willwork4cruz

willwork4cruz

First Mate
SoCal
Joined 12/2016

15

Cruises

5

Reviews

45

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Past Cruises

Grand Princess

June 2017 - 10 Night Alaska Inside Passage With Glacier Bay (San Francisco Roundtrip) Cruise on Grand Princess

Just got back from the ten day Alaska cruise on the Grand. I will break my review into specific segments and post as I have time. First the condition of the ship. Really nice! I expected her to "show her age" as many have said. If you mean it was smaller had fewer amenities than new mega ships then yes it was designed and built almost 20 years ago so it is what it is but it was kept up very well. I have seen much more "wear and tear" on newer ships. The only rust I saw that needed attention was the rain gutter outside my balcony that could only be seen if you hang over. The painting crew was busy touching up paint inside ceiling panels on the Lido that couldn't really even be seen. One cruiser even asked if this was a newer ship it looked so good. Great job Princess!

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Ruby Princess

March 2016 - 15 Night Hawaii (Los Angeles Roundtrip) Cruise on Ruby Princess

Star Princess

March 2014 - 15 Night Hawaiian Islands (Los Angeles Roundtrip) Cruise on Star Princess

Carnival Splendor

December 2012 - 7 Night Mexican Riviera (Los Angeles roundtrip) Cruise on Carnival Splendor

Sapphire Princess

March 2012 - 14 Night Hawaii (Los Angeles roundtrip) Cruise on Sapphire Princess

Carnival Splendor

May 2009 - 7 Night Pacific Coastal (Los Angeles roundtrip) Cruise on Carnival Splendor

Ryndam

December 2008 - 14 Night Mexican Riviera Holiday (San Diego roundtrip) Cruise on Ryndam

Norwegian Star

December 2006 - 8 Night Mexican Riviera (Los Angeles roundtrip) Cruise on Norwegian Star

Pride of America

September 2005 - 7 Night Hawaii (Honolulu roundtrip) Cruise on Pride of America

Celebrity Mercury

November 2004 - 10 Night Mexican Riviera (San Diego roundtrip) Cruise on Celebrity Mercury

Celebrity Mercury

March 2004 - 11 Night Mexican Riviera (San Diego roundtrip) Cruise on Celebrity Mercury

Carnival Spirit

October 2003 - 8 Night Mexican Riviera (San Diego roundtrip) Cruise on Carnival Spirit

Carnival Elation

October 2001 - 7 Night Mexican Riviera (Los Angeles roundtrip) Cruise on Carnival Elation

Jubilee

September 1998 - 7 days on Jubilee

Grand Princess

Grand Princess

Sail Date: June 17, 2017

Alaska 10 day June 27, 2017: the service. Our last several cruises have been with Princess so maybe I'm just getting used to the service but I thought it was just OK. However, we talked with several first time Princess cruisers who had been on multiple other lines who were very impressed with the service on this ship. That is how I remember my first impression with Princess so I think that says a lot. on this cruise we opted for Anytime dining. We always had different waiters. All were fine but it is certainly different not getting to know your wait staff. I missed that. We did get to meet a lot of great tablemates though. One night a waiter was helping our staff and through poor communication messed up the dessert order. No biggy but I didn't get my second dessert! I'm not letting that go. Went to the Crown Grill without a reservation. The Maitre D said to come back after 8:00 and he got us in. Of course the lag was a little longer between courses since it was all made to order but not too long. Service was good but not any better than the MDR. I think the Maitre D expected a tip but I had no cash and no way to add to to bill. I have been increasingly disappointed with deck staff. They do a great job keeping things clean but I sense they make choices that means less work for them rather than convenience for guests. For example they appear to put out only enough deck chairs that would be used and on one of the two sunny sea days, it was not enough. I had no problem taking chairs off the stack though. Often -more than coincidentally- where their was a pair of Jacuzzies, one was roped off. My synical mind thought they were just trying to save on maintenance. Ugh! Never saw officers around socializing. Fine with me, I'd rather they concentrate on the important responsibilities they have. The service high point was our room steward Rusty. Our other Princess stewards were efficient but impersonal. Rusty seemed genuinely happy to greet us and eager to please. He was one of the few stewards I felt compelled to tip extra. There were plenty of staff in the Lido dining areas but the could use some efficiency training. They do a lot of walking around but have the uncanny ability to avoid eye contact when you need something. They would typically do a great job of bussing tables and serve drinks when you say down but if you needed refills etc I often had to flag them down or get it myself. The staff were overall very good. Most looked happy and greeted you in the halls. Cruising means you are treated like royalty and as long as you don't think you really are royalty, you will be fine with the few slips. As far as service goes, Princess does it Grand!

