I just returned from a 15-day Hawaii cruise on Ruby Princess and
I am disappointed in what I see going on with Princess. I have
cruised with Princess six times over the past 16 years and I have
noticed a decline in everything on Princess. On this cruise, the
shows in the main showroom were not of the quality of the past. The
main production show didn't have the usual awe and pop and the
specialty entertainment was sub par at best.
This cruise didn't have the usual quality Vegas style magic act,
and the two comedians were just mediocre and boring. One singer
that impersonated Nat King Cole was great and the other singer was
just ok. It seems that Princess is also attempting to save money on
the entertainment. The showroom seats 800 and the first show always
filled up fast. You needed to get to the first show at least 45
minutes early to have any chance of a good seat. With two shows
most nights and 3100 passengers, only half the people had a chance
to see the show. Princess is now attempting to squeeze every
penny from its passengers.
The adult sanctuary now charges to use its services. In the
past, it was free unless you wanted to rent a cabana. Princess has
seriously increased their price for shore excursions and I believe
it is to offset the free room credits they now give. As an example,
on our previous Hawaii cruise, the cost of a shore excursion to
Pearl Harbor was $89 per person. The same excursion now is $129 per
person and all but $22 of that cost is for the round trip bus ride.
The $22 was the veteran discount cost for each person to see the
Missouri battleship which offers a free shuttle from the Arizona
memorial. The Arizona memorial and all of its various museums are
free. To get there, the cost to take a city bus one way is $2.00
and $1.00 for seniors and takes about 1/2 and hr. The cost to take
a taxi (regardless of the number of people) was $39 one way.
On this cruise, we decided to do this excursion ourselves and
the total cost round trip including transportation for five people
was $127. The same excursion through Princess would have been $635
for five people and not veteran discount available. The specialty
restaurants are great, but have increased their surcharge by $5 to
$25 per person.
The alcohol drinks have increased to an average of about
$9.50(they were about $6.50) and I noticed that very few people
were drinking the beverages. Princess has priced themselves out of
the alcohol market and either don't know it or don't care. Coffee
is free in the buffet and restaurants however, the 24hr
international cafe' sadly charged for a basic cup of coffee.
The anytime dinning was a joke to get reservations. Each morning
when I attempted to make reservations, I was told that only 5:30
and 7:45 were available, but they would accommodate walk-ins. If
you walked into the restaurants without a reservation, you had a
wait of 10 minutes to almost 1 hour. One restaurant only accepted
walk-ins from 5:30 until 6pm, then closed its doors to walk-ins
until 7:30 pm. The staff in the dinning rooms were hurried and were
assigned too many tables to handle. In the past, one team of
waiters were assigned one or two tables and the service was quick.
Now, the service was slow. The time it took from the moment the
waiter took our order until the entree' arrived averaged one hour
and 15 minutes each night and this is unacceptable. I noticed
several people would get up and leave because the service was slow.
It appears Princess is cutting costs in the wrong area.
In the buffet, waiters now serve you beverages that passengers
can easily get themselves. One can see where the much needed help
in the restaurants has been needlessly diverted. In the new
specialty restaurant called Share, the cover charge was a whopping
$39 per person. The food was great however, you were limited to
selecting only one entree" and the portions were small.
On a few nights, the Cafe' Caribe buffet was converted to a
seafood restaurant called the Crab Shack and the food was great.
The $20 per person cover charge was worth the all you can eat king
crab. I noticed this ship no longer has the midnight bistro and
found this very disappointing as it was a great place to go for a
late night bite to eat.
The ship now has a free ice cream machine however, if you wanted
the same ice cream mixed with milk in the form of a shake, they
charged you $1.50.....more money squeezing. On to the gym to work
off all those calories, but wait. This ship charges an insane $60
or so to take an aerobics class. What next? Will they charge a fee
to use the workout equipment?
We went ashore in Hilo and wanted to use the free shuttle to go
to town. We were told that tickets were no longer being given out.
This is very poor planning on the part of Princess with a ship this
size. Princess does not prepare towel animals in your stateroom and
this takes from the cruise experience that other cruise lines
offer. I asked my room steward if they could prepare towel animals
each night and was given a "yes". I never got one towel animal.
Overall, the waits were longer, the quality of food was not as good
as in the past and the assorted extra charges were more and higher
cost. I don't think I will be traveling with Princess any