We are experienced cruisers but have not been with the Princess line before. After a 6 year void of not cruising we persuaded our friends [never cruised on holiday before] to join us. Our initial impressions were confirmed by others on board; the ship was 'tired'. Our balcony had a 4 inch hole in the side caused by rust, some carpets were thread bare and the pillows were lumpy. But ignoring this, the staff were all willing to please.
We noticed a difference to previous cruises; deck waiters were less obvious and sometimes we had to search to place an order. There was less variety of entertainment, and it was aimed at an older age group [we are 59 - 63] we felt young! There were a lot of disabled people so credit to the staff is due, and it encouraged us to use stairs rather than fight for the slow lifts - some of which were out of order for 3 days. Ist sitting dinner was ta 5.45pm which was earlier than we liked. We found the Princess theatre was full before we got there and was usually very cold. Chef and dinning room staff were amazing in accommodating me with my special diet. We had expected the dinning staff to do the occasional entertainment - as on previous ships, but there was none.
There was no late entertainment such as the expected chocoholics night. And the Captain did not have a cocktail party for people new to Princess Cruises, in fact the only time we saw him was at the Crossing the Equator ceremony when he was thrown into the pool.
Tours; ship tours as usual were very pricey, but in foreign places we felt more secure taking these. They left very early [7am] and sometimes returned too late to catch the dinning room time unless we forgo the shower. There was far to much emphasis on taking us to weaving factories and jewellery stores, part of the commercial sell, sell sell! So time was wasted hanging around.
There was an outbreak of colds/cough type flu; but the boutique ran out of basic pain killers and cough mixtures.
Overall the general impression was that costs were being cut down and the staff were not happy.
Missing Port reports;
Sihanoukville Cambodia - ship tour to the Ream National Park - excellent.
Ko Samui Thailand - ship 4WD tour to waterfall; a con! coaches also there , we expected an off road experience. But it was a visit to a park which had tigers on chains, crocodiles, monkeys etc and an elephant ride around a well trodden course through the jungle.
Lombok Indonesia - ship tour to the floating palace and local markets, a long day to see very little; our guide was repeatedly reassuring us that although it was a Muslim country there were no terrorists so we were safe! I was more interested to learn about local life etc.