This review is based upon no previous cruising experience so take it for what it is worth. We had a great time and any information below is not negative feedback, just info to help make your cruise its best
During this cruise we stayed in Baja 706, a balcony room at the aft of the ship right off the elevators. The room was a good size, the closet was big, and the bathroom was functional. We never experienced any disruptive noise due to our proximity to the elevator. In fact, it was very convenient. We used the balcony for a few breakfasts, afternoon drinks, and champagne in the evening.
For dinner we chose traditional dining at 8:15. We loved it. The service was fantastic and relaxed. We heard other people state that the 5:15 dinner was rushed but since there is no seating after the 8:15 people would dine until 10:00 or 10:30. In the Palm Dining Room we had dinner entertainment as the head waiter was a phenomenal singer. According to the staff, only the Palm on Caribbean Princess has this entertainment and only as long as Hector works there. We tried the buffet once but found it crowded, hot, and smokey. Cigarette smoke from the aft deck would flow directly into the buffet when the doors to the deck opened. Overall we really enjoyed the dining experience but the food was not amazing; good but not great.
The pools were nice and we loved sitting in the pool on our first sea day watching a movie. There was no need to pay for seating in the sanctuary as there was plenty of seating on deck and the sanctuary pool is open for all adult passenger use.
Princess heavily marketed their Ultimate Drink package at $53 per day. This package would have cost us over $700. As an alternative my wife and I purchased the Unlimited Soda and More package at $8 per day for a total of $112. Add to that four 375ml bottles of rum delivered to our room via Princess Cellars for $68 and we got our drink package for $180 total. Yes, the rules state that alcohol delivered to rooms must be consumed in the room, but not a single server cared when we pulled out a flask. We also carried our champagne on board. Beware, there is lots of confusion on board and at Princess Cays about drink packages. Some people got service at Princess Cays with their drink package and others did not
The shows in Princess Theater were average but fun. However the entertainment in other venues was laughable, literally. The first night we stopped to watch karaoke in the Explorers'. The lady wasn't too bad; a little off tune and not quite with the beat--but good on her for getting up there. WAIT!! It turns out that was the band "Passion"--good grief. By the end of the cruise they were moved and the really good piano player and singer was moved from Crooners to the larger Explorers' venue. Wish there had been dancing that was not the techno thumping Skywalkers.
Here are some other quick tips to help.
1. Bring water shoes to Princess Cays. Once in the water there are lots of rocks. Also, be careful as the bottom is very uneven. Finally, be careful if you go on the banana boat. Many people got hurt riding it. It was very rough when we went and people got bloody noses from flying into each other.
2. The river tubing in Ocho Rios is unbelievable. The crystal clear river and landscape must be experienced.
3. Visit Stingray City in Grand Cayman but save snorkeling for Cozumel.
4. The Salsa y Salsa excursion in Cozumel must not be missed. A raucous good time and great beach.
Overall we were incredibly impressed with the service and that the ship never felt crowded. The ship was sold out and there was still lots of room to do activities or just sit and enjoy the day. We have heard other ships are fancier but this one was well kept, clean, and not ostentatious.