I wanted to try the newest princess ship, the Royal and overall was very impressed. She is obviously bigger than any other Princess ship. I mostly liked the way Royal was designed. The enlarged Piazza is definitely the focal point of the ship. The various eateries in the Piazza were a definite improvement. Alfredo's pizzeria is a great addition as is the expanded Vines wine bar. There is a seafood bar which includes sushi. The International Cafe is a definite crowd pleaser. The Gelateria is now in its own separate location. One nice feature you can use your coffee card for Gelato. Sabatini's is on deck 5 near Vines. I stopped eating at at Sabatini's when the format was changed several years ago. In my opinion they went from treating you to a night in Italy to dining at an Italian restaurant back home.
The Royal has 3 main dining rooms. One dedicated to fixed seatings, one has a 5:30 fixed seating and is open to any time dining at 7pm and the third dining room is any time dining. I always choose any time dining. I found a mixture of great service with some so so service. A great lead waiter , Ivan from Serbia placed us at table 307 in the Concerto dining room after 2 days of very slow service. Our Waiter was Grace and her assistant waiter was Tranquilino, both from the Philippines. Their service was outstanding. Their time management and excellent customer service skills were probably the best I've ever had with Princess. The food in the dining room did not disappoint, fantastic as always.
The horizon court has been expanded with numerous food stations. They also added a horizon bistro for something quick and a pastry shop. This is a real plus.
Our cabin seemed a bit small for what I thought it should be on this new ship. They put a card reader on the wall by the cabin door. You must put a room card in it to activate the electricity. While I understand the reason is to conserve electricity I found a way to get around this without leaving my room card in it. I had my platinum membership card with me for preferred embarkation. It's the same size as the room card so I left it in the card reader throughout the cruise. The water pressure was much less than other ships I've been on. Also probably to conserve water. There was another definite issue with the bathroom. They placed the toilet paper holder in a very awkward place under the sink to the left and slightly behind the toilet. It was very difficult to use.
The entertainment venues had some pluses and minuses. The princess theater was bigger and while the seats were comfortable they lacked the pull up trays for drinks. The vista lounge on deck 7 aft was a little crowded the way the tables and chairs were layed out. Princess Live a real tv studio is very cool. The morning show is filmed there daily. Also they use the venue for various shows like Liar liar and the marriage show.
The entertainment on this cruise was very good. The production shows were very professional and very entertaining. There was only 1 comedian during the cruise but he was very funny. There was also David Cats a magician and the Beatle Maniacs. Both were excellant. They also had a band called Steele that played mostly in the Piazza. They were outstanding.
The main pool area had a some extra touches that were very neat. The first thing was the sea walk. It's a curved walkway with a glass floor the moves out over the ocean. The view straight down is a bit scary. Then there's the center court fountains and the largest movies under the stars screen. The adult pool by the Sanctuary is also larger and have more lounges. It's still next to impossible to get a place in the Sanctuary. I got up one morning very early at my wife's request to try to reserve places for the next day. The line was already 25 deep and I stood in line 45 minutes until 8am when they start taking reservations. It was full before I got half way there.
Overall I really enjoyed the Royal and hope the short comings will be dealt with on their next ship the Regal.