Fair warning, we have sailed on Princess for our previous 4 cruises after switching from Carnival after 6 cruises with them, on various ships (Holiday, Fascination, Elation, and Miracle). And yes, I’m long winded and critical, but I do give props where they are due.
My wife and I decided to try Carnival again as Mobile is a very convenient port for us versus driving to Fort Lauderdale to sail with Princess. We previously sailed in Grand Suites with Carnival and planned to this cruise as well, however we were offered an upsell to an Owner’s Suite, which we (foolishly) took. Don’t take the upsell unless you NEED the extra room as this cabin has PLENTY of extra room (it’s over 900 sq ft!).
There are only 4 elevators that go to the forward Sports deck where these cabins are located. The 2 atrium elevators (which are both currently broken and not scheduled to be replaced until December 2019, at the earliest) and the two forward, port side elevators, 1 of which routinely takes a minute or two to settle on the floor it is stopping at, and the other which seems to operate properly, but seemed to be down for maintenance very often on our cruise, the last 2 full days of the cruise, specifically. The other 2 forward elevators stop at Lido deck, 2 decks below. So for 3/5 days of the cruise, there was only 1 working elevator that could take you to Verandah or Sports deck.
Ok, back to the cabin, PH1. These cabins are ENORMOUS and look fantastic in the various photos and videos you can find online and are emailed when offers the upsell. Buyer beware, these cabins, at least PH1, was not very well maintained or deep cleaned very often. Nice coat of dust everywhere, marble floors in serious need of mopping/polishing, broken/missing lightbulbs (and the cabin, in general, is not lit very well, at all) and while the views should look amazing through the wall to wall windows in the living room and bedroom, they aren’t tinted or mirrored (everyone on Lido can see you!) nor are the outside of the windows ever cleaned. Even if you don’t mind the dirty windows, don’t leave the shades open very long as the cabin AC cannot keep up with the heat from the windows, the room will get very warm, very quickly.
Very efficient, however also responsible for some (most?) of the cabins on Verandah deck, so she would call to make sure we were out of the cabin before coming up with fresh towels and to refresh the room. I never saw a cart or other cleaning supplies, and I didn’t find a stash in the room, so yes, that did make us suspicious regarding the cleanliness of our cabin.....
Dining room: Only dined in the dining room once, for seaday brunch. Service was good, as was the food, although apparently, for brunch, the wait staff rotate through serving different sections of the dining room. Once your area’s tables have all been served, do not expect anymore service as the wait staff waves bye and moves on to another area (I wish I were joking).
Buffet: We tried to eat at the buffet mainly, however it is extremely small, and the options are very limited. You are lucky if you have 3-4 options somewhat similar to what is being served in the dining room for lunch/dinner. That’s about all they have room for, and both “sides” of he buffet serve identical items. The salad “bar” is very lacking and the dessert area had, at most, 6-8 options, including the sugar free and whatever other dietary options they include. Side note, for parents as we used to cruise with our son, who is now grown - I seem to recall there always being fries, chicken fingers, Mac and cheese, etc (think kid friendly items) on the buffet. We didn’t see any, that we can recall, on the buffet ever, so parents beware.
Guys Burgers: Best burgers and fries I’ve had at sea to date. Get the usual toppings from the servers and make it your own at the Toppings bar, which has just about anything you would want to put on a burger. Beware, the operating hours vary and they usually don’t start serving until Noon, even on sea days and might be open until 6, if you’re lucky.
Blue Iguana Cantina: If you think Guys’ has weird operating hours, good luck getting anything from the Cantina as we never got to try it because they were either closed or had an enormous line during their few open hours. They do open in the AM for breakfast burritos (and never had a line, so unsure if it was worth trying for breakfast, which we didn’t) and reopen for lunch around noon, but always seemed to be closed by 330.
Deli: Very good, usually a long line, but was worth the wait (and they have fries). They have daily specials as well as the usual menu, be sure to read the sign.
Pizza: This pizza can’t be called pizza, sorry. And I used to like Carnival’s pizza. To be honest, I dislike Princess’ pizza as well. But to describe this “pizza”, Think of a tortilla with some red sauce slathered on it, with a few globs of melted cheese, and a sprinkling of toppings. A piece of pepperoni pizza (2 slices they way they serve it, half a “pizza”) had a total of 5 small pieces of pepperoni. Where you would expect more pepperoni to be was where the globs of cheese were.
Room Service: Very good and very prompt delivery, however be sure to ask for every condiment you may need and check the order for the requested and advertised condiments upon delivery (for example, the Firecracker shrimp ($) is advertised as having a sweet Chile dipping sauce, ours were served plain, with no dipping sauce). Also, and this may be specific to PH1/2, our breakfast room service cards were never collected 2/4 days. A quick phone call the first time did get us coffee and the assurance it wouldn’t happen again (it did).
Bar service/drinks: Do yourself a favor, drink beer, from bottles. Every drink we ordered, frozen or on the rocks, was very weak, and we aren’t big drinkers.
And those drink packages? They charge you taxes while in Mobile, on a full size serving. We had the soda package and paid $.25 in taxes for every soda we got until we were far enough away from port. Between the 2 of us, we paid $3 in taxes on $2.50 sodas on embarkation day. Keep in mind, with the soda package, they don’t give you the entire can (which retails for $2.50), only a glass full, which was maybe 1/2 a can with the amount of ice in the glasses. Yes, we have sailed from Mobile many times and yes, we have always gotten the soda package. We have never had to pay taxes like this before on sodas from a soda package.
We arrived at 10:30, dropped our luggage, parked in the garage (you pay through text and mobile browser, or they do have a kiosk or two if you don’t have a smartphone) and due to being in a PH, were promptly escorted through checkin and waited until 11:15 to board and shown to our room by a Carnival escort, behind the wedding party.
Since we were upgraded to Platinum status due to our cabin, we did Platinum self disembark which met at 730 and were through customs and on the road by 800.
During Cruise and PostCruise Communication:
We honestly felt forgotten on the ship, no sales flyers, etc from anyone other than the ones given to use by our room steward. Plus the room service issues. We also politely explained to the spa staff the first 5 times they met us at the elevator that we were staying across the atrium from the spa and did not need their services, but that didn’t help. We were hounded every day, the moment we stepped out of the elevator, as to which spa service we were there for, which was pretty funny when I was carrying 2 trays from Guys’ burgers, LOL. Also, Carnival used to hand out end of cruise surveys onboard. We didn’t get one either onboard or via email, so maybe they have stopped caring what you thought about your cruise?