My wife has cruised with Princess on 7 previous cruises but this was my maiden cruise. Flying from UK with American Airlines was OK, but no better than that. Dodgy service from the off unfortunately. An overnight stay at the Miami Intercontinental was very pleasant. Coach transfer was ok too despite the bud having a faulty clutch which caused the bus to judder a lot. I am a former seafarer so was not overawed by the sight or size of the vessel. Embarkation was smooth and effortless with cases delivered from shoreside to room within a couple of hours. First impressions of the ship were that she was very clean and very nicely presented. We boarded through the Piazza deck and the first sight was an open plan, marbled area with a fabulous double staircase to the next level, with pianist playing gently to the side: a very warm welcome. We enjoyed a coffee and cake before trying to find our room. We availed ourselves of a coffee card on the advice of the waitress who was very nice and welcoming indeed. This proved to be a good deal, however it took a couple of days to realise that instead of using a credit for my Americano coffee I could have been drinking perfectly nice filter coffee free of charge by having purchased a card, leaving my wife to use credits for her Lattes etc.
Housed in an interior cabin on Aloha, deck 12, I was impressed by the cabin layout and open wardrobe storage space. There were loads of hangers available which was a nice touch. Our steward, Ricky, introduced himself immediately and was very attentive throughout. The bed was very comfortable and we weren't at all bothered by the lack of natural light. The small washing line in the shower was great for hanging costumes on after a day around the pool.
Meals were early sitting in the Da Vinci Restaurant. The food was normally excellent and always very nice. The table service from Athapol (and his junior Aprianto) was absolutely amazing. His knowledge, charm and attention to detail were a highlight of the cruise. We sat with four strangers who have now become firm friends. There was a buffet option in Horizons if you didn't fancy formal, but we loved the formal service. There were also specialised service options for a cover charge. $25 gets you a seat for the Crown Grill with exceptional cuts and courses available.
Facilities on board were of the highest spec. The pool areas were clean, sufficiently spacious and well served by staff. The bars and entertainments were exceptional. Deck games and ice carvings were regular features. The theatre was very comfy and served up fine entertainment. Don't miss the daytime session with the executive chef and maître D. Hilarious!
As this was our Silver Anniversary cruise I ordered flowers on board and for $39 had a superb flower arrangement delivered to our room, which was still fresh looking two weeks later.
We visited Princess Cays twice, Curaçao, Aruba, St Maarten, St Thomas, Grand Turk and Fort Lauderdale. The only ship trip we bought were out of a Fort Lauderdale. During the cruise we visited Everglades Holiday Park for an Airboat ride and then Flamingo Park which were great. At disembarkation we visited the fantastic Intercostal Seaway for a canal cruise which takes in fantastic elite properties and yachts and also Las Olas Boulevard which was a let down as we never had sufficient time to explore. After a drive along the beach area we were dropped at the airport. In other ports we hired our own taxi tours for between ten dollars pp for a coach seat (Curaçao) and 25 collars each for a taxi for two hours on Aruba. Either way, exceptional value.
We will travel Princess again. Almost everything about this cruise was exceptional.