I travelled with my husband and daughter to Southampton and the traffic was (as usual) very busy, we arrived at 2pm. I had heard that embarkation could be long and protracted but actually we went through the booking in and security stages very quickly; very impressed, and in our cabin (D627) at 2.30. Our mini-suite was lovely, with two tvs and an enormous couch. Our steward welcomed us and brought us a glass of champagne and very quickly our suitcases arrived too. I stayed in the room to have a bath (oh how I loved having a room with a bath for the first time; I had brought with me what seemed like the entire stock from Lush so I could bathe in luxury every day) whilst the others went to the buffet. Later, we did the muster drill, our cards being scanned to keep a record of everyone present; a good idea. There was a sail-away party on deck from 4pm but we preferred to relax on the balcony with a glass of wine (Princess allow passengers a bottle of wine/champagne each to use in the cabin). Mini-suite cabins on Dolphin deck are completely exposed no overhang at all. This meant that star gazing every evening was fabulous. I used a large umbrella for shade (if necessary) during the day.
My daughter is 20 and the Princess Patter listed a few 18-20 get togethers in the evenings so the young adults could get together. I was pleased because she is too old the for kids clubs but young passengers still need a place to meet and chat.
We had registered for anytime dining and we like to share a table with other passengers. We've always meet interesting people and this cruise was no exception. After a couple of days the lady at reception recognised us and would confirm that we would like to share (I was impressed by this because she must see hundreds of passengers every evening). It is a great way to meet new people and make new friends. We didn't have to wait for a table ever. The food generally was very good and I have no complaints at all about it. I was pleased that to mostly came piping hot too.
I spent the majority of my time by the Calypso Pool because I like the MUTS (watched several films and concerts, plus a couple of football games). I always found a place to sit in the shade, sometimes even a sunbed was available! The pools on Princess are freshwater and at a comfortable temperature so I swam every day. Towels were always available on deck (in cabin too) and, if not, I would ask a pool steward who would get me some straight away.
I didn't use the (Horizon Court) buffet (deck 15) much at all, I don’t do breakfast and order coffee and tea using room service each morning (doubles as an alarm clock). For lunch I usually got a hotdog or burger from the Trident Grill or a piece of pizza from Prego Pizzaria, both very tasty. Next to the pizza place is Scoops, ice cream is available there. I did walk through the buffet sometime and it seemed to be well stocked with a variety of foods. At the back of the ship on deck 15 is Caribe Cafe and this opens out onto another pool area with a lovely view of the wake. I came here once for coffee and it was very relaxing to sit watching the wake. On deck 5 is the International Cafe which I had a look at, has some wonderful-looking food on display but I didn't try any (prefer to eat on the open deck during the day).
On the last two days we decided to try the formal lunch (only on sea days I think) and it was super. I recommend it; again, we shared a large table with other passengers. On the last sea day we also did the formal afternoon tea. Mmmm, warmed scones with jam and cream; just delicious. I asked for my usual Earl Grey tea and got my own pot, but didn't want the sandwiches or cakes offered (I had of course recently had a formal lunch!)
Entertainment-wise, there was a full schedule and we enjoyed going to the Explorers most evenings to see Kelvin the CD host quizzes. Daft fun and hugely entertaining. There would also be a show in the Explorers that we tried to attend plus the Princess Theatre shows nightly. It made for busy evenings. We had a variety of acts, several comedians; Berni Flint, Gary Thompson, Jeff Stevenson, Taffy Spenser, the marvellous Steve Larkins as a Freddy Mercury tribute singer; hypnotist David Knight (who also did an interesting talk about hypnotism later in the cruise), a couple of pianist/comedy entertainers; Darren Bethel and Maria King, plus other entertainment I can’t remember. I attended and enjoyed all the production shows in the Princess Theatre, particularly the Disco one and What a Swell Party. Films were also shown here during the day. If you can, go along to the Meet the Cast Backstage Tour on the final sea day, really interesting and we had a good chat to the dancers and singers. Also, make sure you go to the Culinary Demo on the last day in the Princess Theatre; a galley walk-through follows. I sat on the front row so I could get all the lovely aromas.
I had a look at the Sanctuary area ($20 for half a day $40 for full day); very comfortable looking double and single sunbeds in sun, partial shade or full shade. Didn't have time to try it out but spoke to a table companion who did. She said the beds were sooooo comfortable and relaxing and she was served snacks and afternoon tea too. Just below the Sanctuary is the adult only pool. I tried it on the last sea day and it is a nice pool. It has a wave machine so that you can swim against the wave. There are two jacuzzis. Inside is the gym and Spa area. The toilets here also contain a steam room and a sauna.
On the first sea day we all signed up for the Murder Mystery event that would cover the whole cruise. We had no idea what was going to happen but it turned into a bit of extra fun. It was hugely enjoyable and I would love to do it again.
We stopped at Barcelona, Ajaccio, Civitaveccia, Livorno, Genoa, Monte Carlo and Gibraltar. We did our own tours at each place, having been to them all before.
Because we are Platinum passengers (Princess takes all our P&O cruises into account as well as Princess ones) we got to wait at Club Fusion with tea/coffee/juice and pastries. It was just as well because we were delayed by about an hour getting off. Platinum passengers also each get 250 minutes internet (14 day cruise). This is handy if you want to keep in touch with family or do research.
I am sure I’ve forgotten so much more to tell you, but sadly that is all I can remember just now. Just to finish by saying that I thoroughly enjoyed my cruise and it won’t be my last with Princess.
Great cabin. When visiting Monte Carlo cabin was right opposite the Casino. Fab view. Bathroom has a bath too. Lots of hanging space, very long couch which, when opened into a double bed, still had a third spare as seating. Balcony has no overhang at all and sticks out from the ship. Two reclining chairs with footstools and a good sized table. (Cleaned and tidied by steward every day).