We took the 7 night California Coastal cruise leaving LA on April 5.
We have cruised with Princess before and have come expect a certain level of service and accommodations - The cruise ship is beautiful and the food is better than average, Other than that this cruise was a disappointment.
Embarkation - We were asked to fill out the standard health questionnaire when we arrived at the terminal. Nobody gave us the opportunity to ask if the ship was healthy --- it was not. We were told that boarding would be delayed so the crew could complete a deep cleaning of the ship due to novovirus. So the passengers were held in the terminal for an extended period of time (over 2 hours). It was crowded and disorganized and the line made an announcement that the fire marshall determined that too many people were in the building ... they suggested that we take a walk and have lunch in the local restaurants. Like someone is going to walk nearly a mile to the nearest restaurant with their carry on bags.
Novovirus - We found that the buffet was no longer self serve, in the interest of stopping the virus all stations were manned by staff members to serve the food. Buffet service was inefficient and just clumsy the whole week. Staff was stretched very thin -- we noted significant decline in all levels of service throughout the ship for the entire week. Passengers were not allowed to touch salt and pepper shakers, sugar packets or coffee creamer ..... everything had to be served by the staff leading to poor service in other areas.
Spa - I paid to use the thermal suite in the spa, thinking I would enjoy day use of the facilities. I was wrong. The Lotus Spa should be renamed the Lotus Treatment Suite. There are plenty of treatment rooms for paid services but very little in the way of spa amenities. In the ladies locker room there is insufficent space for dressing and only the handicapped shower provides adequate modesty - why would they use glass shower doors with large stripes of clear glass in a shared shower area? The spa has one weak water fountain, not appealing on a ship with live novovirus - no provision for ice water (a standard at every other spa I have visited). I overheard a lady ask if there was any lotion available - nope, they only provided hand soap with shower gel and shampoo in the shower stalls. If you do go to the spa, bring the pool towel from your cabin, the towels in the spa are not large. The thermal suite is nice, but they don't have robe hooks near the specialty showers -- you have to leave your robe on the floor as you step into the shower (wearing a bathing suit since the thermal suite is co-ed)....doesn't seem very sanitary does it?
Duty free - I bought a bottle of cologne from the Duty Free shop. Due to the novovirus there were no testers available either on a self serve basis or behind the counter...so I bought something I know I like. I certainly felt foolish when I checked on line - in less than 2 minutes I found 3 websites where I could have bought the same product for less than $39 .... I paid Princess $62. So, buyer beware when trading with the duty free shop -- they will take advantage of you.
Disembarkation -- Same as the boarding in reverse. My group was held a full hour after our appointed departure time and when we arrived at the customs area we found that there was absolutely nobody there. It felt like someone forgot to tell the passengers it was time to leave.
I'm fairly certain that if I had reported recent illness on my health questionnaire they could have denied me access to the cruise --- it would have been nice if the passengers were given the facts and offered the opportunity to reschedule to another date or another ship. The whole cruise was just "off".....service in the restaurants was not up to par, we never saw our cabin steward, bar service was very slow and every call to room service resulted a cautionary message that it would take at least 90 minutes for delivery. Combine the poor service with my feeling of being ripped off by the fee for the spa access and duty free overcharges --- I'm not sure I will be cruising with Princess again.