We enjoy smaller ships especially because it is conducive to meeting new people making it easy to share both onboard and onshore experiences with them. It’s hard on an 18-day cruise to not encounter the same people many times over.
Perhaps it was the interesting itinerary or the length of the cruise, but we found the passengers to be some of the nicest that we have ever sailed with. Then again, we also dealt with our annoying table mates who were at the other end of the spectrum. The maitre d’ volunteered that they were the most difficult passengers that he had ever had to deal with in the dining room.
The itinerary was the draw for us as we had attempted to reach Iceland on another cruise. This cruise started in Dover and ended in Brooklyn, visiting Newcastle, Edinburgh, the Faroe Islands, Greenland, Iceland and Newfoundland. We thorough enjoyed the mix of ports and will be reviewing the ports in upcoming posts. We almost coasted all the way from Dover to Newcastle and wished that we could have stopped in France, Holland or another port along the way instead of seemingly drifting at sea waiting for the current to get us to Newcastle.
We found the crew helpful and friendly and fortunately our dinner server understood our plight. He took it all with a grain of salt mostly because he had no choice and went beyond the call of duty to help make our cruise as pleasant as possible. Unfortunately, that can not be said for those in higher positions. We complained several times about the difficulty of dining with the annoying dining mates. The head waiter told us that is was their(the demanding couple) vacation and that they had a right to enjoy it they way that they wanted. Our needs or enjoyment of our cruise seemed unimportant to him. He told us that there were no other tables available for changing. The maitre d’ seemed little concerned about our plight either. When he eventually found a different table for us at the end of the cruise, he simply said that he was surprised that we lasted at the other table as long as we did.
We also will never understand how somebody who leaves the ship because they are so sick is then allowed to reboard. This caused much concern for many passengers who had unfortunate encounters with the sick person. The lack of care on the part of Princess and their unwillingness to address our concerns disappointed and befuddled us.
(We filled in multiple comment cards and never got a response. We eventually went to the Captain’s Circle host, who did check into it, telling us that our cards had gotten overlooked, although they did have them.) In fact, we have yet to receive an evaluation form from the cruise line. Perhaps they just don’t want to hear.
Often times, the captain is visible at the welcome party or some other event which he or she hosts. That is not the case on the Ocean Princess, where the captain is an ever present component of the ship. It’s amazing what good will it creates to see the captain mingling with guests everyday. Captain Rivera gives daily updates on the Great White Lady as he refers to his ship. He is seen in the clubs, buffet and throughout the ship, greeting passengers as he passes by. The impression that it makes is significant especially since he makes the guests feel a real part of the experience. We encountered the captain far more often than we ever saw the cruise director, a fact that we found surprising.
We found the person who assisted the cruise director to be a bit anti-American. We took offense at some of his comments and his attitude. We know that there are some typical ugly Americans in every group, but his reaction to a simple question shocked those within hearing range as did his snarky answer about how everything isn’t about America. A position that involves dealing with people of all nationalities requires an open mind. Certainly somebody with personal biases about a particular nationality, particularly one that includes a majority of the passengers, seems ill-suited for such a job.
In spite of our challenges on this cruise, we did enjoy the Ocean Princess, especially the itinerary and our fellow passengers. We would definitely sail with her again.