Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Princess Introduces Sudden New Fees and their Loyal Passengers Revolt



The Regal Princess debuted last week on its inaugural sailing without much fanfare.  Until…..

“Av8tor” doing a live thread on Cruise Critic for this sailing posted the following:  
Speaking of new surprise charges, they now have a mandatory $3 delivery charge for room service (it’s not just for pizza anymore)! First, they told us it’d be $3 to have the daily fruit delivered like we normally have. The fruit order card was the same as it used to be (no mention of any charge). When they told us about it, we assumed it was just a charge for the fruit, so we told them to just forget it. Then that night we ordered a pot of hot water for tea and that’s when they told us that all room service deliveries now had a $3 charge. I believe this is just on the Regal now, even though the Princess web site still describes room service as “complimentary. Another surprise charge is a .50 charge for “mixer” if you order a cocktail. So, now my Canadian Club and 7-Up drinks are billed as $6.25 alcohol plus .50 mixer for a new price of $6.75. Then the 15% gratuity is added on. I asked about this and one of the bartenders said it’s something new they started just this season. . I think this is a sign of things to come fleet wide.

Very quickly, I mean within the hour it was going viral. People were commenting on Cruise Critic, people were posting on my fan page click here, people were posting on Princess’ Facebook page asking if this was true.  It took a while for a response from Princess.  This was Friday of a long weekend in the U.S. but that evening a response from Princess came that in fact this was true and that it was only on the Regal.

This is where social media and the mobilization of loyal fans and their feelings came out. Princess’ customer service email was posted and people started sending emails to it and posting their email message on various social media sites.  Loyal Princess fans commented everywhere about their displeasure.

For me personally when I read of these new fees I was so disappointed.  I love Princess and was concerned that this line was becoming more of a pay for items on board.  Now this isn’t new on many cruise line.  Many lines charge for things like steak in dining room, movies in the cabin, room service at certain hours, dessert/finger foods, and specialty restaurants.  Princess isn’t new to this either with added costs for specialty restaurants, Sanctuary, Gelato and room service pizza.  But it was limited.

This year we noticed that the cost of the Sanctuary doubled from $10 for half day, $20 for full day to $20 for half day and $40 for full day.  We use to love to go to the Sanctuary time to time, but had found service there had dropped considerable the last few visits.  With that and the doubled price we no longer could justify the fee. 

We also noticed costs for drinks had gone up, Sabatinis had gone up in price too from $20 to $25 but we understand that prices do need to go up time to time just like at home.  
We haven’t sailed on a ship that has Alfredos yet but we looked forward to trying it in the future.  Alfredos is free, their website says it is complimentary.  Does this mean it is busy, probably, does it mean people abuse it, sure.  Should Princess implement a fee for this, maybe but if they were to introduce a fee it shouldn’t be sprung on us with no notice and only on one ship.  My thought is $5 would be fine.

To see pictures of Alfredos check out my album Alfredos pizza album

However the introduction of a fee for room service of $3 just ticked me off to no end.  Now I don’t do room service that often, but I don’t want to be nickeled and dime for things that normally are free.  Especially since I find Princess to have a very poor room service menu with limited options.  Still think Princess should be offering a full breakfast menu.  Currently many people take advantage of the breakfast room service option, especially on port days. The thought of many that would normally order room service would now go to the already crazy Horizon Court for breakfast or to the dining room can only make things worse in those two venues which my experience in the last few sailings is they booth need improvements. See my experience on the Crown Princess for 49 days for breakfast in the dining room.  

And ultimately the final annoyance was how it was introduced.  The Regal Princess is their new baby.  This is the Regal’s first sailing with customers.  No one on board was warned of these new fees prior to sailing, nor did Princess’ website show these fees.  When we make choices of what line to sail we decide on many reasons and added fees is one of them.

