There are so many things about my unconventional life that cause people to raise an eyebrow and utter: “Wait, what?!?” Sometimes followed by, “seriously!” or “that’s nuts!” Here are a few examples, just to prove my point (if you reach the end of this list without saying, “wait, what?!?” at least once, we’re probably separated twins, proving my brother’s long held belief that I was adopted from a Martian couple seeking a better life for their daughters on earth):
- A gave up a tenured professor position, sold everything I owned (sans a Vitamix and my rescue dog, Henry), and moved to Seattle with my husband and young son to become a professional cruise blogger.
- I live in a high rise apartment building downtown where I can reach out my window and touch the exterior of an 11 million dollar condo unit (that probably sold for a million over asking price because…Seattle), but I cut my own hair (and my kid’s – he’s been alive and cruising for over a decade and has never received a professional haircut which will not come as a big shocker to anyone who has seen a photo of his unruly mane) and of the 20 or so total clothing pieces I own, roughly half are from Goodwill and the other half from the makeshift giveaway table in our lobby.
- I haven’t worn makeup regularly since teenaged girls lined up to score the hottest concert ticket in town: Debbie Gibson. And my beauty routine consists of a slathering of coconut oil on overcast days and natural sunscreen on sunny days.
- I sprint through casinos like they are literally trying to steal my money, yet this cruise I’m about to review on the Discovery Princess was provided to us for free by a casino.
- Despite booking and sailing in a (free) inside cabin on the Discovery Princess, we received all the perks of a suite (including access to the Concierge Lounge, the 360 dining experience, and the suite breakfast).
You said it, didn’t you? “Wait, what?!?” As my mom would tell you, I was born with a fist in the air determined to zig and zag my way through life!
But let me offer a bit of further explanation on those last two examples, since they’re relevant to this review (and I really can’t explain the prior items except for the Martian theory):
If I die and awaken to find myself sitting at a slot machine, I’ll know I shouldn’t have fallen asleep so many times in church as a kid. While describing casinos as my personal vision of hell might seem a bit dramatic, I really do hate them. I find the bright flashing lights and loud noises and uncertain outcomes stressful. But my husband loves them! In fact, as I sit here writing this, he’s on a solo trip to Las Vegas (add the fact that my husband and I frequently take solo vacations without each other to the list of “unconventional” things about us). And it also happens that on this current trip to Vegas, one of his tasks is to score us another free cruise from the Gold Coast Hotel and Casino.
Which brings us to how we ended up in a free inside cabin on the Discovery Princess: It was a free cruise offered by the Gold Coast Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas (I’m in no way obligated to mention them and don’t do so as an endorsement or for advertising purposes – I just want to be fully transparent about how we managed this strange cruise situation).
This sailing on the Discovery Princess was the first time we’d ever done this. My husband received a mailing that basically told him to show up at the Gold Coast on a particular Saturday and receive a certificate for a free Princess cruise for two. Despite my scam alarms going off full blare, falsely panicking half of Seattle that we were about to be hit by a tsunami, it worked out great! We were required to put down a $200 deposit each which would turn into onboard credit (most of which we got back at the end of our cruise even though it said “non-refundable” on the cruise certificate we received) and pay a bit extra to add a third person onto our reservation and to cover port fees, taxes, and gratuities. But this was as close as we’ve ever come to a free cruise (I always pay for my own cruises – I’m not a travel agent and have never received a free cruise from a cruise line)!
Okay, but how did we end up with all the suite perks in a free inside cabin gifted to us by a casino? That was thanks to Princess Press Relations (who are familiar with my blog and social media sites and will sometimes gift me with special surprise items on my Princess cruises) who comped us suite passes that allowed us access to all the suite perks. They also provided us with the beautiful flowers and the champagne and strawberries you’ll see in some of my cabin photos.
