We flew from Eastern Canada to Vancouver to catch the Island Princess on its repositioning route south in October. Although we booked the entire trip to Fort Lauderdale, it was considered two cruises, one Vancouver–San Francisco and SF-Fort Lauderdale, (2 nights+15 nights). A FOD get together was scheduled the first evening and we met congenial passengers booked on both cruises. Those disembarking at SF were of course permitted to purchase their duty free the day before doing so and consequently voluntarily became our emissaries for bar preparation for the following 15 days… Something to consider when booking a two part cruise.
We have been with Princess for about 175 sailing days so know the company fairly well. Budget cuts are evident for sure and not necessarily in the best areas. Cuisine quality to us should remain paramount and unfortunately that was one area of noted targets. We were pleased to find that some of the dinning room staff, members of the fraternity, remembered us, and that certainly enhanced our anytime dinning pleasure. Primarily the cruise was more a pre winter prep for us and, as we had the larger size balcony, we enjoyed the sea air to the fullest. Room service was adequate but harried, as obviously the staff workload has been increased. Our FOD group met each evening for pre dinner drinks having the bar almost to ourselves. There were other occasions when the staff outnumbered the bar patrons. We were pleased to see bar prices at or in some cases lower than on previous sailings. The ship itself was about the right size for us (les than 2,000 passengers) considering the humongous floating resorts that are being launched these days. As to the itinerary, choosing our cruise with déjà vuports of call allowed us to have entire areas of the ship all to ourselves, at times the entire solarium and pool.
It is in the area of entertainment that we feel economies could well be made, sparing those made to our menus. It becomes obvious that there are fewer and fewer first time cruisers to be impressed with the stage “extravaganza” sort of entertainment. We have not been to an after dinner show in ages finding them repetitive and tedious. If economies are to be made, far better in our view to simply have single artists or small cabaret style venues about the ship to entertain us.
While not pleased about the economies being forced upon us, especially in dinning, and not experiencing any financial advantage in fares due to stringent market conditions, we have nevertheless again booked the Island Princess for mid February, Fort Lauderdale to Acapulco b2b return as our post winter thaw.