Overall Rating: Fair
|Departed From:||Ft. Lauderdale|
|# of Nights:||14+ Nights|
This was our first & last transatlantic (have sailed 15 times previously) and our 4th w/Princess (sailed to Alaska, Caribbean & Amazon w/Princess). Have sailed Caribbean & E. Med. w/other lines. We choose a cruise for the itinerary, with cruise line an important consideration. We are in our early 60s & not yet retired. Ports of call were Funchal, Maderia; Cadiz (Seville, Spain); Alghero, Sardinia (Italy); Rome & Livorno (Pisa/Florence), Italy; & Monaco w/disembarkation in Barcelona.
We booked this cruise less than a month prior to sail date as it was not selling well & prices were slashed tremendously. Original booking was ocean view on Plaza deck, but we received notice 2 weeks prior to sailing of a 7 category upgrade to second level Balcony (BB). We were very appreciative of this as our cabin was on deck 14 (Riviera) midship & after walking past our original booking while sailing, I found that area to have noise & vibrations from the ship's operation. The cabin was beyond expectations with a walk-in type closet & ample storage space in a cabinet (floor to ceiling) w/shelves (including safe). Additional storage adjacent to bed on both sides. Bathroom was normal cruise-ship size with shelves & counter space; however, it was not possible for two to occupy the bathroom unless one was in the shower. Decor was nice & there was a full-length mirror outside the closet area. Our balcony was average size; however several decks below (above the lifeboats--Dolphin & Caribe decks), balconies were deeper w/more furniture--we had full view of these not so private balconies. Flat screen TV channels were limited (only BBC, ESPN, & CNN except during most of TA due to limited satellite reception), but numerous movie channels. No news via newspaper either. Embarkation was quick & easy.
Public areas - We did not utilize bars/lounges for drinking only, the Vines area, the International Cafe (specialty coffees), the casino or library (disappointed reference books could not be checked out). On the occasional passing through the casino, we did notice residual smoke in the air. Theater was small & crowded & it was necessary to arrive 1/2 hr. prior to show times (first seating) for production numbers & shows. Singers/dancers were very good & final show (Once Upon A Dream) was excellent; however, we have attended better on other cruise lines.
Dining - We chose anytime dining & ate in Michelangelo DR (Da Vinci was anytime 8-10 pm) & Boticelli was for traditional seating. Service (waiter taking order & kitchen service) was inconsistent so we tried to ask for smaller tables in order to get to shows or other scheduled activities. Ate at Crown Grill once & both service & food were superior to DR (did not eat at any other specialty restaurant). Layout of Horizon Court (open 21 hrs/day) w/random stations was OK except during busy times when it was difficult to form lines due to lack of space at each station. Cafe Carib was also open 21 hrs. & had different selections. Juices & coffee were served at your table during breakfast at Horizon Court, but lemonade had to be requested prior to lunch time (due to availability of juices instead). Beverage station was usually not kept very clean throughout the day. We did not use room service as it was requested to put tip on order form - we tip in person. We believe that automatic tipping added to the room bill discourages staff from doing better than average service as everyone shares in the tips. Pizzeria & soft-serve ice cream available on pool deck.
Activities - There is no shuffleboard court & the ping pong table was located in an extremely windy area so our two favorite activities were not available. There was Princess Links (9-hole putt course) but again too windy. There also appeared to be a tennis court/basketball court, but we never saw anyone using it. Activities we were interested in usually were in conflict (trivia & lecturers). Would have liked to hear Officers' lectures or other lectures besides guest lecturer Jules Talarico (a sailor) and Golden Radio Days which did not interest us (Scholarship@Sea program). The Cruise Director Samantha was excellent in teaching ballroom dancing classes (& was also a great cruise director). We did find occasionally interesting demos in the Piazza (martini mixing, fruit/vege carving, floral arranging & dance team of Noel & Victoria). The area was also used by small musical groups. The band called Unison (dance band) was excellent both poolside & in lounges at night.
Crew - Room stewardess Chai was excellent & most staff tried to be helpful. No one was outstanding & internet manager Andrei Visan was in fact not PAX-friendly. One pax told me she when she asked for his help, she was told to return between 7-9 pm which she replied she wouldn't do due to getting ready for or eating dinner every night at that time. When, as a courtesy, I approached him to let him know of a "hung" computer (not functioning at all) & suggest he re-boot it, he told me he might get to it the next day and he returned to reading his emails which he always was doing whenever he was on duty. Also the printer went down on the last day & although we had sent things to be printed to the print queue (boarding passes), the printer was never fixed nor was a replacement (back-up would be relatively inexpensive) installed. There was a group preformed on the cruise-critic boards called the Ruby Gems of interested pax, & a lounge was set aside for time to get together as well as ship's officers including the Captain dropping by for a short talk & Q&A period. This was well attended and interesting.
Excursions - Several ports are not frequented except at repositioning time by Princess and they were apparently not familiar with the local tour companies. However, due to minor problems on these occasions, Princess did issue partial refunds for them (i.e., several times churches were not able to be entered although it was part of the excursion). Getting stickers for excursions or waiting to be called for them sometimes was not easy & involved extensive waits in the theater or a lounge.
Summary - My husband found the leisurely TA time to be too leisurely due to insufficient available activities we were interested in or too many conflicting times for activities & was in fact bored (he did occasionally view a movie in the cabin). There are excellent opportunities to view movies in the cabin or under MUTS at all times of the day; however, we do NOT cruise to see movies -- we prefer to do things we don't get to do at home! Will we cruise with Princess again - probably not, unless they are the only cruise line with a particular itinerary we are interested in. There are other cruise lines with much better service & food for the same price.