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mattinla

My first Princess cruise - wouldn't rush back.

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I was just on the brand new Diamond Princess as it repositioned from LA to Vancouver. I was looking forward to trying Princess, especially since they have made a corporate decision to aim squarely at RCI. IMHO, RCI has nothing to worry about.

I have sailed on 3 brand new ships in the past year, and the Diamond was the least impressive. It seemed like a really nice Ramada. The wood finishes looked cheap, the theatre contained absolutely NO decoration, the spa was downright tacky, and the buffet has to be the worst design I have ever seen. There are a couple of nice spaces such as the Wheelhouse Bar, and Club Fusion, but they are under used. My favorite laugh was the "Wake View Bar" on the aft of the ship.. a nice little room tucked away. which should have some nice windows on the wake of the ship. Nope. Just 3 small portholes you can not see out of. Every finish and decorative piece just had the look of bargain basement to me. And there was no imagination or flair or cohesiveness. You went from the Tuscan village look of Horizon Court, to the African Safari look of the Casino, to the really low rent Japanese laquer in the spa.

Even the refurbished and very old Monarch seemed to have more refinement to me. And there's simply no comparison to a ship such as Serenade...which I bet still looks newer than this one does fresh out of the yard.

They like to say they have big ships with a small ship feel. Well I guess then you better not be claustrophobic... because for such a huge ship (113,000 GRT) it always feels cramped. Everywhere. In the Horizon Court buffet, the food stations are piled one on top of another and jammed in corners.. so as one group is trying to get at deli meats, for example, they have to elbow through the line trying to get to the hot entrees. I have never seen anything so absurd.

And the food was so-so. Yes, food is such a subjective issue.. but I have always found at least one or two items on every ship I have been on that I thought was outstanding. That did not happen here. And the Personal Choice dining concept is a joke to me. None of the individual restaurants had any flair, or anything that special on the menu. And you could order off the traditional menu anyway.

At least with Norwegian "freestlye", each of the restaurants has a fully developed menu, and you can eat in the same one every night and get something new. Not on Princess. I swear, they just decorated four rooms differently to make you think you were getting something different.. but you weren't.

One positive is that their central reservation service for dining works extremely well. There never seemed to be people waiting or crowding. The food is just not worth the trouble to me. The selection in the Buffet was better.

With the exception of my Cabin Steward, Paul, the rest of the crew had a very "you're bothering me" attitude. From the front desk, to the spa desk, to the waiters, to the bartenders.. I really did always feel like I was somehow inconveniencing them, and this thought was shared by many of us. The other Princess marketing slogan "Where I Belong" is a joke... I guess you belong if you expect no one to lift a finger for you - just like at home!

And I know it's a new ship, and things are probably getting shaken out.. but on both Serenade of the Seas and Queen Mary 2, the crew were going out of their way to be wonderful and address any concerns...and seemed so interested in their new ship. Half the time I expected the Diamond Princess staff to yawn in my face.

Oh and the Internert.. a big deal to me. What a joke! You think you're getting a bargain because it's 35 cents a minute.. which is so cheap compared to other ships.. but it's so cheap because it starts charging you the minute you swipe your card, even if there's no connection! And often, there was no connection, despite the fact we were only 30-50 miles off the coast at any point. If you want to get the charge reversed, you have to go to the desk. And if you ask why there's no connection, they say "it's the satellite"... which any network programmer will tell you is a bunch of cr*p. They just haven't programmed their system properly, and they don't seem to care to. For you wireless fans, it's not much better. The WiFi pretty much only works in the lobby...also ridiculous because it would cost nothing to add the WiFi antennas to the public lounges or pool areas as Queen Mary 2 and Norwegian Star have done. For the modern "connected" traveler - beware a long stay on this ship. You will be frustrated.

Entertainment seemed about the same as any major line. You have your comedians and your Broadway reviews. The only ships that have ever blown me away for entertainment were Explorer of the Seas and Norwegian Star.. the rest have been bad to OK. This was OK. Billy Hygate, the CD, seemed like an affable man who enjoys his job, but you never, ever saw him, except before the show. On every other ship I have been on, it seemed like the CD was very approachable and mingling.

