Background: This was the third Princess cruise for my husband and me. We also travel with Holland America and we have enjoyed both lines. We don't travel with high expectations of a 4 or 5 star experience, but we are always very pleased when we get one. This trip was no exception.
We chose this itinerary because we live in suburban NJ and we wanted an easy get-away with no air travel or pre-cruise hotels. In the end, we canceled our fist booking, which would have been the hurricane cruise, and our agent was able to re-book on this cruise. Lesson learned--always buy platinum insurance!! We only had standard insurance on the first one, which paid 75% of the cruise.
Port and Embarkation: Easy ride to Red Hook, Brooklyn. Parking is nearby, has security and is and plentiful. We boarded at noon, dropped bags in room and had lunch in dining room.
We had a Cruise Critic/Facebook roll call Meet and Greet in the Wheelhouse lounge at 3 PM, before muster. A quick email to Princess and the onboard representative set it up and emailed details back. Very accommodating and easy to do.
Stateroom: great location near the center lifts (which we could not hear from the room). The bed is hard--requested and got a foam mattress topper, along with a top sheet--both cheerfully and quickly made up by our cabin steward, Glenn.
The ship: yes--older but fine--plenty of obvious, constant cleaning and maintenance
We had anytime dining--usually went around 8 PM--in whatever dining room had the shortest line. Never waited more than a few minutes and service was always good. We varied breakfasts among the dining room, Horizon buffet and International Cafe. Food is beautifully presented and served and there was a great variety of tasty options. Horizon staff tried hard to assist in finding seats, carrying plates, providing beverages but there was still a lot of congestion at peak times.
We had the pub lunch one day but no special restaurant dining this trip.
Entertainment: The production entertainment was the best we have seen and we heard positive comments about the comedian. There were many, varied activities to choose from.
Ports: We were disappointed that we did not go to Bar Harbor on this cruise but we enjoyed walking around Portland and having Lobster rolls on the upper deck of Di Millo's in the port area.
Newport: easy to get around using public transportation or just walking. Lots to see and do here.
Boston:We had been here many times, so just took the bus to South Station and walked to Quincy Market area. Walked around town (very easy to do) and walked back to the ship.
Halifax: walked to the Maritime museum along the harbor walk and around town
Saint John, NB: walked around town and did excursion to Reversing Rapids
Disembarkation: early breakfast in Horizon and quick exit from the ship. Very well organized.
Summary: We had a great time and would do this itinerary again if Princess offered it. We are disappointed that there is no Princess ship scheduled out of NYC at this time for 2012.