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Old 01-03-2014, 08:56 PM   #76
kehonuamemano
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long overdue trip review

The trip Itinerary:

Thursday 11-Jul Venice, Italy 11:59AM
Friday 12-Jul Venice, Italy 12:00AM 06:00PM
Saturday 13-Jul At Sea
Sunday 14-Jul Dubrovnik, Croatia 07:00AM 05:00PM
Monday 15-Jul Corfu, Greece 08:00AM 06:00PM
Tuesday 16-Jul Katakolon, Greece 07:00AM 04:00PM
Wednesday 17-Jul Piraeus, Greece 06:00AM 05:45PM
Thursday 18-Jul Mykonos, Greece 01:00AM 06:00PM
Friday 19-Jul Kusadasi, Turkey 08:00AM 05:00PM
Saturday 20-Jul Santorini, Greece 07:00AM 06:00PM
Sunday 21-Jul At Sea
Monday 22-Jul Naples, Italy 07:00AM 06:00PM
Tuesday 23-Jul Civitavecchia, Italy 04:00AM

Unfortunately, due to a delay leaving Boston we missed our connection to Venice. It was quite a pain in the bottom I mean adventure, but I will try and keep this review to just the Princess Cruise experience.

Although it was no fault of the cruise line, they were not very helpful or accessible when our flight was delayed. After 11pm they connect you to someone who is in Australia. And even though we purchased our tickets through Princess we had to work directly with the airline. Delta was able to move us over to Air Italia leaving JFK airport the next day and we were able to make it to the ship on the 12th. I don’t know first-hand how this compares to Disney but I’ve heard Disney has better customer service when it comes to delays and cancelations of flights.

After this inauspicious beginning, we arrived in Venice a day late. We took a taxi to the cruise port as suggested by our travel agent. It was around 30 Euros with tips and we were there in about a half an hour. We didn’t expect a welcome committee given that we were a day late, however we waited a good 30 minutes before we the gate employees figured out whom to call to let us on the ship. We certainly weren’t the only family that were delayed so it was a bit odd that they seemed put out that we were arriving a day late.

We were finally let on the ship and vaguely directed to our room. The room was considerable smaller; we were prepared for this, however we weren’t prepared for the fact that our room was a two twin beds only configuration. This was a buzz kill given it was our wedding anniversary. Our choice to go with Princess wasn’t looking so great at this moment. Jet lagged, travel worn, and irritated with each other we decided that I would explore Venice and my husband and daughter would hit the pool. It was nearly 100 degrees in Venice that day.

I won’t go into detail with the ports or the port itinerary other than the rest of the trip went as expected re: port adventures. It was on par with Disney as far as organization, meeting spots, tour guides, etc. The only issue was the port adventures desk was not available as often as Disney. When we wanted to add a port adventure or cancel a day we weren’t feeling so great, it was difficult to access the Port Adventures desk. They were open when we weren’t on the ship.

Princess vs. Disney

Food: Ruby Princess
Food is more readily available on the Ruby Princess and is of a higher quality than what is served on the Disney Magic. The International Café on Deck 5 is open 24hrs and serves sandwiches, desserts, and salads 24 hours a day. We choose traditional dining which meant we had the same serving team every night in the same restaurant. While we missed the rotational dining on Disney, but the nightly dinner on the Ruby Princess varied each night and every meal was pretty good. During the day we relied heavily on the buffet on Princess, Horizon Court. I rarely ever eat at Topsider’s on the Disney Magic because I’ve eaten several truly yucky items. Although, I do think Cabanas on the Disney Fantasy is a marked improvement and Horizon Court on the Ruby Princess is on par or better than the buffet on Disney Fantasy.

Family Activities: Disney Magic
It’s possible we were completely missing the boat here, pun intended but I don’t honestly believe there was one family activity on the Princess Cruise. There were tons of kids on our cruise, I asked the cruise staff and they said there were over 170 kids in the 3-9 ranges alone on the ship. I guess that’s a lot for non-Disney cruises. Princess had many activities such as karaoke, game night, bingo etc. but it was mainly for older kids 17 and up.

