August 2015 - 12 Night British Isles (Southampton Roundtrip) Cruise on Royal Princess
We greatly enjoyed the ports of call on this cruise (although we were surprised by how chilly it was for August, generally low 60s for a high) from the unique island country of Guernsey to Loch Ness to Paris. We unfortunately missed out on Dublin due to storminess. The great itinerary overcame the actual cruise itself, which had problems right from the git go. Everyone was delayed entering into the cruise terminal until 3 p.m. due to a complete scrubdown/sanitizing of the ship and terminal as a result of the previous cruise having hundreds of cases of novovirus (our cruise apparently only had a couple dozen apparently). So departure was delayed as there was chaos as over 3,000 passengers had to be processed in just a few hours and the lines were long! They wouldn't open the dining rooms until after the safety drill was completed, which wasn't until nearly 8. So we didn't get a first chance to eat until after 8 (and had no lunch). There were several delays leaving ports throughout the cruise for one reason or another.
If i had not been on a number of cruises before, including two previously on Princess. I would have thought everything was great. But instead we just kept noticing things that weren't the same as in the past. The entertainment was just so-so, in fact there was not one standing ovation that i saw over the 12 nights. The food was good, but the service seemed slower, as it always seemed to take at least 2 hours to get through a sitting. We were on Anytime dining and sometimes we were made to wait up to 45 minutes to be seated while we could see empty tables in there, but they were controlling it to seat groups of people at a time in an area and then treat it as if we were all together at a scheduled seating. Maybe 5-6 tables would be lumped together with one waiter and assistant that would bring us out each course simultaneously so sometimes we had to wait for slower eaters or those that had ordered wine and then a few appetizers like soup and salad. This system caused us to miss a few shows when we wanted. The onboard activities particularly on sea days seemed a little weak, unless you like playing trivia which they had a lot. Apparently there were only 6 people on the cruise staff for such a large ship (and the cruise director was the dullest I've ever encountered, no jokes or singing or anything). There were only 3 bingo sessions and one was at 9:15 at night. The casino was only open maybe a total of 6 hours the entire cruise. The bingo and casino problem was that we were aways too close to land apparently. We also missed having animal towels in the room, seems like that is gone now too.
The tours were all good and well organized, but of course getting really pricey. Our tour bill for the 2 of us was about $2,500. I can only think of one port where we actually docked at the waterfront of the town to just get off and go shopping or whatever, in some cases we were up to 20 miles away from the stated port call.