This was my first cruise, and I was very disappointed with my "cruise experience". Friends and family had reported magnificent experiences on other cruises that just didn't seem to be the case for this cruise. I spent a good deal of time talking to other people on the cruise to see if this experience was "typical". Without exception, the experienced "cruisers" on this journey stated that this was the worst cruise that they had ever been on. Those with "Princess" experience said that the quality of the Princess cruises has decreased dramatically and that this would be their last Princess cruise.
Problems with the cruise were evident from Day 1. Embarkation from Southampton was a two hour circus, with long lines, poorly communicated instructions and inattentive staff. We were scheduled to leave Southampton at 5:00 PM on June 7, but were detained in port for some sort of "technical problem" which was never defined. Announcements were made every few hours that the "issue" was taking longer than expected, he would update us later (which he never did) and that our safety was his primary concern. He never mentioned a bilge pump problem or that the ship had failed an inspection a day earlier. As a result of their poor maintenance, we left port exactly one day late, resulting in our being a day late for our first three ports - Guernsey, Cobh and Dublin, and missing our fourth stop in Liverpool.
We also missed our scheduled stop at Edinburgh due to rough seas. Instead of finding another port or reaching Paris a day early for additional sightseeing, we meandered our way to Paris, taking two days to reach Le Havre. Humm, reduced fuel costs and keep the casino and shops open for additional revenue opportunities. Way to go Princess! What a wonderfully innovative way to take care of your passengers.
The internet was completely inadequate and very very slow. The Library was not well staffed, which was inexcusable considering we were stuck at sea for all of that extra time at sea.
On a cruise advertised to include nine port stops and two days at sea, we ended up with three days at sea and one day trapped in the ship at Southampton. For this, we received a totally inadequate compensation of $75.
Some of the tours that we took were poorly planned and we spent too much time at minor attractions like the Falkirk Wheel, and very little time at major sites like Stirling Castle. Our bus for Stirling Castle parked at the bottom of a very steep hill and we were forced to walk up to the castle, depriving us of valuable time. Those guests who were not in good physical shape could not make the walk in the time allotted and missed seeing Stirling Castle. Our guide said that the road was closed, even though there were busses at the entrance to the Castle and buses were transversing the road while we were walking down. If it was a matter of timing, the tour should have been arranged to arrive at Stirling Castle when the busses could make the steep assent.
The service in the dining rooms was often very slow and the Horizon Court was usually packed since the weather was not suitable for outside dining. If one elected to "sleep in" the only place to have breakfast was the Horizon Court since none of the three dining rooms was open for breakfast after 9:00 AM.
The food was very average, some of the "entertainment" was appalling, with the singers being off key in many songs.
The food was "cafeteria quality" with almost none of the fabulous food that is normally associated with cruise ships. We had bought the "Coke" drink package with "all you can drink" fountain Cokes. These beverages were almost undrinkable, despite repeated complaints to the staff. Basically, they could care less. I wrote an e-mail message to Coke because of the poor representation of their product.
All in all, a very poor experience! I would not recommend Princess Cruises to anyone.