Boarding ship in Sydney was a bit of an experience. Only temporary facilities at present which wasn't very well organised, could not hear public address system and staff not very helpful. This was all forgotten however once on-board. Staff were extremely friendly and helpful.
Horizon Court (or the Horror Zone) was very busy as expected but staff again were friendly and the food was quite good. Sail away under the Harbour Bridge was lovely - even the rain and cold didn't do anything to diminish the sight.
Getting around the ship was very easy (even for the geographically challenged like myself) and their was always someone either staff or passenger who was more than happy to help you find your way.
Cabin was smaller than I was used to but very comfortable and tidy.
The ship staff were extremely friendly and helpful, especially my cabin steward Manuel. He was very thoughtful no request was too much trouble and he even asked about me on the day I was so sick I could not leave the cabin. Everyone remembered your name, favourite drink, what desserts you didn't like etc (I found this amazing with so many passengers on-board. You were always welcomed with a cheery good morning or good night. My only really small complaint would be the service of the bar staff in the Vista Lounge, very poor.
Entertainment on-board for the most part was excellent. The ships singers and dancers were very good, performing some nights when the sea was quite rough. The comedian from Liverpool was very good although some jokes were a bit old - but with an older audience this was not surprising. An amazing singer by the name of Lisa Crouch was a must see any night that she was performing - fantastic voice and talent.
Dining in the main dining rooms was excellent, service and food quality very good. Horizon Court (Horror Zone) was a little more hit and miss, some dishes were cold but good for a late-night snack and the scones and cream in the afternoon were lovely. Room service another hit and miss affair but breakfast on days going ashore if you didn't have time for the dining room were very good. Princess do need to think about tea/coffee making facilities in cabins, it would have been nice to make your own.
Shore excursions booked through Princess can be quite expensive, but for someone travelling on their own its a great way to see the sights. Visit to Copra Plantation in Fiji very interesting and scenery along the way was beautiful. Cliffs of Jokin Loyalty Island also very good. Rainforest Walk and Cascade Falls in Vanuatu very good, made more so by a very good local guide.
On-board activities such as lectures were very interesting and well attended. My only criticism would be people who are entering theatre or lounge for next event interrupting lectures and being generally rude by talking and standing in the front of projectors etc while presenter is trying to talk. You can do as much or as little as you want. There are bingo sessions (very popular), casino, art classes etc which are all very well organised.
Now some bad news - the self service laundries were very handy, however some passengers using extremely long wash cycles and not removing their laundry once the cycle was complete was a big problem. This needs to be addressed by Princess, before things like the argument I witnessed turns nasty. Unfortunately not all fellow passengers were considerate towards others. Pushing in while in queues (especially for tenders and food), standing or sitting in hallways and staircases and not letting people pass. Princess also need to address the mobility of passengers trying to use the tender service and some shore excursions - it was unfortunate that on some excursions and at some tender ports we were held up by some passengers who had mobility difficulties - I do not begrudge these passengers from going ashore but when time in ports can sometimes be limited, more mobile passengers should not be at a disadvantage. Also even though Princess has a no smoking in rooms or on balcony policy, passengers in nearby cabins were still using their balcony to smoke. The smoking area on the Promenade deck was not ideal - whenever you went out the door you had to walk through a wall of smoke as the smokers gathered round the door. Butts and ash were not disposed of in the bins and sometimes littered the floor - which then staff members had to clean away.
In general it was a lovely cruise and I would do it again tomorrow. I would definitely recommend Princess Cruises to family and friends.