I think we may be a little late to the game, but recently we discovered cruising. It was our very first cruise and after a ton of research, we landed on the Princess Pacific Coastal Cruise. As this was our first go at life on the high seas, we also wanted to find the best cruise for first timers. Oh, and we were cruising with a toddler, which added another element to the mix. I know, Princess Cruise Line is a little bit of a sleeper pick for kids. But it was actually really great for several reasons, which we’ll get to. We did a lot of prep work ahead of time since we weren’t super familiar with the day-to-day life aboard the ship, and we also learned some helpful stuff once we were sailing. So while I can’t speak to every cruise ship out there, I can say from experience this was one of the best first time cruiser experiences. Here’s why:
One of the coolest parts of cruising is the wide selection of destinations and itineraries. Don’t get me wrong – we’re all about the Caribbean sun, but there’s a reason we chose the Princess Pacific Coastal Cruise. The destinations are atypical. How many of you would find yourself in Astoria, Oregon (unless you are a huge Goonies fan, of course)? Or Nanaimo, British Columbia? The itineraries include a nice variety of cities and to places you wouldn’t normally visit. For example, we sailed on the Star Princess and the itinerary includes Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, San Francisco, Astoria, Nanaimo, and Vancouver. The destinations alone is part of what makes it the best cruises for first timers. It’s also a nice form of transportation. You can lengthen your vacation by spending a couple days days in Vancouver at the end (because Vancouver is awesome). And a cruise ship is a nice, leisurely way to get there. That brings me to my next point.
This one is huge. When we were comparing cruise lines and itineraries, we found a wide range of prices. Princess Cruises aren’t cheap. I know that sounds counterintuitive given the cost being one of the benefits. In general, Princess Cruises aren’t cheap (we’re looking at you, Alaska), but the Princess Pacific Coastal Cruise is great value. We were traveling with a toddler, so we really wanted room to spread out, which isn’t easy on a cruise ship (without shelling out $$). We looked at early April and got an amazing deal for a Mini Suite room. Seriously, I think it ended up being less expensive than the Oceanview Balcony room. These cruises often have some of the best deals around and because you’re saving more, you can opt for a larger room if you want. The Mini Suite has a separate sitting area, or in our case, a separate kid area. It has a balcony, bath tub, two tvs, and a pull out couch in addition to the bed. It’s perfect for families and the itinerary makes it affordable.
Something For Everyone
Let’s get right to it. When you’re planning a cruise with kids, you probably think Disney, Royal Caribbean, Carnival. They have waterslides, mini golf, circus acts. They are doing some crazy cool stuff on these cruise ships. If you’re looking for a super friendly kid friendly ship, these are great options. If you’re looking for a party ship, I hear Carnival is a good option. Or Norwegian for solo travelers. But we fell into the category of first time cruisers, so naturally we were looking for the best cruise for first timers. And we were traveling with extended family, so we really wanted to ensure there were activities aplenty for all ages. This is where Princess excels. They choose itineraries and amenities that can appeal to the entire family. For example, our toddler could play in the kids club, get fancy for afternoon tea, run around in the sports court, or watch one of the onboard shows. The adults could go dancing, play cards in the lounge, attend cocktail making class, tour the ship kitchen, or even hit up the casino. They do their best to ensure the entire family is having a great time.
As the Princess Pacific Coastal Cruise was our first chance to experience cruise dining, we don’t really have anything to compare it to. What we liked best wasn’t just the quality (which was amazing, by the way), but the variety. They have something to appease every palate. The kids menu was great for our little one. They had seafood. Beef. They Vegetarian. They had a specially crafted Curtis Stone recipe every night. Really, they had a little bit of everything. And quite the extensive dessert menu. If you’re cruising for the first time and aren’t sure what to expect in the food department, Princess will ensure you’ll enjoy all of your meals. You can choose a set time or a flexible. You can do casual or more formal (including formal nights). And the service is amazing. One night the chef prepared a special mac n cheese dish for all the kids aboard. They saw how much our daughter loved it, so they brought her one as an appetizer every night unless the cruise finished. It was so thoughtful and appreciated. So while we loved the food, it was the endless options that eased us in as uncertain first timers.
One of my favorite things about the Princess Pacific Coastal Cruise was the atmosphere. The ship had such character that blended classical beauty with innovation. The interiors made me feel like I was in another era – super classy. But they had modern amenities like Movies Under the Stars and an internet cafe. You can also partake in formal night (I’ve heard Princess errs on the side of more formal amongst cruise lines). Sometimes you never have a reason to get all fancy pants, so I loved that we could do that for a couple nights. It was cool knowing you could sit poolside casually sipping a mojito and then follow it up with white glove service at afternoon tea. I am so impressed that they didn’t get rid of all the old charm and I think that mixture of old world/new age is appealing for first timers.
Princess Pacific Coastal Cruise: Day 1
There were so many things we loved, it’s hard to list them all here. But those were some of our favorites and hopefully they can help if you’re searching for the best cruise for first timers. We also did a little vlogging along the way because sometimes it’s easier to visualize that way. Here’s a look at what we did on day 1 aboard the Star Princess Pacific Coastal Cruise.
And if you’re looking for more and want to see our stops, check out the other videos! Here’s a playlist to get you started.