We are not Princess aficionados and only one of our previous 13 cruises was with Princess. There is no particular reason for this, but we choose cruises on itinerary, dates and price with cruise line as a secondary consideration, and other lines have happened to be offering what we want. We haven’t been aware of any unique selling points for Princess, though on our first cruise with them they did seem to handle Anytime Dining better than other lines.
We did a similar Western Mediterranean cruise 16 months ago and decided we wanted to revisit some of the Big Ones (Barcelona, Rome and Tuscany) while we still had the stamina to tackle the long hard days of sightseeing that they involve. A couple of the ports took us into really new territory and this gave us the mix that we were looking for.
Embarkation at Southampton was easy but we then had an anxious three and a half hour wait for our luggage to arrive at our cabin, well after we had sailed so we wouldn’t have been able to do anything about it if there had been a problem.
Our cabin was not quite as big as cabins we have had recently of a similar grade on newer Celebrity and Royal Caribbean ships, but it was not cramped (apart from the shower) and had a vast amount of hanging space. There were two chairs, one an easy chair and the other a desk chair. There were lots of mirrors, but no triple mirror. Toiletries were basic but adequate. Bath towels were on the small side but did the job. The bed was very comfortable.We found three accessible electrical sockets, all flat-pin US 110V outlets, but two of them were too close together to be used simultaneously with most adapters. The balcony was modest in size but adequate, with two reclining chairs and a small table.
We like being on the Lido deck on cruise ships because we can amble out of our cabin at breakfast time and along the covered but partly open deck to the buffet restaurant rather than negotiate long corridors and stairways or lifts. But as another reviewer has said, look hard at the deck plans to see what is above and below the cabin you have chosen. We deliberately chose the port side under the massage room rather than the starboard side under the gym, and we heard very little noise from above. We were also glad that we had chosen a cabin well forward on this ship as the stern areas are prone to a jiggling movement that we find uncomfortable. The cabin was also far enough forward that it did not have much corridor activity which might have been a slight issue for cabins aft of the forward stairs and lifts (L301-312).
Good facilities for cruising. A pleasant city for a pre- or post-cruise stay, with top-class places within easy reach, e.g. the New Forest, Bournemouth, the Dorset Coast, Winchester, Salisbury and Stonehenge.
This was our second visit and there is enough to see in this fascinating city to support several more visits. We visited several Gaudi-related sights, la Sagrada Familia (of course), Park Guell (book online in advance to get the time slot you want), la Pedrera and Casa Batllo. Use the local shuttle (T3 Portbus) to get from ship to the foot of la Rambla for a reasonable 3 Euros single / 4 Euros return. If using local buses and metro, look into the day ticket (8.40 Euros) or the T10 ticket (9.95 Euros, shareable by people travelling together, e.g for 5 journeys by two people, including transfers.
Unless you are interested in the Napoleon connections you are unlikely to find anything compelling here. We enjoyed a very economical DIY tour by taking local bus 5 to la Parata, a peninsula with interesting walks and great views of offshore islands. Sightseeing tours by open-top bus or road train are also available locally.
If you don't do your homework before visiting Genoa and just walk around starting from the cruise terminal you could find it disappointing, especially if like us you do it on a Sunday with much of the city centre closed. We decided to do Sunday in Genoa like the Genoese and enjoyed it very much. We bought Genovapass24 tickets (4.50 Euros each) at the metro station at Piazza Principe and took the metro to Brignole, then bus 31 to Corso Italia for some serious promenading to Boccadasse with its small stony beach and multicoloured buildings. Then back to the centre and up the Dogali elevator to Castello Albertis, former home of an explorer with quirky architecture, great views over the port, nice gardens and contents from all over the world. Then a walk to the Righi funicular to climb further up the hill to the Ristorante Montallegro for great pizzas and back down to the Palazzo Reale in Via Balbi and a short walk back to the cruise terminal.
We had visited Gibraltar twice before. The first time we 'did' the Rock and the second time we visited Europa Point and the beaches on the east side of the rock by local bus. This time we decided just to walk down Main Street from Casemates Square, visiting the two cathedrals, the Convent (Government buildings and King's Chapel), the Trafalgar Cemetery and the Alameda Botanic Gardens. A pleasant enough way to while away a day, but fairly tame at the end of a cruise that has visited world-class cities like Rome and Florence.