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Island Princess Cruise Review
4.0 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating
1,190 Reviews

Observations of our Island Princess Cruise leavin Buenos Aires February 16, 2020

Island Princess Cruise Review by fdagosti

3 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: Feb 2020
  • Destination: South America

We selected this cruise as an alternative to flying home from an expedition cruise to Antarctica.

Cruising is a great way to see multiple countries, have a consistent place to eat, plus the opportunity to enjoy entertainment and other amenities.

People should also know they are a captive audience, pay more for adult beverages, excursions, will likely experience nonstop marketing to buy items on board, pay 20 - 30 dollars a day for Internet, to frequent the paid-for restaurants, or purchase spa treatments.

In summary, after 15 cruises on Hurtigruten, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Norwegian, Holland America, Carnival, Princess, and smaller cruise / ferries, Princess was our worst value / experience of any cruise, with Hurtigruten being the best by orders of magnitude.

Positives - Matt O - the cruise director who lead the exercise classes, the outdoor movie theater screen, a nice birthday greeting for my wife, and our room attendant.

Now for the negatives...

1) We started the cruise with an excursion issue as we booked our cruise online to see Carnaval in Rio, when we got on ship, our excursion was not recorded and now there was no availability. We were relayed to multiple desks, with over 2 hours of waiting, and was finally met by a customer relations manager who ultimately told us it was our issue, they had no way to contact Princess support, and they would only grant us one day internet to see if we could solve our own problem. We told the CRM we needed multiple devices online and was told to just create the account and it would be later credited. Fast-forward a few days, and we see the charge on our bill. We went and met with the same CRM who told us that we could only have the 1 device internet, and we had to pay the difference. He stated that we were not listening like we didn't listen the previous day, and only after asking for his director, did he remove it from our bill.

2) Health Management - We noticed numerous people on the ship who were openly coughing and some passengers jokingly referred to it as the cruise cough. Two specific examples of many include one observation was a woman who was in the Wheelhouse lounge continuously coughing without covering her mouth, with two employees within 10 feet of her, this woman was shivering, took her jacket and covered herself like a blanket, then laid down on the couch. She was not asked to leave the public area and we left the lounge. The second example was in the Horizon Court buffet area, referred to as the cough-eteria. A woman was within 10 feet of the opening at the end of the buffet, openly coughing without covering her mouth, spits up into her ship napkin, at which point I mentioned it to the cruise staff. I went to get coffee and returned to walk past the same woman at the same table, flossing her teeth at the table. This was within 5 feet of the cruise staff and nothing was done while we were there. I submitted a note to the desk, but received no response. We observed no medical screening upon disembarkation the ship when exiting the ship or entering the port terminal and customs. It was astonishing in this global situation of the Corona outbreak, why did Princess not have health monitors asking people to leave the public areas or even have exit medical screening. We avoided many of the shows and other lounge events on this cruise due to our observations. Multiple passengers said they would only go to the doctor on board if they were near death as they realized it would result in isolation or other considerations (we saw multiple people removed from the ship in ambulances). This is more of a human behavior study than a Princess issue, but know that this thinking was rampant on the cruise.

3) Carnaval excursion - This excursion was our main interest on this trip outside of getting home. This was a very busy excursion and when we were traveling to the Samba-school location for the event, we received many instructions on safety and where cruise staff would be so when we needed to return from the event, we could do it safely and without issue. We left at the parade time they recommended, the same location we entered, and it was chaotic at best. We saw no Princess staff present where we entered, and we had to exit into the bus area, luckily finding a Hamburg cruise staff member who told us where the Princess buses and representatives were located. It was also interesting having the bus driver take us through a drunken block party, having people bang on the bus, with the driver subsequently running the remaining red light avoiding stopping on the return.

4) The remaining are grouped. The food quality and selection was very disappointing and it felt like you were at common buffet in or near your hometown, after the lunch or dinner rush. Non-stop pressure to spend more money was clearly the Princess focus - you should know what you're getting into when you get on a ship, so our fault - but it was to the level of a circus side show caller doing the come one, come all, this is the greatest, most rare, your only chance, yadda style of getting people to purchase more. Worst of it was the Effy jewelry sales rep. The Princess Patter documentation for ports did not provide a relative distance for each port of key sights and it was clear their primary interest was to get you on their excursions and less on those who want to walk - again no surprise, and our fault. The port stops were very poor, although there were plenty of the Diamonds International and other cruise port supported shops in the main area, but step out from there and good luck.

Needless to say, we will never cruise Princess again and it will likely affect any ship under its holding company.

To end this on a positive note, if you want an other-worldly experience on a cruise, take a cruise on Hurtigruten. It will change your life for the positive.

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