This was our 16th Princess Cruise, our 4th Transatlantic Cruise, one previous with Princess and I have 6 cruises with HAL and 10 cruises with Celebrity. I have elite status with Princess and booked a BE guarantee last December with an upgrade to BA. Right after I paid my money they were selling mini suites for hundreds less than I paid. I wrote Princess on this and they upped my onboard credit by $50. Cabins were selling for $699 at 30 days out. This is just a caution to those who might book this cruise early. I booked my air through Princess and flew on the day of the cruise with one two hour stop in Atlanta to change planes. Picked up bags in Fort Lauderdale, found a Princess representative and I was on a hot bus to the dock within an hour after arrival.
Embarkation: I showed them my Platinum embark, was at the desk in 15 minutes and on the ship in another 10 minutes. The Platinum Captain's Circle check-in does save time.
Cabins: The cabin C610 (cat. BA) was attractively decorated and good sized for the price. The balcony, while large, offers little privacy if your cabin is on Caribe deck. The shower is smaller than Celebrity and you get a bath/shower on HAL in this category. It also has a fixed shower head, instead of a hose and wand arrangement like Celebrity offers. Cabin service was efficient and unobtrusive. I got a free mini bar set up and opted for 12 Miller lights as I figure I might as well get what I drink. Took advantage for the free laundry and dry cleaning for elite members on several occasions. I also enjoyed the better bath robes and canapés on several times. The 10% boutique was also used more than once. Public Areas: The public areas are nice and never feel crowded. The ship doesn't feel 109,000 grt. Enjoyed the small intimate bars. Met numerous passenger that I had talked with previously on the internet. They had good shows on board and the comedians were great. The bars had a buy 5, pay for four Becks light special on the Lido bars. I got this all cruise long and put them in the cabin fridge. Got a bottle opener from the room steward. I missed some shows that were at 9 PM only due to being in second seating Traditional. There was plenty of activities to keep you busy all day including lectures and classes of all kinds. I went to the free wine tasting for elite members and enjoyed the library on board. You will not be bored on a Princess ship.
Dining: I requested 2nd seating traditional dining when I booked and I got some of the best tablemates I ever had and a good waiter too. We ate all our meals here except when we got back late from Amsterdam when we ate in the Capri. We went to open seating for breakfast and lunch in the Portofino Dining room every day when not on tour. The attendance in the main dining rooms was far less that capacity due to number eating in Lido. Avoid large tables as we had service problems at lunch on them for two straight days, I complained and they put us at a table for two with a good waiter and the service problems ended. The breakfast menu in the Portofino is limited with one kind of pancakes and a two inch diameter item they call a hash brown. They had better potato's and French toast daily in the Lido so I complained as to why I could not get them in the Portofino. I had to write the hotel manager before they brought me potato's like they had upstairs and French toast. They claim Princess does the menu's so I will take that up with them in a letter. We had pizza, hot dogs and burgers several times for a snack. The afternoon tea in Portofino dining room had good tea, good company and scones. All the restaurants were nicely decorated and the food in all the Dining rooms was generally good, but not up to Celebrity standards. The food in the Lido was also good.
Tours: We did tours in all the ports. In Southampton we considered the London tour but it was too long on the bus. It got back at 9:30 PM. We did the Cofu castle, but it was meant for the physically fit and my wife could not do it. In Paris we did the Seane River cruise and had a good lunch while Paris passed by and we finished two bottles of wine. This tour is recommended. We did Amsterdam in a nutshell and it also was a good tour with a good lunch, but drinks were Dutch and expensive so we stayed with water. In Oslo we did the easy Oslo and enjoyed it also. All the Princess tours were first class. Getting your sticker to go on tour in the Princess theater on the other hand was chaos.
Disembarkation: This was smooth. They had the Wheel house bars set up for suite, platinum and elite members and it was great. They had coffee, good juice and pastries and comfortable seats. They put me on a line bus quickly and I got to the airport faster going than coming. Copenhagen airport was large and no one told you where to go, I found the ticket counter just ahead of the crowd. Washington Dulles was even worst. We had two hours between flights and had to run to catch our flight home with 10 minutes to spare. The ordeal wore my wife out.
Overall, I was satisfied. I put a $200 deposit down on a future cruise. Most of the problems centered around the breakfast menu and Princess will get a complaint letter on this, but I will sail them again. They do have the most balcony's, give good value for the money most of the time for the money most of the time and their people are friendly.