The ports of call on this cruise were great. Our experience on the ship was just ok. This was the first cruise for my husband and me, so perhaps our expectations were too high, but we both thought some things could have been so much better.
To begin with, whenever we passed a crew member on the ship, they completely ignored us, giving us not so much as a nod or greeting of any kind. Only the greeters at the buffet and our cabin steward were cheerful. The captain was not personable at all and bordered on rude. On the one formal evening where he was supposed to "meet and greet" the passengers, he hid near an elevator speaking only to his officers and studiously kept his back to all passengers. When one lady asked if she could have her picture taken with him, he rolled his eyes, stood there while his picture was taken, and then turned his back again to his guests. His welcome speech literally consisted of "Welcome to the Island Princess. I hope you have a nice voyage." and then he left the room. Needless to say, we did not feel very welcome.
The Passenger Services desk was staffed only occasionally, and not at all when most passengers were on shore excursions, so if you had a question, you had to wait until it was open and then stand in a long line to get help. Sometimes you got a cheerful answer, sometimes not. We reported a problem of no hot water in our stateroom bathroom; they said it would be addressed, but it was not. Only once was I able to get a helpful answer from someone on the Shore Excursions desk (also only open a couple of hours a day, usually during dinnertime). We had booked a Princess excursion to Cinque Terre, but they cancelled it more than 24 hours in advance due to "high seas." The day it was supposed to take place dawned with calm waters, but the excursion remained cancelled. We tried to book a Princess excursion in Venice, but 5 out of about 8 were cancelled (including the one we wanted), so we went ashore on our own. (Most of our excursions were booked through another shore excursions company for the same tours at about half the price. They were very good, but required walking a little further to reach the van or bus.)
Very comfortable, nice bathroom (even if we could not get hot water at the sink). We were at the back of the ship, Deck 6. We experienced some vibration, but we both found it rather relaxing. Not too much motion except for one night during very rough seas. Other areas of the ship were worse, though. Being located at the back, we experienced no hall foot traffic, so it was very quiet in the evenings, but it also meant we had the farthest to walk to get to most venues.
We arrived in Barcelona several days in advance of the start of our cruise, and we're glad we did! A great city in which to be a tourist -- much to see and do both in and around the city. Don't miss Sagrada Familia, inside and out. The Ramblas is also a must-do, but be especially aware of pickpockets -- they tried to get us twice in 2 days (though our pockets had nothing valuable in them). We do not recommend the Hop-on Hop-Off unless it's a sunny day and you sit up top. Otherwise view is obstructed by bus stairs or ads covering the windows.
Had booked a Princess excursion to Cinque Terre. They cancelled it more than 24 hours in advance due to high seas, but the day of the excursion dawned clear and calm. Most other excursions were already full, so we could not reschedule. We ended up staying on the ship.
Wow! Wonderful drive along the cliffs. Not for the feint of heart, but definitely worth seeing the beautiful coastline.
We went to the NEW Archeological Museum where all the originals are now displayed. A wonderful, modern building. Our guide managed to make history come to life through the stories of the urns, vases, and statues. Beautiful view of the Acropolis from the top floor of the building -- just too bad much of it is under scaffolding.
We got to see all the important sites in a matter of an hour or so. Much easier than walking or public transportation. We certainly saw the signs of Greece's economic problems -- buildings are looking quite neglected and graffiti is everywhere.
It's Venice -- what more needs to be said? We had done the must-see sites on a prior trip, so we just wandered the streets on our own. There's nowhere in Venice that isn't picturesque, so just enjoy! We went to the old Jewish Ghetto, which was a little less tourist-packed and enjoyed a wonderful dinner outside in one of the smaller squares.