After sailing on the Ruby and the Emerald, I had great expectations for this ship, but was very disappointed. Yes, the Atrium is grander and the addition of Alfredo's pizza/Italian restaurant is good, but the Wheelhouse bar with that 1930's look with all the leather etc is now gone and replaced with a much tone down version, in the open, next/included to the Crown Grill - and of course Sabatini is now on deck 5 instead of the grand location on the top deck on the stern. The well appointed martini bar next to Sabatini's on Ruby and Emerald, is also gone and replaced by Bellini's on deck 6 - smaller with little or no character.
The biggest problem we found was that anyone who had a cabin anywhere in the mid-ship section was stuck to take the elevators - there were no stairs. If you were lucky to be on the stern or bow sections, you could at least leave the congestion and walk forward or aft to the other elevators but mostly the unused stairs. We were on deck 9 and would leave the Symphony Dinning Room and go to deck 7 and walk down to the stern stairs. We heard stories of individuals having to wait up to 10 minutes to get an elevator that they could board.
In general, the crew were great and quick to respond to all our concerns - especially the cabin steward (see below).
We found the quality of the food to be slightly less than what we remembered it on previous sailings.
And like other reviews, Princess was supposed to implement a towel removal policy for pools, but it wasn't done - even after commenting to one of the deck supervisors - his answer was that they were caught in the middle because if they removed a towel, that person would go and complain to Passenger Services - I guess I see his point.
And we had a stern cabin - used cruisedeckplans.com to find the best - we picked D729 has it had an over-sized balcony. Others on board were complaining that the size of the cabins were smaller, but we thought they were comparable to other Princess ships. However, had we read a bit more on Cruise Critic, we would of found out about the Soot issue - and there was a lot, mostly when the ship had to do a lot of maneuvering - especially in St-Martin, the deck and chairs were covered - looked like Dalmatian's. The cabin steward was out everyday cleaning the soot off the deck and chairs - but that day in St-Martin, the deck crew was out with hoses to clean that mess. Overall, we were unable to use the balcony other than to step out occasionally to see the view then watch your step to make sure you didn't bring the soot back into the cabin.
Our overall experience was good and we accomplished what we really wanted, rest. If this had been our first Princess cruise, we might of rated it higher, but with the stern cabin and the lack of a centre stair case, we can only give it a 3+ out of 5.