Number of Cruises: 1
Cruise Line: Princess
Ship: Star Princess
Sailing Date: April 21st, 2007
Itinerary: Western Caribbean
• Excellent – handled very well. Porters were quick to handle and take luggage, even though we had a lot, (fist time cruise, over packed). Line was very long and we checked in at around 2:30pm, after 2:00pm is what was recommended. Personnel in line had all forms that we would need to pass though into processing. Security was slow but needed and not as invasive as airports. We had to sit in the waiting area just after security due to long lines at processing. Did not wait long, but the personnel helping would have done all a favor by NOT announcing that they would go by rows, after the hundreds were already sitting, as this caused masses to jump and push to be in the front rows. Once inside, we handled quickly at the desk, even though we did not have a room assignment from the cruise line in our paperwork. Paperwork for my wife went smoothly, as her passport (sent in 10 weeks earlier) had not arrived and they kept her birth certificate with the application. Overall, it took about an hour to hour and fifteen before we were on board. Once on board, there was confusion as to where we were at, but that seemed to be the norm with most people. Once we found a map and found out we only had three floors to go up, we walked, rather than wait the long elevator lines.
• While quite small, for anyone who hasn’t cruised before, it was laid out nicely and had plenty of storage and space, even though we over packed (few more hangers would have helped). Everything worked fine, except for the TV, which would lose signal from time to time, but as to be expected. The shower was quite the trick for me and my wife. I am a fairly large man, 6ft 1 inch, 240lbs and there was no room to move. Even my wife who is 5ft 2 inches and 130lbs had a difficult time, but we managed. The toilet, just so you know, is like and airplane, in that you have to close the lid to flush and be prepared for the noise. We had booked and ocean view room, which we got, but you had to look under the life boat to see it. Will know to ask next time. Also, since we did not have a room at embarkation, when we booked 3 months early? Our room was originally for another couple, by their name being on the door the whole trip, it caused issues with our on board card and telephone messaging that took until the end of the cruise to correct.
• Layout was very good and the on board offering were excellent. While the ship was 8years old, other than the upper deck carpeting, there were little signs on wear and tear. The pools were cold, but other than the main pool, always available and clean. Bars were plentiful and busy, especially on sea days. Would have like to seen the restaurants a little more distributed throughout, but I understand that is not in the ship builder’s interest. Spa was wonderful, over priced, but considering you were a trapped audience, not too bad. They did screw up our reservations. As we made them online before leaving, yet they did not have them when we got on board? STRONGLY, recommend that you check everything when you get on board.
• Dining in the restaurants was excellent. The food was above average restaurant quality and the specialty restaurants (premium cover charge) were world class, well worth the extra to try a couple time. Service in the restaurants was first class, never wanting or waiting for anything. Buffet food was top notch and the concern over cleanliness was over the top. I had never been to a buffet where they SERVED the food for you. All restaurant/buffet/burger bar/pizza bars required you to sanitize your hands before seating, in front of the staff. Great Idea! While the food was better in the specialty restaurants, and I recommend trying them several times each, that would be the limit. The buffet could use some work on their desserts to bring them in line with the restaurants, as they were trying too hard to make something different and they ended up all tasting the same, with just a different look to them. Stick with more traditional items, (cheese cakes, pies, cakes and ice cream (cheap to make soft serve, but none available, and all ice cream you had to pay for)) especially when 80% + were Americans/Canadians on board. The food bars were just okay, but were very quick. I highly recommend the burger bar in the morning for a cook to order omelets. Buffet could use some more seating for the peak hours and/or quicker clean-up service. Some tables had cards to reserve your area when going back for seconds, but not all. Which we found out several times when we came back to our table and people were sitting there eating? While the bars were well stocked and the bartenders trained on all drinks, there were just not enough of them during peak times and sea days. There were not nearly enough waiter/waitresses to take and deliver orders in any kind of timely manner, as the first sea day we waited over and hour for drinks and the ice was nearly melted and my beer warm. After that, we always went to get drinks ourselves. This got really bad on their private island.
