Considering the forecast of Hurricane Irene hitting NYC beginning Saturday evening August 27th and the cruise leaving Saturday, we were very nervous and had thought about canceling, except my two grown children were joining us and didn't want to cancel. So off I went with much trepidation. Princess told us they wouldn't make a decision what was happening with the cruise until late Friday or Saturday morning. We anxiously awaited word from Princess what was happening with our cruise and finally received an e-mail Friday early evening stating that boarding would start at 10 AM and requesting everyone to arrive as early as possible, in the hope of leaving earlier than 5:00 PM. They said we would head due east to get out of the storm, then head north, skipping St. John's and instead going to Halifax on the 3rd day, instead of the 2nd. They also said that we couldn't park at the pier, which we had planned on doing so we scramble to get a friend to drive us, because of the possible storm surge that could flood the pier parking. The cruise which had been fully booked, had several hundred cancellations because of the hurricane and even offered the passengers coming off of the cruise a special rate if they wanted to stay on a second week. Many people did that since their flights were canceled because of the Hurricane and it was cheaper to remain on the ship then stay in a hotel in NYC, so the ship landed up being pretty full.
Embarkation: It seems that most of the ship arrived at 10 AM and the traffic getting into the port backed up about 1/2 mile and crawled getting in. They were organized and moved the crowds well. They gave out numbers and had us wait in a large hall with benches and call groups by numbers, so they kept the crowds under control. It took us about two hours from getting on line to enter the port until we were on the ship. The ship pulled out of port about 3:40,about 1.5 hours early so we could get a head start from the Hurricane.
Seas & weather: The seas were rough 12-20' for two days, but at least by Sunday morning it was sunny, and only outdoors space we could use was the Lido deck although the pools had to be emptied and few people were seasick. I have been on a cruise with 15' seas that was worse with 85% of the ship seasick. WE left NYC in the rain, but by Sunday morning we had sunny weather which stayed with us for the remainder of the cruise. we were able to relax once we heard our house on Long Island survived the hurricane with no damage, except for no electricity for 3 days. We were happy we had come on the cruise and to be on the ship with electricity.
Cabin: We had an obstructed outside room and liked it much better than an inside cabin since it is hard to know if it is night or day in an inside cabin and at least you could see the weather and the sea. We were in cabin E219 and a a good view out and of the seas between the life boats. It was comfortable and had adequate storage.
Dining: We did Anytime Dining for the first time and liked it better than expected. One dining room is for the timed dining, one for Anytime dining, and the 3rd - the Coral dining room- was for early seating and then at 7:30 changed to anytime dining. We always went to dinner between 7:45 - 8:00 and at that time the Coral dining room was only 1/2 filled and never had to wait. We thought the food was very good, great selection and great service. We ate one night in Sabatini's and one night in the Crown Grill, which is a step above the dining rooms and thoroughly enjoyed those dinners. The Horizon Cafe had a good choice of what to eat and we only went there for breakfast and lunch. With a group of 4 or 6 it was sometimes challenging to find a table together. The International Cafe on deck 5 of the Piazza was great for a quick breakfast or lunch or snack.
Entertainment: We went to one of the dance shows and two see two comedians. The shows were okay. I have seen better shows on other cruises. We played bingo, trivia and took the free Zumba course. Watched one Movie Under the Stars. It was nice, they had popcorn available, but when the pool was open the noise from the kids in the pool made it a little hard to hear. the Internet cafe/library had a nice selection of games to borrow, all in great condition. My family spent most nights playing games for a good part of the evening.
Sports and pools: the miniature golf course looked unfinished and not worth even trying. We liked the pool in the spa which was always empty, although the current of the pool so you can swim laps was not working properly. When the seas were rough it became like a wave pool, which was fun. The pool was warm and the hot tubs not as hot as they should have been. The two times I went to the gym I could get an elliptical machine. Their equipment is in excellent condition and they give you headphones to use for the TV at the desk if you leave your Princess card.