This is my first cruise with Princess, I have been on a cruise with Royal Caribbean in the past so much of what my experience is based on my expectations from having cruised with RCCL.
Embarkation/disembarkation - Fort Lauderdale
Lengthly and somewhat disorganized. Facility lacks air conditioning, appeared to be under renovations so perhaps that will be addressed pending the renos. From that what I remember RCCL process is very quick and efficient. Boo for Princess on this point.
balcony room on caribe deck, big balcony that was somewhat private. Room was larger and much better layout than RCCL. Shower was bigger and more closet space. There were signs of wear in the carpet and the shower, but nothing that was a major issue. Room was serviced multple times a day and always cleaned when we returned to our room. Largely preferred Princess stateroom over RCCL.
Crown Grill - fantastic. wish we would have dined here every night. service was amazing and truly felt like a special dining experience. Waiter went above and beyond for us. I have a favourite bottle of wine and brought this to the Crown Grill, waiter did not charge corkage and ensured our glasses were always full . Black and blue onion soup was delicious as were ribeye and lobster tails. In fact too many lobster tails that I could not eat them all. Waiter even de-shelled this for me. Husband had lamb chops as appetizer and didn't care for the sauce but the meat itself was grilled perfectly. His steak was cooked perfectly and we enjoyed a chef;s sampling of the desserts. Husband and I wondered how the ship could offer such high quality food and service with only a $25 per person cover.
Anytime dining rooms - horrible food and service. My husband compared this to hospital food: delivered cold and tasteless on a plate with a plastic food cover in addition to attitude by the server. Server was not rude, just lacked any service skills. She basically threw the plate on the table and walked away, in all fairness she is probably over worked and exhausted. Either way this ruined the dining experience. The Maitre d' was terrible - he would tell us and other guests in line at the front waiting to be seated that it would be a 45min wait and that we should go somewhere else. When we heard this being told to guests in front of us, we figured we would wait it out as it was our first night dining there. After 15 mins we were seated. The second evening we were told the same thing, as were others - then we were seated at an 8 person round table when we were only 2. This was not the romantic dining experience we were looking for so decided to wait for a 2 person table. We were directed to a table for 2 immediately. Unforuntely it was with the same server, she demonstrated the same careless attitude throughout dinner - and even forgot some items. RCCL was far superior in terms of server and dining room food. Servers on this ship appeared miserable and treated us like a heard of cattle. I would avoid dining here altogether if I sailed with this ship again.
Buffet- excellent variety and always hot. Food was well seasoned compared to the dining rooms. Servers taking drink orders were very friendly and always accomodating the moment you sat down. Its all about expectations - husband commented that the buffet on the ship was similar to the buffet at the ceasars casino at home. I am not a fan of buffets since I don't find anything to be outstanding, its more about quantity than quality here but if you have that expectation you will be pleasantly surprised.
Pizza and Grill - Pizza was delicious as were the grilled burgers and hotdogs available by the pool. We were surprised with the quality of pizza being made on the ship. Husband tried to have a slice once a day. I don't recall RCCL offering this poolside but it could also be that that did but it was not memorable.
Vines of Wine - cute tapas and wine. great pre dinner drink area. very clever, RCCL did not offer something like this that offered tapas to accompany wine.
International Cafe - offered decent slection of paninis and salads that changes every day in addition to about 8 desserts. Husband loved the fruit tarts, said they were some of the best hes every had.. hes a bit of a fruit tart connoisseur ;-) Desserts overall were very good in all of the dining rooms.
Room Service - took awhile to place an order but once did so, food was delivered within 20 minutes. Clubhouse sandwich was good as well as the fresh warm cookies. I attempted room service once on RCCL and they stated it was not available during the time I called ( I think it was very late at night/early morning) so I don't have anything to compare other than the fact Princess always took a room service order. I even pre ordered room service for breakfast the evening before and it was promptly served at the time I requested.
Entertainment - Comedy shows were hilarious, both of which were completely packed. We only watched 5 minutes of the broadway type shows since our schedule did not permit much more. The theatre was full for this as well. I recall RCCL shows being very amateur in quality and the lack of attendance showed it. The cruise director and staff provided events that we took part in like trivia games, passenger feud, etc.and they were enjoyable - we stumbled into one early on the cruise and after that we had made a point to attend all the trivia and game events. This is probably personal preference.
Ship layout - I did not like the ship's layout, found it challenging to navigate because we were often having to go through stateroom corridors to get to public areas. Lido deck was sectioned in parts which made certain parts feel overcrowded and uncomfortable. RCCL in my opinion has much better layout on their ships. The pool decks are big and spacious, this is not the case with Caribbean Princess.
Overall, we did enjoy our cruise with princess but the dining room experience really put a sour taste for us. We enjoy dining out and expect high quality service. When its formal night, we expect majority of guests to be in formal wear. 90% of RCCL guests adhered to this dress code on formal nights... probably 20% if Princess guests actually dressed in formal wear. It cheapened the experience to have dressed up only to look over at another guest in jeans and flip flops, literally. There were also a variety of ages on the ship, where I found RCCL to be a lot of seniors. Doesn't make a difference to me but that could account for why the dress code was loosely followed on Princess. Husband and I decided that we will try another cruiseline to see if it fits with our "cruising personality" but would not rule our princess in the future but would dine only in the specialty restaurants and avoid the dining room entirely.