Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2017 (Berlitz Cruise Guide) (2016)
Ship: 371 out of 500
Accommodation: 147 out of 200
Food: 247 out of 400
Service: 284 out of 400
Entertainment: 77 out of 100
Cruise: 291 out of 400
Overall Score: 1417 out of 2000
Star Princess Statistics
Size: Large Resort Ship
Cruise Line: Princess Cruises
Former Names: none
IMO Number: 9192363
Builder: Fincantieri (Italy)
Original Cost: $460 million
Entered Service: Feb 2002
Length (ft/m): 951.4/290.0
Beam (ft/m): 118.1/36.0
Draft (ft/m): 26.2/8.0
Propulsion/Propellers: diesel-electric (42,000kW)/2
Passenger Decks: 13
Total Crew: 1,200
Passengers (lower beds): 2,602
Passenger Space Ratio (lower beds): 41.8
Passenger/Crew Ratio (lower beds): 2.3
Cabins (total): 1,301
Size Range (sq ft/m): 161.4-1,314.0/15.0-122.0
Cabins (for one person): 0
Cabins (with private balcony): 711
Cabins (wheelchair accessible): 28
Wheelchair accessibility: Best
Cabin Current: 110 volts
Casino (gaming tables): Yes
Slot Machines: Yes
Swimming Pools: 3
Hot Tubs (on deck): 9
Self-Service Launderette: Yes
Dedicated Cinema/Seats: No
Onboard currency: US$
This large, multiple choice, resort ship is for the whole family
Overview. Star Princess is a grand resort playground, with many choices and ‘small’ rooms to enjoy. It is extremely well designed and competitively priced. The odds are that you’ll have a fine time, in a controlled, well-packaged way.
The Ship. The design for this large cruise ship, whose sister ships are Golden Princess and Grand Princess (and slightly larger half-sister Caribbean Princess), presents a bold, forthright profile, with a racy ‘spoiler’ effect at its galleon-like transom stern (the ‘spoiler’ acts as a stern observation lounge by day, and a stunning discotheque by night).
There is a good sheltered faux teak promenade deck - it’s actually painted steel - which almost wraps around (three times round is equal to one mile) and a walkway which goes right to the ship’s enclosed bow. The outdoor pools have various beach-like surroundings. One lap pool has a pumped ‘current’ to swim against.
Unlike the outside decks, there is plenty of space inside the ship - but there are also plenty of passengers - and a wide array of public rooms, with many ‘intimate’ (this being a relative word) spaces and places to play. The passenger flow has been well thought-out, and works well. The decor is attractive, with lots of earth tones, well suited to North American and European tastes.
Four areas center on swimming pools, one of which is two decks high and is covered by a glass dome, itself an extension of the funnel housing.
The Grand Casino has more than 260 slot machines; there are blackjack, craps, and roulette tables, plus other games. But the highlight could well be the specially linked slot machines that provide a combined payout.
Other facilities include a decent library/computer room, and a separate card room. Ship lovers should enjoy the wood-paneled Wheelhouse Bar, finely decorated with memorabilia and ship models tracing part of the history of sister company P&O; this ship highlights the 1950-built cargo ship Ganges. A sports bar, Shooters, has two billiard tables, as well as eight television screens.
The dress code is either formal or ‘smart casual,’ the latter interpreted by many as jeans and trainers. Daily per-person gratuities are automatically added to your account, for both adults and children. To have these charges adjusted, you’ll need to line up at the reception desk.
Passenger niggles? The cabin bath towels are small, and drawer space is negligible. There are no butlers - even for top-grade suites. Cabin attendants have too many cabins to look after - typically 20 - which doesn’t translate to fine personal service. The automated telephone system is frustrating, and luggage delivery is inefficient.
Families. For children, there is a two-deck-high playroom, teen room, and a host of specially trained counselors. Children have their own pool, hot tub, and open deck area at the stern, thankfully away from adult areas. There are good netted-in areas; one section has a dip pool, while another has a mini-basketball court.
Accommodation. There are six principal types of cabins and configurations: (a) grand suite, (b) suite, (c) mini-suite, (d) outside-view double cabin with balcony, (e) outside-view double cabin, and (f) interior double cabin. These come in 35 different price categories - the choice is bewildering. Note that the interior (no-view) cabins and standard ocean-view cabins are extremely small. Some cabins can accommodate a third and fourth person in upper berths, although the lower beds cannot then be pushed together to make a queen-size bed.
