My wife and I cruised on the Star Princess from April 6-13, 2002, and except for the very long first day we had a pretty fun time! Unfortunately, that first day - which involved flying to Los Angeles from Seattle, Washington at 6:00 am, then waiting three hours to catch a Princess shuttle bus to the dock after a very long wait at LAX, and then waiting again in long lines to board the ship - kind of got us off to a rough start! It was also the first day of Daylight Savings Times, and with cruising south and east the next two days we ended up having to turns our clocks ahead three hours in three days! We ended up sleeping in a bit to catch up on the lost time, and of course missed a few morning events aboard ship as a result.
We had requested late-seating at dinner, but ended up wait-listed for that (with about 300 other people, we heard) and got Personal Choice, which is ironic as it wasn't our personal choice! We missed being with the same people night after night and getting to know them, but our wait staff was phenomenal (Earnest, Mark, Bradley and Andrea) and the food was great, and we even got a cake on our anniversary! We had heard that Sabatini's, the Italian restaurant, was worth the $15 per person surcharge, and we loved it, although we did eat too much there (how can you not?).
The formal nights were a lot of fun, as it was nice to get dressed up and have a classy dinner with the ship's photographers snapping photos of you in your finery. We did see some good movies on our room television on days we slept in a bit as well, and in one of the theaters on board ship. The heads got cut off on the movie screen, guess they have to work on that!
There were a lot of teenagers on board, as it was Spring break in California, so there was some noise in the halls late at night, along with doors opening and slamming shut at all hours, as kids left their cabins doors unlocked and open for their buddies to wander in whenever they wanted to! My wife got a Swedish massage at the spa, which she absolutely loved, and we got a lot of relaxing deck time in on the Aloha deck by the back pool, which was pretty uncrowded the entire trip. The days were a little cool the farther north we were, but never too chilly.
We went to afternoon tea a couple times, and even met a WWII veteran who said this was his first cruise since 1942, when he was sailing to Liverpool, England on his way to the Battle of the Bulge, and they had to avoid lighting matches on deck so the German submarines wouldn't see where they were! The Wheelhouse Bar is a place we stopped in for drinks more than once (have to try the green apple martini!), and listened to the Stingrays, a band that did all kinds of songs extremely well each and every night. We saw several shows, the comedians were very funny, especially "Sarge," and the Broadway-type singing and dancing productions were outstanding - see "Da Beat" and "Dance!" if you can!
The Karaoke shows were great fun, as the singing talent of the travelers ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous, and as MC, Deputy Cruise Director Gavin does a wonderful job of keeping everyone entertained in-between numbers. He was great on the Regal Princess last Summer, and is great here, especially when he kept coming back onstage during the singing of "America Pie" (a very long song!) and saying "Isn't he done yet?" and then going off-stage again! And every number was "Me mum's favorite song"!
Our day at Las Caletas in Puerto Vallarta was wonderful, and is an excursion worth taking. We were on a beautiful secluded beach with snorkeling (I saw a stingray, an eel and a school of beautiful fish), kayaking, arts and crafts, a nature walk, an orchid garden, and a delicious lunch halfway through the day as well. The market in Mazatlan the next day was crowded, and the salespeople were aggressive, if friendly, while the people in Cabo San Lucas were calm and relaxed by comparison, so much so that we felt bad we only had half a day there!
During sea days we did try out the trivia contests (we won an umbrella!), the putting green (on the very top of the ship amidships), and even listened to the classical string quartet in the Atrium lobby (which could have been bigger, and the Champagne waterfall evening would have been visible to more people, and therefore more enjoyable)! It was neat being on such a big ship, as it always seemed to be the biggest building in whatever town we docked, and the townspeople loved to waved at us as we left their ports! We waved back and felt like celebrities, which was kind of fun!
You always have to wake up early on disembarkation day, and there are always people that hold you up by not knowing where they are to go, and when they are to go there, but it wasn't too bad, all things considered! After we went to the lounge to go through Customs we returned to our room to get our bags, and our name card and anniversary balloons were off our door, which was kind of weird! Thank goodness our room key card still worked! We knew then that our vacation was just about over, and made sure we ate all we wanted at breakfast before we got called to really get off the ship a couple of hours later! At least catching the bus to LAX was a lot quicker than the one from LAX was a week before. We will do it again, and make sure to double-check the time zones this time!