Embarkation was ok. Arrived at 1030 am and on the ship by 12:30 pm.
The first impression of the Piazza is magnificent. Everyone in my group of 8 said wow.
We went directly to the Sanctuary, it was booked for the week already. They now take daily reservation the day before for your convenience. We never used it though. The last 2 sea days when we went there to check, they had a sign out that read "Completely Booked"
We found the Retreat Pool Area very nice. I referred to it as "Sanctuary Light".
We got there early each morning and had 8 loungers together, 4 under the sun screen and 4 in direct sun. The hot tubs were on the small size, but the jets were great, from the sides and the bottom of the hot tubs. The water was not too hot. The pool was never crowded at the retreat area. The reason I believe was because the water was ice cold most of the cruise. I wondered was it cold to keep people out so that cc members would not post that it was packed and inadequate?
The cabanas at the retreat pool were booked every day.
We did not spend any time at the fountain pool area, but as I walked by there never seemed to be a lot of people in the pool, but the hot tubs were usually occupied. One day we saw a little boy and his mom playing in the fountain during the children' fountain play time. During the other times, there were loungers on the fountain area and people sunbathing. I never got to see the fountain show, as it was only listed twice in the patter at 11 pm. We were too tired to go back up to watch.
We had 4 Mini-Suite Staterooms on the Riviera Deck. Our room steward Ramon was top notch. The mini suites were just fantastic. Plenty of room. The couch and chairs were very comfortable, and the coffee table was big enough to be useful, but not too big to be in the way. Plenty of drawers and shelves for storage. The bathroom was great.The hand held shower had very low pressure, so I removed the flow restrictor from the handle, than it was great. It was nice to have a full tub. Plenty of shelves in bathroom, and a large sink. The toilet paper dispenser was a NON ISSUE for us. Everyone in our group gave the mini suite raving reviews. The bedding was the best ever we had. I must say, I was glad I brought my own pillow. I like a real thin one, and these were very full and fluffy. My was was fine with the pillows as everyone else was also.The mini fridge worked fine. Never had any trouble with either TV. They worked flawlessly, and the selection was good also. The hair dryer in the drawer worked fine. It had more umph than the one we use at home. I suggest bringing a surge protector power strip as I did, to keep your electronics safe while charging and provide extra outlets as there is only 1 at the desk area.
The balcony: Let me preface this by saying that it is not deep. Only 3 feet. If it was just 2 people in a cabin with the dividers closed, I believe it would be ok. However with 4 cabins in a row, and the dividers open, the dividers were in the way, taking up what would have been usable space. One of the dividers, when opened, blocked 1/2 of the opening to access our balcony. We are not big people, and could only get out sideways.
Alfredo's: Our first meal was here. The service was good. The Caprese Salad, the Eggplant Rolantini, and the Ravioli were just fantastic. We went back a second time for lunch and ordered those dishes. On that day, my wife was feeling a little seasick, so she asked the waiter if she could get a green apple. He said, "No this is an Italian Eatery, Apples are not on the menu". With that he told the manager,Robert, and Robert said of course she can have a green apple. In 5 minutes, Robert personally delivered the sliced apple to my wife on a plate. That is great service. The Pizza while ok, was not as good as the pizza on the pool deck at Prego Prego. The Pizza there is better than any pizza I can get near my home.
Trident Grill: Still have great burgers, hot dogs, chicken sandwiches, and great fries, when fresh out of the fryer. On Sea Days they have barbecue at night. We got there late in the cruise, and they were out of wings, but we tried the pork barbecue, (not a fan, tasted as if it was seasoned with taco seasoning, but the pork barbecue in horizon was good. I think someone got there spice jars accidentally mixed up). The orange chicken there was very good.
Very large, never had trouble finding a seat. The selection was very good. The food was always fresh, and hot. The omelet station in horizon was very quick. as was the fried egg station. They offer you coffee and orange juice at breakfast. When my wife requested tomato juice, they said yes, I will be right back. In a few minutes, she had tomato juice.
At the entrance on both sides there was always a selection of cookies and brownies. All were very good. The pastries in the shop all looked very good. Most of the ones I tasted were pretty good. There were some that looked good, but lacked taste. I found this to be true on other cruise lines also. At one end of the shop they had a chocolate fountain, and the server would dip, strawberries, pineapples, bananas, and mini cream puffs in the fountain. All were very good.
Although in Princess literature they said that at lunch the Outrigger Bar (which specializes in margaritas) serves Fajitas, Flatuas, and other mexican items, this is not true totally. When we went there and asked, they said if you order a margarita, they will serve you chips and salsa, but thats it. We were disappointed temporarily. At the Bistro, they have a Mexican Flare area. We made fajitas, and got salsa, guacamole, and chips there.
Swirls: The soft serve ice cream there was not to my liking.
Allegro Dining Room: We had traditional dining first seating. Our waiter Edgar, and his assistant Ricky, were excellent. The service was great, and the dinner moved along at the perfect pace. The 4 nights we ate in the main dining room, (I wish it was 5, will explain later), we enjoyed everything we ordered, and was prepared the way we asked. The quality and taste of the food was very good as well as the service. One night we asked if we could have a caprese salad for the next night. They said they would ask the head waiter, he said yes, and it was there the following evening.
Crown Grill: We were a party of 8 as I previously stated, and when making the Crown Grill Reservation, I requested the Wine Room. It is adjacent to the piano in the Wheelhouse Bar. Our time was 6 pm. There was no entertainment there at that time, so the Wine Room at Crown Grille was the perfect setting for the best meal we had. Suffice it to say, everything was fabulous. If you like onion soup, You must order the Black and Blue Onion soup. The steaks were tender and flavorful and prepared just as we asked, and the Lobster was more than we could eat. Although stuffed the desserts were excellent. The chocolate with warm melted center dessert was delicious.