All cabins get turndown service and chocolates on pillows each night, bathrobes on request, and toiletry kits (larger for suite/mini-suite occupants). A hairdryer is provided in all cabins, sensibly located at the vanity desk unit in the living area. All bathrooms have tiled floors, and there is a decent amount of open shelf storage space for toiletries, although the plain beige decor is very basic and unappealing. Princess Cruises typically carries CNN, CNBC, ESPN, and TNT, when available, on the in-cabin television system.
Lifeboats obstruct most outside-view cabins on Emerald Deck. Your name is placed outside your suite or cabin in a documents holder - making it simple for delivery service personnel but privacy-insensitive. There is 24-hour room service, though some items on the menu are not available during early morning hours.
Almost all balcony suites and cabins can be overlooked both from the navigation bridge wing, as well as from the port and starboard sections of the ship’s discotheque - located high above the ship at the stern. Cabins with balconies on Dolphin, Caribe, and Baja decks are also overlooked by passengers on balconies on the deck above. They are, therefore, not at all private. However, perhaps the least desirable balcony cabins are eight balcony cabins located forward on Emerald Deck, as the balconies don’t extend to the side of the ship and can be passed by walkers and gawkers on the adjacent Upper Promenade walkway, so occupants need to keep their curtains closed most of the time. Also, passengers in some the most expensive suites with balconies at the stern may experience vibration during certain ship maneuvers.
Dining. For formal meals there are three principal dining rooms: Amalfi, with 504 seats; Capri, with 486 seats; and Portofino, with 486 seats. Seating is assigned according to your cabin location. There are two seatings in Amalfi, while Capri and Portofino offer ‘anytime dining’ - so you choose when and with whom you want to eat. All three are split into multi-tier sections in a non-symmetrical design that breaks them into small sections. Each dining room has its own galley.
While four elevators go to Fiesta Deck where the Amalfi and Portofino restaurants are located, only two elevators go to Plaza Deck 5 where the Capri Restaurant is located; this can cause long wait problems at peak times, particularly for anyone in a wheelchair.
Specially designed dinnerware and high-quality linens and silverware are used in the main dining rooms; by Dudson of England (dinnerware), Frette Egyptian cotton table linens, and silverware by Hepp of Germany. Note that 15 percent is automatically added to all beverage bills, including wines.
Other dining options. There are two extra-charge restaurants: Sabatini’s and Tequila’s, both open for lunch and dinner on days at sea. Sabatini’s, with colorful tiled Mediterranean-style decor, serves Italian-style pizzas and pastas, with a variety of sauces, plus Italian-style entrées including tiger prawns and lobster tail. All provided with flair and entertainment from by the staff of waiters. Reservations are required.
Tequila’s features southwestern American’ food (a cover charge applies for lunch or dinner) on sea days only. It is spread over the ship’s entire width and two walkways intersect it, which means that it’s a very open area, with people walking through it as you eat - not a comfortable arrangement. Reservations are needed.
A poolside hamburger grill and pizza bar (no additional charge) are dining spots for casual bites. But it costs extra to eat at the coffee bar/patisserie, or the caviar/ Champagne bar.
Other casual meals can be taken in the Horizon Court, open 24 hours a day. It has large ocean-view windows on port and starboard sides and direct access to the two main swimming pools and Lido Deck. There is no real finesse in presentation, however, as plastic plates (no trays) are provided.
Entertainment. The Princess Theater is the showlounge; it spans two decks and has comfortable seating on both levels. It has $3 million worth of sound and light equipment, and a live showband to accompany the colourful production shows for which Princess Cruises is well known.
The Vista Lounge, a second entertainment lounge, has cabaret acts such as magicians, comedy jugglers, and ventriloquists at night, and lectures, bingo, and horse racing during the day. Explorers, a third lounge, can also host cabaret acts and dance bands. Various other lounges and bars have live music, and Princess Cruises has a number of male dance hosts as partners for women traveling alone.
Spa/Fitness. The Lotus Spa has Japanese-style decor, and surrounds one of the swimming pools. You can have a massage or other spa treatment in an ocean-view treatment room. Some of the massage treatment rooms are located directly underneath the jogging track.