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Old June 6th, 2011, 02:03 PM
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MercedMike MercedMike is offline
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Question Comments on Princess

Thank you for a reasoned and well thought out post, and also for not using ALL CAPS!!!! in your subject line ... That is the difference between this sort of reasonable first post and a drive-by basher!

A few comments ...

We have cruised on Princess for many years. Really, over that time we have seen little deterioration in service or quality, and in fact have seen many extra perks and bells and whistles added.

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The ship is getting a little long-of-tooth...the internet café has such poor bandwidth that internet access is extremely slow and difficult.
Indeed she is. Probably due for a drydock soon. But that has nothing to do with the internet bandwidth. Every ship we have ever been on of whatever line has slooooooooow unreliable internet.

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Service gets worse with every Princess cruise we take. It’s not that the staff doesn’t work at it, but management sets the bar too low. The “Carnivalization” of Princess some years back started it all off. The automatic tip program encourages mediocrity, and has taken much of the incentive away from staff to “go the extra mile”.
I am certainly no fan of the "automatic" tips. And I agree that supervision is minimal. But, despite all that, we have really seen no deterioration in service aboard. The cabin steward is frequently there to greet us and open the door for us, and rarely are towels, ice or anything else not replaced.

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The food is getting really bad.
Now that really differs from our experience. There are certainly some cost cutting measures: no seconds on lobster offered unless you ask, very little caviar, and the benign little trick of listing appetizers, soups, and salads all under "Starters" to encourage you to only order one of them. But the quality of the food remains very high and by and large we are very happy with the dining room. The buffet, of course, is a buffet. Stick with salads and sandwiches for a quick lunch and we are happy.

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The mattresses (or some of them) need replacement. Not only are they 2nd rate in style (what, no pillow-top?), but they, like the ship, are a little long-of-tooth.
This is a well known characteristic of Princess. We always have our TA pre-order egg crates for us and they are always there when we arrive.

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The ship’s itinerary was known ahead of time, of course; but HoonahVillage/Icy Point...really? And only a few hours in Victoria?
That is a very popular itinerary. Icy Strait Point is a great place and one of our very favorites. We did a great bear watching trip there. Check out our trip report and pictures at Cruising HAL Volendam to Alaska. A few hours in Victoria is basically to comply with the PSA by touching a foreign port.

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Ship sanitation...what can I say, Sea Princess was hard-hit by Norovirus this trip. ... Staff then modified some of their public practices to help prevent infection...crew members handled food-service utensils at the buffet, alcohol-rub was “mandated” (but poorly so) before we could enter the dining room or buffet, etc. Shouldn’t this be the default?
Aha, now to the crux of the problem. A cruise hard hit by Norovirus is a cruise ruined, pretty much. All the cruise lines are well aware of this and are struggling to deal with it. It is a fine line to walk. On our last HAL cruise, the precautions you note, along with others like no salt shakers, only paper packets, were implemented for the first two days of the cruise. HAL says this has reduced noro by 60%. BUT -- it was accompanied by much grumbling among the passengers, and accounted for a notable fall off of service in the dining room since so many of the waitstaff were required in the buffet. So -- the cruise line has to make a decision about passenger satisfaction versus strict sanitation procedures. Incidentally the alcohol sanitizer does nothing about a virus, only good handwashing can help that. In fact, stationing "hand washing police" in the restrooms would probably be THE most effective preventative but it is unlikely the passengers would stand for that. I am very sorry you had a bad experience.

By and large, Princess is still one of our favorite lines. Our next cruise will be on Sapphire Princess. And by and large, cruising still comes up to all our expectations!
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