Am a past Princess passenger with 3 decades of wonderful experiences with the line, until recently. I have found a sad downturn in the products service levels over the past 5 years or so, which includes, staffing, catering and general value for money, which I believe has unfortunately taken Princess from a 4 star offering to a 3 star basic cruising experience. The Princess cruise line of old no longer exists but in name only - or so I believed.
I decided to take this 18 day segment of the Pacific Princess's world cruise rather than the general round trip cruises offered for a change of scenery. I was pleasantly surprised. Though the ship is small compared to the regular tonnage the line offers, she was a boutique offering with an old world atmosphere. The cruise was only 18 days - being part of the 101 day world cruise offering. Many of the small touches which Princess was known for and are now lost forever on all its larger ships, this ship manages to retain the values of Princess brand prior to Carnival's take over.
On board, the catering was expansive and well presented and I found more meal and menu options on this tiny ship than that on the larger ships. The old fashioned menu items, like escargot, variety of soufflés, proper surf and turf with lobster, along with the evening dinner menus showing more options than that on the other ships in the fleet a refreshing change. The ship also able to retain alternative dining options like Sterling Steakhouse and Sabatini's given her smaller size. Whether this improved catering was in line with the World Cruise experience, I cannot confirm, but was good to see it was provided. Sunday brunch in the main restaurant was another nice touch where it is transformed into a hall of culinary delights with food stations, chef carver's, and international flavours dotted around the restaurant in a semi buffet presentation, another great feature and a pleasure to enjoy. In the evening she offers the traditional 2 settings in her main dining room which may not be everyone's choice, but the system worked well with options to make table or sitting changes if required simple and efficient. the buffet also transforms into an evening al arcarte bistro for a 4th alternative dining choice.
The cabins, though the ship is originally from a different cruise line, are very comfortable and functional with a beautiful wooden panelled and old world feel which Princess has kept. Even the smallest and economical cabins have a sofa and other small touches only now provided in the larger and more expensive cabins on Princess's larger ships.
The best thing - no queues anywhere at any time, and only having a max of 600 passengers also assists with this. No need for a black card to see the front desk, you will be the only one in the queue at anytime. The same goes for the buffet, the pool, the lectures, the shows etc.
The cruise was a pleasure, and a delightful change to the mega ships in the fleet. Her size of 30,000 tons may not be everyone's cup of tea, but if you are tired of the inch of gold sales along with the hyper marketing and art auctions of the bigger ships challenging your senses everyday, then this one will be a definite surprise and refreshing experience. She also has a beautiful old world full promenade deck with space and multiple lounges for those who enjoy this feature of a cruise ship which is now sadly becoming something no longer supported in future ship designs.
Another feature this ship has is her size allows her to dock nice and close to her ports of call, not like her larger cousins who sometimes need to dock 1 or 2 hrs drive from the centre of town.
I would not hesitate in cruising on her again and bypassing the other ships in the fleet. If however your cruise focus is on having pool side pizza bars, waterslides, outdoor movie screens, and queue for everything while fighting to find a vacant deck chair, then this ship may not be for you. She does not cater for children so family cruising would not be for her either, but if you are looking for a quiet old world style of cruise she may be the vessel within Princess's fleet for you.