October 14, 2005
My wife and I embarked in New York on the 10 day New England/Canada cruise. This was our 5th cruise on Princess and our 15th overall. We are in our 50's and well travelled.
As usual for Princess, embarkation was efficient and fast. We were in our cabin by 12:30PM.
Comments on the ports:
Boston, Newport, and Bar Harbor were excellent. Most readers will be familiar with these areas and I will not comment further. A purchased tour is probably a necessity to fully enjoy the stop at Bar Harbor.
Saint John, NB gets my award for the friendliest port ever visited. I was very impressed by the welcome and it made up for the attractions being somewhat limited. It's worth a stop.
Halifax, NS was modestly enjoyable. The drive to Peggy's Cove (on a tour) is worthwile for the great scenery and the quaintness of the village.
Sydney, NS and Corner Brook, Newfoundland are a complete waste of time. Virtually nothing worthwhile in Corner Brook except a picturesque cruise into port (minus the paper mill) and a few good walking trails.
Saguenay River cruising was outstanding. Great views of numerous Beluga whales accompanied by a very good lecturer. Wonderful scenery made this day special.
Quebec City-the best was last! Old town Quebec is beautiful, clean, and filled with high quality shops and restaurants. We would return for a future visit.
Other positive comments:
--Our room steward was outstanding (couldn't get him in the suitcase!).
--Wheelhouse Lounge servers were very friendly and went to an effort to remember our names and what we drinked.
--The ship's crew was almost always very cordial and friendly.
--The individual lounge acts were very good and featured comedy, illusions, juggling and music.
--Food in dining room was good, but not great. Don't expect gourmet dining. The food is nearly as good as it can be while feeding 2000 passengers.
--Food in Sterling Steak House (see below) was outstanding, the best on the ship and as good a steak as we've had anywhere.
--Disembarkation was efficient and fast-after the purser corrected my departure time to the proper group.
--"Anytime Dining" is anything but. Could never, and I do mean never, get a table for two. Anytime between 6:30 and 8:00, there was a wait for any seating. One night, the wait was 1 hour and 45 minutes! As a result, we only bothered with dinner in the dining room twice. This was very disappointing and unlike what we have experienced on other ships. Totally unacceptable.
--The Horizon Court food (buffet) ranged from good to poor depending on the night. Breakfasts were consistently boring. Don't look for an omelet or crepe line, or made to order anything.
--On this ship, the specialty steak house is half of the Horizon Court buffet. Same bright lighting and annoying music. The night we were there, a really annoyng beeping from a warning signal in something continued throughout the meal. My wife filed a written complaint (the only one mentioned in 10 days) and never received a reply. No waiving of the cover charge, bottle of wine, or anything else was offered for the inconvenience.
--Tours are generally over priced (like all cruise lines). You can do better on your own with some advance work.
--Do not take the Princess transfer to the airport in Quebec. The taxi was $27 plus tip and was much faster and user-freindly.
In summary, this cruise was a "mixed bag" and probably our last for a long while. Total cost for a cabin with balcony, including airfare and all expenses, was $750 per day. At this price level, there are other, more deluxe options in travel, in our opinion.