We chose this cruise because of its suitability for our plans; ie we wanted to spend time in Beijing (seeing the Great Wall etc etc) and the Cruise Itinerary would see us right home (through Japan, Taipei, Bali etc) to Melbourne. That it did, and while there were many nice things happening on board-some good singers and dancers, a 'second-to-none' crossing of the equator ceremony, some good food and some excellent service (breakfast room upstairs). There were some really good activities such as golf putting and lawn bowls (on a beautiful upstairs green), not-to-mention glorious 'peaceful areas' (such as The Sanctuary)and lovely small pools and spas.
Yet much of this ship's operation, these days is slipshod and drastically in need of improvement. A lot of this seems to be because of cost cutting- 'cut the cost, cut the quality.'.
For a start, communication in the ship needs to be improved from the top down, starting with 'Princess Patter', the ship's bulletin, which needs to be radically altered to provide necessary information for passengers rather than promote the ship's personnel.
There is a dearth of good English, from the Ship's Desk, through to coffee servers etc etc, adding to unnecessary passenger frustration.
Intellectually, the ship currently is a disaster, with a poor (almost non-existent) library and none of the stimulating lectures that we saw on the Noordam last year, for instance.
A number of On Shore Tours took too long to get off the ship, meaning tours were rushed (and sometimes late back). Some were also far too expensive, with guides whose English and organistational skills were deficient.