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FANTASTIC cruise!....   BUT. (princess, are you reading?)

 

disclaimer:   I am going to post a somewhat detailed and hopefully objective cruise review.    This means that I will start with the good, and also include the not-so-good.   This forum is to share information, and I am happy to do that for future cruisers!!!   Both the good and the bad.  These are my observations, and I simply wish to put them out there.   questioning and disagreement are not really needed.    

 

We had a fantastic cruise!!!!

Ship is big and beautiful!!!   

The band ROCKED!

Cruise director and entertainment quality and scheduling were great!   

And we really enjoyed (most) of it!!!!

 

I will now detail our experience and observations in a simple and direct way.

Boarding:   WOW,  the lady who checked us in was no less than rude.   My husband is Platinum.  (just stating). and she did not check us in correctly, give us everything we needed, told us we were boarding group 2, instead of giving my husband the card for earlier boarding.   She actually seemed to have to force herself to say "Welcome Back". thru clenched teeth and rolled eyes.    NO excuse for this.   We had to rectify our boarding with the 'gatekeeper' once we proceeded to the boarding waiting area.

NO welcome was detected at all.   Just the staff zapping your card/medallion and ushering you thru.   Wow, a couple of smiling faces with a "Welcome aboard' might have been nice.

We found this to be our experience with staff and service throughout the entire cruise.

 

Cabin:  Our cabin was clean enough, and our steward was capable and efficient.  That was good!  Always had ice, etc...

(Man, those balconies are tiny!!!!)

But, we still did not really experience a real smile or greeting except for a couple of staff onboard.

 

Dining:   This is where it gets dicey....

Service:   NO greeting from our waiter....  No warm smile or welcome or offer to explain menu items....  Nothing....  Shove the menu in your face over your shoulder without even the obligatory 2-3 second pause.   The new system of service just does not allow any room for 'service'.  It is pretty bad.   The only good silver lining was that we made it in and out of supper in a much shorter amount of time.   But, at what cost when it comes to 'experience'?    Took us THREE requests and probably like 15 minutes to get iced tea for the three of us.   By then, the dining room head waiter was showing up at our table.  WOW.   

Food:   Ohhh my,  where do I start.  Then new menus and recipes offered.  Not good.    

My first and biggest complaint was that everything...  and I mean almost everything, that came out in the MDR was overcooked, over salted, and seemed to be low quality, which they tried to enhance with Salt, MSG, preservatives, etc...    Even the white sugar packets,  which we should be able to assume is natural sugar,  does not seem to be natural sugar....   With three of us at our table, there would be like 3 or four packets of true natural sugar.   So, again, even getting sweetened iced tea was always an issue.   I began to try to remember to collect a big handful of the brown natural sugar packets thru the day, and carry them to the MDR with me.   This was after wondering why I was getting a 'headache' and realizing it was artificial sweeteners and ingredients.

 

Two of us complained that we had this issue with not feeling well, bloated, etc.  after eating in the MDR.  Like, every time.

This happened every time in the MDR...  But did not seem to be as much of a problem at the Buffet.

 

Princess,  I do not know if it is just this ship,  or fleet-wide...  But we could not find ANYTHING much at all that was not almost toxic it was so salty and or enhanced with artificial ingredients.  I am not an elderly woman with swelling ankles.  But, you should have seen mine on many evenings.  It was really bad.  A real issue.

 

Food Quality:    We had experienced truly excellent food and service on our last cruise.  (pre-changes). But...  Again, what can I say... Potato croquettes that were like thick hard putty...  full of salt, MSG, fillers, whatever.  Even the scalloped type potatos one evening were so very salty, I just could not even eat them.   The Beef Welling 'type; dish.  OMG...  Ordered medium..  got a hard dark brown tough chunk of meat that was like over-done cheap pot roast, wth some crust over/around it.    Seriously...  some of the food in the MDR was just inedible, some was just okay...  and I am hard pressed to find any quality, natural, well prepared item that I actually really enjoyed.  Plates were left half eaten.  Tried one Curtis Stone dish...  was not what I thought it would be,  and just tasted awful.   I realize that personal taste is subjective,  but, I have no problem posting this.

 

Sanctuary:   Heaven on earth, of course...  EXCEPT...   (Princess are you reading?)

I had made it my mission to be able to reserve the Sanctuary and a Retreat Pool Cabana upon boarding.

Success!!!!

Sanctuary started wonderfully...  We arrived at opening with some continental breakfast items.  Staff set us up with coffee, etc..

But Service was absolutely NON existent after that.   By lunch, we ordered delivery of food...  Took a long long time...  Guy comes by, throws the plate on the table, no napkins or silverware or anything...  Our teas, AGAIN,  they never ever showed up.   Just not acceptable.....  Not at all.

