Myself and my companion Linda sailed on the 12 day Tahiti to Hawaii cruise. Here are some of our impressions of Princess Cruise Lines, the Dawn Princess, and her crew.
We booked everything through our travel agent and chose princess to make the flight arrangements and transfers since this was such a long distance and we weren't spending any days before or days after in a hotel. We wanted to be there on time. This was probably a mistake and we should have let our travel agent make these arrangements, since they could have probably gotten us a better price for our flights, and made the timing and duration of the flight home much more convenient.
The flight to Tahiti was a World Airways charter by Princess and was wonderful, but the timing of the flight home was horrendus. We left the ship at 7:30 AM, went on a tour of the USS Arizona and USS Missouri which was over at 12:00 Noon, and then had to wait in a hospitality room at the Convention center in Honolulu until we were picked up to catch our 11:30 PM flight on Delta to Salt Lake City, and then catch a connecting flight to Phoenix and arrive home the following day at 11:45 AM. Needless to say, 28 hours is a long time between leaving the ship and arriving home. I'm sure Princess could have done better, since there are direct flights to Phoenix from Honolulu. yes we could have changed that schedule through our travel agent, but it would have cost us a $100.00 service fee that Princess charges, plus any additional cost of the flight. We now know to book our own flights.
Of the entire cruise though, that is the only comlaint.
We got an outside cabin with balcony, and this was reasonably adequate in size. I highly recommend this to every one thinking of cruising in this type of climate. We spent every breakfast ouside looking at gorgeous scenery or just watching the sea roll by. Our cabin was also very quiet. We hardly heard any machinery noises, and nothing from our neighbors, excepth on the balcony. There was good closet space, a desk, safe, big queen size bed, and the bathroom was OK, but my companion would have liked a tub, but no big deal. With 4 jacuzzi's on the boat, we could always go and soak if we wanted.
Our cabin steward, Annabelle, was fantastic and went above and beyond. Since princess only offers a continental breakfast, and we didn't want to get up and dressed every morning, we would just write in what we wanted that wasn't on the menu and she made sure we got it. Someone gave her a bottle of Champagne, and she doesn't drink,so she offered it to us. We said sure, and when we were ready to open it the next day, she brought us peanuts, pretzels, and Hor'Derves. She also brought us a snack plate the day before departure, all without our asking. Of course our cabin was always spotless whenever she made it up, which was twice a day. She was simply great.
This attitude was prevalent for the whole crew throughout the voyage. They were the best. Even the Pursers office, who's people on our other voyage with Holland America were rather sullen, were cheerful and helpful throughout the trip.
The food was superb. We ate most ou our dinners at the Horizon Buffet, and they alway had a wide variety, with enough choices to please everyone. The Pizza was to die for. The crust was thin and crispy and the topping generous. You could get it delivered by room service, but it was not advertized on the room service menu. The only thing I didn't like about La Scala restaurant was that you could not order iced tea or coffee there. Only the "extra priced" drinks.
We ate once at their steakhouse restaurant with the $8.00 per person surcharge, and the food was worth it, but my Filet Mignon was rather bland, and had very little flavor to it, but was otherwise very tender and well cooked.
A word on "personal choice" dining. If you want to get a table for 2, you must still call that day and make a reservation, or you will be seated with a larger party, because all the small tables will be taken unless you are dining very early.
A quick word about coffee. I hav seen quite a few reviews about Princess that say they don't have good coffee. I am very picky about coffee, and found to my surprise, theirs is quite good. I only had 1 bad cup, and that was in the Casino, and was probably an old pot, since it tasted burned.
I didn't find any extreme measures of commercialism on the boat, with 2 exceptions. The art auction (which we attended several times) and the botiques, whic were constantly having "sales".
I like the fact that they do not pipe all the ships messages into the cabins. If you wanted to hear something you just tuned your TV to channel 33 and turn up the volume.
The entire boat was extremely clean, the tours were excellent and on time, as was the ship at all but one port of call, because she had to wait for passengers to reboard her late at the previous port. (They were lucky because the gangway had already been withdrawn).
Security was very tight going on and off the boat, but very organized and no long delays. Also no delays embarking or disembarking either.
I will put my 2 cents in about having to pay for ice cream. As with everyone else I have read, I think this should be free. I also think they could have more coffee and iced tea stations around the boat so you are not having to run to the Horizon Court for those things if you don't want to pay for a drink poolside. (And from the stern pool, that's a long way.)
This ship was very steady, even in the open ocean between Tahiti and Hawaii. Hardly any movement, even in 8 foot swells and high winds.
All in all, we would highly recommend the Dawn Princess, her staff, and Princess Cruises, except for their flight back home.