We booked a cruisetour with Princess, and after a week of touring and traveling were eager to board the ship and relax. Embarkation was handled very efficiently and went quickly. The first two days were at sea, a great way to relax and begin the southbound trip. Our suite was spacious and our steward, Raul, was very courteous and attentive. The strangest thing we encountered, was the way the bed was dressed. There was only a bottom sheet and duvet...no top sheet. Towels were plentiful and luxurious, nice bathroom amenities. Princess lacks the large, 2 story diningroom we were accustomed to on Holland America. Their dining options were smaller, themed restaurants. Since we chose the early seating, we were assigned to Vivaldi. After requesting a move to the International Diningroom, we were given a nice table at a window. The wait staff seemed friendly and we looked forward to seeing them each night. The food, however, was rather mediocre. The steak was chewy and some of the other preparations were not as well prepared as they could have been. Comparing it to the dining experience on Holland America, it was definitely not as enjoyable. We had one breakfast in the Horizon Court--not a good experience--and decided to get up early enough to eat in the International Diningroom that served breakfast until 9:00 AM. We could have had breakfast in Sabatino's since we were in a suite, but our friends would not have been included, so we chose to eat with them. We did have tea delivered to our suite, and that was very nice. The pizza restaurant in the piazza was wonderful! Great homemade pizza. Drinks were extra, and they even tried to charge for a milkshake at the ice cream bar on the pool deck! The musical shows were not that good, so after the first night, we chose to miss the remaining two programs. We did enjoy the ventriloquist and magician. The groups playing in some of the lounges were definitly not worth the time, with the exception of the duo that seemed versatile enough to do an Eagles and Beatles tribute as well as sing a variety of "oldies" and country in the different locations throughout the ship. We tried to hear them each night.
The Casino is a poor excuse for a cruise ship casino. They permit smoking in the casino, which seems to be the gathering place for everyone who wants to smoke since the rest of the ship is non-smoking. The casino is directly behind the passenger service desk, and the smoke invades this entire area and much of the piazza when the casino is in operation. There are very few slots and table games,along with a very tired apprearance, so the area definitely seems like an afterthought. We did use the spa, and felt it was not only very expensive, but the services were not as good as we expected. The pedicurist seemed very uninterested in her work, was rather rough, and seemed eager to finish her tour and return home to Jamaica! We cruised Alaska with Holland America several years ago, and the crowd on Princess is younger with quite a few children. We chose Princess primarily because of their offerings on the land portion of the cruisetour. The weather was great and we could get quite close to the glaciers. We spent quite a bit of time on the balcony. We did enjoy our week, but will definitely book with another line when cruising in the future.