Since all this transpired on a Friday of a long weekend, posts after posts on Facebook, Twitter, Cruise Critic kept coming in. People were really getting angry. For me I was disappointed and well honestly I was hurt. I felt let down by Princess on how they were treating their most loyal passengers. My honey and I discussed what and how do we go forward. Currently we have five cruises booked with Princess and was thinking of doing two more this Fall. One of the trips was 30 days on a back to back to back on the Royal in January and we started looking at other options on other lines grudgingly.  

Read part two click here



Princess Introduces Sudden New Fees and their Loyal Passengers Revolt Part Two

To read part one first click here:  



Late on Sunday night I got a notification from Princess on Facebook of a response to my post. This is what it said:  Hi Vickie, we apologize for the frustrating situation this weekend. We value your loyalty, and we take your concerns to heart. Based on the feedback we've received, for the time being both room service and Alfredo’s pizzeria charges being trialed on Regal Princess will be halted. We acknowledge we need to provide our guests prior notification of any such changes to our onboard experience, and we promise to do this in the future.  

Note there was no comment from Princess about the added fee for mix in highballs.

Wow!  Obviously Princess took all our comments/emails seriously and responded quickly. Is it the answer I want, no not 100% but I am willing to celebrate this victory. It seems Princess thinks the main issue was how they implemented the fee with no notice, but I am not sure they understood that the added fees was also a big issue. That all the nickel and dime fees that they are looking at adding is not what their loyal fans want.  



The person (Av8tor) on Cruise Critic who is on the Regal’s inaugural cruise posted Monday that a letter was delivered to the cabin with the following comments: We did get a letter in our cabin regarding the Alfredo’s and room service charges. It said that the fees were part of a trial being conducted by Princess. They admitted that they’ve received negative feedback regarding the absence of pre-notification and due to that, the charges will be stopped!! It went on to say they would reverse the charges for people that already had the charges posted to their accounts. They said that in the future they will give guests sufficient prior notice as they continually review their on board product offerings and associated charges. I’m sure all the e-mails and FB posts helped to stop this (at least for now), so for all how helped: THANKS!

So for now it is a wait and see on what the future will hold. 

But never underestimate the power of people and how they can quickly mobilize to make change.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Laundry - Do It Yourself

Laundry, oh that dreaded word.  You are on vacation and WHAT you have to do laundry!  


Well no worries, Princess is one of the lines that has laundry facilities on board on each floor. Look for them on the map and note that sometimes it is faster to go to the facilities on the deck above or below than all the way to the other end of the ship on your floor.  

I won't get into the games, arguments, lines, quality of the laundry cause well I just don't do that, but rest assured getting a machine can be as hard as wining at trivia. My honey is the one who does it, he loves doing it, he does it often at home too so hey if it makes him happy.  



Each ship and deck can be different with the number of machines and how the room is laid out.  But basically you will find some washing machines, dryers, ironing boards and irons (set on a timer), dispensers for soap and dryer sheets/fabric softener and coin exchanger (note the newer ships now have a machine that will dispense a token and charge it to your on board account. 





We normally bring our own detergent that we buy when we get the port of embarkation or we buy detergent on board.  If the laundry doesn't have a token machine like above or doesn't have coins in the dispenser just take money down to Purser's Desk where they can help you, or even better the Casino can give you a roll of quarters for $10.  

I often will wash items in the sink in the bathroom and just hang in the cabin or on the deck to dry. I bring my laundry clips and hang over the back of the chairs, or put on hangers and hang from chairs, etc. Note Princess policy states that you are not to leave clothing items on balcony when not in the cabin. 

Also please I beg you don't do like the people did in the cabin above us on our last cruise. I don't want to see your underwear/socks/bra etc. If you are going to put your clothes out hang them so that others don't have to look at them. Our other friends had to look down at a large balcony on Dolphin deck that had numerous lines out with drying items. If this is a problem you can contact the Purser's Desk and they will contact the people and have them remove due to fire hazard.



