September 2016 - Crown Princess to Coastal - West Coast
This was bad on so many levels. We were travelling as a group of 9 and had 4 cabins. This was not a first cruise for any of us and several members of the group were travel agents. For myself, it was my 16th cruise. I am 30.
Overall: The ports were lovely, traditional dining food was reasonably good, and spending time with our families salvaged an abysmal cruise experience. I have been cruising since I was a little girl. One of the most notable reasons for choosing a cruise is that everyone on a ship treats you like you're special and offers a luxury experience. Princess does not make you feel special. We came back needing a vacation from our vacation.
There was hair in our towels, bedding, and showers. We had a crib (which wasn't there when we arrived though it had been requested) and no offer was made to change the twin bed configuration. I pushed the beds together myself, but they retained twin sheets and twin blankets for the duration of our stay. The bathroom door was very difficult to close. My father-in-law's bag had been held for inspection, but no one notified him. At dinner, when he had no bag and no clothes to change into he inquired after it and it was resolved, but otherwise they would have just left him in limbo. There were no channel guides. The room book said consult your princess patter and the princess patter said "consult your princess patter" but there were no channel guides. Though the room guide stated that their would be pool towels in room, there were not. We both found the beds to be super uncomfortable. Also, our family has short hair and we know cruises provide bath products so we didn't bring our own. Princess' "Lotus Spa" products were very heavily perfumed in a department store way (not in a lightly scented relaxing spa way).
We did a little a bit of everything.
-Traditional dining was pretty on par and we were happy with it overall. I have had better cruise meals and received lukewarm French onion soup and a tian with shells in it. Such is life. The staff here was friendly and accommodating and great with our 1 year old.
-The buffet was just awful, it's all closed in, poorly organized, exactly the same everyday, the sanitizer Nazis won't let you have a plate without sanitizer, everyday we had to bus a dirty table for seating and waited most of our meals without beverages. If you tried to get your own beverages, you were told to go back to your seat. Ice cream was locked to the Pizza station which meant you could only get it when the pizza station was open.
-For Specialty Dining we ate at Sabatinis and The Salty Dog/Wheelhouse. Both were very good though we found it odd that you couldn't really order at the barstools in The Wheelhouse.
-We also did an open seating lunch at the Crown Grill with a pre-set pubfare menu. It was so so bad. The servers all seemed lost, we watched food go to the wrong table and get retrieved, none of it came to the table at the same time, none of it was particularly yummy, and for dessert, there was hair baked into my bread and butter pudding. YUCK!
-Movies Under The Stars fell very short of expectations. It had rained and furniture was left wet even though the unpadded deck chairs dried faster and were stacked and bound. The deck was left wet. No one passed out popcorn like the pictures. The ship doesn't have many drink stations which you were discouraged from helping yourself at and no one offered to get non-alcoholic beverages for you. It was cold and wet, but no one was passing out towels or trying to make it more comfortable.
-The casino was average though my husband (who works in a casino) did note that the rakes were higher than normal.
-We did one comedy show, there was no seating and I sat on the floor while my husband and father in law stood. The show was very PG (as opposed to the early and late shows offered on most cruiselines where the content differs) and there was just the one comedian.
-We did the less formal wine tasting. VIPs were invited, others were told they had to wait to be seated until right before the tasting. I had a broken glass and the presentation was awful. It was 10 minutes per wine where the staff told jokes rather than talking about the wine, sometimes forgot which wine they were supposed to be talking about, and suggested pairings for wine that weren't provided (i'm not talking fancy things, I mean like "try this wine with chocolate" but there was no chocolate. They put chocolate on your pillow every night but can't put a piece of chocolate on the table at your wine tasting?) You received a pack of 2 crackers and a toothpick with 2 pieces of cheese and a grape.
-We normally do the tours of all the amenities and watch the ship take off. The tours occurred before our boarding time and the ship took off during dinner.
-There were shop sales and they all felt like a flea market.
-Smallest liquor selection I have ever seen in a ship boutique
Most ships announce port calls and times over the loudspeaker and in the rooms. Princess did not broadcast into the rooms with the exception of the lifeboat drill. Figuring out exactly what time and what deck to get off of each day was a guessing game.
The Princess Patter was a joke. It had the same event in the itinerary and featured at the bottom with the times 30 minutes different. And we went. There was no event- certainly not something that warranted a feature on the bottom of the page. It literally printed in the princess patter "please see your princess patter for channels and times".
I discovered their "Princess@Sea" app by accident on the second or third day. It wasn't mentioned in any of the room literature until the 4th or 5th day. Also, this phone app was the only place I could find to view my stateroom account. They did not have a television function for this.
Overall the photographers were friendly, proactive, and pleasant. There were almost never lines for photos and I do wish they had spent some time getting our child to smile, but such is life. They did not give out picture number cards, so when you did the photo package at the end, you got the pictures you could find. There were pictures we couldn't find. We did the Platinum Studio and while strawberries and champagne were advertised and we saw them in a corner, they weren't served to us. The photographer was great and the pictures very nice BUT they charge $150/image (digital). Despite the fact that I think that is way exorbitant and a bit of a hustle not to be upfront about the pricing, we did purchase 3 images. We received them on a CD. We're of the modern age of tablets and don't actually have a CD reader in our house so I have yet to retrieve. We paid $450 for 3 photos on a CD. The rest of our cruise photos came on a jump drive, but the ones I paid $150/image for came on a CD. Our kids probably won't even know what CDs are, but for $450 I can get 3 images on a CD. great.
Travelling with a child:
I will be brief in saying that I didn't find this child friendly. Everywhere except traditional dining I had to find my own highchair (which may or may not have a safety belt), he was never offered a place setting, and I frequently had to reiterate a request for a plate at the buffet. In the Crown Grill, because he wasn't offered a highchair and was instead in someone's arms, he knocked over a water glass. No one noticed and no one offered to assist in cleaning up a drenched table and a drenched mom. We paid full 3rd person fare for our child, but he didn't even get his own chocolate at bedtime (and let me tell you, one year olds love chocolate). He's 1. He eats real food. He feeds himself. I didn't appreciate that he really wasn't offered any accommodations outside traditional dining (where staff was great with him). Some cruiselines understand that happy children make for happy parents, princess is not one of them.
We did 2 tours with the ship. Both left late and were poorly organized. The first did not meet where it said it would meet and was mislabeled. The second included no verbal tour on a 30-40 bus ride each way and left 5 hours after getting into port, leaving only 90 minutes at the tour destination.
No one greets you in the halls or even smiles. On our final port, I was actually smacked on the hand by an attendant while retrieving my bags. When I complained at the front desk a few hours later, I was treated like I was just someone who wanted something for free. I didn't ask for compensation of any kind and certainly wasn't given any. I was told that it was the end of my trip and there's no point in complaining and maybe the hair we found everywhere was my (pixie cut) hair and being slapped was just a misunderstanding. At no point did Luciana apologize, just offer a lot of hostility.
I did speak with customer service a few weeks later. They did apologize and offered us $75 onboard credit for each adult (not the 3rd person) if we cruise in the next year. Har har. We won't be cruising with them EVER EVER again. I'm not sure we would give them a second chance even if it was free, let alone pay another $4000 to repeat the experience.
The only quick response we received to our complaints was from the Princess twitter account. Everyone else was either unresponsive or slow to respond. We spent $4000 for the worst vacation experience of our lives and came back feeling like we needed a vacation to recover from our vacation. I can only make sure that I tell as many people as possible that there ARE fabulous and beautiful cruising experiences out there, but they aren't offered by Princess.