We took a cruise to get away from the cold on this new ship. We wanted to try out a mini suite and plan to cruise again on this ship in the Mediterranean in summer or fall. What we found was:
Embarkation: Smooth but we had platinum status so we breezed through the terminal and onto the ship
by noon. The ship plan was for 3,560 and we had closer to 3,800 passengers.
Cabin: First Mini suite for us after 6 sailings on Princess. Liked the size of cabin and bathroom but the balcony was disappointing.
Dining: We prefer anytime dining and they were not set up for the crowds that wanted to dine between 5:30 and 7:00 p.m. so you had to take a box and wait for tables for 2 or a group opening. Symphony dining room was open for this and Concerto opened after 7:30 for anytime seating. Some nights we went to Alfredo's pizzeria. We loved the many aisles in the Horizon court but it was very crowded at breakfast and on embarkation day with only outside seating on a cool 57 degree day.
Service: In Horizon Court the service was great, in the Symphony Dining Room service was average at dinner with two exceptions. One night we sat in a section with someone who we never caught his name but that is important to recommend them and he gave us two lobster tails because they were small. Another night we sat in Luigi's section and it took 2 hours to get through the courses.
Entertainment: was average, liked the comedians and the magician but not pub night. Spent a lot of time in the Princess Live theater with the cruise staff, some televised for later viewing and some not.
Ports: Just Princess Cay (nice and clean), St. Thomas, and St. Maarten, all sunny and warm and we took independent tours of the islands. Serafina's pastry shop and the beach near the airport runway on St. Maarten were highlights in Marigot Bay.
Very few children on board and the tranquility area was full. The fitness center was tiny and overcrowded and to have presentations there was limited to 30 people and classes were limited to 10 or so for yoga or some ceiling strap stretching. There was a small track to walk or run at the back of the ship above teh fitness center by the golf chipping and the basketball court. Loved the glass walkouts over the side of the ships and the nightly dancing water shows on Lido deck. The atrium (deck 5-7) was beautiful as was the specialty International cafe there and the gelato/ice cream shop. Didn't try the wine/oyster bar this time.
The crab shack was set up in Horizon court one night around 7 p.m. and we never saw the Fondue dispenser station.
The library was a big table and locked glass cabinets with hardbound special editions inside. There were some trivia pages but it was hard to maneuver around the table and sitting and reading was not possible. You had to sit and read across from the lounge or Princess Live theater on comfortable cocoon type chairs.
Took a tour of the island with Bernard's tours stopping at an iguana farm on Dutch side and oystery pond with sea creatures fresh from the sea and dried ones and a great talk, spent 90 minutes on Orient Beach with a snack, then to French Marigot and Serafina's pastry shop and flea market and off to Maho Beach(airport beach) to watch the planes land over the beach. Then off to Simpson Bay and Harold Jack Hill and back to the Dutch side to the ship. Lots of drinks provided and small group of
8 or 9 passengers.
Left for two hours of shopping needed approx. 45 minutes because the stores in town were mainly jewelry and specialty chocolate and knick-knacks. Then toured the Magen's Bay, Coki beach, and mountain top vistas with a stop at a tourist center up top. DId not stop at Blackbeard's castle and that was a disappointment as the admission was pricey and not included in the tour. But we spent about 5-6 hours on this tour.