This was our seventh cruise, first on Princess. Previous ships include Carnival Miracle, Carnival Legend, Carnival Victory, and NCL Spirit. Embarkation was a breeze. Arrived at Brooklyn around 11:30, we were on board starting lunch a little after noon. Apparently embarkation slowed down for later arrivals as the ships' departure was delayed one hour. It appeared that there was some delay processing luggage and getting it on board. When we arrived at our cabin after lunch our luggage was waiting for us. It is our opinion that if you stiff the porter, your luggage probably won't arrive early. Our staterooms were located on Baja deck 11. The rooms were clean. Closets were comparatively large. Steward service was very good. Balconies were great. Some small issues: 1. it took over a day to get a proper fitting life jacket for our 8 year old. (We didn't plan on using it anyway!) 2. one of our rooms on the starboard side had a/c issues and a slow draining sink. Tip...the stewards always close the drapes for a reason. The sun will heat up a room in no time. 3. sliding doors were not easy to operate. The sliding door in our room did not lock. 4. Due to layout of TV shelf, remote was difficult to operate from bed. Television had great movies showing. We would have preferred one local (American) TV station like other cruise lines offer. At least you have an idea then of what's going on news wise. Princess had CNN Int'l and CNN in Spanish. 5. Smokers on either side of our rooms, including a chain smoking cigar aficionado, spoiled otherwise perfect balcony experiences.
Dining was above average. We did traditional dining at 6 p.m. every night. Service was very good. Food was good. Some meals were better than others. Wide variety of choices. We did the buffet a number of times. Again excellent variety of choices and good quality. Desserts were awesome and plentiful. Interestingly, could not get lemonade in the dining room!? Overall coffee on board was terrible. We paid for the coffee card to get better coffee. That means if you want a decent cup you had to travel to deck 5 (Int'l Cafe), carry a coffee card with you, and occasionally stand in line. This was one of our biggest disappointments. Tried the pizza once, it was pretty good. We prefer Carnival's multiple self serve ice cream stations compared to Princess' one staffed area. The ice cream left a lot to be desired anyway. Tip: Arrive early for dinner or choose anytime dining! Traditional dining only occurs at Palms, deck 6 aft. Since one person on our party needs a walker we had to use the elevators to access dining room. Only two out of four elevators in the rear gave access to deck 6. It took a lot time waiting for elevators and some late arrivals at dinner to figure the elevators out. Generally, the elevators seemed to be poorly designed. Children's Camps were good. One 8 year old and one 12 year old really enjoyed the activities. Our 13 year old really didn't blend in well with his bracket of 13 to 17 year olds. We felt this was a pretty big age swing. He found new friends and things to do anyway. Similar operation to other cruise lines
Entertainment for us was good. Everything we saw we liked. Singers were good. Musicians were very good. Trivia was fun and challenging. Cruise director and assistants were entertaining. Ultimate Ship Tour. Two of us did this. Although quite expensive we felt it was worth it. As soon as we got on board, we went to the purser's desk to sign up. We really enjoyed seeing areas of the ship off limits to others. It was fascinating and the staff could not have been more gracious. The Chief Engineer and the Captain were particularly welcoming and enthusiastic. One of the highlights of our cruise. Debarkation was a little different than other cruises we had done. It actually went well and we disembarked at our assigned time of 9 a.m. Unfortunately for us our van service was over 1/2 hour late. All in all though it went great.