Royal Princess Cruise Review by Autumn72: A Partial Cruise is still better than no cruise....
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A Partial Cruise is still better than no cruise....
We had a wonderful cruise until the power went out! We embarked in Venice in the afternoon then used the Princess water shuttle tickets to go back to St. Mark's square where we wandered around leisurely and had a wonderful meal. The ship sailed the next morning with great views of Venice as we headed towards Athens.
Royal Princess is beautifully decorated - very elegant in cream, gold and wood tones which gave it a relaxing atmosphere. The public areas are clean and well maintained. The lack of a mid stairs resulted in over crowded elevators, which although there were more of them, they were smaller. The service overall was wonderful. Everyone was so helpful and pleasant.
Our cabin, a mini suite, had a very nice layout with plenty of storage. It was extremely quiet and although we had neighbors on both sides we never heard them or even their TV. The bed was extremely hard for our tastes, but I am sure it will break in as it ages.
I agree with the comments More about the shower curtains in the bathroom. Really? Shower curtains? When you pull them closed it is very dark in the tub area. Glass would have been a more appropriate choice, or add a light above the tub area. Our cabin tended to be warm even with the A/C on as cold as it gets. This made sleeping under the heavy duvet impossible. The steward added a top sheet for us and that helped. There was NO WI FI in our cabin. To receive a signal you must open the door and stand there. Many of the other passengers commented that they also had to stand in the hallway to get a signal. Very frustrating.
I had read on previous reviews that you could not charge your devices while away from the cabin without a door card in the slot. That is not true - we tested it thoroughly. Only the lights are turned off when you remove your card - the AC and outlets remain on.
I am also puzzled about the folks that had issues with the location of the toilet paper - although it is under the counter, it is right next to the toilet and there is no issue reaching it. Perhaps it is different in other cabin types.
We ate in the Crown Grill to celebrate our Anniversary. The service was wonderful, but the filet we had was tough. Not what you would expect for an upcharge of $50. We had much better filet in the MDR on the balance of the cruise. The food was excellent in the MDR throughout the trip. We ate breakfast and lunch there as often as we could to avoid the Horizon Court. The design of the Horizon Court leaves a lot to be desired. While it was nice having the Pastry Shop to corral all the desserts in one place, the rest of it was not convenient. There are separate sections where you have to go in and get some food then walk past walls down to another area to get other food. Many sections were closed so without a plan you wandered around carrying partially filled plates with you to figure out what the choices actually were. A map with the day's selections indicated in which open areas would be useful. The food was excellent, it was just a hassle trying to get to it. The staff in the Horizon Court were quick to get you drinks and refill coffee.
While Princess says that the Royal's theater is their largest, once again it is too small for the number of passengers on the ship. The first night we arrived 20 minutes prior to the show and hundreds of guests were being turned away as it was already full. They added a few extra shows later on so that there were 3 instead of 2, but as we have had this same issue on other Princess cruises, I have to wonder at their calculation of seats needed for the theater. We noticed immediately on our first day exploration walk that the theater was again much smaller than on other lines' theaters. The first show was good with nice effects but about what you would expect. The rest were average. The various entertainment around the ship was OK. The singers in the piazza seemed to be geared for an older crowd.
The first hint of what was to come occurred in Mykonos as they were trying to raise the anchor. The winch motor burned out and we were unable to get underway for about 6 hours. The captain was very good about communicating the status of the situation with frequent updates from the bridge. He was confident we could make up the time and make it to Naples as scheduled. The next day was a sea day, and a formal night. We were relaxing on our balcony when I noticed the lights were out. The captain let us know that there was an issue with a transformer and that they were on it. After about 4.5 hours, we had lights and A/C again. No problems at all with the toilets during the lights out period. With the balcony door open it was very comfortable. It took about 11 hours to get back underway however, and they could not make full speed. The food service folks were amazing as they produced a regular planned formal menu on time after no power until 45 minutes before dinner - it was lobster night.. The maître d'hôtel told us the next morning that they had all been making thousands of sandwiches all afternoon just in case there was no power for dinner. The captain bought everyone a glass of wine at dinner. He did a good job on providing updates every 45 minutes or so throughout the power outage.
It was a shock the next morning at breakfast when the captain announced that we would arrive in Naples that evening (we should have already been there at 8 a.m.) and that the cruise was canceled. We expected that Naples would be canceled and we would head to the next port. It was mentioned that we would head to Barcelona and stay there until our planned flights home. We all will be receiving a full refund plus 25% discount on the next cruise.
