Unfortunately, this cruise had several issues which made the experience less than optimum. This was our 43rd cruise, our 9th on Princess. We normally cruise on Celebrity, so we have something to compare. The overall cruise was very nice with the following exceptions:
(1) The "best internet at sea" was much less than the moniker would indicate! There were problems logging on, and even worse, logging off. The first day we used all 250 minutes while trying desperately to log off! To their credit, the minutes were restored, but the problems continued throughout the cruise. There were times when the service was extremely slow and others when it actually locked up. Could be a band width issue. There appears to be many issues which need to be addressed before this internet service is ready for prime time.
(2) Two of the production shows were the same ones we saw in December on the Crown Princess and were good but not spectacular. The third production show was only thirty (30) minutes long with no costume changes or set changes. Singers and dancers were good as usual, but nothing exceptional. The Naturalist actually saved the day for us! He was interesting, knowledgeable, and in many cases extremely funny and personable. He was our highlight of the on-board entertainment.
(3) Now for the main issue that soured the sweetness. The Anytime dining experience started out with 10-15 minute waiting times, which is acceptable for the first few days. During the middle of the cruise, the waiting times disappeared as one would expect. But on the final Formal Night (which, by the way, should be made OPTIONAL, since the dining room staff was allowing people in jeans and tee shirts in the dining room on all three Formal Nights!) we were told that the wait would be about 15-30 minutes. We were given a pager and retreated to the hallway outside the dining room where we waited FIFTY (50) MINUTES. We finally went to the greeter with our complaint and were escorted UPSTAIRS to the other dining room, where we were seated and then waited 10 more minutes before getting served. Apparently they were accommodating two (2) tables of $100.00 a plate "special diners", and it appeared that they were sorely understaffed to serve everyone. The lobster was tasteless and the usual cheerful wait staff appeared to be less than thrilled to be working that night! Very strange indeed.... Makes me want to rethink my cruise line choices in the future.
Having trashed Princess, let me say there were pluses on board. Again, the Naturalist was our saving grace for the lecturers. The other lecturer was focused on Olympic history and was interesting for the first ten minutes, but after that worked the same as a double-dose of Nyquil for me. What the hell, one can always use a short nap on a cruise, right?!?!? The other highlight of our cruise was the Starlight Lounge, which I have commented on above.