The ship has its good points; we enjoyed the food, the entertainment and facilities. The service was very hit & miss aside from our cabin steward who was excellent. The passenger services desk is a fiasco, they don't answer their phones and as you get towards the front of a great long line they tell 'elite' passengers to cut in front of you. Given that people are generally in the line to sort out some shortcoming of the cabin or service this is infuriating. The restaurants are usually closed at lunchtimes which leaves you with a very limited options unless you want to join the bunfight in the cafeterias. For example, the pizzeria which is usually open serves good food but has very limited choices which we got rather tired of on a 10 day trip. Service in all the restaurants was well-meaning but sometimes very slow. Rather than have one server throughout the meal they have tried to employ 'production line' techniques with often dire results. I usually felt we were in a sausage machine rather than a proper restaurant, we often sat there starving for 15 minutes until the 'bread-boy' put in an appearance. The much vaunted 'anytime dining' does not really work, it should be called 'when they get around to you dining'. We sometimes had to wait 45 minutes or so for a table.
As everybody mentions, the lifts are mad. There are no stairs midships where they are often needed to go one or two floors up or down so everybody piles in to the lifts which were programmed by a lunatic. Every one stops at every floor when they are called, but people have often taken another lift or given up so often nobody gets on or off. As a result journeys take forever. This could be corrected quite easily, if only they could be bothered, even at this late stage.
Numerous passengers, both on board and in their reviews, have mentioned the crew being made to 'nickel & dime' passengers at every opportunity. They are absolutely right, it is not compatible with providing good hospitality, it is grasping to the point of rudeness. Endless 'photo opportunities' and interruptions to sell drinks, beauty treatments etc. etc. Even the water on board sucks unless you pay $1.50 plus 15% per small bottle, see what I mean? I believe I am right in saying the only 'free' beverage on the entire ship is right at the back, topside in the cafeteria where you can get tea, coffee or unpleasant tasting water out of machines.
Our previous experience with Princess, on the Golden doing an Alaska cruise, was very good but it was several years ago and I'm afraid Princess have since gone downhill. The experience this time was little better than a rather poor trip we had with Carnival. Based on our experience we would try a different line next time but unfortunately we had already booked up for a trip from Japan on the Diamond in October. From what I have seen of the reviews for that ship we will be keeping our fingers firmly crossed.