Great destinations - Rome, Athens, Valletta, Kotor, Corfu, Corsia, Naples, Palermo, Santorini, Barcelona, Katalolon, Dubrovnik, Sete and Nimes.
This cruise had it pro's and cons. Very nice ship with excellent dining rooms. Theres a full walk around deck (deck 7) and sports facilities on deck 19. The Casino is well laid out, even though we don't use it and the Princess Theatre is a large and impressive venue for major performances. The Piazza was smaller than I expected, but served its purpose well. There's also a nice range of additional restaurants including the Crown Grill and Share.
The shops and boutiques are what we'd expect on such a ship. Not much for them - except some expensive watches and sports cameras. Perhaps these Princess could add items and apparel more for men.
The buffet style dining on LIDO deck was disappointing with poor quality food. I've been on three previous Princess cruises and the buffet on LIDO was very impressive. Not on this cruise. Allowing passengers to handle ladles and food one after another is also unhygienic and an invitation for a gastro outbreak - which is exactly what happened.
We avoided the buffet dining after a forgettable experience on our first day. I'm thankful I and my wife had the good sense to abandon the meal and discretely dispose of the first bites. As it would turn out, the ship copped a wave of severe stomach virus (gastro) affecting and quarantining over a hundred passengers and some crew. We were lucky, avoiding the indignity, discomfort and agony of those affected passengers confined to their rooms - even on port days.
An incident where the ship travelling at speed though the straits of Messina suddenly changed course, listing at 6% starboard, causing me to lose my footing towards an open balcony door on Riviera deck 14. I could no longer see the sky and with only the ocean looming towards me and being unable to stabilise my balance, this incident was extremely distressing. For a moment I thought it was all over. There was substantial damage to the food buffet areas as trays, plates, tables and chairs went flying. Pools were emptied and it was a very serious incident. A request for details of the incident was never provided by passenger services, who to our dismay denied the incident even happened.
Food and crew in our dining room were amazing - 10/10 ! A wide variety of courses - something different every day in Club Class. High fives to MaitreD's Nazram and Daniel, to Cinta, our welcoming lady, our super fantastic waiters Mark, Ryan, Jelenna, Siti, Miriam, Dieri and Yongli. You made our dining an enjoyable experience and we can't thank you enough for your fine service.
Entertainment: Again, pro's and cons. There were almost zero attraction shows in the Princess Theatre. Why, I don't know but no explanation was given. Very poor effort Princess ! However, amazing violinists "The Lado Duo", comic Richie Minervini and Hypnotist David Knight are superb! Look them up.
"The Lado Duo" deserved their own showcase in the Princess Theatre - an opportunity lost by the entertainment director. Also, bing a mostly baby-boomer cruise, having main shows at 10.15pm is too late. Have one show at 9.30pm and the Princess Theatre will be full house every night.
Malta was impressive and an unexpected surprise and our highlight. Italy stunning as were Greek destinations Athens, Plaka and Santorini. The Acropolis was busy and despite the crowds, easy to navigate. Take care on a wet day so you don't slip on the marble.
Naples on the Italian mainland and Palermo in Sicily offer a journey you must experience to appreciate. You'll either love them or not but try to take in the tortured history of these places. If you can't see it in the buildings and streets, you'll see it on the faces of locals. Both these locations are close enough to the port to walk.
Corsica, Corfu Montenegro and Dubrovnik offered amazing views, food, walks and historic sites. Barcelona didn't excite me as I thought it would - but it was Sunday. That said it was worth the stop over to visit the Sagrada Família church. This has to be seen to be believed.
The fresh food/produce of the Port market in Corsica, just 50 metres from the ship is sensational! It's only open in the morning so go early and have breakfast. I'm of Italian background and honestly, the pizza I had here is the BEST I've tasted. Sooooooo fresh!
Southern France reminded me of Tuscany and Northern Italy. The ancient Romans had much to do in France and oddly we saw more Roman influence than French, especially in buildings and wineries (mostly originating from Italian vines and owners). The Arena, located in Nimes, is a smaller cousin of Rome's 'Colosseum', again built by the Romans. Perfectly preserved and adjacent to the Roman temple, one would be excused for thinking they were in Italy.
Just a heads up for diners who love seafood - some of the seafood on some islands are imported from Spain, such as muscles. Ask the restaurant if their seafood is local or imported or a mixture of both. Preservatives can set off allergic reactions, as so happened to my wife.
Back on the ship, the so-so attitude of some crew at the front desk (passenger service desk) left much to be desired. Again, not all the crew but some seemed 'disinterested', kind of like the passengers were 'bothering them'. I've never experienced this on our previous Princes and MSC cruises and granted some passengers can be difficult but we are very respectful and didn't expect poor service from the desk.
Our Stateroom was exceptional, on the Riviera deck and kept immaculate by Robelito, our stateroom steward. Embark/Disembark was flawless and smooth as was getting on/off during port days. Princess are very good in these areas. Internet is pricey but we had excellent coverage. The gym is very good as is the Lotus Spa, pools and general amenities.
The medical staff are fantastic, helping my wife through 2 emergencies, one severe swelling due to an allergic reaction to a dinner on shore and another to help with a minor chest infection - thanks medics!
One thing of importance - this 22 day cruise was two eleven day cruises back to back and Princess could have made a better effort to provide more variety like in room movies/TV shows and most certainly improve acts in the main Princess Theatre. If Princess want to join 2 cruises then please freshen up in-room entertainment at the start of the second leg.
All up though, this cruise had its highlights and its horrors. We've done 5 cruises, the first 4 on Princess and one with MSC. Would I recommend Princess? Yes, of course but seriously, they need to move quickly on the issues I raised to keep their reputation intact. We'll be booking 3 new cruises over the next 18 months and if this is the new norm at Princess, then we'll be looking at another liner.