Here are some tips:  

Try to squeeze out as much water as you can from your hand washables. I use the grip bar in the shower to twist my item around to squeeze excess water.  

Make sure you are aware and courteous when using the laundry facilities on board. Show up when your laundry is scheduled to be finished. I find starting a conversation with my fellow passengers is always a great way to ease the awkwardness and then people are more apt to be kind when they have a connection with you. Be patient too.

Follow the hours posted on the laundry facilities door. Note some ships lock the laundry facilities but others don't so to cut down on noise respect the hours. 

We often bring a bottle of detergent with us and we always have more than enough so we often will share with others. Yes sharing is a good thing my Mommy told me.

If the facilities are busy, come back later. Leave it for another time/day. Port days are usually a good time. If you are on a back to back I find turn around day to be the best time to get everything washed.

Our friends bring with them this collapsible laundry basket that they keep in their closet on board. We personally just use a plastic bag, or just the spot beside the plastic bag where the dirty item gets tossed to.  


To learn more about the cleaning services you can pay for on board, or the free elite laundry services click here.


Laundry!


One of the reasons we really wanted to get to Elite status in Princes' Loyalty Programs was so we could get free laundry. So after 150 days or 15 cruises you too can get laundry done, or you could book a full suite as they get it too.

In every cabin you will find a laundry paper bag (note suites get a cloth bag) and a laundry form. It is up to you to fill out the form. Trust me the first few times I didn't fill out the form and felt horrible when I found out that our cabin steward was itemizing our clothes without saying anything to us (we tipped him well that trip).  



You need to fill out your name, cabin number, date and note that for the free laundry you only get next day service.  If you want quick service you will have to pay for it.  But normally it takes just one day to get the laundry back, but be warned if there are a ton of Elite members on board it could take much much longer.  Case in point, our South America cruise where the ship was at least a third elite was taking up to four days for items to come back.

Back to the form... itemize your items.  Now there are two columns, one is for cleaning and one is for laundry.  Princess (nor most other cruise line) do professional dry cleaning services like you get at home. This is because of the harsh chemicals needed to do dry cleaning and Princess' Environmental policy.  Now they called it Professionally Cleaned Service and it seems to do the trick in a bind.  

After we have filled out the form we like to add up each column item total and mark it at the bottom of that column and then we add both columns and circle the number in the special instruction area.  The reason we do this is so we can easily check our items when they come back. Numerous times we have not had the right number of items returned. This is also an easy way for your Steward to check the total number too when they return your clothes to you.

When the main laundry gets the clothes they mark each item of clothing with a small tab, that has a unique number, on all your clothing items. These tabs are sticky and are usually placed on the zipper area of pants, hem or neck of tops.  Sometimes they use a safety pin to pin the tab on more fragile items.  Note that this tab will often leave a ink mark that seeps onto the cloth and so far nothing I have done at home has made it go away. One cruise they kept putting the tab in the front hem of shirts so the ink mark that remained was right in the middle of the shirt. I had to actually mark on my form do not put tab in front of shirts place at neck. Socks, bras and underwear are often washed in a mesh bag with your tab stuck to the mesh bag; however I have seen then stick tabs on our socks/underwear at times too.

If you are really wanting to get a mark out of your clothes I suggest pre soaking or using some kind of stain remover before putting it in the laundry. 9 times out of 10 the stain will not come out any ways. But no worries, take the item home and wash it at home and the stain will probably come out then.

Be warned the ship's laundry is not caring and loving to your clothing items. Do not put in anything you wouldn't be okay having destroyed. In the past few years we have noticed a dramatic increase in small holes that seem to appear in our clothes after they have been returned. Here is a shot of my Tommy Bahamas pull over that came back from the laundry with three little holes in it. I didn't notice these holes till after I got home and I have no idea what causes this. If I would of noticed this on the ship I would of taken the item to the Purser's desk for some compensation.  



