My wife and I are avid cruisers. We have sailed in the past with Celebrity, Holland America and Royal Caribbean, and rank them in that order. Frankly, in the important categories of service and food, I think that Celebrity is the gold standard. I have read what seem to be an inordinate number of negative reviews about Princess, and would appreciate some feedback from people who have sailed Princess before.
As for the service, did your head waiter greet you each evening as you entered the dining room? Did he or a member of his staff hold your chair for you and spread your napkin? Did your waiter explain the menu to you each evening? Was your waiter friendly? Did he make an effort to learn your names and tastes (e.g., how you like your steak done)? Would he suggest or recommend items on the menu? Would he bring you from the kitchen as much of whatever you wanted, even if it wasn't on the menu, with the attitude that he was born for this purpose? Did the staff at the buffet carry your trays to the table for you and clean up promptly, without you having to ask them? How would you describe the Princess service generally, including the waiters by the pool, the staff at the front desk, the servers in the bars, and room service?
Was there a band playing on deck as the ship left port?
Were there shaded areas for lounge chairs by the swimming pools?
Was the ship in general and your stateroom in particular not only clean, but immaculately clean?
As for the food, how would you describe the selection and quality in the dining room, including everything from the bread on the tables to the appetizers, entrees and desserts? What about at the buffet? How would you describe the "presentation" (so important to make a dish look appealing)? Was there a charge for soft drinks, and if so, can you purchase a "soda card" for a specific amount for the week? For those who have cruised with other lines, how do the prices of the Princess bar drinks compare? Were the "specialty" restaurants on board better in quality than the dining room, and if so, how? Were there midnight buffets, and if not, what food was available in late evening? Did Princess really charge you for ice cream? Was any ice cream available free of charge, and during what hours?
Steve sorry but I don't have time to address all your questions, but like you we rank Celebrity tops then in our case Princess and Holland America. So if that is any help try Princess. These days we choose more on itinerary than by cruise line as in our view there is not that much between them for us to bother but we always look at Celebrity first then Princess. Having never had a bad cruise we are also suckers for a bargain, hence our next cruise booked last week is on Carnival Glory to three places we love. Many people are surprised when we tell them that the second best food we have ever had on a single cruise was on Carnival. The best by the way was on Celebrity Horizon. Galaxy this year did not come up to Princess earlier in the year. In our view Holland America is an enjoyable relaxing cruise but the dining room food is its weakest spot.
Cunard QE2 1984 & 1990
Carnival Fantasy 2001, Inspiration 2003, Glory 2005,
Celebrity Horizon 2004, Galaxy 2005, Summit 2006, HAL Zuiderdam 2004, Veendam 2005
Princess Star 2003, Sun 2004
P&O Oceana 2004
RCCL Nordic Empress 2002
Regal Empress 2002
RCCL Legend of the Seas Apr 2006
Saga Ruby June 2006
P&O Arcadia July 2006
Carnival Miracle Oct 2006
RCCL Navigator Apr 2007
P&O Aurora Sep 2007
QM2 Sep 2007
Sapphire Princess Apr 2008
I totally agree with you that, in the cruise lines you named, Celebrity is the gold standard when it comes to service. The other cruise lines can not equal nor top them – that being said you can, and will, have a great cruise on Princess if you chose to go and you just put that thought in your head before you get on the ship. (Spending a week constantly comparing the two is not going to make for a wonderful cruise.) Only on Celebrity do they take your trays from the buffet line and carry them to a table for you – let alone with the white gloves on. I am a picky eater and I let Princess know that on my first night, along with making other odd food requests and after that night I have always been impressed with the special things that they have arranged for me or been willing to do without question or hesitation. If you want a chocolate dessert every night, or a baked potato for lunch everyday just nicely tell them on day one and Princess will do their best to accommodate you.
The food it not up on the same levels as Celebrity’s on Princess but it is good food – there are some little things like pasta courses which I feel they do better than Celebrity. Yes, your waiter will try to learn your preferences and certainly will get to know you. I have actually found when cruising that being the ‘quiet one in the corner’ does not get you the better service. Let them know if you are not happy with something or if you really like something one way vs. another – then they will have an easier time making a note of it and will not have to ask again. I always do it with a smile on my face and thank them but I have noticed that I rarely have to ask twice on any cruise line afterward.