One plus is the standard cabins. They are well laid out, with ample storage/closet space and a good sized bathroom. The were high quality bath amenities, too. The bed was also one of the more comfortable I have slept in on a ship. I had an aft balcony, so it was triple sized and a nice place to sit.

No complaints there, but if I wanted a nice hotel room with a view, I can get that on land. I go on a ship for the specialness of cruising, and the cabin did not make up for the deficiencies of the ship.

I peeked in on the Vista Suite next to me and it was laid out like a typical "B/GS" on an RCI ship, but a touch smaller.. and where RCI really decorates their top suites well, this Vista had all the same finishes as my standard cabin.. it was simply just bigger and had a tub.

And really that just sums it all up for the Diamond Princess. Nice, but nothing special.

We had three cabins booked on her sister ship, Sapphire Princess for next January for a 12 day cruise from New Zealand to Australia. We just cancelled. 3 days was plenty for us and Princess.

Not sure if I will post this on Princess, since I am not sure I am up for the flaming [img]http://messages.cruisecritic.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img] ... but if you're trying to decide between the two lines, stick with RCI.

Matt

PAST: Queen of Bermuda '89 Tropicale '99, Explorer of the Seas '02, Radiance of the Seas '02, Vision of the Seas '03, Queen Elizabeth 2 '03, Infinity '03, Serenade of the Seas '03, Monarch of the Seas '03, Norwegian Star '03. Queen Mary 2 '04
FUTURE:
Diamond Princess, 5/1/04

Detailed ship pix: [url="http://community.webshots.com/user/mattinla"]http://community.webshots.com/user/mattinla[/url]

[This message was edited by mattinla on 05-10-04 at 09:07 PM.]

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You had a very bad experience. I was on the Regal from New Zealand to Australia 2002 for Christmas and New Year and we had a great time. Princess does cater to an older crowd. The food I found on that cruise was the best I have had on all my cruises. I think alot depends on the place, time of year and staff.

Linda

[img]http://escati.linkopp.net/cgi-bin/countdown.cgi?trgb=000000&srgb=00ff00&prgb=ff0000&cdt=2004;5;29;17;00;00&timezone=GMT-0500[/img]
Enchantment of the Seas May 29


RCL ADVENTURE OF THE SEAS 2003
PRINCESS REGAL 2002
NCL SEAWARD 1993
NCL SOUTHWARD 1992

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Hi mattinla.....welcome back---its so nice to see you again on here, haven't seen you for awhile.

Well its nice to hear that the Diamond Princess has nothing on RCI. I can't compare since I've never been. Although a friend of mine swears by Princess and I tell her I swear by RCI so its a wash.
I don't think I liked the sounds of the feeling of being crowded on a ship, sure there will be times when its a mass of people, but not all the time, seems that maybe the layout is not good? The cabin sounds good and nice to know it was comfortable. The aft bar sounds like it was a joke. Intresting you cancelled your other Princess cruises, that really says it all, so far I can't read any reason in your review to run out and book on it....LOL
Thanks for your post.

Soveriegn 92 E. Caribbean
Majesty 95 W. Caribbean
Granduer 97 E. Caribbean
Rhapsody 00 Mexico
Vision 02 Alaska
Radiance 03 Panama Canal
Brilliance 3/29/04



Radiance of the Seas/Panama Canal 10/18/2003
[img]http://escati.linkopp.net/cgi-bin/countdown.cgi?trgb=000000&srgb=00ff00&prgb=ff00ff&cdt=2003;10;18;20;00;00&timezone=GMT-0800[/img]Are we there yet?
[img]http://escati.linkopp.net/cgi-bin/countdown.cgi?trgb=000000&srgb=00ff00&prgb=ff00ff&cdt=2003;10;18;20;00;00&timezone=GMT-0800[/img]

My bags are always packed!
[img]http://escati.linkopp.net/cgi-bin/countdown.cgi?trgb=000000&srgb=00ff00&prgb=800080&cdt=2004;3;29;17;00;00&timezone=GMT-0500[/img] Brilliance 3/29/2004

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Thanks for your honest review Matt [img]http://messages.cruisecritic.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img] And I agree, good to see you on the RCI board again!