I have heard of some horror stories of items that have come back from the laundry with stains, rips, missing, you name it. One time we got someone else's swimming trunks.

The ship states that if you have a problem with your clothing that you have to report it within 48 hours after delivery and that you must have the laundry ticket. They are not responsible for colors running, fading or shrinking (running of colors is a big problem we have encountered). Shrinking is a big issue too but that may have to do with the dessert I ate and not the laundry. Also Princess will reimburse you for your item, but they will only reimburse you to a maximum of ten times the amount charged for cleaning the item.  

Note if you have any problem with your laundry items that have been returned your first person to check with is your Steward. They will often be able to rectify any issue easily or direct you to the appropriate person, so start with them.

Laundry on Princess is hit or miss, and seems to have gotten a lot worse since we started getting things done there. We still love the service and we still use it but I am much more cautious of what I put in and do a lot more of my own laundry either by hand in the sink or at the passenger laundry.  

Overall it is a great service and I am glad I have it.

To read more about Passenger Laundry facilities on board click here.





Monday, May 12, 2014

Over 5,000 Days at Sea - Wow


I just heard today from one of my Facebook Fans on my page Cruising Princess Cruiseline With Vickie that Princess' Most Travelled Passenger Lorraine Arzt had passed away. Here is the Link to the story that was posted.  

Lorraine Arzt had over 5,000 days at sea with Princess.  She was so loyal to Princess that they even named her God Mother of the Royal Princess in 2007.  

I had never met Lorraine but I knew many crew that spoke of her.  She was a fixture on the Royal with "her" own cabin.  She personalized her cabin with items from home to make it more personal.

After her husband passed away she continued to travel alone.  She would request certain crew to accompany her for dinners, to shows and even to excursions on shore.

Crew commented to me that she was lovely and tough, demanding and caring, sweet and harsh.  I guess that can describe most passengers.

I know my partner and I often talk about what it would be like to live on board a Princess ship, but to actually know someone was doing it was kind of neat.  

My condolences go out to the Arzt family for their loss.  And when I say family I also mean her Princess family.



Sunday, May 11, 2014

Cruise Card -- What Does It All Mean



You ever wonder what all this information on your cruise card means?  

As soon as you check in you are given a cruise card.  This is invaluable on board.  It allows you to enter your cabin as a key card, it may even keep the lights on in your cabin.  On the Royal and Regal Princess there is a small slot as soon as you enter your cabin to put a cruise card, this means someone is in the cabin and this allows you to use the overhead lights.  


There are four different colored cruise cards.  The different colors represent the Captain Circle Loyalty level you are in.

If it is blue:  first time cruising Princess, but can also mean crew, or someone sailing as one of the crew's friends and family

If it is gold:  you are sailing on your 2nd to 3rd Princess Cruise

If it is ruby: you are sailing on your 4th to 5th Princess cruise or you have sailed over 30 days.

If it is platinum:  you are sailing on your 6th to 15th Princess cruise or you have sailed over 50 days

If it is elite:  you have sailed over 15 times with Princess or you have sailed over 150 days with the line. 

To learn more about the Captain Circle Program Click Here.

At the top of the card, it states you are on the Golden Princess and you are Elite.

Next comes what voyage number this is.  Princess assigns a voyage number to every cruise, this number will be on your cruise documentation, and on ever bill you sign.  To the right is your Muster Station, here it is Muster Station C.

Your full name then appears and your folio number. 

Whenever you buy something you present your card and the crew enter your folio number in the system and the bill will show your full name and your folio number.  It is key to check each bill and the overall bill to ensure that they have entered the correct folio number, mistakes do happen but they are rare.  If a bill shows up that is not something you recognize on your overall statement take to Purser's desk where they can pull up that exact bill and you can see what the bill was for and the signature.  If it is not your signature you can dispute the bill easily.

