Room #C204 AF (mini suite, no balcony) CategoryEmbarkation: We flew from Tijuana (we live in San Diego) to Acapulco on Volaris Air. This was a nice experience (great price, too!) even though practically none of the employees spoke English. The airplane was clean and the seats were comfortable (leather). We took the red eye flight from Tijuana to ACA; landed at 6:30 AM and had a tour / airport pick up scheduled with Rudy (www.tourbyvan.com). What a GREAT choice!! Rudy had Roger waiting for us at the airport, with our names on a sign, right on time. Roger was smiling and patient with us, even though it was so early in the morning and he had worked late the night before. He took us to Super Wal-Mart to stock up on bottled water and additional supplies before meeting up w/ the rest of our group for the tour.If you are in Acapulco, you simply MUST book Rudy and his company, for a tour. This is the best way to spend a day!Embarkation: We arrived at the ACA terminal around 3:30 PM. There were no lines, at all, and we were greeted with a cold towel. We were literally on the ship in under 7 minutes flat! Also, our bags were waiting for us as soon as we arrived at our cabin. This is the 1st time my luggage has arrived at the cabin before I did! Nice touch, Princess! We also brought on a box of wine (Black Box is the brand and it is quite yummy!) and Princess didn't even blink an eye. I LOVE that Princess is not as strict on alcohol/wine as all the other major main lines are... This is a BIG plus in my book!Room: We had a mini-suite, category AE, no balcony. Nice size, overall. We were in C204, which is all the way forward. Having only stayed mid-ship and AFT, I wasn't sure how this would be in regard to feeling lots of movement. That was a non-issue. Also, it was nice having the 'secret door' right outside our cabin to enjoy the large deck since our cabin did not have a balcony. There was decent storage and the bathroom was OK in size. I must comment that if Princess does NOT get the smoking issue under control, I fear that many of us will not cruise with them again. Our cabin was filled with the stench of what smelled like old cigarette smoke. Since there was no balcony door to open, we had no choice but to request that the walls be scrubbed down, the drapes drycleaned and the carpets steam cleaned. That helped, but since our next door neighbors were smoking, the smell was always lingering. This was a common complaint throughout the ship. Princess -- if you are reading this, take note of how your competitors handle this issue. Smokers have a choice of to smoke or not to smoke, non-smokers don't have a choice on whether they breathe or not! The casino was VERY smoky, which was GREAT, since it kept me out of there (Princess -- are you taking note of lost revenue here??!!). Hallways smelled smoky, too. I must also comment on Princess' movie choice, Black Swan. Truly, this was NOT appropriate for a group/mixed company setting. For those of you who have not viewed this film, just know that it is barely one step above pornography! How embarrassing to be with a group of new friends, taking in a movie, where it is so uncomfortable, you wish could just disappear! Princess -- shame on you!! If you insist on showing such a naughty/explicit film, please, have the courtesy to edit it (like the airlines do) before subjecting your passengers to it in a group setting. I am NOT a prude, at all, but this made all of our group very uncomfortable and we all walked out (as did lots of other passengers, shaking their heads on the way out of the theater). The MUTS selection was very slim (but at least those movies weren't pornographic!), and I know that Princess could do much better with their selection. Perhaps they should take a note from HAL's screening rooms? Dining: We had early seating at 5:30 PM. Princess -- I really enjoyed that dinner is at 5:30 PM instead of 6:00. That gives us extra time to make the earlier shows. Thanks!! The menu was OK... I, of course, enjoyed the fettuccini alfredo (had grilled chicken added) and it was good (heavy, but good). I must comment that Princess' dessert selection is quite awful when compared to Celebrity or HAL. The ice cream consistently tastes like a science experiment (picture heavy, day old cream with very little sweetness to it and touch of freezer burn!). When I ordered the Volcano dessert, all I can say is YUCK! That was nothing but a giant bowl of whipped cream/chocolate sauce, banana (this was the ONLY place we found bananas on our trip!...the boat was out of bananas the entire time!) and the tiniest scoop of chocolate ice cream you have ever seen. Truly awful tasting, unless you love whipped cream swimming in chocolate sauce and no ice cream. I am not sure why the Volcano has such a following on Cruise Critic... Maybe I just had a bad one? I guess that Princess did us a favor by not having great desserts since we did not gain any weight on this journey!Service in all areas was superb! Waiters are very nice and prompt. Pursers desk attendants are always kind and helpful. You are constantly greeted with a big smile and a "good morning/afternoon/evening" by all crew members. The singers/dancers did an EXCELLENT job! I definitely think they had better performances that the Celebrity Solstice performers. I thoroughly enjoyed each "Broadway" style show. Also, we enjoyed the production shows that were in the Universe Lounge. The stage has different 'elevator levels' that really adds to the feel of the show. Also, getting to sit so close to the performers was great!Disembarkation: On the last night, we put our bags outside our cabin door by 9:30 PM and they were never picked up! They sat in the hall, all night, unsecure. Then, on disembarkation day, we had the 'pleasure' of hauling off 6 bags with no help! Nice touch, Princess! I know that our cabin steward knew the bags were there, since he reached across the bags to pick up an extra gratuity that we gave him! Also, I must comment on how pathetic it is that Princess did not make Panama City a port of call, for Panama on this cruise. Instead, we docked in Colon, Panama. We were told, constantly and consistently, to NOT leave the razor wire area for fear that we would be mugged/robbed or worse! Huh? Why on Earth would Princess pass up an amazing city (picture New York City meets Chicago skyline!!) like Panama City, for a dump and unsafe place like Colon? The Panama Canal is definitely a cruise/experience that everyone should see. It is no wonder to me, that this is the 8th Wonder Of The World. Truly, an experience that I will treasure for a long time!Our boat also came down, with some sort of gastro Virus. There were so many passengers that were ill and quarantined. It was so odd to not be able to have any salt/pepper shakers on the tables, no touching of anything in the buffet line (coffee cups, stir sticks, nothing!), but even with all the sickness, you would still see people coughing/sneezing and not covering the mouths, yet, the Princess reps said nothing. When we asked them why they were forcing hand sanitizer on us, as often as possible (which we were thankful they did), but did not tell people to cover their mouths when coughing/sneezing, they answered that they would get in trouble if they said something like that. Wow... Perhaps our politically correct society has finally gone too far? We are currently booked in the Grand Suite on Sapphire for Sept. 2012/Alaska, and I am really going to have to give this some thought whether or not to cancel. If Princess does not get their smoking policy more in line with Celebrity, as well as improve the quality of their food (especially desserts!!), then I will probably jump ship and go with a slightly smaller suite and know that I will have more of an "A" experience.All in all, this was a "B+" cruise... Not an "A", but with a major improvement in the smoking policy and raising the quality of the food, Princess could easily slip into the "A" category.I really want to emphasize, that what Princess really brings to the party, is their amazing and friendly staff! We truly, truly loved the big smiles and warm, welcoming ways of all the staff that we interacted with. I know that those nice folks work about 80 hours a week and I am always amazed how they keep smiling and always bust their chops to take good care of us.
Princess needs to get rid of their awful smoking policy. Smoking should NOT be allowed in cabins/balconies/etc.
Our linens (in a mini suite) had holes in the sheets/pillow cases. That could be improved. Also, the pillows were lumpy. Our mini suite bathroom was spacious and we loved having a tub/shower combo.