We have only cruised once before, and that was on the NCL Jade, which was also an 11 night Mediterranean cruise.After reading reviews of the Jade and comparing them to the Princess, we thought we were in for a treat. Gosh we were wrong as the Jade topped Princess in almost every category.1. Embarkation- Very easy and most likely due to our arriving late and most people having boarded already. Can't fault Princess on this.2. Public rooms- Nice for the most start. I believe we were sailing with 3k people, and not once did the ship feel crowded. I liked that very much.3. Cabin- Absolutely atrocious. We had an inside cabin and it was tiny. The beds were horrible and needed to be replaced. The bathroom was tiny. Nothing really positive to say here. There were only 3 power jacks in the room, and you can only use two of them! The two on the desk were so close together that you could only use one at a time. The other power outlet was in the bathroom. Another problem is that we heard the Italian(or Portugese/Brazilian) couple next door yelling at each other every day. Their TV noise came in loud and clear too. The bathroom had the messy curtain and little shampoo bottles, plus the shower head came up to the bottom of my chin! Forget about dropping the soap as I had to worry about being violated by the bar and spout trying to retrieve it. The toilet was right next to it, which was right next to the sink. I preferred to use the public restroom over our cabin one. This is compared to the NCL Jade which had a glass enclosed shower which was much bigger with soap dispensers built in. A glass door for the toilet so someone can be in the shower while another is using the toilet, without feeling uncomfortable. So in effect, I would say the cabin was the worst part of the ship. I'm sure that others in larger staterooms had better experiences. We basically had only 1.5 sea days so we felt it wasn't worth paying double to book a balcony for our trip as we are port/itinerary fanatics.4. Fitness Center- I would say above average in equipment and such. Each cardio machine had its on TV with headset, but there was a huge problem. I'm 6'6 and I could not use any of the cardio machine except for the bikes as my head hits the ceiling. This limited my program to only the bikes and the machines. Also, people working there tried to sell services to us, which we didn't like much.5. Rates- We paid $799 pp for a 12 night cruise. You can not beat that in your lifetime. That is just a little bit less than half of what we paid for our Oceanview on NCL the prior year.6. Dining- We only ate in our dining room twice. Our waiter was horrible as he didn't really speak any English and was very forgetful. We would sit with other people and they would receive their appetizers before we would only place an order. We found out that the buffet had very similar offerings to what was offered in the dining room. So why waste time when we could serve ourselves? The buffet ranged from really good to really bad. Speaking with people who have cruised with Princess before, they felt like with the cut in prices, they cut food quality as well. We ate at the Crown Grill price and that was absolutely delicous with very good service. Their chocolate fudge dessert is outstanding!7. Entertainment- Sadly as we are port junkies, we were usually too tired to do stuff in the evenings after we showered and dined. We took in a couple of Movies under the Stars and found it very hard to hear as well as cold. The video quality was a big negative too.8. Service- This is another one that ranged from very good to very bad. It started off awful as everyone seemed like they were hung overr and did not want to help the first couple of days. Many other people shared our same experiences. Some examples were at the buffet for dinner I ordered a diet coke. The waiter showed attitude and just dissapeared. He didn't return with the diet coke until after we had ate dessert. Another time I was walking with a dish and a kitchen employee ran into me and then gave me a stern look and continued walking without saying a thing! I was ready to tackle him. A few days into the cruise it was like somebody flipped a switch and everyone became happy and polite for the majority of the cruise. Of course there were a couple of bad apples here and there, but the vast majority were very polite and cordial. 9. Shore excursions- We did not take any with princess and only did one guided tour in Florence. After that one we decided that it wasn't worth the money and we enjoyed going off on our own in every city. We rented cars in Monte Carlo(100 Euro for a Smart) and Corfu(80 Euro for a Peugoet Convertible), and an ATV in Santorini for 15 Euro. Each was a blast and we had great times. Now my beef with Princess relates to them transferring non excursion people to a good area. What upset me the most was a 7 Euro charge for a shuttle to the main area in Mykonos. It was only a two minute ride and it should have been supplied for free by Princess. Another problem was in Athens where there was a shuttle to the main terminal at the port, and then we had to walk for maybe 20-30 minutes and find the metro station. NCL gave us a free shuttle to the train station the prior year. Again, I am unsure if that has changed due to the economic climate.Overall- I should not really complain so much about a cruise we paid so little for, but there were other people on the cruise who paid much more than us and some feel the same way I did. Cruising on Princess is supposed to be a nice experience and they usually demand a hefty price compared to other cruise lines like NCL. If these two were the same price, we would definently rather cruise on NCL than Princess. For our next cruise we would like to try Celebrity as the people we met in Santorini who were on the Celebrity Solstice seemed to be very pleased with their ship. So in final, we probably will not cruise on Princess again unless it is an absolute great deal and the cheapest around. I would look around more if you can.
Smallest room I have ever been in. Tiny everything. Beds were very uncomfortable. Bathroom was atrociously small. Substandard room.