This was my first Princess cruise after about 200 days on other cruise lines and ships all quite a bit smaller. First i will confess that I was not keen to go on a ship of 2600 passengers.
There are quite a few people to board the ship so it was a case of waiting around a fair amount. Once we went through the check-n process that went smoothly, we lucked out and found seats beside a couple of very pleasant ladies to make the wait easier. Once the boarding started it was efficient and well done. We headed to our room dropped off our luggage and grabbed the Patter. I read on Cruise Critic to head to the dining room for lunch as it is a great way to start off the cruise. It was NOT listed in the Princess Patter but i had called the Dining Line to book the Chef's Table so he was able to tell me which dining room. We headed there.
We had a mini-suite on Dolphin. Not being familiar with Princess ships I was unaware when i booked that the balcony is uncovered. Hated that. We book at least a mini-suite size cabin when we travel because i like lots of room. I really like my private space so need a spacious place to relax and read. I would NEVER book a cabin with an uncovered balcony again. One of my greatest joys cruising is to spend time on the balcony reading or looking out at the ocean. With the crappy weather we had, I could only use the balcony part of the time because it had no protection from the elements.
The cabin is a good size and the storage is phenomenal. The only better storage I have had is on a ship with a walk-in closet that cost a LOT more money so this is excellent at this price point. The carpeting looked new and the cabin was well maintained except the bathroom. It wasn't bad but it is in need of an update. It is starting to look worn out. It is a reasonable size with a shower/bath combination. I will say the shower head is the best on any ship i have been on. The towels looked new but were like using sand paper. They were so rough.
The cabin overall was pretty quiet except in rough seas. There were a few annoying squeaks and rattles. The cabin is located at the end of a section and we never heard any people or TV sounds from the cabins on either side of us. The location was very good with the stairway and elevators close by for easy access to other decks. We rarely took the elevators, really only on formal nights when i was in heels. As i said we had rough seas but you didn't really feel this in our cabin. Neither of us is bothered by seasickness but it was still nice to have little motion.
It has 2 TV's which can be handy but the TV selection is crappy. I wanted to hear some of the lectures that i didn't make in person but they offered the repeats during dinner and showtimes so never really got to see many of them. I like to watch movies or lectures in my cabin but it was really difficult to do so.
Food is subjective but i was unimpressed by the selection or the quality. Nothing we had was bad but except for the specialty restaurant and the Chef's Table dinner the food was just okay. I equate it to going for dinner at a mid-scale chain restaurant. I was disappointed with the Horizon Court. I thought it extremely small and selection indifferent for the size of the ship. For those reasons rarely ate there for anything but picking up a salad. I wouldn't have gone there for that but there was no salad option at the pool grill. I don't eat pizza but i understand it was fantastic. My husband eat there fairly frequently. Most lunches were at the pool grill. We don't like to go to the buffet for dinner so our options were the dining room or specialty restaurants. I object to having to pay extra to get a really good meal but we did so 3 times. The only place we got a really good steak was in the Crown Grill. We didn't try Sabbatini's as the menu was not varied enough for me as i don't eat pasta.
The food and service in the Crown Grill were excellent.
I had trouble finding something different to eat in the main dining room for dinner. On the other hand my husband said he was happy with the selections offered. The salmon was the exception and it was great. I had the steak a couple of times which was cooked properly but rather tasteless. Kept hoping. The anytime dining was not great as really you could either stand in line to try and get in around 6 pm or you could wait until 7:15 or later. Mostly it was closer to 7:45 when we ate. A little later than what we like.
I know this is food but thought it should be reviewed separately. If you can afford it and like a special dining experience then DON'T MISS this if you can avoid it. You have to book the moment you get on-board. They only do 1 per week with 10 passengers so if you really want to do it book early. My only complaint is that they never let us know what was happening. No calls to say we were on the list, no indication at all until 2 days before the event and that was well into the 2nd week. Other than that it was a fantastic evening and we thought worth the $95 pp it cost. We had appetizers in the galley with the executive chef and Maitre d'hotel (he has a wonderful sense of humor). We had a super group, 4 of us traveling together, another group of 4 and a couple. Everyone was friendly and engaging so we had the best time. The food was excellent especially the steak tartare. None of the items are on the regular menu anywhere on the ship. We had a separate table in Portofino with dedicated serving staff including the Executive Chef and Maitre d'hotel. It includes champagne to start and red and white wine paired with the 6 course dinner.
I have found that virtually all staff on all cruise ships are wonderful. They are hard working, friendly, helpful people that want to make your vacation wonderful. It was no different on this ship. All the staff we interacted with were great. We especially enjoyed going to Vines wine bar for our pre-dinner drinks. Olena and Jack were super.
It was good. We enjoyed the comedians, really enjoyed the 4 Seasons tribute band, the ship entertainers were okay, the piano player in Crooners was excellent (venue not so much) so overall we enjoyed the entertainment.
Terrible setup if you like to walk the promenade or top deck to get exercise. The promenade is narrow, made even more so by chairs and inconsiderate fellow passengers. The top deck is hard to maneuver around as you dodge lounge chairs and other obstacles. The fitness room is very small for a ship with this many passengers so after a couple of tries gave up trying to get in there to use the equipment. Tough ship to keep fit.
So if you are still reading this missive I will reiterate what i said in the title. It was an okay cruise and that assessment had nothing to do with the crappy weather or missed port. I can deal with any weather conditions and stuff happens on a cruise. I didn't care for the size of the ship, too crowded for me and there was nothing about the experience that would entice me to give up my loyalty perks on other cruise lines to go on Princess again.