The Royal was launched 6-12 months before it was ready for passengers.
It was understaffed with a large number of new hires who did not have the customer service skills that I have experienced on my 19 cruises with Princess. An example would be a clerk in the wrist watch boutiques, who when asked by a customer about a particular watch in the window, the clerk told her it cost $2,000 followed by, "can you afford it"!!!
The free laundry service for Elite passengers took 4-6 or more days to be returned to passengers instead of next service which is what is an advertised perk for their top cruises. In many cases clothing items were lost and never found. Some laundry was not finished and returned to passengers the day of disembarkation.
There are design flaws such as no staircase for the center of the ship. The elevators could not handle the numbers of passengers needing to use them because of lack of stairs to ease the load on the elevators. The frustration of the center of the ship cabin passengers was palpable and expressed with anger at the crowding as people stuffed and pushed into the elevator having missed full elevators for an extended period.
There are other design flaws. Electronics in every area from daily non-working computers in the Internet area room, to cabin TV's, to the Princess Theater during presentation, and behind the scenes electronic issues that made the job of the Customer Service almost impossible for them to help passengers in a timely and effective way.
My service in the dining room was so not up to my experience of first waiter and junior waiter that the frustration drove me to the Horizon Court and other venues. I must say, I have always enjoyed the food on Princess Cruise, but it was so bad in the dining room along with the bad service, that I never returned to the dining room once I left.
I wish I could say something nice about this sailing for me, but chasing laundry, to find out where it was, the bad service in the areas that I functioned just made an unpleasant ordeal for me. I could never find my cabin stewardess when I needed her, needed my cabin make up, or trusting her to search out where my laundry when it went missing for 5-6 days. She liked to chit chat with her fellow stewards and stewardess on the floor near her. She just wasn't focused in the way the others in her area. They were working and she was no where to be found.
The Royal was a big disappointment with the under-staffing in important areas, the design issues, the poor quality of items that passengers use daily, the automatic door to one of the small cutout decks on Deck 7 which fell off at the top where its swings open and fell on the door across from it. It was framed in wood with glass in the rest of the door. Fortunately, the glass didn't shatter. I came upon it just after it happened and before the proper engineers arrived.
The Regal, the sister ship of Royal, is due to be launched in 2014. Think twice before signing up for a cruise early on and see if some of the Royal's problems have been ironed out.