We are a retired couple in our 60's. We drove from our residence in California and spent the night before the cruise at the Doubletree in San Pedro. After a hectic drive through Los Angeles traffic it was pleasant to relax the night before the cruise. We utilized the free shuttle and were lucky to get an early arrival time at the cruise terminal. We then waited and waited. After reading so much about the smooth embarkation process of Princess I was somewhat dismayed at the chaos and confusion of the boarding process for this particular cruise. This was our first time on Princess and therefore we do not have 'elite' or early boarding status. We were in the first 'regular' boarding ticket group and it took until almost 12:30 before we actually boarded. By this time, people were jammed in the terminal and quite a few were sitting on the floors due to lack of seating.
After getting on board, we were able to proceed directly to our cabin and then to lunch. We elected to stay on the Lido deck where our cabin was located in order to avoid the milling crowds of people still arriving. Muster drill was relatively painless and the rest of our luggage arrived before dinner. The cabin was a little tight but had a nice closet area and a tiny but well arranged bathroom. Our steward, Gonzalo, took good care of us.
We had early Traditional dining in the Caneletto dining room at a table for eight and our dining partners and the wait staff (George and Richard) were one of the highlights of the cruise. The service was great. We found the food at times to be somewhat of a lesser quality than we expected in the main dining rooms, although other evenings were excellent, especially the last four nights. We had initially thought we would dine at the Crown Grill and Sabatinis but after hearing some rather mixed reviews from other passengers, we did not. As for other venues, the Atrium area always seemed jammed with little available seating at least on this sold out cruise. The Horizon Court was usually crowded, disorganized and chaotic with people milling about and the food was somewhat lukewarm and bland. There were some interesting specialty buffets and the rolls and desserts were generally good. Again, we found the wait staff to be great and eager to serve.
Pizza and grill were excellent.
We enjoyed the Hawaiian enrichment programs, crafts and music were delightful, especially Elua. There was as much, or as little, to do as you could wish for. The singers and dancers were good and we enjoyed the production shows in the evenings. The first two days were choppy and cool but after that the weather warmed up. We found the days at sea relaxing and we could always retreat to our balcony. The ship was decorated beautifully. The staff was cordial from steward, to wait staff, to the people manning the desk at passenger services (truly amazing).
The ports were fun and we had excellent weather. We booked Princess for Kauai and very much enjoyed our guide Hana showing us Weimea Canyon. On Oahu we did an independent Circle Island tour with E Noa and saw quite a bit in one day. In Hilo Ricky took us all over and we saw volcanos, Orchids, nut farms, and beaches. On Maui we kicked back and puttered around Lahaina as this is a island we plan to re-visit in depth. We enjoyed the independent tours we booked as they were less expensive and used smaller vans and buses to transport smaller groups.
It being a Holiday cruise there were a LOT of kids and teens on board. Most were well behaved but they did tend to take over the pool and spa areas at midday. Some large noisy groups of teens tended to gather at night in the forward area of the Lido deck near the elevators disturbing passengers in cabins in that area. A family group with three small undisciplined children throwing tantrums also regularly disturbed our area of the dining room. The parents apparently did not care they were disturbing others even after pointed comments were made.
Disembarkation was easily accomplished. Would we sail Princess again? Possibly. Would we book another Holiday sailing? NO, we will probably revert to our habit of sailing during the late spring when school is still in session and will probably compare Holland America itineraries. That said, it was an enjoyable cruise and we may give Princess another try.