Having booked this holiday sometime ago (especially based on recommendation) I must say I was disappointed with the Princess line in several areas. Before departure I did 'run' through various reviews which weren't all that glowing, and that being said I thought I'd make my own mind up.
My main worry was the norvovirus which according to reviews was causing difficulties for many passengers on board. Prior to departure I actually rang Princess lines to check the situation (especially as having recovered from serious illness was left with a low immune system..). Princess denied any problems. This is and was not the case as I found out once aboard. Indeed they had been having problems throughout May and were still having them when we were on board, with some passengers being confined to their cabins.
The ship itself (although now in need of refurbishment being 12 years old) WAS NOT TOO BAD.. ALTHOUGH SOME AREAS DID LOOK VERY TIRED.
The food in the dining rooms was good and there was a very good selection to choose from.
The specialist dining areas for which you pay a cover charge (which in our case was $40) for attending the steak house was disappointing. We waited from 8.30pm to 9.45pm for our main meal to be brought and I must say when it did arrive given that we paid the equivalent of some £30 extra for the privilege it was not all that special. Definitely not worth the money.
We had an inside state room which was quite adequate (not as posh as some cruise ships we had been on but this was due to the age of the ship).But having said that it was perfectly adequate given time you spend in a cabin.
Entertainment was quite good and there were various quizzes throughout the day.. although the prizes left a lot to be desired - a pen for the winner! I thought this poor and told the quiz master accordingly .. a bottle of wine or box of chocolates at least!
The shuttle service (which we had to pay for - and which we have never done so before WAS POOR... not enough buses for numbers of people going aboard and many left to stand after having bought tickets and queuing for up to an hour or more.
My feeling was (and given there were some 500+ children on board due to the Whitsun holidays) it was more akin to a floating Butlins with no control over the children who were often just left to run amok. They were allowed in adult areas with no resistance from the staff;and generally although they were not allowed in after 10.30pm to the evening shows they did attend which meant adults having to stand because there were no seats available. This was prevalent throughout the cruise.
The dress code was never adhered to.. jeans allowed in the dining rooms even on formal nights and generally I felt the dress code resembled very scruffy. (Not the smart apparel normally expected on cruises or as written up in the brochure).
Generally a very down market cruise with a very up market price tag.
Drinks on board were phenomenal and the shops they did have just wanted to sell the most expensive of items. The staff themselves although very good were very under manned which meant often waiting endlessly for drinks to be served etc. If anyone left drinks/bottles on tables .. they were never cleared away due to lack of staff. All in all top dollar for not such a top dollar line - One to keep away from!!