It's hard since this is our tenth cruise not to compare this to
other ships but first I will try to set that aside then I will do
some comparisons. This ship is attractive. It has a lot of woodwork,
some nice paintings. But it struck me odd that they have some beautiful
bookcases with glass fronts and instead of having objects behind
them such as figurines, china or even books, the glass was painted
with pictures of these things. Keep in mind that this is a former
Renaissance ship and I don't believe Princess has changed it much
in that regard.
The ship's public areas are clean although I found many instances
where the public ladies rooms were not kept up in the evenings.
The ship was inspected in San Francisco before we left and received
a 96. When we had the galley tour we saw the steps they take in
the food prep areas and in the dining rooms to maintain strict sanitation
guidelines. My business is developing training courses and last
year I had done one for the National Restaurant Association on food
sanitation. The Pacific Princess exceeds all the guidelines. They
wipe down every chair arm and the railings in the dining room between
each sitting. When someone brings empty dishes to the dishwashing
area they must wash their hands before returning. I did learn that
the United States has much stricter sanitation guidelines than the
rest of the world. Princess had to make some changes on this ship
in order to sail into US ports. Renaissance never sailed to the
A note for anybody who has sailed on bigger ships and is now going
to go to a smaller ship like this - If you don't like a lot of ship
movement do NOT get a cabin in the front of the ship. We were at
the very front and you feel a lot of movement. Much more than you
do in the bigger ships or than you do further back. You can feel
the bow going up and down quite often. And if you have any propensity
for seasickness this would not be the cabin for you.
The food is average. I cannot site very many instances where something
was spectacular but there were only a few cases where food was not
very appealing. The french toast (which they had only once) was
rather strange with a corn flake crust. The Eggs Benedicts (only
served twice) was not very good and the pork one night was very
tough. So on the whole I would say the food is average. I think
their pastry chef was new. Many of the times you would think he'd
taken lessons from Goodyear where his crusts are rubbery and tough
rather than flakey and melt in your mouth. It took him to almost
the end of the cruise to get them right but then they were much
The buffet at breakfast was average although they only had a choice
of two juices - orange and grapefruit. I found this rather odd.
Someone in the kitchen (or cruise line) isn't in touch with the
world. Not everyone wants a citric acid in the morning. Plus considering
how many people are now taking the statin drugs for cholesterol,
they should know that you can't have grapefruit (juice or fruit)
while taking these drugs.
The lunch buffet was poor. For all but the last day they had only
a lettuce salad, two hot entrée's, a potato and a vegetable
and the Pizza bar. There were a few little desserts like a small
square of cake, a fruit tart, and a pastry. The last day they went
all out and had several more types of salads such as cole slaw,
seafood salad, potato salad and a few other entrée's.
We only made it to the Steakhouse Grill (one of two alternative
restaurants). It was the best food on the whole ship. The meat was
very tender and tasty. The "bloomin' onion" was very good
and so were the desserts. It uses a different kitchen (galley) than
the dining room.
Our cabin steward is very friendly and has kept our cabin clean.
However, twice I asked for our refrigerator to be restocked and
it never was. I gave up and bought some sodas in one of the port
stops. I don't know if this is a Princess policy. But we also never
got our bowl of fresh fruit replenished either.
The bar staff was very good and remembered our drink preferences.
The restaurant wait staff in the dining room is good but there were
many times we had to wait a long time between courses. This was
very evident at lunch. Two things could be a factor here. Because
of the poor buffet more people ate in the dining room at lunch.
Also many of the crew were new to this ship and they were still
learning how to work together on a smaller ship. This might smooth
One employee stood out - Carlos, our Head Waiter. He was very attentive
and invited a small group for a special wine tasting and a galley
tour. One night he made a custom Ceasar salad just for our table.
Although he kept promising us a flambé for dessert but it
One thing I did notice was the temperature in the ship was rather
cold. Again, this could be because they have been sailing the South
Pacific for most of the ships life and now they are coming up to
a much colder climate. They might not have the ability to keep the
ship as warm as needed. I was rarely warm in my cabin and I usually
had to have several blankets on at night and I kept my sweater or
sweatshirt on during the day. The public rooms were also rather
chilly except for the little corner of the dining room where we
were seated at night. For some reason that was a warm area, the
rest of the dining room was cold. So I'm not sure what was happening
Since this is a smaller ship there are not quite as many things
to do during the day but on a smaller ship you have to expect that.
