August 2016 - Caribbean Princess to Europe - Western Europe
My wife and I have taken 3 cruises on Princess prior to this cruise including another on 8 other cruise lines to a total of 31 cruises. In our opinion the merger with Carnival have left Princess as not a jewel but now a rough stone. We booked this cruise for the locations to visit and an additional on the Regal Princess for a back to back vacation. I wanted to establish my comments with the knowledge that we have in cruising.
Embarkation was a treat, the terminal building did not have WiFi to waste the time away waiting for boarding. The Princess Staff made the process easy, after that we waited 1.5 hours to board. Instead of allowing the disabled to board first they were put in with all the guests, causing long lines and problems. We then headed for our room dropped off our carry on, our room was actually larger than the Regal, a Balcony room. The Room Stewart greet us and we asked that the extra chair and small table be removed to give us more room to move around. Plenty of open closet for our clothes and floor storage with a shelving unit where the safe was, this is when we noted how old the ship was. It is a 13 year old ship that hasn't had much renovation, in fact it is due to drydock in the spring.
We left the room headed toward the Horizon Court (Buffet), age showed up again, when we walked on the floors, in our room, and in the elevators there were soft spots under the carpets. The Court had 3 separate locations and the older pattern. In the food line we noticed that meats were available but the sauces such as horseradish were set up before you got the meet some 10 feet away. As the time went along, menus in this area were repeated several times, locations were shut down leaving just one area to gain your food. We were stopped at the beginning to make sure we sanitize our hands, but as the cruise continued, guests would enter the exit or just pass the personnel and no one cared.
We tried to use the Dining Rooms, it started out good but dropped into bad habits. Seated and provided a menu, in the beginning the servers would get your order immediately, but as the cruise went along, the servers would wait until their area was filled before taking our order. The Formal nights are an old tradition that needs to be stopped, as the Chocolate Fountains/Midnight Buffets have been. There were double amount of people in the Buffet those nights, plus it would be less clothes to pack.
Shore Excursions were way over priced and offered things that stretched the truth at times. We signed up to kiss the Blarney Stone, the night before the tour, we were provided a letter telling us that to get to this we would have a physical and time limitations to get to this location. Interestingly, you can't cancel the tour within 24 hours of the trip. We went on the trip and were provided some side trips along the way, which caused us to get behind the 8 buses in front of us, allowing 1.5 hours to get in line for the STONE and walk the site. As would have it, we arrived finding that it was a 2 hour wait to get to the STONE. I confronted the Princess Shore Excursion Manager, he advised me that they are only the AGENT and I would have to take my concern up with the Contracted Tour Company. He also advised me that it is policy that they have this relationship, I asked to see this policy, he advised me to call Princess.
Problem with the Boutiques, Customer, Security and Fiscal Services regarding false advertising, butting every charge on hold against my card instead of waiting till the end of the Cruise. We had to change our room/ID Cards 5 times due to these problems and it was also summed up with, "Call the 800 number if you don't like it." We reported a small inflatable boat with in 20 feet of our hull with a Man in the Boat and a Yellow Bag, took pictures, reported to Security to have them tell me that I shouldn't concerned, that the ship has video cameras to record this!
This is just a taste of experience on this ship and PRINCESS Service.