This was our 10 th cruise, all have been on Princess. We got off to a tough start as embarkation was very slow & un-organized. We were not given a group boarding number like many and were not told of the itinerary change when checking in. Due to weather we missed Princess Cays & added Grand Turk on our Return from the East. Caribbean. No biggie as we have never been to G. Turk and P. Cays is a tender and just a beach day basically. After 90 minutes of crowded passengers crammed into the main waiting area we were able to board, and in our Emerald deck 8 state room by 1 pm. It seemed everyone got there early and were anxious to board the new mega-ship asap, like us ! It is a beautiful ship , quite large, decorated smartly, a very classy looking.
Our room was right at mid-ship, clean, and big enough for two, 9 x 20 with little outside obstruction. Many folks had tender obstruction outside their balconies blocking their views outward. Emerald deck 8 may not be to your liking in this regard ?The "up's and downs", and there are many, came into play daily, it was quite difficult to navigate the ship due to a lack of stairs mid-ship, and small, slow, and very crowded elevators. At night it would sometimes take 3 or 4 elevator stops before you could find room to get on, we were late for our dinner times on several occasions ! Many were complaining continuously during the cruise about how difficult it was to go up or down, and get around from deck to deck. The ship holds 3,600 and with only 2 average size pools, and none aft, it was apparent of another major design flaw. The plunge pool (kiddie) was only 10 X 10 tiny, when they had room for a 20 X 20 pool, more wasted space. The "Casino" was way too small as well, at times you could'nt even get down an Isle to play a machine because of over crowding, & narrow isles. The spiral staircase that lands in the middle while beautiful, takes up 10 square feet of the casino, not practical at all. The pro's on this ship were good service above average food, even in the buffet, comfortable beds, best production shows we have ever seen on Princess and great entertainment overall. Carlos Oscar, the Beatlemaniacs, David Cats, and 2 groups of Princess singers & dancers were not to be missed, best we have ever seen. The new design of the theater fills up quickly, but with 2/3 shows nightly, your sure to get a seat. Some of the other game shows, and activities were in much smaller undersized public venues, get to those early or you won't find a seat ! The 2 bands Volume & Steele were just okay, many songs sounded alike after a while. " Food " was hit n miss, sometimes very good sometimes not, but servers although very busy, were very good, and would bring you whatever you wanted. Loved the Lobster & Prawns, Shrimp, & Pork Tenderloin. We loved the "Pub Lunches in the Wheelhouse, delicious Fish n Chips, Prawns & Bangers & Mash. The "Horizon Court" was laid out better than their grand class ships and lines moved swiftly through a huge variety of items and sectional like areas. The deserts were a little disappointing for me, lack of variety, in the bufett, unless you like cakes.
Overall it's a beautiful ship with many innovations and beautiful decor. We loved the larger M.U.T.S. screen and the light show, although very brief. The crew works very hard and is very friendly for the most part. The ship was very stable and timely in and out of all ports. Overall we just think she has a lot of flaws and that many venues design and layouts were lacking in size, and efficiency. Many reviews we have read were right on the money, especially navigating the ship and trying to get around. The Elevators just can't move enough passengers fast enough. They really need to open up that mid-stairwell all the way down to deck 5, instead of just allowing just the crew to use it !