Although this review might be negative our party of 5 had a wonderful vacation.
This trip was a long time in planning and we followed the construction of the Royal Princess from the beginning and eagerly awaited its completion.
Princess Cruise Line provides one of the best itineraries and this voyage did not disappoint. Embarkation and disembarkation went smoothly with minimal congestion. The crew was friendly and helpful and the new Piazza was beautiful.
We had a mini-suite on deck 14.The cabin was well appointed and the cabin steward was very good in providing clean towels and filling the ice bucket.
We always book a cabin with a balcony and this is the smallest we have ever experienced. We had chairs with separate footstools which were stowed beneath the chairs. There was no space to use them and made turning the chairs difficult. Our cruise mates had Deluxe cabins on deck 9 but the placement of the life boats interfered with their view. I would highly recommend avoiding reserving a cabin on decks 8 or 9.
The lack of a Promenade deck was a major omission for us. We have always enjoyed a stroll around the ship on our previous cruises. The elevators were congested and slow at times and this made the lack of a central stairway noticeably absent.
With the exception of the final production show the singers And dancers were not as talented as on previous Princess cruises and the guest entertainers (especially the magician David Cats)were underwhelming. Hopefully this is just an isolated case. The lighting and sound in the theatre itself was excellent. There were no side aisles however and this created problems with the late arrivals and early departures blocking the views of those seated. This created strife between the passengers and the Princess personnel were outside the theatre and unable to assist. The theatre could also use tables or at least holders for drinks.
The pool area was too small for 4000+ passengers. The fountain area was a non attraction and the space could be better utilized as pool area. Although this itinerary is not well suited for small children there were a large number on board and the lack of pool area was evident. The retreat pool is an excellent idea but again it was too small for the number of passengers. The Sanctuary is gorgeous and the service was great. I was fortunate to get the last loungers on the two sea days but you need to get in line by 7:30 AM to have a chance of reserving. There were several irate passengers who waited and were unable to utilize the facility
Since this voyage was port intensive we elected the anytime dining. We missed the rapport you develop when you have the same waiters each evening. I attribute the decline in service to this fact. Most were friendly but the clearing of dirty dishes and the refilling of drinks was not up to prior standards. There was also a noticeable decrease in the menu selections. Entrees were filled with cheap options.(mac & cheese,pot pie & cowboy steak)Dessert had usually only one featured item and then ice cream, cookies or low fat yogurt. NY York strip was missing from the available anytime options. We did dine in the Crown Grill one evening and the food and service was superb. This used to be what you could expect in the main dining rooms. Our cruise mates were dining in the Crown Grill when the ship lost power.( lights went out & propulsion stopped) This caused the grill ventilation system to fail filling the restaurant and the adjoining Wheelhouse bar with smoke. We felt they should have been refunded the fee or at least given a discount.
The buffet had good selection but could use better signage. It was divided into 2 sections and some but not all selections were available in each causing unnecessary backtracking.
We enjoyed the pool grill pizza and Alfredo's. The gelato shop was a nice idea but I don't know if it is worth the extra charge. The gelato on shore in Italy was much richer.
We generally try to book private guides and did not utilize Princess on this trip.
We are avid cruisers and probably will sail Princess again but preferably not on the Royal or its sister ship the Regal