This was our first & last transatlantic cruise. We have sailed previously on Princess to Alaska, the Caribbean & the Amazon and to the E. Med & Caribbean on other lines. We choose a cruise for its itinerary with cruise line very important also. Ports of call were Funchal, Maderia; Cadiz (for Seville), Spain; Alghero, Sardinia; Civitavechia (for Rome), Italy; Livorno (for Pisa & Florence), Italy; & Monaco. Disembarkation was in Barcelona.
We were upgraded from ocean view to second category balcony two weeks prior to sailing & were thankful for this as I took a walk past our original booking cabin & found the area to be noisy (produced by the ship) & vibrations could be felt also. Enjoyed our cabin on deck 14 w/large walk-in closet & plenty of shelf (storage) space. More storage space adjacent to bed on both sides. Balcony was average; however, several decks below, balconies were deeper w/more furniture & we could view them very well. TV channels extremely limited (BBC, ESPN & CNN). Princess had several channels & of course there were lots of movie channels.
Theater - We found this to be cramped quarters & it was necessary to arrive 30 min. before show time to get a seat. Shows were average except the final "Once Upon a Dream" was excellent. Singers/dancers were excellent also. Have seen better produced shows on other lines, however. Other shows in the lounges (magician, comedian, etc.) were average.
Dining - We chose any time dining for a change & this choice did not allow for waiters to do more than average serving. Food was mostly average & the occasional poor food was replaced upon request. Crown Grill (specialty) was definitely worth the cost as both waiter & food were far superior to DR. Horizon Court (open 21 hrs/day) was good, but during busy times it was difficult to get food desired (between all the pax). Cafe Carib has different selections & we only ate there once. There was pizza & soft-serve yogurt (ice cream) on deck near the pool. We did not use room service as a tip was required to be put on the order form - we prefer to tip in person. Apparently, most tipping on the ship is shared & no one can keep personal tips.
Activities - Though there were multiple activities listed in the "Patter", we usually found that we had to make a choice between things to do in the a.m. (all things we wanted to do were taking place simultaneously) & there were few choices we were interested in doing in the p.m. (except dance lessons). Trivia was usually in conflict with other activities also. The cruise director (Samantha) was excellent in teaching the dancing. We would have liked to play shuffleboard (but there was no court) or ping pong (the table was placed where it was always windy & impossible to play). Also tried Princess Links (Putt course), but it was also too windy on the very top deck. We don't play bridge & have seen numerous ice carving demos & were not interested in Golden Radio days which was scheduled most sea days. I was hoping for some photo classes but I only saw one & it required walking around the ship which was difficult as the instructor couldn't be seen/heard with the numerous pax there for the class. If one is interested in movies, this ship is for you as there were always movies to be seen in the cabin & also under MUTS from morning through evening; however, we don't cruise to see movies - we want to do things we can't do at home. The band Unison was excellent & played poolside & in the lounges in the evening. There never was a "DECK" party on this cruise & we were disappointed.
Crew - Room stewardess was excellent & also the cruise director as I mentioned previously, but the remainder of the crew was just average. An exception was the Internet manager, Andrei Vison, who spent his time reading his email & not helping pax. One lady told me she needed help & he refused to assist unless it was in the evening (7-9 pm) & she said she would either be getting ready for dinner or eating & could not go to the internet cafe at that time. I also, as a courtesy, spoke w/Andrei regarding one computer that was "hung" (not functioning at all) & suggested he reboot it, but his reply was he would see about it the next day & he continued to read his email. On the last day, the printer malfunctioned & although we had sent some things to the print queue, we never did get them as the printer was not fixed, nor a back-up installed.
Excursions - Some of the ports we visited were apparently only frequented once or twice annually (during the transatlantic cruises) as we had difficulty with local companies; however, Princess did issue partial refunds. Won't go into details due to infrequency of the ports.
Summary - Due to lack of interested activities (& loss of news transmission during TA crossings - no satellite reception), we were actually bored for the first week, but definitely got plenty of rest. We also were unhappy with the general "lack of interest" the crew seem to have. Perhaps this is largely due to the automatic tipping applied to room charges & I don't have a solution for this. We are used to having the crew anticipate our needs & desires and the service to be superb; hence, we were disappointed. Unless Princess is the only line with a particular itinerary we are interested in, we will probably sail with another cruise line.