Reflections on Princess Cruise after taking a few years off......

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#21
Brickell, Miami FL & Naples, FL
8,290 Posts
Joined Apr 2003
Thanks for the review. I really like reading the positive and the negative , it makes it a balanced honest review.
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Carolyn

Disney Wonder 7/19/02~Bahamas ---- Disney Wonder 1/5/03~Bahamas
Disney Magic 6/7/03~W. Caribbean ---- Disney Magic 1/3/04~W. Caribbean
Golden Princess 10/24/04~S. Caribbean --- Golden Princess 7/11/05~N. European Capitals
Star Princess 3/19/06 (the infamous fire cruise) ~ Western Caribbean
Disney Wonder 7/23/06~Bahamas ---- Crown Princess 11/4/06~S. Caribbean
Crown Princess 3/31/07~S. Caribbean ---- Crown Princess 3/29/08~S. Caribbean
Crown Princess 4/5/09~E. Caribbean ---- Crown Princess 10/30/10~Western Caribbean
Crown Princess 11/12/11~S. Caribbean ---- Norwegian Sky 9/3/12~Bahamas
Majesty of the Seas RCL 1/11/13~Bahamas --- Majesty of the Seas RCL 8/19/13~Bahamas
Ruby Princess 1/18/14~W. Caribbean ---- Ruby Princess 1/23/14~W. Caribbean
Caribbean Princess 9/25/14 ~ Princess Cay --- Regal Princess 11/6/14 ~ Caribbean
Regal Princess 11/9/14 ~ E. Caribbean --Norwegian Sky 2/13/15 ~ Bahamas
Regal Princess 4/12/15 ~ Caribbean --- Emerald Princess 3/5/16 ~ Caribbean
Norwegian Getaway 9/2/16 --- Regal Princess 11/27/16~Caribbean
Norwegian Getaway 4/16/17 ~ W Caribbean --- Regal Princess 12/3/17 ~ Western Caribbean
Crown Princess 2/18/18 ~ W Caribbean

Regal Princess 1/13/19 ~ W Caribbean
Sky Princess 1/11/20 ~ E Caribbean





#22
Sugar Land, Tx.
415 Posts
Joined Oct 2005
I’m sorry the Regal’s buffet disappointed me. I read these boards often and read so many times that this ship has the best buffet at sea that I guess I went with really high expectations. I’m used to smaller ships where you go to one location for fresh cooked eggs and omelets, but on the Regal the omelet station is in one area and fried or poached eggs is in another location. I also found the pastries to be very dry but the bacon was really good. I think it was the layout that really confused me. By the time I found everything I wanted, my hot food was cold. And yes Oceania and Viking do cost more but they also include a lot of things I had to pay for on Princess. Thankfully there are a lot of choices to find the right cruise line for all of us. I will say this, Princess Cruisers are the most loyal cruisers of any I have sailed with. I’m guessing the perks are fantastic!
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#23
785 Posts
Joined Feb 2006
Originally posted by DrivesLikeMario
Well that's the very FIRST time I've ever heard that. Most people rave about the Regal's buffet and rate it #1 at sea. Interesting.

Thanks OP for your review. I'm sure your Princess cruise cost a whole lot less than your Oceania, Azamara and Paul Gauguin cruises. You have to weigh that in when reviewing it IMO. For what your Ruby cruise cost, it was reasonable not to have the standards of the higher line cruises.

I do agree with you about the main restaurant dining. We rarely even bother to go to the dining room anymore. It's just not worth sitting there for 2 hrs. for mediocre food and service.
Not necessarily a “whole lot less” depending upon how one chooses to cruise. When comparing what is included on some of the other lines and if you would pay for it on Princess anyway, and also taking into consideration included or subsidized air, it’s interesting in many cases how little per day the difference can be.
#24
13,900 Posts
Joined Apr 2001
Originally posted by WarEagle76
Not necessarily a “whole lot less” depending upon how one chooses to cruise. When comparing what is included on some of the other lines and if you would pay for it on Princess anyway, and also taking into consideration included or subsidized air, it’s interesting in many cases how little per day the difference can be.
Comparing apples to apples, Azamara and Oceania are much more expensive. Compare a balcony cabin to a balcony cabin on the same itinerary for the same length of days. The only major things added in are tips, port shuttles, the Azamazing Evening and drinks with Azamara. That doesn't equal the disparity in pricing unless you really drink a lot. The pricing difference is probably seen more in the quality of the food and service.

