CALIFORNIA -- I booked Princess Cruises for a Bermuda & Eastern Caribbean cruise from Brooklyn. I had been an RCCL-only cruises guy the past 10 cruises, but had trouble on the very nice Explorer Of The Seas. I won't go into it but it was never really resolved, let me just say that.
Anyway The Caribbean Princess is a big ship with a yacht-feel to me. From the moment I boarded, I was really not to say impressed because the centrum or piazza on Princess is small and low 3 decks to RCCL's like 15 high atrium, rather I guess you would say comfortable and at home. I found my way to my cabin and was allowed in immediately. The dining rooms are one level, RCCL is at least two levels and very large majestic-like spaces! So not really impressed.
Now about impressed: "THE FOOD" (and I'm all about food) - it was wonderful! The Horizon is the equivalent of Windjammer on RCCL. Only it is larger as I can tell. It is offering a great selection of really as I say to coin a phrase CFF or "cared for food". Everything is fresh from the bread and rolls to the home-style meats and sauces. Pizza well better than I had in NY or Chicago (everything is great in Chicago though). I mean this is really their claim to fame, the ship is all about great food.
Oh it is a great ship. Really a brilliantly designed vessel because we really didn't move around a lot and there were some heavy rollers I'll tell you. I could point out that the outside carpet was rough on Deck 15 or that the sofa in the Sky Walker was a bit worn and stained but overall the ship was very clean and nice with a real sense of class. They even sent me a birthday card via e-mail on my birthday. They were low aggravation on the debarking and life-jacked drill. Very orderly!
I was pretty depressed when RCCL and I went our separate ways for a bit, maybe longer. I was no longer angry with them because I had a soft landing here at Princess. I will say that they must repair the HVAC; I was hot at times and that should not be. However the food and movies under the stars made up for it! My cabin was nice though no overhead roof outside, looked straight up after exiting my sliders on Deck 9. No privacy but the room was a mini suite, quite large and clean.
The cabin attendant was wonderful and always at the ready to help if called on the phone. The TV programming was good, not many repeats - some good movies and that is different from RCCL. Both lines have good and bad points but the FOOD really blew away the competition here. This was my only Princess cruise until perhaps October.
My wife and I became semi-retired from our business in 2007. We have always enjoyed traveling and have visited about forty plus countries. Up to this time we have used other travel mechanisms. In 2007, friends invited us to join them on a cruise via Princess to the Amazon in Brazil. We thoroughly enjoyed the trip and have since then taken regular cruises. We have been averaging about three trips per year, usually to more unusual destinations.
All of our cruises have been on Princess. All cruises have been booked with the cruise line travel department. We have been loyal customers, having achieved your Platinum level in 2008. We are healthy and enjoy extensive travel when time and resources permit. On March 31, 2009 we signed up for a trip to the Holy Land, departing Rome on May 8th. On April 8th, I suffered a serious injury to my eye (detached and severely torn retina), which prevented me from travel.
I contacted Delta Airlines and they immediately said they would provide us with a voucher for the full amount which could be redeemed for up to one year, no restrictions. The only requirement was a letter from my physician stating the circumstances. When I contacted Princess, they informed me that I could obtain only a fifty percent refund based on the departure date because we had not purchased travel insurance. I responded that I have not seen the need for such insurance because of our good health and lifestyle.
I pointed out our ongoing loyalty to Princess and to frequent travels. In fact, your marketing department contacted me, asking permission to quote some of my comments about our Baltic cruise. My request to Customer Services was to no avail. It was quite a disappointment that Princess was not as considerate as Delta.
I have no legal dispute with Princess. I am aware of your insurance offering. However, given our past relationship and usage of Princess, I feel some additional consideration should be provided. Think about it. If your course of action would be like Delta's, feelings would be different. We definitely would travel during 2009 on another Princess trip. Princess would be ahead almost $3,000 and we would be happy and loyal customers! Given the Princess Customer Service Department's response, that is now not the case.
We would like to have the situation handled in a manner similar to Delta's. Their handling of the matter just makes good customer relations sense. It is a win-win situation for both parties. As a businessman, I like those kinds of outcomes.
Update: Letter was sent to the President, VP Sales, and VP Marketing. They flatly refused to consider my situation.
Beware of Princess Cruises. Once they get your money, you are on your own. They couldn't care less whether you ever make the cruise ship. We had booked a 28-day cruise on the Tahitian Princess departing from Papeete, Tahiti on Dec. 19, 2008 and arriving in Ft. Lauderdale on Jan. 14, 2009. Due to weather, our NW flight from Detroit to LA was delayed 2 ½ hours and arrived after our connecting flight to Papeete had departed. We called Princess and they were absolutely no help. We were told that we were responsible for making our own arrangements to catch the ship.
We flew to Tahiti the next morning, arriving 12 ½ hours after the Tahitian Princess had sailed for Moorea and ½ hour before she departed for Bora Bora. There were no seats available on commercial flights to Bora Bora, the last port we could possibly catch the ship before it sailed for South America.
If we were on our own, we would have had to abandon our dream cruise and forfeit the $19,000 + we already had invested. Princess could have cared less as they already had our money and their Princess Gold Travel Insurance does not cover this as a trip cancellation. Fortunately for us there were 11 other Princess clients (2.0% of the total 640 booked passengers) who also found themselves in the same predicament. We were able to join together and charter an Air Tahiti at $1115 each to fly the 13 of us to Bora Bora in time to catch the ship.
When we returned home, we filed a claim for our $2600 hotel, meal and additional air travel expenses with Princess Gold Travel Insurance. We were only reimbursed $500 each per their trip delay policy which merely represented a refund of our insurance premium. We appealed to Alan Buckelew, CEO of Princess. In their response letters, Princess basically claims no responsibility for anything even though they made the transportation arrangements. It is buyer beware when dealing with Princess Cruises.
