I will make this short as possible. My wife and I took this ship for our 2nd cruise. First was HAL Statendam to Alaska. We wanted to go with Princess so we could make our own comparisons and truly felt it would be an excellent choice. We had a great time aboard the Sapphire and a very relaxing vacation. The service on the boat was not what we were used to at all however and we will never sail with Princess again. We are very easy folks to please too. Smiles were few and far between from the ship's crew. We felt like the experience was very impersonal and since there were so many activities provided by Princess that details were of no importance. Getting someone to come and serve you at the bar of your choice was a crap shoot at best. Most people just went up to the bar and got there drinks there. Then there were the folks dragging around their buckets of beer on ice-and I can see why. I refused to do that however and suffered for it. The buffet was very disorganized compared to what we'd seen before too. I never got one smile from a bartender on that ship!! I did get one who rolled his eyes at me and another that gave me a dirty look. All I can say is for those of you that think you are going to get the treatment you were used to on HAL forget it. On HAL everyone called my wife and I by our first names. Most bartenders knew what we drank in the various bars. The Morning buffet line was posted with a merrily singing greeter every day-you couldnt help but smile even if you werent happy! Every where you went to have a seat you were soon followed by a server to ask you what you needed and if everything was going alright. The food on Princess was just fine everywhere and even excellent in Sabbatini's (pay to play). One night in the Pacific Moon restaurant, we got up and walked out we waited 1 hour to be seated and another hour before we got our entree. The next night at Sabbatini's they must have got word because they treated us like royalty and gave us a free bottle of wine and delivered chocolate covered strawberries to our room. It was a very nobel rally to gain back some points with us-and it did. However, one meal does not a cruise make. Maybe the bid ships like this just can't handle the folks quite like what we saw on the smaller ship of HAL. For such a large ship I have to admit I felt much more freedom on HAL's Statendam which is only 720 feet. The Sapphire is like a strip mall inside. It doesn't have any nautical feel to it at all. Its like a floating condo complex. The ceilings are low everywhere and they don't have the great high ceilinged grand dining rooms either. Just a bunch of compartmentalized rooms. There is also a lot of nickel and diming going on about the ship in terms of drink packages, pictures, ice cream etc. Our Room steward was decent and friendly but my wife and I had to pull the friendliness out of him. We are very friendly people and kind of set the stage with him in terms of engagement, otherwise I'm not sure how he would have been. The Feeling we got on this ship was basically: "you are lucky to be aboard and if you want something go get it. As long as you helped yourself all was fine. In fact, jokingly in the AM I would bring my wife coffee and smile broadly and say good morning sunshine and welcome aboard our fine ship where your needs are of our utmost concern! Ha!! that's about as close as we got to the real thing. Then the ship's engine broke and they announced that we would be a bit late to arrive back in LA. Then many hours later informed us we would be even later than they thought before. Well, the first announcment would have made it tough but possible to make our flight. The 2nd made it impossible. When we stood in line (with everyone else on the ship) to get things resolved we were basically told to that if jupiter aligned with mars and peace would guide the planets we may...just may get compensated for the $100.00 flight cancellation fee and the hotel fee we had to spend in LA. Theyu told us "when you get to the terminal just simply go to the Princess desk and get it sorted out. Well, let me tell you: they herded us out of that ship and through customs with a big sign posted "when you pass this sign forget about returning to the terminal". There was no way to circumnavigate that. Good thing they made real sure not to let us pass the embarkers waiting to get on the trailer park of cruise lines/ships. We would have told them to save their money. We spent a bunch of extra money for transportation & lodging and no effort was made to help us out at all. They like that.
We will never sail with Princess agin. But to all you Princess officianado's: Glad you like it! Keep on sailing there and you will never know how good it really can be. Or, maybe its all about priorities. The Princess entertainment and activities were great........but at a price we are not willing to pay. Maybe for some, as long as the entertainment and food is good everything is hunky dory. But for us, though we like good entertainment and food-we like it delivered with a smile and attention to the customer. For those of you that like to carry a cooler around the ship, eat buffet food in strip malls, take dancing lessons at the local pub-you will be tickled.
