We booked this cruise fairly close to departure and as a result only had an option for a guarantee inside cabin. As per the cabin review we would not do this again on this ship. Our stateroom attendant however was wonderful. Always friendly, helpful and efficient.
Embarkation was handled very well. Probably the smoothest and easiest of any cruise so far.
This was our first Princess cruise although we have sailed many times with other lines. (Celebrity 6, Royal Caribbean 1, Regent 1, Cunard 1 & NCL 3).
Our main reason for selecting Princess was the recommendation of family members. We were especially looking forward to the supposedly superb food in the main dining room.
However this aspect of our experience was by far the most disappointing. I'm led to believe that as this was a UK departure with mainly British people on board, the menu had been amended to reflect British tastes. Whilst I can understand the decision, I was extremely disappointed to find such culinary delicacies as Irish Stew, Cottage Pie, Fish & Chips and Tripe as featured items. I was also astonished that a steak is no longer included in the always available section of the menu.
Normally when cruising the biggest difficulty I face is deciding which of the delicious options I'm going to have to miss on a particular evening. On this cruise I regularly had difficulty finding an appealing item.
There were some exceptions to this and by no means did either of us go hungry. In particular the Tapas & Sushi available in Vines was delicious as were the sandwiches available in the International Cafe. The pizza was also delightful.
We stopped eating in the buffet area after observing some particularly disgusting events. A passenger dropped the serving tongues on the floor. A crew member picked these up and then deposited them at another station. They were not taken away, cleaned or replaced. On a previous occasion a passenger proceeding us into the buffet area sneezed onto the hand sanitizer station in full view of a crew member. She gave us a sickened look but took no action to rectify the situation. This is disgusting and when hygiene on a ship, especially around food items is so important, unacceptable.
The ship itself was excellent. Without a doubt the design of this class of ship is the best we have taken. From the dining areas to almost every other public space you never feel like you're on a large ship with so many passengers. This compartmentalisation gives a wonderful ambiance and a small ship feel.
From a daytime entertainment point of view the most popular activity on board was trivia and various quizzes. These can be fun but they were relentless. Every lounge, deck and opportunity was taken up with them. There were also what seemed like daily art seminars / auctions.
Evening entertainment was varied but not to the highest standard. We have certainly had better experiences with other lines. We saw two comedians during the cruise but were surprised when they were using each other's material. Hypnotist show was fun. Stage productions nowhere near as good as Princess think they are.
My final complaint about Princess is the constant harassment to spend. Every employee must be targeted on a number of up-sell items. The photography team were by far and away the worst for this (constant pestering to have photos taken and buy the $199 package). I understand that this is their job, but a polite no should be accepted and not be the starting point of a hard sell experience.
Towards the end of the cruise we were invited to a new customers event. We mistakenly thought that this was Princess trying to make us feel special and encourage us to return. It was just another event organised for the future cruise sales agent on board to pitch to a captive audience.
I know that this reads as an overtly negative review. We did have a good time and enjoyed ourselves. With just a few small tweaks especially in terms of food and pressure sales it would have been so much better.
There remains a slight possibility we may sail with Princess again but we would never consider a voyage that departs from the UK.
The overall cabin design was actually very good for an inside.
However the drop down beds for third and fourth passengers were very difficult to live with. On many occasions during the cruise we had painful impacts.
They are marked on the deck plans and you should avoid if at all possible.