We chose our first Princess Cruise because we were celebrating my husband’s retirement - and we always wanted to visit Scotland and Ireland. We arrived in London 5 days early and visited the major tourist attractions. A Princess bus picked us up at Victoria Station and drove us to Southampton. Embarkation was very organized. We had to wait awhile, but chairs were provided and we were called in groups, so not too much standing in line.
Our balcony stateroom was located on Deck 15 forward. It was clean and nice, and we loved the location. Our room steward was efficient, for the most part. We only saw him on check-in day. We asked that ice be provided each day, and he took good care of us for most of the cruise. However, the last few days, he took the ice bucket away and never brought ice again.
There was an awful smell in one section our hallway, that never went away. It smelled like the carpet might have molded. We had to walk through that area coming and going to our room. It was disgusting.
The people on this cruise were almost entirely quite old. We are 60ish - and were some of the youngest. I did see a couple of teenagers - who were probably bored to tears. This meant a lot of canes and scooters and slow walkers. They held up lines and elevators, and much patience was required on excursions as they took forever to load and unload buses. Many were very rude as well - cutting in line and ignoring instructions.
The excursions were good, for the most part. We enjoyed the places we visited. Often, however, our play time was cut short - we would gather in a designated area on the ship and wait for our group to be called - then follow the leader up and down stairs to get off the ship and to our tour busses. Alternatively, we would follow that procedure to get on tenders - nightmare! There were not enough tenders, which meant long waits to get ashore and load the busses. All of this meant that the excursions sometimes got a late start - and we had very little time to shop or see anything on our own. If I had it to do over, I would definitely explore booking excursions through local companies - rather than Princess. We could have been off the ship earlier, had more time on shore, and saved money.
The food was okay - but the choices were limited and became quite boring. If you want steak, visit the premium steak house onboard - do not order steak in the main dining room. I tried it twice and was thoroughly disappointed both times. The steaks were tough, tasteless, and full of gristle. I do highly recommend the creme brûlée, however. Room Service is still free - some cruise lines are charging a fee. But, the menu is extremely limited. Nothing memorable about the food at all.
Entertainment on the ship was just boring. They definitely played to the older crowd - big band music, bingo, crafting get togethers, boring stage shows. I looked forward to the outdoor movies on deck. However, it was too cold on deck in the evenings and you couldn’t clearly see the screen during the day. We spent most of our ship time resting, watching tv, and eating. There wasn’t much else interesting to do.
Staff was mostly efficient, but not too friendly. Unlike other cruises I’ve been on, the staff did not seem to enjoy their jobs, and were not particularly interested in the cruisers. They did their jobs, but gave nothing extra.
Disembarkation was very smooth and quick. We had breakfast, met at our assigned location, and were quickly off the ship. The luggage was organized, and we met our driver in very short order.
Overall, we enjoyed our trip because of the wonderful people in England, Ireland, Scotland, and France. We saw wonderful buildings and exhibits.
I’ve always loved cruising, but this particular ship, with its boring entertainment, ho-hum staff, and limited food selection, was nothing special.
I need to add - we were hot the entire time we were onboard. We lowered the temperature in our room as much as possible, but had to open our balcony door for cool air. All of the public rooms were hot, and we sweated through every meal. For that reason alone, I would not repeat this cruise.
The cabin was clean and efficient. It was very hot, and we had to keep the balcony door open when we were in the room. It was quiet and convenient. The room steward kept it clean and brought us daily ice, as requested - except for the last few days - when he seemed to disappear.