• Could not have been better. Room staff was exceptional, even on the days we slept in. Waiters/waitresses were top notch, but overworked/understaffed in the buffet area and bar service area. Even the purser’s desk, which seemed to always have a long line, was quick and efficient.
• Shows and comedians were as good as or better than shows on land in big cities. Could have been better with a few adult only shows, as they pushed the limit with children in the theater. Plenty of seating and only few blocked views. Since they had multiple shows, it was easy to get to one or the other, if there was a big crowd. But with any shows that have open seating, come early to avoid the search. There were so many other activities going on, that we could not even come close to seeing them all. They were well diverse and scheduled nicely, catering to all different types and personal choices. Pool side game and lounge game were an absolute riot, to watch or participate in. Try to see as many as possible, ice carvings, bartender wars and food demos were great. Only down item, it was my wife’s birthday the day before we left and our anniversary just two weeks before that. We booked them both for special request while we were on board, but got only one balloon and a note on the door for Happy Anniversary, which was far less than other received through out the ship.
• Ocho Rios – did not get in due to what the captain called gale force winds. Did not seem as rough as when we were in Cozumel, but he is the captain.
• Grand Cayman – Had booked trip to 7 mile beach. Beach was well worth it, but the cattle car bus trip and times, should have spent just a couple bucks and took a cab. Shopping was excellent, was worth the time spent listening to the ships shopping guides on board, as they pointed to some great deals. Be careful though, as what they consider deals, the average folks like us, was still kind of expensive.
• Cozumel – great weather and nice docking, versus tender. We booked a trip to Tolum ruins. Since the hurricanes of the last few years, the area is being rebuilt, so after a very rough ferry ride to Playa De Carma, we had to walk 10 blocks to the bus station. Guides were top notch and new everything about the area. Did not like that they stopped at a trinket store on the way, just to get us to buy things. The lunch provided, was poor and we were not sure we should eat it. Had some with out ill affects, so? The ruins were wonderful, if you like that type of thing, which I did and the wife didn’t. The heat didn’t help and the guide, while extremely good, was bit long winded, due to large crowd and hard to hear, so there was a lot of repeating. The view off the cliffs was breath taking. Bit surprise to go down to the beach and see topless sunbathers in such a very public place, but then again, us Americans are so far behind the rest of the world. Having traveled it, I was not shocked, but my wife was taken aback. There was no time for shopping with this tour, except in Playa De Carma, which they did not give us any information about on the boat, and the were hundreds of people who took this excursions. The locals try to sell you everything, so buyers beware.
• Princess Cays – very good time had here. Relaxing, this is what we choose to do. Rented a Cabana, which was just a small tent over two chairs, but worth it. Snorkeling was wonderful, but the gear rental was over priced. I recommend going away from the powered equipment area if you want to relax, as they is too much going on and the kids are loud. BBQ was well prepared, but there was not nearly enough seating. Bars were slow in getting going and shut down too early. Shopping was good, but go through the security checkpoint and visit the locals on the back side of the island. Prices were 50% lower!
• This was the only real down side to the whole cruise. Not sure why they ask for you plane information when booking the cruise, as they did not take that into consideration when scheduling your disembarkation. We tried to change it at the purser’s desk, but were told this was the order and to get our luggage, we had to follow it. Told they would have everyone off by 9:00am at the latest, which we didn’t get off until nearly 10 and we had an 11:00am flight. The bus was terribly slow and the driver hit us up to know that he was expecting tips for handling our luggage at the airport. When we arrive, he would not let anyone off until he unloaded all the luggage, this was a Grey Hound, packed to the limit! He said it was cruise line rules, yet the other busses pulling up from Princess, were getting off. When my wife and I tried to get off, as it was 10:20, he yelled at us to get back and stay on the bus. Needless to say, we missed out flight and had to change flights to the only one available, which got us in two hours later and had several stops/changes. We barely made that one to, as the airport security was long and extremely rude/slow.
• I would recommend this cruise to all, especially as a first timer. This was a really good time of the year for fewer children on the cruise, which we were not concern about, but was a bonus. I would only recommend doing it early in the year, March maybe, as it was extremely warm some days.