First of all, we did enjoy our cruise, especially the time spent in ports. However, of all the cruises we have taken this was the one that needs the most improvement.
Embarkation: We took the Princess transfer from Victoria Coach Station. Our information said to get there between 11am - 11:30am with the coach leaving at noon. When we arrived at 11am it was already extremely crowded and we ended up on the last bus out. If you want to be on an earlier coach I would suggest getting there about 10:30am. At the dock we were told we would have a 10 minute wait to get on the ship. It ended to be about an hour and a half. We were given a card with a letter on it and had to wait to be called.
Cabin: We had a mini suite on the Emerald deck. Our suite was fine. The bed was very comfortable. Our stateroom attendant was excellent and very personable. Only problem we had here was that we were over the Vista Lounge and it was loud in our cabin in the evening. May not be for you if you want to retire early. We had a similar mini suite on the Coral with no problem.
Dining: We had Anytime Dining and it was not a good experience. We had done AT on the Sapphire with no problem and like the concept. On the Grand we had a buzzer every night (tried sharing and made no difference). The waits kept getting longer and finally by Day 10 we were waiting 40 mins. At this point I complained and we were seated in a timely manner for the last 4 nights. We will go back to traditional dining.
Food: Variable. It went from a free range chicken dish I had which was excellent to beef fajitas I could not eat. Beef was not good except for lunch we had in final day in Horizon Court. Enjoyed fresh omelets in Horizon Court and lunch there was quite good. Desserts were strongest point, but it was nice not to have to cook.
Sabtini's: We dined there one night. I would not do it again. The food was no better then the dining room. We do not need large amounts. Only difference we saw was that it was quieter and service more leisurely.
Room Service: We ordered breakfast several times especially on port days and had prompt service.
Entertainment: LOUD. Princess seems to think we are all deaf. First shows tended to be SRO.
Scholarship@ sea: This to me is a strong point of Princess. We had an excellent art historian Cynthia Venables on the ship who gave very interesting lectures.
Ports: We went on excursions with the roll call for Le Havre and Lisbon which were very enjoyable. We love the smaller tours. We took Princess tours for Vigo (Santiago de Compestelo on your own) and the Azores (Sete Cedes with wine tasting) which we really enjoyed. In Bermuda we took the ferry to Hamilton.
Sea Days: Could have used more activities. This was a weak point of this cruise. I would suggest at least longer hours for the library. The sales office also had long lines and only had one representative.
Disembarkation: Slow. Requesting everyone to leave their cabins at 8:00am caused massive congestion in the elevators. People who are normally nice folks turned quite nasty! Disembarking by color tags was running behind by about 40 mins when we were waiting to disembark at 9:30am. We were told there was a long line waiting to get through customs. We went ahead and left at our time even though our color had not been called as we had to make our flight. No problem. Hardly any line at all and breezed through.
Final thoughts: We planned this cruise way in advance to take advantage of frequent flyer flights and hotel points. Were we disappointed or delighted? I think we very much enjoyed the ports and were somewhat disappointed on Princess especially on ATD. We did end up getting a future cruise deposit which at one point I was really wondering about. However, we finally decided there was more about Princess to like than dislike!