Kid Activities: Disney Magic
It goes without saying that Disney caters to kids and they really know how to bring the magic in everything making it an unbelievable time for the kids. With that being said, my daughter swears she preferred the club on the Princess mainly I think because they have an outdoor space. Or it’s possible she felt more one on one attention. She is 7, she doesn’t go into detail.

For us adults, the hours of operation for the clubs were problematic because they were closed for lunch, dinner, and closed at 10pm. On port days you have to let them know a day in advance if you will be off the ship and it was limited to around 25 kids. We hadn’t planned on leaving her at all while on the ship but it was extremely hot while in Naples and my daughter wanted to return to the ship about 15 minutes away into our exploration. My husband went back to the ship with her and I explored Naples alone.

The Ruby Princess has 3 pools; one for adults only located in the sanctuary and the other 2 starts off at 5 feet 1 inch and goes up to 7 feet and a few inches. This is great for the teens and the adults; however for parent with small children no so much. My daughter was 6 at the time and while she has taken swimming lessons and is not afraid to jump in the deep end of the pool, one of us had to be in the pool at all times. We are helicopter parents so we are always near and she is always in sight when in any pool but it was a bit inconvenient to be wet for several hours every day.

Adult Activities: Ruby Princess
The nightly show was really for adults, or children near adult age. Casino, bingo, art, games at the pool-all adult. We went to Beatles night with our daughter but other than that we spent most of the evening hours in the pool before getting ready for our Late Dining. If we were traveling sans child we would have had a blast. No chance of doing much when the kids club closes at 10pm.

Service: Disney Magic
The service on the Ruby Princess is similar to Disney Magic. Dining staffs were really amazing and very thorough when it came to my gluten allergy. The stateroom attendant was cordial and thorough. The difference was the professionalism of the staff. We are not the Lord and Countess of Grantham but it was interesting to note that that staff of the ship eat at dining areas at the same times as guests. This probably makes sense for efficiency but the staff on our cruise tended to coral in large groups, take up several tables, and talk pretty loudly. We also witnessed PDA from several staff couples in uniform, gossip on the deck, and grossly male staff clearly ogling and pointing at 14-year-old girls. Having only traveled on Disney, this was all a shock.

The Ship: Ruby Princess
Ruby Princess is a newer ship, having been built in 2008 to Disney Magic’s 1998. The Internet service is noticeable faster than on the Disney Magic, easier to login and they have better packages of time available. The library was a true library with great books to check out for the cruise. The art for sale was nicer, with recognizable artists and even some Disney items. The movie under the stars outdoors theatre was a nice treat at the end of the night. It’s designed to keep the wind out and they provided warm blankets and warm cookies and milk during the show, along with popcorn and pizza. The gym is larger with more cardio machines available and Spin classes available on sea days.

The Itinerary: Ruby Princess
Compared to DCL’s Mediterranean itinerary, we definitely feel like we had a chance to see a larger more varied areas of Eastern Europe.

The Verdict:

We will stick with Disney for the next couple of years. We don’t regret choosing Princess over Disney for this particularly trip and are willing to consider another Princess cruise when DD is a little older (God help the man that ogles our DD in front of my Army DH) or for the right itinerary. However, we would definitely upgrade to a higher category room, which may negate some of the cost savings that influenced our decision to go to Princess in the first place.
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Old 01-03-2014, 09:26 PM   #77
Wish I lived in Fl
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Thank you for the report

What a stressful start to a vacation!

Thank you for the comparison of the cruise lines.

I have my first non Disney cruise in March for our 30th anniversary. I tried so hard to make a Disney cruise work financially but had to give up and so we are travelling Celebrity Silhouette instead.

For 2015 I have a Disney Fantasy cruise booked but depending on how the Celebrity cruise goes I may cancel DCL and choose a different cruise line.
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Old 01-03-2014, 10:10 PM   #78
lovedisneycruise
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"Service: Disney Magic
The service on the Ruby Princess is similar to Disney Magic. Dining staffs were really amazing and very thorough when it came to my gluten allergy. The stateroom attendant was cordial and thorough. The difference was the professionalism of the staff. We are not the Lord and Countess of Grantham but it was interesting to note that that staff of the ship eat at dining areas at the same times as guests. This probably makes sense for efficiency but the staff on our cruise tended to coral in large groups, take up several tables, and talk pretty loudly. We also witnessed PDA from several staff couples in uniform, gossip on the deck, and grossly male staff clearly ogling and pointing at 14-year-old girls. Having only traveled on Disney, this was all a shock."


