We set sail from Civitavecchia on the 18th November for our first cruise with Princess, taking in the ancient cities, ie Rome, Naples, Athens, Istanbul, Cairo & Alexandria. Our previous favourite cruise line had been Costa, with whom we also did a fairly "local" cruise back in 2005. Bearing in mind that the Grand Princess is now 11 years old and was refitted in 2006, she is in very good condition and quickly became our favourite ship to date. The food in all areas was excellent and the service in all areas was also excellent. The outside cabin had a large full size window which gave plenty of light and the ship generally was very clean. The entertainment was first class as was the effort put in by the staff to make the cruise enjoyable. I would certainly recommend Princess above any other cruise line I have been with up to now.
There are, however, the usual words of caution when reviewing a cruise. I will never book an excursion with Princess again. We did four:- a good one in Naples where we went to see Pompeii, a reasonable one in Athens, where we were taken to see the Acropolis, a good tour with a sexist guide in Istanbul and a terrible one in Egypt to see the pyramids and Sphinx. The problem with these excursions is that too much is left to the discretion of the tour guide so, in Cairo, having endured a three hour drive to get from port to the pyramids, we actually had a total of about twenty minutes to photograph the pyramids and five minutes to photograph the Sphinx. We did however have a full half hour at a souvenir shop which was not a scheduled stop. The excursions are also very expensive. We paid 558 dollars for the two of us to spend most of the day on a coach. We spoke to people who had arranged the same visits, but for longer, were staying overnight in Cairo and had managed to do this for about half of what we paid! When we got back to the ship, despite complaints from a number of passengers, Princess were not interested in doing anything to remove the bad feelings. So, bearing in mind that excursions do not have to be booked through the cruise line, the actual cruise itself was the best we have been on and I would recommend Princess to anybody.