 

So,  in the end...  GREAT cruise!!!!   But, very very serious problems and deficits with food and service, throughout.

 

 

Edited by Wishing on a star
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MDR was overcooked, over salted, and seemed to be low quality, which they tried to enhance with Salt, MSG, preservatives, etc... 

 

how DO you determine that the food is full of preservatives and MSG? I have never been able to taste either.... 

 

Oh, and I am not elderly, but I swell up on all of the cruises (RCI, Princess, NCL) due to all the salt. Even at home my ankles are swollen in the evening.

We've been on Regal twice, and will be sailing on her next year as well. We've never had bad service and no-smiles attitude.

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We agree that food is over salted on Princess and most cruise lines.  Professional chefs/cooks use lots of salt to enhance flavors.  My ankles are always swollen on a cruise.  As to your love of “natural” you might consider that arsenic is natural :).  And no cruise is putting msg into potatoes.  Most ships serve unsweetened ice tea (that is more natural) and you can certainly ask for sugar if none is on your table.

 

No comment on the smile thing.  On trips we seldom notice or rate smiles.

 

Hank

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OP - the check-in personnel at Port Everglades (and the cruise line greeters Fort Lauderdale airport) do not work for Princess. They are employees of a contractor and, in fact, a new contractor started this fall.  You can mention your concerns on the Princess survey and/or write directly to the contractor although personally I would just chalk this up to someone having a bad day and not think about it twice.

 

On-line info from the contractor (Metro Cruise Services):

 

Are you currently working with cruise guests? Are you retired or looking for your first time job? Do you have a customer service background and want to try something new? Metro Cruise Services is seeking candidates to fill part-time openings at Port Everglades as well as Miami International Airport. Metro Cruise will begin providing turnaround services for Princess Cruises and Holland America Line in fall of 2018. The wage for pier and airport agents is $9.50/hour.

 

Pier agents assist guests at the beginning and end of their cruise and and meet guests from all over the world. Agents help guests board transportation to and from the airport, check-in for their cruise, and find their luggage when it's all over.

 

Airport agents assist guests from all over the world at the beginning and end of their cruise. Agents locate guests at baggage claim, assist with their luggage, and guide them to their ground transportation, either to a hotel or straight to the cruise ship.

 

This is an upbeat and fun work environment serving happy and excited vacationers, often on the trip of a lifetime!

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55 minutes ago, Itchy&Scratchy said:

 

how DO you determine that the food is full of preservatives and MSG? I have never been able to taste either.... 

 

Oh, and I am not elderly, but I swell up on all of the cruises (RCI, Princess, NCL) due to all the salt. Even at home my ankles are swollen in the evening.

We've been on Regal twice, and will be sailing on her next year as well. We've never had bad service and no-smiles attitude.

Some people have a more sensitive palate than others. I for one (as well as some of my foodie friends) can easily detect MSG and "some" preservatives.

 

I've been on Regal (along w/ Royal my favorite ship) once a few years ago and had mediocre service (due to cost cutting where staff have TOO MANY tables) in the MDR but excellent food on the buffet. In our case, we spoke to the Maitre-D and told him to put us at a table with faster and more attentive table as our waiter team was overwhelmed with too many tables. The next evening that same team had 1 less table and provided great service for the rest of the cruise. 

 

As far as using more salt and over powering seasoning to mask quality, IMHO this has been a sad pattern by Princess over the years for cost-cutting purposes. I make it a point to bring this up in each of my evaluation every year I cruise w/ Princess starting 4 years ago. More people need to speak up in their evaluation for Princess to change because they "think" they have fooled their customers. Service (too many tables) need to be brought up also.

Edited by cheezenip
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We were on the Regal in early November and as far as the dining in the anytime MDR, we would agree that the service level was not up to the Princess norm. We found one waiter who provided great service and referred him others we know who cruised later in the month and still others who are currently on the ship. His name is Shean or it could be spelled Shaen. 

Many of the menu items in the MDR were clearly using lesser quality products with sauces and umami favorings to try to mask the lesser quality. 

I will add that much of the food in the buffet that was supposed to be hot was not hot. 

 

 

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Can't comment on MDR as we don't go there.

 

From 11/1/18 we spent 17 days in the Sanctuary on the Regal and the service could not have been better. Zaza from Macedonia got our loungers arranged as needed and the staff was attentive at all times. Whether it was a drink from the bar, a lunch or ice water or iced towels they were always available and pleasant. In fact Diana one of the crew had the best smile on the ship.

