The cruise my wife and booked and what we actually sailed ended up being two different things entirely; and while there was disappointment that we we unable to dock in Key West, we did end up going to Nassau which was very nice. Before I proceed with this review any further, I need to address some misinformation provided in the previous review by bcsjr. In fairness to Princess they did send my wife and I an email the Friday prior to sailing that due to a generator issue (not an engine problem as suggested in the other review) the ship would skip Princess Cays (their private island) and would be replaced by a stop in Nassau so the ship could return to Houston in time.
Secondly, while we did skip Key West due to strong winds causing unsafe docking (on a sunny day I might point out) we ended up spending an extra day at sea. Princess provided compensation of $50 per person in the form of on-board credit as well was 25% of the fare we paid as a credit towards a future cruise. All of this we found fair and more than reasonable. While we were disappointed, we did not let it ruin our vacation unlike many other passengers who complained the whole trip endlessly. If you travel by ship, you have to be more flexible and understanding and not so rigid and demanding like we found so many of our fellow passengers to be.
Embarkation was very smooth. My wife uses a wheelchair and the staff were amazing and we were on-board in no time. The only issue we had was the dining noted on our cruise cards was incorrect and I had to stand in line at passenger services once we boarded to get it fixed so they reflected the dining preference I had confirmed for months in Princess' Cruise Personalizer. I try to avoid these long lines on the ship on the first day, but it was handled very well by the passenger services staff. I did find that they are a tad jaded, most likely from dealing with so many people yelling at them.
As for the cruise, the entertainment was very good. They had a visiting Soprano on the ship who was amazing we saw her in the production of Bravo and during her own show on the last day. The ships singers and dancers were average (some nails on chalkboard moments). We also experience the Voice of the Ocean patterned after the TV show and found the passenger talent to be quite good and the judges very funny. This cruise also played host to Princess' annual Entertainer of the Year Awards where they showcased a singer, comedian and magician who are supposed to represent the best of Princess. The singer was good, the magician was kids birthday party level, but the comedian (AJ Jamal) was fantastic and really funny as well as very nice and personable when you saw him around the ship (he always engaged the passengers).
We were not a fan of the Wake Show the cruise director did everyday on TV, it was one endless infomercial for EFFY (the only jewelry line on the ship) and really told us nothing about the ship, activities or ports of call. Dining room and food were fantastic and when we did have an issue it was quickly rectified by our amazing waiter Abel. We ate all of our meals in either the dining room, International Cafe or room service (which was timely and good); we avoid buffets given the "piggy" and rude nature of our fellow passengers in this type of venue. Our idea of dining is not dealing with lines of aggressive, pushy people who think they will never eat again unless they elbow someone for a sandwich. Overall we had a great time.
We did not do any excursions given the limitation of wheelchair accessible options, so we explored Nassau and Freeport on our own which worked out just fine (and made easier by the incredible weather). As Platinum members we did enjoy a few perks, but Princess could learn a few things from Royal Caribbean and ramp up the perks. Finally, as for the condition of the ship; it was in very good condition overall and seemed to be maintained well in the public areas. We did have some issues with the cabin which I will address in the cabin review. This was our third time on this ship over the last 2 years and we found the staff friendly and the ship easy to navigate, especially for someone with accessibility issues. My biggest disappointment came from some of our fellow passengers who need to learn better manners.
Upon arrival we found that our cabin steward, who always had a smile, did not have an attention to detail when it came to preparing the cabin for new passengers. [He] was nice but he lied to us when we asked about certain things and it took me to tell him strongly that we will get along just fine as long as he tells me the truth and not try to cover up a service shortcoming with silly lies. I had to call the telecommunications dept. because the phone cord was ripped out of the wall leaving us with a non-working phone until it was fixed at 1:30AM the first night (not good), I had to call maintenance for lighting issues (burnt out bulbs), I had to fix many of the drawers that were off their rails, and also the shower curtain. Felt like I never left home the first couple of days! Our cabin was accessible so it easily accommodated my wife's scooter and had a slightly obstructed view out the large window. We would have liked to have had a sofa in the room to make it more comfortable, instead we only had one arm chair and my wife and I alternated use of The room should have had two for two people to use at the same time. Lastly, this was our first non-balcony room on any cruise we have taken and most likely will be the last. We really miss the extra light coming into the room and the ability to open a window for fresh air. That was our bad so I am not faulting Princess for our choice.
Need more to do closer to the port itself.
Great parking and really nice terminal. So sad Princess is leaving Houston in April 2016 and not coming back.