CruiseMates' Readers Cruise Reviews

Princess Cruises Star Princess by Jim Fanning (Teach) Mexico April 20, 2002

Here it is May 29th and I'm just now sitting down to write this review. Boy can I put things off. Well here goes with the hope I get it done now and not a month from now. I just get so busy doing nothing that I never have time to do anything.

We got lucky and got a friend flies free ticket on Southwest Airlines so of course we booked our own air and then took the ground transport through Princess. We took a noon flight so we wouldn't have to get up at the crack of dawn and got to Lax with our luggage at 1:30 and were on the ship about 2:30 so I can't complain. After dropping off our bags we went strait up to lido deck to eat lunch. The Horizon dinning area is an attractive setting with unobstructed view, the serving sections are on both sides. It has no clear flow direction and can become congested as we found during the week. They had the usual assortment of chicken or beef but no meats or breads for sandwiches. If you wanted a hamburger, hot dog or pizza you had to go all the way forward to the grill on other side of the outdoor pool passing through the inside pool on the way. It made it difficult if one person wanted a meal and the other wanted a burger.

't look like the entrance to a restaurant and I'm sure that it disturbed the dinners especially just before show time in the large Princess Theater. I'm sure that a lot of other people did the same unintentionally. One other place on the ship we found ourselves going where we really didn't mean to was coming out of the elevators on Promenade deck we often were on the port side after leaving the, Capri dinning room which has only one entrance, and when we headed aft you would enter the explorers lounge and have to either retrace your steps or cross over the room to reach the open promenade to proceed aft to the Vista showroom passing through an often blocked Photo Gallery after dinner. One last nitpicking thing as with any ship with a galley in the middle and dinning rooms on either end they create a situation where you must go up over and down to pass through the ship on one deck since the aft dinning room is the traditional style I was glad we tried free choice dinning for a change.

While on the subject of free choice dinning this is the first Princess ship we've been on to offer it the Royal, which we were on in Feb., was to small to handle the galley requirements. Diane loved it, she has always thought 6:15 is just to early and late seating was to late. Choice allowed her to stay on our home schedule and eat at 7. Unfortunately all the shows are still tied to the Traditional schedule so that when you finished diner you either had to skip desert or not get a seat for the show in the Princess Theater. For one show we sat on the steps and it was no treat. I have mixed feelings about Personal choice but if we have a choice from now on I bet we take Personal choice. Peace at all cost is my motto. My thoughts about the food. In Feb. on our Amazon trip I lost my appetite and nothing tasted good to me. As some of you may know I eventually got so sick I had to leave the ship in Trinidad and go into the hospital so I felt the food has to be better this time and of course it was. I have always found on Princess ships that not every thing I think I recognize on the menu will taste the way I expect. They go out of their way to use sauces from different parts of Italy and some of them I love and other are a disappointment for me. It's probably due to my lack of a sophisticated palette but even the steaks are done in a different style and escargot in red wine sauce just doesn't cut it.

We had several reasons for taking this trip. First this is our first chance to sail on a Grand class ship which I have wanted to do for some time and just haven't either because of a lack of interest in the itinerary they were on. Or the expense of the travel just to repeat ports didn't seem to justify spending the money. Well here was an inexpensive chance so we took it even though this would be the 5th time into these ports. Also we are putting together a family reunion and have 25 people going on the Elation next May and all but one of our children live on the Pacific coast and all the adult grandchildren live in the west it will hold down the cost of travel. While I would prefer to take RCL the group deal on Carnival is much lower and only one of the kids and his family has cruised before and we know they will all have a great time on the Elation, which we've been on twice. After the disaster in Brazil I would have sworn that Diane would be off cruising for a long time. She even told the kids that was IT and the next thing I know one of my daughters and granddaughter brought our great grandson down from Oregon to ride Timothy the train for his third Birthday. The boy is crazy about the cartoon and the train was in Sacramento for some kind of promotion at the rail museum. While they were here another daughter came down from Tahoe and talk led to a reunion and first thing I know were back in the cruise mode, not that I mind. All the talk about the cruise a year off convinced Dian she had been shorted on the last cruise and we should go somewhere but close so Star Princess it was. While in Puerto Valletta we decided to check out the land excursion to Paradise jungle just to see if it was something the kids would like to do. Usually we just hire a cab and go sight seeing and we have been all over town before. The trip consists of a short stop for people to walk up to the Cathedral. We've Been there and done that so we went to a nearby glass shop instead and browsed till the bus picked us back up. Then the bus went out past Los Molines beach and went a few miles up dirt rode to the set of the Swartzenager movie Predator where we ate at a restraint set up by the river where a small waterfall creates a pool. We did not take hike up the canyon as nether of us has good balance and were a little old for scrambling over boulders. At the price I felt it was a total rip off and would warn the kids not to go. In Mazatlan we took the beach tour to see what you got and saw the same things we've seen for but at tent times the price. Again don't go with the ship get a cab go to the gold cost and eat either at a restaurant or one on the beach and if you want to go to the beach just do it there, the street venders will find you anyway as the beaches are all public and open. Diane chose to not go ashore in Cabo San Lucas and I just went into the flea market on the dock to get a shirt that I had meant to buy on the pier in Mazatlan but they have changed the area to shops and stands that sell souvenirs and my shirt man is gone. No luck in Cabo either.

About the entertainment we went to the Princess Theater only three times for the shows they have a state of the art stage with computerized scenery and built in lifts all over the stage. It's a far cry from the show rooms of 20 years ago and they give an interesting back stage tour that I highly recommend. While on the subject of the theater this one has the best sight lines of any I've been in at sea. My one complaint is that there are no handrails for the steep steps that alternate the size of the risers and are very difficult to negotiate in the dark and it's worse with trifocals according to Diane. The best seats are on the lower floor but if you use personal choice dinning there is no chance of getting one. If you come late you must sit high up in the back where you can see fine but the sound is overwhelming close to the speakers. The vista lounge is much more traditional and is quite good as a venue for comedians and the stage telescopes back to expose the dance floor. I only went up to the disco one night to see it at night and it is pretty when lit up but way to loud for me. The young people seem to love it. The famed moving walk way reminds me of Ceasers in Las Vegas it only goes in. We really liked the ship over all and would take a grand class dip again.


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