Just returned from the New Year's cruise.
Booked a guaranteed balcony room at the BG rate on the Baja deck, and got upgraded to the BB category on the Riviera deck.
Flight: Booked through Princess on American Airlines from Fort Lauderdale to San Juan. Unfortunately the flight was delayed 3 hours so we didn't get to see too much of San Juan. Claimed bags and met with Princess staff to board the bus to the ship.
Embarkation: Arrived at port at 2:00 p.m. Waited in line only about 10 minutes and boarded the ship. There were escorts in the halls and the elevators to make sure you could find your room.
On Board: Went to the room and met the cabin steward in the hall. His name was Manuel. Very cordial man who kept our room spotless, changing towels twice a day and making sure we had everything. We were traveling with my 80 year old parents who were next door so he opened the balcony partition so we could visit with each other via the balcony. He always had a smile on his face.
Our room was tastefully decorated and adequate in size. Plenty of closet space and shelves, a stocked bathroom, and small shower that had a separate temperature control and plenty of pressure. The balcony had a table and 2 chairs.
The public areas of this ship are spectacular. Marble and wood are everywhere. The decor is very tastefully done. Each lounge is comfortable and offers various entertainment from a single pianist to a full production.
The Patisserie offers specialty coffees at a fee, but the pastries were free. Each day the food selection in the piazza would change and there were free offerings from shrimp salad, to sandwiches, to quiche, to antipasto type salads. All for free.
We chose anytime dining which gave us the opportunity to eat when we were hungry instead of eating by the clock. Sometimes we sat by ourselves and other times we chose to eat at a bigger table with others. Most days we mixed it up between the dining room and the buffet. I'm a "foodie" and love to eat all types of cuisine. The service and food in the dining room was very good. There was a great variety of food which all came out fresh and hot. It's unbelievable how they can serve so many people so efficiently. We never felt rushed. The buffets had a great variety and if you went for dinner the theme was different each night ranging from German, to Seafood, to Caribbean, and Indonesian. Even the eggs on the breakfast buffet were good and freshly prepared. The iced tea tasted freshly brewed and the coffee was always very good.
We made reservations at Sabatini's and celebrated my parent 80th birthday with a spectacular dinner. Our waiter, Germano, was truly professional yet was very warm and had a great sense of humor. My parents enjoyed speaking to him in Italian. The food was served in courses starting with focaccia bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar for dipping. Then to a selection of cold appetizers, followed by hot appetizers. You don't get just one thing, they serve you all the appetizers offered so you can test them all. Then you choose a soup, a pasta, a main course, and finally dessert. It's a lot to eat but the evening is paced so you have plenty of time to enjoy the whole experience. Even though there is a $20 surcharge for this meal, it is well spent on what would cost you at least $75. in a restaurant.
The entertainment on board was way beyond what I have seen on other ships. The productions were top notch, and the two comedians were very funny, having been on the tonight show numerous times. The flamenco guitarist was very entertaining and the pianist/singer in the Crooners Lounge was very good. So good they put in in the main lounge one night to accommodate all that wanted to hear him. He did songs from Billy Joel, to Elton John, to Phil Collins.
The shopping on the ship was great. The prices were very reasonable on jewelry and liquor. One liter of Myers Rum for $7.95 was a better price than on the islands.
Went to all the pools. Particularly enjoyed the adult pools at the spa and the aft of the ship. The Movies Under the Stars had a huge screen with good sound. Seemed to be popular day and night. Visited the spa and I suggest everyone treat themselves a truly relaxing massage.
The islands were all nice with favorites being Antigua, St. Maarten, and St.Thomas. Booking excursions was quite easy. Just fill out a form and the tickets were delivered to your room overnight for the next port.
All in all there was nothing lacking from this cruise. Princess truly takes care of its passengers with a courteous staff, great food and service, and a truly magnificent ship. Nothing was lacking. Far better than Carnival, NCL, Costa and others we had been on.
Looking forward to my next cruise with Princess.