This was our first time sailing on princess cruises lines and we couldn't of been happier. From the moment we arrived on the ship to leaving on the last day we felt like royalty. The only negative thing that happened to us was they lost a piece of our luggage and didn't find it until after we sailed. We pushed them to find it as it contained all our meds and electronics and they contacted each floor manager until it showed up. They made it up to us the next day with a note of apology in our room along with a plate of chocolate covered strawberries. Our room was quite comfortable located in the back of the ship on the 14th floor. We picked that location because a few steps from our room was a nice pool on the back of the ship that was nice a quiet because I don't think many people knew about it. Location was the greatest because we were 1 floor from restaurants, bar, coffee, hot tub and again it was a great place to read and relax. The other pools always have activities going on if that is what you are looking for.
We decided to do anytime dining and really loved it. We ate 4 evenings in the dining room and the others at the buffet. Both were excellent. We never paid for the restaurants that charged a cover charge because the food we ate was great and we also tried to experience food in port as much as we could. Both dress up nights were very classy. The nice thing about this ship is that it never seemed crowded even though it was sold out. You could find places on the ship that were noisy if you wanted or very very quiet. One of our favorite things to do was Movies Under the Stars. What a great way to relax and enjoy an evening! You could either get a plate of food from the buffet or enjoy the, pizza, popcorn, ice cream and warm cookies with milk and sit outside on comfy lounge chairs covered with thick pads and warm blankets. We loved it! Great way to unwind after a long day in port. A real nice feature for us was room service in the morning if we didn't have time to go to breakfast. Food/coffee was always delivered on time. Again, being on the top floor we could run up to the buffet, get a plate of food and bring it to our room while we were getting ready.
As far as the ports, we took a couple cruise tours and the rest were private. If we had to do it again we would take all private tours. Private we're cheaper than the cruise tours, smaller groups (sometimes just the two of us), and much more relaxing. Large ship tours had one guide with earphones that you listened to the guide speaking but if you weren't close you had a hard time hearing and you spent more time looking for the guide and not looking at the sights. All of our private tours we were picked up at the terminal when they said they would be there and we were dropped back off in plenty of time. Great guides, great time. More to follow.
We arrived in Barcelona two days before the cruise began and stayed at the H10Universitat Hotel which was great. We wished we would have stayed an extra day as the first day we were too tired to really enjoy the city. The second day we were there we took the all day tour to Montserrat. I highly recommend the day. A beautiful monastery in the mountains where you will hear a boys choir like no other. Tour through Viator with Feliciano our guide. If i had to do it again I would have taken the hop on hop off bus tour when we first got in Barcelona. Oh we'll, next time. We stayed an extra night in Venice after leaving the ship at the most wonderful hotel (Hotel Metropole) exquisite with an excellent location on the grand canal. Highly recommended. Both hotels came with wonderful free breakfast and great coffee.
Special tips from us: don't worry so much about what the cruise ships tells you as far as what to wear on the tours, it really didn't matter anywhere. No coverings on your heads for churches, no Monte Carlo gambling unless men dressed in suits (not true), knees covered for women (not true). Internet on the ship was great when we were in ports. It was really worth it for us. Also we rented an international phone that was great for us to call home while in port. Any questions email me at firstname.lastname@example.org