Just returned from South American cruise. Whilst the experience was wonderful, that was down to the venues and not the cruise line. Our first time on Princess (and the last) and I’m afraid it does not compare with P & O despite both lines being owned by the same company. Positive points first. The beds were fantastic. We tried ‘free dining’ and were pleased with it. Never had to wait more than 2 or 3 minutes, even at peak times. Embarkation and disembarkation was excellent and a well oiled machine, which is what one would expect. That’s the positives! Food in the main dining room was good but not great and sometimes not as hot as it should have been. Can’t abide lukewarm soup! Asked for tomato sauce once at breakfast but it didn’t arrive and by the time I saw the waiter again, I’d eaten my breakfast. Same happened when I asked for a bread roll. Food in the Horizon buffet was mediocre and predictable. Oh what dreadful plastic cups and plates, too. Food on the floor under tables! The entertainment was dire with the one exception of a singer called Teacake. Dance class never happened because no one turned up. With the exception of the Crooner’s Bar, all the bars were dark and uninviting especially the Tradewinds Bar. Whoever designed that monstrosity? The Crooner’s Bar with the resident pianist/vocalist was by far the best and always full yet it is the smallest venue. How silly. We paid a surcharge of $29 dollars each to eat in the Crown Grill on our anniversary. We chose as a starter, something called Black Onion Soup. It was a gooey mess of cheese and onion with barely any liquid whatsoever. It was inedible and we left it. The waiter didn’t even comment! My wife’s lamb chops were good but my steak was tough and not what one would expect from a ‘speciality restaurant’ that professes to serve the best. I wanted to complain but my wife didn’t want ‘an embarrassment’ on our anniversary. There was one other table occupied in the restaurant and now I understand why. Throughout the cruise, I checked its popularity every night as it was en route to the main dining room. I never saw more than 2 tables occupied. The only saving grace was the staff sang happy anniversary and gave us a small cake. A glass of wine or bubbly would have been welcomed! The drinks are very expensive but that was okay because ‘for my convenience’ they added a 15% gratuity! On the subject of gratuities, I paid the ‘recommended’ amount online before boarding and now regret it. I’ve always believed that tipping is better when it’s delivered first hand because then you really do get attention. Whilst, in the main, the service was good, there was nevertheless that little bit of lacklustre performance which smacked of ‘well, I’m only going to get a cut out of the big pot so why go the extra mile?’. As for the dress code on formal nights, my wife and I went to the bother of dressing appropriately in DJ and evening gown. Imagine our disappointment to see a gentleman (I think!) in trainers and track suit bottoms sitting a few tables away. If there is a code, enforce it or pack it in. Photographers were a pain in the backside when leaving the ship and I’m amazed they ever sell any of the photographs given the extortionate prices. Why don’t these people understand that if the prices are reasonable, they WILL sell – small profit large turnover, bigger profit in the long run? I could go on but I’ve probably already given the impression of being too hard to please. That is honestly not the case but I do expect value for my hard earned money. As part of our package with Bolsover, we were housed for one night in Hotel Bonaparte in Santiago; an absolute delight and very reasonable; lovely staff and management. Similarly, in Buenos Aires, NH 9 de Julio for 2 nights but not quite as good as Santiago. Back to P & O for us.