Traveled (47) with my nephew (23) for the first time with Princess Cruises. I have previously cruised with Carnival (24 years ago) and 2 cruises with Celebrity (Zenith). My nephew had been on the Celebrity Zenith. Having read the reviews I was really expecting the worst. I believe you get what you want from the cruise, so if a person wants to pick things apart they will and if a person wants to enjoy it they will. We absolutely loved the cruise. The weather cooperated. The seas were like glass.
Embarkation: Brooklyn Red Hook Pier 12 We arrived by noon. We went through the terminal in 15 minutes. We waited until 1:00PM to board. By 1:15 we were in our room. Our luggage was already there. This process worked well.
Room: We were in a cabin that was accessible to wheelchairs which is the reason the bathroom was huge. We didn't need the accessibility but it made the room spacious. There was enough closet space and we were right across from the elevators. The A/C didn't work effectively the first day but I told the room steward and the second day it was fixed. The balcony was well worth the extra money. The Baja deck (Deck 11) balconies are covered. The Baja balconies allow you to look down on the two lower decks' balconies (Dolphin and Caribe) We received turn down service each night and whatever we needed Estefana made sure we got it.
Pools: Loved the fact that there were 5 pools. 2 pools for families, and 2 adult only pools, and one other pool. Let's face it people - there are signs put up for a reason. People don't pay attention. The no jumping or diving signs were disregarded. And I hate to say it but I saw young kids and adults jumping and diving. There is only so much the ship can do. I saw people complain to the cruise officials. I saw the cruise personnel tell the jumpers to stop. The cruise personnel would walk away and the kids would jump right back in. I actually had a mother say to me she was mad that some guy told her kids to stop jumping in. She said well other kids are doing it. My thought was if someone cracked their head or dove and hit bottom, how fast could the Coast Guard get there. People are just stupid. I enjoyed the adult's only pools because people could read the signs. And one more thing, people can't read the sign about not saving any lounge chairs as a common courtesy. By 8AM all the lounge chairs were saved by people who didn't show up. All we did was walk up a level, there are plenty of lounge chairs and it's not worth getting annoyed by.
Ship: This ship is huge. Ginormous would be more like it. It took like a week before we could navigate the ship. And I believe we were booked to capacity so maybe there were like 3500 people on board. Never washed my hand so much as on the cruise. We sanitized our hands every chance we could. To us this ship never seemed crowded. We didn't do the shows. But when we went through our days there never were lines (we tend to be on the early side) Yes it may have been tough in the buffet but we always found seats. The dining rooms (Coral and Island) were quite good. The lounges ( Explorers) was a nice place to sit and look at the ocean. The Promenade Deck (7) 2.7 times around was a mile. Yes you had to climb stairs during this walk but it was still enjoyable. The Sanctuary was wonderful. However if you aren't one of the first people to board the ship chances are the 20 loungers will be sold out for the week. They then sell the remaining 27 seats on a daily basis, $10 for either 8-12:30 - or I think 1-5:30. We were lucky to get in the first day at sea. There was no one else up there. We were able to relax for 2 hours but then we hit a patch of rain and we had to leave. It was well worth the $20.
Entertainment: We didn't do any shows. We did do the Movie under the Stars and thoroughly enjoyed it. Again with the saving of seats and how some people could almost come to blows over this.
Dining: Crowne Grill - $25 pp extra but it was well worth it. I had the Black and Blue Onion Soup, excellent. And filet mignon that absolutely was the best I have ever eaten. It more than melted in my mouth. The service was attentive and the food was superb. Sabatini's - $20pp extra and if you like to eat than this is for you. We aren't really into fish so alot of the food they served we didn't eat. But what we did eat was also excellent. We ate so much that we didn't have room for dessert. The Horizon Buffet/Cafe Carribe both served buffet style food. We could find something we liked when we wanted to stay in our shorts and not have to dress for the dining room. Prego Pizza - Pizza was good for a cruise ship. Trident Grill - Hamburgers/ fries very good. I didn't like the hot dogs.
Internet Cafe - Buy the package-$55 for 100 minutes or whatever. That pay by the minutes cost me $35 for one email. Didn't realize how long it would take. Buy the package.
Casino - We had the hardest time figuring out how to get the money from the card to the account to the machines. Complicated. We only went when there was the No Smoking Nights.
The Spa - I had the frangiapani scalp massage and then I had the 5 treatment special. Ceilo did an excellent job and was helpful in product selection.
Staff: Overall, I think the passengers were nastier than any staff I met. I think some passengers come with a certain rudeness/entitlement that rubbed me the wrong way. So if I worked on the ship it might be a stretch to be pleasant to these passengers. You get what you put out there. So I was met with nothing but warmth and smiles.
Shoutouts: Our room steward Estefana was great. The Horizon Buffet 6am club -Pisces, Zlatimir and Isidro made my morning coffee enjoyable. Gabriel at the Crowne Grill and Sebastian at Sabatinis were more than accommodating and Ceilo in the spa did a great job.
Disembarkation: We had to wait in the Crowne Grill longer than we had hoped but once off the ship we had to find our luggage. That was a trip. Then we loaded the luggage and waited outside for our ride.
Overall: I would definitely do this cruise again. I will definitely recommend it to friends. I would book this ship and have nothing but great memories.