The staterooms are small like many other cruise ships. However, these are even smaller than the staterooms of some other cruise lines. In addition, the first room that I had on the Sea Princess, A527, was old and outdated. The drawers were broken and did not slide out easily. The temperature settings for the water in the shower did not work well at all. Sometimes after leaving the shower on for a while, the water will get VERY hot, and even setting the water at the lowest temperature will not make any difference. As with any old ship (or building), the walls are very thin. You can hear people in the rooms around you coughing, and can hear conversations in the hallway very clearly. In the morning, expect to wake up to the sounds of housekeeping cleaning the rooms near you.
In our room specifically, A527, there was a spot on the floor that would bend and pop in and out of place. It's as if it was a metal plate that had a bend in it. It couldn't be triggered by just walking around the room, but when the ship was in motion, it would have a loud "pop" when it would go out of place, and then another loud "pop" when it popped back into place. It would be as loud as someone banging on a door or a wall. If it were just the sound, it may not have been as bad, but when it did this, since the foot of the bed was near this spot, it would shake the bed too. During the first half of the cruise, it would only do this every few minutes or so when the ship was in motion, so it somewhat could be ignored (although it still led to nights without good sleep). However, near the end of the cruise, this area would pop in and out of place every few seconds, about 5 to 8 times a minute. This caused us not to get any sleep at all, and we finally got the front desk to switch us to another stateroom. Keep in mind that this cruise was completely sold out, so we were only able to switch to another stateroom because one cleared out after one of the passengers disembarked the ship early. The cruise staff said they would try to fix the issue, but being that this cannot be observed unless the ship were in motion, eventually the customer relations manager took charge and moved us into an upgraded oceanview room E338. This room seemed to not have the issues of the other room. The other room was an inside room, and this was our first time staying in an inside room whereas in other cruises we had always stayed in an oceanview room. However, normally the only difference between the 2 was that one can see the ocean. Still, after staying in the oceanview room during the last few days of our cruise, it is apparent that there are major differences:
• Slightly larger stateroom, but still smaller than some of the staterooms of other cruise ships.
• The deadbolt lock actually locks.
• None of the cabinets are broken, so they all roll out smoothly.
• The hinges of the bathroom door is more stiff. This prevents the door from swinging open and close while the ship is moving. This was an issue with the original room.
Finally, the hallways and staterooms (actually, just about everywhere on the ship) smell bad on the Sea Princess. I know that many cruise ships have issues with people's flatulence or whatever, but this one is especially bad. It smells like urine/feces walking through many of the hallways, and that smell eventually gets into the staterooms as well.
The shows are all made for the senior crowd on the ship, which makes up over 95% of the passengers. Almost all the music is from the 1960's or older. This is fine, but at least have more variety that caters to people of other age groups as well. I would have appreciated music from the 80's at least. I'm in my 30s, so I'm not exactly a kid (relatively speaking), but entertainment options on other cruises that I've been on had much more variety than the ones on the Sea Princess.
Aside from the shows, the rest of the onboard "entertainment" is pretty much a joke. Princess Cruises tries to turn almost anything into a way to sell things to the passengers, whether it be items from their boutique shops, seminars for their spa, fitness classes, teeth whitening, etc. Their "late night parties" are always empty since as mentioned earlier, almost all the senior passengers go to sleep as soon as the last show ends, and the few that remain aren't enough to get more people to stay.
The food on the Sea Princess ranges from decent to good quality. The buffet food can be hit and miss, but the problem with the buffet food is that it's almost the same thing every day. While this is fine for a short cruise (< 5 days), this cruise was for 13 days. 13 days is a long time to see pretty much the same stuff every day. The breakfast looks almost identical each day. Lunch and dinner have almost the same items with very few changes.
The restaurants, most of the time, have better food. There's a good variety every day, and the quality is good. One thing I noticed however, is that while many other cruise lines have top quality food on their formal nights, this doesn't seem to be the case with the food on this cruise. The formal night food was about the same as every other night.
