Well, I don't really know where to start, but let's start from the beginning!
March 14th to April 1st - Santiago to Los Angeles... 17 days.
We flew to Santiago 4 days before the cruise. The time in Santiago was good and we stayed at the Marriott. As normal tourists, being in a new city for the first time, we took the "Hop-on Hop-Off" bus tour, to get our bearings. Santiago was nice and we enjoyed our time there.
The port of Valparaiso, is about a 1.5 - 2 hour drive from the city. We took an UBER Black SUV, as we had so much luggage. Initially, the driver could not find the cruise terminal, as he drove towards the visible ship. He stopped and asked a friendly guy where the drop-off point was. We were there in about 5 minutes. A porter met us and whisked our 9 pieces of luggage off to the ship. You have to take about a 2 km bus ride from check-in to the gangway. All went well.
Check-in was a breeze and the terminal was virtually empty at around 1500h local. The building looks very dilapidated from the outside, but inside it is good. We went through the normal terminal security screening, and then, to our surprise, we subject to another security screening upon embarkation. No worries; it all went well and smoothly.
The greeting on board was warm and friendly. As we had previously sailed on the Star Princess, we knew exactly where our cabin was.
D205 was a mini-suite, and was in very good shape. Our room steward was very good... never travel without a balcony, especially when the cruise has a lot of sea days. I caught up on my reading.
As for the ship itself, it is showing its age a bit, but was in overall good condition.
We ate in the Main Dining Room for 15 out of the 17 days. The food and service were very good!
We went to the Crown Grill and Sabatini's on two other nights, and I would not recommend either of them, as the service was slow, and the food was not what one would expect for a $25 cover fee, per person, over the menu offered in the MDR's.
The bar staff was excellent! We did purchase the All-Inclusive-Beverage-Package, and there was no more signing of tabs; that is a very welcome addition to Princess. I am not sure if this has been expanded to all ships yet.
As another aside, we had 2 nights in Lima, so we decided to stay at the Hilton Miraflores, instead of on board. We had a good time there, but the traffic in Lima is the worst I have seen in my travels; including Bangkok!
I partook of the Spanish-at-Sea classes with Alan, an Assistant Cruise Director. I learned more than I thought I would, and used, with some success, my newly acquired linguistic skills, in other Spanish ports.
We took two excursions, booked through the ship. The first was in Pisco... I didn't do my research, but we literally arrived in a desert. It was beautiful, and the tour was excellent!
The second excursion was to the top of Mombacho volcano. It was billed as a 4WD tour, and that was correct. It was about 1.5 hours each way on a bus, to get to the base and back. Then we were herded into two large vehicles that each held about 24 passengers. The climb was steep (and a bit scary at times).
The actual tour of Mombacho, was actually a very gruelling 1.5 km hike. If you don't like steps, down and up, this is not a tour for you, but there was a 75-year-old man in our group who did it unflinchingly! Princess should have posted a better description of this particular tour.
Just to go back a bit, after we dropped some passengers off in Pisco, for their land tour of Machu Picchu, we heard 2 days later, in Lima, that there was an aircraft accident. Princess took very good care of the affected passengers, and forwarded them to Manta, Ecuador, for an unscheduled pick-up. All went well, except for a few who did not book with Princess.
We settled in and enjoyed the entertainment on board. Princess has come a long way in this area. Kudos to the Cruise Director.
We did not get off the ship in Cabo San Lucas, due to the short port time, and a tender operation.
The next day, there was a USCG helicopter evacuation, for a sick crew member, on our way to Los Angeles. It went off without a hitch, and the crew seemed very well-trained. Lots of people were trying to get pictures of the operation, but, unfortunately, all passengers were confined inside during the helo-op.
I really have to say that Princess really surpassed my expectations, and I would not hesitate to cruise with them many more times.
I hope this VERY LONG review helps!
Did not get off the ship