Fantastic double sized suite - plenty of room, spacious beddng area huge bathroom with full sized shower and spa bath, office space and lounge room. Double sized balcony had is advantages.
They call Rome "the eternal city" for good reason. It's impossible to full appreciate Rome in one day but take in as many of the major sights as possible then plan a future 2 week stay,
The old city is behind a fortress, vibrant, tourist friendly and with a wonderful local produce market open most days until after midday. I braved 1200 metre walk up to St John's Fortress for a stunning view over the harbour. If you have good balance, strong legs a sense of adventure, give it a go otherwise you can stay safe on the ground for an enjoyable day in Kotor.,
Not enough space her to describe this experience - just do it!View All 390 Acropolis Reviews
The Archeological Museum is a great experience but if you're doing this with a guide and you have Plaka to visit afterwards, make sure you don't spend too much time here. Do the Acropolis, the museum and finish up with 90 mins in Plaka to make it a perfect Athens day.View All 65 Archeological Museum Reviews
Our only regret was needed more time in Plaka! This is shopping old style and best of all - a great place for men to shop. Yes, Plaka has stuff for us. Also, a musicians meca - meet many artisan guitar and bouzouki makers. Many very high quality musical instrument stores in Plaka and they'll ship home for free or very low rates.View All 60 The Plaka Walking Tour Reviews
Perfect weather, the friendly hospitality of the greeks and an Island paradise perched high on a cliff. A very enjoyable day. The cable cars are great but truthfully - the island is earning enough to double the amount of cars. They have to do at least double or more to help tourists avoid losing an hour and sometimes up to 2 hours waiting for a seat. In the end, I chose to walk down the cliff which personally, was more satisfying. Crossing paths with the donkeys was an experience and the view spectacular. But you have to have good legs, string feet and the right footware. Some people took the steps down out of frustration (avoiding the 90 minute wait for a cable car seat) and this proved difficult fr them and injuring some unfortunate travellers. Twisting an ankle or breaking a wrist isn't what you want at the beginning of a 3 week cruise!View All 119 Island Tour Reviews
We've been to Katakolon before. it's nice place to visit once. It's a tiny island, very natural surroundings with nice shops and restaurants at the port.
One of the highlights of our cruise. Corsica is a French island but was an Italian Island for much of its history. Corsica sill has much Italian influence and personality, so much so that even the oft times arrogant French cannot subdue. If you arrive early morning, you must visit the fresh produce market just a short 50 metres from the port where you can buy freshly made Italian and French influenced food and snacks.
This was an interesting day out. We visited two very old French locations built by the Romans. Nimes was built around a very well preserved Colosseum (actual name is "The Arena"), about the size of the same structure in Verona and smaller than its parent in Rome. Also in Nimes and just as well preserved are Roman Temples. Axi En Provence was also built by the Romans. It seems the French have much to be thankful to Italy. Our tour guide, while pleasant knowledgable was no very good at maths losing some of our tour group and almost losing others. She also wasted too much on details tourists will never remember, so boring that many of us asked for the meeting place and went off on our own - us included. Then there's the arrogance of feral male French waiters at cafe's and restaurants that stained an otherwise good excursion. We get it - you people don't like the English but you know .... the war finished a long time ago and if it weren't for English speaking allies you arrogant lot would probably be speaking German.View All undefined undefined Reviews
No excursion needed - just a short shuttle ride from he ship. This is a must-do activity when visiting Dubrovnik - don't miss it or you'll forever regret it. Walk along the walls then walk back through the old city.
The modern Barcelona isn't much to look at. The buildings are all very similar. The Christopher Columbus marina area is very nice and definitely a must do activity. Cross the bridge to the many fine cafe's and restaurants. Of course - do the old city tour - this is why you're coming here.View All 284 City Tour Reviews
Just do it - words cannot describe this amazing structure. Look it up online so you're familiar with its history then go see it.
Livorno is right outside the port where a short shuttle ride takes you into the city. The town has much to offer for a day trip, including a very large market with fresh produce and apparrel. Many good restaurants including our favourite "La Bufala" located on Via Della Madonna, where friendly owner 'Oreste' makes you most welcome. Try the Seafood Mariana combined with Toscana red vino, a perfect combination.
Do not miss Valletta, one of the best highlights of the cruise. Clean, friendly and full of surprises. Take the 'road/train tour around the the city then do the rest on foot. Have fun with telling millennials that the old red phone boxes are ancient Valetta cell phone towers! Some of them will believe youView All 78 City Tour Reviews
Mdina is the former capital of Malta, a fortress city now mainly residential. There's much to see in Mdina including very good shopping and eateries. If you have time, take horse/buggy tour with one of the locals or do it easily on foot.
Take this tour - you won't be disappointed. aside from the excellent palace which was the birthplace of Prince Phillip, you'll get very nice tour around that part of scenic island and take great photo's.
Another tour we did on foot. Go into the old town and enjoy a day walking through the streets and shops. Plenty of good eateries so please - don't go to Maccas! Visit and walk the top of the old fortress (careful you don't slip) for a birds eye view of Corfu.
Naples is located right at the port. Take the hop on hop off bus and get off at stop #6 and walk through the old city. Be very careful for pick pockets, often young children working in pairs and even young girls dressed like tourists. They're pick-pocket professionals !
Naples is a very old city, nor very clean and often smelly! But who cares? Sofia Loren is from Naples and this old town is rich in history. Walk the streets and visit the fine cafe's and shops. everything's affordable. When you're done, take a horse and cart ride back to the port but don't pay 80 Euro's - they'll do it for 40 euro, then be nice and add an xtra 10 at the end of the journey.