 

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40 minutes ago, neverbeenhere said:

We were on the Regal in early November and as far as the dining in the anytime MDR, we would agree that the service level was not up to the Princess norm. We found one waiter who provided great service and referred him others we know who cruised later in the month and still others who are currently on the ship. His name is Shean or it could be spelled Shaen. 

Many of the menu items in the MDR were clearly using lesser quality products with sauces and umami favorings to try to mask the lesser quality. 

I will add that much of the food in the buffet that was supposed to be hot was not hot. 

 

I remember bear Shean from our cruise in April, he was wonderful! On the salt front, I have always thought Princess food was underseasoned :) On our last cruise in April, it was correctly salted, so may be to each its own?

The Port Everglades agents could be delightful or horrible (have had both types), but there is not much Princess can do about them.

 

 

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OP, thank you for taking the time to present your opinions to us.

 

The issue of "unnatural" sugar confused me, but I think a subsequent poster provided a good explanation.

 

We have consistently found the food on Princess to be salty.  This is in every one of the venues, not just the dining rooms.  We also do not think this is either anything new or is confined to particular ships.  Again, previous posters have provided a reasonable explanation for this.

 

We have found that the average service provider on Princess is, well, average.  On our most recent cruise, we had, arguably, the best room steward, ever.  However, not one of the restaurant servers we met rose above the level of average.  There was a server in Vines who was very good and a bit of fun.  I did not get his name (my bad), but my wife learned that he was from Serbia.

 

Your port experience on embarkation was unfortunate.  We now sail, almost exclusively, out of San Pedro, and I have to say that the San Pedro experience is, consistently, delightful.  I agree that your experience was disappointing.  I hope you noted that in the Princess survey.  As another poster has noted, the port personnel are contracted.  However, Princess is entitled to get hospitable service from them.

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Wishing on a Star ~ I truly do thank you for your honest review. You and I have been on a lot of the same threads recently and I know you were super excited about this cruise and had high expectations. And why shouldn't you have high expectations? Princess builds them up in all of their print and online marketing and over promises on the product they deliver.

Thank you for the heads up on the sugar packets. I will be sure to double check that they are not artificial sweeteners.

What time did you dine? Did you go Traditional or Anytime?

How was the Ocean Medallion? Did you buy unlimited internet or go with the Platinum free minutes? How was it?

 

 

 

 

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Thanks hlwdcruiser....

We did have a really wonderful cruise!!!  Aside from the issues with the new dining, menus, etc...   as posted.

We did the earliest dining.   Yes, it was early!!!   difficult to make it on time some evenings.    But, we are early birds, and don't generally eat late and keep going until midnight or after.

 

We were in a cabin that was in the first group of (somewhat operational) OM cabins.

When we boarded, we were not given a medallion.  (nothing about check-in went the way it should)

We did see another party boarding who did have their medallions.

Anyhow, it happens that the whole system was down at that time, while working on it.   The next day a notice and our medallions were left in our cabin!

 

We had signed up. for the WIFI internet service, before the cruise.  We knew that they were no longer offering that service as a perk.   But, while working on the system, it seems like all of these sign-ups were 'lost'.    We were told to go ahead with the complimentary minutes, and to book the unlimited service again.   That they would offer the discounted pre-cruise rate.   There were some issues with the service.  Seemed we heard others mention it.    But, overall, everything was settled!

 

It appeared that the OM readers are now on most all cabin doors...  And we saw many medallions onboard.

Maybe they are getting closer to getting this system going!

 

Edited by Wishing on a star
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Thanks for your comments.

Was on for 10 days in November and had the opposite experience with service and food that you had.

The overall experience on the Regal was awesome.

 

I pay no attention to the terminal check in staff and they are long forgotten within seconds of checking in.

 

The white stuff is now the standard onboard and will stay according to HW staff in the DR's.

I grabbed it a couple of times thinking it was regular sugar. :classic_blink:

It is not left over from Europe.  

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Thanks colocruiser!

Was it you that I remember posting about some of the new menu choices?

Maybe upon reaching FL, some of the kitchen staff changed...  

 

I was not aware about the white non-US packet color.

Glad I figured it out quickly.

If anybody else is sweetener-sensitive,  perhaps this will be helpful !

 

Edited by Wishing on a star
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Wow....we like Colo Cruiser above were on Regal for 10 days at the beginning of November and had a wonderful time.  We are normally Celebrity suite guests and we were very pleased with pretty much everything on the Regal.  Our waiter service was great and they knew us by name by the 2nd day.  Our stateroom attendant one of the best we've had on any cruise.  The food was good to very good, only had one bad meal and that was NOT in the MDR.  We encountered so many friendly employees we kept mentioning to each other how the ship did not have the feel of a "big" ship at all.  We enjoyed it so much we booked a 25 night cruise for  spring 2020 and already planning for a repeat of the one we just took in fall of 2020 on the Sky.

