My age 61, travelling with my 62 year old partner, my 90 year old Dad and my 33 year old son, who has learning difficulties. This was our 16th cruise, but first with Princess, so I was excited to experience a different cruise line, and was not disappointed.
The port itinerary was not new to us as we did the same route last year with NCL. Unfortunately October can be lovely and warm, or chilly and wet, as it was this year.
We arrived in Venice planning to take the water taxi from the airport - just the best way to approach the city over the lagoon, especially at dusk, however it was raining hard so we took a large taxi from right outside arrivals which took us right to the ship for just 45 euros.
After an easy embarkation, we went straight to our staterooms D303 and D305 on deck 9. These were right by the lifts. Up to deck 14 and we exited the lift right next to the entrance to the Horizon buffet where we took all of our meals. Perfect.
We found our staterooms to be incredibly spacious and spotlessly clean. The shower was a little small but no problem really. Plentiful storage for our clothes, and very comfortable beds. We had good sized balconies with 2 fabric loungers and a little table.
We always use buffet dining, and found the food in the Horizon buffet to be plentiful, hot and top quality. The plastic plates were always hot too, which is a rarity. Although Horizon was always busy (less so in the evenings) we had no problem finding a table, or asking the servers to find one for us. The service was excellent. As soon as we were seated we were offered fresh orange juice and coffee at breakfast, then wonderful lemonade and water at lunch and dinner, plus the usual alcoholic drinks if required. I liked the way all the staff on the ship used "My lady" instead of the usual "Madam". It was fun and quirky.
I loved the older style of the ship, and didn`t find the staterooms dated at all. We particularly liked the decor of the Wheelhouse Bar with its leather chairs and sofas, and the fabulous atrium. Unfortunately it was too cold for me to use the outdoor pool, or even sit outside to watch the big screen, which was disappointing, and although the Lotus Pool was covered and warm, the loungers were always taken.
We only went to one show in the Princess Theatre as it was necessary to be there 30 minutes before the start of the show to get a seat. Instead in the evenings we went to the trivia competitions, played Monopoly in the library, and ended the evening with Happy Hour in the Explorers Lounge (buy one get one for 1$) listening to great music from the group Cosmic or DJ Tintin.
A couple of things were disappointing - we like to play roulette, but there was only one roulette table in the casino. My son loves karaoke, but we found the advertised "Karaoke" to be a singing competition, which rather defeats the idea of karaoke.
Ports and excursions:
Venice - half a day with just enough time to walk to Piazza Roma and take the vaporetto to St Marks Square, which was flooded because of the high sea level.
Istanbul - we took a taxi to the Blue Mosque (free entry), then it`s an easy walk to Hagia Sofia, which is a museum and has an entrance fee. We also had a quick look around the Topkapi Palace buildings. One day I`ll go to the Sultan`s Hamam!
Mykonos - tender to the old part of Mykonos Town. Fantastic gifts of all prices and quality, with great art.
Piraeus - Hop on hop off bus to Athens, where we stopped for lunch, took a horse and trap ride around the base of the Parthenon for 30 euros, then back on the bus to complete the route and return to the ship.
Naples - we did take the hop on hop off bus, but the Capodimonte museum we wanted to visit was closed on Wednesdays. As it was cold and wet we just returned to the ship.
Ajaccio - Just a typical Med seaside town, nothing special. We did take the little tourist train which goes around the town.
Toulon - Big problem here as the ship did not dock in Toulon, but in nearby La Freyne Sur Mer, then Princess charged 20$ each for the ferry back to Toulon! Very naughty. We walked into the town of La Freyne, about 30 min walk, which has a big marina, and a street market.
Livorno - Hop on hop off bus which took us to the funicular up to the Monastery of Montenero. Apart from the view there was nothing to see. This bus also stops at the birthplace and museum of Modigliani, but this shuts at 12.30 so we missed it.
Civitavecchia - Disembarkation, which was extremely well organised. I had booked train tickets to Rome, but we were faced with an arduous trek on the shuttle to the big car park. Then another bus to the station. Then 20 steps both down and up to go under the lines, no lift. This was a nightmare with 4 large suitcases, and 2 people with mobility problems. Taxis are not allowed up to the ship, but privately booked cars are.
We really enjoyed our holiday, and will be looking at Princess first for any future cruises.