Sabatini's: The manager there is Robert. Yes the same manager as Alfredo's. He is a wonderful man. The day of the reservation, I went there to talk to him because I had set up an Anniversary Celebration for a couple in our group. For whatever reason, their celebration never seemed to happen. They got the balloons and the sign on the door, but nothing else.(all of the other celebrations I set up on the personalizer went off without a hitch) I tried 3 time to reschedule it through the Passenger Services Desk. They put it in, and saw the ones that never happened. So to make sure this one happened, I spoke with Robert. He said he would take care of it. He did, and he gave us a complimentary bottle of sparkling wine. Great Service. The food was great at Sabatini's. However at the beginning of the meal, service was fine, but as the place filled up, we were waiting and waiting. It appeared they were under staffed that evening.
Fondue: This was the night that I wished I was back in the Allegro Dining Room. Service was great, They brought 6 of us all 3 entrees, there was plenty to eat, 3 kinds of cheese pots, bread, cooked chicken pieces, and cooked sausage, all to dip in the cheese pots. They also poured complimentary cherry liquor shots. I guess just not my thing. Only one out of the 6 enjoyed it, and she said it was the best meal of the cruise. So the moral of this story is, you gotta love fondue, and be a fondue veteran. For the other 5 of us, it was a new experience, one we will never repeat on sea or land.
Gelato: Very good if you like gelato.
International Cafe: Great coffee. We Got the card. Started our day out there. The Breakfast Muffin sandwiches are good and the pastries excellent. They offer a variety of different items throughout the day and night and all are good.
Bellini's: First let me say, that when it comes to drinking, I am a lightweight. That being said, when the Menu was posted on Dave's thread, I was excited. I picked my drink. The fruit of the loom. It had 4 fruit purees in it, so I figured this was a "sissie" drink. Well was I wrong. It was good, but by the time I got back to the Vista Lounge, which is only half the ship away, sipping along the way, I was toasted. It was strong. That was my first and last Bellini, but the others stopped by again often!
Seaview Bar: Do not miss the show they do in the afternoon. Some magic, and bottle flairing. A Great show. Very talented and friendly guys.
Loved the Game Sows in "Live". In fact I was a winner in the "Yes and No" Game show. Deputy Dan, Assistant Cruise director is great, and will make a great Cruise Director. Are you reading this Princess? Sam was our cruise director. I will suffice it to say, None of us were a fan of her!
Ray Cousins is a great entertainer, great piano player, and a great story teller.
The comedian, Mr Miguel Washington was very very funny. Do not miss his 2 shows.
The singers, As Simon Cowell would say, are cruise ship caliber.
I told everyone what rave reviews "Ye OLde Pub Night" Got. It was really corny and we all left, but that being said, the place was standing room only. So I guess they liked it.
Only used it for Princess Cays. We went to the dining room to wait. We were sitting for less than 4 minutes, they called our #, walked to the tender area, and away we went. People were complaining while on the tender, but they are designed for a purpose, and comfort is not a high priority.
Centert of ship, no staircase, elevators all synced. Press 1 button, and all five light up. Although we were forward, we used the center elevators, because they were always quicker. The fore and aft elevators are not synced. The 2 still work independently of the other 2. This still is a problem. Several time, with the up button pushed on deck 14, you would se an elevator coming up from decks below, and it would pass deck 14 and stop at 15. Princess needs to get the fore and aft elevators reprogrammed. It was not deal breaker by any means, but there is room for reprogramming.
On embarkation day the elevators were really really bad, but that being said, it is that way on every ship I have been on on embarkation day.
Did not use wifi, so no comment.
Did use Princess Intranet on our I Phones. Loved it, worked flawlessly.
The Laser Shooting Range:
Dave are you reading this?? It is there, next to the ping pong and basketball courts. The times that it is open are listed in the Patter. The first day I went, I was the first in line to use it. There is a really big screen that the system projects onto. About 16 feet wide. The area where the people stand is about 14 feet wide by 6 feet deep. Really small area. There is a cruise staff person sitting at the desk operating a computer. The best way to describe it is to say that is is very similar to the "Duck Hunt" game on the old Nintendo systems. You get to shoot at balloons, moving balloons, cans on a fence, clay pigeons, etc. The guy at the computer controls the distance of the objects, and the speed at which they move. There are no green laser beams floating through the air as pictured. in fact when they were having another event there, on the Princess Intranet feature on the i Phone, it showed a picture of the Laser Shooting Range, with Laser Beams going through the air. So I went back up. Same lame thing as before. I left. This was way over hyped for what it turned out to be.
Fitness Center: I walked through it twice. Seemed like it had nice equipment. But what do I know? I am not a Gym person.
Vista lounge: The couches are very comfortable. However, someone must have accidentally ordered way to many orange swivel barrel chairs, and to cover up their mistake tried to hide them in front of the long blue curved couches in the vista lounge. They are jammed in there like you can not imagine. There is very little room for someone to sit, barely any leg room, and God forbid if someone has to get out of their orange chair quickly to go to the bathroom. It ain't gonna happen. The Solution, in my humble opinion, just remove about 1/3 of the orange chairs from in front of the blue couches and that will make the space more comfortable.
My final thought: I did miss not being able to go to the front of the ship via the Promenade Deck and up the steps,and look forward as you can on other Grand class ships, and I also missed not being able to go out onto the deck above the Bridge.
Taking everything into consideration, The Royal Princess is a beautiful ship. There are a few issues, but you will have that on any ship. Would I sail on the Royal again? Yes, We are booked on a New England Cruise in October 2014.