My first experience with Princess and I have to say on this size ship it will probably be my last.
The ship itself was fine, although the elevators were always crammed with people and mobility scooters etc. which made getting from the lower decks to the Horizon buffet on level 15 tedious and frustrating.
The cabin was well fitted out and comfortable. The beds were probably the highlight, so comfortable. The balcony area on our level 9 (Dolphin) deck was ok, but because of the design of the ship, those above you had a direct view of the balcony which gave an uneasy feeling when you were out there that prying eyes were always watching. Other than that the new sensor lights mounted to the bottom of the bedside tables were annoying coming on in the middle of the night if a blanket or sheet moved in front of the sensor. The same for the sensor light near the closet/bathroom area which turned a dark cabin into a broadway production in the middle of the night if someone used the bathroom.
We chose to use the dining room where a dedicated seat was always available rather than fight for a table in the buffet dining areas where groups would congregate and reserve/hold tables for friends to not only eat but to play cards and games denying those who wanted to eat somewhere to sit. The buffet capacity to properly provide seating spaces for the 3,500 odd passengers onboard is inadequate in my opinion. The service from the waiters was good and of a consistent nature. But to watch people constantly flouting the clean your hands before you enter policy in the buffet area in these days of corona was mind boggling. The food in the dining room was of an excellent quality, but choices of meals if you might not like some of the items listed was limited. The buffet food was again good although certain items ran out and were not renewed.
Attended the Princess theatre on most nights and can only comment that the newly formed Irish group 'Emerald Tide' were probably the best act I have ever seen on any cruise, they were superb and received standing ovations. They should be a name that others, not only those on a Princess cruises will hear about in the future..Magnificent instrumentalists, singers (Giselle, what a voice) and dancer. An Australian violinist Patrick Roberts was also fantastic, his adaptions of classic songs with his violin was something to believe.
The service from all the staff and crew onboard was great and courteous, not one crew member would pass you without saying hello or stopping to talk.
The ports visited, Bay of Islands tour to the hole in the rock was great, a self conducted tour of Tauranga and Mount Maunganui was a surprise, if I can say one thing, don't worry about a self guided tour of Tauranga, spend your time in Mount Maungani it's far better than the bigger town. Opted for our own thing in Auckland having visited before. Napier the same, Wellington again the same. Akoroa/Christchurch we were shuttled 1.5 hrs from Akoroa to Christchurch and 1.5 hrs back again which does not leave a whole lot of time to see much of Christchurch and virtually nothing of Akoroa, Port Chalmers/ Dunedin, this was probably my favourite port, Dunedin surprised me, it was the best port for shopping or finding items than any of the other ports, yes it was freezing compared to the other ports but it was great, the last leg of the cruise before leaving NZ waters was The Fiordlands and Milford Sound which fortunately the ship was able to pass through, unbelievable scenery and photo opportunities galore. My final comment would be for all excursions whether you did a booked excursion or did it yourself is that not enough time is provided in port to really get a good look around and that is for all ports visited.
Would I do it again? probably but on a smaller ship, large amounts of pasengers brings with it arrogance, nasty behaviour and rudeness, not from the crew, from the passengers. This is something I have never encountered on smaller ships.
Cabin was excellent, clean, comfortable, well appointed. The beds were fabulous and oh so comfy. The damn sensor lights at the bottom of the bedside tables and near the closet/bathroom are a curse.