First the good: 1. Excellent staff across the board. Everyone we dealt with was cheery and accommodating and truly nice. 2. The destinations lecturer was terrific. She was informative and interesting and helpful. 3. The itinerary ... Read More
First the good: 1. Excellent staff across the board. Everyone we dealt with was cheery and accommodating and truly nice. 2. The destinations lecturer was terrific. She was informative and interesting and helpful. 3. The itinerary was well-paced. 4. The dining rooms were well managed and tranquil. There are four of them, three of which are for "anytime dining" and that works surprisingly well. 5. Our stateroom was comfortable (Caribe 747) and our steward (Savio) went above and beyond to keep it nice. 6. As it was a 28-day sailing the entire dining room staff took care to know us and our preferences. Our assigned waiters (Maitree and Anna) were as good as the ones we've had on Silver Seas and Seabourn and Royal Viking, and they were good. All the other waiters we encountered during open seating meals were also excellent. 7. The pizzeria was handy, and the room service menu (except for breakfast) was fine. 8., Embarking in Rome and disembarking in Singapore was easy, as were most of the port visit disembarkations.
Now the not -so -good: 1. It had been years since we sailed on Princess, and they've really declined in so many ways. No more festive sailaways (remember on-deck bands and streamers and champagne?) or Captain's parties. No more nice toiletries. As "Elite" cruisers we expected the promised "upgraded toiletries". Turns out they don't exist. Instead of decent soap and shampoo we got a bag with a nail file and eye mask and lip balm. Nice touch, but it doesn't count when you're stuck with the junk that is in dispensers bolted to the wall in the shower. And speaking of the shower stall, it's so small and dingy and poorly lit like the rest of the bath and you keep banging yourself on those nasty soap dispensers that shouldn't even be there. And the shower curtain is too big and long and billowy for the space.... 2. The food is cheap. Bad cuts of meat, scarce vegetables and too much salt on everything. The salad ingredients are so thinly sliced it's amazing they can do it. One radish must be stretched to fill four salads it's so thin. We had a dish that was supposed to be served with asparagus. They actually sliced the asparagus spear lengthwise in half and served three of them cut side down so at first glance it looked like three spears (which is already insufficient) but in reality it was 1 1/2. That's really chintzy. The "coffee" served in the dining rooms and buffet is disgusting. It's some sort of Nestle syrup mixed with water. It doesn't smell or look or resemble coffee, so you are forced to buy a coffee card to get a decent cup. The juices are awful, and the menus aren't very creative. Chicken and leek pie kept reappearing it's unwanted presence way too often.... 3. The ship is a bit shabby in places, but to their credit when I made a negative comment about the bad condition of our balcony and its furniture a crew arrived and replaced the furniture, cleaned up the rusted metal fixtures as best they could, painted the stained walls and trims, replaced the rotten wood rails and washed the crud off the floor. It took them a while, but it made a huge difference. If the ship was properly maintained these things would have been done as routine and not as a special request. 4. There is no enforcement of dress code: "formal night" at the table next to ours showed a big slob in a t-shirt and sneakers seated next to a well-dressed couple. Later that night in the theatre we were next to people in shorts and sandals and some guy with a rag tied on his head. It must have been his "formal dress rag"....5. And speaking of theatre, the entertainment was all over the map: There were wonderful performances by a male vocal quartet and a violin/piano duo plus a cocktail pianist. The house orchestra was also wonderful. There was a totally disgusting "tribute" to Stevie Wonder in which a guy tried to win over the audience by pretending to be Stevie Wonder, right down to pretending to be blind. Since when has pretending to be blind been considered entertainment? It was shockingly distasteful. There was also some kid pandering to the mostly Australian audience with his Austalian-ess and a ditzy Chinese girl cheesily channeling Charo, playing an incredibly loud electric violin and mistating the name of the pieces she was playing. It was like a skit from Saturday Night Live, especially when she'd stick her leg out of her dress and act sexy/coy and say "I love you".... 6. The incessent nickel and diming is unbelievable. Overpriced drinks, souvenirs, shore excursions, internet, photos, etc. are insulting. When you order room service you have to sign a slip acknowledging delivery. Why? Because it's just another way to get you to add a gratuity -- but how do you tip on a non-existent bill? And why should you, when you're paying $13.50 daily? Cruise ships are not ferries, Princess -- we did pay a fare, so it's insipid to be told that if you want a decent steak you have to go to the "Steakhouse" and pay $29 for it. That's $29 on top of the fare already paid for that evening's dinner and you don't get value for it, especially when you see that the "Steakhouse " is just a sectioned-off part of the buffet area and has a stifling hot, stuffy atmosphere....Just make the steak in the dining room decent and all will be well. 7. Plastic plates and glasses in the buffet are gross, and the excuse that you can't have china doesn't work. Other ships have china plates. The buffet is very unappetizing, anyhow, and the drinking water is vile -- it tastes like it comes from the swimming pool. The buffet room itself is a nauseating -- bad traffic flow, people with plates piled high grabbing for tables, no ventilation, no table cloths, place mats, place settings, service. It's like eating in Bedlam. The only good thing about the buffet was watching the people enter into the space and stop at a trough and scrub their hands before proceeding into the room. 8. Beware "Movies Under the Stars" -- it's not just under the stars but it's always. Yup, 24/7, day and night, movies blasting away on the top deck. Is a loud movie track blasting through the air just what you want when sailing through the Suez Canal? If so, then book Princess. If you'd rather tranquility then run the other way. All in all, if Princess could just up their game to where they were twnety years ago it would be nice again.... Read Less