So, that’s how we found ourselves in the very unconventional situation of sailing in a free inside cabin with all the suite perks! Okay, enough about me. Let’s talk about HER…
Guest Capacity: 3,660
Length: 1,083 feet
Height: 217’ 6¼ feet
Maximum Speed: 22 knots
Number of Decks: 19
Guest Staterooms: 1,830
- 2 Sky Suites
- 42 Suites with balconies
- 2 Window Suites
- 374 Mini-suites with balconies
- 311 Deluxe Balconies
- 753 Balconies
- 6 Premium Oceanview
- 340 Inside cabins
Food and Beverage:
- 360 Degree Experience
- 24 Hour Room Service
- Bellini’s Bar
- Bistro Sur La Mer
- Chef’s Table Lumiere
- Churchill’s Cigar Lounge
- Crown Grill & Bar
- Gigi’s Pizzeria
- Good Spirits At Sea
- International Café
- OceanNow Food and Beverage Delivery
- Ocean Terrace Seafood Bar
- Princess Live! Café
- Sabatini’s Italian Trattoria
- SeaView Bar
- Slice Pizzeria
- Swirls ice cream bar
- The Mix
- The Salty Dog Gastropub
- Three Main Dining Rooms
- Wake View Bar
- World Fresh Marketplace (buffet)
Lounges and Entertainment Venues:
- Princess Theater
- Princess Live!
- Take Five (jazz lounge)
- Vista Lounge
Other Venues and Services:
- Camp Discovery Youth and Teen Centers
- The Treehouse (Ages: 3 – 7)
- The Lodge (Ages: 8 – 12)
- The Beach House (Ages: 13 – 17)
- Captain’s Circle Loyalty Desk
- Concierge Lounge (for Suite guests)
- Fine Arts Gallery
- Fitness Center, Princess Sports Central, and jogging track
- Future Cruise Planning Desk
- Guest Services Desk
- Internet Café
- Lotus Spa with the Enclave & Salon
- Medical Center
- Movies Under the Stars outdoor screen
- Photo Gallery
- SeaWalk (port and starboard sides)
- Shore Excursions Desk
- The Experience Center
- The Greens Mini Golf
- The Sanctuary (adults only area)
- The Shops of Princess
- Wedding Chapel
Pools & Hot Tubs:
- 4 Pools: 2 Lido Deck Pools, Adults Only Pool, and WakeView Pool
- 10 Hot Tubs
Before I talk about all the things we loved about the Discovery Princess (and a few things we didn’t love), here’s a compete ship tour followed by a brief description of our itinerary.
While we’ll be welcoming the Discovery Princess to Seattle for the Alaska season soon, ours was a 5 night Mexico itinerary from Los Angeles with two sea days and a rare overnight in Cabo. However, we never got off the ship because it turns out there’s a direct correlation between eating 32 consecutive soft serve cones washed down with several gallons of pool water and an all-night barf session (#lessonlearned):
So, let’s talk about what we loved about the Discovery Princess. I’ll save food for last, like frontloading a nudie magazine with articles (and because I want to put a little space between food talk and the barfing talk). Let’s start with a few areas of the ship we especially loved…
Areas of the Discovery Princess we Loved
Spacious inside cabin on the Discovery Princess
I’m working on a full tour and review of our inside cabin, so check back, but if you appreciate brevity, here’s the condensed version: Spacious with ample storage and outlets, but small bathroom with a cloth shower curtain with boundary issues (I didn’t appreciate it grabbing my butt and clinging on for dear life every time I needed a quick rinse off, but my call to security resulted in the following response: “We’ve received dozens of similar reports ma’am, but unless the shower curtain has a name to run or fingers to print, we won’t be able to get any charges to stick.”).
The Italian inspired piazza on the Discovery Princess
Piazza, not pizza, but I assure you, we’ll get to the pizza later. Not atrium either, although I was still mistakingly calling it that five days later as I tearfully waved goodbye upon debarkation and vowed never to forget the hundreds of desserts from the International Cafe we’d shared together. But call this space what you will, it mostly lived up to the Italian version, although perhaps not as quaint and charming with all the uncoordinated Americans line dancing in t-shirts that read: “Warning I Bought the Drink Package!” Sometimes a pair of talented violinists would take to the stage to class the place back up though (seriously, they were outstanding):
This sweeping and elegant public space was the heart of the ship, with numerous activities and performances taking place each day. The only downside was that it could get quite crowded and loud, affecting the dining experience at the many adjoining restaurants that were totally open to the piazza.
The pools and hot tubs on the Discovery Princess
There are four pools on the Discovery Princess which worked out perfectly for us. The two large pools located on the Lido deck mostly contained the roughly 1,000 semi-feral children on spring break on our sailing (my child among them), while the adults-only pool in the Retreat offered a place to hide (sorry, no kids allowed!) and refuge for the parents of said unruly children (picture me raising my hand right now) and the unfortunate (although otherwise extremely lucky) retired and childless souls who didn’t realize they were booking over spring break.
