Embarkation was fairly lengthy due to the inadequate facilities in Ft. Lauderdale. Once you got past initial security it was pretty well organized but that long wait just to enter the facility was an unorganized mess.
Once on board staterooms were ready to occupy and a nice sail away party on deck was held. It was apparent the ship was not at capacity as no venues during the entire cruise were crowded. Our dining room experience was always excellent, the food was excellent as well as the service. The Horizon buffet on the other hand was poor except for the breakfast meal. Bland, unappealing food, and odd selections through out the entire cruise, we only ate breakfast there as the lunch buffet was nasty.
All things were normal until day 3 when the NOROVIRUS hit! Once that happended service went down the tubes. Since you could no longer self serve at the buffets, get your own drinks etc, they had to pull service staff do accomplish these things and overall service suffered. We were never told how many people came down with the virus but the sanitation restrictions lasted for the entire rest of the cruise. We had seen the news reports of this ship returning to port early in previous months due to outbreaks of the virus, apparently they still do not have things under control on this ship. It would make more sense to extend basic sanitation practices early in the cruise to prevent the spread of the virus, especially by those whom may bring it on board, but in this ships case all measure seem to be reactions to the outbreak rather than prevention up front. Their medical staff need to seriously review their practices on this ship and make recommendations to improve sanitation to avoid future outbreaks.
It was odd that the first 3 days of the cruise the hand sanitizers were not available at entrances to the main dining rooms and there were many instances of cross contamination observed. After the virus hit that all changed of course. We were never told how many virus cases there were but after one person in our party was hit hard by the flu we learned it was in the hundreds.
Once you report an illness of course you are immedately quarantined to your cabin for a minimum of 48 hours and cannot leave. One couple in our group had a debarkation tour scheduled in Rome but the night before debarking in Rome a deck supervisor came to their room and told the couple they would be personally escorted off the ship with their luggage early in the morning and would not be allowed on the debark excursion since one of them had reported mild symptoms that could be the norovirus. That makes sense, but the couple had no transportation from the port to Rome ( which is a 1.5 hour drive). Visits to the purser desk were unsuccessful in resolving the issue or making other arrangements and they could also not get the pursers desk to refund the over $300 cost of the excursion because the excursion desk wasnt open and would also not be open on the next day when debarking in Rome, they lost that money. After arriving early in Rome, staff members knocked on their door at 7am and the couple was told to gather all belongings as they were being escorted off the ship, even though their scheduled departure was 8;30am. We caught up with them later and learned they were basically kicked off the ship and dumped at the dock with no assistance offered from the staff. As they were an older couple with disabilities, we assisted them in transportation to Rome by changing our shuttle vehicle to allow space for 2 more people, otherwise this couple would have spent over 200 Euros for a taxi to room. The staff basically treated them like dogs, and this was a couple that has cruised with Princess over 12 times, and now swears they will never cruise with princess again.
Entertain was ok, not great.
The ship was nicely appointed and the 1 hour total loss of power that set the ship adrift in the middle of the Atlantic turned out to be some alleged generator problem, but obviously that is not a good thing and hopefully Princess will address this serious issue.
We have no plans to cruise with Princess in the future, based primarily on their inadequate abilities to address norovirus issues.