We flew into LaGuardia airport at noon on 9/3/11 and had a difficult time finding the Princess representative at the baggage claim area for our transfer to the ship. We finaly found a very unfriendly lady in a corner at one end of the baggage claim area. We only identified her by the Princess scarf she was wearing. I guess she could not hold a sign and talk on her phone at the same time. She was rude and refused to interrupt her phone conversation to help us. Finally some young man pointed at a seating area and told us to wait there until the bus arrived. Once we got on the bus everything went smoothly. Check-in at the terminal was was a snap with no waiting in line to get our key cards. We went straight aboard and met our friends at once.
We had pre-reserved a Princess shore excursion called Valley and Vinyards. It was a fun excursion and the wine tasting was great. The tour guide was friendly and entertaining as well as knowledgable. My wife thought he looked great in his kilt.
Our next stop was in St. John were we just walked around near the docking area. Lots of shopping malls all connected by enclosed skywalks kept us out of the rain most of the time.
Bar Harbor was rainy also but we did take a tour of the island and saw the fantastic view from atop Cadillac Mountain. We ate lunch at the West Street Cafe and had an excellent meal of chowder and lobster. The Bloody Marys were the best we ever had.
In Boston we took the tour on the Old Town Trolley. It rained pretty hard all day so it was not much fun. We toured the USS Constitution and the museum and that part was great.
We had the most fun in Newport. No formal excursions, just walked the streets and shopped. We had lunch at Pier 21. Again the Bloody Marys were great as were the steamers. The calimari was outstanding!
At the two ports where we were tendered to and from shore everything went very smoothly and there was no standing in line to board.
Our cabin steward Rogerio was great and took very good care of us. Room service personnel were friendly and prompt. The personnel serving us in the dining room on deck 5 were great and made my wife's birthday celebration a lot of fun. We celebrated my brother-in-law's birthday in the Crown Grill. Service and food were exceptional. I highly recommend the Crown Grill. It costs $25 per person but you get the best bargain I have ever encountered anywhere. The servers in the Horizon Court were very attentive.
I do have a couple of complaints about the ship. I am an early riser and a cigarette smoker. As I do not believe in smoking in my cabin I go up to the designated smoking area on deck 15 to have my morning coffee and meet fellow early risers about 5 am. During the first days of the cruise this area had apparently been hosed down and all the chairs, tables and even the ceiling were dripping wet. There are about a half dozen deck staff working there at that time of day squeegeeing the deck but none ever did anything about drying the tables. On the last morning of the cruise everything was dry but someone had gathered up all the ash trays.
My other complaint concerned the Churchill lounge. This is the designated smoking lounge but there was never a bartender on duty during the day. We had to go up a deck to get our drinks and take them back down to the lounge. I am all for restricting smoking to designated areas but those areas ought to be clean, dry and have a bartender on duty.
Disembarkation went smoothly despite the fact that customs only had a small portion of its total number of desks open. I have taken Princess cruises out of Seattle, Los Angeles, Alaska, Galveston and Ft. Lauderdale. At all those places the greeters at the airport and ship terminal were easy to find and very friendly and ran things very efficiently. New York was certainly below Princess Cruise Lines normal high standard. While I remain loyal to Princess, I will avoid taking a cruise out of New York if possible. One other thing I didn't like about New York is that the Princess E-Z Check service was not offered. E-Z Check is a worthwhile service for disembarkation. You never handle your bagsfrom when you pack them on the night before disembarkation until you arrive at your home airport.