Then there’s the small, but gorgeous WakeView infinity pool on deck 16 aft. Its only real purpose, as far as I could tell, was to use to film Instagram reels and TikTok videos. I’ll be honest, I took some footage in there for my Instagram account, but deleted it after a fit and sun-kissed 20 something in a bitty bikini set up her tripod, glided into the water without creating a single ripple, and conjured up the perfect sunset as a backdrop for her, sure to go viral, professional quality video. Somehow I didn’t think my grainy cell-phone depiction of myself clumsily flopping into the water, covered in $40 worth of natural zinc oxide sunscreen and a wide-brimmed safari hat would be seen as favorably by the algorithm gods.
But while the four pools were well-liked and used a fair amount, they were resentful of the ten hot tubs who were more popular than a puppy serving free apple pie due to unseasonably cold weather in California. The three hot tubs located on the Lido deck (deck 16) near the two large pools were the most popular, crowded, and lively, but the other seven, located on decks 17 and 18 were more secluded and peaceful (and most of them offered amazing views of the ocean).
24 hour gym on the Discovery Princess
This one should really be listed under a separate heading: “Things I hated, but knew were good for me.” Mr. Cruise and I each hit the gym for an hour or so each day when we cruise as a mitigation effort (although I’ve still never disembarked without 5 pounds more ass than I started with, even on an overnight cruise). And we both like to get it over with in the morning while our son is sleeping so we can enjoy our day without debilitating dread. So having a 24 hour gym is helpful for us. Mr. Cruise can get in there at 4:30 (his usual time at home) and I can get in there at 5:30 and by 6:30 and we can put the gym out of our minds until 4:30/5:30 the next morning when heart disease and morbid obesity seem like perfectly desirable outcomes in exchange for just a few more minutes of blissful cruise ship sleep.
Anyway, the expansive, well equipped gym on the Discovery Princess is open 24/7. I also tried out the new Xponential fitness classes being offered (and included in the updated Plus and Premier cruise packages) by Princess. You can read my full review HERE:
Self service laundry rooms on the Discovery Princess
Almost no one likes doing laundry on vacation. I say almost because my mother-in-law claims to like mundane chores like mopping and I can sort of see her hitting the laundromat between the casino and dinner to do a little pleasure ironing. To be fair though, she’d turn on the TV to QVC (there are TV’s in the laundromats on the Discovery) and order a cocktail for delivery from OceanNow. And while I proudly hate all chores unless they involve cleaning out my kitchen of all delicious, high calorie foods before inviting over a dieting friend, I have to admit that I really appreciated the free self-serve laundromats on the Discovery. Even though our cruise was only 5 days, between the barfing kid, my gym clothes, and Mr. Cruise’s socks, we did about 30 loads. If we’d paid retail for this cruise, we’d probably have gotten our money back in free laundry alone. Here’s a tour of one of the laundry rooms (there’s one on most decks with cabins) from my Instagram page:
You’ll note that detergent and dryer sheets were provided for free. I can’t guarantee that will always be the case, as the dispensing machine (requiring payment) was out-of-order.
Concierge Lounge on the Discovery Princess
As I mentioned earlier (unless you skipped my lengthy introduction, choosing to instead spend that time on a three hour nap – my intention is always brevity, but, well, here we are) we were comped suite passes that allowed us access to all the perks those booked in a suite would enjoy. One of those was the Concierge Lounge, open 24/7 and staffed most of the day and evening by a dedicated concierge who hosted gatherings, answered questions, and helped with reservations, priority tendering and debarkation, etc. There was also a self-serve espresso machine, a variety of complimentary non-alcoholic beverages (soda, flat and sparkling water, hot chocolate, and tea), and snacks (breakfast items in the morning and finger sandwiches, salads, pasta, a charcuterie board, breads, fruit, and desserts in the afternoon and evening).
The space was fairly small, but we never had trouble finding a seat and they opened it up to the adjoining chapel to make more space for events. Events included a nightly happy hour from 4-6pm where complimentary wine, beer, and cocktails were served and a few organized parties. One was a fiesta, with a spread of delicious Mexican foods and complimentary margaritas with a performance by mariachi band.
