From seas so rough the first night that I couldn't sleep for the cabin creaking & banging, to losing all sound half-way into a movie in the main theater -- with no one there to monitor or fix the problem -- to a cappucino that was supposed to be decaf but wasn't, to a head waiter that was supposed to know which dishes are saltier than others, but didn't, to bourbon that was supposed to be served plain but came over ice instead, etc. etc. -- too much went wrong unnecessarily on this cruise to be able to relax and enjoy it. (Ok, the rough seas are no one's fault, but these 3000-person ships are supposed to be fitted with modern stabilizers.) And that's a shame, because the ballroom dance combo in Wheelhouse were good, the ship's layout is good, and some of the food was very good. Their organization seemed strange this time: no one we asked for help actually went & did the doing, they always handed it off to someone else... with all the attendant snafus. Fortunately, we've had 2 good Princess cruises before this one, so this poor experience won't put us off the brand entirely.
Food and Dining
3 out of 5
Head Waiters are supposed to know food content to inform those with dietary restrictions, but ours was not knowledgeable: their only way of accommodating was to make it from scratch, which always takes longer, and can't be done w/ things like soups, so the information they are supposed to have would have been helpful, but they weren't well-informed.
1 out of 5
Too many contests & sales pitches, no real enrichment talks. The ballroom dancing opportunities were good, though.
3 out of 5
Would have earned a smiley-face if (a) the movie in main theater had not lost all sound half-way through, w/ no one monitoring or fixing, and (b) the movie schedule on in-room TV did not work. (cabin A-617)
Service and Staff
3 out of 5
5 out of 5
I liked the overall layout of Star Princess better than Ruby or Crown Princess. Especially liked opening up the buffet line larger, for less crowding.
Cabin / Stateroom
5 out of 5
Excellent design for a small bathroom, and the shower curtain did not attack me! Balcony kept my companion from feeling too closed-in. But goodness, can't you design cabin walls & closet that don't creak & bang around during heavy seas at night?!?! That night of lost sleep screwed up the next day and evening (too tired to do anything but go to bed), and there went half the cruise. One tip: the beds are hard unless you ask for an egg crate foam topper...and make sure it is put on with the smooth side upward, the steward did not know to do it that way. Also the bed nearest the hall in A-617 has a deep crater in the middle of it; mattress needs changing!!!
Nearly impossible to get same-morning dinner reservations for Anytime Dining... and very impossible to get table for 2. Expect to stand in long lines for Anytime. The food selection in Horizon Court was good, but breakfast seating very hard to come by, and food got cold by the time we found seats.
Pretty. The hop-on-hop off buses, and tour buses, leave from in front of the Empress, but don't go as frequently as one might expect from Euro experiences. We lucked-into a CVS tour bus with only 8 people and a good guide, that went to all the places we wanted, incl. the "Castle," (really a manor-house), and the view point, with a bonus ride through lovely area of big homes in Oak Bay. Tip: the pub up the street from the Empress that is supposed to be Irish is not traditional, more a gastro-pub (with Nachos, o'mi'gosh!) and the "Irish Stew" isn't.
"Fly Over Canada" wrap-around film in the same building (Canada Place) where we docked. Wonderful experience, just very short. There is also a room to check luggage right where we picked it up. We loved hanging out in the park by the dock & watching the sea planes take off & land. Very relaxing.
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