I have cruised with Princess 10 times to many different ports, but this was our first Grand Mediterranean. I enjoyed the itinerary and excursions. Although some excursions were very pricey, we stayed with ship recommended trips because we are new to this area. The captain issued a letter the day before Istanbul to assure us our safety was number one and we should stay with our excursions and away from protesters. I had no fear Princess was up to date with any threats and would keep us safe.
Check in was easy, smooth and quick. We were in our room by 1pm. Our cabin was one of many that had air problems. Since this was only the second long cruise, I wasn't overly surprised with the little problems here and there, but taking over 12 hours to get someone to our room to fix it became frustrating when told , at 12:30am, that the chief engineer was asleep in his room. A very patient night supervisor actually went down to the crew area to get help. At 2am it only took ten minutes to fix the problem via computer outside our room. I am sure the lack of communication between the crew will work itself out as they sail together this year. Air conditioning problems prevailed the entire cruise for us and many other guests. Again, something not totally unexpected on a very new ship. You take your chances cruising on a newbie!
What disappointed me was the ship design/layout and the new direction Princess Cruises seems to be headed.
Of course the ship was clean, sparkling and fresh.
First noticed is the lack of a usable stair case mid ship. Decks 7 and up had to wait and wait to use the very crowded elevators. I booked mid ship!
No promenade deck to sit or walk. This eliminated early morning strolls or late night romantic walks around the deck. Instead this ship boasted no room had an obstructed view. This means Princess could get more money.
One swimming "hole" for the children and two small pools for the rest of the almost 4000 cruisers. Instead of expanding the pools, a raised magic fountain deck was stuck in the middle of the pool deck. What a waste of space and money. A five minute "light/water" show at night was a joke. Even if the show was good, or perhaps "Vegas" like, a bigger pool for 4000 guests was more important. Luckily, this cruise was in port nine out of twelve days. Last year, I took a cruise to Hawaii with 9 days at sea. I would have jumped overboard to get in the water.
There was nice seating under cover on the pool deck and some nice lounge area to get out of the sun and have a drink or snack. Nice idea.
Rooms were the typical Princess cabins but the balconies were smaller. Gone are the larger balconies found on the older Princess Ships. Its squeeze everyone in. Even the mini suites and larger suites had small balconies. No eating a romantic meal out there. The bathroom shower is a little bigger, but just like all the other reviews said..you can here next door's TV all night and what were they thinking with that toilet paper holder.
Princess tried to keep the flow of eaters for breakfast and lunch going by having a very large Horizon Court and Bristo. I thought they did a good job and as usual there was many choices for breakfast and lunch. Keeping the food hot seemed to be a very big problem.
What was a definite slide back is the dinner menu. Nothing to get your appetite going. Bland and tasteless for the most part. No theme nights, nothing out of the ordinary. When in Greece, why not something Greek on the menu? Good old American Turkey over stuffing was offered the first formal night. Really? If you want a steak, not medallions of steak, of course you can go to Crown Grill and pay more. I paid enough for my cruise that I resent having to pay more to eat a full steak. But more and more, pay more, eateries are on this ship. Usually when all else fails you can lose yourself in a delicious dessert..no. Thank goodness there was ice cream available for dessert every night. Perhaps putting a retired British Army chef in charge was a bad idea. It seems Princess wants to force you to go to specialty restaurants so they really did a very poor job in the dinning room. Okay, why hold back now, they did a real shitty job in the dinner menu. Over the past ten years it has been getting less impressive, but this year it sucked. The worst restaurant in New York City is a step up.!
Lack of entertainment or things to do is another very big disappointment.
There was very little activities to do on board than past cruises. I did enjoy many afternoons at The Vines doing wine flights with Ronnie and his crew. The biggest charge on my bill after excursions was from The Vines. Even there, they cut down on the good wine brands and serving tapas and sushi with flights.
Movies Under the Stars latest movie was a 8 pm. So nothing for late dinners except very old concerts. Every night. Of course there was always that wonderful five minute out of sync water/light/music show!!
Went to almost every show or production. They were okay. The singers will get their act together in a few weeks I guess. They tried and I appreciated it. The other entertainers were okay, too. Many people were complaining about the quality of the shows. We even went to Princess Live to see a show. Again, a waste. The venue is too small for a show, except for the Princess Theater there is no other place. All the other lounges that could hold a crowd for a show are gone to make room for a money making venue..
If you wanted to be a contestant on Dancing with the Stars all you had to do is go to the Atrium at 10pm. No other place to have a nice dance without three floors of people gawking over the rails judging your every move. The Wheelhouse Bar has been made super small with no dance floor and no band. They needed more room to make the Crown Grill bigger. They also put in a Wine Room for that extra special, extra cost dinner. Gone are most lounges to sit back and enjoy some music, unless you like piano. Why did they put the photo venue on the main atrium? Were they afraid someone would forget to buy their pictures?
And , of course, the art gallery got bigger..I always go on a cruise to by art. Then the ship dies at 11pm. Unless you want to donate at the casino.
Princess usually has less children on board. I'm sure the itinerary plus summer vacation increased the number of families. I have no problem with children, I have my own, they should have a great time on a cruise, too. I blame the parents for allowing them to run up and down the halls yelling and taking the breakfast menus and fruit requests off the doors at 1 am, not Princess!
Is this Princess' new direction? Giving up quality for quantity? Not caring what their loyal cruisers enjoyed the most about Princess? Or is it about, what can we do to get more money from our passengers? I don't mind paying the price, but there is less for me to enjoy on board. Sadly, perhaps it is time to move on!