Backgroud: This cruise was technically a repositioning cruise - New York to San Juan. It appealed to us because it left from New York (a shorter flight for us coming from western Canada) and it has always been my dream to sail past the Statue of Liberty. We have sailed twice with Celebrity, once with Holland, once with RCCL and once before with Princess. On this cruise we had two of our teenagers with us and we travelled with two other families.
Embarkation was perfect - we arrived very early as a our taxi ride turned out to be 20 minutes instead of the predicted hour 1/2! - no traffic at all on this Saturday morning in NYC. We were in the second group called to board and we were eating lunch at the buffet by noon. Very friendly staff at the terminal - full marks to Princess here.
Stateroom: We had an outside obstructed view stateroom. There were a few ropes and pulleys outside our window - nothing that seriously blocked our view. I have always felt before that if I wasn't booking a balcony I wouldn't bother with a window - but this time I discovered it is very nice to have the light! Our children had an inside room and was identical to ours other than no window! Our room steward was certainly adequate but not overwhelmingly friendly or helpful - I think he was 'tired' and who could blame him? The room was clean and he did what he had to. Some days we only got one bath towel - to share?? - hmmm?? We asked for a foamy to be on our bed which helped a little - it was the definitely the worst bed we've ever had. Also had robes delivered - one less thing to pack.
Dining: We all know this is very subjective - however we felt this was the poorest food we have experienced. The beef was virtually inedible, the fish was overly fishy :) (wow, does that sound fussy!!) and the turkey dinner was dry as shoe leather! On the other hand the salmon dinner was excellent and I did order it a second time. We had fixed late dining and our waiters were fantastic - very friendly and accommodating. There were us 6 parents at our table and our 6 teenagers at the table beside us and their waiters went above and beyond for them. They made dining a highlight for 6 teens and we truly appreciated it.
We enjoyed the International Cafe very much and would recommend it for a great lunch - far better than the buffet! We used our coffee card to the max and all met each night for a pre dinner latte in the piazza - a very relaxing, inviting environment.
We only ate at the buffet for breakfast where we loved the fresh fruit and the waffles - excellent. Don't miss the waffles at the Ice Cream shop - a rather odd location - but worth finding. We had a hard time getting a second cup of coffee and found the staff here to be 'tired' and very indifferent. Often there were dirty tables and we had to look for clean cutlery ourselves - not that we minded, I'm just comparing to other cruises we've had.
Entertainment - The comedian was marvelous and the 'Broadway' shows worth attending - particularly Piano Man (often we give these a miss). We often enjoy a quartet before dinner and missed one on this ship.
Kids Club - our teens were mostly too old for the Kid's Club - they were extremely disappointed but we understand that there has to be an age cut off somewhere. The cruise staff went out of their way to accommodate them and include them in activities - even posting special activities for their age group 18-21! We thank them for that. This truly was the best holiday any of our children have ever had and they made memories of a life time - in part because of the fantastic staff.
The ship itself: one can always find 'worn' spots if you're looking I suppose! We enjoyed the ship, found it to be clean and well kept and commented on how uncrowded we always felt - even though it was a full ship. On that note, I overheard a man in the elevator complain that he would never cruise Princess again because the ship was too big and too crowded! Huh!! This is not a BRAND new ship - if that is what you want, you'll have to pay for it. For what we paid we felt we got excellent value.
Disembarkation: 'silent disembarkation' is very nice and I'm sure it works well. This time however, there was a huge delay in disembarking due to customs in San Juan - not the ships fault. We were disappointed to have a chunk of our day wasted. Be aware than things don't always go exactly as planned when you are vacationing!
Given the right itinerary we would travel Princess again. The biggest negative for us was the food - the biggest positive was the excellent time our children had.