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Captain Kidd II

Disappointing 1st sail with Princess

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After a dozen sailings with P&O we decided to try an alternative cruise line for comparison. We thought we had heard good reports of Princess so booked a 7 day cruise to France and Spain to try the Sapphire Princess out.

We arrived for embarkation well ahead of our allocated time. At 10:35 we handed our car to CPS and by 11:35 were sitting in the buffet on board the ship. To say this was an excellent experience was an understatement and something P&O should certainly get to grips with. We were fortunate to have qualified as “Elite” passengers, the highest level tier, due to our P&O loyalty points which only places us half way up the P&O ladder!

Our Balcony cabin had a good, large outside area with 2 chairs, footstools and large table. Inside was rather disappointing as it was quite small and insufficient seating to allow both of us to sit on seats rather than the bed. The bathroom was also small but the shower was very good. Overall the cabin was very clean and kept that way by our steward throughout the cruise.

The ship seemed to have a very happy crew who were very helpful and friendly. I did wonder if this was due to the significantly higher auto gratuity charges of $14.50 per day per person.

I thought the ship seemed jaded and in need of a refit. It did not seem that disability friendly  but it did make a change to see signs in Chinese and English.

Entertainment we excellent and varied.

One of the things I was particularly looking forward to was the food and have to say I was very disappointed. We have had much better menus on the various P&O ships we have sailed on and with more variety and if a better quality. We tried the speciality Steakhouse and have to say our local Miller & Carter is much better with a price about the same as the Speciality restaurant surcharge! The best part of the menu were the chocolate desserts.

Drinks were expensive with a £7 supermarket bottle if wine costing $42 and drinks seemed to be around €10 a drink.

The ports of call had me scratching my head as the ship was as much as 2 hours travel away from the advertised port. We went on a ship organised excursion to Santiago di Compostela as we wanted to see the Cathedral there only to find there was very little to see inside due to renovations being undertaken until 2020. A warning would have been good but the trip, for us, was still worth it.  

Disembarkation was again excellent being timely and very efficient. For the first time cruising we could spot our bags immediately.

Would we book another Princess cruise - probably not unless they were stopping at particular ports that other cruise companies were not offering.

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14 minutes ago, Captain Kidd II said:

After a dozen sailings with P&O we decided to try an alternative cruise line for comparison. We thought we had heard good reports of Princess so booked a 7 day cruise to France and Spain to try the Sapphire Princess out.

We arrived for embarkation well ahead of our allocated time. At 10:35 we handed our car to CPS and by 11:35 were sitting in the buffet on board the ship. To say this was an excellent experience was an understatement and something P&O should certainly get to grips with. We were fortunate to have qualified as “Elite” passengers, the highest level tier, due to our P&O loyalty points which only places us half way up the P&O ladder!

Our Balcony cabin had a good, large outside area with 2 chairs, footstools and large table. Inside was rather disappointing as it was quite small and insufficient seating to allow both of us to sit on seats rather than the bed. The bathroom was also small but the shower was very good. Overall the cabin was very clean and kept that way by our steward throughout the cruise.

The ship seemed to have a very happy crew who were very helpful and friendly. I did wonder if this was due to the significantly higher auto gratuity charges of $14.50 per day per person.

I thought the ship seemed jaded and in need of a refit. It did not seem that disability friendly  but it did make a change to see signs in Chinese and English.

Entertainment we excellent and varied.

One of the things I was particularly looking forward to was the food and have to say I was very disappointed. We have had much better menus on the various P&O ships we have sailed on and with more variety and if a better quality. We tried the speciality Steakhouse and have to say our local Miller & Carter is much better with a price about the same as the Speciality restaurant surcharge! The best part of the menu were the chocolate desserts.

Drinks were expensive with a £7 supermarket bottle if wine costing $42 and drinks seemed to be around €10 a drink.

The ports of call had me scratching my head as the ship was as much as 2 hours travel away from the advertised port. We went on a ship organised excursion to Santiago di Compostela as we wanted to see the Cathedral there only to find there was very little to see inside due to renovations being undertaken until 2020. A warning would have been good but the trip, for us, was still worth it.  

Disembarkation was again excellent being timely and very efficient. For the first time cruising we could spot our bags immediately.

Would we book another Princess cruise - probably not unless they were stopping at particular ports that other cruise companies were not offering.

