This was our first time sailing on Princess. We took the March 23rd trip on the Crown Princess out of Galveston (visiting Roatan, Belize & Cozumel). It really was a great trip & a great ship. The ship was beautiful, lots of different areas to spend your time, lots of activities to participate in. We had a balcony room on the Riviera deck, just below Lido. It was very nice & had lots of storage. I was a little worried that the noise from the pool areas would carry down to our room, but I never noticed any pool noise. Just the scooting of loungers at night, which was no problem.
We didn't get a chance to check out everything, so I'm just going to review the highlights. We used The Sanctuary for 2 1/2 days (during the days at sea). It costs $10 pp for half a day. I thought it was WELL worth it. You get a quiet, relaxing area, with filtered sunlight. The Sanctuary is beautiful, with soft cushioned loungers. The hubby & I managed to get a double lounger facing the windows every day. If you ask nicely, they can shuffle the loungers around & add a lounger at the window if all of the other window spots are booked. If you don't book an entire week at The Sanctuary, you need to be there BEFORE 8am to book your spot for the day. I know they say 8am, but get there earlier. By 8am, most of the prime spots have already been taken. If you like to lounge outside & relax, this is the place to do it. Otherwise, you're fighting for regular loungers in the sun with hundreds of other people, lots of noise & you will BAKE.
One of the main reasons I went with Princess was for the Movies Under the Stars. It was pretty good. The first night, we found a prime spot & it was really enjoyable. Later on, the more people find out about the movies, you will have to nab a spot early or get stuck with an obstructed view of the screen. They have blankets, which you will need, its chilly & windy. Most nights they start off handing out popcorn & towards the end of the movie, its cookies & milk. We watched 2 movies & I wish we could have fit in more.
The Princess Theater was nice. They had a musician who did two shows & he did music from the 60's & 70's, which I really liked. The cruise productions are good as well. I will say I was more impressed with the theater & shows on Royal Caribbean cruises.
The only real complaint I have about Princess was the food. We ate all of our dinners in the main dining area. Unless you're a seafood lover (which most people are), your choices are kind of limited. I don't eat seafood, so I was eating beef at pretty much every dinner, which I'm fine with. However, both my husband & I found the food to be bland. It was really lacking in flavor. One night I ordered prime rib & it came out tasting like pot roast. I've sailed on Royal Caribbean twice & the food was AMAZING, so I was expecting the same here & was disappointed. If you REALLY enjoy cruise food, go with Royal Caribbean instead. The buffet areas have lots of choices, but again the food seemed to be lacking flavor.
All in all, it was a great trip. All of the staff was friendly & the ship is well run. I loved The Sanctuary & The Movies Under the Stars, but was really disappointed with the food. If food isn't that important, you will love the cruise. Personally, I'm going to be sticking with Royal Caribbean.