Number of Cruises: 2
Cruise Line: Princess
Ship: Star Princess
Sailing Date: January 8th, 2006
Itinerary: 7 Day Western Caribbean
Overall, our cruise onboard the Star Princess left a lot of room for improvement. Our first cruise was with Celebrity, and we would definitely cruise with them again!
I think the biggest problem with Princess is that they automatically charge the gratuities to your shipboard account, which means the staff don’t seem to be working as hard for your tips! Princess charges $10 per person per day, and to make matters worse, they even suggested on our cruise that we may want to give an additional tip to those employees that provide “good service.” Isn’t that what the gratuities are for in the first place? You can have the gratuities removed from your shipboard account, but you have to make a special request at the Purser’s desk. We made the request on the first day, and then when we got our final bill, the gratuities were STILL included! I went to the Purser’s desk and explained I had already tipped my waiters, room steward, etc. myself (personally) and I wanted the additional gratuities removed. I also explained this was my SECOND request to have this done. The person I dealt with didn’t seem to care, and didn’t even apologize for the error. He was very unfriendly and it seemed like he was doing me a favour by correcting my account.
I agree with everyone who has said that Princess’ service is not as good as Celebrity’s service. Our waiter at dinner was also not very friendly, and didn’t even know our names (whereas our waiter on Celebrity had a conversation with us every evening!) The waiters around the pools, at the bars, etc. were OK, but did not go above & beyond to provide good service. The service at the ice cream parlour was also poor; you could tell that both of the girls that worked there on a regular basis had absolutely NO interest in being there!
On a positive note, the best part of the cruise was definitely the entertainment. All of the shows we went to were top-notch, and there was a unique theme every night. The singers and dancers were all very talented and we were very impressed. We also thought the comedians were great and very funny.
The food was OK, but nothing special. You could tell that they were trying to save money in a lot of areas. The food at the specialty restaurants was very good, but of course you had to pay an additional fee to eat there. I expected much more from the main dining room.
At the buffet, there was no fruit punch or lemonade available as there was on Celebrity. There was only water or iced tea, and anything else had to be purchased. The food selection at the buffets was not very impressive.
Our cabin (A230) was nice and had a covered balcony. I agree the washrooms on this ship are very small, but that wasn’t a major concern for us. Our room steward (“Joe”) was great, and he did an excellent job cleaning our room every day. We asked for extra towels one day, and he was there within 1 minute. His service was probably the best out of everyone we dealt with on this ship.
Embarkation & disembarkation was good and very efficient. When we boarded Celebrity, we were given a “welcome drink” as soon as we got on the ship. There were no extra touches like that with Princess.
The pools were nice and clean, but there were definitely a high percentage of people “reserving” lounge chairs. On two occasions, we couldn’t find a chair anywhere on the deck, even though we checked every single area! Princess says that they will remove items left on chairs for more than 30 minutes, but this was clearly not enforced. We also saw staff members using the lounge chairs by the pool (they were wearing their name tags!) and thought it was very strange that staff were allowed to use the guest facilities, especially given there weren’t even enough chairs for all of the guests.
On that note, we also staff eating at the specialty restaurants on several occasions. That’s fine if they want to allow their staff to eat at the restaurants, but they definitely shouldn’t be wearing their uniforms! We were also told that reservations for the specialty restaurants were very hard to get (we booked ours on the first day) so I don’t understand why they would turn away guests, while allowing staff members to eat there.
We also had a problem with the shopping “directors”… We purchased a couple bottles of wine in Grand Cayman and were told it would be delivered to our stateroom that evening (although liquor would not be delivered until the end of the cruise). The wine never arrived, and we were first told that we could not get it until the end of the cruise. Once we sorted out the confusion and confirmed that we COULD get our wine in our room, we were told that the shopping directors were the only two with the key to get our wine. The operator on the phone paged them several times, and they couldn’t be found anywhere. After several frustrating phone calls, I asked to speak to the manager in charge at the Purser’s Desk as he/she must have a key. I was told there was no one I could speak to, and the person on the phone was actually quite rude. We ended up getting our wine much later that evening, with no apology for the delay.
Overall we were not impressed with the customer service or the food on Princess, and we would not cruise with them again.