Royal Princess Cruise Review by Lindaras: Maiden Royal Princess 'Grand Mediterranean' from Barcelona to Venice
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Maiden Royal Princess 'Grand Mediterranean' from Barcelona to Venice
Boarding: We waited until around 3:00 PM (3 hours into boarding), and we practically walked right on. Our bags arrived in good time.
Stateroom B414 (mini-suite, mid ship under Sea Walk on port side): The staterooms under the Sea Walk have as much as twice the balcony space as most other staterooms. There is plenty of room for two reclining chairs, two ottomans, and a large table, with no lack of privacy at all from sea walk above, except when standing at railing. In addition to the extra space, you have the advantage of looking down to the sea instead of to lifeboats. I would definitely book a room under the Sea Walk again. You should know, however, that a soft blue light from the Sea Walk does illuminate the balcony at night. It's not bright, but to keep the room absolutely dark for sleeping, one must pull the draperies closed. If you don't mind the soft light, it's sort of like having a night light. We liked the curtain between the 'bedroom' and the living area that allowed More one of us to sleep while the other was awake in the living area.
Beds: a little firm, lovely pillows and bedding. No sheet, just a duvet for the top cover. Perhaps one can request a sheet. We just turned down the thermostat at night so we wouldn't be too hot.
Bathroom: very nice. The mini-suite has both tub and personal shower, and there are grab bars where you need them. The shower pressure is adequate. The hair dryer in our mini-suite was in the top drawer of the desk/vanity. The button the turns it on must be HELD down or it turns off. I wrapped duct tape around it to hold it down, and that made it much easier for my arthritic hands to manage.
Elevators: There is NO CENTRAL STAIRWAY. Our cabin was closest to the central elevator bank, and the elevators get crowded at times when everyone is going in the same direction. It can be frustrating when elevator after elevator opens to reveal no additional space. Some people cram themselves in anyway, and that's unpleasant for the people already on board. It made me rethink my "midship strategy". It might be better to be closer to the top or bottom if one is planning to use elevators. Fore and aft elevators have stairs as well, so if you are capable, you have the option to take the stairs from those locations.
Closet: Ample space and plenty of hangers (the nice wooden kind that aren't attached to the rod. I requested more skirt hangers, as we only got 6 of those for the two of us. Someone showed up with a dozen or so more.
Laundry: Baha deck had two washers and two dryers, and some apparently have four washers and four dryers (Aloha, for example). There were also two steam irons and two ironing boards: one for left handers and one for right handers. Our little laundry got pretty crowded at times.
Service: Overall, very good. One or two minor glitches. There was one day when we had to ask for toilet paper, even after they had made up the room. Another annoyance is that if you order a beer anywhere in an open deck area, it comes with a plastic tumbler. The beer, mind you, comes in a glass bottle, but for some idiotic reason, beer GLASSES are not allowed for safety reasons. Well, if you put up a little fuss, a cold glass can sometimes be produced, but really, should you have to? In the dining rooms it's not a problem, but in the Horizon Court, the beer comes from an "open" bar, so, again, plastic. BTW, I was very pleasantly surprised that the ship carries Blue Moon, my favorite beverage.
Excursions: The only Princess excursion I booked was for a full day in Istanbul, and that was a 20-person, all-day tour of Istanbul. It was fine, and we were especially impressed with how well the Princess staff organized getting us into groups of 20, off the ship and onto buses. The Bosphorous lunch cruise was especially pleasant, and for this reason we were happy to have booked that tour. For the other ports, we either did our own thing or joined a small private tour through the roll call on Cruise Critic. We were quite pleased with those tours and would definitely do that again.
Coffee: I am a coffee lover, and I am not too cheap to buy the coffee card, which gives you unlimited brewed coffee, I believe. I just don't want to have to get dressed and leave the room to get my first cup in the morning. So I brought with me the equipment needed to make a cup of coffee in the room: a small metal pitcher and coil for heating water, my Mellita cone and filter, an insulated coffee mug, and my favorite coffee. That worked nicely to make a single cup. I also tried writing "hot water" on my breakfast order form, and the water came in an insulated carafe. I had wondered if it would be hot enough to make coffee, and it was. But the best news is that the coffee aboad Royal Princess is much better than the syrup-based stuff I had on my Princess cruise to Alaska three years ago. The coil heater, BTW, is technically not allowed. Our stateroom attendant advised us to keep it in a drawer, which we did.
Internet: Adequate enough for email , web browsing, and Facebook. Not so much for other things like uploading photos. Terribly expensive, and every time I logged on for a couple of minutes, I seemed to get charged for about 10.
Electrical outlets: Our mini-suite had one European style (3 round holes in a row) outlet behind the bed for the bedside lamp. It also had one US style outlet at each end of the desk/vanity and one 3-holer at one end of the desk/vanity. With European to US adpter and a US extension cord, we got two extra US outlets at the bed side. We also brought a US power strip, which gave us several outlets at the desk for charging all of our devices.
Entertainment: We enjoyed the experience of watching "Les Mis" under the stars. Once they got the sound and picture in sync (!), the only problem was that some people chose to talk instead of listen, and they didn't seem to care that they were bothering the rest of us. We went to one show in the theater, "Colors of the World", and that was good, but we didn't participate in any events, classes, etc. But there certainly seem to be plenty of activities for those who are so inclined.
News: ESPN, BBC World News, FOX, CNBC. But no source really for plain old US news other than Internet, which is expensive. CNN would have been nice for that.
In summary, a comfortable, pleasant experience in many ways, but I'd still consider jumping ship for free wi-fi and/or cold beer. Less
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