OK..so we booked direct through Princess..Everything went well, Intercontinental West Miami great hotel .Bus to Frt Lauderdale fine..Boarding much quicker than Royal Caribbean.OK down to the important things..
BALCONY ROOM: Slightly smaller than thought but loved the amount of 'Closet' space.We didn't have to argue over number of hangers and space to put clothes- GOOD START.Suitcase delivery was excellent...we'd fully unpacked by Sail Away and felt very relaxed that after the sail away we had time to settle before the our first 'set time ' evening meal.7.45pm suited us fine and we were done in time to see all the main shows and entertainment.
BREAKFAST first morning was the start of things to come!No tables for 2 available-you had to wait -even though there were loads free ( they only use part of the Bordeaux restaurant)...so we joined a table of 4 people who had already gone through juice,coffee, pastries etc and were just ordering the main part of breakfast...we were only asked what we wanted for this course and everything before had been skipped!!Then a waiter appeared with some pasties and SHOUTED 'anymore,breakfast closing'. Our breakfast on RCCL had always been so good....Needless to say we left hungry and went up to the Horizon all day dining and enjoyed a breakfast of the same food quality at our own pace and in our order (we tend to eat savoury followed by sweet)-the only down side is that food is self service is on plastic plates.
FOOD QUALITY- OK but RCCL have much more selection and the food is prepared and presented to a higher standard. After 2nd day and looking at stressed and miserable looking staff we cancelled the Automatic Gratuity and decided to reward those who served us well...always felt that this is a way of substituting staff wages...
ENTERTAINMENT - WAS better than RCCL but missed having a dedicated 'Night club' Really missed the adult only Spa facilities on RCCL. Princess have a small area that is first come first served and $10 half day or $20 full day!! Room Service was OKish...spoilt a surprise for myself by insisting on bill being signed before delivery of Champers and I was there when they knocked door!!
SHORE EXCURSIONS- we thought were very good value and really interesting...But thought there was going to be riots on several days when all shore tours returned together (all hungry)and HALF of Horizon bar closed 'FOR CLEANING' with everyboby fighting for seats and food!The Maitre D told us that there had been a meeting and that this would not happen again..it didn't...until the next day!!
DISEMBARKATION- I'll skip the other bits in between but why they gave us colours-I don't know!! We all landed up in a large aircraft hanger,falling over suitcases, which were dumped everywhere..This descended into people arguing about who was first in line etc etc. AND when we reached Immigration we had not been given our 'Green Cards' . None left in area so we were are all herded into a group and made to wait until spares had been brought off the ship!! Late for bus,late for lunch at hotel,late for shopping at mall etc etc..and I'm afraid this sums up Cruise...There but not quite!RCCL had so much more finesse and organisation...Staff were so much more attentive and happy in their work!On several occasions we noticed staff 'hovering' when we signed the bill - I'm sure waiting to see if you gave the 'Gratuity'
SO TO SUM UP - There were really good staff. All day dining OK. Evening dinner saved by our own waiters...food not the best....Hated my afternoon around the pool being 'TAKEN OVER' by crew staff TRYING to organise Pool Games, that became loud screaming sessions for the them. RCCL had a much more sophisticated air, without being stuffy...IF i really wanted to go to a location that only Princess did, I suppose i would book BUT given the choice I would look to book elsewhere.....Sorry Princees but lacking that extra sparkle....