Cruising the Pacific Princess over Christmas and New Year’s

Please excuse the delay in my post, time got away due to work and moving! Normally I would post a day-to-day report for cruises, but I only ended up IMG_0197taking photos of the ports. At some point in time, I’ll post individual posts for each destination. For our cruise, we sailed on the Pacific Princess over Christmas and New Year’s.

Now this is not the original Pacific Princess from the Love Boat. If you aren’t familiar with the current Pacific Princess, this ship is the former R-Three of the defunct Renaissance Cruises. Princess Cruises actually used to own two more former Renaissance ships: Tahitian/Ocean Princess and Royal Princess. Unfortunately, Princess Cruises has sold the other R-Class ships over the last few years. The Tahitian/Ocean Princess is now with Oceania Cruises and the Royal Princess is with Fathom (soon to be with P&O Cruises). I actually had the opportunity to sail on both other ships and they were similar (if almost the same) to the Pacific Princess.

Originally, we had booked the cruise and cancelled when I thought I was moving in 2016. We decided to rebook when I stayed in Florida for another year. The cruise had a unique itinerary for Princess Cruises; with a handful of new destination’s we hadn’t previously visited. We were very happy to be able to rebook the cruise for the itinerary (plus we found a great new cruise travel agent who values us and our bookings).

Destinations Visited:

  • St. John, USVI
  • St. Kitts and Nevis
  • Bequia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Tobago, Trinidad and Tobago
  • Barbados
  • Martinique
  • Antigua
  • Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands

Now the ports were fantastic (which I’ll discuss in other posts) but I found the cruise to be on the different side, which is why I also had a hard time writing this post. I love the small ships since the cruises usually have unique itineraries, but this is the first-time the odd moments outweighed the positive moments.IMG_0203

Cabin: This cruise we had two different cabins: 6003 and 6036. My parents were in 6003, which is Penthouse Suite. This suite would be a great location for cruises sailing through the Panama Canal or the fjords of Norway. The only downside to the location is movement (if you get sea sick, probably not a great location). I was in an Obstructed Oceanview cabin (6036). Most cabins on the Pacific Princess have couches but the Obstructed Oceanview on Deck 6 does not. This cabin though was the perfect size for just 1 person. Most times the cabins next to me were empty because of entertainers coming and going throughout the cruise. My only complaint sometimes on the cabin was the occasional noise from the cabin next door at night (super thin wall and you could easily hear the TV).

Activities & Entertainment: Most of the activities on board were either non-existent or a sales pitch (too much focus on selling spa treatments!). A few times we ended up watching people play Wii during the day since there was relatively little going on. Even a gem stone event was highly attended due to lack of events (though can’t complain because we won a free pair of sapphire earrings). This was a surprise compared to past cruises on the Tahitian Princess and Royal Princess. Unfortunately, a cruise director can sometimes make or break a cruise. In this instance, I felt the cruise director was poor and was rarely seen (I actually only saw him one time during the entire cruise). One disappointing factor to me was the times for entertainment in the evening. Evening entertainment times were switched around many evenings, which virtually made it impossible for second seating to attend.

Service: For the most part service onboard was good, especially in the bars. We frequented the Casino Bar many nights due to the great drinks and service. The bar staff knew our names and cruise card numbers within the first few days. Service was also exceptional in Sabatini’s and Sterling Steakhouse. One area service was a hit and miss was the Club Restaurant. Our waiters for dinner were nice, but the service varied every evening. Some nights we felt extremely rushed through dinner and other nights the servers just disappeared. I also have to praise the shore excursion department who were extremely helpful after a poor tour in Martinique!

Food: Food is definitely a topic that is subjective; everyone has different tastes and preferences. Some people raved about the food on board while I found it average at best. The food in Sabatini’s and Sterling Steakhouse was fantastic, along with the grill onboard. Another positive was the food from room service, which always arrived quickly and hot. My main issue was with the Buffett and Club Restaurant. Usually the smaller ships with Princess Cruises have a great reputation for food, which has been the case in past cruises. This time I found much of the food to be on the less flavorful side (putting it nicely!). It seemed like the chefs were afraid to use spices and herbs! The Chicken Korma for lunch one day had no flavor or spice. I love Chicken Korma but the dish was absolutely sad. This became a pattern throughout the cruise with many of the dishes being bland.

Christmas: Princess Cruises does a fantastic job at celebrating Christmas onboard. IMG_0187This actually was my 5th or 6th Christmas cruise (lost count!). Typically, the ships have Christmas trees throughout and a large gingerbread display. There also is a large Christmas carol event in the atrium on Christmas Eve. One special touch is the dinner menu on Christmas Day, particularly the dessert menu. We ended up ordering both a Gingerbread Soufflé and the English Christmas Pudding for dessert. The Christmas Pudding (also known as Plum Pudding) is probably the best and most traditional Christmas dessert Princess makes!

New Year’s: New Year’s Eve was truly the most festive night of the cruise! This was also my first time on a cruise celebrating the New Year. The bars were decked out in New Year’s signs and shiny decorations. In the Club Restaurant, each table had noise makers and hats for the guests. The noisemakers were entertaining since it drove a few of the passengers nuts! The ship really was in a jovial mood on New Year’s Eve. Most bars had some sort of New Year’s celebration but the best part was the party on the open deck. We ended up buying 2 bottles of Champagne and celebrated the New Year by the pool.  The pool area had live music, streamers, and entertainment. The ship also rang in the New Year by sounding the horn at midnight.

Passengers:  Surprisingly for a holiday cruise there were very few families. I do know cruises on the Pacific Princess are typically more expensive and attract an older crowd, but the dates of the cruise fit perfectly with most school schedules. It was surprising to me there weren’t a few more families on board. I estimated less than 15 kids were on the sailing (including passengers and families of crew members). In some respects, it was nice not having a lot of kids but it also lost some of the holiday feel as well.

Truthfully this was an odd grouping of passengers and I felt it was important to mention some of what went on. Some passengers were incredibly friendly while others were down right strange. Unfortunately, this was the first cruise where I felt uncomfortable by the treatment of older passengers towards those younger. One evening we were verbally jumped on by an older woman who talked at us forever. She first started out by making a snide comment about what I was wearing (I was wearing a dress to my knees with a sweater – something I would actually wear to work). Another evening an older man actually verbally attacked a family with a young child in the dining room (this family never came to the dining room again). Now yes, the kid was loud many evenings, but verbally attacking a young family on a cruise is over the top. Sadly, the family will probably always remember the experience and associate the cruise with this negative experience.

Final notes: Overall this was a cruise with a great itinerary but definitely a different cruising experience. To be truthful, I feel a bit turned off of cruising at the moment. I don’t need 24/7 entertainment and great quality food, but the Pacific Princess left me feeling underwhelmed.

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