First of all this our tenth cruise was all about the exciting new mega-ship. We really did not care where it was going just wanted the new ship experience ! Embarkation was quite dis-organized, but after a 90 minute wait, we were herded onto the new Queen of the fleet, or not. We were on deck 8 Emerald, this deck has quite a bit of obstruction from tenders protruding over your balconies,not good. We were in between at mid-ship so for us it was not too bad, for most others I would have been dis-pleased. The room was small but adequate apx. 9 x 22 or apx. 200 sq. ft. Our balcony was larger than most 6 x 8 over the new Deluxe balconies. Many passengers could look right into your room from the sky walk, so select wisely if you ever book the Royal or Regal ?The Royal is quite beautiful especially the larger piazza, but not without many faults, and design flaws. What were they thinking with no mid-stairwells and such slow, few, & small elevators? This was a major problem throughout the cruise for the majority of passengers especially in the evenings going up, or down. This ship was very difficult to navigate, because you could not go higher on the mid stairs than deck 7 ? Again what were they thinking ? This should be a major saftey/fire code violation ! Many of the public rooms and areas are decorated smartly, and classy but lack enough room, or space, for passenger convience. The casino was tiny, and packed every night. It was very difficult to even get down and Isle to even play a machine. This ship holds 3,600 the biggest in the fleet, yet many area were terribly undersized for the additional 800 passengers of their "grand class" ships? Again, what were they thinking ? The pools, or lack of them was another miscue, just not enough for the majority of users, and none aft. The entire aft section was a total waste of space. Deck 7 Promenade, their was no room, or way to navigate, or walk around the ship, disappointing again. Well as you can see many poorly thought ideas went into the making of this particular ship. Now for the good stuff. Good food mostly, and very good service throughout the ship. Most of the crew were friendly with smiles and courteous, prompt service.
Entertainment was very good thanks to Carlos Oscar & the Beatlemaniacs, which we have seen before, so good, we loved them both. Production shows were the best we have seen on 9 prior Princess cruises, although a bit shorter in length, the best Princess dancers and singers so far. We had a new team just arriving and the old team leaving so there were 3 very good production shows that were very well received.
Ports, we loved the change from Princess Cays to Grand Turk due to weather. St Thomas was okay, we had seen much of it before on other visits. Our favorite was definately St. Maarten, loved Orient Beach and the great lunch and drinks on a truly gorgeous beach. The weather was perfect too, just a really great beach day. Grand Turk was a hit too, loved the beach, clear water, and had some great drinks and snacks at " wild n crazy Margaritaville" and their humongous pool was hard not to enjoy!
To sum it all up our tenth cruise on the Royal was a lot of fun, but this ship sure does not beat their grand class ships. Will we cruise with Princess again, of course, but not on the Royal. We heard recently that the Regal her sister arriving in May 2014 will have some much needed design changes which is smart and the right thing to do. We suggest they dry dock the Royal after the Regal is in service, and do the same. Many adjustments need to be made and as soon as possible. We met so many great people on board to all of them and our Chicago buddies Mayta & Bruce, hope to see you again on another Princess cruise someday. Happy Sailing !