My husband (78) and I (72) consider ourselves veteran cruisers after 36 cruises and over 300 days on Princess. Obviously, we prefer Princess where we are made to feel very welcome and comfortable. Over the years, we have noticed changes - some good and some less than good - but that's to be expected. Overall, Princess offers an wonderful cruising experience at with good value for the price.
Our mini-suite was extremely comfortable with loads of storage space. Our room steward was a veteran of whom we could ask no more.
The ship was loaded. Someone said a record 3,500 passengers were on board. It's amazing that there were only minor problems with so many passengers.
We opted for Anytime Dining and disappointedly could not get in on the first night around 8:15 so we headed for the Cafe International which was much to our liking. The next night we did secure a table in Anytime, but found the service was painfully slow - over two hours. During the remainder of the cruise we used the Cafe or specialty restaurants which are both very good, especially the steak house. The Horizon Court and Cafe International (buffets) were varied, abundant and in general excellent.
Embarkation and disembarkation were handled very efficiently. As Captain's Circle elite members, we were especially impressed with the lounge we were assigned in which to await disembarkation. Newspapers, coffee, danish in a comfortable, uncrowded setting. The perks given to Captain's Circle members with ranking status far exceed anything we have experienced elsewhere.
Entertainment ran the gamut. Some very good, some mediocre. The Princess dancers were not as brilliant as on past cruisers. Their energy level was somewhat diminished, costumes were dull, and singing voices not exceptional. Perhaps this type of entertainment has run its course and it's time for a change.
We're sorry to see the Sanctuary take over the sports venue once available. Paddle ball and ping-pong were once located in this area and it was a gathering place and opportunity to meet sports enthusiasts. Paddle is gone and ping-pong is taken over by the kids who trashed all the new paddles from day one and crushed every ping-pong ball on board. Perhaps a system whereby one must surrender one's cruise card for equipment should be instituted.
Music in the lounges was varied and appealed to different tastes. We enjoyed dancing to the music in the Wheelhouse.
This cruise is a great way to relax, especially since there are two sea days going out and coming back. Cruising out of New York is a thrill. There is always activity in the port, the Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge, Wall Street and the sail under the Verrazano Bridge.
Love the cruise and the big ship.