[img]http://escati.linkopp.net/cgi-bin/countdown.cgi?trgb=000000&srgb=00ff00&prgb=191970&cdt=2004;6;26;17;1;00&timezone=GMT-0500[/img]
Navigator of the Seas 6/26/04


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I've been on 3 Princess cruises and I was very impressed with their food. They seem to have fish of some sort at their buffet lunch every day and there was shrimp all over the place. I love shrimp. Even on the dinner menu, you could get a shrimp cocktail every night. Their evening buffet mirrored the menu of the dining room so if something was exceptional, it was available again for a l0 or ll o'clock snack. I also remember the Horizon buffet having a big container of chopped strawberries with a bowl of whipped cream next to it. I've never seen that on the other cruise lines. I made a point of being there each evening before it closed.Last fall I was on the Norwegian Dawn with all their restaurants but the only problem was that they all closed around l0-l0:30. There was a small fish& chips type restaurant opened round the clock but it was very small, crowded and you had to wait to be served. I guess each cruise line has its goods and bads...I think RCI has the best deserts and breakfast danish.

John L.

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Thank you, Matt. I've been thinking of straying to Princess, but maybe not. I can see the food and service varying from one cruise to another, but the decor is a constant. You described a ship from the "olden days", and I am spoiled by gorgeous ships.

Thanks for the info.

Peggy - RCI since 1973

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Thanks Matt for the honest opinion. My experience on Princess was similar but I figured it was 4 years ago so maybe things changed. I just never felt like the crew cared. Maybe that's why I've gotten bad vibes.

I always thought if the price was right I'd try them again as each ship is different. I've had a bad experience or 2 on RCI but as a whole they've done a great job for us. Thanks for giving me something to consider.

Victoria, Atlantic, Nordic Empress,Tropicale, Oceanic, Grandeur, Nordic Empress, Legend, Destiny, Rotterdam,
OceanPrincess, Monarch, Grandeur,Navigator,
Monarch, Sovereign 5x's, Explorer, Enchantment of the Seas, Radiance 2x's
Up next Mariner of the Seas
[img]http://escati.linkopp.net/cgi-bin/countdown.cgi?trgb=000000&srgb=00ff00&prgb=dc143c&cdt=2004;6;20;17;00;00&timezone=GMT-0500[/img]
Then Jewel of the Seas
[img]http://escati.linkopp.net/cgi-bin/countdown.cgi?trgb=000000&srgb=00ff00&prgb=008080&cdt=2004;12;18;17;00;00&timezone=GMT-0500[/img]

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I was on the same cruise and came away with the complete opposite experience than you. While I agree that the ship, not even 2 months old, was really lacking in many areas, especially the show lounge, we noticed a lot of damage already, and yes the buffet was very poorly designed, We really thought the food was fantastic, way better than RCI, we also thought the crew a cut above RCI, very friendly, our room was very comfortable, and we liked the different layout than RCI. The PC dining really worked, their reservation system worked well, we were always changing our dining res times, without any problems. The lunches in the dining room were great, far better than the one menu per cruise RCI offers, Princess was also able to offer turndown service for first night, something RCI all of a sudden seems to have a problem doing. They were not charging for burgers and cookies. A couple of other Princess annoyances was the extra charge for ice cream and their towel policy. The unlimited coke card was $12.00 which was a lot more reasonable than RCI.

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I had been on the Golden in Feb and thought that Princess' ship were very bland, like a mid range Hyatt somewhere.

A friend of mine summed it up perfectly, Princess does bland really well and many people like bland.

I like a ship with a personality. I have to say that I would pick any of the Radiance class ships over a princess ship any day.

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Thanks for your review. My expecations will be low in August when I cruise Princess for the first time. I'll be sure to write a review when I get back.