Perhaps the crew had a short timers attitude. They will be headed North to Alaska and many of the crew will be turning over? That said its not a reason to treat people with indifference.
We have been on six princess cruises and found each one to be a great experience. Not all was perfect, but what is these days, but as close as one could get for our tastes. They did a fine job overall each time, and we are headed to Alaska this summer on the sapphire and we will report our findings.
Try again, We g\have saled HAL and its nice also, but princess just seemed to us to be a class act.... 8)
rtlk- I wouldnt recommend the Sapphire for Alaska. Number 1-the ship is too big and they can't scootch into the glacier areas like the smaller ships can so you won't get the views. Also, the ship has no Crows nest which enables one to get a 360 degree view no matter what the weather. We saw the Sapphire from our boat (Statendam) when we were up in AK and it couldnt get even half as close to the natural beauty of the glaciers as we could. If you are stuck with Princess you should see if they have some smaller ships going up there. By the way, I interviewed many of the crew on the Sapphire and none seemed to be short-timers. Also, I believe the post above yours on this thread is from one of their crew. I toned my critique down some for the sake of all, but let me tell you it was abyssmal at best. As you stated about your having had goodtimes...sso did we because we refuse to let the behavior of others spoil ours. But we could have gone to any Motel 6 and felt as pampered. Even the Courtyard we stayed at in Longbeach was more customer oriented. They greeted us with a smile and asked of our needs. My wife turned to me and said "wow isnt that refreshing. Thank God Princess wasnt our first cruising experience. If it was we would be very hesitant to ever cruise again. We know that there is better service to be had and thats a mercy. We saved a bit of money by selecting Princess and the old saying you get what you pay for couldnt be more true in our case. Next time we will spend the extra dough for either HAL, Celebrity, Radisson or even Crystal. Hopeefully Carnival's ownership of HAL won't princessize HAL too.
Unfortunately I have run into the same situation. I sailed on both Grand Princess and Caribbean Princess and found the service without a smile and the confusing personal choice dining plus confusing buffet set up less than stellar. I prefer Holland America or Celebrity much better. In all of those cruises, the service has been wonderful.
Our first cruise was also on Holland America. Our second cruise was on RCI...........it was horrid! There was more rust on the railings, noone smiled, etc, etc. By the third cruise, on Princess, we were more mellow about realizing that cruise lines and cruise experiences were all different. I truly believe that whatever line, and ship, you cruisse on first, is the very best cruise that you will ever take, and if you go again, your second cruise is the very worst! I think much of it is a matter of perception.
I hope that your third cruise is wonderful! Please give Princess another try sometime in the future..............we have tried HAL again, and also had a great cruise on Royal Caribbean, unlike our second cruise on them, but have stuck with Princess because of their itineraries, pricing, and perks for loyal cruisers. If we saw an HAL, or RCI cruise itinerary that we wanted to sail, we would..........HAL still has a wonderful, friendly crew.
Its nice you had an open enough mind to give princess another try. I never will give them another chance. Life is too short and we work way too hard to take a chance on any cruise line that can't operate properly for our needs. I don't care if the Princess ship's port of call is the pearly gates! I will wait until a known quantity (HAL) is headed there. As for price, that was one of the attractions of Princess but we would have gladly spent the money on a better cruise had we known that they robbed Peter to pay Paul. We are sailing Celebrity in September and pray it's better than princess. I know and have read that there is nothing like your first cruise but c'mon, you had to be in our shoes to really understand how bad it was-with or without expectations. We now are very sad we didnt do the Mexican Riv on the Westerdam out of San Diego. But we learned several valuable lessons: 1. If it aint broke don't fix it
2. You get what you pay for 3. The British suck at customer service. 4. The cruise line must not treat their people very well or they'd be smiling all the time like on HAL. The HAL employees told us that they are treated phenomonally well. On HAL they called me "Sir James" and my Wife "Miss Paula" wherever we went. Nobody on the Princess ship knew our names. We could have disappeared off that ship and totally gone unnoticed. In retrospect we probably should have gotten off in Puerto Vallarta and gone to an all inclusive resort for the remainder of our time. Better yet, should have had them drop us off in Cabo.
