We chose this cruise because we had been on the Crown Princess before and wanted to do the Curacao/Aruba itinerary because we figured the water would be warmer there in February than further north in the Caribbean. Boy were we wrong.
We made our own arrangements to get to Fort Lauderdale and traveled by independent taxi to the ship. Unlike other ports, the ride from Fort Lauderdale airport to the port is just a short ride so no need to wait for a bus to fill up when an inexpensive taxi ride will get you there faster and cheaper than the transfers.
The first problem we encountered was that there was a delay in boarding. We were given a number and told to walk around if we would like and to return at 3:00 p.m. By this time since we had been up since 3:00 a.m., we were starving so we ended up going for the walk and had lunch, which turned out to be quite expensive. After lunch we called the Princess emergency "Day of Travel" number and we were advised that boarding would begin at 1:00 p.m. so we decided to walk back to the port and our group was called shortly after we arrived.
We boarded and were directed to our mini-suite. The room was very clean and we met our room steward and gave him our requests which he took care of immediately. This time around the refrigerator was bare (only 4 sodas and a bottle of water). We never received a bucket of ice the entire time and we never bothered to ask. Princess does not automatically put fruit in the room every day like they used to. You now have to make a request daily on a form. The only day we requested the fruit they delivered rotten fruit which we promptly tossed in the garbage and never requested any more. The room stewards are definitely fewer in number with more rooms to clean so they are clearly overwhelmed.
The ship is still beautiful, although a little worn, but the pool area was disgusting during the day with a lot of cups and trash which is never cleaned until at night. I think I saw two pool attendants the entire trip. Beach towels are no longer available at the pool but are provided in the room upon arrival.
Anytime dining was a total disaster. The greeter and the head waiters at the daVinci dining room entrance were the rudest I have ever encountered. I don't see the point in anytime dining if you have to make reservations or take a beeper and wait for an hour. We were so fed up that we went to the Boticelli dining room and changed to assigned seating. The maitre'd Neville was very gracious and accommodating and we were fine after that. Our waiter Valentin and his assistant Nelson were awesome. They made sure everything was perfect. They were a perfect team and did a wonderful job and the food was quite good.
Entertainment was mediocre and the Cruise Director Lisa and her assistant were very bland. Not much stimulation from either of them. We tried to visit the casino on non-smoking nights but smokers might well have been there as the smoke is embedded in that area and it stinks no matter what.
Disembarkation went quite smoothly and we were off the ship quite early and in an orderly manner. I love Fort Lauderdale as they line up the luggage by color code unlike Miami where it comes out on a carousel and, if it gets backed up, your wait can possibly be two hours or more.
At this point it is doubtful if I will ever sail Princess again.