Next line shows what dining room you have been assigned to. For us we had anytime dining so we are showing this as Any Dining Room that has Anytime Dining.  The far right is the dates of the voyage.

The last line shows your dining room table assignment, again since we have Anytime Dining we are showing Any.  If you had fixed seating it would show your dining room and your table assignment here.

Then on the far right is the total number of Princess Cruises you have taken.  In this case this person has done 43 sailing, the current voyage is number 44 for him.  The A just means you are an Adult.

No where on the card does it state your cabin number.  This is for your protection.  If the card is lost no one can pick it up and access your cabin cause they don't know the cabin number.  

The card can become demagnetized quite easily so keep it away from any magnet and even those magnets you don't think of, like the clasp in your wallet or the cover for your Ipad.  If it does become inoperable just visit the purser's desk and have them issue you a new one.





Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Cruising Video Channel

Did you know Cruising Princess Cruiseline with Vickie has a Youtube channel?  




Link to Youtube Channel

About a year ago I decide to put to use some of the videos I had created while sailing.  Here you will find everything from

My Must Haves to Take on a Cruise

My Cruise Organizer and Planner

Italian Night

Snorkelling with Turtles in Barbados

King Penguins in the Falklands

Packing Tips with Ebags

And many more.

Thanks for checking.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

The Big 50! In More Ways Than One

Yup I know you are shocked.... how can she be turning 50? Okay stop laughing!  And it doesn't happen till next year!  

I still have a year to go.  But not only is it the big 50, it is also our 20th Wedding Anniversary too.

For the past year my honey (aka Bernie) has been saying we need to do something special to celebrate two great milestones.  So we have been contemplating where to go.  

A few obstacles were in the way though.  Our anniversary is in July, and my birthday is August.  But next year (well most years) it is very difficult for us to get time off in the summer, and especially long stretches off in the summer. So we had to think about Fall itineraries.  

There are many areas we considered. Northern Europe, Australia, Asia, South America and Mediterranean.  

What we wanted was a "wow" vacation, to somewhere we maybe haven't been to.  One where we could see lots of amazing ports but also get in a good rest and come back to work rested.  

After many months of searching over itineraries I finally decided.  

Mediterranean and Trans Atlantic.  

We have never done either.  I know how crazy... but there were other areas that interested us more and the Med is more of a summer holiday and is never a restful holiday (or at least I knew I would try and do too much).  But after much consideration and chatting with numerous friends who have done them we both agreed to try it.  The real bonus was that the Island Princess would be doing this itinerary. This is great for us as we like the more intimate feeling of that ship and the ease of getting around.  Also this size would enable us to go to Venice due to their new size ship rules.

Adding the Trans Atlantic crossing will ensure we are rested and ready to return to work.

Here is the itinerary, leaving October 25, 2015 



Next it came down to what type of cabin do we want?  Well for such a great trip a balcony was due.  We had considered a mini suite but the price point was too high and with such a port intensive itinerary we figured (at least for the first leg) we wouldn't be in the cabin much any ways.

We settled on a BE balcony, on Emerald deck.  We actually picked the exact cabin we had once on the Panama cruise. Here is a link to that cruise 2009 Panama Canal Cruise.  We loved that cabin.  Just above the Promenade, no one below us, little noise, and we loved being lower down closer to the water.  

We booked this voyage as two segments so we would get more on board credits.  This is because we would now get to Loyalty credits ($75 each leg), on board credit from Future Cruise Deposit, and Stock Credit from each leg too.  The price for the cruise in two segments was a little more but still in the end worked out to much cheaper when you add in the on board credits.  We are able to book the same cabin for both legs too.  Although they do sell as one 31 day cruise too.

Now the kicker is the second leg of this cruise (as of right now) will be my 50th Princess Cruise!  A milestone cruise that is celebrated with Princess.  Nothing better than celebrating my 50th birthday with my 50th Princess cruise!  

If you care to join us, contact your travel agent for details and we will see you on board.