WE were so disappointed in Princess. For a new ship, the Sapphire was a huge dissapointment. We had a mini suite on Dolphin and the UNCOVERED balconies were horrible. Ok if you like 100's of people looking at you and no protection from the rain or sun. Can't believe the one deck with all suites and they give us the only UNCOVERED balconies. The service was terrible, the food was just ok..we sent several things back. They charged for Soda..even with your meals..where most only charge in bars or by the pool. Just another penny pinching tactic of princess. We traveled with another couple as well and the concensus is we would never recommend Princess and we would never sail with them again. On Shore Excursions..I don't recommend booking with your cruise ship. Princess cancelled all helicopter tours due to wind. WE booked with Coastal Helicopters in Juneau ahead of time on the internet and by the time our tour came up the wind was gone and we had a awesome trip landing on the glaciers!! All those people missed out. We also went on a Floatplane to Neets Bay to see the Bears and we saw 4 bears in the river feeding on salmon within 25 feet of us. Amazing how they can't be bothered with you because of all the salmon they feed on. We also booked Orca Enterprises for whale watching .We had a wonderful time. We snacked on smoked salmon, cheese and crackers. Only 6 of us on board. Meanwhile we passed a princess whale tour. A 2 story catamaran with over 100 people packed on it. Their big boat couldn't go as close as our boat could.
Well you booked that cabin, with the uncovered balcony, not too bright. Guess your travel agent wasn't able to give you good advise. It is easy enough to find out if your balcony is covered or not, we book a covered balcony.
What mass market cruiseline doesn't charge for soda. RCI does. Carnival does. Norwiegen does,. .......... hmmm, I guess the "penny pinching" is one reason Princess is able to be price their balconies so reasonable.
As for the food , that is subjective, we liked it, although we are aware that when one books a cruise on a ship that carries 2000 plus passengers that the cuisine will be good banquet food, not haute cuisine.Obviously one must have realistic expectations.
Again for clairfication- NONE of the major lines have free soda anywhere. RCI used to in the dining room but that has been stopped for a couple years now. Princess isn't for everyone. I hope at least Alaska was interesting for you? I find the ship choice for me a distant second when sailing there, everything of interest to me is off the ship.
It seems that the newest Princess ships have many uncovered balconies. Is it a high percentage? We were next to the Star a couple of years back and most balconies appeared to be uncovered. Maybe that was an illusion? What percent of the balconies on the Diamond and Saphire are uncovered I wonder?
I feel in Alaska if you want a balcony, since the weather changes so frequently, it should be covered.
We just returned from an Alaska Cruise/tour on the Island Princess. Our cruise was fantastic! We had a stateroom with balcony, our Balcony was half covered, half open, we were on Caribe deck. We could see into a few other balconies and a few could see into ours, but we mostly made friends with our Balcony mates so it was not bad at all. Our food was wonderful and I found the variety amazing. Every excursion we went on met or exceeded our expectations except for my freshwater fishing at Chilkoot lake in Skagway. The fishing was fine, but I was disappointed in the guide. It was still a nice excursion. We also went whale watching in Juneau on one of the Catamarans you mentioned and I agree it would have been nice to be on one of the smaller boats, but I am curious what you paid for that trip versus what we paid for ours. Ours was less than $90 per person and we also snacked on smoked salmon etc. If I go again I will check on the smaller boats. I purchased a soda sticker when I first boarded the boat and got good value for it.
It actually sounds like you had a pretty nice trip, it's too bad that it left a bad taste in your mouth.
To Pat...we paid $105 for our whale excursion with only 6 people aboard.
Karen..you are incorrect..We cruised with Disney last May and they do NOT charge for soda with meals. Yes in bars or by the pool they do..but that is understandable. They did however have unlimited coffee, tea and lemonade out by the pools. They also had all the free ice cream and cookies that you wanted any time. Unlike Princess who Charged for Ice Cream out by the pool...Another penny pinching tactic.
To PG...About the food...Disney Cruise lines was absolutely Gourmet...everything exceptional and the presentation as well. The lobster tails were Four times the size of the ones on Princess. My husband said they are just small rock lobsters not like the Huge Maine Lobsters on Disney. We do expect very good food, we live in Vegas where the dining is among the best.
Yes we knew our balcony was uncovered but didn't figure after reading several earlier posts that it was that big of a deal. The purpose of my post was to let everyone know just how many people do look down on you and with the rainy weather it would be ideal to have it covered too. I don't need someone telling me that I am not too bright. Perhaps you need to keep your nasty comments to yourself. I was just trying to help out future cruisers. I like to get the Most for my dollars..not second best.
I guess it all depends on what you are looking for. I'm not an avid cruiser so have little to compare.
I don't mind that sodas and ice cream aren't included. I wouldn't have enough of either of these to merit the likely increase in fare. I calculated out the number of sodas that it would take to equal the price of the unlimited soda option and I couldn't have had that much even sharing it with my girlfriend. We just picked up a six pack of coke at a mini-mart in Ketchikan (for about the same price as a single drink on the ship). Then we just drank those while having lunch on deck. [By the way, I'm still not sure why people are comfortable with paying for soda at the pool but not during dinner. Either its included or its not]
I'd say our service was exceptional, with a very friendly dining room staff. (Only complaint is that I get tired of everyone saying "sir" at the end of each sentence) They even accommodated complicated dietary restrictions with grace. The food was good to excellent depending on the night. I realize it would be better on a line that charges more, but hey ...