The service in all cruise ships is generally very good. The main server that we had at the restaurant was excellent. However, for the nights that they had the flexible dining times and we would get different servers, the service was just average for the most part.
One annoying thing about the way Princess handles their buffet dining room was that they would always try to close off about half of their dining room, especially during breakfast and lunch. Even when it got busy, this would still be the case. This would lead to not enough tables for people to sit. I know that they don't want to have their staff run everywhere trying to clean up after people in the entire dining room, but there were many times when there simply were not enough tables available, and people would walk around for a long time looking for an available table. We even had our table taken over by another passenger once, even after we had just put our plates down on the table and had just left to grab a drink.
Housekeeping for the most part kept things clean. Some things would be missed, especially on the days where our normal housekeeping person was ill and another person had to take over.
For a 13 day cruise, we ended up having 7 days at sea and only 6 port days, when originally it was only supposed to be 5 days at sea. Overall, 3 of the 8 original ports were cancelled. Now, I do understand situations of weather preventing access to some ports. This was a cruise to New Zealand in October, so yes, there are some windy conditions. The first two sailing days were very rough with many people getting seasick. However, those are just the conditions of the sea, and that's not what I'm using when I give this rating.
The first port delay was Tauranga. It was reported that there were windy conditions, and this prevented the ship from getting into the port. The ship had to wait and recheck every 4 to 7 hours. This of course took up the entire day, and the ship did not get there until night time. Still, Princess Cruises was intent on having this be one of the stops, and therefore, everything else became delayed a day. The problem is that this resulted in the cruise cancelling the last TWO ports in the Southern tip of New Zealand, and replacing them with a much less interesting port in the MIDDLE of New Zealand. One would think that they would just cancel one other port and continue traveling the original route. Therefore, this was no longer a cruise that went AROUND New Zealand. It would only be one that visited a few different ports in the North Island, and a couple less interesting ports in the South Island, and then go back through the middle.
So schedules change. The part that is the most irritating about this was that Princess Cruises would use the weather as something that they could blame for everything, and that it was always for "the safety and security of our passengers". The exact wording used in the memo when they cancelled the last two ports read as the following: "The forecast weather for later in the cruise from Port Chalmers to Fiordland is expected to intensify around the south end of New Zealand. As the safety and security of our passengers and crew is our highest priority, and to avoid the worst of the weather, we have made the necessary decision to cancel our calls to Port Chalmers and Fiordland National Park." This satisfied many of the passengers on the ship, since after all, "There's nothing we can do about the weather." However, I did check the weather for those locations as the cruise continued. According to the weather forecast as those days approached, the actual weather was excellent, even better than the weather in the other ports. It seems Princess Cruises just used weather as an excuse to skip the Southern ports of New Zealand when they really needed to stop at Tauranga an extra day to resupply. It just feels like Princess Cruises is very dishonest in what they tell their passengers.
Also, there were many delays getting people to shore at the ports. Some delays were due to weather, but even when weather was not an issue, the cruise ship would have issues with the tenders and even the required local shuttle buses, even after the cruise staff promises that "there will be no tenders and the buses will be a smooth operation". Well, tender tickets were still used for the buses, and there was always still a large delay regardless. Overall, Princess Cruises is very disorganized, and cannot handle any situation that changes their plans, including the disembarkation of the ship.
I guess we would fit in more with the rest of the crowd if we were retired and didn't mind spending so much time stuck on a ship. However, due to the quality of the staterooms and the loss of time at the actual ports in the schedule, I cannot recommend the Sea Princess. The overall feel is just that Princess Cruises just does things to get as much money from their passengers, and don't care to deliver as promised. When passengers pay so much to see certain locations listed in the agenda, at least make it look like you are really trying to get them there. Of the different cruises that I have taken, this one was the worst. I can't say that this was a good way to spend our honeymoon, and that I'm glad the cruise was not the only part (although a large part) to our honeymoon.