Princess Cruises Star Princess Review
Aims for a consistent, if conventional, experience, catering to the masses, and delivering a little something for everyone
Two primary destinations are served by Star Princess—Alaska each summer and Hawaii in the winter—and a broad, mainstream audience lines up for the comfortable, if predictable cruise experience Princess excels in. What we didn’t expect was the serenade emanating from the walls of our cabin each evening.
As the third largest cruise line working the highs seas, Princess Cruises possesses a fleet of (mostly) big ships that deliver a consistent if conventional cruise experience. This cuts both ways. Our trip aboard Star Princess was certainly pleasant and the operation didn’t hit any rough patches, but in aiming for the broadest possible audience the cruise line is anything but surprising—a Princess cruise is the antithesis of edgy.
While there were no standouts among the ship’s four main restaurants, we had mostly good, if unexceptional dining experiences. The main dining rooms Amalfi, Capri and Portofino, where we took most of our meals, were consistent, and service was steady. The buffet venue Horizon Court showcased a decent array of food—not quite a broad range, but most of it changed daily so we never tired of eating here. Of the ship’s two surcharge venues, Crown Grill came out ahead, despite its harsh lighting. The meal was good—again, not exceptional—and the add-on for a steak dinner did not seem unreasonable. But our meal at Sabatini’s was disappointing, primarily for the lobster entrée that was, in a word, terrible.
Arriving on the scene in 2002, Star Princess was the third of nine vessels that make up Princess Cruises’ Grand Class—big ships that carry more than 2600 passengers apiece (at double occupancy). While there are lots of similarities between the Grand Class ships, as one of the earlier vessels Star Princess has a few distinguishing characteristics to show off, including a racy spoiler we found both amusingly retro and futuristic at the same time.
Our Interior Cabin was small and the décor was a bit bland, but it offered an economical cruise option—we were just glad not to be sharing the confined space with someone we didn’t get along with! For instance, other than the bed, there was only one place to sit in the bedroom (these quarters are just fine for singles). We did have an issue with sound leaking into our cabin from the Princess Theater below—light sleepers might want to pay careful attention to deck plans and cabin locations on this ship.
Would we sail on Star Princess again? Sure—the ship’s dining was generally decent, and service levels were above average, from a crew that was on the ball and engaging without being overbearing (one exception: the photography staff). The pool and deck areas were extensive and appealing, kept spic and span, and we enjoyed the variety of bars and lounges. We’d spring for a larger cabin, and we’d pay closer attention to the screening schedule for Movies Under the Stars, to catch up on a few flicks we might have missed in theatres. And we’d invite our extended family to come along for the ride. In catering to the masses, a clear strength of Princess Cruises is delivering a little something for everyone.
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