This more of a Hints and Tips really.
Embarkation - Southampton at Mayflower terminal, bit of a shambles really.
Long, no very long queue outside the building. Inside the building not all the check-in desks were manned. If a loyalty client, no matter what level, you were told to queue, until you reached near the front. Very little support available for people with disabilities. This terminal was not built to handle this volume of passengers. It was our first time with Princess so the quick embarkation for loyal customers did not apply to us; but during the cruise many previous Princess passengers mentioned this issue.
I must add that NONE of the above was Princess's fault, but a contracted service should be better.
Car parking via CPS spot on. No issues, but its a bit expensive, but then you pay for the very good service.
As this was our third cruise, Celebrity and P&O previously; it was nice to feel that Princess was almost as good as Celebrity, but am I saying that as we cruised with them first!!!! - Yes I expect so.
Recommend - Any time dining. meet lots of interesting people.
Food was always very good.
Did not like the hard sales push in the Lotus Spa.
The offering of 10% of first visit then 20% of second and 30% off third visit was a joke. The second and third treatments cost more then the discounts and if cancelled any previous discount was charged back to your account - They even took the extra 15% gratuity!.
Also offered acupuncture at $95 (£60) but reducing to $75, if 5 sessions booked.
I can get acupuncture done locally for £30.
Lots, too many to mention, positive things about cruising with Princess, we liked it.
Overall a very friendly ship, both passengers and crew. We would use Princess again.
Ports of call - all ok.
Highly recommend get the train into Rome, cost €12 from station (I'll not mention excursion price as I'm sure you can guess - £££/$$$) Remember to validate your ticket, using the new style grey punch machines, old machines were yellow.Strongly suggest that you get the train back around 3pm as they get busy. CARE walk from Rome Termini front door to platform is at least 20 mins, yes 4 travelators long and they don't all work.
Its 20 minutes bus ride through the port area to the gates, so don't even think of walking.
Look for free bus service into town, just outside the white gates.
WARNING open wheelchairs will not fit through bus doors.
Contracted coach service charges $8 each way.
Gibraltar (a duty free port) yeh right!!
I was looking to buy a bottle of Remy Martin VSOP brandy here. Prices ranged from £33.00 to £43.75.
The further we walked along the main shopping street the higher the prices.
Here's the killer - its cheaper to buy the same product in the UK; even my local corner shop (and we all know they charge top prices) was selling it for £33.75!!!!!!!!!
Bought some aftershave on the ship as it was cheaper than in Gibraltar.