Our expectations were mixed before embarking on our first cruise but after 24 hours we were pretty much converts.
At first sight the ship was looked amazing and embarkation was easy. The cabin was about the size we expected but because we opted for a balcony it seemed much bigger and it suited our needs perfectly. We were on the eleventh deck (BAJA)which was an ideal height and pretty much mid ship which after venturing both aft and rear was definitely the right location. The rear of the ship in particular was quite noisy and the motion of the sea was quite noticeable. The room was also well appointed and clean which is all you could expect. Even though we didn't watch much television what was available was good and the on board channel (WAKE)was very informative and quite fun to watch. Our cabin Stewart was very good as well but nothing less that we expected.
As far as the ship itself was concerned you'd hardly believe there were 3,100 passengers on board as we had very little trouble getting into most of the onboard venues. There was more than enough entertainment, if fact we found at times we couldn't get to everything. The shows were very good and the food was amazing. Obviously too much to choice from but we weren't complaining. Some of the passengers we spoke with who'd been on other Princess cruises said the food was below that of other the cruises. If that was the case then I can't imagine how good that food must have been!
We took a few on shore tours and must admit were disappointed. Mainly with what we paid for what we got. At half the price they would have been worth it but not for what we paid. In fact the best day trips we had were the free one's where we just went a shore on our own. We would look seriously at organising our own on shore excursions in the future.
Probably our biggest bug bear was the charging of gratuities. Coming from Australia we're of the belief that gratuities are paid for a job well done and over and above what is expected. Even though the staff on board were excellent they did nothing more than we expected from a cruise which cost us over $A7,500. There's nothing worse than paying for something and then finding yourself having to dip into you pocket over and over again. We weren't the only one's who felt this way and even some Americans agreed with us and their the champions of gratuities. Some advice to Princess... charge an all inclusive fee. An extra $300 would have fazed us at all!
All in all though we loved the cruise and are looking forward to our next one.