I have no problem paying more for a better experience. I'm just saying that for the price, Princess delivers a good product.
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43 Completed Cruises so far - Princess Elite, RCI Diamond, Celebrity Elite, Cunard Platinum, Azamara Discoverer
Upcoming Cruises:
Left for 2018: Azamara Quest
& Emerald Princess
2019: Ruby Princess, Royal Princess & Jewel OTS
2020: Royal Princess, Celebrity Summit & 2 more TBD
#25
Tucson, AZ
3,867 Posts
Joined Mar 2007
Thank you for your comprehensive and balanced review. I normally sail HAL, Princess, and Celebrity and find they all have positives and negatives and all have changed in the past five years.

For a change of pace, I am going to try Crystal this year.
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#26
Sedona, AZ and North Florida
3,839 Posts
Joined Dec 2007
I have sailed mostly Royal Caribbean and Celebrity - with a little Carnival, NCL and MSC thrown in - and I'm trying Princess (Star out of LA) for the first time in October. The prices are actually about the same as my Dec 2017 Celebrity Eclipse cruise so I'm looking forward to comparing "apples to apples."
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Celeste
#27
Chicago, IL, USA
2,125 Posts
Joined Jul 2000
Hi,

Thanks for posting your review. I agree that the standards of the major cruise lines have declined over the past few years, but I still enjoy cruises with Princess. I think Princess is a good value for the money and the ships are run very well. During the past few years, I have taken Princess cruises in Australia, Japan, the Mediterranean, and Scandinavia/Russia. I did some incredible and very memorable shore excursions in a variety of wonderful ports. Also, I think Princess has an excellent program for past passengers.

Chuck
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566 days - 89 cruises - 64 ships

Princess (132 days, 20 cruises); Royal Caribbean (124 days, 22 cruises); Cunard (105 days, 17 cruises); Norwegian (53 days, 8 cruises); Celebrity (51 days, 8 cruises); Crystal (43 days, 5 cruises); Holland America (38 days, 5 cruises); Other (20 days, 4 cruises)

Future cruises: Queen Victoria, Sep. 22, 2018 (7-day Mediterranean); Mariner of the Seas, Dec. 7, 2018 (3-day Bahamas); Symphony of the Seas, Feb. 23, 2019 (7-day Western Caribbean); Crown Princess, Sep. 10, 2019 (12-day British Isles); Celebrity Edge, Feb. 23, 2020 (7-day Eastern Caribbean)


Areas cruised to: Alaska; Asia (Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand); Australia; Bahamas; Bermuda; Canada/New England; Caribbean; Greek Islands; Hawaii; Mediterranean; Mexican Riviera; Norway; Pacific Coastal; Panama Canal; Scandinavia/Russia; Spain/Portugal; Tahiti; Transatlantic Crossings
#28
14,893 Posts
Joined May 2005
Originally posted by Podie
I have sailed mostly Royal Caribbean and Celebrity - with a little Carnival, NCL and MSC thrown in - and I'm trying Princess (Star out of LA) for the first time in October. The prices are actually about the same as my Dec 2017 Celebrity Eclipse cruise so I'm looking forward to comparing "apples to apples."
One thing that I will say about Princess is they beat X and RCI by light years in the land base customer service and web site workings.
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L RI
Recent cruises completed Alaska Ruby..... May. Pacific Coastal Ruby...Mar.-Apr.
2017 MR Emerald... Nov.-Dec. Scandinavian. Crown... Aug-Sept.... South East Asia...Majestic..June-July... Caribbean...Anthem..Mar.- April ...South America... Crown.. Jan.-Feb
Still favor land trips best, but as I log more sea and river days on ships and hours on CC , I might become a "Cruise Lover" sooner than I think or am I already?
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2006 River Cruise China, Viking Century
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#29
Washington State
2,915 Posts
Joined Jul 2009
I noticed all the stacked deck chairs on the Ruby Princess as well. I thought it was odd, since it was a sunny, warm, non windy sea day:

