We flew into Venice the day we were to board the ship. We'd had an overnight flight from the US. That evening we went down to St Mark's Square and strolled around to see the sights. The ship had arranged a ferry ride from the ship to the square and back for a small amount (I forget) and it was very convenient and a good start to the trip. We had an inside cabin and it was fine for sleeping, We normally get a balcony cabin on a cruise, but decided that we'd be so busy on this cruise that we would not pay for the upgrade. This was our second princess cruise. They remembered my husband had traveled with them before, but not me, which is interesting because I do all paperwork for the family. The next morning we left the port an traveling down the canals, breathtaking view, headed out to see. Next day was at sea, then Athens. Our shore excursions were arranged half through the ship, half though private tours. The private tour we signed up for were through Cruise Critics Roll Call site. Met some great people this way and had much more individual experience. I would recommend this approach. You pay at the end of the tour in cash, generally Euros. And don't forget to tip. Tipping in Europe is generally not as high as the US. Athens was a private tour and we were very busy. You should train for this trip. There were a lot of stairs, marble stairs, and crowds everywhere because you bring your own crowd when the ship arrives. Our small group was 10 people and a minibus that could go places the bigger buses couldn't. We had a very busy and great day, also it was hot, but better than summertime. He also got us back to the boat with time to spare and was very knowledgeable.
My husband picked up a bad cold on the flight over so we missed the next stop. That day was when we missed not being in a balcony cabin since he basically slept most of the day, then was OK. Next stop was Istanbul. The water shuttle from the ship was not owned by Princess and we were told this. However I think some people were still surprised that they had to pay for the refreshments they were serving and my husband got incorrect change in the Turkish currency that looked very much like the correct Euro currency would have. Be careful. We were warned at every port to watch for pick pockets. We used a ships tour for this port and they did a great job. The ships tours were the only tours that had access to Topkapi castle and we wanted to see it and its harem. Again there was a lot of walking over stones and a warm day, but beautiful sun. We were back to the water shuttle for the last ride. Should have been 20 min. It took close to 2 hours with the ship not wanting to make a decision to leave people, then making the decision, then when we were approaching the ship reversing the decision and sending us back to get the late people. All well we were trapped on this shuttle with heavy gas fumes and no rest rooms (my husband finally located one-they weren't marked). This left a bad taste on the day and no apology was given for the mess. When we complained about this we were told they didn't own the shuttle; however they did hire them for this service so I believe they are responsible for managing this service.
Next day was at sea, then on to Rome and Florence and Naples, etc. We enjoyed this cruise based on the itinerary but the ship board activities were so,so. The food was just OK. We had opted for the Late dining option and food was frequently lukewarm when served. Selections were not particularly interesting. We tried the grille restaurant and the steaks were good, but the fish tasted reheated.
This was a full ship. In fact friends of ours tried to sign on late and were told there was a waiting list. Finally we enjoyed the cruise and saw a lot, but left as not fans of Princess.