August 2014 - Coral Princess to Alaska - Gulf of Alaska
My wife, children, and I have traveled all over the world. Both on our annual vacations (typically one or two) and my time served in the US Navy. As far as Cruises go, this is our third different Cruise Line we have tried. We must say, it was pretty disappointing compared to the other two. I will try to be as detailed as possible so that this review is actually published.
Embarkation: A fairly long, single line that moved at a relatively slow pace. All told, it probably took about an hour to get to our stateroom. We were allowed to bring one bottle of wine onboard, and I did like that our luggage was transferred to the ship directly from the airport. The embarkation crew were very polite and courteous.
Stateroom: Our room was actually very nice and spacious, with a window view on the bottom level of the ship. The disappointment came with the bathroom, however. I have never in my life seen a shower that small. It was physically impossible for me to use it without completely soaking the floor and wasting towels trying to keep the mess manageable. The room was always warm, despite the thermostat setting, and the tapwater was HEAVILY chlorinated. The stateroom staff was very polite but they lacked a lot of the little extras you would experience on other cruise lines such as folded towel creatures or other little suprises in your room to brighten your day. That was disappointing.
Dining: Breakfast had a wide assortment of fruits, parfaits, eggs, pastries, and the typical breakfast meats. The parfaits were made ahead of time so the granola was very soggy. Eggs were always overcooked, especially disappointing on the day they had eggs benedict. Lunch was hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza, nachos, and other similar items. The hamburgers actually made my wife ill so we stuck with pizza for lunch. We attended the sit-down "fancy" dinners every evening. The waiting staff were extremely polite and would always seem interested in how your day was. They always remembered our names and our favorite drinks. The food was a hit-or-miss at these dinners. Some dishes were very good while others I could not even finish. The ones in between were very bland, with almost no seasoning. I'd like to mention that as much money as this cruise costs, the only free coffee you have access to is actually instant coffee from a spigot.
Public areas: Areas were visually very appealing, but could get extremely crowded during any shipboard events. The hot tubs were very nice and relaxing.....when they were working. They had a total of six, but typically only half of that were actually hot or had all of the jets working. Out of the 2 or 3 that were fully functional they were typically filled with ten year old children so my wife and I considered ourselves lucky when we could actually get into one that worked. The pool areas were smaller than the other cruise lines I have been on and only about 5 feet deep. Bathrooms were typically well maintained but after the third day at sea one of the bathrooms had some kind of septic backup or failure. Every time you passed that area of the ship you were inundated with the foul, noxious odor of human sewage. This was not repaired at all during the cruise.
Children's Areas: It was only my wife and I so I cannot comment on these areas, however it seemed as if all of the children were constantly in the hot tubs.
Entertainment: One of the things my wife and I loved most about our previous two cruise experiences was the plentiful and varied amount of entertainment that was available to us as passengers. We were sorely disappointed with what Princess had to offer. Don't get me wrong, the quality was very good. But I can honestly say that there was MUCH less options and a LOT more "empty" or down time as opposed to our other cruises. Also, after every single event there was something they were trying to sell. It has happened on other cruise lines as well but the sales pressure on Princess was very, very intense. And it was with every entertainment venue.
Excursions: They had a large variety to choose from but they were extremely expensive compared to just hiring somebody on shore independently. I will say that I heard a few of my fellow cruisers complaining about the professionalism of some of the independent contractors. We did not have that problem with the Princess excursions, but the politeness must have been included in the price.
Customer Service: This is the biggest problem I had with Princess. You can only purchase items on the ship with your Cruise Card. Princess's finance department kept shutting my wife's and my own card off, which would sometimes even lock us out of our own room. We had to go to the service desk on 4 separate occasions to sort out the mess, and each time they neglected to annotate the problem in their computers so it kept on happening. When I complained, I received a call from the "Finance Manager" who first apologized, and then proceeded to tell me that it was all my fault and that even though I wasn't satisifed with Princess, 99% of their customers ARE satisfied. What kind of an apology is that? Just imagine how frustrating it would be if you are trying to buy a toothbrush in the ship store, or a bottle of wine at dinner, and you are told that your ship card has been shut off AGAIN.
Disembarkation: We disembarked at 5:45 am, which seemed very early to us. However, it went smoothly and even though it was raining, Princess had these portable tube-like structures that kept the rain off of us until we could reach the train.
Summary: For the price that we paid, we expected a lot more in terms of quality. The sales pressure and the poor customer service was perhaps the breaking point that will prevent us from ever trying Princess again.