We are Princess "elite" class cruisers and this was our 17th aboard a Princess ship. Overall, we'd have to give the ship a "B-minus" rating. We were generally disappointed and mystified about some of the design changes.
- The in-cabin entertainment system is a big improvement with on-demand movies, several news channels, and a large TV screen.
- The new intranet system allows you to check your onboard account, see the daily activities (as you'd see in the Princess Patter), and more.
- We appreciated the free non-alcoholic drink package (in addition to one free mini-bar setup).
- Our cabin steward, as most we've had, was attentive and gave excellent service.
- Crew members were polite and friendly nearly everywhere.
- The seawalk on deck 16 is a useless addition. It is little used, once walked on, and interferes with the privacy of the balconies below it.
- The ridiculous placement of the toilet paper holder under the sink and in back of where one would normally reach it. You have to be part contortionist to reach the paper. C'mon Princess: did anybody actually try this out before it was installed in all the cabins?
- The balcony has shrunk to a nearly unusable size. Two chairs and a mini table. That's it.
- The ship's narrow width and shallow draft caused us to feel more motion while at sea than we've ever felt aboard any Princess ship. I actually felt seasick for about 30 hours. People in a nearby cabin also mentioned feeling poorly during the same period.
- Only one full-size pool is available. The other "splash" pool is a total waste; it's a small round pool surrounded by a huge amount of tile that no one seems to sit or stand on. A ship this size really needs two pools, as found on most of the other Princess ships.
- Promenade deck. Yes, there's one, but in name only. Passengers can no longer walk around the ship. There are a few open areas, such as outside Facets, with nice chairs and tables, but even there the lack of a roof overhead from the above deck leaves one totally out in the open. Many, many fellow passengers commented on this "feature" and said how much they miss this deck. I hope Princess will not continue removing this deck on its future ships!
- Horizon Court and the adjoining Horizon Bistro have a new arrangement of food set out in spread out areas, and a totally separate pastry area far away from the other food areas. Although this eliminated some food lines, we found it very inconvenient trying to locate things and much prefer the arrangement of everything in one area as found on the Emerald, Coral, Ruby, Grand, etc. Twice I totally lost track of my husband as we wandered around getting our meal.
- As usual, we found the Broadway shows to be much, much too loud, so much so that this detracted from the entertainment. Hey Princess: Yes, we're getting older, and some of us may be losing some hearing, but we're not deaf yet! Tone it down, please.
- The Princess Theater has two big flaws: A. No side aisle, so seat ingress/egress is totally from the center aisle. Not only is this more difficult to navigate, but also it could be dangerous in a situation where the theater might need to be evacuated quickly. B. The little trays that are normally stored inside the arm between each seat are non-existent. One wonders why this change was made!
- As many others have mentioned, there is no central staircase other than those in the atrium from decks 5 to 7. Consequently the central elevators are jammed and slow.
- As elite cruises we were supposed to receive upgraded bathroom amenities, but these never appeared.
- Embarkation in Ft. Lauderdale (Port Everglades) was a farce. So many "preferred boarding" (Platinum and Elite) passengers were apparently on this cruise that the other line waiting to get into the terminal moved along much faster than ours. This could be remedied beforehand when Princess has the numbers available of each type of cruiser about to board: when so many preferred boarders are going to be in line, they should create more counter spaces for that particular cruise. Overall, this was positively the worst boarding experience we've ever had with any cruise line. Many times we arrive at the terminal, and after a short wait transact our boarding procedure at the counter and go upstairs onto the ship and right into our cabin.
- Food: we eat many meals in alternative dining because of food allergies and food preferences. Overall, I think the quality of food has deteriorated from earlier years. I can recall four or five years ago having a fabulous cold seafood buffet in the Horizon Court (or perhaps it was the Cafe Caribe) the first night aboard: bowls of cold shrimp, oysters, mussels, etc., plus the usual side dishes, breads, salads, etc. On this cruise, dishes were repeated upstairs too much (I think we had roast pork 3 nights), and much of the food was very spicy. More non-spicy alternatives should be added, such as to the breakfast sausage offerings (both turkey sausage and pork sausage contained red pepper).
- Internet. The Internet Cafe is very small, but I think this may be because many passengers now have their own smart device along (I did). However, it was usually impossible to log on to the Internet from anywhere except the Piazza area. During our cruise, workmen were installing additional cable so that access would be improved throughout the ship. Why wasn't this done before the first launch of the ship?
- Sliding door to balcony. We had a couple of sea days with quite a bit of rolling motion. When out on the balcony, the sliding door from the cabin to the balcony would not stay shut; it kept opening and closing, banging and banging each time. We finally had to stuff a pillow on each side of it to keep it in place. This has never happened to us on any Princess cruise (and we've had a balcony on all but one of the other 16 cruises). It was extremely annoying.
We truly hope that Princess will take into account ours and others' comments about this ship, and correct some of these serious flaws before they appear again in the Regal Princess and future ships.
We will probably continue to sail with Princess, but definitely NOT on the Royal or Regal!