Thanks so much for your review! I am a newbie to this forum, having recently joined Cruise Critic too. I have only sailed Disney, and your comments above convince me it's right for me. I would be disgusted if I witnessed this on a cruise, and I would definitely email and share this with Princess.

All 3 Disney cruises I have been on crewmembers have shown nothing but respect to us and each other. Disney definitely trains them right!
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Old 01-12-2014, 08:48 PM   #79
kehonuamemano
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wish I lived in Fl View Post
What a stressful start to a vacation! Thank you for the comparison of the cruise lines. I have my first non Disney cruise in March for our 30th anniversary. I tried so hard to make a Disney cruise work financially but had to give up and so we are travelling Celebrity Silhouette instead. For 2015 I have a Disney Fantasy cruise booked but depending on how the Celebrity cruise goes I may cancel DCL and choose a different cruise line.
The cost was the biggest factor for us. We booked another DCL vacation for less than the price difference of this trip! And it's being paid off with mostly Disney points. We sail on the magic
in October on the southern caribe. Itinerary.
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Old 01-12-2014, 10:27 PM   #80
JCinMN
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Smile

I just saw this thread and didn't realize your decision was made last year. If I would have seen it in time, I would have heartily recommended Princess over DCL for the trips you were considering.

I'm platinum on Princess and have done a Barcelona/Venice 12 day Med cruise (before I had a child) and a 7 day Alaksa cruise also on Princess, with a 5 year old child. As the Med is so port intensive, to me the ports are the most important thing, not the ship. That being said, I find the Princess ships a nice mix of nice without being over the top glitzy/gaudy. My DD LOVED the kids club on Princess (not as much on our HAL cruise). The club room are no where near as 'cool' as on a Disney ship (from the pics- our first sailing is coming up soon), but there is much more individual attention when the kids are in the club. My DD came home with tons of craft projects after each session, received a nice stuffed animal and a t-shirt, all with no extra charges (in addition to pirate 'gear', face paint and treasure one night). I know she will be impressed with the lab/club on the Fantasy, but I'm worried she will miss all she was able to do on Princess. [She enjoyed the HAL club on our New England/Canada trip, but not nearly as much as Princess, and she didn't receive a quarter of the loot she received on Princess.]

We are the type who would always take our child with us on excursions, so needing a club that can watch a child the entire day while we are off the ship is not something we look for in a cruise, so we just care about the club availability on sea days and after dinner. Six of us missed the ship in Naples on a private excursion (long story) and I couldn't imagine that happening if I'd (or any of us had) left a child behind on board.

Thanks for your comparison update. It was definitely helpful for me and I can't wait to see how DCL compares to my Princess experience.

For others reading this, who may be considering a similar situation, please know that in all my cruises on Princess, I have never seen improper 'canoodling' among staff members, nor anyone but officers eating in the public dining rooms and Horizon Court (buffet) areas. The best service I've received has been on Princess ships. We'll see shortly how Disney compares. :-) I believe Princess has a great buffet (as you mentioned) that is open early to late. On other lines, I've had times I wanted a snack and had no options but room service. Not so on Princess.

Hopefully you figured out that the twin beds can be easily converted into a 'king' upon your request. Just ask the room steward. They try to have it correct if you note your preference in your reservation, but will fix it immediately if it is wrong and you let them know. I find the Princess beds most comfortable (as a twin or a king) and it is nice to have the option to have either configuration, vs the single queen bed arrangement on Disney. I've cruised with friends before and sharing the main bed would have been problematic.