The next communication said there was a pharmaceutical convention in Barcelona and no hotels were available so they were flying everyone home from Naples or Rome. Details to follow. We were to received instructions in our cabin. The next morning at breakfast the captain announced that if you had not received instructions, you weren't leaving until the next day so feel free to see Naples. We left the ship and went to Pompeii and Herculaneum. When we got back, we had a note with our flights - we were leaving from Rome with a very long travel schedule ahead. No details yet on how we got from Naples to Rome. They would be coming. We packed and went to dinner. The instructions finally showed up about 10:30 pm telling us to put our luggage out with the attached tags by 10 pm and be in the dining room at 4 a.m. to get the bus to Rome. Our next door neighbor had to be ready to leave at midnight, so he was really scrambling.
The onboard staff was wonderful in handling the stress and anguish of the passengers. The folks supporting them onshore didn't always provide clear or timely updates which I am sure contributed to their stress. Some of the travel arrangements seemed to be made by folks without a concept of geography which added stress to everyone's trip home. While ours were most definitely not optimal, we eventually got home safely. While we all whole heartedly wished that the cruise had gone as planned, no one was ever in a position of danger or uncomfortable. Princess did what they could to ensure that.
We will be trying to see the missed ports on our next voyage in 2014. Hopefully by then, all Princess ships will have the fix that caused the lights to go out on the Royal. Less
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Port and Shore Excursions
We went to the old Olympic stadium, the Acropolis, the Acropolis museum and the Plaka. Our guide was not the best. We did have enough time at the Acropolis, but not as much at the museum. Included in this tour was lunch at an ancient Greek theme restaurant. The food was good and it was mildly interesting. Time allowed for shopping at the Plaka was too much - it would have been nicer to be able to see more at the museum. I would book independently next time.
We did an excursion that included St. Sophia, the Blue Mosque, St. Irene's and the Topkapi palace. The guide was excellent and gave a lot of background information that was missing in our other tours. A ship endorsed carpet weaving demo is included and while the carpets are beautiful (and very expensive), the salesmen latch on to you like leeches and are hard to get rid of at the end. They were just the beginning - there is a lot of pressure to buy in Instanbul - the carpet sellers were just the first. As you walk down the street you are harassed by pashmina sellers, perfume sellers. bag sellers, even kids selling socks - all before you get into the grand bazaar. Be prepared to say no and keep walking. Do not engage in polite conversation or they will follow you for blocks. If you do want to buy something you must haggle over the price. If you are comfortable with that you can deal away. We did OK with the few things we bought.
The Hagia Sophia is beautiful but very dark inside and has (currently) lots of scaffolding making it hard to get good pictures. The tile work in the Blue Mosque and Topkapi palace is amazing.
It is a very brief stop at Kusadasi so the tour was rushed. This was not a tour for those with any mobility issues. We raced through the ruins at Ephesus literally taking pictures as you moved. It was very crowded and it was difficult to keep up with the guide (not the best) if you stopped for a second to look around. The lines were very long at the Virgin Mary shrine and eliminated any chance of stopping in Kusadasi to see the actual town as was supposed to happen at the end. Another stop was made at the ruins of St. John's basilica where he is buried. I would recommend skipping the Virgin Mary shrine and St. John's and taking more time in the ruins of Ephesus and seeing a bit of Kusadasi.
There is no need to take a tour on Mykonos. It is a small island with handy beach areas and shops and restaurants. Our tour took us to a resort where we looked at the water for half an hour and to a little deserted village where some movie we never heard of was filmed. We did see a nice monastery with an interesting icon, but honestly you will enjoy it more wandering around exploring on your own. The ship uses tenders to bring you into Mykonos and the dock is very centrally located.
Venice is wonderful. We stayed overnight in a great hotel next to St. Marks square and were able to walk everywhere. Very easy to navigate and the food and shops are excellent. For Murano glass, the pricing is better away from the Rialto bridge and St. Mark's square. We had an overnight in Venice to start our trip, so we checked out of the hotel and onto the Royal Princess and used the Princess water shuttle to get back to Venice for dinner and more exploring. Sailaway the next morning was a beautiful ride through Venice and past St. Mark's square. Can't wait to go back!
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