I wanted to share our experiences and review of the Princess Cruise food and ship. We’ve cruised with Disney on a 3 day cruise to the Caribbean so some of this is a bit of a comparison as it was hard not to compare the two ships and experiences. The Princess Cruise was 10 days to Alaska. The trips were very different both in duration and location. And in truth, both were fabulous vacations.
Princess Cruise Ship
Our rooms were a bit toward the back of the ship and we were very close to the elevators and stairs. This was nice as the stairs went to most of the floors. We have one member of our party that really couldn’t be on the stairs all the time so we got very familiar with the elevators. Our dining room was the Botticelli. There were only two elevators that could take you to this level where the dining room was and they ran very slowly. We often would put our one person on the elevator and the rest of us would take the stairs so we could get to dinner. There are many challenges with the layout of the ship and what elevators and stairs will take you to which levels. Basically in the center of the ship it is incredibly difficult to get anywhere, so we usually went forward or back to get up and down the ship. Be prepared that the elevators are slow all the time, bring your patience.
The mobile connection that was free did not work in our room, so we had to go into the hall to look anything up using that service. This was disappointing as we wanted to communicate with those in the room and that just wasn’t possible. We didn’t get the internet service so I don’t know how well it works but I think that would be the way to go if you really need to be able to get a hold of your travel companions.
We had the all inclusive beverage package which we were able to get that included in the price of our trip. The kids beverage package comes with a cup and they need that with them to use the package. They can get fountain sodas but not canned sodas, so when the ship ran out of fountain root beer soda, which was very early in the trip, the kids could no longer get that option. My kids don’t really drink soda, but they do like root beer so that was disappointing. The adults package does include canned soda, but you are not permitted to share with the kids. In addition, in order to get a beverage, you have to go to a bar and wait in line. None of the bars were super fast, we would wait for quite a while it seemed each time we wanted a bottle of water. The package was nice at dinner as you could order a glass of wine or whatever you wanted and they would bring it to you. I think that was supposed to work for the Movies under the Stars, but no one talked to us the entire time during that movie, so no drinks unless we went to get them. While I found the beverage service to be not as convenient on Princess as it was on Disney, I would definitely recommend the beverage package that works best for you as it does make life a little easier as you would have to reconcile each beverage charge at the end of the trip without this option.
The entertainment options were nice. There was a comedian two nights and he was pretty good. We went to the naturalist talks and she shared a lot of information. There were fun trivia games and dance lessons we also enjoyed. I think the night we enjoyed most was the Country line dancing evening. They had a class, trivia and then dancing. The place was standing room only so I guess it was popular for many. The events that took place at the Piazza, the center of the ship, were the most difficult as there was very little seating or space to see what was going on. We tried to go to many but would eventually just head somewhere else. My son did participate in an egg drop challenge where you create a contraption that will withstand a fall from two stories up on the ship and the egg cannot crack. He finished in the top three and won a Princess bag. That was a fun project to keep him busy during the trip.
- Get the beverage package that suits you. I cannot imagine trying to reconcile your ships bill at the end if you try to account for every drink charged.
- Don’t count on the free mobile service. If you really need to be able to reach your travel companions, look into buying internet service.
- Entertainment options are popular, get there early, especially if there are materials for the activity (such as bracelet making).
- Take advantage of the trivia, dance classes and naturalist talks, they are really fun and informative.
- Plan ahead for time required to get where you want to be as the elevators are slow and stairs are only on the ends of the ship, not in the middle.
Princess Cruise Rooms
We arrived in San Francisco and could see the Grand Princess at the pier and it looked huge. It is one of their older ships and they get much larger than this one, but with it by itself it was impressive. Check in was easy and pretty fast and then we boarded the ship. We were able to go to our rooms to drop things off and wash up before heading to the buffet. We had mini suites, two next to each other with a connecting balcony door. My room was for four people and our neighbor room was for three. The rooms are nice but given the ships age, a few things could be improved. The balcony seating and tables were not great so we just piled them up in a corner to have them out of the way. The balcony door wouldn’t stay open and banged with the wind and movement, but the crew did find a solution to that by using a doorstop. Our bed was very comfortable and our kids had bunk beds and seemed fine with those. My niece had a pull out sofa bed in the room next door and that was uncomfortable, you could just see it, how bent and unnatural it was. Her’s was unfortunately the worst of the sleeping arrangements. I would prefer a little more privacy options, like a curtain between the kids area and our area, as there really were not many places I could change clothes in my room full of men. The bath is quite small and there is only one so you don’t want to consume it or the rest of your family will suffer. The closet area works but you will get hit by the bathroom door when someone comes out. The room has two TVs, one facing the main bed and one the living area. This was nice as the kids could watch something different than we did if they wanted. The programming was pretty good, they run a variety of movies and many are quite new, but they repeat a lot. Overall, I would say the rooms were nice, we were comfortable, but the ship is older and could use a little refresh. What we loved most was our balcony and the space was nice as well, very relaxing.
