Just a bit of background info on me and my cruising experience. I'm 44 and my wife is 39. We also traveled with our children, my son is 15 and daughter is 14. We have been on most of the major cruise lines including Carnival, Disney, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, and now Princess. This was our first Princess cruise. I booked it primarily because I wanted to try a new cruise line and really didn't know much about Princess.
I guess the best place to start a review is at the beginning. Keep in mind, that this review is all based on my own personal opinion and experiences. My ratings are simple. 5 star is the best and 1 the worst.
We got to the port pretty early (around 11:30 AM). The check-in process was relatively simple. I did ask the counter guy to hole punch the cards for our lanyards. Surprisingly, he said he didn't have a hole puncher. He told me to go to the boutique once I got on board.
We booked a really cheap inside cabin R732. I selected it primarily because of its location to a small pool on the back of the ship called the terrace pool. When we arrived at our cabin (we were pleasantly surprised when we were told it would be ready as soon as we boarded), the room steward was in the cabin working on it. We walked in just to set our bags down and encountered the first issue of the cruise. The beds were in a twin configuration and I told her that wasn't going to work for us. I explained that we were a married couple and we slept together. She proceeded to call her supervisor. The supervisor told her he would meet us at 1:00 pm. We checked out the ship and came back at 1:00 pm. We waited for about 15 minutes and nobody showed up. At that point, I proceeded to rearrange the beds myself. We unpacked and left the cabin. A few hours later we came back to the room and the supervisor happened to see us. I asked why he wasn't there at 1:00 pm, and I was told he had an emergency (thanks for communicating that fact to me at 1:00). He said that typically Princess had its passengers sign a safety waiver before pushing the beds together, but I didn't need to worry about doing that. He explained it was no problem and left. Overall the cabin was about as tight and cramped as any cruise ship that we've ever been on. The only place to sit down was the bed. I don't expect much from an inside cabin, but this cabin was more like a closet. One other note that seemed to agitate me more as the cruise progressed....the room steward kept her cleaning trolley parked outside my room for most of the cruise, which meant having to squeeze beside it and look at it the entire time.
Ships Appearance and Cleanliness:
This might have been my biggest issue on the entire cruise. We felt the ship was just dirty. Missing end caps on rails, windows that looked like they needed to have windex, carpet that was frayed, little pieces of trash in various places on the ship. The most eye opening event was the "Ultimate Deck Party". The deck was trashed...covered in food trays, beer bottles, etc. and it STAYED that way until the next morning. I know of no cruise line that wouldn't clean up at the completed of a party event. Several other passengers were heard commenting that the ship just seemed dirty. One person even said she felt like she needed a tetanus shot. The odd thing is that the ship is only 10 years old and just came out of dry dock two weeks ago. It just doesn't make sense unless the employees aren't cleaning as they should. Outside of the cleanliness, the ship seemed very pedestrian to us. It did not have the opulence of any ship that we've sailed on. It just seemed very plain to us.
FOOD AND SERVICE:
We felt the food was very good for a cruise line. We greatly enjoyed having the buffet open until 11 pm. The servers were very friendly and would ask it you needed water or tea almost immediately. Another strange note about the bar service...we never once had a waiter ask us if we needed a cocktail. We found it very strange. We don't like Carnival's pushiness on the drinks, but we really would have liked someone to take our drink order. Perhaps the oddest food issue on the entire cruise is that chicken fingers were only available in the dining room or by special request. We had never been on a cruise line that didn't have chicken fingers available next to the hamburgers and hot dogs. Princess also pulled up all the upper deck loungers at 8 pm. It was frustrating.
Almost non-existent or very poor. Clearly this wasn't a party cruise, but it seemed the average age was around 60 and most preferred to watch the "Movies Under the Stars", which was heavily promoted. The lack of music was astounding. It was much too quiet for our tastes and several guests made the same comments to me. The performers in the main Princess theater were so bad that we didn't stay throughout the performance. On a positive note, Skywalkers was very cool. We had hoped for an 80's music night, but it didn't happen. Princess seems to cater to the older crowd and I'm sure most on the board already knew that, but I didn't.
There were too many issues for us to consider a cruise with Princess for a while. Maybe in another 20 years, I'll be ready to curl up under a blanket each night for a movie, but not yet. I need to hear a little pitbull, I need to feel that cruise vibe. The buffet lines were too small, the ship was cut up in a way that made it feel small to us. We just didn't like the ship....oh and btw, where were my damn towel animals? :)