I will attempt to be as fair as possble. I have sailed three times with PCL the rest with Carnival. In comparing the Europe experience between CCL and PCL, CCL wins hand down (Freedom August 2007)
I will attempt to make this review painless for you so I will just type/review as I recall.
Spa - did not use
Jogging track - it's truly a joke. You have to walk 16 times around the very small area where people are playng golf to complete one mile. We decided to go to Promenade Deck 7. Though u really can't jog - it was great!
Ship itself - OK - nothig spetacular.
Entertainment - due to its port intensiveness - we did not do much regarding this - mostly did the Movies under the Sun for Tina Turner's concert and Iron Man II - However, audio not the greatest. :(
Additional entertainment - nice violinist who played throughout the cruise - a few jugglers and a contortionist (?) not sure if that is what it was but she was pretty neat
Food - OMGosh! This was an experience. A bad one! :( DaVinci one nite and it was enough. The waiter goofed up three orders in a row. Ours - the couple next to us and the couple next to them. Food was mediocre to say the least. I understand about taste buds; choices; etc. etc. but... trust me, if you are cruising for the food, stay home! This was truly awful. The soups were the only things that were actually good. Food was too bland; not sure if they thought because of the age group (average 55 oldest around 80) but I heard many a senior complain that this food was "awful"!
However, the Internatinal Cafe on Deck 5 was more then accomodating. They offered much better sandwiches; deserts (all free) except for a few items like specialty coffees; etc.. Gelato - 3 scoops for $1.50 this is unbelievably delicious!! It tasted better then the Gelato we had in Rome. My husband went back several times. I did also :)
Much of curry was served; mexican two lunch buffets; still nothing to brag about.
Compared to the meals served on the Carnival Freedom during our Med/Greek Isles cruise; there is no comparison. Or let's just say CCL was truly serving up the best tasting and varied food at sea compared to PCL's Crown. :(
Cabin - Very nice. Our steward Damakor - Outstanding!!! Very sweet; non-instrusive; always there when we needed him. The walk-in closest was a very nice touch. Balcony as always, small but nice.
Nice touch with the TV guide for the entire cruise along with the flat-screen TV and of course the Fridge.
People who cruised - As I mentioned - average 55 to 80. Some teens; a few younger ones. Some couples in their 30's and 40's - Overall everyone seemed very nice. We met different groups of people while waiting in line for attractions such as the Blarney Stone - Hi Lettie - hi Mr. Photographer! :) and continued to enjoy passing them at different occassions on the ship.
Staff - This was the best - They all seemed to sincerely want to help you. They went out of their way to acknowledge us at all times. The Pursers' were outstanding. Never saw huge lines; this is a good sign :) Valeria - from Argentina was very sweet; seemed a bit serious at first but it is mostly the "professional" in her. The staff at the International Cafe was also outstanding.
All in all, we enjoyed the cruise and the cruisers around us.
We chose the Paris on your own - prety pricey - but we did not know if and when we'd get a chance to go back to Paris.
The bus/coach ride took around 2.5 hours - not bad - we had around 4 1/2 to 4.75 hours on our own. However, the attractions are opposites of each other so if you have trouble walking - it will be a strain on you. Trust me.
I had purchased online tickets for the Eiffel Tower and chose the 12:30 time giving us time for "problems" on the way. First mistake: We were at the Tower at 11:25 and had to wait for the scheduled time we chose. So, if you are in good health and can walk briskly; it probably is safe for you to book your online lift/stairs tickets for the 11:30am - if available - this way you safe an hour for the Arch and the Louvre.
We purchased from the official website. Make sure you choose correctly!! I picked the 2nd level only thinking it was for the 3rd level also and was dissappointed. Though it turned out OK since the lines were pretty deep for the last level and with having lost an hour already; well you get the picture.
All in all, it was amazing to see the Tower; the Louvre; and a glimpse of the Arch. One warning - there are signs all over about pickpockets. I did not trust to give my camera for anyone to take a pic of me and my husband; :( Also, many of the people there you could not make out if they were tourists or locals So just beware. Best thing is look out for others from the ship and then take the pics.
You can go to their website and choose Lounge and see pictures of the "tourist" in action. He takes pictures while we aren't watching. Really neat.
But book early so you won't be disappointed.
We ended up at the Mall and went to Mark's and Spencer's (M&S) and purchased soft drinks. PCL as well as CCL don't mind if each passenger brings a maximum of 12 cans soda/pop each. So this worked out good for us. Something I wasn't aware of - they charge for your grocery bag (around 25 cents). This was at all M&S stores we went to to "refresh" our soda supply.
Wished we would have known sooner about the area so that we could have spent more time there.
Embarkation took way too long. PCL said the Lifts weren't working. (?) Crowds everywhere.
In case I forget - Debarkation went smoothly. We had PCL transfers so that was good. Don't keep your carry-on with you since you can pick it up when you get to the airport. No need to drag them all the time. We each just kept our backpacks.