I was on this same cruise and I couldn't agree with you more. this was my 2nd Princess Cruise (did the Grand in 2001 and service was 100% better) and also did RCI (awesome ship) and Celebrity (service is second to NONE). The service on the Sapphire was adequate at best. I found the same thing - the waiter never attempted to learn our names, charged us one night for drinks we didn't order ($150 worth) and the smoking in public areas on this ship was awful. A smoking bar in the shopping area? C'mon, that was atrocious!
Also, the way the cruise line handled the delay was not very good in my books either. Basically, if you didn't book you're flight through the cruise line, you were on your own. They did eventually give out calling cards and stop charging for internet (although I was charged $12 for the day of the fiasco - and didn't have the energy to argue it or the desire to stand in a line up for over an hour for it to be corrected). There was never an apology for the inconvenience - just a 'thank you for your patience'. It ruined the last day for most passengers who had to spend the time in line-ups, on the phone or on the computer and not even a complimentary drink at dinner! Then when we finally did dock, disembarkation began without anyone even acknowledging we were 9 hours delayed. They were too busy at that point rushing everyone out to get ready for the next sailing. I was appalled at the service - even before the 'mechanical malfunction'. Princess did not make me feel like an important or even an unimportant guest!!!
Enjoy celebrity - you will be amazed at the service.
Overall, the cruise was not horrid, but there were things Princess did that was just not what I'm accustomed to on a cruise ship. The ports were wonderful. The food was very good. I enjoyed my experience on the Grand but on the Sapphire, the crew needs a few lessons in SERVICE.
Amen! Thank you. My wife and I are not complainers, nor are we difficult people. I was starting to think maybe it was just us but our intuition always said different. It was kind of funny because for the first 2 days we both knew things were wrong but neither one of us would mention it to the other as we were both trying to stay positive. But then on the 3rd day we both had a catharsis of sorts. We each knid of threw out a little displeasure to the other and then we just started going off!!. After we finished it felt good to get it off our chests-then we just accepted it for what it was and proceeded to have a wonderfull time in spite of it all. Of course, even a bad cruise is a pretty ggod time especially when the sun is shining. My cell phone also got stolen on the ship and was never recovered. I checked the lost and found but nothing-bummer! It was a spendy little phone too. Our little room was nice except for the bed which prompted me to seek pain medication in Mexico for my back. On HAL you want to take the beds home with you...which I understand some have. Some other HAL folks we talked to actually went and bought one of the HAL type euro beds for home
Oh..and good point about the smoking. We couldnt believe the amount of smoking going on in that ship, both inside and out. No wonder they had a fire on one of their ships. Surprised it didnt happen on this one.
Oh..and for all you folks on the Sapphire...
I just read that while we were being hustled off the ship (literally) and getting zero compensation for our extra expenses and inconveniences...the embarkers heading out to Mexico all got free wine, beer and soda for their troubles. Guess the money they saved by dropping us independent travelers like hot potatoes at least went to someone. Plus, they are going to make PV on time too. Oh joy!!
You know I wouldnt care less about any of this crap if they had of given us great (or even decent) service while on the ship. We are fairly well off financially and the extra expenses are not going to make or brake us in any way. It's really just a matter of principle. PRINCESS SUCKS!!!!
