My wife and I first decided on Princess 14nt Hawaii cruise, then decided to also invite my wife's 90 yr old mother along as visiting Hawaii was a bucket list item for her and because the cruise was round trip out of LA thus requiring limited air travel, which is difficult for her due to limited mobility. Our 3 person cruise then expanded to 12 people as my wife's side of the family decided this was a golden opportunity to share a family vacation.
I have to give Princess the highest marks for embarkation and disembarkation. The process was efficient and quick.
The cabin was spacious and the bathroom surprisinglyy roomy.
Over all the ship looked well maintained and was clean.
We had a 5:30 booked diner reservation in the Vivaldi dining room and although towards the end of the cruise the meal selections was getting repetitive the food was good and the service pleasant.
We also dined on occasion in the Horizon Buffet and I was impressed again with the planning and staff efficiency as we never had to wait in line ups and could always find a table. Again the food was good.
The ship's entertainment was very good. We looked forward to the nightly entertainment in the Princess theatre and although we did not take advantage of most of the nightly entertainment in the various lounges there was always something interesting going on. Important to note is that this entertainment went on till well after midnight not the usual 9/10pm, which was a very pleasant surprise.
Another unexpected surprise was the quality of Kids programs. We travelled with 3 children ages 8, 10, and 12 and had to "book" time with them, as they were reluctant to leave the programs provided to them by the excellent staff running the kid's zone program. Well done!!!
Okay on to a few negatives.
When booking the cruise as mentioned above , I had booked a mini suite for my wife and I which would have been great. When we decided to include my mother in law , I contacted the cruise line and informed them of our decision they happily helped us out, informing us that our best option was to upgrade our cabin to be able to include a third person.( Because of her mobility issues, my wife thought it best if we shared the cabin so that she could more easily assist her mother) This upgrade plus adding a person cost us an additional $2600.00 This would have been acceptable except that the spare bed was an old pull out couch ( comfort was not an option) so I ended up on the couch and my wife and her mother in separate beds. Why am I mentioning this. Well I would have been very grateful if the booking agent had informed me that the pull out beds were not very good and that we could have booked another separate cabin across the hall for $800.00 less than the cost of our upgrade, thus giving us an actual bed good bed and an extra bathroom. NOT IMPRESSED with booking agent!!!
Although this ship is classified as handicap friendly we found the corridors leading to the cabins were a bit narrow when the staff had there service carts out which was usually in the mornings as we were heading for breakfast and in the evenings when we left for dinner and returned after the show.
The last negative, which is just a personal peeve of mine, is how cruise companies take great pains to create the illusion that they are " competitive to an all inclusive vacation " yet once aboard you are informed that Yes , although coffee, tea and water are free you have to go to the buffet on the 14 deck to access these free amenities and if you which to get a coffee, tea or water any where else there is a charge or you have to purchase a coffee or soda card. So you purchase a coffee and soda card which you use but since now that the beverage is "free" the server is not getting a gratuity, which makes the service, although friendly, much more shall we say reserved, not very pleasant. Even the beverages including the bottled water in the rooms have a charge. Now all this would be fine except that they charge for these products as if you were ordering them in the middle of the Sahara Desert. For having "duty free" ship there is no need to charge $3.00 for a can of pop or similar sized bottle of water and I won't even mention the cost of the cocktails.
In conclusion we enjoyed the cruise, loved the openness of the ship, especially the pool areas but were a little disappointed with the add ons. Aside from the embarkation and Kid's club staff who were exceptional, the service staff were competent but reserved, only doing what was expected, and needing to be asked if something needed replacing or if assistance was require, and although we still tipped over and above the daily amount tacked on to your room, one wonders if the disbursement of these daily charges are not really going to those who are "doing the work" but are rather disbursed in hierarchy fashion, which would probably very much create a "why should I do more than required attitude of reserved friendliness"