We chose the transatlantic cruise that included Iceland because we wanted to take a transatlantic cruise that didn't have just straight sea days but included some stops. After reading some discouraging reviews, I would like to say we found the ship to be fun, clean, and still up-to-date.
The ship does have a very few dents and dings, but certainly nothing you would notice unless you were looking hard for something which I was after reading the reviews. I didn't see worn carpet or stains or other unsightly things.
I would say the food was fine--it wasn't extraordinary, but there was certainly plenty of it. The cookies and breads are outstanding. I did talk to the buffet manager about why we needed a boar's head on the buffet two nights in a row. That kind of ruined my dinner. He said it was European custom and we would get more westernized as we moved toward Canada. I felt like the dining room food was a tad better than the buffet. I want to make clear that both sides of the Horizon Court and Caribe Café were open for both breakfast and lunch. The buffet does seem a bit small for the amount of people and the layout seems confusing, but, like I said, no one went away hungry. During dinner only one side was open because people were in the dining room. The Trident Grill moved inside due to weather for most of the cruise and was very busy. There were lines for that.
Through no fault of Princess, we didn't get much use of the outside decks due to fog and wind. Only two or three days were sunny.
Captain Stenzel was a delight. He had a commentary every day at noon. It was very interesting. He also did a question and answer one afternoon.
There were many activities during the sea days--lectures, crafts, games, bingo(way too expensive--$15 for one card), art auctions, demonstrations, the usual.
The music (orchestra) and entertainment were wonderful. The comedian thought he was a little too funny and wanted constant approval as did the cruise director, Paul. The entertainment was varied with several different entertainers on board for a good variety. The theater is very small for a ship with 3500 people on it.
The service was super although we didn't see our steward very often. But the room was well taken care of. Servers were quick with the drinks and clean up. But that being said, many times we shared tables because seating was limited depending on whether or not you wanted to share. We like sharing and talking to people, so that was ok with us. I think some people wanted the table to themselves no matter if it was two people at a table for 6 or 8.
I do wish Princess had made us aware of the Northern Lights the night they were able to be seen. I had asked them each of two nights previously. The desk said predictions weren't good for us to see them. Then, lo and behold, the third night someone made the announcement at 10:30 p.m. that we could see the lights. Well, most people were in their cabins and were unaware that they had been visible since 9:00 p.m. That was disappointing. I'm not sure why Princess couldn't have notified all of us by an announcement.
The shore excursion desk was very helpful. I had booked our excursions pre cruise, but I had some questions on a couple of days. On a couple of the tours, we gathered in the theater. A guide led us down two flights of stairs and maybe 1/4 mile to buses. I kept up, but the guide from the excursion desk moved very quickly and many people got left behind because of the stairs and distance. Eventually they caught up, but I'm thinking there's got to be a better way to get people to the buses.
Southampton--There's a mall very close to the port. There's a medieval wall just next to it for a sort of strange juxtaposition to all the modern buildings. Premier Inn West Quay ws affordable and right by the mall. Five minutes to the port.
Lerwick--Unfortunately, the sea didn't cooperate so we missed this port. There were some passengers on board who had tried it before on a cruise and had missed it then too. So I wouldn't count on Lerwick as something you will definitely get to see.
Akureyri--We walked around town. It 's a lovely small town that's easily walkable. Post cards and stamps--over $10. Tasty places for lunch. Restaurants had menus posted outside.
Isafjordjur--This is a tender port. Again, we walked around. Very picturesque town. The town is close to 1/2 mile I think from the port. There is a grocery store and a liquor store both within a ten minute walk from port. The information center is nice and is a free Wi-Fi spot. Where the tender dropped us was largely industrial, so you need to walk into the actual town. The port talk said city buses would be available, but I didn't see any.
Reykyavik--If you can only do one tour in Iceland, save it for this stop. We did the 8 hour tour and were very happy with it. A delicious salmon lunch was included. Of course, lots of people going the same place on other buses, so be prepared for that. $2 to go to the bathroom at Gulfoss Falls.
St. John's Newfoundland--Taxis were available at the port. Ship docks literally right in town, but streets are uphill except for the first street. To me, there wasn't a lot to see in town.
Halifax--I've been here three times. I love Halifax. This time we saw the Titanic cemetery. It was a very interesting tour. The port is very walkable with lots of shops and restaurants and a very large waterfront. Peggy's Cove is so colorful and beautiful, but you won't get pictures of the lighthouse without people in them.
New York City--
Disembarkation was a bit confusing from the time of booking. It said Manhattan or Brooklyn. Then itinerary finally said Manhattan so that's what people had prepared for and were expecting. There was still confusion the day before we disembarked with no word from the captain or Princess information. We ended up in Brooklyn
Disembarkation was slow, but not too bad. We were 30 minutes later than our scheduled time. We left ship at 8:30 a.m. in Brooklyn and there were plenty of taxis and for hire cars. That part ran very smoothly. There was a man with the taxis and cars making sure how much we would be charged. Prices were almost identical for both means of transportation.
I'm glad we upgraded to the balcony that Princess offered us. I had the opportunity to see a room on 5. The bunks were in the way even put up out of the way. The passenger had to bend over and sneak into the bead on either side. The room was small.
B250 was a nice size with plenty of storage. We asked the steward for a few extra hangers which he provided for us. No stains, clean, smelled good.