This was our third cruise aboard Princess and first in 6 years. Meanwhile, we have cruised Celebrity three times, NCL once and Seabourn once. Seabourn is an entirely different class than the others and there are not enough superlatives to describe that cruise (Mediterranean).
We have grown to expect a pleasant cruise with Princess with options to purchase luxury for those who wish to have it. By luxury I mean better wines and gourmet food items such as caviar. These items no longer exist and in fact, the entire Princess experience has dropped significantly. The food, which used to be very good, is now mediocre at best. Meat quality is poor, seafood is clearly frozen and fishy tasting and wines are low quality.
The service was spotty, with mostly good service, some excellent service and some poor service. In my book, anything less than excellent service demonstrates how well staff are trained, how well they are treated by Princess and how much they care about their customers. My family had two cabin attendants serving us in three cabins and one was excellent and one was good. Our regular dining room server was excellent, but in The Crown Grill, which is supposed to feature higher end service and food, the server and the service were mediocre at best. But the worst service was at the pools, where several of the attendants ranged from unfriendly to surly. When asked for towels or directions, more than once I got a stare like I had three heads.
But the most memorable (negative) experience occurred post cruise. My wife purchased a $150 spa treatment during the cruise. As usual, the therapist put on the hard sell for the (overpriced) products they sell and as usual, my wife bought some of them. When we got home she opened the 14.5 oz jar of Lime and Ginger Salt Glow she purchased for $45 and found that there was only about 7 oz of the product in the previously opened jar, PLUS the jar contained a human hair. To make matters worse, when we contacted Princess about this, rather than deal with the problem and accept responsibility for it, we received (two weeks later) a form letter informing us the on-board spa is independently run by Steiner Leisure Products in Florida and we were given their address in order for us to contact them. Excuse me, but we purchased this cruise, the spa package and the overpriced product from Princess, not from their supplier. It is not up to customers to deal with suppliers when products are purchased from a business. What if we had found a razor blade in a hamburger served on the ship? Would we have been referred to their meat supplier to pay for injuries caused by the food served by Princess?
Based on this experience and the fact there are alternatives in the same price range, we will not consider Princess for future cruises and suggest others consider our experience and make the same choice.