While we loved it, I honestly felt like I was stealing and uttered, “I’m not worthy,” (ala Wayne and Garth upon meeting Alice Cooper and Aerosmith) in my head every time I went in there. I’m clearly not cut out for a life of either crime or luxury.
Outdoor promenade deck seating on port side aft
Don’t worry if you’re not booked in suite or a B-list cruise blogger with a media hookup, I have a special secret for my fellow cheapies staying in inside cabins. There’s a lovely seating area located outside on deck 7 port side aft. It’s almost like having a private balcony as it’s never crowded and offers gorgeous views close to the water. Put two chairs together to form a makeshift lounger and read or nap or take in the scenery. Hell, go out there in a robe with a towel on your head and a pot of coffee and video chat loudly with your sister back home about your digestive issues like no one can hear you JUST like you would on a private balcony. If you didn’t have it all to yourself already, you soon will!
Seriously though, this is a great spot few know about or take advantage of.
Activities and Entertainment we Loved on the Discovery Princess
Let’s move on to activities and entertainment…
Variety of activities and entertainment on the Discovery Princess
I was impressed with the scope and variety of activities and entertainment on the Discovery Princess. There really were multiple somethings for everyone, like all the time! Sometimes I would devise a series of chance outcomes to pick among multiple different activities I wanted to attend. Like I’d flip a coin to eliminate two of four possible options, then I’d ask my kid to pick A or B, eliminating one of the remaining two. But 9 times out of 10, I’d throw out the result in favor of whichever activity was closest to my current location. I wasn’t looking to rack up a bunch of steps. Shrug.
Here’s a sample event listing from one of our sea days to give you a sense of how much is offered (I have all five if anyone wants them and maybe I can even figure out how to unblur!):
Rock Opera on the Discovery Princess
I don’t particularly like rock or opera, but put the two together and you have one of my favorite production shows at sea! And I wasn’t alone in loving it. Notice everyone standing in my second photo below? Don’t miss this show if you’re on the Discovery!
Live musicians in the theater on the Discovery Princess
Those of us who have been cruising for a long time often sound like grumpy old geezers sitting on our porch patrolling the bathroom habits of neighborhood dogs and lamenting on how great things were in the good old days. But for you youngins reading this, you should know that dog pee kills grass AND there have been a LOT of cuts to the cruise experience over the years and especially since Covid. And they just keep coming! Understandable? Maybe. Welcome? No. Will they stop us from cruising? Of course not. But we’d appreciate you allowing us to wax nostalgic from time to time.
Anyway, good news, the point of saying that wasn’t to prepare you for a rant. Just the opposite, in fact. I want to mention a thing that has NOT been cut on Princess that HAS been cut on many other lines. Live musicians onstage as part of the shows in the main theater instead of pre-recorded music. Live musicians add so much to the experience and I really appreciated them on the Discovery Princess.
Enrichment on the Discovery Princess
Another thing that seems to have disappeared or been sharply scaled back on a few of my favorite lines post Covid is enrichment. I suppose the college professor can leave professoring (and move across the country to pursue a life as a professional cruiser much to the concern of responsible adults everywhere), but the college professor never really leaves her. I love listening to lectures at sea on a variety of interesting topics. One of the two enrichment speakers on the Discovery was actually a retired college professor. And he’s getting paid to cruise. Clearly his plan was better thought out than mine. The other, Leo Rossi, worked for years for Fleetwood Mac on their sound and production team. Both speakers were excellent!
Take Five Jazz Lounge on the Discovery Princess
While I only caught one set at the Take Five Jazz Lounge, I love the idea of a dedicated jazz club onboard and look forward to spending more time there on a future (longer) itinerary.
Itinerary specific music and programming on the Discovery Princess
I always appreciate when elements of the ports we’re visiting are brought onboard. While there wasn’t a dedicated “cultural ambassador” like I’ve experienced on some itineraries, there was Mexican music, food, and drinks offered which were especially appreciated by those of us who cruised to Mexico without ever stepping a single toe onto Mexican soil. I almost got detained at customs when I was like, “is this really necessary.”
