Cruise was booked through Princess website over one year ago from Captain Circle e-mail offer at half price. Three days before the cruise, we found out that we have been upgraded from Outside obstructed room (8th floor)to Balcony
(12th floor). The weather was a bit windy but sunny throughout the
whole cruise. Check-in process was fast and efficient. Ship was nicely refurbished (we sailed on the same ship five years ago before the port-side balcony fire).
Room steward was there to greet us once we arrived. Room was tastefully appointed. I ordered the wrong bed configuration online but the room steward changed it quickly.
Dining experience was excellent with very friendly head waiter, steward and assistant. We ordered a bottle of 2006 Don Melchor at a bargain price and enjoyed it over two evenings. We also brought on board some older vintage Italian red wine. The steward knew to change to better wine glasses and to bring a decanter. Headwaiter knew to pour the wine to avoid the sediment. We learnt to order the beef rare if we want to eat medium-rare. Lobster tail was excellent. Headwaiter recommended bottle of 2001 Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon at bargain price and it was another great wine experience.
Entertainment was excellent on this cruise as we were kept busy. The singers and dancers actually prepared five production shows for the twelve evenings. In addition the fellow at the piano bar drew such a big crowd that there was audience standing in the hallway after seats were added. Emma Sinclair, the British soprano, did one show in the Vista lounge and it was refreshing. This was also a special cruise with art buyers and artists onboard. The art auction (which we never attended on other cruises) was both educational and fun. There was different music in different lounges. We actually went "clubbing".
Shopping was another great experience. The shops featured different items daily and the ladies were looking for jewellry and the men were looking at the souvenirs. The Jacqueline Kennedy replica jewellry was definitely worth a look.
Photographic staff was very professional and the scenes that they set up for the formal night portraits were all expertly prepared. The four DVD cruise memory set was a bargain as one could not have captured those moments (especially the pyramid sound and light show) with one's own equipment.
We were most impressed with the Captain's command. Besides giving daily updates, he explained in detail when things didn't go as expected. e.g. why the ship stopped and moved again while docking in Alexandria - due to the wind. When the ship had to skip Khios due to excessive wind, he gave everyone an explanation of his decision process and made us felt we were in good hands.
The ship could not anchor at Khios because it was too windy and the the swell was too high to launch the boat tenders. So they skipped that Greek island.
Disembarkation was very orderly with every one's luggage tagged by a color system. We took the Princess coach transfer to the airport and got there comfortably.
In summary everything went right on this cruise and it was most enjoyable.