This was our 9th cruise on Princess - we have never taken another cruise line so can't really make any comparisons.
Flew in the night before the cruise - arrived at the port around 12:30pm and were in our cabin by 1pm. Met up with our friends (we actually met them on our very first cruise and now we meet up with them for all our cruise vacations) and had lunch in the dining room for the first time on embarkation day - no one really knows that it's open for sailaway day so it was a quiet and relaxing way to start off the cruise. Plus, they had Nutella ice cream for dessert which was so amazing the desserts the rest of the week paled in comparison.
PORTS: Princess Cays is just okay - food is passable but the water is too cold and beach too rocky for us to enjoy. We did the Rhino Rider boat trip (2-person boats you get to drive yourself) in St. Martin and it was so much fun. My husband talked me into the BOSS excursion in St. Thomas - basically an underwater helmet dive where you are sitting on a scooter that you drive through the water. I hated it because I felt claustrophobic in the helmet (which was why I didn't want to do it in the first place) and my husband ended up NOT even doing it - he stuck his head in, and got right out again! But I heard others on the boat say that it was their favorite excursion of all time - different strokes. Grand Turk was the best snorkeling we ever did - lots of beautiful fish and a spectacular reef - we would love to go back there.
ENTERTAINMENT: Having been on Princess so many times, we are used to the Patter being filled with lots to do - and we would see the Cruise Staff all over the place running from event to event. Not on this cruise. We saw Lisa the Cruise Director only once and the Patter was filled with things that cost money - art auctions, bingo, computer seminars and shopping talks. Where the things like basketball shootouts and shuffleboard tourneys? We don't cruise to be nickel and dimed to death - very disappointing.
There were some good movies on MUTS and we enjoyed that a lot.
FOOD: We had never before dined in one of the "extra cost" restaurants but since it was my birthday, we ate at Crown Grill one night. It was a nice break from the crowds at the buffet and the loud dining room and the steaks were tasty but I don't think we would do it again. My very favorite meal of fettuccini alfredo did not disappoint and we also had a few good meals in the Caribe Cafe - they did a good job of making the buffet a bit fancier.
I tried room service once and got the wrong sandwich - not sure what it was but it wasn't a turkey sandwich - so we never tried again.
The International Cafe is a great addition - yummy small bites (including delicious hot fresh cookies - you have got to try the peanut butter ones!) and never a line.
Pizza and burgers were yummy as always and we loved that ice cream is free now.
SERVICE: Great room attendant Antonio - buffet and dining room service was pretty good across the board too.
Overall, a great vacation despite the few negative things I mentioned. We would sail Princess again but also would try another cruise line if the price was right and the itinerary was interesting.
Happy cruising to all!