Explorer of the Seas ~ 10/02
Majesty of the Seas ~ 1/03
Majesty of the Seas ~ 8/11/03
Navigator of the Seas ~ 10/11/03
Serenade of the Seas ~ 1/31/04
Caribbean Princess ~ 8/14/04
Adventure of the Seas ~ 1/30/05

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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by lmmn:
Thanks for your review. My expecations will be low in August when I cruise Princess for the first time. I'll be sure to write a review when I get back.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Nice to see you going into the new experience with an open mind. [img]http://messages.cruisecritic.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif[/img]

Island Princess Feb. 2004
Grand Princess Feb. 2002
Norwegian Sky Feb. 2001

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Always good not to have too high expectations. Then you can be favorably impressed. On the other hand, I've never met a cruise I didn't like, including a number on RCCL, Princess, HAL, etc. (Well, NCL was OK, but wouldn't take them again). Nancy

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Matt,

Thanks for the input. I also echo the otheres. Nice to see you back

[img]http://www.gifs.net/animate/ag00612_.gif[/img]


Gary


Explorer of the Seas 10/24/04
Dawn Princess 10/12/03
Voyager of the Seas 12/01/02
Adventurer of the Seas 4/21/02
Sea Breeze 06/98
Atlantis 06/70

Time to Set Sail

[img]http://escati.linkopp.net/cgi-bin/countdown.cgi?trgb=000000&srgb=00ff00&prgb=CD20CD&cdt=2004;10;24;17;0;00&timezone=GMT-0400[/img]

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Thanks for the honest review. I am trying my first Princess cruise in December and have heard nothing but good things about the Island Princess, so I am very much looking forward to it.

You stated that you felt crowded on the Diamond Princess. I felt crowded on the Carnival Conquest (110,000 GT) even though it was only 2/3 full on our sailing last September. I think that the beheamouth ships like that are just not for me.

Taters

Song of Norway, 1971
Imagination, 1/1996
Imagination, 1/1998
Song of America, 1/1999
Jubilee, 1/2000
Inspiration, 1/2001
Enchantment of the Seas, 11/2002 - Back to back!
Carnival Conquest, 9/2003
Island Princess, 12/2004

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I was on the Star Princess in August, and wouldn't rush back. Did you have the outdoor theater?

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Matt:

Thanks for your opinion......as you can tell from our signature we are going on our first Princess cruise after 7 with RC.......I appreciate your review.....we decided to try Princess and in fact Celebrity which we already have booked for next April.....

We may come running back as well. We are going with an open mind and hope our experience is good.

Thanks again.

Jim

Nordic Prince 8/88
Viking Serenade 3/93
Enchantment 3/01
Rhapsody 9/02
Splendour 4/03
Rhapsody, 9/03
Brilliance, 4/04

Until Our Caribbean Princess Cruise [img]http://escati.linkopp.net/cgi-bin/countdown.cgi?trgb=000000&srgb=00ff00&prgb=0000ff&cdt=2004;11;06;17;00;00&timezone=GMT-0500[/img]


Until Hawaii on Inifinity
[img]http://escati.linkopp.net/cgi-bin/countdown.cgi?trgb=000000&srgb=00ff00&prgb=dc143c&cdt=2005;4;6;23;59;00&timezone=GMT-1100[/img]

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As I said, of course, it was just my impression. And Brad, other than the food, I agree with you, and you seem to agree with me on some points. The cabin is a great layout, and the beds were comfortable. The PC Dining res system works wonderfully. Maybe I made all the wrong food choices... but nothing really worked for me. I didn't have a bad meal. Just never thought, "wow, that was delicious".. which I have done on every cruise. I don't drink much soda, but I do enjoy that afternoon softserve, and being charged for it was grating. The regular Haagen-Daz, I understand, but softserve?

I guess I'm like the poster who felt the experience just bland... and except for the cabin guy, I really just didn't run into any staff that seemed interested.

As for size of the ship, Princess seems to try and pack an awful lot into their space, and my feeling was that everything ended up feeling small and claustrophobic... and I really couldn't appreciate any of it. For a large ship, there was simply no "grandness"... Radiance class has never felt crowded, nor did Explorer of the Seas... this big ship just felt cramped to me. We did not have the outdoor theatre, BTW...that is so far only on the new Caribbean Princess, and does sound like a neat feature. Norwegian Star, which is supposedly a little more "relaxed" was even way more elegant to my eye.