I appreciate the concern about the balcony. Our balcony (not a suite) on the Island was fully covered. The only way anybody saw us was if both we and the other people were leaning out over the rail a bit. Even then I can't say that I ever saw more than 10 people from my balcony for the total duration of the cruise. So, there were times when we would talk back and forth about the whale that just went by, but it was all under our control.
As for booking tours through the ship, I'd agree independent booking often has many advantages for intimacy of the trip and knowledge of the guide. Its not always true of course. As for this issue of flight cancellations, I have no idea how it works. But I have seen someone post that at least one helicopter company cancels independent bookers before cruise-ship bookers. I don't know if its true, but its out there.
. Icecream is FREE on Princess in the buffet in the afternoon. Plus coffee tea, and ice tea are also always available free at the buffet on Princess. The buffet is open all day and night, so you could eat around the clock for free if so inclined.
Your comparision to Disney is useless as Disney costs more, so you basically are NOT getting free icecream or soda now are you. You pay more upfront, that is the difference. On Princess those of us who do not drink soda or eat ice cream do not need to pay for it.
As for my post being nasty, quite frankly, you made a big complaint ( by accenting in capitals ) about the uncovered balconys as if it was a surpise to you that you had an "UNCOVERED" balcony thrust upon you unknowingly.You were being dramatic about it, and bascially went on and on about how horrible the food , service, etc were, when in fact I bet the waiters and waitress were sick of your complaining and comparing, and sending food back. The staff has feelings too.
Spend more money next time and cruise Disney, or may be try Celebrity, they are in fact known for their good food.
BTW... Vegas....haute cusine?..... hmmm
As my post states- major lines- Disney really isn't a major line compared to others. I cruised Disney when it first sailed. My last. This line is usually more expensive - compared to what you can snag on Alaska cruises at times with sales. Your post is valuable to others who may want a different balcony situation.
Patdor, obviously you are new around here or you would realize how unlikely it is that your post is true.
I have been posting for 1 1/2 years and if you reread my other posts you will quickly see that I support other lines as being suitable for some posters. For instance, although I have never been on RCI, I have read enough on these boards( and other similar) to suggest that parents of teens choose their Voygeur class ships.And duh, you did notice that I recommended Celebrity didn't you?
Princess may not be perfect, but I think posts that say things like " the service was terrible" but then supplies no examples are bogus, I mean to say , service was most likely not "terrible" all the time, but the posters may have encountered one instance of bad service and then use it as an example of ALL the service being terrible.
I also find one post wonders interesting.
Also when posters make statements and wrong information is being put out, yes, I like to correct them. Princess does in fact have free ice cream, at certain times.
The " she /he must be an employee " is weak. The staff here are able to see where my address is from and the likelyhood of Princess( or any cruise line) employing someone who lives in the remote northwest and has only been on 4 cruises is highly ridiculus.
My family of 9 just returned from cruising the Mexican Riviera on Sapphire and it was our best cruise ever! The Sapphire is an absolutely beautiful ship and the staff was all so friendly and accomodating. We did not care for the PC dining restaurants as we felt the service was too rushed and the food not that good, however, we were very pleased with the buffet and were quite happy to eat every meal there (this surprised us as we usually hate buffets!). The all-you-can-drink soda cards were only $25 (for a 10 day cruise) so I didn't consider it a big deal that they weren't included free with meals.
A group of senior citizen friends (17 total) went to Mexico on the Sapphire Princess. They all loved it, & had no complaints at all. We have some other friends on it now, & I expect to hear more good reports. Maybe they have just improved things by now. I tend to look into booking a cruise on this ship next year, as my last 4 have been on RC.
I was on the Diamond Princess in May (the famous missed two ports and glacier cruise) and I offer the following. The ship was beautiful, the room steward was superb, the service at the first dinner (traditional) wes terrible. The waiter pluncked everthing (entres)on the table and ignored us for the rest of the meal.. We tried to get his attention to refill beverages and he never looked our way. He innored the fact that two people (tenderloin of beaf) never got past the first bite. Things did not change until i literally ran down the head waiter for our section to inform him ot the situation. We ate personnal Choice for the remainder of the cruise and got good service. Even with the problems, we are going to Alaska again in May and we are going on Princess but out of Vancouver not Seattle. The itenerary is what we want and the price is affordable. Even with the problems of our cruise, we had a wonderful time. Alasaka is magical.
We took our kids on Celebrity Summit to Alaska in June 2004 and had a 5.5 star experience as we were promised, and it lived up to its reputation. The food was terrific, nightly shows were great. Not too many kids on board though, but we didn't care because we would rather have had the better food, ship, shows,and the sleeping elderly than poor service. Definitely a more formal ship but the kids are used to getting dolled up, dresses, suits and ties for the evening meals. Great time.