I will try to keep a logical progression to this but a haven't done this before so please excuse me if it seems a bit disjointed.
So from the beginning. Embarkation: the facilities at Princes Pier in Melbourne are not really suited to mass movements of people. The cruise documents suggested to turn up after 2pm to board as this would not be as busy. Every single passenger took this advice as the queues snaked back quite a way and it took about 30 minutes to get to the check in desk, and then after check in another 25 minutes to get to the security check point. This was not helped any by the fact that another ship, the Pacific Sun was also boarding at the same time, it was wall to wall people.
We entered in to the Atrium area and had little trouble in finding our cabin, A709 an inside cabin on Aloha deck. The cabin was a little smaller than what we were used to although the minibar fridge in the cabin was a welcome addition. The en suite was quite small as well but overall the cabin was quite OK.
We explored for a little while and after having a bite in the Lido cafe decided to have a swim or a hot tub . We thought the pool area was just OK and felt a bit enclosed by the layout.
The sail away party seemed very subdued and the overall feeling we got over the whole 2 days was that the staff would really have preferred to be somewhere else doing almost anything else.
The food was pretty poor in my opinion. The Lido buffet was quite small and this was compounded by the fact that they would shut one side down of an evening so they could use that area as the alternative restaurant, the Sterling Steakhouse. The breakfast buffet on the last morning was absolutely atrocious, The eggs were cold, the lines were horrendous and the ice machines weren't working so the orange juice was warm. Considering that this would be the last time most people ate on board and your most recent memories will usually stick with you the longest, this was really bad news for Princess. The other food options were quite good particularly the pizza and pasta at the pizzeria. Burgers and Hot dogs at the poolside grill were fine as well.
The entertainment was just OK and the best thing in my opinion was the library. Pleasant surroundings and a huge selection of high quality books.
Disembarking was fine. Overall I would have to say that I'm glad we took the opportunity to sample another cruise line, but we'll be sticking with what we know. Princess was badly let down by their staff apathy and lack of attention to details. It's a class under the rest and yet their prices are about the same. I know what I prefer.