While I enjoyed this cruise and while I'd be willing to take Princess a second time, I would probably prefer a different line based on this sailing. Note: This was one of the last sailings of the Grand Princess before its 2011 re-fit. Even though there were some leaks and elevator issues, the ship itself was not a problem. The problem was the skimping. Carnival seems to have made Princess more of a nickel and dime line which puzzled a lot of guests who see it as a step up from Carnival and a rival to a RCL's Celebrity. The worst of this appeared to the crew's own experience. Our steward was visibly exhausted (he appeared feverish at times) and we never saw him have any help. He was friendly, though, and thorough. Our waiters were also overworked. Other corners cut included no beverages in the buffet other than water for most of the voyage and a reluctance to let diners have more than one entree in the main dining room, which sounds reasonable to me, but caused complaints.
Here are some good points:
The Princess crew was highly responsive. The issue with only having water in the buffet was met with signs about asking for lemonade. Problems with not knowing where to meet tours in one island were dealt with at the next. When the air went out in our room, it was fixed within the hour. The captain seemed more amenable to waiting for "lost sheep" than any other I've sailed with. The entertainment staff did a great job - although one junior staffer named Daniel couldn't score trivia competitions to save his life, they were overall a very fun and funny bunch.
Food was good in the main dining room, and often exceptionally so. Menus were not as clearly marked for special diets as Carnival's, but still fine. Service was fantastic. Princess (at least on this voyage) did a much better job than other lines (including Celebrity) when it comes to feeding its guests at off hours and late nights.
The stateroom was smallish but serviceable. In my mom's opinion, the beds seemed oriented in the wrong direction to handle the rocking of a ship, but I slept fairly well. Public areas were comfortable as were noise levels. Smoke-free nights in the casino worked better than "smoke-free areas"(note the quotes)on other lines.
The itinerary was fantastic as was nearly every tour. Princess had a generous cancellation policy for their tours and a helpful excursion staff.
To look at the negative, the dining room staff messed up our dining as we'd asked for a set time and table with hopes of meeting new friends we'd eat with every night. Thanks to overbooking of the "eat when you want" program, we ate with new people nearly every night, and unfortunately the nice people we'd never see again but the grouches would be sure to turn up. :) The inattention to fixing this problem led to the maitre'd receiving our only complaint on their survey form. Still, this wasn't something that would seriously mar a nice trip to the tropics.
Believe it or not, the main problem with this cruise was our fellow guests. We were not the only ones commenting on how many people said, "I hate cruising" on this voyage and making ridiculous statements like "There's nothing to eat on this ship. All I've been having is crushed ice". I've never sailed out of Fort Lauderdale or anywhere else in Florida before, so the "Geez, what a drag cruising is" mentality might be more related to the port of departure than Princess, but I think enough guests were disappointed with an apparent drop in the level of amenities on Princess that it contributed to an overall atmosphere of frustration.
Embarkation/Debarkation: - smooth in both directions, Princess transfers seemed a bit expensive considering how close the Fort Lauderdale airport is to the pier.
Entertainment: - Enjoyable, especially good was a comedian who was also a self-help lecturer-excellent. Note that trivia competition was fierce and taken to an oddly serious level, so study your foreign capitals and Oscar winners!
Would I recommend this cruise? Yes, for the itinerary. It's not easy to get to Saint Vincent or Santo Domingo, and they were both fantastic. I would recommend it even more so if they switched out a few islands like St. Kitts and Princess Cay for others like Grand Turk, Tortola, or Martinique.