This was our first cruise and we picked both Princess and this particular itinerary having talked to friends who had years of cruising experience and also wanted to see places we had not been to before. We were keen to find a ship which was neither full of kids or senior citizens and were not disappointed as there was a good spread of ages amongst the passengers.
Although there were embarkation problems in Southampton which were not the fault of Princess Cruises (mainly severe road works on the route to the docks and a fire alarm going off in the terminal we were lucky to be one of the first to check in and found things well organised as it only took 15 minutes from parking the car to being in our cabin.
We had booked a mini suite and were not disappointed. The cabin was extremely spacious with lots of storage and would suggest that four adults would be able to occupy the cabin without feeling too claustrophobic. The cabin was immaculately clean and we felt that all the fittings were more than acceptable. We note that some people have stated on here that the bathrooms are either poor or "tired" but we would say that whilst looking a bit dated the bathroom was certainly acceptable and again lots of well thought out storage.
As for food whilst Horizon Court buffet shows less quality than a high star hotel in Europe there was plenty of choice both at breakfast and lunchtime. We had booked anytime dining and had no difficulty in getting a table for dinner in the three restaurants available to us. The food was generally well cooked and service was good rather than exceptional in the restaurants. The main gripe we had with the menus were that for us they seemed too geared to an American pallet and my wife especially struggled at times to find dishes she liked which limited her choice. With credit the Head Waiter on the first night arranged for smoked salmon to be available for her every evening if wanted.
We did one night eat at Sabbatinis and whilst the food was excellent the service was very lacking as the waiters seemed keener to set tables than serve us!
The entertainment in the evening was mixed. Some of it was less quality than we assumed it would be however we did enjoy various entertainment most evenings and the Entertainment Director was excellent.
As for port visits we did our own thing which we are used to from having travelled round Europe many times. This tended to give us more time at the attractions we wanted to see than the organised tours and at a fraction of the price as the ship's tours were very expensive.
To sum up the pros were both the cleanliness of the ship and general standard of service especially our cabin steward for whom nothing was too much trouble and always with a smile. Also considering the number of people on board generally the ship did not feel crowded and usually we found places to sit in the various lounges.
The cons were the fact that there is a very heavy selling by Princess at every opportunity and you have to watch out your cruise account as gratuities are added to all drinks. Also we were surprised and felt it was poor of Princess to charge for shuttle buses from port to town when we heard from people that other cruise lines don't. Also to charge for a cocktail on sailway from southampton surprised us.
To sum up if you haven't cruised before I would ignore the bad reviews on here but be aware that Princess whilst relaxing does have some warts that come with the fun. Also we have already booked our next Princess cruise but will be older and wiser when we go.
The cabin was excellent with a large balcony with loungers and ottermans. Due to the weather being poor some days at sea we spent more time than envisaged in the cabin which we found very relaxing.
As our son lives in Belgium we have visited many times so we arranged to meet him in Blankenberge which is a pretty resort and spent the day there.
We really enjoyed Copenhagen and visited the Royal Palace (don't miss the crown jewels) and a general tour of the centre as we were late docking.