- Get a balcony if at all possible. This was the BEST viewing for the glaciers and it was so nice to have our own spot where we could come in and out of the weather and get comfortable.
- Bring your own shampoo and conditioner. What they provide didn’t work for me so I had to borrow my sister’s.
- Be sure to ask for towels, toilet paper and toiletries as we often did not have any or enough of these items.
Princess Cruise Food
Let’s be honest, a big part of cruising is the food. My youngest couldn’t stop thinking about the food we would enjoy as we looked forward to this vacation. The Princess Cruise food did not disappoint. We had many items we loved. We did find some were not our favorite, but the great thing about a cruise is that you can experiment and try things you may not normally try.
Buffet and the Lido Deck
The very first thing they all wanted to do was head up to the buffet to check it out. The buffet is not as large as the one on the Disney Fantasy, but there are many options. I learned late in the trip that you can order an omelet by filling out a form and they will bring the food to your table. This way you can get exactly what you want. The wait staff will bring you drinks like coffee, tea or juice, or you can go help yourself. We appreciated this freedom to get our drinks.
We also checked out the other options on the Lido deck. The hamburger grill turned out to be a favorite for our group. They offer hamburgers, hot dogs, sausages and french fries. All the food was good that we tried from this spot. The pizza on deck was also very good and I felt was just as good as the specialty pizza place if you are looking for something simple. The ice cream bar was also a favorite, I ordered a chocolate and vanilla swirl with sprinkles. Delicious and a great way to start our trip. Click on the picture to enlarge.
Main Dining Room
The Main dining was really great for us. Our servers were amazing, they were extremely friendly and really got to know what we liked. One evening when a couple of us were a tad seasick our waiter brought out apple slices and crackers, which was really nice and helped quite a bit. Another evening one of our party wasn’t feeling well and he planned ahead and brought warm lemon water to our table to soothe the stomach. Both gestures were very thoughtful and we really appreciated their attention to detail. We had fun experimenting with different dishes and desserts and sharing among the table. My sister started ordering a dessert “for the table” which became a little joke for our wait staff. Almost always the “for the table” dessert was loved by all. Click on the picture to enlarge.
We also really enjoyed the daily tea time offering. They had finger sandwiches, scones and bite sized desserts plus the best tea I had each day, and I LOVE tea. This was a nice treat we would look forward to instead of lunch (or in addition to on occasion). Click on the picture to enlarge.
We did have one specialty dining evening at the Pub Grill and we also ate there one day for lunch. The pub lunch has a nice variety offered but must admit we were a little disappointed in our specialty dining, especially since this is an extra cost option. We arrived very late as it was on our day in Juneau and our tour came back late. There were only a few other tables that had customers. Our service was quite slow, the staff seemed distracted with staff that was off duty and eating in the restaurant and an event they were setting up for later. It’s possible this was an isolated incident, but given our experience, I wouldn’t recommend paying extra for a meal when our main dining room experience was so good. Click on the picture to enlarge.
- Take advantage of the main dining room. The staff are amazing. The food is delicious. You can try many different things and it’s fun to indulge in the full cruise experience.
- Go to Tea! Its yummy and fun, something we don’t normally get to do in our daily routine.
- The buffet is a great go to option if you are looking for a smaller meal or a snack. The Lido deck food locations are also wonderful options, fast and easy.
- Order custom omelets at the buffet, it’s a great way to get warm food made to your preferences.
- Skip the extra cost specialty dining. Our main dining room experience was better, so save your money for a fun day trip or souvenir.
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