Second Mate

Hometown: Palm Springs, CA
Joined: 02/02/2014
Helpful Votes

About EJSmith

Been on cruises since 1980 on NCL and the Norway and Caribbean. Later did several Princess trips to Alaska and transcanal. Sailed on the finest ships then, Royal Viking Line and NCL (Sagafjord/Vistafjord the tops) and an era only captured today on the smaller deluxe ships which they set the standard then. Have done over 40 transatlantic trips (mostly QE2) and some world routes on a variety of lines, many long done in the smaller line market. Have not done a lot of recent trips, only a couple as noted.


EJSmith's Past Cruises

Golden Princess

December 2012 - Golden Princess to Hawaii

Early Hawaii Season Not Best

Found the December trip is early and weather cooler. Also, surf is not up for surfers and beaches quiet. Most of the ports have little to see and many times passengers just wanted to stop at Costco or Walmart at the tour's end since basic items are not for sale in the ship shop.  The macadamia nut plantation tour was interesting but nuts still very expensive or candy coated but were cheaper in Costco and got more. Go figure. So was no bargian for the nuts at least. The trip is half at sea going and coming and the final Mexico stop to get so called "bargains" are better in the town itself, which is mainly a blokc wide, but verycharming to my my surprise. But is about a mile to two mile walk each way pending how far you go. There is a reasonal shuttle. Keep your pasos. The local BUS is really cheap, maybe 50 cts US. The buffet was just OK and did not have the great desert range I had expected. Dining room also just so-so too, nothing special and helpings were small. Staff could barely speak general English greetings. It turns out, many are from eastern block countries or other areas, so a language issue other than "Hello" and "Enjoy the meal," is spoken which I found most interesting. The buffet staff also seemed more interested in their own "fun and games" than ask if a passenger wanted coffee, tea and I would guess, if the right look, "me" shall we say. That seems to be a major issue. Most ship lines exploite the cheaper foreign labor of Asia. This is for cabin service as well. Being an off shore registered corporation billions are made paying no US tax. That's the US of A way for many of course (90%?) companies. This can also be a serious legal issue if one is injured and worse for any recovery. Not a good situation which is never discussed and seldom addressed. I suggest the trip later in the spring for better weather is my guess. Having not been to Honolulu in 25 years or more was rather shocked to see how it has turned from the single "Rainbow Tower" hotel into a Manhatten when you dock. The hotel "Rainbow" is lost amoung the high rise hotels and condos. Lost is that vintage Hawaii flavor that was the peaceful magic of years past drawing the public to this island fantasy. Now is just another high rise city under much of the control too of Japan. They may have lost WW2 but they have won it back now with their almost exclusive tourist trade even firing locals as hotel staff. Credit card, away!

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Grand Princess

June 2012 - Grand Princess to Europe - Northern Europe

To Land Where You Can Really Chill Out

For years had heard of how the North Cape and Fjord cruises can be very special. Key was weather which can vary form sunny and clear to rain. Was lucky to do this trip and have overall fine weather. It was an easy sialing combining two cruises and found the crew very nice and was told easier to use the buffet, which I did 95% of the time for casual dining, even on formal nights. This was no need, if you didn't want to bother, to get too dressed and could be casual too since in the more comfortable area of the ship and dining. The buffet was good with a lot of variety from day to day as well as some items that were staples for everyone or variations of the same. The chefs were most kind and friendly too. 

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Grand Princess

May 2012 - Grand Princess to Europe - Western Mediterranean

UK and Beyond

Had not sailed on Princess in a long time so was interesting to see the changes. I found the dining room food and service marginal. Amounts were small, quality so-so. Things forgotten too. Then just did the buffets which were fine, lots of variety and wide range of deserts, rice pudding and custard excellant. By taking small helpings, didn't gain a pound either. Staff for tea time attentive. Many were eastern block so language limited. That's the cheap labor market we see on many cruise ships, even long ago. Overall just mid or lower middle market. Princess is what it is. And the giant ships make them even lesser with mob scenes everwhere. But that's a lot of the cruise biz. If you want quality, have to do the smaller ships but, of course, are more costly. You get what you pay for. 

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EJSmith's Tips

Grand Princess Grand Princess - Did the Lido for most of my meals to keep it simple. Overall interesting trip but one of few Americans, was both 95% Brit and the mid age was 68, mine but felt more like a floating senior center which, indeed, it was. On two week cruises you generally find few younger passengers due to cost too.
Honolulu, Oahu - Just another giant high rise city. Enjoyed the Arizona and Mighty "Mo" tours.
Golden Princess Golden Princess - The larger ships are different from years ago. This ship, I discovered, does Hawaii almost the entire year with a few trip breaks to Alaska and maybe other special trips. I found out staff are on 9 month contracts and doing this over and over would drive me quite mad. But that's cruising today.
Gibraltar (U.K.) - Town is small but charming. Just a long walk from the ship. Local buses good and cheap day pass.
Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy - Mainly just a bus tour and short stop at main center with time to get postcards and shops near the buses.
Malaga, Spain - As on most shorter tours, limited time stop to get or see much.
Cannes, France - Built up a lot since there last. Long walk to town. Lots of similar shops and cafes. Free WiFi near Mac.
Grand Princess Grand Princess - I found easier to just do the buffets since quality of fine, many selections and staff attentive and chefs good spirited. Varied from day to day fine. Ship decor noting special. Key I have found on all Princess ships, not enough bathrooms for older people. Hard to find them, so often an emergency.

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received a helpful vote on their Grand Princess cruise review - UK and Beyond

received a helpful vote on their Golden Princess cruise review - Early Hawaii Season Not Best

received a helpful vote on their Grand Princess cruise review - UK and Beyond

received a helpful vote on their Grand Princess cruise review - UK and Beyond

received a helpful vote on their Golden Princess cruise review - Early Hawaii Season Not Best

started a discussion, Queen Mary 2 - Caught the worst cold of my life on the cruiseline forum.

commented on a Queen Mary 2 cruise review. - "Sailed on the QE2 long ago when was an all Brit staff. Then the unions were dropped and staff and service went down hill. Was cheap foreign labor who..." read more

received a helpful vote on their Golden Princess cruise review - Early Hawaii Season Not Best

uploaded a photo album from their Grand Princess cruise on 2012-06-23

reviewed their Europe - Northern Europe cruise on Grand Princess and gave it 4 stars!