 

Just goes to show you we all experience different things....

 

Oh....I DO agree about the incredibly small balconies, but we still used it a lot and it was fine, even our "Ultimate Balcony Dinner" was great!!!

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My last cruise was on the Royal and I agree with the lack of a greeting when boarding the ship.  In my survey I mentioned that it would be very welcoming to be greeted with a sincere smile and a "Welcome Aboard".  And I must have had the same waiter as you, I was flabbergasted that he did not introduce himself but rather handed me a menu and looked at me with pen and paper in hand.  I blew it off to maybe he had a bad cruise prior and I made it a mission to get him to open up a little bit, which he did after a few days.  My food on the Royal was the best I've had on any of the Princess ships.  

 

I know you are talking about the Regal, but I am just pointing out what should be fleet wide, not ship specific.

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5 hours ago, klenklen said:

Can't comment on MDR as we don't go there.

 

From 11/1/18 we spent 17 days in the Sanctuary on the Regal and the service could not have been better. Zaza from Macedonia got our loungers arranged as needed and the staff was attentive at all times. Whether it was a drink from the bar, a lunch or ice water or iced towels they were always available and pleasant. In fact Diana one of the crew had the best smile on the ship.

 

Klenklen....we were on the Regal during the same time as you and spent the our week in Sanctuary and couldn't agree with you more!  Zaza was wonderful as was Diana!  Our favorite crew member in Sanctuary by far is Maiti.  He, like Diana, has a great smile and could not have been more attentive to us.  I have been having knee problems and the Sanctuary staff had ice waiting for me in plastic bags to apply to them every day!  They are a great crew up there!

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On 12/14/2018 at 11:16 AM, capriccio said:

OP - the check-in personnel at Port Everglades (and the cruise line greeters Fort Lauderdale airport) do not work for Princess.

 

On-line info from the contractor (Metro Cruise Services):

 

Are you retired or looking for your first time job?

 

Wow. That explains it all. If you can't get your first job at McDonalds, work here to check-in cruise passengers.

 

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4 hours ago, caribill said:

 

Wow. That explains it all. If you can't get your first job at McDonalds, work here to check-in cruise passengers.

 

 

Everyone has to have a first job somewhere.  Many of us started making our contributions to social security in customer service jobs.

 

Given that these too are part time jobs (without benefits I presume) and McDonalds is paying about $8.50 (source:  https://www.indeed.com/cmp/McDonald's/salaries?location=US%2FFL%2FFort+Lauderdale) while the contractor pays $9.50/hour which would you chose?  BTW minimum wage is $8.25 in Florida.

 

I do have to admit that based on cruising in/out of Port Everglades numerous times under the previous contractor(s) that most of the personnel seemed to be retirees which makes sense in south Florida.  I'll see if the demographic has changed with the new contractor tomorrow when we board the Crown Princess.

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We just happen to be on the MSC Divina where they also have that “Ship”

product as well as Splenda and others.  The Ship product is favored by some Europeans and contains a blend of cyclimates and saccrine.  It is not the same as Splenda.  Princess is simply guilty of providing another option.  One needs to read any sugar packet before using as there are now so many products. In our sugar dish there are 6 different products of which only two are sugar.

 

Hank

 

 

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Just some thoughts.

Isn't it possible to meet with the head waiter and request salt free selections. I have seen some order their selections with sauces on the side, maybe to limit the salt and calorie intake.

I remember going to a talk/question answer session a number of years ago on HAL with the head chef & maitre'd. Salt questions came up. The answers kind of indicated that is the way they learn to cook. But, even then the chef indicated they had salt free selections by special request.

We do not have any issues with salt, but use very little of it at home. If you want it you have to sprinkle it on the plate. When we go out almost anywhere we can taste the additional salt, especially the salted butter and soups. I don't think it's just cruise ships, but any mass served banquet food.

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We'll be on the Regal shortly & have to take this review with a grain of salt. 

Although we haven't been on the Regal to date I do know that they over season most of their dishes, so we'll just have to see for ourselves just how bad the food has become on this Royal class ship. 

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16 hours ago, skynight said:

Just some thoughts.

Isn't it possible to meet with the head waiter and request salt free selections?

 

In our case the headwaiter brings the next day's menu to the dinner table and helps us select which items can be made without any added salt. (We do not have to avoid all salt, so items that naturally contain salt, such as cheese, are not a problem.)

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One of our tablemates on a Celebrity cruise complained that the excess salt made her ankles swell. Her antidote was to eat parsley. She'd get a saucerful of parsley every night to munch on until she finished it all.

 

 

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