After reading the so-so reviews I was tempted to cancel our April1 cruise to Hawaii and South Pacific but fortunately I remembered that most people who take the time to write usually have "an ax to grind." I suppose I could walk around the ship looking for and finding flaws here and there but I had better things to do: enjoying the fact that I could afford to be waited on 24/7 in a fashion that most people cannot. We did not meet one crew member that was not genuinely friendly to us and seemed to enjoy their jobs and each other. I think Princess should be commended for finding a way to keep 1100 employees so pleasant and seemingly gratified while confined on a cruise ship for extended periods of time. Everyone was super attentive and I was always amazed at how quickly they learned our names. It was particularly nice that the Executive Chef, Ottavio Bellesi (very funny, very happy guy) and remembered our faces after meeting us at the Chef's Dinner and that the maître d'hôtel, Neville Saldanha, remembered our names after talking to us a couple of times...and they always seemed to have time for a minute of idle chatter, not brushing you off for something or someone more important.
We ate in Sabatini's 4 times and the Crowne Grill 3, service was great as was the food. We actually went to the specialty restaurants more for a change of venue than a change in menu, although the service was more attentive, of course. We liked anytime dining as long as we remembered to tell the maître d' that we wanted to share with either 4 or 6, as this allows us to meet everyone at the table and not just the one on either side of me, one of whom I already know very well.
We also did a lot of wine tastings (3, maybe 4, who's counting) mostly because it's a great way to meet people, which is why we cruise.
The entertainment was satisfactory considering that we are on a cruise ship and not paying $100s in Vegas. The band Sol Play is excellent and has a dynamite lead singer who can really belt out a tune. Princess can't possibly be paying them enough for the time they put in around the ship. The string quartet, Polonia Strings, was quite versatile in their selections, playing everything from Russian folk tunes to ragtime to Beatles, and of course classical. I was glad they had a CD available that demonstrated their versatility. Billy Hygate, the cruise director, and his cruise hosts, worked hard to keep everyone entertained and Matt and Jamie have an incredible sense of humor. The crew productions were very entertaining especially the ones involving the cruise hosts. Billy Hygate did a spectacular job singing "If I Were A Rich Man" at the Crew show and Jamie put on his own remarkable show displaying his singing talents.
On Samoa and American Samoa we took tours around the island which were informative and entertaining. It's a shame that the locals litter the roadsides the ways they do. (I asked the guides about the trash and both said it was the locals). Water was uncomfortably warm.
Tahiti was more like our idea of paradise but Moorea and Bora Bora really hit the mark...water was PERFECT! Dammon's ATV tour and Jetski tour in Moorea was quite possibly the highlight of my travel life, maybe my whole life. More fun than one man is entitled to. Patrick's tour on Bora Bora was excellent but didn't need a whole day...if there is a next time, will do on 1/2 day land and 1/2 day water.
But the passengers!... beginning with embarkation. When you have 2600 passengers clamoring to board it is not going to happen all at once and we didn't hear much griping. But then there are the "special" people like the lady in the wheelchair (one lady - not all) who got in the check-in line for those who needed special assistance. But once she was checked in and in the waiting lounge we saw her meandering around like everyone else. I explained to my wife that she probably just couldn't stand for extended periods of time. And then we went to zumba classes and guess who was there...and was there every morning?!
A guy I met, and I, were commiserating about that special needs queue and when he had been in line waiting for an extended period of time and was about to be superseded by a person in a wheelchair he refused to allow it. He said, "she's been SITTING there waiting for 10 minutes while I have been STANDING here waiting for 45." I think he has a point.
On the 8 day-at-sea portion, we heard a passenger complain about 8 sea days, as if Princess had added on a day or two without telling her.
We met a woman who, after listening to one curmudgeon complain every evening for two weeks, finally had to change to anytime dining to get away.
Inevitably a complainer would throw out the phrase, "Well, I'm an Elite and 10 years ago..." and I would respectfully remind them that the world has changed and so has the business model. A pleasant "Good Morning" might be met with "Well, when I cruised on Princess 15 years ago..." OK, I'm exaggerating but not by much. Not all Elites were complainers, most were very helpful with tips on cabins, cruising, etc. It just seemed that the complainers were mostly Elites, with a few Platinums thrown in for balance. Lighten up people! You're on a cruise, not an inspection tour.
All and all...it was a great cruise on a good ship with lots of fun passengers.
We look forward to our already booked SA cruise next Feb, same cabin, same ship...hopefully the same crew. What are the chances?