Embarcation: We took the Princess transportation shuttle from Barcelona airport to the ship which was uneventful. However we later learned that a taxi for two was less than the bus booked through Princess. On arriving at the ship we expected the usual "elite" service after 29 cruises with Princess. However, over 1300 Elite level passengers were on this cruise so this was not a rapid process as on many previous cruises.
Cabin: We were on Caribe deck. The cabins are essentially the same size as on other Princess ships. The bathroom showers are definitely a little larger. As per prior reviews on the Royal Princess, whoever designed the position of the toilet paper rolls has never used the restroom in the past.
The 42 inch flat screen televisions were a new addition to Princess. Also, throughout the cruise we had msnbc, cnbc, fox news and several other stations even while crossing the Atlantic. Of course it was the usual ESPN international showing only rugby and soccer! There were numerous movies on demand (free) however none of them were first run (similar to Netflix movies).
Also new, on entering the cabin you are supposed to put your cabin card into a slot to keep the lights turned on. So when leaving the cabin the lights are turned off saving electricity. Of course any card you put in the slot keeps the lights on and this way you don't forget and lock yourself out of the room!
The stateroom amenities for Elite passengers were not available during the 12 or 18 day segments of the cruise. We were informed there were "to many Elite passengers on the ship" and not available.
Also, Elite passengers receive free laundry service. However, secondary to the large number of Elite passengers, the next day laundry service usually turned into 5 or 6 days. Five days before the end of the cruise the Princess Patter noted that laundry could no longer be submitted secondary to the backlog.
Our cabin steward did an excellent job during the 30 days.
The Piazza was beautiful. Almost 50% larger than the other Princess ships we have been on. Richly decorated in marble and granite. It became a center of activity secondary to the design of the new ship.
The service at the International Cafe was good however it is essentially the same size as on the other Princess ships however an additional 1000 passengers made the lines somewhat longer during busy time (3600 passengers on this ship). The Princess theater was beautiful, however the design of it required people to enter from the central areas that caused disruptions after the shows started. Also, if you drink there are no tables with the smaller seats (felt like I was back on American Airlines again...!) The Horizon Court was expanded with several food court areas that managed to handle the traffic very well. There was 2 main serving areas, a bistro and dessert area. The gym was on deck 17 aft. The equipment was state of the art Precor with individual television monitors. The size of the gym was adequate and very rarely crowded even on sea days. Usually the gym is on deck 17 forward but this location is probably better. Underneath the gym is the lido deck thus no cabins to awaken from treadmills at 7am!
There are only 2 1/2 pools on the ship (one pool is very small, so we'll call it 1/2). Most of the Princess ships have 4 pools. For the Mediterranean not an issue, but not sure how well this will do during the next several months in the Caribbean. The added features of the fountains and sea walk are nice to see once but would prefer an additional pool than fountain area.
The major fault in the design of the ship is the lack of central stairs. There are stairs from deck 5 to 7 for the public. Thus all of the elevators in the central area are extremely congested and only usually only move one floor at a time. I'm sure with all of the complaints the new Regal will have a rapid redesign here.
Unfortunately the spa is now on deck 5. The steam rooms and saunas now come with a charge.
We had fixed seating in the Concerto Restaurant at 6:00 pm. Even though we booked a 30 day cruise it was broken down in 12 and 18 days. Interestingly there was little repetition in the menus. Overall the food quality was somewhat above average for Princess. Our waiters (Rosaleo Bunquin and Billy Fortunado )were excellent. Within a day or so they knew our likes and dislikes. They both had excellent attitudes and delivered quality service.
Serveral nights we went to the Horizon Court secondary to late tours. Every other night they had specialty nights. The "Brazilian night" and "Italian night" were both excellent. The service in the Horizon Court was also excellent compared with prior Princess cruises.
There was a lot of variety in all of the meals in the Horizon Court. Overall the quality of the food was above average for Princess.
After being on 29 prior Princess cruises we have seen many of the formal production shows numerous times on different ships. It was a pleasant surprise to see all new production shows with an excellent cast of dancers and singers on this ship. Of course we had the usual comedians, mentalist, singers that we have seen in the past with the same jokes and songs. Even though we booked a 30 day cruise, many of the shows were repeated from the first 12 days.
The Piazza shows scheduled throughout the day were entertaining, especially during the sea days.
Internet and wifi
This was the smallest internet cafe we have seen on any Princess ship. However there is becoming less need for it. The wifi was available throughout all of the public areas and many cabins. We receive 500 minutes free (Platinum status and above) which was more than adequate with a smart phone. It only took 1-2 minutes to download email, magazines and journals and 1-2 minutes to upload the emails written offline. I had over 250 minutes left over at the end of the 30 days. The day prior to disembarkation the internet was down for several hours so if you were flying Southwest you were probably getting boarding group C passes!
This has to be one of the most friendly crews we have ever seen on a ship. With breakfast in the Horizon court and passing the crew members I must have said "good morning" at least 50 times each day.
The majority of the crew had excellent attitudes (even at the Purser's desk and tour excursion desk with many unhappy cruisers) throughout the cruise. At the international cafe after a day or so, they knew what kind of coffee my wife and I drank and always made it without asking (imagine with 3600 passengers onboard!)
We had multiple ports of call including Barcelona, Toulon, Livorno, Civitavecchia, Naples, Mykonos, Istanbul, Kusadasi (did not dock secondary to high winds), Athens, Venice (3 days), and then Messina, Naples, Civitavecchia, Cannes, Barcelona and Funchal.
The cities at a distance from the ship we booked through Princess. However in the future we will be avoiding the majority of the bus tours with Princess. The tours are not staggered leaving or returning to the ship. Thus on a trip to Rome, there is 10 tour buses stopping at one gas station en route to Rome (think of the lines for a 10 minute stop). Also, all of the major sites were a similar problem. When climbing the Acropolis it was a nightmare of herded humans. On climbing back down no one was entering while we were leaving (similar story throughout the cruise). Also, there are always "stragglers" that return late to the bus. Of course they would never leave anyone so the next site to visit is always cut short. Also, when taking a walking tour of Rome (and on the tickets denoting extensive walking) there are always those with canes and walkers who go a block or two and then slow the entire group to a halt. There are handicapped tours but apparently some people cannot read. The only advantage to a Princess booked tour is that the ship will not leave you if you come back late. However we plan on making our own arrangements in the future.
Scooters and attitudes:
There are an ever increasing number of scooters on the ship. That in itself is not a problem. However some of the scooter drivers have "an attitude" and plow into full elevators and running over people. Also this frequently occurs in all of the public areas. The next time one runs over my heels will be the last time......( I may find out if there is a brig on the ship!)
The Royal Princess is a beautiful ship however it is unlikely we will return again to it. It was more hype than functional. We prefer the Ruby and Emerald to the Royal.