I have always sailed Princess, am elite status now after about 18 cruises. I do this for the same reason people stick to a particular airline. I have in the past been on Carnival, Holland America, and NCL. It was almost as if this cruise was doomed from the beginning. I arrived beforehand at the cruise hotel and then had me listed as an employee rooming with several other employees. I like the line but not that much.. The agent in the lobby seemed to know little about time and departure for the ship the next day....we finally loaded onto a bus for the half hour trip on a Sunday to the cruise port but we're told to wait on the bus off on the side because the front of the terminal was too conjested to unload. We waited for about 1/2 hour while more busses, taxis, and autos made it even more conjested...when the passengers begin to revel at this foolish plan our bus leader finally got permission to pull up and unload (this is the first and last Princess pre cruise I will ever purchase). As we got off we literally were pushed from one side of the side walk to the other as we waited in a line a couple of hundred feet long...later when I complained I was told these were not princess employees but rather belonged to the port....I told them they must be wearing stolen uniforms. Inside was a complete madhouse ... The elite usually wait in a 3 minute line but this one was 45 minutes to get the cruise card. Later some who were at a lower level told me they had to wait in line for over 3 hours. The agents kept telling us it was the worst they had ever seen(they hadn't been to Rio) and all were given a variety of reasons e.g. A computer problem, a long morning meeting, and the most likely they could not account for three persons who had no disembarked upon arrival.
The Captain Justin Lawes is the best and he did attend the Cruise Critic meeting the next morning (about 200 of us present) but none us had the pesence of mind to ask him what the problem...really was. I am running out of space but did want to highlight the other really awful line for the 5pm ,anytime dining. By 430 everyday it snacked around the atrium sine people wanted to attend the first show at 8 and not wait until 10. I don't know if the company, the Captain, or the cruise director sets the schedule but please for the sake of the passengers return to,three shows an evening. There are no crowds at dinner or at the shows if there are three. They have been tampering with number and time for the past couple o years.
Many of the staff I noticed for the first time on this Princess Cruise had a "bored" expression such as Cascino and some bar staff. This was not true of room stewards or dining room staff. I can not stress how messed up the anytime dining was....especially for early eaters. Some called to make reservations were full for that day or sometime for the entire cruise. In my opinion no reservations such be allowed for anytime dining and those used to the early bird specials at home were taking all the seating. To me anytime means you can show up whenever and take you chances. Otherwise you sign up for the first seating if that's when you want to eat every night. Princess has alternated two to three to two shows. One of the cruise directors told me someone in the head office felt if there was a crowd before a half hour in advance then people wouldn't think the shows were any good. Sounds like someone who has never been on a ship. The schedule of the shows determines (at least with English speakers eat). None want to go to 10pm if they have an early excursion next day. Part of the mystery of late schedule and mainly Spanish speaking cruise director and his assistant was clarified when I found out 2000 English speakers and 10 children were getting off in Chile to be replaced by an equal # of Spanish speaking SA and 600 children were boarding bound for Rio due to Christmas holidays...a different type of cruise entirely!