On a positive note, Princess does have a few things right. Pier check-in was a breeze and it was nice to actually have the rooms ready to drop our luggage off when we boarded. Unlike other cruises where we have had to wait until 3 p.m. to even get into our cabin.
We chose this cruise because we had such a wonderful time on the Caribbean Princess a few years back, and were looking forward to sailing on a different Princess ship (one that had been updated). Bad decision. Nothing like the previous cruise.
Fellow cruise passengers. While DH and I are 48 and 51, my parents who traveled with us (in their 70's) even commented on the large number of old people onboard. Not a problem for any of us, but when you have to dodge motorized scooters all week long you start to feel a little irritated. Many were just lovely people, but a large number of them were cranky, thought they had the right-of-way in the buffet and all public areas, and tended to shove you out of the way if they were going somewhere.
Entertainment: No comment, no reviews, didn't see any of the shows. Kinda a "been there, done that" thing for us this trip. Never heard any comments on board pro or con about them. We did get a chance to hear the house band Opus on a couple of occasions, very talented.
Rooms: We had an interior on Lido deck. Small room, but very nice. I was very impressed with the shower and bathroom facilities. Our cabin steward, Miguel, was awesome. He never bothered us, and always seemed to know when we would be in or out. But please, my friend, learn to make a few towel animals. This is the first cruise I did not get them in our stateroom at the end of the day. No matter how old you are, you still miss seeing the little critters wearing your sunglasses when you retire for the evening.
Ports: We skipped Princess Cays due to weather. Good call on the Captain's part. Sister in law actually heard someone asking staff if they were going to get compensated for missing the port. Give me a break. Note to stupid cruisers...if you miss a port due to weather...it is for your SAFETY! Get over it, have a drink and enjoy your day at sea.
Ultimate Drink Card: Okay, this was one of the highlights of the cruise. You may think this is a big cost at $56 for the week, but it is SOOOO worth it. While we try not to drink a lot of sodas, this also allows you to get non-alcohol drinks, mocktails, sodas including root beer, hot chocolate and milkshakes. We got creative. We really got our money's worth on this one. And all the bartenders are very accommodating when it comes to getting you whatever you need. Just show your card, no signing, no nothing. Don't want a small glass of soda? Order a large. Good call for Princess for coming up with this one.
Dining: Ate at anytime dining a couple of nights, but plan on 2 hours for service. Very slow waitstaff. Did not care for most of the selections. Chilled soups were served warm (more on that later), steak very tough and veggies too creative to be tasty. Really, I don't need my asparagus put through a blender and shaped into a nice little cupcake.
The International Cafe on deck 5 is good, however I am concerned about the Tuna Sandwiches left in the display case all day. Food on the Horizon Court is weird. They try to be gourmet and creative, and it ends up just being a real culinary mess. Things that should be served cold on this ship are served at room temp, including juices, salads, etc. I guess it's a British thing. You have to ask for ice in your drinks in the buffet (they serve you, you cannot get your own). We were shocked to see that on the salad buffets, there was no cheese and ranch dressing on most days, but you could get a big scoopful of mayo for your salad. Yuck. And deli sandwiches on the buffet are wrapped in plastic, and contain a few shreds of old lettuce and tomato slice with a little bit of meat. I've seen better at 4-H camp. As usual, breakfast items are good. Hard to screw up breakfast. But again be prepared for warm milk. Desserts are the same as they are on every cruise. Beautiful and tasteless. Didn't eat at the specialty restaurants, but hubby loved the burgers at the grill. Pizza on deck 14 was nasty, and didn't have a chance to try the pizza restaurant on deck 5. British pub served fish & chips, fried shrimp and a few English favorites for free at lunch on sea days. Very nice. Ice cream bar is good for ice cream or your daily fix of popcorn, but don't bother with the milkshakes. Too runny.
Casino: Saved the best for last. I have seen bigger casinos in gas stations. You have to use your sign and sail card when playing to save and transfer cash from one machine to another, and can cash out at anytime at the casino desk. Not that easy to set up your account on the machine, but if you wait about 30 minutes a casino employee will help you if they are not on break or just walking around doing NOTHING. And to the hateful ugly gray-haired casino guy...you are a jerk and should be fired. You know why. Try using manners once in a while if you ever want a promotion. The machines are pretty much even, but noone ever really wins. Most of the stations were outdated, didn't work properly, had the sound disabled, or the video was old, fuzzy and out of focus.
The only wonderful thing about this cruise was spending time with family and getting to meet some of the wonderful staff on board. I'm not so sure the ship needs another overhaul, but perhaps some of their policies and crew could use a brush-up on customer service.