We sailed on Sapphire Princess last year and had an excellent cruise and the reference with the signs being in Chinese and English prior to it coming to UK last year Sapphire was based in the far east and that is why the signs are in Chinese they have never been removed after a refit. We have cruised many times with Princess and always thought the food more varied in choice and better than on P&O but that is personal taste. With regards to Crown Grill we love eating in there and is always one of the first places we book as soon as we get onboard and always have my favourite 22oz Porterhouse( T-bone) along with starter, soup and a dessert excellent value at $29pp (approx £23).

Edited by sinbad10

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Thank you for your comments, sinbad10, and as you so rightly say food is of a personal choice.

My wife has been in the catering and industry for 30 years and it is only our personal view that, in comparison to P&O, the breakfast had fewer choices and was not as good. At lunchtime in the Buffet there were fewer salad choices and certainly not to the standards portrayed on the TV. Selection of an evening meal in the MDR was often difficult with little choice if you are not a fish eater, which I am not, and there was not even a steak as a fall back.

In short we ventured on this cruise with high expectations believing Princess to be a better experience than P&O which, again in our opinion, it was not. I find P&O provide good value for money cruises and am certainly looking forward to sailing with them again in the near future.

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Hi, I found this really useful, thank you. I have only been on Royal Caribbean and P&O. I prefer P&O in  a lot of ways but I suppose if we hadn't tried it we would never know. It is scary to spend money on a new cruise line though, we want to do a world cruise and like the 2021 Fred Olsen itinerary, particularly as it does Havana, although we are not able to go until 2023/2024 so whether it will be the same we'll have to wait and see. I am nervous about going for so long on a new cruise line so may do a shorter one first, but if I don't like it would it stop me doing the world one? I don't know

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27 minutes ago, Captain Kidd II said:

Thank you for your comments, sinbad10, and as you so rightly say food is of a personal choice.

My wife has been in the catering and industry for 30 years and it is only our personal view that, in comparison to P&O, the breakfast had fewer choices and was not as good. At lunchtime in the Buffet there were fewer salad choices and certainly not to the standards portrayed on the TV. Selection of an evening meal in the MDR was often difficult with little choice if you are not a fish eater, which I am not, and there was not even a steak as a fall back.

In short we ventured on this cruise with high expectations believing Princess to be a better experience than P&O which, again in our opinion, it was not. I find P&O provide good value for money cruises and am certainly looking forward to sailing with them again in the near future.

Like I said food is a personal taste and for us we prefer Princess by a long way compared to P&O food wise and for cruise experience even though drinks are expensive but likewise like you we are Elite and exchange our mini bar package for 2 coffee cards and always purchase soda package which includes mocktails, juice and soda drinks and even after recent price increase is excellent value for money so high cost of alcoholic drinks being not big drinkers doesnt effect us.

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Thanks for post your review.

Never tried Princess but have American friends who sail with no one else.

It does come as a shock though the difference in drink prices and the tip rate ,compared to P&O,but most USA based cruise lines charge around the same....Davybe

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We are elite and cruised on sapphire in April.We were very disappointed food menus had been seriously cheapened I had chicken and soggy chips on two nights entertainment was best seen as poor and drinks prices impossible and then18 %.    The elite lounge every night was complaints.  We have never  had this experience on princess before we hope they wake up before untold damage is done.

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I haven't sailed Princess for almost 19 years but am doing so soon aboard Coral Princess in Alaska.  I will happily report back on my experiences.  I wonder if it is quite a different product in the UK to the one offered in US waters?

I've not seen anything about an Elite Lounge in the Captains Circle stuff so would appreciate any information on that.

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1 hour ago, afcandrew said:

I haven't sailed Princess for almost 19 years but am doing so soon aboard Coral Princess in Alaska.  I will happily report back on my experiences.  I wonder if it is quite a different product in the UK to the one offered in US waters?

I've not seen anything about an Elite Lounge in the Captains Circle stuff so would appreciate any information on that.

I thought Princess gave you one free mini bar set up once you were Elite, also not heard about an Elite Lounge, maybe they are trying to copy Royal Caribbean!

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Our experience with princess has always been very good hence we earned elite status.us cruises are probably of a higher standard because Americans will not accept low standards.when we have done us cruises we have been very satisfied.