Movies Under the Stars on the Discovery Princess
While it was usually too chilly on our sailing to sit on a special padded lounger on the lido deck to watch an outdoor movie on the big screen, it’s true when they (and by “they,” I mean “me”) say, “you learn something new on every cruise.” And on this cruise I learned that popcorn and hot tubs don’t mix. At least when you’re using one hand to eat the popcorn and your other hand to shield the eyes and innocence of your kid who is too young to know that a certain loose-hipped rock legend died of a heart attack, likely brought on by his addiction to barbiturates. So, while I’d recommend the movie Elvis and highly recommend catching a “Movie Under the Stars” on your Discovery Princess cruise, I can’t recommend bobbing for popcorn as an enjoyable activity or hot tub water as a suitable alternative to butter.
Extra Credit Pro Tip: Complimentary bags of popcorn are available at Swirls during movies.
Food we Loved on the Discovery Princess
360 Dining Experience on the Discovery Princess
The 360 dining experience on the Discovery Princess is available to suite guests and by “invitation only” to select casino VIP’s. I’ll be posting a more detailed review, but it’s basically a multi-sensory, immersive 7-course dining experience offering food, cocktails, and wines from four countries in the Mediterranean. Mr. Cruise said it was his best culinary experience anywhere, ever. Land or sea. My kid (possibly the only kid ever to get invited – I’m not sure how that transpired, but I hope he didn’t sneak away and spend all my money in the casino) was completely captivated even though his appetite wasn’t back yet and he didn’t eat a single bite of the best meal in history (for the record Mr. Cruise isn’t prone to exaggeration and that’s another direct quote from him). And I, despite being a pin prick away from exploding after eating my own vegetarian version of the best food in all dimensions (Mr. Cruise again, after realizing his prior descriptions were too limiting) AND my kid’s, could have gone in for a third serving of all 7 courses and died happy.
If you have the chance to do this, DO IT!
International Cafe on the Discovery Princess
My first post-Covid cruise on Princess was aboard the Majestic Princess, the older sister of the Discovery. And while I have many fond memories of that cruise (you can read my review HERE), I recall being disappointed in the limited selection (compared to pre-Covid days) at the International Cafe, a 24 hour complimentary dining venue offering counter service adjacent to the coffee bar. Well I’m happy to report it was back to its pre-Covid glory (unlike the rest of us still clinging to our sweatpants and Covid hair, don’t care!). There was a huge selection of breakfast pastries, parfaits, breakfast sandwiches, and smoothies in the morning and an equally huge selection of sandwiches, salads, quiche, and desserts in the afternoon and evening. My favorite breakfast items were the blueberry chia seed parfait, the almond croissant, the round chocolate covered granola “bars,” and the monkey bread (they will heat it up for you). On an average day my second breakfast looked like this:
And should you think that the life of a “Professor of Cruising” is easy, I sometimes held “office hours” at a table near the International Cafe where I would talk cruising surrounded by a delicious assortment of pastries and desserts:
Okay, perhaps I need to work harder at convincing you that I do any actual work. Unfortunately this next section isn’t going to strengthen my case.
OceanNow food and beverage delivery on the Discovery Princess
Too lazy to rise from your lounger or get out of bed to grab a cocktail or a dessert (or five, see above)? Enter OceanNow food and beverage delivery, the best thing to happen at sea since God spared Noah and a pair of each animal species from a global deluge. While I know the Bible is considered a complete and perfect book by millions, I honestly think the story of how a kid used the OceanNow feature of the Medallion App to have a free hot dog and some fries delivered to himself during a packed magic show in the middle of the Pacific Ocean should really be in there (true story and one that caused me to chuckle, even if it’s only ever read by the three people who follow my blog). Go here for more details about OceanNow and for the full menu of cocktails and food items (many free and available to be delivered almost anywhere on the ship):
MDR desserts on the Discovery Princess
While competition is stiff for “most delicious complimentary desserts at sea,” the MDR desserts on Princess are strong contenders. However, when it comes to “most beautiful complimentary desserts at sea,” Princess is the clear winner! Honestly, one of these at a French bakery in my neighborhood in Seattle would run around $42 (that’s an exaggeration, but only a slight one). I especially love the Princess version of baked Alaska, although it’s shaped like a volcano with chocolate flowing down like lava, but frozen inside, which is a bit confusing.
