We did the Panama Canal on HAL Zudierdam a few years back in January 2010. GUESS WHAT-the ship was hot in a lot of areas-maybe it had something to do with being so close to the EQUATOR? Did that occur to you?
I hate to say it but I think 90% of your problem was the fact that your friend is disabled and that made it harder for you. I can understand it must be stressful so I suggest that you try and take trips when you have more family to help you. One person trying to care for a disabled perosn IS a nightmare. Been there done that.
Princess is not the only line that does not do disembarkation well. Carnival, Celebrity, and RCI are no better. NCL and HAL both have policies where you stay in your stateroom until your color/number luggage tag is called-MUCH better. I am sure your friend being disabled made it much worse but it is never easy to disembark on most lines. It also sounds as if there were more than usual amount of PAX needing wheelchairs. Most ships have an alotted amount of wheelchairs and more are needed onosme crusies I am sure that it boggs the process down.
Now you are right about the grand class ships having too small a show lounge-it only seats 500 people-2 shows a night that is a 1000 of 3000 PAX can see the shows. That was a bad design on Princess's part. From what I read of your post that is the only legit gripe you presented.
Equal opportunity cruiser since 1998-4 Carnival, 4 RCI, 3 HAL, 3 Princess, 5 Celebrity, 3 NCL, 1 Disney
I have now achieved-
ONE HUNDRED DAYS ON A CRUISE SHIP!!!!!!!!!!
146 days total