We boarded the Sun Princess on 10/20/01 en route to our once-in-a-lifetime Panama Canal adventure. We had been reassured that the mix up in our cabin category booking would be straightened out once we boarded the ship. Our request to the purser's office for an upgrade to an ocean view cabin was met with lack of interest by the young man behind the counter, but he said he would contact us later as he reviewed availability. Two hours later, when our luggage was delivered to our cabin we watched in disbelieve as we discovered that one of our suitecases was completely soaked, not with rain water, but with liquor-red wine? Barely one of the garments had escaped the strong smelling brew.
Again, I quickly ran down to the purser's office with the bad news. Unalarmed and offering little appology, a young lady this time, reassured me that the dry cleaners on board, in an overnight effort, would take care of cleaning the items. After listing every single item on the provided receipts, we handed them to the cabin steward. It was not to be until 32 hours later that I would be able to change the clothing I wore when I left home. More than this inconvenience, what hurt was the complete lack of sympathy expressed by anyone at the purser's office. They more than proved this two days later by informing us that an outside cabin was available but given their policy of no courtesy upgrades, it would cost us an extra $600. Needless to say, we declined, vowing to cross the Princess lines name off the list of all our future vacations.
Cabins and bathrooms are among the smallest we have found in any of our previous 12 cruises. Though these included added amenities such as a safe and refrigerator, lacking are other conveniences such as reading lights at bed side, bathroom cabinet, etc. The general layout in these cabins could use much improvement. After a first night's sleep I had to ask the cabin steward to turn over our mattresses as the springs were actually coming through. The carpet had a terrible shedding problem. The television in our cabin was no bigger than 13 inches. One evening while half into one of their featured films, the tape was stopped and never resumed. The following day no one had an explanation.
The food quality is definitely sub standard for a cruise line. Most tender cuts of meat are anything but tender. Baked potatos are microwaved into tasteless spuds. Apple pies are filled with anything but apples. Ditto for cherry pies and others. The secret remains with Princess as to the content in the filling of their fruit pies. Soups are always a mysterious 'cream of' that never taste like their name. Most of the main items in the menu of the 24-hour buffet were repeated at least three times during the 10-day period. To top it off, most hot foods are never hot, and ice cream is not on the menu but sold along with alcohol beverages in push-along carts about the Lido deck. And let me worn pizza lovers: Don't expect to get pizza as you know it at the pizza parlor. Pizza is not made to your specifications; you get what you get. My one and only order to try their vegetable creation uncovered a terrible concoction of canned mushrooms, onions and uncooked bean sprouts. No one among the passengers I spoke to about this could believe this was served, and least yet on a pizza!
Entertainment leaves much to be desired. Though the dancers and singers in the feature shows can be considered professionals, their shows are far from that. Production for most shows are cut-rate, skimping on props and the like. Only three main shows were featured during the 10-day cruise with repeated performances and other side shows as fillers. One of these side shows, the comedian juggler, was so bad that it was pure courtesy which kept us from walking out, though it didn't stop several others who boldly expressed their disapproval by doing just that. Given the large group of passengers available to sit during each show, neither the Princess theater nor the Vista lounge have the capacity to accomodate them, so unless we made it a point to arrive and sit at least thirty minutes in advance, we would miss the performance, as happened once.
After such negative experience during this trip we feel that there really is no scale to rate this Sun Princes cruise. So, in general, we rate it as a cut-rate cruise without the cut-rate price, but since the ship did get us to the Panama Canal as promised, one star seems appropriate.