Gigi’s Pizzeria on the Discovery Princess
While this sit-down Italian restaurant is one of my favorite complimentary restaurants at sea, if you’re looking for something more specific in terms of wisdom to impart, skip the pizza (which is still very good if you decide to ignore me) and order a calzone. There’s one listed on the menu, but you can also have one customized with any ingredient available (or have it prepared vegetarian which is what I always do). All my celebrity crushes are jealous of this calzone because I dream about it more often than them. And if you’re limiting yourself to one dessert at Gigi’s (or in general…but I’m not sure I even want to contemplate that), get the apple torte. Trust me. If they placed one of these in front of me and were like, “if you don’t eat this in 30 minutes, we’ll give you a free cruise” (kind of like The Stanford marshmallow experiment they used to do with kids in the 70’s, but adjusted for an adult with higher stakes), I’d still eat it in three seconds. Shrug. It’s that good.
Slice Pizza on the Discovery Princess
It makes me laugh that an article from nearly a decade ago is still referenced on the “Slice” menu: Voted “Best Pizza at Sea” by USA Today! It is good pizza (although to be honest, I found the buffet pizza on the Celebrity Solstice a week later even better). It’s fast too. Just walk up and grab a slice or three. Margherita and pepperoni are always available and there’s a rotating daily special.
Salty Dog Gastropub on the Discovery Princess
While we didn’t have time to hit many specialty restaurants on the Discovery, Mr. Cruise tried the Salty Dog Gastropub one evening for dinner. The cover charge was $18 and included complimentary Salty Dog’s Dip Sticks, two different Salty Dog Plates, and a dessert. While he enjoyed the Salty Dog’s Dip Sticks, SDG Burger, and Lemon Posset, he described the Calamari Frites as “rough,” so maybe skip those. Reservations weren’t accepted, but it was never crowded and could serve as a good alternative to the MDR in a pinch (like if there’s a huge line).
Buffet on the Discovery Princess
This is one place the food on the Discovery Princess fell short for me both in terms of variety of offerings and quality. Breakfast was by far the best time to hit the buffet, but I’d skip it in favor of the MDR, pizza at Slice, Italian at Gigi’s, a burger or dog and fries on the Lido deck, the International Cafe or a speciality restaurant at lunch and dinner. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t shun it completely and found some of the desserts at dinner quite good (as a supplement to my MDR desserts).
No food labels in the buffet on the Discovery Princess
Something else I found really disappointing and almost inexcusable when so many people have dietary restrictions and allergies these days was the lack of clear labels indicating if a particular item on the buffet was vegetarian, gluten free, dairy free, or sugar free. This is such a simple thing to do (and most comparable lines do it) and saves both guests AND crew a huge amount of hassle. Every time I had a question about an item being vegetarian or not (and you’d be surprised at how many items aren’t obvious – soups, sauces, the loaded potatoes pictured above, etc), I had to get the attention of a crew member to ask and half the time they didn’t know (and had to check with the chef). After suffering through this once, I just gave up on the buffet except for desserts and sweet breakfast items.
No wraparound outdoor promenade deck on the Discovery Princess
For a cruise line that caters to an older clientele, I’m surprised the line did away with wide, wraparound promenade decks on Royal class ships. Us old folks like our daily walks, even if we’re only traveling at the speed of an injured sloth! Actually I’m not surprised – there’s no money to be made on these. I guess disappointed is a better word. Here’s a tour of what the outside promenade deck looks like on the Discovery Princess:
Spotty internet on the Discovery Princess
While MedallionNet offers some of the least expensive internet at sea, it remains spotty and slow compared to ships with Starlink. In fact, I was able to make a direct comparison between MedallionNet and Starlink as right after my cruise on the Discovery Princess, I boarded the Celebrity Solstice (you can read about side-to-side cruising HERE) on a similar itinerary (both embarked in Los Angeles and had a stop in Cabo). While internet was almost non-existent while the Discovery Princess was docked in Cabo, it remained strong on the Solstice. Don’t fret too much if your cruise on the Discovery is a ways off though, Carnival has announced a partnership with Starlink and will be rolling out the enhanced wifi to all Princess ships (no exact date has been announced for the Discovery yet).
