We have sailed on Princess before (Emerald Princess) and we were frankly disappointed, so I was reluctant to book another cruise on Princess; however the price was right, so I decided to try them again. I still don't think that there is anything to distinguish Princess from the competition. It's kind of a ho hum cruise line in my opinion. For my money, I think Celebrity and Royal Caribbean offer a better cruise experience. Despite the fact that the ship is going into dry-dock in January it was in good shape. Some furnishing and carpet were noticeably worn, but nothing that was detracting from the cruise.
My travel agent was able to get us an upgrade from a mini suite to premium suite and that certainly made a big difference. The cabin, A104, has a balcony that literally wraps halfway around the bow of the ship on deck 12. It was a wonderful place to view the fjords, but extremely windy while the ship was underway. The cabin had a separate living area with a marble entry and wet bar. The bedroom with queen size bed had more closet space than you could use on world cruise. The bed was very comfortable and the suites offer a pillow menu. The bathroom was nothing special however. Just a standard mini suite type bathroom. I would estimate the suite has about 500 square feet of living space. You do get nice amenities, like unlimited laundry service and breakfast in the Sabatini's each day. I don't know if it was because we were suite guests, but our room was always immediately cleaned as soon as we left. The stateroom attendant, Lawrence, was great. He always made sure we had ice and extra glassware (the suite has a wet bar and includes a one time liquor and beer set up).
One complaint I do have about Princess is that have the stingiest alcohol policy of any cruise line I have been on. First, the drinks are not cheap and they measure exactly one shot into each drink. No free pours here. One bartender told me that if they come up short on booze, they must pay for it out there own pocket. And, if you want a double, it cost literally double, not a nominal up-charge like you might expect.
I would have to say the food was good overall, not great, but good. We didn't experience problems in the lido buffet that others report. There were always tables available, but sometimes you had to look. The crew was helpful in finding open tables. As I mentioned before, suites include breakfast in Sabatini's every morning and that was fantastic. The dining room manager, Alice and waiter Radu were absolutely wonderful and certainly deserve accolades. We had dinner in the Savoy Dining room each night. They will bring you the special dishes from the other restaurants no matter where you dine, but we never requested them. Our waiter, Arthur and his assistant, Allen, were among the best we have ever experienced on more than 16 cruises. Everything was had was good, some dishes obviously better than other, but no real complaints. We had dinner in Sabatini's one night and the food was very good. They have changed the menu since my last cruise. Before, you ordered your entree and the they brought you all the appetizers and side dishes. Now you order each item you want. I honestly liked it better before.
The shows were average, again not great but watchable. The cooking demonstration was well worth the time and quite entertaining. The main theatre is far too small for a ship with this many passengers and if you don't come early, you must stand to see the show. Hopefully, this will be remedied in the refit.