The Good: It’s a new ship.
The Bad: it’s a Princess ship.
The Ugly: it’s the same as the old Princess ships only bigger and worse and only all dressed up.
A Princess platinum member so been on a few rodeo’s with Princess. Overall, Princess continues its downward spiral and we will probably not do another unless a very very good sale and better experience comes along.
The Good: Digital screen in room, a digital screen at pool. Well I guess that sums it up.
The Bad: Boarding confusion in Singapore (recurring theme with Princess). Told to sit with others in specific area and then we all realized (about 50 of us) that the main group was 30 yards away across the hall. We would have never been told to board.
The food set a new low for Princess. Let’s imagine 3/8 inch thick steak. Or a consistent 4 capers (really?) each morning on the smoked salmon bagel. Little variety and old standbys slimmed down like fettuccini alfredo no longer in parmesan cheese bowl. It was getting cold in a cold dish it was served in. The international buffet was mediocre at best with the same items every day of the cruise for two weeks. Can we say Congee in Asia that tasted like wallpaper paste? Even, their new “Lobster dim sum” pool eatery was mediocre.
Shopping was terrible. Wife usually likes to browse and get a few things at the sales but on this ship it is all high end shops. Not even the Asian market was browsing. Their special Leica unveiling was interesting but very few photographers (I am a professional) can afford such gear and then would not be on this kind of cruise. Needless to say, what kind of warranty is on these duty-free purchases? I could not get an answer (not that I could afford a Leica).
Excursions were hit and miss: typical Princess. Always, better to book something yourself.
The UGLY: When saying it is the same old Princess ships only bigger and worse it is meant literally. Yes the atrium is a bit glitzier than others. Yes the layout is the same but longer walks. Yes, the same stupid tokens for using Laundry room. Yes, the same elevator layouts in which there are always four on one side and two on the opposite wall and selecting a up and down button only controls that bank on that wall. So every time you must push two different buttons to be assured of an elevator. It has been that way on every ship for years.
Yes, the same announcements only in the hallways. It is great for not interrupting sleep, etc., but at least put the same message on the television. It is terrible for information on your passport/visa information for the next port. This brings me to technology on board. Princess is making a big thing about the Princess medallion but they didn’t even have it on this newest ship.
Though I really don’t want Princess tracking me everywhere and would probably keep it in a RFID proof pouch to disable it until I needed a drink or for my room to open up. The new television was great in quality but it went down a couple of times (it is network driven) and we had to even have their electronics personnel and come and hard reboot it.
More importantly, I am not on a cruise to watch television or their small old selections of movies (yes it was very cold on the northern part of the cruise so being outside was not possible). I like to connect either a cable or dongle to the HDMI port and review my photos or watch a movie that I brought on my laptop. There are no inputs available to do so. But you might be able to access the one open HDMI port on the monitor (it hangs on the wall) but there were no controls on the display or remote that would allow you to switch inputs. This is a ship that went into service a year ago. By contrast our room at the Grand Hyatt in Shanghai though having what looks like 20 year old technology connected to their modern digital display allowed you to connect either at the desk or actually at their wall mounted display. Princess, your cliental may be older but most of use have experienced most of the modern technology era so get with it.
Caring for their passengers all 4000+ of them was a strain and at times a nightmare. Case in point: Disembarking in Shanghai most of us had no idea that the ship was headed to dry dock for refitting as they were going to minimize the Asia aspects of the ship. This meant for the 1000 of us waiting in the cruise terminal for taxis it was a 3+ hour wait (standing in line) as the terminal is not close to the central city and no taxis wanted to come all the way out for only a return trip fare. In fact, while we still were waiting for taxis the ship departed for its dry dock. We could have paid for the transfer to the airport and taken the Maglev back to the city and saved over an hour and a half and the maglev costs $11.
Another example: Unless you’re in a suite or black card you can not try and get a advanced reservation for the Chef’s table. Well, first thing on board we try and make reservations. Wife calls and also informs them of her pepper allergy. They say no problem and they will get back to us after they have received all the requests. Next day a message on the phone saying they could not abide us as the Chef was unable to accommodate her allergy (really, a dinner to show your skills but the dishes made ahead maybe so can’t be modified). We ate at a Michelin rated eatery in Singapore and they had no problem accommodating her allergy even in the tasting menu. But, this was probably not even true as we dined in the restaurant that had the Chef’s table area and not one night was there a Chef’s table. So just call and say you are not doing it for the cruise. Don’t misinform.
Net: think twice whether you want to be on any super size cruise ship (some may be great) and also whether Princess is the experience you want.