Overall, the vacation was as close to perfect as could be. Even having cruised a few times recently, including one on Princess last year, we were still impressed by the service - we were treated like royalty at every step. Other than one ... Read More
Overall, the vacation was as close to perfect as could be. Even having cruised a few times recently, including one on Princess last year, we were still impressed by the service - we were treated like royalty at every step. Other than one VERY minor negative, absolutely everything was top notch.
- SHIP: The ship was clean, well run, and not very crowded even though it was full. Of course, central walkways, pool decks and (very rarely) elevators reflect the amount of crowd, but Princess does a great job of having enough to do around the ship that rarely are spaces crowded. Almost always, we could get a seat at all bars/lounges, shows, and deck chairs (except, of course, those right next to the pool on sea days). We didn't enjoy the late muster drill start, which was delayed by 20 minutes waiting for people to arrive, especially since they offered a second muster drill for folks boarding later. But there was plenty to do, inside and out, and some fun games hosted by the cruise staff. It was easy to maintain cleanliness since there were sinks with soap at the entrance to the buffet and all public restrooms suggested opening the door with a paper towel, and had a receptacle by the door. There were also hand sanitizers around the ship, and there was a discussion on personal cleanliness at the muster drill. Still, you'd occasionally see someone sneezing into their hand or whatever, but you can't control every single person's every move. We didn't get sick, didn't see anyone sick, and didn't hear of anyone getting sick.
- ENTERTAINMENT: The production shows were good and the performers extremely talented, but there were no "big name" shows such as on other ships. The one show that seemed to be great was "sold out" for both performances, as early as 45 minutes before showtime, so we missed that. That was the only small disappointment in entertainment. We thoroughly enjoyed the bar/lounge entertainment everywhere - a violin duo that played contemporary songs, a guitar player/singer, an amazing piano player, and a classic/soft rock/country duo. We wished we could have gotten to more of them more often!
- DINING: We splurged on Club Class and LOVED the dining portion of that benefit. Our dining room staff was top notch and we enjoyed being able to eat at any time with no waiting, while being treated like royalty. There are other perks to Club Class that may or may not appeal to many people, but this by far makes it worthwhile to us. We enjoyed the Crown Grill and Sabatini's and they were both excellent, including service. We availed ourselves of the embarkation day special (BOGO) at Crown Grill; it wasn't full which is why they are promoting it. We tried room service the first day but it wasn't a good choice for us, so we stuck with the MDR on most days.
- PORT STOPS: We aren't much into the excursions, but did do a Segway tour of Grand Cayman. That was cool, but mostly because of the Segways. Honestly, we didn't see or learn all that much about Grand Cayman. We stepped off the ship at Falmouth, Jamaica without a planned tour, but it was just a new port district full of jewelry stores and souvenir stops. It's great - clean and safe - if that's the type of stores you're looking for. We didn't get off the ship at Cartegena, Columbia or Limon, Costa Rica. Our view from the ship wasn't very picturesque.
- PANAMA CANAL: This is the biggest reason we went, and it did not disappoint. The ship had a destination specialist who gave a talk beforehand that was available on stateroom TVs. The specialist also narrated the entrance to the first lock, which was broadcast outside the ship and on the "ship camera" channel on the TV. There was plenty of time throughout the day to get views from everywhere on the ship, since the transit takes 2.5 hours each way, plus there were a few hours at anchor in Gatun Lake. Besides our balcony, the best spot on the ship to view the passage was the Skywalkers Bar on Deck 18, aft. It was practically empty but had windows all the way around.
- FITNESS: The fitness center is small but not too bad. Only one day it was crowded, but of course we avoided it on sea days. I took one exercise class and didn't like it at all - I won't clog up this space explaining why, but if anyone is interested, contact me for details. I didn't like that the walking deck does not go around the entire ship; you have to climb to the next deck. I swam mostly every day, but you can only swim laps in the 2 main pools - the 2 adult pools aren't big enough. However, as soon as you get a few people in the pool, or a couple of kids, swimming laps is tough.
- CHILDREN: Please don't skewer me, but we are in the group of people who don't enjoy small kids on cruise ships. There weren't that many kids on this sailing, but to be honest, I wouldn't want to take kids on a Princess ship. It didn't look like there was a lot to do other than go in pools, etc., but I did hear later from someone else that there is a kids' program. Every now and then they got in the way or made noise at the restaurants, but it was way better than the other lines that cater to families.
- CLIENTELE: We enjoyed everyone we met; there were LOTS of friendly people. In our 50's, I'd estimate that we are at the young end of the age range, but we enjoyed the group very much. Our favorite thing was to just chat with folks at a bar or restaurant, and we invited another couple to join us for dinner one night later in the trip.
Definitely crossed this one off the bucket list. I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in seeing the Panama Canal but who doesn't want to spend 2 weeks transiting the entire canal. This trip was a 10-day round trip from Ft. Lauderdale. Read Less