This is our 8th cruise with Princess. Our only other cruise was in the Mediterranean in October 2013 on the Celebrity Reflection.
It was a disappointing cruise. We flew into LA and spent the day waundering around San Pedro trying to kill time until we could board at 5 p.m. It was tiring however we did take a very interesting tour of the battleship USS Iowa which is berthed there.
At 5 p.ml. we boarded and went to our cabin. We had asked for twin beds with waffle tops, robes and distilled water. We had a double bed without a topper, no robes and no towels. We didn't have toiletries or tissues in the bathroom. Our steward was running around doing his best to bring the cabins up to standard. I must say by the end of the next day all of our concerns had been addressed and our steward did a very good job of keeping our cabin ship shape.
This was not the normal Princess cruise in terms of food or entertainment.
No entertainment by the pools, unless you classify Movies Under the Stars as your entertainment. No pool games, ice carvings, bands, cocktail making contests, etc. It was very boring, one can only read for so long. There were no sail away parties. When we were leaving Puerto Vallarta the Cruise Director announced there would be a sail away party with music etc. He came up to the pool deck, stood there for 10 minutes and then left. Nothing happened. People just stood around looking bored.
As the they were still trying to eliminate the norovirus, for the first 4 days of the cruise we could not serve ourselves in the Horizon. This meant that the remaining crew had to serve which resulted in diminished food selections and long lineups. Burgers and pizza were by far the best food options for lunch or a snack.
We have a complaint regarding service in the main dining rooms and this does not pertain only to the Crown. We were recently on the Ruby in the Caribbean and had the same problem. They are understaffed in the main dining rooms. The waiters are running around, barely having time answer any questions regarding the menu. There are long waits between courses. On more than one occasion we left before ordering dessert as we had been left sitting for over 20 minutes waiting for the dessert menu. We do not feel this is the fault of the servers but the result of a management decision to reduce staff. The worst part is the anxiety transfer, instead of feeling calm and enjoying a relaxing dinner in lovely surroundings, you feel the frantic pace of the dining room staff as they rush about trying to accommodate everyone. This complaint does not apply to the Crown Grill or Sabbatini's where the staff is great.
Another complaint is the lack of enforcing the dress code for formal nights. We dressed in formal wear for both ships, the Ruby and the Crown which meant that we paid extra for luggage in order to bring formal wear but we enjoy dressing up on that one night. On the Ruby we were seated next to a table of diners in t-shirts and shorts and on the Crown we sat next to a gentleman wearing a bowling shirt and ripped jeans. Princess needs to decide to enforce the dress code in the dining rooms on formal nights or I predict over the next year or so formal nights will be a thing of the past or will come to mean - wear your best pair of jeans!
The staff were very friendly as expected on the Princess ships and I expect that we will cruise Princess again; however, if they don't entertain us or staff up then we will go elsewhere. We work hard for our cruise dollars and will spend them on whichever line gives us the best bang for the buck.