1.Platinum and Above Captains Circle Members Embarkation- Because of our number of sailings with Princess we literally "flew" through this. And the regular lines were long. We avoided another crowd by having a leisurely lunch in the DaVinci Dining Room. As suggested by other Cruise Critic members, we had the Salmon and it was great.
2.Dinner at Sabitinis, their Italian restaurant. It was well worth the $20 per person surcharge. The atmosphere and service were excellent. We worked our way through Artichoke Souffle, Mushroom Tart, Soft Shell Crabs, Veal Ravioli, Veal Chop (husband) and Lobster 3 Ways (me) and a Napoleon for dessert. Best meal we have had in a long time.
3.50 Free Minutes Internet Service for Platinum and Above Captain Circle Members. The computers worked relatively fast and the 50 minutes more than lasted the whole week. We kept up on our favorite Basketball Team, and severe storms headed to our hometown. We also got an update on how our 3 cats were doing. The Internet Cafe was never so crowded that I could not get a computer.
4.Stateroom E202. It was purchased as partially obstructed window, but the view was as good as you can get from a window room. It was on the port side so we had some great scenery from the convenience of our own room. E or Emerald Deck is one up from the ship's Promenade Deck and the window had privacy from a lifeboat from walkers below. See "Bad and Ugly" for more on this stateroom.
5.Layout of the Ship -- You can find quiet, non-crowded areas on this ship, despite the 3200 other passengers. The Promenade Deck was a particular favorite one of ours. Most nighttime activities are on Decks 6 and 7 so after a day or 2 it was easy to remember where they were.
6.International Cafe -- Great snacks and desserts that change as the day goes on. My husband was pleased to find a variety of doughnuts in the morning. It is open 24 hours a day.
7.Skywalkers Happy Hours for Platinum and above Cruise Critic Members -- We were invited to go there for pre dinner appetizers and a $3.99 drink special. Both food and drink changed daily.It was lovely and afforded a great view at sundown since it is on the 16th floor.
8. Dining Room Food -- The food, particularly the Prine Rib and fish were very good. One night they had a Captain's Choice Dinner with an extra menu from which to choose, in addition to the regular menu. It was great.
9.Courtesy of the Crew- Always a smile, always an offer to do more.
10. ESPN and ESPN2 on the room TV. We love sports and it was great to watch while dressing for dinner, or settling in for bed at night.
The Bad and the Ugly
1.Entertainment -- Very disappointing. One Comedian was excellent, the rest mediocre. We saw one of the worst Ensemble Dance Shows about a dream we have ever seen. One evening they pulled the piano bar singer to perform a show in the Princess Theatre. This was another way to save money, I guess, and it was not very good.
2.Movies Under the Stars -- The sound did not work part of the time. They also show over and over for hours at a stretch Princess Commercials instead of movies, concerts, etc. And not all the Lounge Chairs in the area by the screen allow you to watch -- poor design here.
3.Stateroom E202 -- It is right above the Princess Theatre, so you hear any shows or rehearsals from there. Seems to me a little more insulation would have helped with that. You cannot hear your neighbors, but you sure can hear from below.
4.Noro Virus -- Yes it hit again as we got to St Thomas. They took precautions after the announcement. The Captain said it was due to people bringing it onboard from our stop at St Martins the day before. Of course, the ship had nothing to do with it. According to him. As one of a few ships wrestling with the Noro Virus there has to be something lacking with the ship, its supervision or its personnel.
5.Captain's Cocktail party -- It is now reduced to 1 hour with Champagne. It was held at a time when the early dinner seating was eating, so at least 1/3 or more of the passengers had no opportunity to participate.
6.Captain Circle Members Party -- They served diluted mixed drinks (could taste no alcohol). Best bet was a glass of wine. It was a sad way to say thank you for cruising with us again.
7.Princess Tote Bag -- Holland America and RCCL give you fabric totes. Princess give you a recycled paper bag similar to the ones you buy for 50 cents at Walmart ot Walgreens. And 1 per cabin at that.This idea probably came from the same guy who thought diluted drinks at the Captains Circle party were a good idea.
8.Announcements -- A man with a thick accent made announcements over the intercom. My husband, and I am sure others, could not understand him.
9.Norovirus -- This deserves another spot. We were not given any information on how many people were affected. I learned from the Cruise Critic Board that boarding for the next cruise would be delayed until 3 p.m. We then got a notice that we would be docking at a different pier than at Embarkation. Because we drove and parked at the pier, we would have to be shuttled to the Embarkation pier to get our car. We stopped by the Purser's Desk to ask why this happened and were told it was due to construction. This was a lie. It was so the ship could dock by the Convention Center in Ft Lauderdale next cruise passengers could sit in the convention center until time to come on board. Why lie?
10.Rude Seat Savers- We encountered this twice on Princess Cays. The first time my husband had words with a man over saving 6 seats and we ended up moving to find other seats. The man said to us we must have never cruised before because my husband told him saving seats was not allowed. Then we watched a 40 something Russian man go on and on with an elderly lady because she took a seat next to him he said he was saving. She did not budge, and when her husband came by to get her the Russian got on him too. She told him he was very rude (which he was) but that did not faze him in the least.
We will not go on this ship again, mainly because of the Norovirus and the Entertainment. There are plenty of ships out there that have problems with neither of these.