First of all, we had a wonderful cruise as we always do, which is why we have been on so many cruises.
The staff and service on board was outstanding, as was the cruise director and her staff along with the entertainment and all of the dining venues. The food selection was great, and the preparation and quality equally as good. The buffet area was especially nice. Don't miss Alfredo's, it's a real nice addition for Princess, and I'm surprised it didn't have a fee. As you can tell, we enjoyed ourselves, as I am sure many others will in the future.
Checking in at the cruise terminal was a disaster. We arrived at 11:00, and it appears Princess has cut back on the staff, their was a complete lack of direction by all. I'm quite sure this will be remedied in the very near future. However we did board just after noon, and the ship sailed on time.
Our disappointment was about the ship. I had been following her progress from the very beginning and kept up with every bit of news as she progressed toward launch, and watched the christening ceremonies on the internet with great excitement. My expectations were very high, unfortunately too high. Yes, I had been reading many of the reviews and despite some of the criticism my expectations remained high, I was truly expecting the "WOW" factor once I stepped on board, it just isn't their.
I'm afraid Princess has missed a real opportunity to build one of the finest ships at sea, which I was expecting. The main issues that disappointed me were:
No mid-ship staircase which led to delays waiting for elevators or long walks to either end to take the stairs or immediate elevators
Smaller cabins compared to previous Princess ships
Smaller balconies compared to previous Princess ships, and probably the smallest of most current cruise ships
Poor design of the balcony partitions, resulting in balcony doors to partially obstruct every other cabin balcony door when opening the partitions
View below all balconies was the life boats
Same old bathroom showers, not modernized like other ships with sliding glass doors.
Very nice wall mounted televisions, but if played very loud could easily be heard in adjoining cabin, and no opportunity to review your account on the television
Size of main theater so small it required having shows performed three times per night to allow all passengers the opportunity to see them.Layout of theater had one main aisle on each side, and no aisles along the walls. Seating was like a movie theater, with limited leg room and no place for a drink. It felt somewhat unsafe
Princess Live theater had some wonderful shows but has very limited space
On the positive side our luggage arrived just ten minutes behind us boarding. We never had to wait more than five minutes for a table at anytime dining. We never felt crowded anywhere on the ship. It was very easy to get a table in the buffet. We walked off the ship with our luggage at 6:20 and were out of the parking garage within twenty minutes.
We have always liked Princess and Celebrity and will continue to take Princess ships in the future, just not the Royal or her upcoming sister Regal.