Just came back from a fabulous 14-day med cruise from Athens to Gibraltar and back to Rome.
- Ship: 4 STARS. The ship was just refurbished and was in tip top shape. It's a very pretty ship but is not one of the newest, 5,000 passenger "mega" ships with roller coasters and 18-hole golf courses.
- Rooms: 4 STARS. Rooms are larger than other ships and well laid out though the interiors feel a few years dated. Brand new mattresses were very comfortable. The balconies were great. A must have!
- Activities: 4 STARS. There is lots to do on the ship but no pressure to join in and there are always quiet corners you can escape to. The gym is well equipped with brand new machines, which have a great forward view of the sea.
- Entertainment: 5 STARS. The entertainment, particularly the guest entertainers (singers, comedians, piano player), was very good. I loved the 45-minute length of the shows. That is appropriate for all of us with attention deficit disorders.
- Service: 3.5 STARS. Crew was generally courteous and efficient but workmanlike and detached at times. Quite frankly they weren't particularly friendly. Part of that may have been our utilizing the anytime dining and so we always had different waiters. We may have had more of a connection with out wait staff if we did traditional dining. At times some of the bars and restaurants were understaffed. I think the lack of traditional tipping affects the quality of service and much of the crew seemed overworked and exhausted. They did a good job at accomplishing their assigned tasks but there wasn't a sense of warm hospitality on the ship. Princess needs to review and amend their staffing ratios so there is a better staff to passenger ratio in the various venues to allow for more of a relaxed and hospitable atmosphere and mroe responsive and expedient service.
- Food: 3.5 STARS. Overall the dining was decent but a bit inconsistent. The menus in the main dining room are fairly limited and consist mainly of simple American favorites, which I liked. Sometimes execution in the main dining rooms was off as some dishes were better than others. There is good selection in the buffet areas and they seemed to have reorganized them during the recent refurb because there was no real lines. Sometimes tables were hard to come by at the buffet but usually it was not an issue. The pizza shop and burger grill are both excellent. The soft serve ice cream is meh. The bars serve good drinks that are reasonably priced but sometimes the waits are ridiculous (see staffing issues above). We didn't try room service or the specialty restaurants.
- One Complaint: Charging $5-15 per person for shuttle buses from a distant berthing port to a city center is ridiculous and unfair. If a Princess cruise itinerary says they will take me to Barcelona, Marseille, Naples or Livorno, then they should take me to those places, not a berthing station that is 3-5 miles from the city center and not-traversable via walking. If I can't walk from where the ship docks then Princess has not lived up to its end of the bargain. Some locales had free shuttle buses and some did not (some ports did not need shuttle buses as the ship docked right in the city center). Charging for a shuttle bus is akin to charging for a tender (which were required in two ports we visited). Princess wouldn't do the latter and so shouldn't do the former. Do better Princess! Stop nickeling and diming people that paid $5-10,000 for a cabin.
My one complaint aside, this was a great cruise and a great time. I would sail again on Princess, though I am not sure it's any better than Carnival or RC.
Loved Athens. Took two days to see the entire city.
Hike from Fria to Oia was amazing. Walked 15 miles that day. Like being in a post card.
Surprisingly beautiful Fjords and medeivil walled city. We took a private boat tour booked through Trip Advisor of the ahrbor which was a blast and was very reaosnably priced ($34).
Not much to do in Sicily. Not enought time to do anythign unless you book an excursion through the ship.
Beautiful city with clean, well organized and walkable streets and amazing sites. Truly a special place. La Sagrada cathedral is a must do and is awe inspiring.
Hiked up and down and all over the Rock. It was a blast and the monkeys are amazing and very people friendly. The main shopping strip looks like central London.
Better than expected. A pretty sea-side town but a bit grimy. The views from the hillside Cathedral are amazing.
Prettyer froma distance but a bit rundown up close. Pretty streets and fun shopping but not oo much to see in town.
Took the train to Pisa like everyone else. They have a tower, it leans.