Although we'd previously visited some of these ports/countries in past independent travel, this was our first repositioning/ Transatlantc cruise. The refurbished rooms on the Island Princess were an improvement over what we remembered from our Panama Canal cruise on the same ship last year. The wall-mounted flat screen TV & slight improvements to the bathroom gave an updated look. Some changes to the ship weren't positive, such as the smaller fitness center & the elimination of both the Universe Lounge, and the bigger pastry counter usually found on Deck 6. We always enjoy the port lectures in the theater, but here, the gentleman who served as port lecturer had a more limited role. Being in port on many consecutive days, the majority of his lectures were just recorded & shown on stateroom TV. And because he disembarked in Barcelona, there was no lecture given at all for our last port, the Azores. At many of the ports, Princess charged a high fee to get into the town via shuttle or boat, such as $29.00 to get into Venice. Any available , cheaper options were neither explained by the port lecturer or described in the Patter. The one free shuttle bus that was offered, in Salerno, was little used because so many of the tours ran late. We really enjoyed our tour that day, visiting Mt. Vesuvius & Pompeii, but were dismayed by some of the inconsiderate passengers. At both locations, people did not rejoin the group at the appointed time. At Pompeii, someone disappeared so the rest of us were left mlliing around while the tour guide looked for the wayward person for over half an hour, with no communication to the rest of the group. For the premium cost of these excursions, it seems that the cruise should build in some compliance by the participants, or at least stress punctuality.The days at sea were enjoyable, although there was a lot of congestion related to the dining rooms. People lined up in the evening before the Bordeaux dining room even opened, but were still given beepers. And at 5:45, some of the "anytime" diners were taken up to the Provence dining room (fixed seating.) It seems this system needs serious revamping. Delays in dining made it difficult to get to the shows in many cases, too. On the positive side, the cruise director & staff seemed very hard-working and energetic . Many people depended on reading to get through the long days at sea, and the Library collection on Deck 8 really is in need of updating. Looking at the book titles was like a throwback to the 1990's. But all in all,we enjoyed the cruise and all of the ports. We were very lucky to have excellent weather, with daytime temperatures in the 60'S and 70's. In spite of this nice weather, many people were coughing and sneezing, and a letter on respiratory illness was issued to all by the Medical Center, which was a bit daunting. We did learn to look for the "non- coughing" area at events! For the most part, we had an enjoyable time and felt that the crew and staff were hard working and available to passeners.Disembarkation was handled smoothly.
We walked the Wall in the old city on our own, which was enjoyable.
We Wales through Las Rambla and the Gothic neighborhood.
We walked on our own throughout Venice and Saw the sights with our guidebook.