We are back from the 14th-16th June 2night cruise. A lot of what we experienced and our thoughts about the Royal Princess are echoed in previous reviews so rather than just repeat what has already been said we will try and highlight other areas . We have done a number of short cruises so knew that we wouldn't get to see or experience everything however for us we saw this as an opportunity to experience 2 days of what we thought would princess showcasing a new an innovative ship as well as a first time experience with Princess Cruises. We normally sail with P&O, NCL or RCI. With all the hype surrounding the ship we were looking forward to 2 exciting days however we were somewhat disappointed, not just the ship but the whole experience.
To start, there Is no doubt that the ship is amazing from the outside, and in our opinion in places stunning inside, however we found some areas were very dark, dark wood, decor etc uninspiring. For us overall and first impressions of the ship was that it did not have that initial WOW factor.
Embarkation was the longest wait, slowest queues and generally the most chaotic experience and to top it all we were checked in by a very dis-interested check in person. From other reviews it seems like delays and waits were a common issue. Not sure why as we have travelled out of Ocean terminal several times and have never had any problems. Keeping in mind that both 2 night cruises did not have full compliment of passengers, so not sure how they would have coped if it was full.
The welcome onto the ship was poor, at the end of the walkway two members of staff directing passengers either left or right depending on room numbers.
Once onto the ship passengers were by passed the Atrium and ushered directly to the elevator lobby mid ship. A big disappointment,the first sight of the Atrium is the initial Inside Wow factor for us, and the hub of the ship, and where were all the various staff welcoming you on board, representing the restaurants taking bookings, spa raffle, etc etc.?
On a positive note cabins were ready on embarkation.
We booked a Deluxe Balcony which is the category we normally travel on P&O and so thought we knew what we would be getting, size wise. However we were very shocked, the cabin, balcony and bathroom all very very small and felt cramped. We have no idea how more than 2 people would manage in here, but yes there was a sofa bed, and when set up would mean there would be no way to get to the balcony or move around maybe a problem if you travel with young children and want to end the evening sitting on the balcony whilst they are asleep. Storage space was also very limited. The balcony was just a ledge with two narrow chairs, and one very small table size of a footstool. Interestingly the room directory mentions ultimate balcony dining experience, but we have no idea how this could be achieved in such a small space. We did sleep well the bed was very comfortable, pillows large and squishy, air con worked very well, the TV and ship info did not, no kettle allowed in room so reliant on room service for beverages.. This room felt smaller than the standard cabin on other cruise lines, and we are still wondering what bit was the deluxe, no extras, not even bath robes, in our opinion this grade of cabin is not worth the money.
We used horizons restaurant for lunch, good food, lots of choice, friendly staff, nice light airy decor in the bistro, gloomy dark wood in the other section. Nice outside seating/dining area to back of ship.
The main Pool deck area was pleasant enough, there is a good selection of sunbeds, rattan furniture and comfy chairs however, although there seemed a lot of seating i think this area might become challenged on hot sunny sea days when the ship is full and there are lots of people wanting to sunbath. This area also has the movie screen which had amazing picture quality even in bright sunshine as well as great sound quality.
We did notice that you cannot walk a full circuit of the ship without changing levels up and down steps which was a shame and whilst walking the various top deck levels it just felt like there was a lot of empty space, maybe on the longer cruises this is filled with sun beds? What was missing for me was the aft pool, this is an area on other ships I just love. The aft area of the Royal was kind of empty, nondescript really.
From the main pool are moving forward is the very nice Adults only area, pool, cabana's, comfy sun beds and standard sun beds. Relaxing music playing etc. Further forward the Sanctuary, a really gorgeous pay to use area however would be well worth it even if only once. We had seen this online and had planned to spend a day here however only to find out it was not available until the main cruise starting on 16th - very disappointing.
We were excited about the sail away however this turned out to be nothing special at all. The cruise director was on the pool deck, a few people got up to dance and a DJ played music. As we sailed away the ships horn played the love boat theme and that was it really. I think Princess could have made more of an effort.
The sea walk did have the wow factor, well the first and second time we walked across after that it was just the sea walk. What seemed to amaze most passengers was the fact that the balcony cabins below could be seen easily, just something to think about if planning to book one. Service across the ship was excellent to poor, excellent being in the Crown Grill, good in Horizons and poor from our room attendant who was most of the time invisible. Generally most staff were friendly and said hello or had a chat. We did notice that we did not see one senior officer around the ship. The public address system did not work in our room nor on the outside decks so when the Captain announced we could not tender in Guernsey I had to open the cabin door slightly so we could hear what was being said, and then at 12.30 we heard nothing as we were by the pool, we never did see or hear from the Captain again.
MUT's yes we like this idea however it was a little disorganised. The first night the sun beds had the MUT's comfy cushions, pop corn was bought around and blankets available. The second night, no comfy cushions and when we asked where they were the attendant said, good point, it's accommodation who do that but they haven't. No offer of let me find out for you. This was a featured event, so why wasn't it organised, someone should have ensured everything was in place.
Water Fountains- advertised in Patter as a feature, the first night they came on at 10.05pm and lasted no more than maybe 5 mins. Nice touch, good to see etc. the second night they were due to come on at 9.45pm. More people than at the first night gathered, they came on again for a few mins. People started to leave the area and then suddenly they came on again longer this time and even more impressive, they ended and again more people left, suddenly they were back on again. So again the question is if is was a new feature why wasn't more made of it?
The weather and sea conditions overnight and the next day were mix, at times there was a fair swell and although the ship seemed to handle it well we did notice it rolled quite a bit, will be interesting to see how she handles in very rough weather. Our cabin was at the back so we did experience that wiggle as well as some thuds as if the back of the ship was being dropped in the water, could have been the wind hitting the side of the ship hard to tell, all in all though it was a smooth and very quite ship.
Day time Pool deck movies - now I know it's going to be very hard to show a film that will please 100% of passengers but please Les Miserables on a Saturday afternoon, nothing wrong with the film itself but a little hard going when you are trying to relax by the pool. We just thought it a strange choice, but like I said hard to please everyone.
As we couldn't tender in Guernsey there was no sail away, now even so surely the CD and entertainments team could have done something on the pool deck, but no the last day for the 2 night cruisers just came and went. I had read online before we sailed that the outside fountains area will be a stage where the entertainments team will dance etc, maybe they could have showcased an extract of that.
Overall it was nice to get away for a couple of days, and yes overall we did enjoy the cruise, we got some rest and relaxation as well as saw the parts of the ship we wanted to however it did feel a bit like you were left to just get on with it. Yes this was a preview cruise
No it wasn't highly discounted infant we paid the same for this cruse as a four night on a speciality cruise on P&O in April. When we booked we knew possibly we were paying over the odds however is was a great opportunity to see a brand new ship and spend a couple of what we thought would be exciting days in board. However Princess did not deliver. If this was a shakedown cruise then they should have advertised it that way and reflected that in the price. I can't say I would not book with princess again however it would not be my first choice.