We decided to try the new Royal Princess for a two night cruise to see if we liked a big ship and try out the Penthouse Suite. We've been on many cruises and have been on quite a number of Princesses in a Suite, so were trying a like-for-like with the intention of going on a 14 day cruise with them later. So we wanted to see what 3600 passengers getting on a ship would be like but what a surprise it was being was told it was only taking 1268.
However we were bitterly disappointed with first impressions i.e. because it was a short trip we just took a suit carrier and were told we would have to take that onboard the ship ourselves even though I was disabled. Then when we checked in we were with everyone else and were not given an early number for boarding even though we were in one of the Penthouse Suites. It seemed to be chaotic to say the least. When we eventually arrived in the cabin, although it was smaller than previous it seemed better laid out and looked very nice until we got the shock of our lives when we opened the patio door to the balcony to find that the balcony is only approximately a metre in depth. There is no room to put a lounger and no room to have a dining experience as they say in their literature on the balcony. There is no room for foot stools as shown in the brochure, in fact we had friends in a deluxe balcony cabin and their balcony with the same depth.
As for the room itself two big televisions were definitely a plus, but the toilet roll holder is situated in a very inconvenient position and you needed to put a toilet roll on the sink to use. In the age of technology where people often take their laptops as we do on holiday, the safe is too small even to take a small laptop the size that we take on holiday, but there is however plenty of room in the cupboard to put a larger one.
On previous Princess Cruises with a Suite we enjoyed the Thermal Suite as part of the package. In the brochure when we booked, it states that there is a Thermal Suite. We spoke to both Princess and the travel agent and both confirmed that this would be included in the price as previously, but they changed the name of the Thermal Suite to an Enclave for which you would have to pay $49 for the use of the area which to the eye looks extremely interesting and enjoyable, but whoever planned the gents changing area which holds 30 lockers only put in one table and one chair and for more than two people it would be crowded to say the least.
Then of course there was the complete confusion regarding the evening arrangements. Before we left it was to be one smart casual night and one formal night , then on the leaflets in the cabin for the first night it said 2 smart casual nights, then the following day there was going to be another change to formal night. As far as we can see in all bars there were no crisps or nuts and we were told that they had not put any on-board.
We would be concerned if the ship was full as to how everybody would be able to get on the decks because there didn't seem to be a large enough area to sit out and we definitely wouldn't be sitting on our balcony. However they have added an area called the Sanctuary where you can reserve a lounger for a day at around $40 a day and I think that there would be a service charge if you wanted any food. There were cabanas and the top price of them was $3000 per day. This was for up to four people and you had the chance of having spa treatments, food and other things. The drinks presumably were extra. I think I'll give that a miss.
Included in the Penthouse Suite was dinner in Sabatini's on the first night and also you could have breakfast as well. We had an excellent meal in the evening and everything was exactly as we wanted. However at breakfast my wife had smoked salmon and her initial reaction when trying to cut it was that it had been frozen, but we think it had been left out standing for sometime and was hard. Their attention to detail in checking that the plates were laid out was not up to standard as they brought the toast without any side plates, and spilt some coffee on the table. Also I asked for poached eggs on sautee potatoes and it came on toast.
The visual on the rest of the ship looked quite impressive, but bearing in mind we were only on for two nights we were unable to appreciate all the areas. The Skywalk was nice but I wouldn't want to be in one of the cabins below as you can see right onto their balconies. We did have some canapes and strawberries covered in chocolate in our room and they were extremely nice and decorated like a shirt and tie with a jacket. It was nice if you brought your iPad as you could link into their system to pick up what on on the ship.
The door to the Concierge Lounge didn't work at all while we were there with the room key, and of course there is another problem with the fact that in midship there is no staircase, only elevators and one thing I like to do to get some exercise is to use the stairs where possible .
We have always enjoyed our Princess holidays but we will not be taking them on the Royal or the Regal next year if some of these issues have not been sorted out. We feel a big ship is perhaps not for us.