I thought I would give Princess a second try. While we had a good time in spite of the negative aspects of the ship, we will not cruise with Princess again.
First the positives:
1. Embarkation was orderly and relatively strafer. It is basically first come first some contrary to the website which says it is an assigned time based on the location of ones's cabin.
2. The Public areas of the ship were pleasant
3. The Specialty Restaurants are far superior to the Main Restaurant in terms of food and service.
4. The multiple pool areas catered to multiple tastes of the guest. We enjoyed the small protected area in the rear of the ship.
5. Breakfast Buffet was satisfactory, although pancakes and waffles were pre-made which made them rubbery and room temperature.. Also the orange juice which was served by wait staff was warm.
6. The Pizza at the mid ship pool area was very good.
7. The room steward, Christian, was very friendly, unobtrusive and efficient.
8. Disembarkation (we chose Express Walk off) was orderly and extremely fast.
The negatives were:
1. The ship was in need of renovation. Most of the rugs and upholstery were worn. The deck areas were there was indoor/outdoor carpeting was torn and worn, The Exterior had many rusted areas that needed painting. The golf area on the top deck was in disrepair and unusable.
2. The inability to make restaurant reservations pre=cruise, forced one to spend 2 hours one once boarded the trip to make the reservations in person instead of via the internet or by phone prior to the cruise. Effectively, I spent the first two hours of my vacation having to pre-arrange reservations. This was not a good way to start out my vacation.
3. We chose "Anytime Dining" in the Main Dining Room. This is a misnomer and misleading, in that one could only reserve specific times: 5:30PM, 7:30PM and 8:30 PM. This was hardly "Anytime". Additionally, if one wanted to reserve one of these 3 times, one had to do it the day you wished to make the reservation. It was not possible to make reservations in advance which was inconvenient.
4. Service in the Main Dining Room was consistently slow. We attributed this to the Dining Room being understaffed.
5. While this is subjective, the menu choices were too few and too fussy. The "Everyday" menu were totally uninteresting. No where could you just order a stake, or roasted chicken, or any other comfort food item. I was only the dull choices they gave you. The only time stake was offered was on the last evening of the cruise. All other evenings, there were different variations of "beef medallions" of low graded beef. The shrimp cocktail was a joke. It consisted of 6 small limp shrimp on a bed of limp lettuce placed in a metal shrimp dish, but the metal shrimp dish which was designed to hold ice to keep the shrimp cold, was empty, and to make matters worse it was placed on a very hot plate which transmits the heat to the shrimp and ruins the shrimp altogether. The food, in general was mediocre at best
6. The casino design was not pleasant and made one feel they were in a casino on Fremont Street in Las Vegas. It was dark and uninviting. Obviously this is and subjective assessment.
7. No effort was made to take precautions against Norovirus. There were hand alcohol dispensers at the entrance of the buffet and the Main Ding Room but no one from the staff insured that these dispensers were consistently used or even filled with alcohol gel unlike our experience with Celebrity Cruises which had staff at entrances to all dining venues and their sole purpose was to insure everyone used the dispensers.Itw as therefore no doubt that 23 passengers got Norovirus during the last 3 days of the cruise at which time, Princess finally had staff assigned to serve food.
8. The ship docked at 7:00AM in Cabo San Lucas and departed at 1:00PM. This was hardly enough time to be in port and was unacceptable. The passengers we spoke to all felt the same way.
9. The design of the ship made it impossible to walk from one end of the ship to the other end on decks 5 and 6 due to the placement of the Main Dining Rooms and their adjacent kitchens. This was definitely an inconvenience at times.
10. The elevators were interminably slow. Everyone complained about them.
11. I would say 50% of the staff was not friendly which effected the onboard experience.