This was my third cruise with my husband and a group of family and friends, first time on Princess (RCL on other two cruises). We took the Princess NE Motorcoach bus from Philly, which made traveling to Brooklyn and getting on the ship quite easy, as well as on the way back. I would recommend this to others. All embarkation/disembarkation was easy.
Here are some of the good points and less-than-good points about the cruise:
Good: Ship itself is attractive and doesn't seem to be showing its age like some say. Room steward was friendly and efficient and provided ice and extra pool towels. Room service was super fast and I thought the quality of food better than RCL. Ditto the dining options at traditional dining. More options and slightly better food than RCL. Took one shore excursion in Halifax (Titanic cemetery and Maritime Museum)--guide was very informative and excited about the subject. Love the fact that Princess allows you to openly bring wine and champagne on board, a definite plus for pre-dinner drinks. Comedians and hypnotist were pretty good; dancers sort of sub par but I don't really like the song-and-dance stuff anyways. Skywalkers was fun. Really liked the storage space in the cabin and the layout; shower was small but that's par for the course and actually thought it was better than the RCL ships I've been on. International cafe paninnis were very good, liked this option a lot. Thought the breakfast buffet in Horizon/Caribe had a lot to offer, but pretty crowded during peak times. Back pool on aft 14 deck was great and not harried, spent a lot of time there. Also liked the two Zumba classes and the afternoon movies in the Princess theatre.
Less than Great: My main 'ding' to this otherwise very enjoyable cruise was the feeling of crowding in a lot of the public areas, moreso than on the other 2 cruises I've done on smaller ships (and not during summer, so perhaps there were fewer people on them in general). Had to get to Explorers Lounge 20 min early to get a seat for evening entertainment, which meant one in our party would leave dinner early to do that. Never could get a seat in Crooners area, very small. Dinner took a long time too, which I don't normally mind if we didn't have to rush to get to entertainment. Our dining room waiter was nice and very efficient but seemed very overrun with tables, while his assistant seemed new and a bit green. I also found myself wanting drinks during entmt or Movies Under the Stars and not being able to find a waiter, so Princess could have made a lot more dough on me. Couldn't find popcorn, drinks, or wool blankets during the Movies Under the Stars, perhaps they had all been taken in the case of blankets. The soft serve ice cream was pretty paltry, after waiting in line for ten minutes to get it. Waiting for tender to get off in Newport was also crowded, about a 20 min wait (though others waited for 40 mins). While Princess upgraded this ship with the Vines wine bar and Crooners, Piazza, etc I think I'd prefer the older version of the ship with a bigger library, card room, etc. The library, while well-stocked, was impossible to even move in given the computer terminals. More quiet areas that don't involve any shopping or consumption would be appreciated (i know, kind of silly on a cruise, but call me old at 40!). Sanctuary didn't go to b/c of the charge but would have liked this just be a public area for all. Gym looked nice but pretty small and crowded.
Overall we had a great time and I rate Princess highly on the overall ship experience and the food.