If Celebrity has a weakness, in my opinion, it is their front desk personal – and I do not consider them a weakness at all on Princess. You will have no trouble getting help, information, directions, etc. from the front desk. The servers by the pool are fine – they will happily get you a drink but they are also happy passing you by to rest in your lounge chair if you seem to not want to be disturbed. (And nobody has ever given me a hard time if I simply want a glass of ice water.)
To answer some of your other questions: Yes, I believe on every Princess cruise I have been on there has been a band playing on deck as we sailed away. They do have lounges in the shade by the pool if you prefer that to the sun. Naturally some ships have more than others. I always get suites no matter what cruise line I am on and my rooms are always clean. If I have any pet peeve – and it is straight across the board with every ship, and line, that I have sailed on it’s that they do not clean the glass on the verandah once or twice a day getting the salt spray off so it often looks a bit cloudy.
If you have more specific questions please feel free to email me – good luck with your choice! Barbara
We have taken 9 cruises so far, 3 on Royal Carribean and 6 on Princess. We prefer Princess's "anytime dining". We eat whenever we want to and get a table for 2 most of the time. With anytime dining you have a different waiter every night. The waiters have always been outstanding and the head-waiters make us feel like we are the King and Queen of Sheba. The food is great in the dining room except the beef. If you are in the mood for steak go to the Sterling Steak House - delicious.
On Princess the ships are immaculately clean, even the older ships, spotless. Our room was always clean, clean, clean. I have never met any of the staff on Princess who weren't friendly and helpful. (Unlike Royal Carribean who have some snotty front desk people and a few crabby waiters.)
You can get free ice cream after dinner. And they have ice cream for free in the Horizon Court sometime in the afternoon (between 2 and 3, I think)
I love cruising with Princess but after reading so many nice things in this forum about Celebrity I guess I should give them a try.
Golden Princess 2008 (Hawaii)
Caribbean Princess 2008
Norwegian Gem 2007 (Transatlantic)
Island Princess 2007 (Hawaii)
Caribbean Princess 2006 (Caribbean)
Diamond Princess 2006 (Coastal)
Island Princess 2006 (Coastal)
Splendour of the Seas 2006 (Caribbean)
Island Princess 2005 (Hawaii)
Rhapsody of the Seas 2005 (Caribbean)
Sapphire Princess 2005 (Mexico)
Caribbean Princess 2004 (Caribbean)
Star Princess 2004 (Europe / Transatlantic)
Golden Princess 2003 (Caribbean)
Golden Princess 2003 (Transatlantic)
Golden Princess 2003 (Transatlantic)
Monarch of the Seas 2002 (Caribbean)
Rhapsody of the Seas 2000 (Mexico)
We were on the Island Princess last December and if I used that as a measure for Princess we would NEVER cruise Princess again.
We DID love the Anytime Dining so there's no way to compare the fact that the waiter remembered us except for the nights we requested the same table. Then, it was just visiting ..........napkins were NEVER put onto our laps and preferences were never remembered. We really loved Anytime Dining, however.
The buffet, compared to Holland America, was not something you'd want to use. The area was filthy; the tables were sometimes cleared but never wiped off. Even a waitress in the Dining Room told us to "never put your arms on the table because they are supposed to sanitize them when people leave but they just don't want to" (which we noticed). Even when few people were in that area, it was hard to find a place to eat as the tables weren't cleared. We went to the Head Waiter; we went to the Front Desk..............as did many passengers. Nothing changed.
On embarkation day we were excited to show our grown kids how wonderful things were...............the welcome buffet had only iceberg leattuce (we were used to field greens), terrible frozen, prebreaded fish and not a single dessert that was good............
in fact, the desserts on the entire cruise left a lot to be desired.
The lobster nights were wonderful; we were offered more if we so chose.............
Room Service was quite limited. Our room was usually clean but our linens could have been on a ship for ten years; they usually had tiny holes in them.
I got food poisoning; I tried to tell them so they'd know which food caused it. NO ONE
don't know what happened there, but I will continue
NO ONE wanted to hear that I'd had food poisoning.........I decided to keep it to myself and not bad-mouth things but I have to tell you that in the pool the following day, three people told me they'd had food poisoning AND that they, too, had tried to report it and no one wanted to hear about it!
