- I would rate 3.5 if i could. We chose this cruise for our annual Caribbean vacation because it was new, and we were trying to decide (after 40 cruises!) whether or not to make Princess our first choice. Based on our Sky Princess experience, we're not ready to make that commitment right now.
- We actually did a back to back on 1/11/20 and 1/18/20
There are a lot of positives about the ship - the atrium/piazza is stunning; the entertainers on board were fantastic; the crew worked hard; our inside cabin was great (we love the amount of storage and the layout of Princess cabins); the Captain (Michele Tuvo) was a joy; the International Cafe is still our favorite hangout spot on any ship from any of the 5 lines we've cruised (Princess, Celebrity, Disney, NCL, Royal Caribbean). We also found that the medallion itself worked well, the drinks were reasonably priced, and we didn't feel pushed to buy extras like drink packages or specialty dinners. We also had a great experience in Sabatini's and thought that Alfredo's was excellent as well. And, the staff at Guest Services and the wait staff in the International Cafe/Belllni's was oustanding.
Some things were just ok - like the food in the main dining room and Crowne Grille (which we usually think is first rate). We thought the menu choices, especially for appetizers, soups and salads, seemed far more limited than on previous Princess cruises. Internet service was adequate, but not stunning.
But some things were downright frustrating and disappointing:
Anytime (select) Dining - although Soleil was the "all the time anytime dining room" there were literally hundreds of people with advance reservations. We were told this was because there were big groups on board and a lot of people wanted traditional dining so they ran out of room in the main dining rooms. All I know is it didn't feel like anytime dining to me. Anytime dining means (to me, at least) that everyone in that category competes equally for seats in the designated dining room. Yes, you can make a phone in reservation on the ship the morning of the same day, but that's it. We found it very frustrating to stand in line with all the other anytime diners and literally watch a couple hundred people walk past us to their "traditional dining" tables in our very limited-seating dining room.
Venues - the main theater was a point of major frustration. Af the welcome show our very nice cruise director warned everyone to come early, especially for the production shows if we wanted a "good seat". How early? Over a half hour. He should have said an hour - which is how early we had to go and sit in the theater to get a good seat - and sometimes that wasn't enough. We are not willing to give up an hour of our time every night to get a seat for a show, and no ship should be designed to operate that way. Further, the design of the theater means the right and left 25% of the theater on the lower level can't see 1/2 or more of the stage. All of this caused some frustrations and conflicts among passenger. What's the answer? It seems 3 shows per night is the only answer - you can't redesign the ship at this point.
Princess Live was not much better - to get a seat for the activities (game shows, etc.) you had to arrive at least 30 minutes earlier. Poor design. Answer? Not sure - Vista isn't a very good venue.
The Piazza was also used as a venue and once again it's not big enough. To get a seat where you could see events like "Dancing with the Stars" you literally had to get there an hour early. No additional seating was positioned, nor was existing seating rearranged, to provide the best possible visibility. The same was true for the carving demonstrations. It was left for passengers to fend for themselves, move chairs, and sometimes find themselves in conflict with other passengers.
The Medallion Apps were frustrating. Locating shipmates worked well, and so did messaging. But the ability to order drinks was spotty at best - many times the app was no able to identify that we were on board. Also, the user interface is not good - there's not much intuitive about it. And, the daily schedule doesn't contain important information like the evening dinner menu!
So as a bottom line - our experience was that it was just too frustrating to be fighting for seats all the time. The ship has too many passengers for the size of the venues it offers. Maybe that's because a good portion of the ship has been given up to the "luxury crowd" that pays extra for suites, concierge service, etc. All I know if my frustration level was up, there is no longer a front observation lounge to relax and enjoy views of what lies ahead, and we left feeling there are better choices for our next cruise. There is a lot to love about cruising with Princess, but for us, the Sky Princess is not one of them.