My friend and I flew directly to Venice and got on the ship. Things had started well when we were upgraded to a mini-suite, a luxury we had not expected and which enhanced our experience. I used the bathtub nearly every day. Another great aspect of our onboard experience was dinner, as we had both incredibly nice and interesting table mates, but also attentive and over the top pleasant wait staff. We were at table 249 in the Amalfi Dining Room at 6:00 P.M. Food was good too, here and all over the ship, although I only ate in the Horizon Court, had a piece of pizza, and room service breakfast.
Everything about the onboard experience was terrific. We enjoyed three of the 4 production shows, several musical shows with performers, a couple of comedy shows, and karaoke (best ever anywhere). Tommy Macphee was wonderful in Crooner's Bar, Craig not so much. He could use some personality lessons. Since my friend is really into karaoke, we really got to know the entertainment staff. We also participated in some of the onboard lectures. I did the Portuguese at Sea classes and both of us were in the Princess pop choir. This cruise featured 9 sea days, and it was easy to stay happily busy.
Suggestions I would have for improvement -- have a pool that water aerobics can be done in. The tiny pool I found that was shallow enough was really a bit too warm. The three main pools are too deep for an average sized woman. Other than that, can't think of a thing.
Shore excursions -- Dubrovnik: We went on the brandy tasting and it was a good tour, highlight being able to see the old town of Dubrovnik at night. Corfu: Weather not so good, but I loved this port. We visited a Greek Orthodox monastery and fishing/tourist town, then had lunch with oozo and all the wine you could drink with folk dancing. This was actually my favorite port, in spite of the weather. Malta: I did the archeological tour and it was quite interesting, especially the old ruins that are older than Stonehenge. You had to wonder how civilization got out there. Food for more research possibly. Loved this tour as well. Tunisia: Hated this tour, except for the Carthage part. We were dropped of in "the Medina" for nearly an hour to "shop," with folks jumping out at you to sell their wares. I did not feel particularly safe there, actually. The meal was also very bland, and I had expected a fabulous meal. The Carthage ruins were definitely the high point, and the museum was also interesting. I would recommend the half-day tour over the whole day tour for this one. Gibraltar: I had signed up for the pub crawl, and it was canceled, so I did the little cab tour outside the ship. It was acceptable and I actually got to see more than I would have having done the pub crawl. This was a fun port, and would go back in a minute. Recife: Icky port over all. We drove by some nice parks, but only visited 3 old churches with nice views. We saw a lot of dirty streets, and families sleeping on cardboard. If I ever have Recife as a port again, I will stay on the ship. Rio: Definitely recommend the all day debark tour if you are not staying in Rio. We saw all the major sites and the chiaroscuro was amazing. So over all, 5 out of 7 good port experiences. All Princess tours except for Gibraltar. I think Princess is particularly good at organizing their tours.
One more thing -- We had a tragedy on this sailing. A crew member jumped over the back of the ship. The Captain made the decision to go back and look for him. He kept us up to date on every aspect of what was going on. In fact, this captain, Captain Kent, had a lot of interaction with the passengers. The search was in vain, but it is good to know they tried.
I hope I have covered everything. This cruise was a great experience, the 4th for me on Princess, but first without my husband who passed away in January, but the very first for my friend, who I was definitely out to sell on Princess. It worked.