took this Princess/Carnival cruise.
The other shock was that Princess had introduced charges for so many things such as after dinner cappuccino, craft classes, ice cream, service charge for settling ones account on a non-US credit card and to add insult to injury, the head waiter came around table to table on formal night hawking the Cruise Cookbook!! Tacky to say the least.
Our cabin Steward was good although our bathroom had not been cleaned upon our arrival and my child found the last occupants pills in there, which could have resulted in big problems.
The evening shows were fairly average, but were repeated during the one-week cruise, so entertainment was limited. Even the films were shown twice.
The public rooms were very nice and the only real gem on the cruise was the kids club where the staff/ child ratio was excellent and the programme well thought out. My child couldn't get enough of it.
However as the Kids Club was the high light of the cruise, I would never book a Princess Cruise again, even if the prices were reduced to the appropriate level to reflect the third rate food and service.