Recently, I sailed on Enchanted Princess, which boasts the slogan #OurWorldEnchanted. But it was not the enchanting experience that Princess cruises usually provide! Let me tell you all about it.
If I had to sum up boarding in one word it would be chaotic! Despite the chaos, it was strangely efficient and boarding was relatively quick. On arrival, there was no queue outside the terminal so the suitcases were dropped off and we progressed to check-in. The check-in line was so long that it resembled a queue at Walt Disney World…
When you reached the front of this queue, it was almost impossible to tell what you would do next. The gate agents had been arranged in two lines facing each other; so as passengers checked in they formed an almost impenetrable clump. Bizarrely, once they had checked you in they did not hand you a medallion! You then had to go queue in another line to retrieve that. Afterward, you were instructed to sit down before passing through security. But no numbers or groupings were issued, and people just went through security as and when they pleased.
Once again priority boarding for Platinium and Elite guests was not observed! Despite the fact that Princess is still advertising this as a loyalty perk.
Enchanted Princess very closely resembles her sister Sky Princess, whom I sailed on in June, you can read all about that experience here. She is beautiful and timeless with bright bold splashes of blue – that pay tribute to the blue livery of the sea princess that is splashed across the bow of every Princess ship.
I was glad to see that Crooners had been reinstated after I had missed it sorely on Sky Princess. However, the seating could do with a re-design so that this popular venue could seat more guests! At times it seemed almost impossible to get a seat as if people set up camp for the evening and simply refused to move. I was also pleased to see that Princess had finally removed Vines! I have never seen the Tapas venue used for its intended purpose…So I was glad to see that it had been replaced by the modern and charming Salty Dog Gastropub.
Once again we had an inside cabin, is anyone else team inside? If you read my blog regularly you will know that I love an inside cabin and that I am particularly fond of how Princess’ cabins are laid out. A weird quirk of an inside is when there are three of you in an inside cabin often the crew claim it is against health and safety to make the two lower beds into a Queen. Can anyone explain this to me? Surely, if the person in the upper berth fell out of bed it would be safer for them to land on their family members…By keeping two twin beds if the person in the upper berth falls out of bed they are going to land on the steel floor of the cabin. Ouch! Anyway, three single beds it was! No harm, no foul.
Do you know what was harmful? How noisy our cabin was! Let this be a warning to you if you are in a cabin with an interconnecting door the soundproofing is shocking. We heard every single thing that our neighbors did. If you have quiet neighbors then this will be absolutely fine, if your neighbors are noisy then you are going to have to exercise a lot of patience. If you are in an interconnecting cabin best pack some earplugs just encase.
The traditional entertainment, which is led by the cruise staff was really not to my taste on this sailing. Simply because Aaron was simply not a patch on Paul Chandler Burns! However, entertainment in other parts of the ship was simply breathtaking…
Let’s take a moment to talk about 5-Sk1ES! This is the best production show I have ever seen at sea (so good in fact that I watched it twice in one night). The technology in it was simply mind-blowing; it is easy to see how this is the most technologically advanced show at sea. Not only is the technology out of this world, the concept was unique and modern in a way that appeals to younger generations without alienating the traditional older audience. Plus, the cast themselves were talented beyond belief! Let me tell you something, if you can flip yourself upside down multiple times and still sing beautifully in tune then you are a God.
Alongside the wonder of 5-SK1ES, the guests of Enchanted Princess were also entertained by Gareth Oliver who was so hilarious that the audience laughed until they physically cried. I have seen Gareth on a few ships now and while on a whole I do love his act – my only criticism would be less stand-up and more ventriloquism. Guests also enjoyed an Elton John tribute by Steve Hollington who was wonderfully talented in the music department but did lack some of the charisma of other Elton John Acts I have watched previously.
This particular sailing was a Sports themed cruise and as such, much of the entertainment was interviews with sports stars. While this was not to my taste, other guests appeared to find it greatly enjoyable. Perhaps it was because of the sports theme but many Movies Under the Stars sessions were removed and replaced with live football matches. This ruined the ambiance of the sailing with people shouting and screaming at the big screen, wandering around the ship in football tops, and on a few occasions even fighting when they did not get the result they desired.
Let’s start with the positives! When I sailed on Sky Princess there were enormous queues for the dining room that seemed to stretch on forever. On Enchanted Princess I did not have to queue for the dining room at all. Not a single time! However, the food served in the dining room was not of the quality I usually expect on Princess Cruises. It wasn’t that the food was inedible by any stretch of the imagination it’s just that it was inconsistent…Sometimes things were cold, sometimes the presentation was off, and sometimes it arrived with different items than those listed on the menu. Alongside this service was often chaotic not quite the relaxing silver service experience I have come to expect.
But it was the international cafe that offended me the most! Now to be clear I normally love the international cafe, on every other Princess ship I have been on it has been heaven-sent. But on Enchanted Princess it was repetitive and dull. On Sky Princess, it served different pastries and cakes during every breakfast service; on Enchanted Princess they had decided to be healthy and serve muesli bars, granola, egg burritos, and the same pastries every single day. When lunch service arrived it did not get much better and it was sorely lacking in variety.
Luxury Cruise or Booze Cruise?
Now I often strive to convert people to cruising. So in theory it should have been my dream that over 2,500 guests onboard Enchanted Princess were first-time cruisers. However, in reality, it was more like a nightmare…Cruising is a wonderful thing! A beautifully romantic way to travel the world but there are rules and expectations.
Unfortunately, the abundance of new cruisers on Enchanted Princess did not care about the rules! They used inflatables in the pool, they smoked wherever they liked, they reserved sunbeds for hours on end, and they flaunted the dress code in ways that were grim (seriously nobody wants to see you standing topless in the Piazza put some clothes on). Now being a first-time cruiser is not a crime, maybe they just did not know the rules, the point here is that the crew did not enforce the rules. So it rapidly became a booze cruise instead of a luxury cruise.
Princess cruises have a full fleet of smart ships, you can read about that here, they also boast the best wifi at sea. Now wifi at sea is never going to be as good as wifi on land, so accepting that it will be somewhat temperamental is key to having realistic expectations. A common joke amongst cruisers is that if it does nothing else – it will open your cabin door. One of my travel party, could not get into the cabin for three days so there is that theory out of the window!
That probably tells you everything you need to know about medallion technology on this sailing. It was poor at best! The app crashed frequently either leaving you with a screen that said loading or leaving you with a screen where fish just swam around aimlessly. This wouldn’t have been a problem if there were enough crew members to take orders manually but there wasn’t the poor crew were run off their feet!
Now my medallion app did not work but my wifi did, victory! However, only mine worked…It did not function for anyone else in my travel party. While I salute Princess for attempting to create a full fleet of smart ships, it is clear that many kinks need to be ironed out. Medallion technology should enable you to have the same experience every time you sail on a Princess ship but I have had four very different experiences sailing on medallion-abled ships.