Royal Princess Review – Maiden Trans Atlantic Voyage, October 2013. Since this is a new ship I will review the ship first, then the cruise.
The Royal Princess – Princess has done a lot of things RIGHT with this ship. The first impression is one of quality construction and fixtures with a lot of attention to detail – lots of marble and granite, decorative grating, nice lighting etc. The ship is beautiful overall and is as nice as any ship I have ever sailed on. Princess seems to have taken a lot of the criticisms from previous cruiser evaluations of the Grand Class ships and attempted to fix them; Examples of this are as follows: 1. The Horizon Court – Much better Traffic Pattern and much less crowded. It also has a lovely covered outdoor deck eating and lounge area 2. Shade and quiet – On the Crown, Emerald, Ruby etc finding a shady area to sit is a real problem and finding a quiet area is almost as difficult, especially on a Caribbean Cruise. That’s why the Sanctuary sells out so quickly on those ships – I’m usually first in line and buy it for the whole cruise. The Royal has solved that problem with an ADULTS ONLY AREA with it’s own shade and pool and cushions on the lounges. They have also extended shade coverings on the sides of the stacks aft of the main Pool area. While the promenade deck does not go all around the ship there are a number of very nice sitting areas on that deck as well as throughout the ship. The Sanctuary is also very nice and they have put restrooms in the sanctuary area – a great idea. 3. The Royal has much larger tenders which speed tendering operations significantly. 4. The new In Room entertainment system features a large screen TV with a nice choice of programming including Live TV – BBC, Fox News etc., A selection of movies including those shown on deck and in the ships theatres, a selection of TV series such as Homeland, Game of Thrones etc. In addition, you can get your up to date statement of charges and credits, the onboard lectures and shore excursion information on the system. The system in my room worked fine. 5. Theatres – The Royal has Two Theatre venues, The Princess Theatre and the Vista Lounge. The Princess theatre has a very high tech stage and lighting systems and the Vista Lounge is larger and has a couch like seating area. They have done moved the Game shows and Karaoke to a new venue called Princess Live. My only criticism of the Vista Lounge is that they have tried to make it a theatre venue as well a conversation area which really doesn’t work too well in the couch section as the chairs they have placed between the couches make it difficult to get in and out. The ship internet technology worked well. The shower and sink in a regular balcony room were bigger than on the Grand Class which is an improvement. The Balcony area was a bit smaller but was fine for two people. My only real complaint with the ship is the elevator system , the programming of which made no sense at all. Empty elevators passed the floor and full elevators stopped with no logic whatsoever. The passenger elevators are too small and one scooter and 4 people fill the car. Overall we really liked the ship and will be back on it in 2015.
The cruise – The service overall was excellent. The food selection and quality at the Horizon Court was the BEST I have ever seen on a cruise ship – a large selection of meats, cheeses, nuts, shrimp (cold and fried) and almost anything else you might want was available at all meals – Princess can do buffets right when it wants to. Even on a transatlantic with 3600 passengers aboard we were always able to find a seat in the Horizon Court without a problem. Great News -- here are new coffee and hot chocolate machines in the Horizon Court with FRESH GROUND COFFEE. The entertainment was pretty standard with two excellent guest entertainers. They tried to make a headliner out of one of the Princess cast singers which didn’t work out so well and quite a few people walked out. There were no long lines to get into the dining rooms, even at the 6 – 7 PM Dinner hours. We were very happy with the whole experience and will do it again when the new Regal arrives next year.