Also, I was traveling with my friend Ron.. and he was in a mini-suite. Again, nice enough cabin, good layout...and he had many, if not more of, the same impressions I did. I think he said something like, "I'm not getting trapped like this on the Sapphire for 12 days!" [img]http://messages.cruisecritic.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img]

And thanks everyone for welcoming me back... a lot has been happening in my life, and I am in the middle of planning a move to Fort Lauderdale, actually. Big changes, so not as much time to devote to the web [img]http://messages.cruisecritic.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img]

Matt

[This message was edited by mattinla on 05-11-04 at 07:00 PM.]

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Hi Matt[img]http://messages.cruisecritic.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img] another friend here is happy to see your smiling face [img]http://messages.cruisecritic.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif[/img]

Next up...HORIZON Sept 18th to Bermuda!

See My Century and Mercury Pictures at:
[url="http://community.webshots.com/user/lovescruising"]http://community.webshots.com/user/lovescruising[/url]

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Matt - Thanks so much for taking the time to post a review. It is greatly appreciated.

Congratulations on your move to Ft Lauderdale.
Can I come with you???? I really want to move to FL and be close to all the cruise ships [img]http://messages.cruisecritic.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img]. Dh and ds say they would never see me if we move to Florida. Seriously, though, our desire is to move to Florida...Melbourne area.

Marie

Marie

HAL - MAASDAM - June 2004/Canada/New England
RCI - Mariner of the Seas,
Sept 2004(CC Group Cruise)
RCI - Rhapsody of the Seas
October 2004


RCI Majesty of the Seas - Spring Break, March 2005
Celebrity Mercury, April 2005

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Wow...is this a Princess review or a Matt fan club??????????? Lots of us so glad to see you back here,Matt~~

Don't be a stranger.... [img]http://messages.cruisecritic.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif[/img]


[img]http://escati.linkopp.net/cgi-bin/countdown.cgi?trgb=000000&srgb=00ff00&prgb=111111&cdt=2004;5;30;14;00;00&timezone=GMT-1000[/img] RCCL Serenade--5/30--Alaska
[img]http://escati.linkopp.net/cgi-bin/countdown.cgi?trgb=000000&srgb=00ff00&prgb=ff0000&cdt=2004;10;28;17;00;00&timezone=GMT-0500[/img] RCCL Jewel--10/28--repositioning
**RCCL SOS-8/27/04** Carnival Miracle-2/13/05**

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I am very happy to hear a review of Princess from an RCI fan. I have been tempted to try another line too, especially after seeing the Grand Princess from the Voyager on my last cruise.

When you invest a good deal of dollars traveling and cruising, combined with the vacation time you have to use to go...I would rather not waste it on a cruise where I am saying, "I should have cruised RCI"!

For now, I am staying with RCI...my horrible "Carnival Glory" experience has sort of given me cold feet and I am not willing to risk another line just yet. [img]http://messages.cruisecritic.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif[/img]

<center>
<img src=http://animatedgif.net/animals/birds/green_bird_e0.gif>
Voyager of the Seas 2/1/04
Glory 9/20/03
Monarch of the Seas 7/21/03
Splendour of the Seas 2/3/03
Rhapsody of the Seas 9/22/02
Elation 2/3/02

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[img]http://messages.cruisecritic.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif[/img] [img]http://messages.cruisecritic.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif[/img] [img]http://messages.cruisecritic.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif[/img] definitely the Fan Club!

Next up...HORIZON Sept 18th to Bermuda!

See My Century and Mercury Pictures at:
[url="http://community.webshots.com/user/lovescruising"]http://community.webshots.com/user/lovescruising[/url]

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We were on Golden Princess two years in a row to Canada. Loved everything about it!! This October we are going on the Empress of the Seas,our 8th cruise on RC. Except that we wanted to go back to Bermuda, we would have gone on Princess again to Canada. I enjoy, in some way, all the lines we have been on. RC used to be 1st with us, but I think Princess is our number 1 now.

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We sailed on the Dawn Princess in 2000, and my most lasting impression of that cruise is that the staff almost treated passengers with distain! They were very unfriendly and not particularly helpful! I was not impressed with the ship's decor, although there was nothing wrong with it, just bland. The food was edible, nothing to write home about. Now that Carnival has taken over Princess I know I don't want to try them again.

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