We choose our cruises based on where they are going, not necessarily the cruise line. We have have been cruising for 15 years, and have traveled on most of the high-end lines. This was our first experience with Princess, and if this was any guide, our last.
First, the positives:
1. The ship was well-maintained and clean, inside and out.
2. The service was quite good, except for our cabin steward who a bit surly.
3. Our mini suite was quite large and well outfitted, with a tub, two TVs, refrigerator, a large closet and plenty of drawer storage.
4. The entertainment was excellent - comedians and high-energy stage productions.
5. There were several laundromat rooms distributed throughout the ship, but ours had two machines that were inoperative throughout the cruise, making doing laundry even harder.
Now, the negatives:
1. The dock check-in process was designed to serve their 'Elite' passengers, not everyone else. As a result, we had to wait until ALL the Elite pax had checked in before we were allowed to do so. That took an extra hour.
2. The food was a big disappointment. It was either tasteless or oddly-tasting.
3. When ordering a mixed drink, the waiter always provided the most expensive liquor, rather than asking for my choice. I learned that lesson quickly.
4. Before the cruise, I called Princess to inquire whether there was a shuttle from Southampton to Heathrow, and was told no (there was). So I arranged for a private car & driver for the same amount of money.
5. At several ports, there was a shuttle provided by the port authority, but no mention was made about that on the daily newsletter.
6. Several passengers signed up for excursions on days where there was a national holiday, and the primary attractions there would have been closed.
7. The wi-fi charge for non-Elite pax is quite high - I simply used the free wi-fi at the port terminal buildings. It ought to be free for all pax.
8. The TVs had Fox & MSNBC. These are opinion channels, not news. Only BBC could be reliably counted on for news, but much of it concerned places and events that would not interest Americans. Having CNN would have been a good addition.
9. There was a tender operation at Guernsey, but the sea was quite rough. The Queen Mary was in port and they did not run their tenders. On that day's newsletter was a sensible note saying that if a pax was in a wheelchair, she would not be allowed to take a tender. Thus, I was shocked to see a woman in a wheelchair be manhandled onto the tender, and then strapped into place on the platform and also held by two crew members during the violent ride. Why have such a safety rule and then violate it?