This was a port-intensive, wonderful cruise. The selection of ports, although we had been to most a few times before, was perfect. We especially enjoyed Istanbul. We booked a couple of our own excursions but used the Princess shore excursions for most. We had nothing negative to say about the experiences.
Embarking was very painless. We had taken a cab from our hotel and arrived at 1:30. We had a short wait to check in, then we were allowed onto the ship where our cabin was ready and our luggage already inside waiting for us.
The crew could not have been more friendly and helpful. Officer Laurence of Hotel Services was most helpful and kind. Our steward Arthur and his supervisor, Officer Danni, were the best.
We were told that our cabin, the Amalfi Penthouse, L721, was one of the cabins built with the new 2015 additions and some or all of it is over what was previously air space on the stern of deck 14. This is a beautiful room, but unfortunately, the vibrations and engine noise from this room makes it uninhabitable while underway at more then 15 knots or when there is any wind blowing. It nearly destroyed our vacation.
The cabin is beautiful, tastefully decorated with a marble entrance. The en-suite bath is split, with a toilet and sink/vanity room connected by a joiner door to the bathing area, which has vanity/sink, standalone shower and large tub area. In the main space,the dressing area has shelving, a hanging clothes closet (sans doors) and a desk with mirror. A patio door from this area opens to a large verandah on the starboard side of the ship with two chairs. The queen size bed is not in a separate room but drapes can be drawn to separate the bed from the living area. Beside the bed there is a patio door leading to a large verandah (not connected to the starboard verandah) with two chairs, a table and one lounge chair. The living area has a couch, built in drawer unit, a desk, mini bar, one chair and coffee table. There is no dining table, so meals must be eaten at the coffee table or individually at a desk -- both of which have chairs that don't really fit under the desktop. Another patio door leads to the aft verandah.
The suite was incredibly noisy! We have been on more then 25 other cruises, in seas conditions that caused the closure of all outside areas. We have stayed in stern cabins on various decks and different-size ships. We sail on the San Francisco Bay and my husband is retired Coast Guard. We understand that aft cabins experience more vibrations and noise then other areas of the ship and understand the difference between conditions caused by seas, and engine vibration and noise. We have never had to beg for a cabin change due to our inability to sleep because of cabin conditions. The Amalfi suite banged like a drum, vibrated like a washing machine and whistled like a tin pipe.
The first night was fine; once we had pulled away from the dock and were underway at moderate speed and side thrusters secured, the cabin had limited engine-caused conditions. However, the next day, as the ship increased speed, the cabin vibrations and pounding engine noises started and continued whenever we were underway. The sconces on the walls rattled, the mirrors shook. Whether standing on the floor, sitting on the couch or laying on the bed, it felt like you were on an unbalanced washing machine during the spin cycle. One evening we watched in disgust as a pair of wine glasses on the mini-bar vibrate from the wall to the edge. We grabbed them as they began to dance across the edge. Glass shelf brackets above the bar were empty. Were the shelves removed because they shook so badly, or did they shake so badly that they broke? Our stateroom host (steward) didn't know -- he told us he'd only been aboard 2 days.
When we called Guest Services to report the issue we were told they would advise their manager. When nothing came of that call I called back down and asked that an officer come to our cabin to experience the conditions and see that we were not just complaining over movement you have to expect while at sea. When Officer Danni, the steward's supervisor, came to the cabin, he admitted he had never been in this cabin while the ship was underway. After mere seconds -- not even a minute -- observing and experiencing the vibrations and engine noise, he told us that it was "extreme" and he would be reporting the problem higher up. I told him the suite should be considered uninhabitable, never be sold without warning, or be used for mattress storage. We then received a visit from Officer Laurence of the Hotel Department. He explained that they did not have a cabin they could move us to as the ship was full (an implicit admission that the cabin was uninhabitable at higher cruising speeds). He was very apologetic and agreed with Officer Danni. The third day Office Laurence called to ask if conditions had gotten any better. When we advised that the only change was that when encountered windy conditions, all three of the locked verandah doors whistled loudly, each at a different tone. He explained that a passenger had left the ship and that we could use their mid-ship balcony cabin to sleep in and the suite during the day. When we left our suite and went down 4 decks to sleep, that cabin had no vibration nor engine noise -- so clearly the problem with the suite was due to an engine problem.
We understood that the cabin problem was not the fault of anyone on the ship and therefore tried to be as pleasant as possible when talking about the problem. Nor did we ask or expect any kind of compensation from anyone on the ship. Therefore, we were very surprised and somewhat pleased when Officer Laurence called to say he had contacted Princess Headquarters and had been authorized to credit our account a generous amount toward the cost of the cruise. He also said he'd tell them we said the suite was only suited to mattress storage. While no amount of money was going to solve the problem of sleep deprivation, unbearable noise and bone-rattling vibration, it was good that they acknowledged and took responsibility for our problem, doing everything they could be assist us.
The question remains: Will Princess fix this cabin, which is one of the most expensive on the ship, or warn all future passengers -- or just hope nobody else complains about this huge failure in design, construction and testing? Until they take major action, steer clear of all cabins aft of the aft elevators on the upper decks.
Love Barcelona, always feel very safe. Stay at the LeMeridian on Las Ramblas. Will return whenever possible.
Took the hop on hop off bus. City is very crowded and traffic horrible. Did not walk up to the Acropolis, steep and hot. Instead had a drink the bottom of the hill which had a great view of the ruins.
Easy walk from ship to hillside town. Wear good walking shoes and be careful if wet.