Suffice to say my wife and I are seasoned cruisers having sailed quite a few of the Cruiselines over the last 25 years. We have done most of our cruising with Princess only because we wanted to accumulate the higher level. When we first cruised Princess it was one of the dominant cruiselines because of the TV show "Love Boat"...so we kept cruising with them because of their quality. In 2011 we took 2 cruises with them...Caribbean and a TA and both of those cruises which were on different ships seemed to lack the quality they use to have. Our cruise in March to Hawaii of this year really told us that Princess has totally lost their way and only cares about the $$$...and it shows from the first day and really shows it the day you are asked to leave the ship.
We visited all of the islands but two of them were so short by the time you got off the ship you felt you had to sprint around just to try and get a sense of the island. Barely 6 hours you have to get back to the ship in order to ensure you get back to the ship on time...and this was on Kauai and the big island at Hilo. We rented a car on both islands and we still felt rushed to only enjoy a few hours. On Oahu we at least were in port for 12 hours and on Maui we had about 8 hours and had it not been that we've been to Hawaii a few times before we'd have really been disappointed if this was our first time. What is it with Princess where it takes 5 days to get from LA to Hawaii and then they limit you to getting off the ship at 9 am and have to be back on at 4:30 pm...at the very least they should stay in port for at least 12 hours as there weren't any other ships in any port we went to. We felt cheated for the few hours we got to stay and on Maui we had to tender in...which took an hour from the time we boarded to the time we actually got on the island...that burned on hour right off. As far as getting back you can't just take the last shuttle because you'll never get on as some will wait for the very last tender and it's a GIANT mess.
Let me start with one of the Speciality Restaurants---Sterling...OMG what a POS! This is a restaurant they tried to make like the Crown Grill but it's just Horizon Buffet with drapes they used to seperate the restaurant. It's the same food only carried to your table instead. We saw the staff run into the Horizon and get our food and then run back as if it was made in another area...it isn't and you get charged $20 for essentially the same meal as eating in the buffet. Yes, they let you see a table of different steaks to choose from but trust me...nothing special about this restaurant. They actually bus the tables and put the scraps on another table while we're eating...I'm not kidding.. and they left it there for most or our meal to look at. We ate at a table with just the two of us and we only saw our waiter 3 times in 3 hours...we had to flag him down to get served because he was too busy waiting on "bigger tables" who took him hostage while he forgot about us.
Why is it that Princess is the same ship every time we sail on it no matter what the name is on the front? It's the same ole Princess ship where I could tour each ship blindfolded and it's ALWAYS the same ship.
Our debarkation was the worse we've ever had in 25 years. We were the absolute LAST people to leave the ship even though we asked for help getting off as I'm partially disabled. They screwed up our paperwork and Customs had us in detention for almost 2 hours...Immigration had to force Princess to come to the office in order to clear things up.
We have cruised on Celebrity and will from now on cruise with that company instead of Princess. It's the same amount of money but with Celebrity you get much better food...you get better rooms,,better service,,,nice furnishings along with more room. We have ELITE status with Princess but even with that level we don't get any better service than first time cruisers. Be advised that Celebrity is MUCH better than Princess and you'd be advised to cruise with them unless you like mundane...cookie cutter type cruising with Princess.