I've always found the Princess cabins to be well laid out with plenty of storage and with a dorm size refrigerator in the room. I've been in the smallest inside room, had balcony cabins and a mini-suite. The Disney square footage of a balcony room seemed pretty comparable to the Princess balcony room, but it may depend upon the ship. The downside of Princess cabins is they do not have a nice curtain separating the sleeping area for the 3rd+ person(s) as Disney does.

I'm guessing you'll still find Princess more affordable than Disney even if you upgrade your room. Plus, the itineraries on Princess will be much more varied as far as ports, which is a big reason why we cruise (to see new places).

Anyway, glad you had a good trip after a bumpy start. Sailing in and out of Venice is a once in a lifetime event which may disappear soon, so I'm glad you were able to experience it.

Can't wait to hear about the excursions you took, especially from your daughter's perspective, as mine is close in age.

Thanks for the update!
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On Deck: Disney Magic June 2015 (Norwegian Fjords)
Disney Fantasy March 2014 (Eastern Caribbean)
HAL Maasdam July 2012 (Canada/New England)
Island Princess June 2011 (Alaska)
Louis Cruises Aquamarine July 2008 (Greek Islands)

Tahitian Princess February 2005 (Tahiti honeymoon)
Golden Princess May 2003 (Mediterranean)
Golden Princess January 2002 (Eastern Caribbean)
Sea Princess March 2001 (Western Caribbean)
Carnival Inspiration March 1997 (Southern Caribbean)
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Old 01-13-2014, 09:18 AM   #81
kehonuamemano
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thank you for reminding me of other good stuff on the Princess

Quote:
Originally Posted by JCinMN View Post
My DD came home with tons of craft projects after each session, received a nice stuffed animal and a t-shirt, all with no extra charges (in addition to pirate 'gear', face paint and treasure one night). I know she will be impressed with the lab/club on the Fantasy, but I'm worried she will miss all she was able to do on Princess.
Agreed. She did love all of the stuff, the face painting, and the adopt-a-whale stuffed animal. Thank you for reminding me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JCinMN View Post
For others reading this, who may be considering a similar situation, please know that in all my cruises on Princess, I have never seen improper 'canoodling' among staff members, nor anyone but officers eating in the public dining rooms and Horizon Court (buffet) areas.
Good to know. Hopefully we won't experience this again.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JCinMN View Post
Hopefully you figured out that the twin beds can be easily converted into a 'king' upon your request. Just ask the room steward. They try to have it correct if you note your preference in your reservation, but will fix it immediately if it is wrong and you let them know.
We immediately asked to switch to queen but they said they were unable to do so in our stateroom.
Quote:
Originally Posted by JCinMN View Post
I've always found the Princess cabins to be well laid out with plenty of storage and with a dorm size refrigerator in the room. I've been in the smallest inside room, had balcony cabins and a mini-suite. The Disney square footage of a balcony room seemed pretty comparable to the Princess balcony room, but it may depend upon the ship.
We did feel there was much more storage space on the Princess than DCL Magic, although it's comparable to the Fantasy. But we missed the split bathrooms that are nearly standard on DCL.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JCinMN View Post
I'm guessing you'll still find Princess more affordable than Disney even if you upgrade your room. Plus, the itineraries on Princess will be much more varied as far as ports, which is a big reason why we cruise (to see new places).
Definitely.
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Old 01-13-2014, 05:44 PM   #82
JCinMN
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Oh, that is too bad you had a room where the beds could not change. Maybe due to the bunk above? We booked a mini suite to ensure the sofa bed for our daughter and to guarantee the large bed for us. So many details to figure out when selecting a cabin.

Glad to hear you did not regret your decision in the end!

Happy sailing!
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On Deck: Disney Magic June 2015 (Norwegian Fjords)
Disney Fantasy March 2014 (Eastern Caribbean)
HAL Maasdam July 2012 (Canada/New England)
Island Princess June 2011 (Alaska)
Louis Cruises Aquamarine July 2008 (Greek Islands)

Tahitian Princess February 2005 (Tahiti honeymoon)
Golden Princess May 2003 (Mediterranean)
Golden Princess January 2002 (Eastern Caribbean)
Sea Princess March 2001 (Western Caribbean)
Carnival Inspiration March 1997 (Southern Caribbean)
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