The elite lounge is not advertised admission is by elite cruise card but it is not like royal Caribbean drinks are charged cocktails are a reduced price,there is also free orderve table.  We get a free mini bar set up which is very nice orderves delivered on formal. Night  priority tender  boarding sepARate cocktail party and free laundry.

We could not believe what was happening but many other people were of a likemind. We are not moaning people but this was beyond the limits even for us.

We wish you every success on yourcruise I am sure the standard will be ok.   We have done Alaska and it wS superb one always to remember  say hello to the whales for us 

Good luck.  BIGROG

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You usually get a card in your cabin at beginning of the cruise telling you where the Elite Lounge is taking place and times and then what food is available on a daily basis and a special offer cocktail.

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Completely agree, Captain Kidd II. We were on Sapphire Princess a few weeks ago on a Scandinavian cruise. This too was our first experience of Princess and went with high hopes of fantastic food and entertainment. The menus had a decent choice of starters, but only an average choice of mains, and a poor choice of desserts. I thought the portions were small and the quality of the food just above average. On one occasion when the main included chips I expected chunky chips like P&O do but instead got small fries straight from the buffet. Didn’t think much to the house band, but I thought the production shows in the theatre were of a better calibre than P&O, the singers being particularly good. The ship does look dated, but I guess that’s just because of how fast the times are changing for the look of modern cruise ships. The biggest tick I will give Princess though, is on behalf of my 19 year old son who sailed with us. The 18 to 20’s get together arranged for the first night on board is a great ice breaker for older teens who have been used to having a teen club to go to, who may have felt at a loss how to meet up with similar aged teens. In summary, I won’t rush back to Princess anytime soon, but would consider a newer Princess ship in the future if the itinerary was good, just not Sapphire again.

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1 hour ago, iknowlescourier said:

Completely agree, Captain Kidd II. We were on Sapphire Princess a few weeks ago on a Scandinavian cruise. This too was our first experience of Princess and went with high hopes of fantastic food and entertainment. The menus had a decent choice of starters, but only an average choice of mains, and a poor choice of desserts. I thought the portions were small and the quality of the food just above average. On one occasion when the main included chips I expected chunky chips like P&O do but instead got small fries straight from the buffet. Didn’t think much to the house band, but I thought the production shows in the theatre were of a better calibre than P&O, the singers being particularly good. The ship does look dated, but I guess that’s just because of how fast the times are changing for the look of modern cruise ships. The biggest tick I will give Princess though, is on behalf of my 19 year old son who sailed with us. The 18 to 20’s get together arranged for the first night on board is a great ice breaker for older teens who have been used to having a teen club to go to, who may have felt at a loss how to meet up with similar aged teens. In summary, I won’t rush back to Princess anytime soon, but would consider a newer Princess ship in the future if the itinerary was good, just not Sapphire again.

Why would you expect chunky chips like P&O when you were on an American cruise line and they all serve french fries and to say they came straight from the buffet is laughable because you dont know that and just because they serve them in the buffet it doesnt mean those in MDR are served from there.

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I have sailed with American cruise lines before, and they have all served food from around the world, not just American style food. And apologies if I put it metaphorically, I didn't literally mean straight from the buffet, I expected a better quality meal than something I would get in the buffet. 

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Cruised Princess and P&O many times and have never been disappointed with food served on Princess whether it be quality or portion size. It is obvious P&O is aimed at British  market and serve mainly British food but that is what we like about Princess the variation of food served. 

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We have cruised with Princess several times both on older and newer ships and have only once been disappointed with a meal in MDR.  That was prime rib, which I usually enjoy, but which was overcooked and stringy.  I have never tried P&O, nor do I intend to, so cannot compare.  I prefer a more international atmosphere on my cruises, both in fellow passengers and in food.  We cruised on Royal Princess with a ten member family group and everyone was able to find something on the menu to suit them each night.

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8 hours ago, smtcan said:

We have cruised with Princess several times both on older and newer ships and have only once been disappointed with a meal in MDR.  That was prime rib, which I usually enjoy, but which was overcooked and stringy.  I have never tried P&O, nor do I intend to, so cannot compare.  I prefer a more international atmosphere on my cruises, both in fellow passengers and in food.  We cruised on Royal Princess with a ten member family group and everyone was able to find something on the menu to suit them each night.

Strange that because one of the MDR meals on our last Princess cruise that disappointed most was prime rib, it looked and tasted as though it had been boiled rather than roasted.

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