This was our third "small ship" sailing and it did not disappoint. You get to know your fellow passengers and the staff so much better on these small ships than on the larger ones. The cruise was not without its challenges, but was overall very delightful. We typically do Anytime Dining, but that is not available on the small ships. We were able to secure a table for 2 after the first night and had an excellent waiter who quickly learned our tastes and preferences and catered to them. Being a small ship with fewer entertainers, there wasn't a production number every night, but that was OK. The ones they did were excellent.
Our 10 day cruise left Dover, and was scheduled to visit Le Havre (Paris), Algarve Coast (Portugal), Gibraltar, Barcelona, Monte Carlo, Portofino and ending at Civitavecchia (Rome).
This was our 4th European cruise and we stayed in London for 3 days before heading to Dover via a shared car. Departing Dover (and seeing the famous white cliffs!) was much nicer than departing Southampton. We did the Seine River cruise excursion in Paris which I highly recommend. Day two was a challenge - as we rounded Brest, France and left the English Channel we encountered several hours of very rough seas which caused the ship to shudder as we hit each wave and many passengers experienced some degree of seasickness.
We had to skip the Algarve Coast (Portugal) due to a dockworker strike, but Princess quickly substituted Cadiz, Spain which we enjoyed. After enjoying Gibraltar, Barcelona and Monte Carlo we headed to Italy. The tendering at Monte Carlo was rather exciting as large swells came up in the afternoon which made it difficult to get the passengers back on board. Some people were on a tender for close to 45 minutes until they could disembark, but kudos to the Princess staff for handling it in a safe manner.
Our next scheduled port was Portofino, but with high winds predicted and our tendering experience at Monte Carlo, the captain did not want another tendering incident so he quickly grabbed the last pier available at Genoa and docked there so people could still see Portofino via bus ride. Again, an excellent job of adjusting to daily circumstances! Unfortunately our scheduled excursion was cancelled so we rode the HOHO around Genoa, then headed back to the ship. After arriving in Rome we made our way to our hotel and enjoyed tours of the Vatican and Colosseum before flying home. (
With the two port changes, the shore excursion staff had their work cut out for them but they handled it very well and had replacement shore excursion information available in a timely manner. I do wish the buffet would keep desserts available later in the evening. When I'd go up for a late night snack around 11 pm, about all that was available was cookies.
All in all, it was a very good voyage and Princess did well to accommodate the challenges as they arose.