This was our 10 th cruise all on Princess, and this one was all about their new state of the art ship, not about where it was going. Embarkation was quite unorganized and we never got a group boarding # or were told about the itinerary change due to some bad weather in the Bahamas. Oh well ,Grand Turk was better than P. Cays, and we had never been there, so it's all good. After a 90 min. wait we were finally allowed to board. We arrived in our room about 1 pm, so it could of been worse I'm sure. The room was nice & clean and we had a great mid-ship location without tender obstruction, unlike most. We did have issues with our fridge door being broke & the scalding hot shower we could not adjust, but they were fixed quickly.
The ship is beautiful and classy, typical Princess, but certainly not without flaws, especially in her design, and layout. We found the ship very difficult to navigate, unlike their "grand class" ships. The slow & super packed elevators, lack of stairs mid ship below to decks 5-7, we're a ridiculous pain to get around. Pools, were very few and far between for 3,600 and the plunge pool apx. 10 X 10 a tremendous waste of space, when they could have easily made it 20 X 20, to help accommodate the xtra 800 passengers! The Promenade deck 7 does not allow you to sit out leisurely or walk around the ship that was also a disappointment. Public areas were spacious and decorated smartly, however the Casino was incredibly, very small, and always crowded, sometimes you could'nt even fit down the isle, to get to a machine, again, poorly designed.The crew and service was top notch just about everywhere, although the Euro bar staff does not know how to make a "Tequilla Sunrise", yuk ! I had a really great time hitting balls at the batting cage located top aft, they also have a cool putting area, basketball court, ping pong tables and golf cage. The wind can play havoc up there at times, especially with ping pong.
"Shows, and Entertainment" were very good, especially "Carlos Oscar" (comedy) and our favorite the "Beatlemaniacs", "David Cats" (magic) and 2 great teams of Princess dancers & singers. The old team leaving & the new team, featuring "David Lamaar", were the best Production Shows we have seen on 9 previous Princess cruises. The 2 house bands "Steele" & "Volume" just okay, a lot of their music/songs just sounded alike same ol monotone.
"Food" was hit and miss, some items good some not, but service was excellent despite being so busy. We loved the Loster & Prawns best of course, but other items like Pork Tenderloin, Shrimp Daniel,Tri Tip roast and the majority of the appetizers were tasty. Italian night was a bust, do the buffet ! The Horizon Court food was better than usual, with more choices and a variety of all kinds of things. Deserts a little disappointing, and not as many choices. Burgers, Pizza and Swirl Ice cream all good top side at the pool. Love their thin, greasy pizza best of all pizza.
All in all the Royal is a very good ship, great, not really, we still prefer her Grand Class ships more, and we'll cruise on them instead. It's really a shame her sister ship the "Regal" will be arriving in May 2014 with the same exact flaws the Royal has, huge mistake ! We had a great time though despite lot's of little hic up's, but will continue to cruise with Princess. Next year the Emerald back to the Caribbean & the Star to Alaska. To all the wonderful people we met, "HAPPY SAILING" hope to meet you again on the high seas. The only way to escape completely is to cruise, to cure the blues ... Happy Trails !