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Grand Princess

Grand Princess

Sail Date: May 28, 2017

Grand, Alaska June 26, 2017: the Cabin. We were in a balcony C256. We usually elect for inside cabins. They are quiet, dark and serve our needs but mostly cause I'm cheap. Balconies can cost twice the cost of inside and I would rather sail twice in an inside than once on a balcony. I usually book my inside really close to a deck so it is a quick walk to outside. I originally booked inside for this cruise but got an offer for a $350 pp upgrade to a Preferred Balcony. Preferred just means a preferred location not any bigger. We were able to get a Caribe cabin. Caribe balconies on Grand Class ships have about twice the square feet of regular balconies. Half of it is covered. In Alaska that extra cost was worth it but still wouldn't have paid much more. We happened to have a good view heading towards Margerie glacier so we were able to stay in our cabin for a nice long look. If you are serious about viewing glaciers etc in Glacier Bay you must go on deck or you are stuck seeing what happens to be visible from your balcony at the time. That is fine if you just want to relax and enjoy the view as it comes but you only take in a fraction of what you would see roving to strategic locations on the deck. Closet space for this cabin was tiny. Literally half what we had on other cabins on Grand Class and similar ships. With all the Alaska layers it was a little tight but doable. We enjoyed the cabin but tried to spend as little time as possible in it. We did order the breakfast from the limited wake up menu and ate on balcony. That was fun. Overall great experience having a balcony and would do it again if found a great price.

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Grand Princess

Grand Princess

Sail Date: May 18, 2017

Grand, Alaska 10 night June 27, 2017 the Entertainment. Over the last five years or so on several Princess ships we have noticed a steady increase in the quality of the entertainment. The production shows especially have seemed to grow in size, talent and budget. Perhaps this is the one benefit from Carnival oversight. The song and dance productions we saw were very entertaining. The new Born to Dance was memorable. The comedian Oscar Carlos was hilarious and very clean. Princess manages to find funny comics who can make you laugh without f-bombs and gutter jokes. We never had a problem getting a seat in the large Princess theater. There were usually two shows there and plenty of room. Ironically when there was only one showing it was scheduled in the tiny Vista Lounge which could only fit a small fraction of the guest who came to view it. We joined the masses of long faces leaving the jam packed lounge after not finding seats. Why Princess would locate a major show in that little venue while the main theater sat idle before, during, and after is mind boggling. Maybe they wanted people to experience different areas of the ship but what they accomplished was making a lot of people question Princess's sanity. I peaked in to see the dance production show they had there, seeing the dozen dancers maneuver around the tiny stage looked punishing. /// The entertainment staff was very personable. We waited in a long line to get some coupons from the shopping guide -the things I do for my wife- and one of the dancers came to talk to us and we had a great conversation about her experiences onboard. Matt the Cruise Director is like a Chihuahua on crack. What energy! I heard the trivia games, The Voice etc was great. Went to Movies Under the Stars once when it wasn't too cold. Hint, ask room steward for extra blankets, much better than the mini blankets on deck. /// Entertainment is always an extra that doesn't make or break a cruise for us but it is nice when there is good options and that was most often the case on the Grand.

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Grand Princess

Grand Princess

Sail Date: July 07, 2017

Alaska ten day: the food. This may be my main motivation for cruising. That being said let me preface my review by saying I am not that hard to please when it comes to food but I do take notice of it. After 20 years of cruising I can honestly say the quality has not changed much. It's always been fantastic when you realize they made thousands of the servings hours earlier. It's not five star but you're not paying for that either so you can't expect that. I can say the desserts have improved over time, or at least they are fancier. I remember when the Love Boat dessert was the bomb but now it ranks well below the Norman Love creations. I always get two entrees and at least one is really good. The Rib Eye steak could not have been tastier. My wife raved about the Crusted Salmon from the Favorite (available everyday) menu. We did the Crown Grill once. Definitely worth it. Better than the MDR for sure but I would only go on a day the MDR menu was lackluster. You can get in without a reservation if you go after 8:00 pm. The fillet mignon was tender but not Ruth's Chris quality. Breakfast buffet was similar everyday but had literally dozens of choices so you never had to repeat. There is a "made to order" eggs/omelet station where you place your order and they bring it to your table. Just ask where it is if you don't see it. Lunch buffet was meh with occasional great dish. Be sure to find the reindeer chili station during Glacier Bay -awesome, and it's reindeer! No. 1 tip. check out the hamburger stand after 6:00 pm before a port. Princess teams with a famous local restaurant to serve one if their signature dishes. Before Ketchikan it was fish tacos from The Alaska Fish Co. (a $15 dish on shore) before Juneau it was Tracy's Crab Shack's crab cakes. Dinner buffet had some of the major dishes from MDR but not all. Overall, not gourmet but lots of really good stuff with a few misses. Remember, if you don't like it, don't eat it. The cruiseline would rather waste a little food than you have a bad meal. If you eat something you don't like on a cruise, it's your own fault.

