January 2015 - Star Princess to Mexico
Maybe I should preface my review by mentioning that our last three cruises were with Oceania and Seabourn, where we had some of our best cruising experiences ever. The Star Princess Princess is no Marina, Regatta, or Odyssey.
Many people go on a cruise because they want to eat well. There are several restaurants on the Princess that offer good food. But you have to be prepared to pay for it. One of the specialty restaurants has a cover charge of $25 a person. The free dining rooms offer both traditional seating and anytime dining. We chose the latter and had no time finding seats, although we never went at peak times. The food was often too salty and contained a lot of creams. We asked for salt-free food and were accommodated. The selection and quality, in our opinion, were mediocre. We don't like desserts too much but others praised the quality and selection.
The staff, with very few exceptions, was outstanding, always eager to help and very polite.
The ship made a very clean impression. Our cabin, a mini-suite, was made up promptly, and it was always spotless. The butler couldn't have been better. He secured a smaller pillow for both of us, brought us an extra duvet over, and also helped with all kinds of little things.
Although we were on a vacation, we still had to have reliable internet. If you need this feature, forget it. It wasn't cheap either. 79 cents a minute, if you don't buy a plan. 200 minutes for $100. It took me one hour once to download a single email. Almost two hours to download an attachment.. When I complained, I was given some extra minutes. But it was very frustrating and annoying. I would call this part of our cruise disastrous.
We went to two of the big shows (held daily) in the Princess Theater. We were not enthused and, therefore, skipped the others. The guitarist, who played in various lounges, was exceptionally good. I would rate him world class. We listened to him whenever we had a chance. The violinists and pianists were quite presentable as well. Some of the game shows were o.k., one was outright trashy. Don't take your kids to them!
We are quite interested in art and went to several seminars and art auctions. The fellow who was in charge made several racial remarks we didn't appreciate at all. He constantly talked about his Jewish friends and slighted the Arabs. We felt that he tried to emotionalize his presentations thereby getting his audience to buy more. His support staff was outright pushy. Be careful and watch what you are buying. If you don't know anything about art, you might want to go to your hometown art dealer rather than this guy.
The ship stopped in four ports We selected two excursions (La Paz and Loreto) and explored Puerto Vallarta on our own. The walking tour of Loreto was mediocre (first Mission in California), La Paz, likewise, did not have much to offer either (second Mission). Puerto Vallarta has excellent shipping, seems to be quite safe if you like to go on your own. We bought some sting ray purses at the Rolling Stones store, which made for some wonderful presents. We also bought a whole bunch of Mexican plates and bowls, which we like a lot. The follow we bought them from, was exceptionally friendly and even took us back to the ship. He refused to accept a tip.
There are so-called liquor plans that you can buy. One of them cost $49 a day per person. We opted to pay as we went. Wine is not cheap and about the same as in a decent restaurant back home. We you like good wine, you pay for it.
Considering that there were some 3000 passengers on board, embarkation and disembarkation went quite smoothly. Expect about half an hour to one hour waiting in line.
Would we go on another cruise on the Star Princess? I am not sure. If we can afford it, we will rather sail on the Marina, the Regatta, or the Odyssey.