Having read many reviews prior to booking this cruise, I wanted to take the time and share our experience with you. We had an amazing time and absolutely enjoyed ourselves, but the service on this ship was the worst we have ever experienced. We were in the Caribbean, on a carefree vacation, eating good food, not having to do dishes or laundry----who wouldn't enjoy that----but their is definitely room for Princess to step up their game, especially considering the great service we have received on other cruise lines. About us: Me and my wife (I'm 30, she is 28) took this cruise. We have been married 8 years, have no children to travel with, and this cruise marks our 4th cruise. This was our first time with Princess. (2 Carnival, 1 Royal Caribbean prior). We booked this cruise because it left from Ft. Lauderadale-a 2 hour direct flight from Nashville. We were also interested in the ports having never been to Princess Cay or Grand Turk.
Embarkation was not too bad. We arrived around noon to the embarkation port and their was a line backed up out of the building, but their was a canopy with a good breeze so it was not at all uncomfortable. We boarded the ship and around 2 pm a thunderstorm rolled through and lightening struck the Radar tower of the boat (We saw and heard the lightening strike!) This knocked out the radar system, but Princess had a technician quickly onboard to work on it, but it did delay the ship leaving till around 7pm. (Not Princess's fault as this was an act of God...and it did not push back our next port arrival)
Room: We stayed in room B756. Other reviews have called this the "Dreaded Vent" because of an exhaust fan beside the balcony. This was absolutely a non-issue. The room was adequate and the balcony views were Amazing! One thing I will mention about the room is that the bed did not have a bedsheet on it. I asked our Cabin steward and he said that Princess does not use bedsheets. I could not believe this as I have never stayed somewhere that ONLY used a comforter, but I asked our dinner mates in the dining room, and they said that their room did not have sheets either. We did ask for a sheet, and our steward put one on the bed. Also...the back of the ship has some vibration--we knew this going in and were ok with it because we wanted the views....but reconsider if you get motion sick.
Food: Though subjective, I found the food to be good-on par with other cruises. Lobster one night, Escargot, shrimp, steak---all was good. Our server at night was Awesome! Took great care of us, and made our dining experience memorable. We really enjoyed the fresh pizza baked on the Lido deck. There was a free Ice cream shop on Lido-your typical soft serve from a machine---but found the servings the staff gave were very small. If you went, you needed to get 2 cups to make up what most would consider a normal serving. We enjoyed other cruises more that simply had self serve ice-cream where you could get what you wanted. We do not drink alcohol, but the other reviews were true, pool attendants DO NOT ask you if you would like a drink. Not once during my 7 days was I ever approached at the pool or in the theater to ask if I would like to purchase a drink. (I liked this because I felt like I was constantly saying No on Carnival or RC, but I understand lots of ppl expect to be asked). I did not like the drink stations in the Buffets. Guaranteed that at least one (or more) of the drink stations would be "under maintenance" when you went. You had a choice of water, Coffee, Decaff coffee, Iced Tea, or hot tea. Many times you could not get Ice at these stations. The Coffees and Tea were from Concentrated bottles and a couple times I went to get tea and the spout only put out water indicating that the concentrate bottle was empty. The buffet is self serve but the expectation is that the wait staff will bring you drinks. This was tough bc many times it was crowded and hard to get a table so we wanted to get our food/drinks and take it back to the room and eat on our balcony....so I found myself having to deal with the drink station more than you might if you simply go to the buffet and eat in the dining room.
Entertainment: Mentalist was good. Comedian was good. Shows were not as long as ones on RC or Carnival.....One we went to lasted only 30 min. Timing of shows was also odd. We dined at 8 pm and rarely was there ever a show available after we got done eating. There were movies available after we ate that started around 10pm, which we did several nights. But I seem to remember on other cruises that show times better accommodated early and late diners.
Customer Service: This is where Princess severely lacks. We had purchased tickets for a Clamshell at Princess Cay. We noticed coming back from dinner the night before Princess Cay that other guest had received excursion tickets placed outside their rooms---we did not get tickets. So the next morning we arrive at Princess Cay and my wife goes to Passenger services to get our tickets. She is told that the Shore Excursion desk is closed, they will look into it. (Why would you close the shore excursion desk at a day you were in port and people need help with excursions?!?!) So she comes back to the room and calls the desk again and speaks with a different person who says to come back down, they can help. (All of this is eating up our time in port mind you). We go back down and the "best" he can do is print off an invoice saying we have paid for a clamshell. So we take invoice to Princess Cay, and the attendant is not buying our story of why we don't have tickets so she calls the ship and verifies our story. It all worked out and we had a great time, but what a poor experience to start with. So, we don't want this experience to happen again so before we arrive to St. Thomas, we go to Shore excursion desk and ask about our excursion tickets for there. Was told that the tickets were printed and our cabin steward had them and would be delivered around 5 pm. Guess what? We did not get them. So back we go to Passenger Services bc Shore excursions was closed, and explain the situation. First guy told us they would be printed and delivered in the morning before we arrived at St. Thomas. I insisted that this was not good enough as this was our 4th trip to Passenger Services/Shore Excursion desk and we had yet to PHYSICALLY RECEIVE a ticket that we had paid for. So we were passed to another agent who miraculously was able to print our tickets and walk to the closed Shore excursion desk and obtain them for us. Last Customer service snafu was with returning Spa products. My wife got a massage and the attendant asked at the end of the massage if she would like to purchase some massage oil and bath salt to take back to the room. Being polite, my wife obliged thinking the purchase would be a reasonable amount of money----She was charged around $250 for a bottle of oil and 10 bath salts. So she returned these products before leaving the spa, received a receipt saying they were returned. The return was never reflected on our Sail Card. It took THREE trips to Passenger Services, and speaking with FOUR employess to try and get the money returned to our card---Despite HAVING A RECEIPT!! We did not get it finalized until 9 am on the day of embarkation. We were prepared to dispute the charges with our credit card company. I don't think we were the only ones that had trouble with Passenger Services---there was a line 20 people deep most of the day on the last day of the cruise trying to straighten out charges. If you go to Passenger services--be prepared to be told that "someone is working on it", or "it will be taken care of"......but be warned, NOTHING gets done.
Regarding the ship: I found that it was generally clean. She does have a few problems despite dry docking in May. Deck was often closed for painting. Saw some welding going on on-deck. We sailed back to Ft. Lauderale at 1AM instead of 7AM so divers could get in the water and fix a broke Thruster. We heard about a water line breaking in a passengers room and flooding a few rooms that had to get blowers out to dry the carpets. We saw carpet being replaced in our hallway.
Overall: Despite all the issues, we still had a great time. I would not trade the memories we made or the good times we shared.....but there is definitely room for Princess to improve.