The downside first:
The ship looks worn already although it's only been at sea for about a year. Not sure why it's looking so abused. We sailed on The Emerald two years in a row and I think that she was in better shape. The food: mediocre, predictable, not like it used to be. But hey, they always have salad. Even the pizza wasn't good like in the past, it was very greasy, maybe they are using cheaper cheese made from oil instead of milk. The premium restaurants were good though and well worth the cover charge.
Princess Cays- Went there once, that was enough.
The shows: All kinds of OY. Productions were glitzy, lively and showcased lots of talent, but if you've seen one, you've seen them all. They need to bring back some of the known Headliners (Singers, Comedians) like they used to. I'm not expecting Madonna or Neil Diamond, but surely Princess can afford some of the talent that is playing on the Casino Circuit or local theatre. These productions all seem to be the same year after year. And a word to the wise if you intend to see a production on the Ruby called "I had a dream" or words to that effect - don't go - you'll have nightmares about this shit they have allowed to disgrace the stage. It was like it was written by someone on an LSD trip gone terribly wrong. We stayed like idiots, waiting for it to get better because it clearly could not have gone anywhere but up. But were we wrong-the highlight was a quartet dressed as Quakers or in medieval costume (can't remember which nor do I want to) singing Beatles songs. John and George would have flipped in their graves had they seen this travesty of their music. At the end of the torturous production, we had a strong urge to bleach out our ears. Blechh.
The pool: No idea why they don't have the striped towels available anymore by the pool, you have to schlep your own from your stateroom. So when you get back to your room to take a shower, all you have are the white bath towels that are so rough, not kind to sunburn. I wonder if they've never heard of fabric softener sheets.
And this was really annoying: The smell of stale smoke was so overwhelming in our stateroom, the wonderful room steward had to change all the linens and fumigate the best he could. Not sure why they can't designate certain decks for smoking and non, Supposedly they try to restrict smoking to the balconies, but you know that Mr. and Mrs. smoke-three-packs-a day are doing it in bed. Well, smoking in bed, anyway.
One more thing and I'll move on. The people who use the ship's speakers need to speak clearly and succinctly. Some are impossible to understand, and must be very difficult for people whose native language is not American English.
Now for The good stuff:
Best all around service we have had in years, from our wonderful room steward to the dining room staff. Even though these people are overworked, they are grateful for their jobs and their service is impeccable.
Best place on the ship for my money is the Cafe across from the Plaza on deck 5. For $27.00 you can buy a card which entitles you to 15 coffee drinks made with REAL coffee, not that syrup SWILL you get in the dining rooms and buffets. You can also show your card in the dining rooms and your friendly server will get your selection and bring it to the table. Also availbable in the cafe, there are sandwiches, salads, desserts - all free. And gelato for only $1.50 a bowl, I think you get 3 scoops. They have plenty of tables where you can sit and enjoy.
Movies Under the Stars: Love it. Tends to be windy but they supply you with warm blankets and cookies and milk.
The Spa: Not for me, but most of our cruisin party had massages and loved it.
Cruise Director: A STEP ABOVE EXCELLENT. He was fantastic, very approachable and did his job with passion, fun and always smiling.
Our group of eight had a wonderful time despite some of the pitfalls of the ship. The trip was relaxing (Thankfully no Norovirus like last year's trip) and we made it fun because that is our goal. Vacation time is precious to us and although I noted more negative points than positive, I felt it was important for review readers to expect some flaws - perfection only exists in a vacuum, right? Have a fantastic cruise!