Crowds on the Discovery Princess
So, crowds. Part of this was me adjusting to post-Covid, full capacity cruising (after being spoiled with super low capacity on SO many cruises over the past few years), part of this was due to spring break (hence a lot of cabins with 3 or 4 people instead of 2), and part of this was due to colder than normal weather (meaning more people crowded into indoor spaces to keep warm), but many public areas of the Discovery Princess felt crowded and a bit loud and chaotic. If you can schedule your cruise while kids are in school, that will help with both crowds and your general sanity. Unless you have kids – your sanity’s already gone and you can cruise whenever.
No fettuccine alfredo on the MDR menu each night on the Discovery Princess
Question. How many others have been sailing Princess long enough to remember when they used to serve the signature Princess fettuccine alfredo in fried cheese bowls? They were so close to a spiritual experience, I started speaking in tongues and asked after any stowaway snakes onboard. Well not only have they eliminated the cheese bowls (I guess they were creating too much of a disruption and confusing waiters who suddenly questioned their mastery of English), but the nightly fettuccine alfredo’s gone too! I even asked after it one night and was told it wasn’t available (you should still ask, because some have had luck on other ships and I suppose the more we ask the more they’ll know we want it back). This was hugely disappointing as I used to order a small portion each night with my entree and used the entree portion as a backup if I didn’t like the vegetarian item on the menu on a particular night. “Why Princess, why?!?!” That’s a direct quote from my post-cruise survey. You can see the MDR menus from my sailing HERE:
One feature of Medallion App lets you select your preferred dining pace in the MDR. I, as always, selected “fast” and, despite me being skeptical that this would make any difference at all, it was FAST. I ate two appetizer courses, two entrees, and five desserts and took approximately 300 photos of each item in less time than it would have taken me to wash my hands and find a table at the buffet.
Service in other areas of the ship was outstanding too, with one exception. Service at Gigi’s was hit or miss, mostly miss. There was one server in particular who seemed to be having a rough week that we happened to get multiple times. Her service was slow and unfriendly, our order was prepared incorrectly several times, and on one occasion she never came back to take our dessert order (and you know I waited until closing time and then camped out until it reopened the next day in an attempt to order that apple torte). We would never make a thing of something like that (and I honestly worried about our server and hoped she was okay), but I mention it because it stood out compared to the other service we experienced from servers, bartenders, and our room steward which was efficient and friendly.
1. Avoid booking a balcony cabin starboard side aft or an aft balcony cabin if you’re sensitive to the smell of cigarette smoke. It travels further than you’d think (even on a moving ship). There have been many (many!) complaints on cruise boards and to Princess about strong smoke smells affecting the enjoyment of those who booked pricey aft cabins. Smoke will come from both deck 17 aft and deck 7 aft on the starboard side. Book a balcony cabin mid ship or forward on the port side for the best odds of avoiding smoke.
2. Make dining reservations for the MDR and speciality restaurants online or via the app as early as possible. Earlier times will go FAST. And speciality restaurants WILL fill up at prime times. With cruise packages including speciality meals, demand has increased. Even the suite concierge wasn’t able to secure reservations for several suite guests at the steakhouse (despite practically begging – I overheard this from the Concierge Lounge several times).
3. Check out the hot tubs on decks 17 and 18 for fewer crowds and gorgeous views.
In conclusion, this cruise on the Discovery Princess was like opening of box of chocolate truffles and finding only one left (Honestly, is there anything worse in life? A mean, taxes and the death of a loved one come close I suppose). This cruise was sooooooo good (minus the night I spent trying to contain projectile barf aimed at me from the top bunk in a garbage can before finding it all over my shirt again and heading to the free laundromat, the only time I’ve seen a public space on a cruise ship past 9pm), but soooooooo short. Thankfully I sent my men back home to Seattle while uttering to Mr. Cruise (good luck, hope he doesn’t barf on the plane) and proceeded to board the Celebrity Solstice for a 7 night solo cruise. While that significantly softened the blow at having to disembark the Discovery after only 5 nights, I sprinted down the gangway (only because I had another cruise to catch) determined to sail on her again soon. Maybe even this summer from Seattle (those booked on her might consider that a warning)! And with that…
Homework (10 points): Have you sailed on the Discovery Princess? Share to the comments your best tips for future cruisers. Booked on the Discovery for the first time? Share your plans so we can get excited (and possibly a bit resentful).
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