February 2016 - Regal Princess to Caribbean - Eastern
To say that my wife and I were disappointed in our recent cruise to the eastern Caribbean is an understatement that clearly does not illustrate how utterly disillusioned and dissatisfied we are with Princess Cruises. Our previous cruise experiences had been on Norwegian and MSC, which were very satisfactory indeed and by reputation we anticipated and expected more from Princess Cruises. A Caribbean cruise, because all destination beaches are similar and beautiful, is really about the cruising experience and not the itinerary. We selected Princess based upon recommendations and reputation and these were quite wrong when it came to food and service. On the Regal Princess we were with a group of 12 friends, all with balcony cabins (some with mini-suites, some with extended cabins) and we ate in the Concerto Dining Room at two tables for six people each (with the exception of one evening in the Steakhouse). The following characterized our dining experience: • Breakfast took from 1-½ hours to 2 hours. Rediculous. • Dinner took from 2 to 2 ½ hours (starting at 7:30 PM), Even more ridiculous. • The wait staff was confused and disorganized and their constant trips to the kitchen for items that were ordered but forgotten or prepared incorrectly were tedious and somewhat both sad and comical at the same time. • There was poor coordination between the waiters/waitresses and the busboys and attention to detail was severely lacking. • The food that was presented was poorly prepared and for the most part ungarnished, unredeeming and lacked any semblance of culinary creativity. • At breakfast, the refilling of coffee cups and water glasses was a non-event that the staff failed at repeatedly. • At breakfast, when warm toast was brought to the table, the jelly, jam and butter followed so long after that the toast was cold and inedible. • At breakfast, omelets were thin, poorly filled, and runny, making them completely unappetizing. Sending the omelets back only prolonged the breakfast painfully. There was no Swiss cheese in a Swiss cheese omelet. When extra cheese was ordered it was barely present. Very sad and disappointing that this could not be corrected. • At breakfast, French toast had no evidence of being prepared and dipped in eggs, as is commonly the case for this food. • We ate a dinner in the Steakhouse and ordered Porterhouse steaks. The steaks bore no resemblance to similar steaks ordered in New York steakhouses. The steak lacked the grilled crisp outside and the cool pink center. Indeed, the steak tasted like it has been prepared earlier, given a perfunctory grilling to get grill stripes, and served. It tasted “potted” and tired and not like a specialty restaurant ought to present. The Porterhouse steaks had miniscule fillets that reflected poor butchering as well. The waiter, we felt knew the steaks were bad, because he immediately after serving the steaks brought out a tray of lobster tails to assuage the remarks he was hearing. To have sent the steaks back was only to extend a frustrating meal and miss the 10:15 PM show. The specialty restaurant was a waste of money. • The fillet mignon in the dining room barely resembled a fillet mignon. It was stringy and grainy and did not have the refined tenderness of this cut of meat. The only resemblance we could discern was that it was round. • There was confusion both on the menu and in the presentation of dishes regarding shrimps and prawns. Obviously the culinary staff cannot tell the difference. We raised our concerns with the Maitre’d Francisco and we did so at our table showing him clear examples of what was wrong. While he was urbane, gracious, charming and quite the European continental, he was also ineffective in addressing our concerns and to some degree dismissive. He certainly showered us with apologies but we were not paying for apologies, we were paying for quality cuisine and service, and that he was either unwilling or unable to provide. The Captains in the Concerto dining room (as was all the staff) were courteous and solicitous but were ineffective at directing their staff and even they had trouble interpreting their own menus and understanding rather simple food preparation requests that were not unreasonable. The Captains tried to be accommodating but they lacked the authority to effect any change or perhaps more correctly they did not care with a clientele that turns over weekly. Besides the disappointment in the food and service in the dining room, the towels in the cabins were small, hard and non-absorbent. There was nothing luxurious about the towels or for that matter many other aspects of how the cabin was prepared. The only real positive on this cruise was the excellent quality of the entertainment/shows and the very talented Cruise Director. We never saw the Commodore, Chief Engineer, or the Chief of Hotel operations or for that matter any of the other key upper level executive staff, and certainly that was not the case on Norwegian especially where their access was superb. The Regal Princess was a culinary and service disappointment.