They seemed to have a much better disembarking system when in ports because we reported to a lounge and were given numbers. YEA, we thought.............no pushing or shoving BUT, people who had apparently cruised Princess before, knew the system.....they do NOT take your tickets or check if you were, in fact, with this group so they'd just step into the midst of us and get on with no waiting.
The entertainment and Anytime Dining were the two things we liked a lot................the whole food situation was extremely poor. It was as if the servers were about to revolt. Around the pool they would just stand and visit...........if you wanted service you'd have to seek it out or go to the bar yourself.
The bathrooms were the tiniest we've seen on a ship............there was a lot of joking aboard that there was no way the many quite large people could be taking showers. They are just tiny.............tucked into a corner of the bathroom. We had outside rooms, not the cheapest. We really liked the layout of the room because there were no doors on the closet so one could be looking for clothes and when the other stepped out of the bathroom there wasn't a collision.
Trying to go to the "leader" with problems rather than bad-mouthing Princess has done no good at all. We went to many "head" people aboard..............no one wanted to hear. I wrote letters when we got home; no one has responded.
Oh!! the chocolate buffet was non-existent. They had an early afternoon display (and eating) of pretty desserts.........they were just pretty.
They did have soda cards (plastic containers). They had a huge party at the end............like a new years party...........they passed out champagne, etc. People were joking that they were trying to give us a last impression to remember so we'd not remember the poor service and mediocre food.
We really need to try another Princess Ship because we've heard some are okay.................but the Island Princess in December of 2004 was dirty and had a food/drink serving crew that was about to mutiny. We went to Hawaii.............want papaya? None anywhere..............ask, "Oh, maybe I can find you a slice or two in the back."
On Holland America we can go up late at night and have herbal tea. IF you are lucky on Princess, you can find a server in the buffet area to ask...............if you remain lucky he may bring you ONE herbal teabag from the kitchen many minutes later. "We keep them locked up" was the report.
We look for the positive and avoid that pocket of negative people who seem to evaluate cruises while onboard.........this was a most difficult cruise. As I said, we tried to take problems to the supervisors and not to other cruisers; it was a waste of our time.
well, it cut me off again
regarding ice cream..........we'd told our grown kids they could get it free anytime as on HAL..............they sold it (I believe it was $3.50 for a tiny cup) by the pool. Once in a while, they'd put a big bowl of it on the buffet.
Never a band..................we left LosAngeles several hours late and there was no announcement regarding the reason nor was there an announcement that we were leaving ...........we just slipped off................as was the case most places.
I had to reply when I read your review. We just got back from a Sapphire Princess trip to Alaska, and I would go on Celebrity next time. The food on Celebrity last year (on the Galaxy, to the Carribean) was exceptional, and on Princess it was good but not wonderful. They put the napkins in our laps intermittently, and did not get to know our names personally, like on Celebrity. We did not have a midnight buffet on Princess, which I had looked forward to just for the pictures. The one on Galaxy last year was fantastic. Only one time did anyone in Sapphire's buffet help my 76 year old mom carry her plate--no trays available. The plates were giant. We mostly had to get our own coffee in the buffet too. They did not have a party when we left the first day, at least we didn't hear of any, no band, like Celebrity last year. We did try one of the alternative dining rooms, the Sante Fee one night, the service was terrible. Not sure if it was late, although at 8:30 there were still a lot of other people eating, In fact, the people who arrived at the next table after us got their food BEFORE us. Yes there is a charge for soda pop, you could buy a large cup to get refilled as often as you wish. I'm not at all sorry we went on this trip, I just liked Celebrity better. Hope this helps.
I have been on several cruise lines over the years - Home Lines, Carnival, NCL, RCCL, Costa. Have not tried Celebrity or HAL.
Since 1996 I have cruised exclusively with Princess. I take 2-3 cruises per year.
Personally I have not had any of the horror stories happen to me, thankfully.
Many items listed by Steve David are common place happening for me with Princess.
Kaye,I am shocked that noone said anything about your food poisoning. With all of the Norwalk Virus on ships with the mention of being sick they took it very seriously.
I just returned from the Star Princess. A gentleman complained that he was sick from eating steak (in Tequilas, the steakhouse).
He was immediately seen by the MD, and was quarantined to his cabin for 2 days.
Guess we all have our favorites, and Princess remains mine.