This was our 10th cruise.....and hands down, the best cruise ever!
Embarkation: We always travel to the port a day early - just in case we encounter airline delays, traffic jams, etc. This time, it was a very good thing that we traveled to Ft. Lauderdale a day early, as our flight from Dallas was 4 hours late. Embarkation was fast and painless, and after dropping our carry-ons in our cabin (the last balcony cabin - port side, Caribe deck), we immediately went to the DaVinci dining room for lunch.
Food: Dining room food and service were both excellent. The buffet, however, is probably the worst we've ever encountered. The layout is confusing, with people feeding into the lines from two entrances. It is always very difficult to find a seat, and by the time you do, your food is cold. Also, the buffet food on this ship leaves a lot to be desired. On the other hand, Sabatini's is the BEST specialty restaurant we've ever been to - on any ship! When you make reservations, they tell you to be prepared for a two hour dining experience, and that is exactly what they deliver. Don't miss this meal, but don't eat lunch that day, as they keep brining you food for the entire two hours. Room service was always punctual, and when we didn't want the normal breakfast menu, we wrote in what we DID want on the breakfast card, and every time, the kitchen delivered (omelets, French Toast, Doughnuts, etc.).
Entertainment: We had been on this ship in October 2007 to Canada/New England, and unfortunately, the production shows were still the same in May. So, we spent much more time in the casino than usual, and undoubtedly, this casino has the tightest slot machines we've ever seen. Save your money!
Ports: The itinerary on this cruise was fantastic (Ponta del Gado, Lisbon, Portugal, Vigo, Spain, London, Paris, Oslo and Copenhagen). The nicest surprises were in Portugal and Spain. Portugal is absolutely beautiful, and our tour to Sintra and Cascais' was fantastic......beautiful little towns and villages set in the hills about an hour from Lisbon. In Vigo, we took the ship's excursion to Santiago de Campo Stella, which boasts one of the most beautiful churches I've ever seen. We met pilgrims who made the journey to the church by walking sixty miles. Incredible stories there!
I loved London! We visited Westminster Abbey, and could have spent several days there just reading tombstones of all the famous and not-so-famous people buried there. Alas, it WAS a cruise, and as we all know, you only get a few hours to see all that you can see. We also took a short boat ride down the Thames River to the London Eye - a huge "ferris wheel" with capsules that hold about 25 people each. From the top of the Eye, we had an incredible view of the city. The tour included a wonderful lunch.
In Paris, we visited the Louvre. Or should I say, we raced around the Louvre. Once again, could have spent days there exploring, but saw what we could see in the time allotted - and once again, the tour included a wonderful lunch!
On to Oslo, where we just walked around the city on our own. We walked past a TGIFridays restaurant, where the menu posted outside showed the price of a turkey sandwich to be over $50 US. We were told that Oslo is now the most expensive city in the world!
Then on to Copenhagen. NOTES OF IMPORTANCE - It would be wise to buy the ship's transfer to the airport, or hotel from the port. We waited for over an hour in line with our luggage to get a taxi, which cost $60 US plus tip for the ride from the port to the Marriott Hotel. Also, we highly recommend the Marriott. We had an absolutely beautiful room, overlooking Tivoli gardens at the reasonable rate of $120 on Priceline. We spent two days in Copenhagen, walking many miles, doing Tivoli (absolutely beautiful), the canal tour, and the mile-long shopping street, known as Stroget.
The trip home was long and arduous....Copenhagen to London to Chicago to Dallas. There were better flights and connections, but since we were traveling on frequent flyer miles, our choices were limited.
A wonderful trip - and Princess does it right. Oh yes, two more good bargains are the Coke card, for unlimited Coke, Sprite, etc., and the Coffee card, which includes 15 specialty coffees in the International Cafe. The International cafe' is a wonderful place for a light breakfast or lunch. They also offer great chocolate covered strawberries and caramel apples for a slight charge!
I'd do this cruise again tomorrow - wonderful ports, wonderful ship, wonderful food and wonderful service! Now I just need to get over this PCD (post cruise depression), and start planning our next cruise! Hmmmm, maybe the Panama Canal????