My wife and I embarked with another couple at Southampton, and as you may have read in other reviews, the check-in was a little slower than we have experienced on previous cruises from Southampton.
We had a balcony cabin on 'E' for Emerald deck, about mid-ship. It was advertised as 'obstructed' so the life-boat outside the window was no surprise. The view was not as obstructed as some cabins can be, but it was not possible to look down at the sea. If I were on for a longer holiday, I'd prefer to be a little higher up. Other than that the room was very pleasant. The bathroom is tiny but with a shower curtain rather the (more constricting) shower-door and felt more 'plasticy' than the rest of the cabin. More of the cabin later!
After dropping out bags we set off to explore. The ship layout will be familiar to anyone who has spent time P&O ships. You can't always get from the front to the back without changing decks. It isn't the easiest layout I've seen but you get used to it.
It is not possible to walk all the way around the promenade deck, despite what the deck plan indicates. If you want to take a stroll outside you have to head for the upper decks. The top-deck areas are particularly impressive. There are many split levels which give terrific views both across the ship and at the surrounding scenery. This was probably my favorite feature. We did brave the out-door cinema screen. It would have been a terrific novelty to watch movies under the stars but as were in the English Channel it was a little cool. Never mind, that won't be this ships natural environment. You do have to a little careful to avoid watching the film from behind a palm tree though.
The buffet was very good. The food was very well prepared when compared with buffets on some other ships, some of which remind me of work-canteens. The Pastry Shop was particularly noteworthy and tempting. The selection was varied at any one time and indeed changed throughout the day.
The main restaurant was less good. We, unusually, opted for the 2nd seating so maybe the service was normal but it was very slow. We sat down at 8:15 and didn't finish our main course until 10:00 pm. That meant that if we stayed for dessert we would miss that nights theater show and some of the other entertainments. We opted to cut dinner short and head off to explore some more. Compared to the buffet, I felt the main restaurant meals were a little indifferent.
Fed and watered we retired for the evening. At about 1:00 am we became aware of a load and intermittent squeak coming from a wall. During the course of the night the joiner made 2 calls to our cabin to wedge the walls so that they would not move. It totally ruined our nights sleep. The joiner did make a better repair the next morning, but there was still a squeak the following evening. By now we were so tired we could have slept through a hurricane. I have cruised before and been in quite big seas, I know ships flex and there are occasionally noises but I have experienced nothing like that cabin.
I summary, the ship reminds me of an Alfa Romeo I had. It looks lovely, but it had been built by Italians so it rattled a bit. Perhaps you may want to let the first few cruises sort out the teething problems. I absolutely wouldn't choose Princess in preference to Celebrity which is qualitatively, in another league or Royal Caribbean, which was at least screwed together properly!