My husband and I traveled with a group of 39 individuals to attend and celebrate the wedding of a family member. This cruise was the third for my husband and me. We have previously cruised on Carnival Miracle (Western Carib) and NCL Gem (honeymoon, transatlantic). I was excited about cruising on Princess because of the super positive reviews from family members who have cruised with Princess for years.
To say I was disappointed with our experience would be an understatement. We received far better, quicker, and friendlier service on both Carnival and NCL. We were, however, more than pleased with our room steward, Cristian. Best steward we've ever had. The room felt rather small. The bed took up much of the room. This was the first time we cruised in an inside so I've nothing to compare the layout out to. Nice size closet and bathroom. Just felt on top of each other in other parts of the room. Surprisingly, the linens were very worn and had rips and runs in them. Was surprised.
I agree with the previous reviewers comments on the layout of the ship- very poor indeed. In fact, we got lost on disembarkation day trying to find the breakfast buffet. We never got familiar with the layout and never truly felt at home on the ship.
We didn't participate in many ship activities. We did notice that the cruise director didn't seem "out and about" very often like we've experienced cruise directors on Carnival and, especially, NCL. The cruise director's staff didn't seem particularly friendly or approachable.
The dining service, with the exception of Sabatini's, lacked. We chose anytime dining, which was a big mistake. We had to wait in line every night just to receive a beeper which would take another 30-60 mins to let us know that our table was ready. In my opinion, Princess is becoming a jack of all trades, master of none with its dining choices. I imagine they would excel more if they chose to offer either scheduled/seated dining OR anytime dining. Offering both is a mistake. On a positive note, the food on the ship was better than we've had on Carnival and Princess.
We only booked one excursion at Saint Thomas on the Jolly Mon. Had a great time snorkeling around fish and sea turtles. Also drank a lot of rum punch and beer on the ride back. I wouldn't recommend this tour for people who don't like to hang out with a party crew. Things got a little rowdy on the way back but we youngins really enjoyed ourselves.
Worked out in the fitness center 4 of 7 days. Was truly unhappy with the gym. Treadmills much poorer in quality than on other cruises and the weights and machines are definitely showing some wear and tear. My husband and I boarded the ship around 2 and wanted to work out right away before the sail away party. No such luck. Half the staff in the spa/gym area said we could work out, other half told us we couldn't. The left hand definitely didn't know what the right hand was doing. Also, the water in the gym was hot coming out of the water fountain. That was quite disgusting after a nice long run and looking for refreshment.
Had a terrible, terrible experience in the casino. The slot procedures are very confusing and I received no compensation/help from their staff or passenger services. Basically got an "oh well" attitude. Not pleased and will be writing a letter to people higher in command at Princess. Will never gamble in a Princess casino again, and can't see myself or the family members with whom I traveled cruising Princess again for this very reason. The whole incident really soured the trip for me. The money "stolen" from the casino prohibited my husband and I from spending money in areas we would have liked (e.g., the spa, boutiques, other excursions). We really didn't spend much money at all after we were unable to recoup the $160 loss at the casino due to poor policy. We felt rather stingy because we felt our money was taken for us. We considered taking off tips as well but eventually decided against it. Princess, by making no attempt to rectify the situation, lost money on my overall spending in addition to any other cruises I might have booked through them.
The saving of seats by the pool is absolutely ridiculous and although Princess states the "no seat saving" policy nightly in the Princess Patter and has a sign by the pool expressing the same notion- it is not enforced...at all. Terrible.
Disembarkation was another challenge. Not even half the elevators were operable for walk off disembarkation. After waiting 20 minutes through full elevators, my husband and I decided to drag our 50 lb suitcases down 12 floors so that we could make our flight on time. Absolute chaos once we got downstairs. Line wrapped around the atrium into the art gallery. Once we (finally) got into the terminal we encountered an older, very rude woman directing traffic to either elevators or escalator. She had such an attitude.
In sum, will I travel Princess again? Not likely. Really did not have a good experience and didn't think the price of the cruise delivered the level of service I was expecting. Would rather pay much less and get the same or better service.