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Explorer of the Seas (Pacific Coastal) - 10/16 ... Photos ... Compasses
Ruby Princess (Sea of Cortez) - 3/16 ... Photos ... Patters
Star Princess (Hawaii) - 3/14 ... Photos ... Patters
Coral Princess (Panama Canal) - 4/12 ... Photos ... Patters
Golden Princess (Alaska) - 6/11 ... Photos ... Patters
Golden Princess (Hawaii) - 1/11 ... Photos ... Patters
Mariner of the Seas (Mexico) - 12/09 ... Photos ... Compasses
Sapphire Princess (Mexico) - 2/09 ... Photos ... Patters
Star Princess (Alaska) - 5/08 ... Photos ... Patters
Dawn Princess (Caribbean) - 4/05 ... Photos ... Patters
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Carnival Imagination (Caribbean) - 4/96 ... Capers
Celebrity Meridian (Caribbean) - 3/94 ...Photos ... Dailies
NCL Southward (Mexico) - 7/93 ... Dailies
Carnival Jubilee (Mexico) - 2/91 ... Photos ... Capers
#30
Oakville, ON
2,858 Posts
Joined Aug 2009
I too appreciated the OP's forthright review. I have been concerned about both a drop in food quality and service by reduction in DR staff it seems. That said, service still seems good in general. As we are about to head off for 60 nights on a new ship for us, I am trying to remain positive that we will find things not changed much since we last cruised (it was on Regal) just over two years ago. So, it's hope for the best, but be prepared for some disappointment. I know I am a broken record on this, but Princess should maintain the standard and pass on necessary price increases not sell me the same product with no price increase and then reduce standards to make up the difference.
We shall see for ourselves in less than a week.
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Upcoming:
1. Majestic Princess - 12-night NZ (out of SYD) - Feb, 2019
2. Regal Princess - 11-night Baltic (out of CPH) - Jun, 2019 (Booked w/Landmark Sale... we'll see.. if not then, someday)
Q: How is it that we introduced friends to cruising and they are going to be Elite before us? You know who you are! <insert jealous emoticon here>
#31
League City, TX
42,063 Posts
Joined Sep 2005
Originally posted by steelers36
I know I am a broken record on this, but Princess should maintain the standard and pass on necessary price increases not sell me the same product with no price increase and then reduce standards to make up the difference.
Unfortunately the trend is to have both price increases accompanied by a reduction in the quality of the product.
#32
Sydney, Australia
8,744 Posts
Joined Jan 2014
Thank you for taking the time to give us your impression of Ruby. I believe she will be heading down under in a couple of years so it's good to hear the pros and cons.

BTW I'm another person who didn't particularly like the Royal buffet. I soon learnt how to get reasonably hot food at breakfast but lunch or dinner was a challenge. Nice seating though, it doesn't have quite the cafeteria feel that some other ships do.
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Mar 2018 - Diamond Princess - Sydney to Yokohama
Sep 2017 - Royal Princess - Mediterranean
Feb 2017 - Celebrity Solstice - Auckland to Sydney
Nov 2016 - Carnival Legend - South Pacific
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Aug 2015 - Dawn Princess - Top End Fremantle to Sydney
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Dec 2014 - Sun Princess - South Pacific
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#33
14,893 Posts
Joined May 2005
Originally posted by caribill
Unfortunately the trend is to have both price increases accompanied by a reduction in the quality of the product.
Totally agree...but my view is the newbies are willing to pay more, for less.....I am talking about society in general and my 20 something off-springs.
#34
245 Posts
Joined Sep 2017
This is nothing more than a casual observation, but it seems like the "lack of waiters, servers, etc" is merely that Princess - like other entities- pays their employees little. Is the idea of traveling, and working on a cruise ship appealing to you? It certainly isn't to me. I wouldn't do their jobs at three times the pay. Then, you have Princess (most likely) cutting staff wherever they can - and raising prices at will. I would imagine that the old adage of "raise prices until they quit coming- then have a sale!"

Not really a great business model - but they will undoubtedly figure that out when folks stop booking cruises.

That's one of the prime reasons that DW and myself "usually" go straight to the vacation destination, grab a hotel room and enjoy ourselves. Just did a return trip to England, Ireland, Wales and Scotland. Here's the kicker - it was a great deal cheaper than the cruise lines. We are, however, sailing on the Ruby in August to fulfill my DW's "bucket wish" to visit Alaska.

We'll see how the food is on the Ruby and how the staff is. I don't usually expect "SUPERIOR" service anywhere. I've eaten at 4 and 5 star restaurants in Europe and America many, many times. Still, to this day - I prefer a Cheeseburger and fries - just me, I guess.So it's not as though my "standards" (of which there are few) are any big deal. We booked the Crown Grill (love me some steak!) and I have plans on "tearing up" the buffet and the MDR (anytime dining). If the food is "low-quality" - you will hear it from me here - just like the OP's review.

Reviews such as the OP are one way to affect change with these businesses. If they aren't living up to the standards that long time cruisers are used to - raise hell with them. Unfortunately, standards are a "funny thing" these days. I mean, when you see shorts and ball caps on formal nights - well.........
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#35
Long Island, New York
518 Posts
Joined Feb 2007
On my last few Princess cruises, I was very disappointed with crowds and waits. Long lines to get into the Anytime Dining room, and then slow service because as hard as they worked, the waiters simply have too many tables to wait on. The theater was completely filled 50 minutes before showtime. The theater was even filled 30 minutes before port lectures, so either you had to stand, or you didn't get to hear the port presentation. No seats at all in the evening in some of the lounges, and difficulty getting a seat to eat your International Cafe goodies.

