we just got back from our western caribbean cruise on princess. we've mostly cruised on celebrity, but also have gone on holland america, disney, regent, and royal caribbean. we were hesitant to try princess, but friends were going on this cruise and talked us into it. i'm glad they did. we had a great time!
overall, we were pleasantly surprised at how upscale the cruise was. the best thing about it was the staff. every single person working there was over-the-top accommodating. the personal attention was even be better than regent.
the dining room food was good and the service was excellent. the maitre d', neville, was extraordinary. we were able to go to the chef's table dinner which was absolutely fantastic ($75 per person); dinner at sabatini's was excellent ($20 per person, free our first night through American Express); dinner at the crown room was also very good ($25 per person). we did not like the buffets. more stations with international variety would have been welcome.
after reading on the boards about the coffee, we bought coffee cards. if you like coffee, this is a must. the liquid coffee mixture used in the dining rooms and around the ship is vile.
we like good wines and were able to secure many excellent bottles. the sommelier, mihai, was very professional and knowledgeable. we spent a lot of time at vines (the sushi and tapas wine bar).
the lounges were really comfortable, most with excellent musicians. the shows were no better or worse than most. the casino is huge and lively. the dealers and pit bosses were friendly. the fitness center was very well equipped, with a variety of classes available. the movies under the stars was a fun concept.
our mini-suite was roomy and comfortable, except the mattress was too hard. our steward, edgar, was fine. although the public rooms are rather dated, they were not "worn" or dirty. overall, the ship was very clean.
we didn't do any excursions as we've been in all the ports before. we did go into each port, though, and when tenders were used it was very organized. the private island was as nice as any of the other cruise lines.
the only bad experience was luggage dropoff and embarkation which took over an hour -- poor signage, crowded conditions, lines that blended into one another and too few clerks. but once we were aboard, and two cocktails later, all was forgiven. getting off the ship and securing our luggage was quick and easy.