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Grand Princess

Grand Princess

Sail Date: June 27, 2017

Just got back from the ten day Alaska cruise on the Grand. I will break my review into specific segments and post as I have time. First the condition of the ship. Really nice! I expected her to "show her age" as many have said. If you mean it was smaller had fewer amenities than new mega ships then yes it was designed and built almost 20 years ago so it is what it is but it was kept up very well. I have seen much more "wear and tear" on newer ships. The only rust I saw that needed attention was the rain gutter outside my balcony that could only be seen if you hang over. The painting crew was busy touching up paint inside ceiling panels on the Lido that couldn't really even be seen. One cruiser even asked if this was a newer ship it looked so good. Great job Princess!

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Cruise Tips

Ketchikan, Alaska

It seemed like we would have plenty of time in Ketchikan. Our schedule was 8 am to 6 pm but as it turned out we had to tender in so that took up a lot of time. There is room for four ships to dock but we had to anchor even though we arrived before two of the others. Some ports are all tenders but if you have a choice when choosing a cruise remember tendering means lines and lost time. We had no excursion booked so no priority. We didn't get off until 11am and there was still hundreds waiting for their turn. /// We took the public bus. Cost is $2 per trip or $5 for all day pass. The stop is right across the street. Look for bus sign or ask Information Booth or store clerk if you don't see it. You can download the bus schedule. It basically makes a one hour loop so whenever it let's you off somewhere it will be back in an hour. The public bus is always a good way to meet locals and get a sense of the place. We went north to Totem Bight Park, a recreated Indian village with totems, rain forest and tidal beach. Really neat. $5 entrance fee. Very educational and scenic. /// We planned to ride bus back south of town to Saxman, an active native village but we're running low on time. /// Asked local were to get off to walk to Creek Street. Had nice walk through neighborhood and across Married Man's Trail. The salmon we're not running yet -first week of July- unfortunately. Creek Street was cool. I was trying to catch up to my wife and walked in front of Dolly's Place alone. The tour guide of this famous bordello now museum, dressed as a lady of the night, stuck her head out the window and propositioned me, "Why don't you come in for a good time." I said, "Um, I'm married." "So am I" she said, "If you won't tell, I won't." /// Went to Alaskan Fish Co. for some salmon but they were out. How can the salmon capital of the world be out of salmon. Oh well, the halibut was good. Shopping by the pier was reasonable. Saw the same jacket for cheaper than San Francisco./// Of course it rained but it was light and didn't slow us down. Fun town!

Skagway, Alaska

What a beautiful little town. One of the few Inside Passage cities that are flat so it's easy to walk around. Lots of historic buildings. Be sure to leave time to enjoy. We wanted to ride the train but did not by excursion on board. after docking I saw a train ticket booth at end of the dock. Bought the three hour ticket to White Pass and back. Turns out the booth belonged to Princess so we paid the same $130 price as on board. Suggestion is to walk a little further to the actual train Depot and buy from White Pass RR directly. It's only $5 cheaper but you board at the station rather than wait in the incredibly long grumpy line in the rain. Also I think you get to board first. It really matters which side you sit on. Do whatever you can to get on the Left side of the car. 90% of the views are on the left side going up. Yes you switch sides on the way down but the experience is not the same as on the way up. Going up to the pass takes two hours, only one hour back so the view is rushed on the way back. All the "wow look at that" happens on the way up as the left side stands up and blocks the right side's view. If you get stuck on the right then try to hang out at the back outside platform. Scenery was great, maybe not as fabulous as some make it out to be but something you should do once in your life. /// The 3 hour trip leaves you time in town. Saw the Days of 98 melodrama play. It was fun and worth the $25. Didn't have time to walk to the cemetery but will next time. Next time will go at the end of July/August in order to see the Salmon run in the creeks.

Juneau, Alaska

Saw a Bald Eagle land on a light pole just after stepping off the ship. Did not book an excursion on board but stopped at one of the tour sale booths on the dock. Bought the Best of Alaska tour for $150 pp. I think it was $200 through princess. Included Mendenhall glacier, whale watching and Salmon bake. Mendenhall was rushed. only had one hour. Just enough time to walk to the waterfall and back. It was amazing but would be nice to have another hour to see visitors center etc. The whale watching was three hours Saw several Humbacks and a pack of Orcas. That was awesome. Salmon bake was a great venue, outdoor in the trees along a stream with waterfall nearby. Food was pretty good. I'm not a salmon bake conisour but it tasted good to me. You can choose if you want the sweet sauce on it or not. Add the sauce on top of the corn bread for a tasty dessert. Driver/Guide was a local native Tlinget and very fun. Back to town in time to see Red Onion saloon and a little shopping. Fun day!

San Francisco, California

SF is a crazy town. We drove in the day before our cruise. Amazing sights, sounds, and smells. Lots of tourists enjoying themselves but always looking over their shoulder, anticipating something crazy to happen. Saw an elderly woman crossing the street and when a car stopped just barely into the crosswalk, she cursed out the driver and gave him two birds. Saw drunks yelling at invisible foes and throwing bottles down the street. Saw a lady walking her dog and let it piss on someone's doorstep. But what a vibe this place has; where history and dystopia meet. Can't wait to come back. We just walked around the Warf and Ghirardelli square. Some shops in between the two had decent prices for souvenirs/clothes.

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