We have cruised with Princess many, many times and this was one of our only two so-so experiences. First, the positives. The waiters, stewards, and other workers were great...very accommodating and friendly, and the cruise staff was terrific. No complaints there. There were lots of things to do and the evening entertainment was very good. We also very much enjoyed the itinerary. We only went on one of the ship's shore excursions, and it was very good as well.
On the downside, the inside of the ship was looking pretty tired and shabby and run-down, and could stand to be deep cleaned, repaired and updated...both in the cabins and public areas. What stood out more than anything else on this cruise and really coloured our experience however, was the poor selection and quality of the food. It was nowhere near the standard usually seen on Princess, especially in the Horizon Court. Not everything was dreadful of course, but the food tended to very plain, and there was an inordinate amount of repetition, a preponderance of what would be cheap dishes like stews, and the preparation itself and presentation often left a lot to be desired. It reminded us of what you would get at an inexpensive "family restaurant." The preparation and quality of the food was somewhat better in the dining-room, but again the selection did not seem to be as good as we've had on other Princess ships.
Interestingly, a friend of ours who just returned from England after having sailed over there from Houston on the Caribbean's re-positioning cruise in April had almost the exact the same comments. She was saying that at a Q & A session, on a Holland America ship they were on a few months ago, the captain admitted that department heads on the ships are given bonuses for cost-cutting. If that's the case with Princess as well, then the head chef on the Caribbean, was vying for a big one!!!
The cabin was clean and comfortable, but like the rest of the ship was starting to show its age. One of the mattresses on the bed really sagged in the middle. The balcony door didn't work properly and was very hard to open, the phone didn't work and had to be replaced, one of the overhead lights kept going out, there was mold along the bathroom sink, and the Kleenex box holder in the bathroom was broken.
Didn't take an excursion, just walked around the town. Very little there, very run-down.
Houston is a good place to get to for a cruise, although the weather conditions make it iffy whether you will get in or out of the harbour on time. We didn't take any excursions there this time.