I feel that Princess (and other cruise lines, too) are putting too many staterooms on ships without increasing the size of public spaces such as dining room, theater, and bars. This REALLY impacts my enjoyment of a cruise. Princess has always been my first choice cruise line, and I'm pretty sure I'll probably some day book another Princess cruise. But for now, I want to try some other lines. The OP mentioned Oceania. What other cruise lines might be a little more upscale (especially in terms of crowds and waits)? I'm willing to pay a little more, but can't afford a lot more. Does anyone have any other suggestions for me for other lines to try?
#37
uk
7,496 Posts
Joined Oct 2008
Originally posted by land lover
One thing that I will say about Princess is they beat X and RCI by light years in the land base customer service and web site workings.
Yes, I’d definitely agree with you .
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Grand Princess - Alaska - August 2018
Eclipse - Southern Caribbean - December 2017
Reflection - Western Med - July 2017
Millennium - Hong Kong to Singapore - December 2016
Constellation - Venice to Rome - August 2016
Equinox - Istanbul to Barcelona - August 2015
Equinox - Ultimate Caribbean & Panama - April 2015
Independence - Northern Europe - Oct 2014
Infinity - Iceland & The Faroes - July 2014
Independence - Caribbean - April 2014
Silhouette - Eastern Caribbean - B2B - April 2014
Enchantment - Bahamas. - Aug 2013
Oasis - Western Caribbean - Aug 2013
Solstice - Oz & NZ - Dec 2012
Navigator - Eastern Med - Aug 2012
Brilliance - Norway - Jun 2012
Navigator - Eastern Med - Oct 2011
Caribbean Princess - New England - Aug 2011
Liberty - Med B2B - April 2011
Liberty - Med Western - April 2011
Constellation - Baltics - Aug 2010
Splendour - Med to Venice - April 2010
Radiance - Alaska - Aug 2009
Brilliance - Canaries & Morocco - April 2009
Navigator - Med - May 2008
Brilliance - Venice Med - Aug 2007
#38
Houston, Texas
461 Posts
Joined Feb 2001
Well said! I like Princess, we’re elite so I am saddened by the decline in this product. On the other hand the Carnival product continues to improve, go figure. We sailed out of Galveston with family, not expecting much but quite the opposite, great food, excellent customer service ,ship amenities were top notch. The cost for an aft balcony half of a Princess or RCL cabin. The cruise director was the best ,most visible we have ever experienced. Leading and organizing activities including disembarkation. Having said all that I have three Princess cruises booked.
#39
499 Posts
Joined Feb 2003
Originally posted by steelers36
I too appreciated the OP's forthright review. I have been concerned about both a drop in food quality and service by reduction in DR staff it seems. That said, service still seems good in general. As we are about to head off for 60 nights on a new ship for us, I am trying to remain positive that we will find things not changed much since we last cruised (it was on Regal) just over two years ago. So, it's hope for the best, but be prepared for some disappointment. I know I am a broken record on this, but Princess should maintain the standard and pass on necessary price increases not sell me the same product with no price increase and then reduce standards to make up the difference.
We shall see for ourselves in less than a week.
If you are doing the 60-day Island Princess South America run, you are very lucky. Arny G will be the piano entertainer in Crooners for that cruise, and he is the best Crooners entertainer on any ship! In fact he is our favorite entertainer at any venue on any ship!
#40
League City, TX
42,063 Posts
Joined Sep 2005
Originally posted by RandallFlagg
This is nothing more than a casual observation, but it seems like the "lack of waiters, servers, etc" is merely that Princess - like other entities- pays their employees little. Is the idea of traveling, and working on a cruise ship appealing to you? It certainly isn't to me. I wouldn't do their jobs at three times the pay. Then, you have Princess (most likely) cutting staff wherever they can - and raising prices at will. I would imagine that the old adage of "raise prices until they quit coming- then have a sale!"
I disagree. These positions on cruise ships earn the people significantly more than they could earn in their home countries. (Of course for many on the staff, this includes the gratuities.)

Any positions eliminated does save Princess $$$. They do not have to provide room and board and transportation from and to the employee's home for each employee they no longer need.

Princess (and other Carnival Corp brands) feel their main competition is land-based vacations. As long as the cost of a Princess cruise is less than a similar length land-based vacation, cruise prices will continue to rise.