Wow, where did you read about how those embarking were treated? I was wondering how it all fared out for them. My travel agent told me that she received a fax on Friday stating that this ship would be delayed sailing until 9 pm for the APR 22 SAILING -which was ours. We determined together that this must have been a typo and the memo was supposed to read APR 29.
When I get over my jet lag, I definitely plan on writing a letter to Princess. Credit to cruise on that line again will not be necessary - I likely won't.
Luckily for me, the add'l $900 I paid to get home, will be covered by travel insurance. However, that's a lot of red tape. I couldn't believe that the personel didn't even acknowledge at disembarkation the nightmare of the last day -
And as for forced smiles, we didn't even see them in the end....they were NOT smiling at all. It hindsight, I think I should have had the gratuity taken off my bill - usually I give extra - more than what is required to the staff when I cruise - even on the Grand, it was included and we gave more. On this ship - there is only 1 person who stood out for me - who went above & beyond. Unfortuantely, he was not our regular waiter. But, I did complete a form indicating my satisfaction with his service.
Live & Learn...Glad I saw the west coast, enjoyed Mexico thoroughly but it was a lot of extra time & money to get on and off this ship for me and as mentioned before, I will not be travelling Princess. In my humble opinion only.
Jillarich seems to be way over the line here.... Ships have problems
regardless of who owns them. One of the risks of booking ones own air and travel arrangements is that the cruise line is not responsible for making up the difference if something delays things... Its semms that
Jillarich is expressing its sour grapes abit more than is justified. We have traveled on Celebirty and had a similar crew issue and didn't gripe as much as this one party. Also, again I think anytime you book a cruise just before a turn around, in this case to Alaska in just a week or two the crew has a short timers attitude,(ready to move on, right or wrong) live and learn, do some better homework next time. To say that you would not travel Princess again over what seems to be minor isolated issues is short sighted at best. If you want a ship where the crew knows your name then don't travel on a ship with 2600 passangers, its impossible for a crew to provide that leval of service. Travel the smaller ships with the price per person two or three times higher and fewer entertainment alternatives...Princess has treated us very well in the seven trips we've had aboard her ships, larger and smaller,
we can only say that you owe it to yourself to try again, and to do your research a bit better next time...and roll with the punchs...life is just to short
And I don't disagree...that perhaps Jillarch is being a bit strong in his opinions but I truly did notice the decline in the service as well and this is the time of year that I cruise every time....
Also, I was on ships carrying 2500+ passengers and was called by name, greeted with smiles and treated like I was the only customer on board. I experienced this on all lines I travelled, including Princess, just not on Sapphire Princess.
After sailing on 7 different ships, all I can figure is that each ship has its own ecosystem. My first HAL cruise was stunning...second much less so, and the third was rather poor. The best service I've ever had was on the old slow small Carnival Celebration, although both of my Princess cruises were excellent in every respect.
I have yet to sail on a megaship - once I finally do maybe I can make some connections between ship size and service level...if there is one.
I was on that cruise. Let me say it was our first Princess cruise, we are HAL lovers!!! However, I did like many of the ships features, I liked the dining options, although we stayed at the Savoy because we fell in love with our waiter!! Most eveyone we encountered was very friendly . I loved that Wheelhouse bar and just watching bits & pieces of different shows evet night. HOWEVER. it was appalling how they handled the situation on Friday & saturday. No way were we going to wait in lines for phone or internet so went back to our room Friday morning & used that phone and paid $70 for the call but worth it to us. Just having the peace of mind that we did have a flight, although at the tune of $1000 more plus $200 for the change and a midnight flight! We do have insurance so will get $1000 back. We did not get back to Ct. until Sunday at 11 am!!!! I think they should have given us some little compensation!!!! Not even a free soda, never mind a drink! Very poor customer relations. Believe me, we are not hard to please. Things happen, can happen on any ship. it's how they handle the situation that matters! I would try another princess cruise but would have to go without my husband, this turned him off big time! Oh well, we did have a great time inspite of the ending!
