My husband and I took this cruise from Barecelona departing July 1st (Balcony - D440, which is mid-ship). We tacked on an extra 2 days in Barcelona and an extra day at the end in Venice. Traveled with another couple/close friends. This was our second Princess cruise (had done Alaska last Summer) and I have done 4 other cruises (Caribbean) on other cruise lines. Barcelona was fabulous. Had never been there before so we enjoyed exploring all of the areas. Ate at a great tapas restaurant one night (Ciudad Condal). Took a private tour of the Sagrada Familia (Viator - Skip the line Barcelona Sagrada Familia Tour, which was $54 pp and well worth it to get all of the information). Departure day - taxi strike, which as you can tell from some other reviews, was a big problem for many gtting to the ship. Luckily, we ended up having a private bus that took us from our hotel (Renaissance Barcelona - see my separate review on that fiasco on TripAdvisor) for quite a bit of money, but what are you going to do - drag large amouonts of luggage for miles?.
Boarding the ship Vas very easy. Great departure port and very organized Princess boasrding if you had all of your paperwork and travel documents in order. We were on board by around 2 pm so plenty of time to explore. Husband bought a soda card (with taxes/service charge it was around $62 I think, but he drinks a ton of Diet Coke so work it). Our cabin was very nice layout and of course everything "new Only complaint - the balcony was tiny. Barely could get a chair out there and then not stretch your legs. Took the panel out between our cabin and our friends' next door, so that helped.
Ship - I largely agree with others that the ship is very beautiful. However, there are major issues midship in terms of being able to get up/down the center of the ship. There are "stairs to nowhere" everywhere, and you have to do a lot of walking to front or back of ship to get between the middle levels. Very aggravating. No one seemed to have an answer why.
Food - better than Princess Alaska last Summer, but still very "bland" and some weird recipes/tastes for some basic (American) dishes. Decent quality, but needs taste improvement. We did anytime dining and really did not have an issue except for one night in terms of having to wait for a table. We "caught" another couple who had just arrived being seated before us and my husband said something to the head waiter. To their credit, they really went out of the way to make up for that - gave us a bottle of wine another night, sent chocolate covered strawberries to our room one day, and called us to see if we wanted to "pick" a table to be seated at the rest of the cruise.
Pools - there did not seem to be an issue getting chairs, as there is many times for Carribean cruises. Also, the adult only pool area is very nice.
Fitness room/classes - Zumba maniac, so enjoyed having Zumba classes almost every day, and on "at seas" days, twice a day. Fitness room was much bigger and better equipped than we had on our Princess Alaska cruise. Not a spa person so did not try that.
All in all, a great ship. The only negative - Hate being nickeled and dimed on some things. Specifically - having to pay for transporation to get from the ship into your port town. We paid thousands of dollars for this cruise that lists 9 ports they are taking you to - don't tell me you are only getting me offshore, and then I have to pay $10, 15, 20, 25 to actually get into town. Just obnoxious. As for entertainment - overall pretty terrible. Needs a lot of work. And I take offense at others who have done reviews and seem to think "older" people in their 50's (or older) don't need or want "good" or "fun" entertainment. Really? Not true.
Toulon - as people have said - nothing there really. We did a Princess tour (Aix: The Heart of Prevence) where we had a very good tour guide, so enjoyed it.
Florence and Rome - don't even think for one second that you will have time to really see these cities. We had been there before (2-3 times) so did not really mind that fact. We did "Florence & Time on your own" and "Rome on your own by private train" - both Princess tours. They were okay - but the general comment is do your homework and take private tours, not Princess tours, if at all possible - generally cheaper, and so much more flexible/better, Really did not like having to spend an hour and a half travel time each way to get to/from these cities, but that is the reality of it, especially in summer when these cities are packed, and it is HOT. And as someone else pointed out, there was a major train issue for the Rome trip that had us stuck in a train station for a long time.
Naples/Pompeii - though Pompeii was amazing, and Sorrento was very quant. Our guide Georgio was great. (Took the Pompeii & Time on your own in Sorrento trip).
Mykonos - to die for, in my book. Everything so impossibly white and blue. Did not do any tour - just took the transportation into/back from town. Very disappointing we were only docked from 7 am until 2 pm. Would have loved to have stayed later/longer. Want to go back and take a Greek Islands cruise or tour.
Istanbul - very impressive. Way better than I expected. A very cosmopolitan city.
Kusadasi/Ephesus - had a great tour guide from Ephesus Shuttle (rund by Curio Travel Turkey & Greece). Must do the Terrace houses if you go.
Athens - very disappointing. If not for the Acropolis, not worth going there.
Venice - spectacular city, but very difficult (and expensive) to get around. Stayed an extra night at Hotel del Opera - just great. We did the Allesandro tours (Rick Steves) of pub crawl and out of the way Venice. Booked a Viator skip to the front of the line tour for Doges & St. Marks and they cancelled on us just a few hours before!! By email no less!! Luckily, we were able to get tickets and get in on our own. Was pouring the morning we left, so an interesting water taxi ride to the Airport.
Others have commented re: mobility issues - I agree. This is simply not a cruise or itinerary for anyone with any type of "mobility" issues. Other take away - don't do this in the summer - way to crowded and hot in these ports. Then again, not sure this ship does this itinerary any other time.
Balcony - nice mid-ship, but very small balcony