KETCHICAN, ALASKA -- When checking out, I tried to settle my account with the credit card I had given them when I checked in. It was declined. Apparently, the cruise ship had put over $1000 charges through to my credit card company without my knowledge on the second day of the cruise. The credit card company authorized the charge. The cruise ship said it was declined. After an hour of confusion, the cruise ship came up with the authorization number and didn't continue insisting I pay twice. Hmmmmmm...wonder where that authorization number appeared from? Fortunately the credit card company stuck with the fact that they did not decline those charges.
Other than that bit of grief, the Alaskan Cruise is great. The buffet is better than the dining room food "en masse" (in my opinion). The rooms were clean except for the left-behind pair of men's socks found under the bed of B514 -- if those are yours, we found them! The one-size-fits-all bathrobes is an untruth -- of course!
The entertainment was great, and the dance instructor and activities coordinators were outstanding, except for the Scrabble Tournament which turned out to be a get-together of disappointed players who were expecting the host Ryan to appear. But he didn't, and the players were moved from the theater to someplace else so they would not disturb those watching the movie. Isn't Scrabble a rather quiet game???
The tours were great, and if you book the early (6:30 am) Bear Watch, your chances of seeing a bear (one) is better. It is expensive, but watching that bear catch a salmon is fascinating! And the float plane is an enjoyable flight into Neets Bay near Ketchican. The people on board were the best part -- young and old -- they were all delightful! I didn't hear anyone grumbling, and it was a good cruise overall. Just watch your credit card bill when it comes to be sure you weren't charged twice. I keep a low limit on purpose!
FORT LAUDERDALE, FL -- Earlier this month my wife and I sailed aboard the Coral Princess on an 11-day Panama Canal cruise. This posting is not to review the cruise but to inform everyone of something that happened that all should be aware of. Most of you probably know that all cruise ships now have a cellphone tower aboard ship and when that equipment is turned on, a cellphone network is established on board the ship. If you have a cellphone and it is turned on and not in airplane mode, it connects to the on-board network.
The network is connected to the satellite network and calls made or received are billed to you at $2.49 a minute. They are SUPPOSED to turn that equipment on only after moving a mile off shore. We returned from the cruise on Sunday, January 19 and as we were walking off the ship I turned my cellphone on. When it booted I got the message "Connected to Coral Princess Network". WHAT? We were docked in Fort Lauderdale and the ship was still trying to collect $2.49 a minute from me? Either someone was grossly incompetent and forgot to turn the equipment off or Princess is dishonest and was trying to "extract" more money from unsuspecting guests.
I will give Princess the benefit of the doubt and assume it was simply an error on the part of the staff member responsible but anyone who thought they were back home and could make phone calls will probably be surprised when they get this month's phone bill.
SANTA CLARITA, CALIFORNIA -- Avoid Princess Cruises. We booked cabins next to each other and they changed the cabins around when we were boarding without notifying us. I took the 12-day Mediterranean cruise from Barcelona to Venice with my family. We booked our cruise 7 months in advance to have cabins next to each other. When we boarded, they put me in a cabin far away from the others in our reservation. They said that they were overbooked and you aren't guaranteed the cabin that you reserve. They also nickel-and-dime you throughout the cruise. We were charged a $400 gratuity at the end of our cruise. It was a terrible experience. Avoid Princess.
LOS ANGELOS, CALIFORNIA -- So often Princess offers promotions to promote sales of occupancy. Discount prices are advertised by Cruses.com and many others contractors. As soon the payment received by Princess, they are in position to control the customer. No company is willing to confirm any deals by email. Customer has no chance other than trust the company that informed that the conversation is being recorded. After time passes, Princess offered balcony for additional charge. Way to make money and get the sale. I call it Princess failed the customer. As everybody, we are looking for the best deal. There is nothing wrong use a coupon or offered saving, is it?
We have just concluded our first experience of cruising with Princess cruises, and what a big disappointment. The staff on the floor were very pleasant but the corporate policies were bordering on outrageous. On the first day of our cruise, they had not reserved a table for our anniversary celebration and it took an hour and a half to find an alternative.
On the second day of our cruise, we received a threatening phone call from the Customer Services Manager threatening to block our cruise card for our entire trip because we had challenged a tip for a drink we had had to fetch ourselves. The food was cold, even the pork giving concerns over health and safety. Everything was about money, money, money. Never again. Were're going with Fred Olsen next year.
SANTA CLARITA, CALIFORNIA -- On a 2-wk. cruise to S. Caribbean recently the disruptions expected due to impending drydock were much worse than expected. Paint and varnish odors were apparent, deck railing being removed with torches, large areas of the ship unavailable to passengers, several floods, many electrical issues, hallways littered with construction debris, game room closed, casino closed last 3 nights, false alarm calls to cabins necessitating life jacket/muster area visits.
Corporate in a phone call says that they are offering no compensation. This following a letter and many phone calls. The only action we can take now is NOT to book with Princess ever again and to make sure that potential passengers are aware of the attitude of this company following a very bad decision. By the way, their coffee - made from some sort of liquid - is HORRENDOUS, and always has been.
Our cruise departed San Juan going to 12 islands in 14 days. We noticed bites on our legs the first night...the steward said he'd change the sheets. That did not help, and after talking to adjacent rooms, they all were experiencing the same problem. Our cabin was directly above a dance/bar. Since the ship was full, we were not able to move to another cabin. Princess refused to move at the start of the 2nd week. The food was very poor SO we paid extra to dine at the restaurants...they are very good...just more expensive.
Be careful and ask questions as to rooms above or below you and ask to have your room disinfected prior to unpacking!!! The bites lasted for weeks after the cruise.