We are regular cruisers with Prrinces as we like many aspects of Princess as much as the mix of nationalities who cruise on Princess ships. We booked this cruise about six weeks before as a last minute break having only returned from a long Princess cruise in Australia and New Zealand and Far East in March.
This proved disappointing - we arrived at the Mayflower Terminal Southampton about 10 minutes later than our allotted time to find a very long line of passengers (pretty much everyone) waiting outside to be processed - which we accepted as being due to the ship undergoing a deep clean due to an outbreak of Norovirus on the previous Cruise.
Having asked a Princess port representative we were directed, without being asked about cruise priority status ( there was no signage) to join the end of the queue which stretched and snaked right along the front of the terminal. Eventually a Princess port representative wandered along muttering about Elite More
or Platinum passengers, those of us who were lucky enough to hear her, made our way back to the entrance, - No queue for this and were able to complete our boarding in reasonable time.
The ship showed a high level of cleanliness. Antibacterial gel was available at the entrance to food areas with passengers directed to use the gel as they entered the food section of Horizon Court. As far as we know there was no recurrence of the Norovirus that had been noted on the previous cruise. Obviously controlling the spread of infection is as down to passengers adhering to hygiene as well as staff.
We choose to use anytime dining and find the standards of quality and service are still excellent, although the range of choices is somewhat diminished. We find the Horizon court buffet gives a good choice and variety of foods at all times of the day especially at breakfast. We liked the fact that ready prepared fresh fruit salad appears to be available every morning now.
Ports of call.
There were many lovely cities on this cruise - with no tender to ports neccesary and all the piers had easy access to HOHO buses and / or train station - Stockholm had Ho Ho buses as well as HoHo boats which we used. In Gydnia (Gdansk) the HOHO buses were limited and there were long queues. As we like to walk (amble) and walked the 2km (approx ) into the town of Gydnia and were delighted to find a lively centre with a lovely marina, maritime museum with a variety of ships as well as an aquarium. The whole area had a friendly seaside atmosphere, a nice looking beach and plenty of snack bars and cafés.
The production shows were of the high standard we have come to expect, Whilst Chris Watkins-Fireworks on four strings, was superb! And singer / comedian Bernie Flint was entertainingly funny. However, the other acts were quite mediocre. On the whole there was something for everyone The Princess Orchestra and resident musicians were, as usual, exceptionally good with the piano entertainer in the Crooners bar appearing to be very popular and having a 'full house' every night. This cruise we 'missed' the usual performance string quartet - (not sure why)!
The cruise director and his assistant were entertaining and passed on information concisely. As a plus point there were minimal public address announcements from the cruise director etc. This suited us as on other cruises we have felt 'bombarded' by one announcement after another!.
Overall we enjoyed the cruise , there was a good mix of passengers of different nationalities on board, lots of lovely people to share our anytime dining experience and the service was very good with friendly helpful staff, particularly in Horizon court.
Proved excellent, swift and without any delays. We docked at the Ocean terminal, which is modern, spacious and very easy to exit. Port staff were helpful and able to direct passengers to car /coach areas. Less
StateroomWe had an inside cabin on Alloa deck for this cruise and everything was clean and tidy, the only issue we had was the vibration from the engines which was especially noticeable when docking as this often disturbed our sleep. At times the vibration was also felt when in Horizon court noticeably when seated near the windows. While the vibration was annoying and sometimes uncomfortable it was bearable and we didn't ask if changing our stateroom was possible - but would certainly not book A728 again