I have cruised with several cruise lines before, and the reason for this cruise was to see what this new ship had to offer.
The documentation before the cruise was none existent. We were not told about dress code or gratuities before we went on the cruise. I had to email Princess for the dress code so I could take the correct clothing. You can't blame a new ship for this as I would have thought there is a set process in regards documentation.
The embarkation was at Southampton Dock 4. We have used this dock several times, so I thought I knew the procedure. This was not the case, in that we had to park the car ourselves (usually valet parking). We had to carry our bags to the ship, from the car park (no drop off) and they only took large suitcases to load on the ship. On short cruises 3 or days we usual let them take the suitcases on arrival, and we take them off ourselves for speedy disembarkation. We are platinum members so we went through speedy checkin, but had to go to the end of the line for the scanners. While in the line a group of other platinum users were let in the front of the line. Hopefully this will imporove over time.
As we were the first fee paying passengers for this cruise I would have thought we would be greeted with a drink. This was not the case. We were pointed to a lift and got on with it.
The cabin was a bit of a disappointment in that the room/balcony seemed small in comparison to other ships of a similar size. I may not have been, but it could have been the colour of the carpet/walls or decorations that made it seem small. One positive point was the 37" flat screen TV. It had several channels including movies that were free. I did not know if the software for the TV had to be upgraded, but there was no menu for Tours, Booking tours, or charges to your cabin. The cupboard for clothes was in two parts. It had a hugh hanging space for your clothes, and a seperate cupboard with shelves in it. There were no draws in the cabin. The balcony seems small, but it did have very good chairs with reclining backs to them. The bathroom was more than adequate.
The were several places to eat on board, be we not use the restaurants where we had to pay.
We ate in the Allegro main dining room. It had a very good dining atmosphere, and the choice of food was good. Only problem was that my wife ordered a salad which stated it had a choice of dressings. When she got the salad it already had dressing on it. When she started eating it, it was so strong a taste she almost chocked on it. The second night we choose to eat at "Alfredo's Pizzeria". This is another free restaurant. It opens at 8:30pm and we asked if we had to make reservations. They said, just turn up, and if it was busy, we may have to wait up to half an hour. We went to the restaurant at 8:30pm and we were the only customers. The service was fantastic and the food was great.
The "Horizon" buffet has been split in two. There is the "Horizon Bistro" and the "Horizon Court". The "Horizon Court" serves cold and hot starters and main course, but no desserts. You have to go to the "Horizon Bistro" for your desert. There is the new "The Pastry Shop". It has the most fantastic selection of cakes known to man. There is also a "sugar free" section as well. They also have a small selection of cookies, but none shown as sugar free. The Bistro is where you go for your 24 hour tea/coffee and snacks. It has sandwiches, soups, bread cheese etc.
I can understand the splitting of "Horizon". Once the people have eaten their main course, they free up their seats quicker than the average buffet on other ships. This makes it a faster turnaround of customers in the "Horizon Court". This elemenates you getting your meal and walkng around trying to find a seat while you food goes cold.
We tried the "Swirls Ice Cream Bar" but they had no sugar free ice cream. They didn't have it in the main dining room either.
The "Prego Pizzeria" on deck 16 only serves pizzia. They were great, and i would recommend it for a quick snack.
As this was a taster cruise, we did not have the full 3600 passengers on board. We only had about 2600, as the other passengers were contract staff still finishing the ship. this ment there were no queues for anything.
The outdoor movie screen and dancing water fountain in the middle of the deck, were great. For the sail away party they had a disco video on the movie screen with dancing on the centre desk (the water was was not on before you say anthing). It was great leaving to "We are Sailing" by Rod Stewart but the video was the original video which came out when it was released. He looked about 12 years old. I am not trying to be all negative, but the decorations on the pool area contain palm trees, which look ok. When you are sitting in the chaise loungh seats they get in the way of the movie screen.
The staff on the ship were extramly helpful, with the biggest smiles which made you feel great.
The entertainment was OK, in that there were several places for different acts i.e. bands, piano bar, etc.
The first night did not have a late show. The second night was a tribute band. We did not see the princess singers and dancers which was a bit of a disappointment.
The disembarcation was quick and easy. It was well organised with good documentation the night before.
Would I go on "Royal Princess" again? We feel it is too big a ship,and we are moving downwards to smaller ships.