Let me start by agreeing with some of the reviews here. However, I would not judge all Princess Cruises by the Sea Princess. We have been on 5 cruises to Alaska and have been on 10 different Princess ships and over 25 cruises. This ship and the retired "Regal Princess" have been my least favorites. This ship is goofy, it seems like the designers have designed and redesigned the ship into something that cannot compete with modern cruise ships and really does not work. It is not just a matter or size I have been on smaller ships including the Island Princess and have not walked away feeling like I was sailing the "poor step-sister of the Princess fleet".
I looked forward to the Atrium experience (coffee, relaxed conversation etc.)and there never was a seat to be found. Too many people not drinking coffee just looking for someplace to sit. They made the casino "non-smoking" except in designated areas and then made the "designated smoking area" smack dab in the middle of the casino! Then they took half of the casino and made it a game room for Mahjong and other board games. The noise of the Mahjong tiles about drove everyone crazy at the blackjack tables. Very bad planning. Why they could not designate an area for board games away from the casino is any one's guess.
On to the food, we are not buffet fans and ate in the dining room every night. The food was really unremarkable and some nights seemed like we were participants on "fear factor". More game meats than I would have liked and a serious lack of planning for a menu than should have included more crab, we were in Alaska! duh! The menu lacked many of the items that were my favorites on other Princess cruises and I missed the Italian influence that usually was norm on other Princess menus. The food was not bad but it really was not memorable. We had made friends that did eat in the specialty steak house and they said the food was excellent. I wish we had tried it but was put off by the fact is was just an area of the Horizon court that was curtained off. The room service breakfast menu now includes a mcmuffin sandwich which I think is an improvement and I would be delighted if they did a sausage mcmuffin!
Our stateroom was a balcony and I might add, one of the smallest staterooms we have ever had. Our room steward was excellent and made sure I got the three things I requested on meeting him. An "egg crate" for the mattress, an extra blanket, and 2 extra pillows. I told him I would not bug him the rest of the trip and I kept my word.
The service is what I have come to expect from Princess. We had one burly waiter one day at lunch and I was determined to kill him with kindness. After that lunch, every time we saw him he always greeted us with a smile and a kind word. Crew members put up with a lot of abuse and impatience from people that sometimes are demanding and maybe not as polite as they should be. We try to treat people respectfully and usually receive it in kind. We had great service, no complaints.
I understand the Sea Princess will be going to P&O at the end of this season, I say good riddance. I don't know if it is bad planning on the part of Princess but to send a ship to Alaska with the main swimming area opened to the elements just didn't make much sense. On other cruises to Alaska we have been on, the pool area had a dome that went over the pool area. I don't think we had a day during this cruise and the pools could be used. Movies under the stars was a total waste on this cruise. High winds and waves made it impossible.
One more footnote about the poor "stepsister" feeling we had on board. When we docked, this ship had the least desirable berthing. We were over a half a mile away from the shops in Ketchikan, making way for the Disney Wonder and another RCL ship. What is with that? Money, I was told by crew.
Embarkation and Debarkation were a breeze and would go out of Pier 35 in San Francisco again in a heartbeat.