Sometimes a travel article has to be about a trip where everything wasn’t perfect so that people planning similar vacations know what to ask and what not to do.
We have always had good experiences on the Princess Cruises Line so we expected to have a great cruise down the west coast of South America last December.
First, the good part of the cruise was that we signed up for a package that included good mattresses and extra treats like chocolate covered strawberries and wine.
We also opted for a dining experience that put us on one side of a dining room where we were away from crowds, had a couple of extra food choices and got to know our server.
Also good was that we arranged for a couple of days in Santiago, Chili where we disembarked. We stayed at the Ritz which is a Marriott property with a great pool and concierge room. There we made our personal city tour arrangements.
Now, the bad. What we didn’t expect on the cruise was that the ship would continually have maintenance issues.
Throughout the whole trip, elevators were alternately closed for maintenance, the pools were often closed for maintenance when they really would have been good for swimming laps (the rest of the time they were so wavy and sloshy it felt like swimming against a tide), and no matter where we tried to sit there was painting and other coatings going on so there were fumes.
In addition, some of the public washrooms needed work and about half the washing machines were not working.
As to our land excursions, we should have made our own arrangements because except for Lima where we had an excellent tour, and the rocky Ballestas Islands near Paracas where we saw blue-footed boobies and red legged cormorants, seals and penguins, our excursions taken through Princess promised much more than they delivered.
So, here are a few cruise vacation suggestions:
- If booking a cruise, ask how old the ship is and what maintenance was done beforehand and what will be in process during the cruise.
- Check with your favorite travel agent about hooking up with a reliable shore tour – either a group excursion or a personal one.
- If there are packages available that will up the vacation level from a C to at least a B +, seriously consider the option.
- Check what other cruise lines offer for similar destinations before reserving your cabin.