Author: Alfred Levy
Think Hi de Hi! Think Holiday Camp. That’s what the once prestigious Princess Line has now become. After two consecutive cruises, one last year on the Emerald and this one in early June on the Caribbean Princess we found few redeeming qualities with this company. True, the service and efficiency from the staff were excellent beyond question and, true, the cabin (! Stateroom) we were allocated was clean and reasonably spacious with plenty of wardrobe space, but from there it was all downhill. The accountants have seized the ship. The nightly forty-five minute stage productions which were a speciality of Princess on two week cruises have been replaced by four (mercifully short) mediocre half-hour shows and for the rest of the time we had to accept similarly mediocre, if not downright awful, single performances. (To be honest, there were two notable exceptions). The rest of the entertainment on board was either puerile or soporific. A ‘classical’ trio which played at various places around the ship might have come straight from a hypnosis clinic and the other various musicians were clear evidence of the company’s frugality. The ‘anytime dining’ option was farcical because everyone turned up to eat at exactly the same time, around 7.30, resulting in queues that would not have disgraced a Salvation Army soup kitchen. Further, if you were vegetarian as we are, the choices were extremely limited - the same two alternatives every day - unless you saw the Maitre d’ every single day to make a special request. And who needs that? Maintenance, health and safety and hygiene were lax, to say the least. In the Jacuzzis on deck we saw babies out of nappies, my wife found the ladies toilets in the public areas were not working on at least six occasions and we heard of flooded staterooms and cabins where maintenance people had to return many times (we understand the occupants were offered $200 compensation). The blue sun-beds in most areas were an orthopaedic nightmare – they were largely old and scruffy and so slack that one tended to have a crossbar digging into one’s vertebrae. In the theatre, on the staff performance evening, when the place was full to bursting, people were standing at the sides blocking all the aisles and sitting on the exit stairs with absolutely no supervision. If there had been any kind of emergency it would have been carnage. ‘Movies Under The Stars’, intended to be shown at night, a unique feature of Princess Cruises and quite a good idea, were far less entertaining when they became, as they did all day, invisible movies in bright sunlight blasting out continuous sound at earthquake level in one of the pool areas. Perhaps at Princess Headquarters the stars shine all day? Loud and incomprehensible noise seemed to be a planned policy on board. We found it difficult to escape and find somewhere quiet to relax. The ship’s library was a joke; a bookcase filled with books in a room occupied by banks of computers offering internet access at breathtakingly exorbitant rates. Yes, there was one single ‘quiet lounge’. It was on the eighteenth deck right at the back of the ship! Summing up, we found the Caribbean Princess to be a tired three star old lady with five star pretensions.