First the good news- the ship is elegantly appointed...badly designed in many ways (but you've read all of that in other reviews). It is as clean and well maintained as many operating rooms I've seen !. The staff is hard working and well trained. Princess' embarkation and debarkation logistics are FABULOUS....well organized and uncomplicated for a huge ship. Port intensive with a fairly good selection for both newbies and seasoned travelers,
Now the bad news: Be prepared to spend half again your ticket price on "options". You get nickled and dimed at every turn. Bar cocktails are in the $10 range...wine is overpriced. Princess' tours are outragiously priced and can be easily duplicated with hundreds of independent operators in every port. The web is great for finding them. Princess does it's best to discourage you from using anyone other than their "preferred" provider with fear instilled that you run the risk of missing the ship's departure if you don't use their tours. Baloney! These operators know that they are doing and charge a third to half of what Princess charges...smaller groups, nice vehicles. When considering a Med cruise, don't be scared off by higher prices from more upscale lines like Oceania...the price may seem higher, but the inclusions often make it less expensive overall. We take the hop-on, hop off bus in many ports and find them to be excellent values and fun experiences.
One thing that has cost Princess my business is that they park the ship inconveniently (I'm not talking about Rome (Civetivechia) and Florence(Livorno) where everyone knows that transportation to the city is far and involved. I'm talking about Toulon...where the ship gets birthed 6 miles from Toulon and Princess charges $25 a person (no I am not kidding)to get you into town. We found the public water taxi 500 yards from the ship for 2 Euros a person...1/5 of what Princess charged. Princess did not mention that that service was an available option. Ditto in Ravenna...$16 a person to get you into town. Ditto in Mykonos...Princess' bus was $10 a person...literally a 25 yard walk from the gangway was the public water taxi for 2 Euros a person which took you to a much better location in town. Continuing in the "how much can we rip" department...they offer a private train into Rome from Civettichia for $100. Walk to the station(or cab it it you're lazy) and you'll find a train that takes exactly as long with similar equipment at multiple convenient schedule times for about 9 Euros. What really frosted my cookies was that when we complained, it was akin to talking to a chair. We were told that nobody aboard had the authority to waive any charges. They listened to our politely offer complaints and showed an extremely apparent disinterest. I'm talking about the front desk...even their Captain's Circle representative.We're not new at this....we've sailed dozens of times- 16 with Princess....the Elite pin should count for something other than just a referral to "Customer Relations" when we get home.
Cabins are small but who cares....you're on this cruise to see the ports. The bedding (it's new afterall) is comfortable, the baths offer sufficient space and are kept impeccibly clean.Location doesn't matter...on a ship this size it's always a hike to somewhere you want to go. Opt for the cheapest outside cabin with a balcony..where it is is just not that important. Just stay away from the last 10 cabins aft...there is significant vibration there.We prefer mid-level- around Deck 10 seems to be a reasonable compromise.
We have travelled to Florence several times and chose to spend the day in Livorno and used the hop-on, hop off bus. What an inexpensive,informative treat.
If you've never visited Rome...of course you must. However, we spent this day in Livorno having travelled to Rome many times in the past. A delightful day in this beautiful, very Italian-feeling town.
A complicated, expensive city but one you just must do. It's a walking town and the inexpensive "vaparetto" service is easy to use.You can literally fall into a restaurant for a cappacino or nice lunch or dinner. The ship overnights there giving you the dinner option.