Pines for a past Princess

My traveling companion Arlene and I took a one-week cruise aboard the Star Princess, Jan. 20-27, 2006. Our cruise was in the western Caribbean, departing from Ft. Lauderdale, but the ship travels worldwide. We paid $1,069 each, double occupancy.

We had taken two cruises on Princess ships many years ago. In 1989 we took a Mediterranean cruise on the Royal Princess, which was a spectacular vessel, and in 1991 we sailed the Sea Princess in the South China Sea — not quite so spectacular but still with a refined and elegant ambiance. I wish I could say the same for the Star.

The atmosphere aboard ship was much more Carnival Cruise Lines than Princess Cruises. There seemed to be an inordinate amount of rowdiness and noise in the public areas and very little of the refinement that we experienced in our earlier Princess cruises. Although late January would not seem to be a time for school holidays, there were many young children and teenagers on board, which at least partially contributed to the almost continual racket around the pools.

We received a cabin “upgrade,” which we had not requested, to the Emerald deck (deck eight) and were dismayed to find that we had been moved from midships, which we had requested, to the second cabin in from the prow. What this meant was that we felt every motion on the sometimes rocky seas, and every time the prow went up and came crashing down, so did we. And, of course, when the anchor was dropped early in the morning, it sounded as if it were being dropped in our room.

We asked for a cabin change. We received a letter saying the ship was full.

After the first night, Arlene and I both woke up with very sore backs from the mushy mattresses that had clearly seen happier days. I asked the cabin steward to see about changing our mattresses, at least, but he advised me that there were no spare mattresses as the ship was going into dry dock in four months to be refurbished. He said that what he found to be helpful was putting an extra blanket under the sheet for “support.” I can attest that this was not in the least helpful to Arlene or myself and we both left still sporting sore backs.

The “décor” in our cabin was nondescript and shabby and certainly not in keeping with that of some of the ship’s public areas, such as the beautiful pool areas and the spectacular Grand Atrium. It was kind of like putting makeup on to hide a dirty face.

There were few of the amenities one used to have when sailing on a great ship, and I have never had to pay for ice cream before on any of the 15 prior cruises I have taken. However, “free” ice cream was available between 3:30 and 4:30 p.m. at teatime or for dessert at dinner. Should you be overtaken by a desire for some ice cream at, say, 1 p.m., you could have it for a price at the ice cream bar.

On the plus side, the food in both the Amalfi restaurant and the Lido was very good and nicely presented, with excellent, caring service in the dining room.

To sum up, I think that since Princess Cruises has become part of the Carnival Cruise Lines family, it has changed course and just isn’t the kind of quality cruising I had come to associate with Princess. It was not a wonderful cruise experience.


Jenkintown, PA

ITN sent a copy of the above letter to Princess Cruises and received the following reply. ITN broached the subject of numbers of children on particular cruises.

Enclosed please find a copy of our response sent to Mrs. Isaacman’s travel companion, Arlene C. Arlene C. contacted our office with her and Mrs. Isaacman’s cruise concerns. Therefore, our response was sent to Arlene C. Should Mrs. Isaacman wish to receive a personal response, we ask she remit her letter to our attention.

Further, with regard to your inquiry regarding the number of underage passengers that might be sailing aboard Royal Princess on a Western Caribbean cruise in late January, we advise that we find the number of younger passengers will be higher during holidays and during spring breaks.

However, our travel agents and/or passengers may contact our Reservations Department at any time to determine the specific number of underage passengers that would be projected for any specific cruise.

LORRI LANNING, Specialist, Passenger Relations, Princess Cruises, 24305 Town Center Dr., Santa Clarita, CA 91355.

Princess Cruises’ letter to Ms. Isaacman’s cabin mate, Arlene C., stated, in part, “We are sorry to learn that you were disappointed with the condition of your mattress in your stateroom (E105). We endeavor to maintain all exterior and interior areas of each vessel in optimum condition, and refurbishment is scheduled on an ongoing basis. Additionally, each vessel is scheduled twice a year for intensive refurbishing, during which time new carpets and drapes are installed to areas needed and furniture, including mattresses, is replaced or reupholstered throughout the vessel.

“We regret that the ship’s staff was unable to provide a replacement mattress for you or move you to a different stateroom. We apologize for any discomfort you experienced as a result. As a goodwill gesture, we would like to offer an onboard credit of $100 to enhance your next cruise.”