Hey I knew my comments would be perceived as a bit strong but I did not want to sugarcoat them for perception sake. I wanted to be truthfull and tell it like it was. I did that and if it was offensive to anyone except Princess, I apologize. As I stated we had a wonderful time inspite of them. As for how I heard about the embarkers: It was either on this site or cruise critic (the only two I inhabit) in a threas entitled "Live from the Sapphire" (with date I think). I can't believe any of you would excpect that we would give princess another try. And rlt: Youre right about "life being too short". It is way too short to subject ourselves to the Princess thing again. We don't need to be kicked in the head twice to learn our lesson. As I said, we work hard for our vacations in fairly stressfull jobs and like to put our money on something consistantly good and dependable as possible. We know stuff happens. And like I said none of the garbage would have bothered me had it all been done with a good attitude and smiles. Attitude is everything when it comes to service or in Princess case lack thereof. Also, I did a lot of research for this cruise and it just goes to show that everyone has different tastes and needs. Thats why I'm glad I experienced it first hand in the end, now we know the truth as it is in our reality. Facts are only facts if you accept them to be and we accept that princess sucks.
Maybe you were walking around the ship loudly comparing Princess to HAL
which you really cannot do. The domographics of travellers are totally different.
And I also do not appreciate your comment on British people lacking customer service capabilities. Don't get me started on uglay Americans on holiday!!!!!!!!
Demographics have absolutely nothing to do with customer service unless youre talking about the two extremes of wheel chairs or high chairs. Or, I suppose there is a certain demographic that does preferr Motel 6's as opposed to Westin's or Hotel Del Coronado. As for British folks and customer service: If Princess is the litmus for the answer, then British people are indeed very bad at customer service. Generally speaking, I have no idea how British folks are when it comes to customer service. But, we arent generally speaking, we are talking specifically about Princess on this thread.
We have found the Britsh service and friendlyness to be top knoch on all the princess trips we have taken..!!! The cabin staff and food staff could be where the problem was, and based on your sharp comments you were one who showed attitude that was likly returned in kind by the non britsh crew members. For you information the Britsh folks have for
well over 100 years showen an over acceptance as the best providers of service and style on ships of all kinds!! To say that Princess sucks is way over the top and only your intent to bad mouth Princess in general,
perhaps you are one who works for HAL and are trying to drum up buisness or something. Be aware those of us who cruise regularly
acknowledge princess as one of the best and truly folks that more often than not will go the extra mile to take care of the passangers. Our cabin crews always knew our names, with a free style type dinning, the closeness established with the more traditional dining makes it hard to get to know your waiter and they you, however the flexiblity is worth it...
I find it interesting, that after watching this and other web sites for the past several years, you can tell when many are unhappy about a ship and or a particular crusie. With the very limited traffic about this crusie, it seems to us that you had an isolated experience, which other than the delay in arriving was not a major issue with the other 2,599 passangers, maybe you need to reconsider your strong comments....
So I believe I am right in assuming that you are one of the people who I see on ships that want service when you want it and are unable to wait a few minutes, I bet you don't tip! YOu keep mentioning trailer parks and Motel 6? Why is that? Do you believe that you are a better person than people that live in a trailer or frequent Motel 6?
What about all the older people in Florida that live in Trailer parks and yet cruise 3 or 4 times a year. Are you a better person than them/
It is my belief that you would not have a good time anywhere and would find someone or something to complain about. Believe me I have seen many people like you. I bet you are extremely loud too!!
As for demographics, I did not mean economic demographics I meant age. HAL is notorious ( If that is the right word) for attracting older people whereas Princess has a much younger following. Personally I prefer Princess over HAL BECAUSE of the British cruise directors staff. The sense of humour and entertainment value are legendary.
So in closing, please stay with HAL that way we will never meet, however if the occasion arose where we happened to be on the same ship I know I would be able to pick you out!!