This is my 8th or 9th cruise and my second on Princess. My last Princess cruise was over 20 years ago to Alaska.
EMBARKATION & DISEMBARKATION WAS A BREEZE. We got the Princess transfer tickets and the staff was right there to meet us at the baggage claim area at LaGuardia. We were on a bus in less than 30 minutes. Don't worry about booking an early flight. We were able to get on the boat before noon once we reached the Brooklyn Harbor. When you are disembarking to go home, get one of the longshore workers to handle your bags ($1 a bag for a tip) for you. They are the really big guys and they are usually standing around with a flat cart. They load your luggage and then push you right through the lines in front of everyone. (Who's going to day no to a guy that looks like a linebacker for the NY Giants and talks like Tony Soprano, right?) We were off the ship, cleared customs and on our bus to the airport within ½ an hour.
FIVE PORTS OF CALL ARE ALMOST TOO MUCH on a 7-day cruise but they were really good ports. You will be really tired by that 6th day at sea on the end of the cruise.
ENTERTAINMENT on the ship wasn't too bad. There was one guy that was really fantastic. He is a piano player named Martin Kaye. He was in the Martini lounge every night and then had a stage show in the theatre on the last night which was standing room only. If he is on the ship when you sail, definitely see him. Well worth it and the martinis are pretty good as well.
RETHINK OPEN DINING - We did open dining on the ship because we felt it would give us more flexibility. On two separate nights, we had to wait to get a table in the Island Dining Room. One night the wait was over 40 minutes. We went at different times on the different nights. On the final night of the cruise, we didn't have to wait for a table but when we got to the dining room, the Maitre D met our request with a table for four with "well, we only have shared table dining right now." The negative comment didn't really go over well and we didn't really have a problem with sharing a table just with his attitude. Actually, his attitude pretty much was poor throughout the cruise. Anyway, on the last night we went to dinner at 6:30 p.m. and it took TWO HOURS to get through the dinner service. We were so long in getting out that it made us late for the theatre show and we had to stand in the back.
AIR CONDITION IN THE CABIN - I agree with a previous reviewer when they complained about the air conditioning (or lack thereof) in the rooms. We also experienced a problem with the a/c. We like our room cool and we turned the thermostat down to it's lowest point to try and get the room cooled down when we arrived. The room was NEVER cool and on many occasions it was stuffy. We complained and a maintenance man came and did something with the thermostat but the room never did cool down. On the last night when it was humid outside, it was quite uncomfortable in the room. If you are sailing in the south, this could be very problematic.
Also, I would recommend that you NOT BOOK AN INTERIOR ROOM. We decided to go this route because we didn't want to spend all that much money but I won't make that mistake again. There is LOTS of noise coming from the maintenance staff on the interior wall of the room cabin. Also, if you are on the Piazza deck, you can hear the bands when they are playing in the Piazza.
ROOM ATTENDANTS WERE OK AT BEST. While our guy seemed very nice, he certainly did not go over and beyond anything he had to do. We ordered robes for our rooms on our arrival but they were never received. We also had to ask for extra shampoo and amenties. They were not left every day for us. If you are someone who likes the towel animals, be prepared to be disappointed. According to one of the room stewards (not ours), the towel animals are not required anymore.
FINAL TRAVEL TIPS: Arrive early for the ship. Prepare to wait for dinner on some nights See Martin Kaye if he is still performing on the ship. Don't get an interior room Book a trip that lets you spend time in Peggy's Cove. Use the longshore personnel with disembarking.