My husband and I have just returned from a 12 day Western Med cruise on Pacific Princess. We are a couple in our early 60's (still working) and have cruised approximately 20 times, 10 on Princess. We love the intimacy of the smaller ships which are able to go to smaller ports. Embarkation and disembarkation were very easy. About half the passengers were from the USA, Briton or Canada. The others were a large group of Jordanians, Russians, Lebanese, Italians and other Europeans. We chose this cruise for the ports which included Morocco, Tunisia, Malta, Malaga, Sardinia, Sorrento, and Messina.
We booked our own air and booked our own precruise hotel. We stayed at the Sheraton Roma, which we loved but was not in the center of the city. However, they provided free shuttle bus service into the heart of historic Rome. The rooms were great, the beds comfy and the food was good and no more expensive than any other Sheraton. There was a wonderful singer; music and dancing outside near the pool on Friday and Saturday night.
The Pacific Princess in a 670 person ship that had originally been part of the Renaissance fleets we sailed on similar ships including the Tahitian Princess, the Renaissance 4 and Azamara Journey. The ship does not appear to have had a major refurbishment since it was a Renaissance ship. The interior public areas were fine but the cabin was "tired" looking. The beds were the usual rock hard Princess beds and the furniture bed spreads and sofas had seen better days. Around the pool, on the balconies and by the outdoor dining and bar areas Princess has purchased very cheap looking and somewhat uncomfortable white plastic furniture.
The Dining was fixed seating. We prefer open seating but were lucky and had very congenial table mates. We ate at the late seating and had good waiters. We were very happy with the food in the Dining room. The food at the buffet was good but not great.
The activities were typical of small ships and not as lavish or varied as the mega ships but fine with us. The staff was friendly and helpful. The service was good but we noticed that there was quite a bit less staff. The cabin attendants cleaned more cabins, the waiters served more tables and there was no wine steward aboard. The cruise staff seemed stretched as well. The shore excursions were well run and there was an excellent port expert (who was not part of the tour staff) who gave very good information about the ports. The children's activities seemed well run (we did not have any children with us).
Things we liked: Princess food Small ship Port lecturer Friendly staff. Things we did not like: SMOKING SMOKING SMOKING! There was a smell of smoke through out the ship. Smoking is allowed in cabins, on balconies, by the pool (one side) in the casino, in the show room! Tacky plastic furniture. Fixed seating dining. Hard beds.
Would we sail on the ship again? My husband says no because of the smoke but we might try another Princess ship for a very good price with a desirable itinerary The Casino was totally unavailable to us because of the smoke. Our cabin stunk from the smokers in the next cabin. We would probably take Azamara or Celebrity for a similar experience because of their restricted smoking policies, comfy beds and chaises lounges.