We flew to New York first and took the Amtrak train up to Montreal - despite the internet reviews the train was on time into Montreal and it's a great trip
along the Hudson and through upper New York State. We then spent four days in Montreal and Ottowa finally taking the VIA train to Quebec - again a good trip and so easy to book on line in advance.
Quebec is a fabulous location to start a cruise and having two days there to start is perfect. Shops, restaurants and points of interest are just a short walk away. The ship is a 10 dollar taxi ride from the station and boarding was stress free, we were in our state room within 15 minutes. We had chosen a mini suite this time, the price difference over a standard balcony stateroom was marginal, and it's much roomier. Our room steward was excellent, as was room service.
We were in a good mood as the cruise started but it did not last long. The boat drill was badly managed and delayed for over half an hour because of some late returners from a trip. OK this happens but there was no announcement for 15 mins and then we had to wait another 20 minutes before it started. The captain came on and made no apologies and, to cap it all, by the time we were finished, the ship was already half way down the river. Surely an announcement to tell us the drill was delayed half an hour would not have been difficult. At least then we would not have been sitting in the theatre looking at each other wondering what was going on.
Entertainment, especially trivia quizzes and dance music are something that Princess does well and this time was no exception. The Beatles tribute band were excellent and the 50s/60s night one of the best we have been at. This was our second cruise on the ship, we were on it in 2009 in the Baltic, yet we were recognised by two of the bar staff - both scary and flattering. We were also pleased to see the deputy cruise director, Ryan, who had impressed us in the past on other ships.
Other good points included the ability to print off your bill at any time from a machine in the piazza and a very helpful Internet manager in the Internet cafe - bad marks though for being unable to use upgraded I Pads. Princess also need to install an interactive system on their TVs to allow you to book trips remotely - the queues at the shore excursion desk were very long. There are a lot of other ships in the same ports at the same time and you need to book the trips in advance (before boarding) as many were sold out before the ship left. Fortunately we had booked ours so were OK but many were disappointed.
We always choose anytime dining as we prefer to dine on a table for two when we want - large tables are not for us. It works as long as you remember to phone every morning and request a booking time - lots of people didn't do this and ended up queuing - why Princess are unable to book tables for the whole cruise in advance like other cruise lines is beyond us. We thought the food was so so - the choice was fine but the taste was bland. The waiting and bar staff were excellent but we could not say the same for their management. We had a real problem one evening with the sommelier - the previous evening someone had put our bottle of red wine in the fridge overnight. The assistant waiter apologised and said the head waiter would come over and sort it out. He passed the buck to the sommelier who then tried to convince us that cold red wine is acceptable. He was very ungracious about it finally agreeing that he would make an exception and replace it. The waiter was very apologetic but it's not his fault - they could have turned a mistake into a really positive thing but they didn't.
The itinerary was port intensive, only the first day was at sea. The weather was generally OK with only two half days of rain but some of the Canadian stops did not have much to do. We were also expecting to see the autumn colours but were disappointed as, apparently the maritime climate means that the trees lose their leaves later. A useful point in Boston, which the ship does not tell you about, is a fantastic bus service from the port terminal that connects straight into the underground train system - the port lecturers were also disappointing, they did not seem to know much more than the standard Princess hand outs - we were in Boston on Sunday and a simple enquiry by us over opening hours was met with " they did not know as they had never been there on a Sunday before".
Overall it was a good trip, some interesting ports ( we thought the US ones generally better than Canada) and we met some very pleasant people.