Embarkation was swift and hassle free. Our first impression of the Royal Princess was "Wow”, this is a floating luxury hotel.
Our mini-suite was very nice and certainly big enough for two people. The balcony was also fine, after all, we are at sea and this is not a land based hotel. We could not understand the complaints about this in previous reviews.
Staff services were outstanding, everyone from our cabin steward Marion to the waiters in the dining room and all other areas of the ship (International Café, Gelateria , Horizon Court and passenger service desk. All were helpful and friendly at every occasion.
There is a problem regarding the elevator situation. At times, especially after shore excursions, there was a long wait to get on an elevator (sometimes 10 minutes) or more, but not the end of the world.
Horizon Court & Bistro: We were not impressed, although they did have wide variety of choses, we felt that the quality was just not there (cafeteria at best). The food was rather bland and everything seemed to taste the same, not sure how that is possible?!
Symphony Dining Room: We suspect that the food in the dining room is the same as the Horizon Court, but packaged differently (give it a fancy French name and a couple of swirls on the plate and who is to know…:
International Café: Good for a nice little lunch and wonderful pastries.
Alfredos: average Pizza, but O.K. for a quick bite.
Sabatinis: Again, dining room fare, but packaged as Italian, but I suspect the Italians would not agree.
Crown Grill: Fabulous. Now this is a wonderful restaurant, could complete with any steak house on land. Service was impeccable and I had the best filet mignon in a while.
Pastry Shop: Great pastries, quite a variety and always enjoyable. They have a winner pastry chef on board.
Toulon: not much to see and we got the impression that the native people are not that happy to see us (like the money, but not the crowds)
Mykonos: again, not that much to see, a lot of white houses on craggy cliffs, not sure why the ship stops there.
Rome: I could write a book about this, but suffice to say, it was one of the most wonderful experiences of my life…..the history, the art, the awe-inspiring religious artifacts. I am sure there is nothing else like it in the world. It has to be seen to be believed. Our guide for our Princess tour was so knowledgeable that she brought the history to life for us. The trip was worth it for us just to have this experience.
Naples & Pompeii: Also a wonderful experience (Naples not so much) as it is a very gritty looking city. But Pompeii was another historical hit. As you walked through the streets (ruins), you could almost feel the destructive sadness of the place, especially when you could see the ominous looking Mount Vesuvius in the distance. The Amalfi coast was very interesting and the beauty of it was breathtaking.
Venice: Also another historical hotspot, but does not compare to Rome or Pompeii. Nice to visit once and take the Gondola ride (although it was really crowded and the water was really just an open sewer). You just have to look past that, I guess.
Istanbul: The city is quite beautiful, but the crowds are just out of control mostly because everyone is in such a condensed area. There were also a lot of street vendors (pashimas, jewellery, gadgets), they never let up. Our tour guide walked too fast for most of us and my husband & I as well as others were left behind in the crowd. We did not feel safe and tried to take a taxi back to the ship, but the taxi driver would not even look at us as he did not understand. After walking quite a bit, we managed to hail another Princess tour bus and they took pity on us and allowed us to go back with them. Will not be visiting Istanbul again. Also, the carpet demonstration we were forced to listen to was a waste of time because I do not think many people would be buying carpets worth thousands of dollars (not if you have two golden retreivers, you don.t.)
Athens: Interesting tour of the history of Athens, but the ruins are not within close proximity unless you can climb. The Athenians have not responded well to the economic downturn (a lot of graffitti), but it was an enjoyable day nevertheless.
All in all, we did enjoy our med cruise and we have wonderful memories that we will absolutely cherish. Also, just a mention of Cliff & Carol from New Zealand that we met on the ship, wonderful people, wonderful conversation.