Since we live in the San Francisco area, and did not want to deal with airlines, we looked for a cruise that departed locally and went to an area we had not visited before. Princess had a cruise available that had the right number of days, a good list of ports of call, and cabins available we wanted (we needed adjoining cabins due to family traveling together), so we booked a cruise with our local agent.
At first, it seemed we made a poor choice - the San Francisco embarkation facility at Pier 35 is not well organized, but I imagine this is due to the lack of ships calling San Francisco, and a city that wants to invest more in street fairs, public viewing for sporting events, parades and other forms of mass entertainment than infrastructure.
Once onboard and on our way the seas were rough, which was not surprising, as friends who have their own sailboats all said they would never sail from San Francisco to Seattle due to the rough seas. Overall, the ship handled this well. We encountered two problems with our cabin. First was the toilet system going out for several hours separate days - this was on two occasions due to other passengers flushing disposable underwear. Second was the lack of WiFi in our cabin, unless we propped the door open to allow the signal to come in.
We had also booked a massage with Lotus Spa, but when we showed up for our appointment, we were told by the spa that the individual who was to take care of us was in training and would not be available until another day. We canceled our appointment.
Overall, not a good start. That said, things on the ship were otherwise very good - the cabin was excellent: roomy, comfortable, had a great view, and good cabin service for clean-up, etc. We opted for anytime dining in the Rigoletto dining room, and arranged with the Maitre D'Hotel to have the same table available for us every night at a specified time period, so we never had to wait in line, but simply walked in and sat down for dinner. The wait staff were truly excellent, as as the food - there were three of us, and we never had a bad meal or bottle of wine. We had dinner in the Rigoletto every night. We also participated in the Maitre D's wine tasting and the Chef's Table, both of which were excellent. All in all, we were very happy with the food and service.
We also opted for the Ultimate Ship's Tour, which was well done and well worth the money for the behind-the-scenes look at engineering, medical, the bridge, kitchens, etc. Also, it was here that one of our family members (who is 90 years old) became a bit weak and opted to sit down and then drop out of the tour. The concern and care by the Sea Princess staff was incredible, notably Ben, the Deputy Cruise Director, who was leading the tour. The staff made sure our family member was looked after and that those of us who could continue the tour were separately escorted back to the group so we didn't miss anything.
Entertainment on the ship was very good - the atrium featured either a pianist or a string trio playing classical musing. There were numerous shows worth catching, and we caught a lecture by Libby Riddles, the first woman to win the Iditarod, on her life and how she won the race. There were lectures by scientists about the Alaskan wildlife, and by the National Park service about Glacier Bay during our visit to that area.
The ports of call were excellent as were most of the excursions (more on this below). Disembarkation was handled much better than embarkation (probably because we had little to do with Pier 35 except to pick-up our luggage and leave).