That didn't bother us because we rarely take part in these activities
As I mentioned, some of this could be changing as Princess puts
their stamp on this ship. We had a galley tour and were told that
they had been using the old Renaissance china and they had just
received their shipment of Princess china. It would take them some
time to switch over. Also, Renaissance did not have refrigerators
in the cabins and the ship's power was 220. In order to put refrigerators
in the cabins, they have to switch to 110 or it would be too big
a drain on the ships power plant. So there were many cabins (fortunately
not ours) without them. This will be taken care of in October when
the ship is put out of service for a few days.
Princess has already made some changes such as putting in an escalator
from the kitchen to the dining room for the stewards. They also
added Room Service, something Renaissance did not have. However,
it is only cold items, nothing hot.
I do wonder about communication on the ship. We had a tour of the
bridge and while up there we explained to the Officer on deck that
for the last several days we could no longer hear the ship's announcements
on the television channel designed for that. All the people on the
tour agreed. A day later we were at the Purser's desk and told them.
Still no fix. Then, the Staff Captain sat at our table for dinner.
We again mentioned it to him and the next morning it was fixed.
I guess you just have to talk to the right person! (The Staff Captain
is second in charge, similar to the First Officer on HAL.)
My husband bought the Anniversary package from Princess and I'm
doing a separate review on that. For anybody thinking of getting
it, PLEASE read this review.
Now for some of the comparisons. If anyone has sailed with HAL they
would probably not be as happy with this ship. Since we have only
sailed Princess once before many years ago it's hard to say whether
this is representative of all the Princess ships or this one in
We have never had hot or cold hors d'oeuvres in the bars - just
chips, peanuts or pretzels. On HAL, all their bars serve hot hors
d'oeuvres before dinner. The food on HAL is much better and the
desserts, especially the flambé, are wonderful. We missed
the little daily newspaper that HAL puts out with key news articles
from around the world.
Another big factor is the difference between a suite on Princess
and HAL. Again - please correct me if I'm wrong and this is specific
to this ship and not all of Princess. HAL goes out of their way
to accommodate suite people by giving them extra amenities. You
get more than just a bigger cabin. With Princess that's about it.
We booked the highest category on the Pacific Princess - the Owners
Suite and did expect a little bit more attention because of that.
They have a mini-bar that is free (unlike HAL which you do have
to pay for). However with Princess what you get in there at the
beginning of the cruise is it, they don't restock it as I mentioned
above. So the few extra soft drinks you get are not worth the extra
money for a suite. With HAL you get beautiful flower arrangements
refreshed throughout the cruise, free laundry, and a bottle of wine
or champagne from the Captain. With Princess there was one flower
arrangement that we had to ask to be removed when it died. And there
was nothing from the captain. With HAL you have a private Suite-only
cocktail party and dinner with the captain.
You also get priority check-in and disembarkation with HAL. We
had to ask for it while we were in line behind about a hundred other
people on check-in. Fortunately, they agreed to move us to the front.
If you've got a suite, try it. It doesn't hurt to ask. We also mentioned
the disembarkation process when the Staff Captain was at our table.
The next day, we got a letter from the Captain inviting us to stay
in our cabin until our disembarkation was called. Again - ask.
We did have a DVD player and a nice Sony sound system in our suite.
But the sound system was not connected and there were no DVD's available
on the ship. We thought that rather odd.
Don't get me wrong. We had a wonderful time. And if you've sailed
other cruise lines like RCI or NCL this would be a step up in my
opinion. We don't let little things like this affect our vacation.
Unlike one man who was very vocal at the pool the last full morning
because the Jacuzzi was not open at 6:00 a.m. and this had occurred
on three different days (out of 11) and he wanted to speak to the
captain and demanded a refund (get a life!). I am just sorry we
did not take another cabin. For what we paid, this Owner's Suite
wasn't at all worth it. I would have been just as happy with a regular
suite even though they are a bit smaller than HAL's suites.