We booked our cruise on the Royal months before its first sailing and after reading the terrible reviews in the few months leading up to our cruise we were really concerned that we'd booked on a lemon. But after spending seven days on this ship we're convinced that there are a lot of whiners out there. Did they make a mistake in not putting a staircase midships? Yes. Did it take a bit longer to get an elevator? Yes. But what's your hurry people? Maybe it took an extra minute or two. So what? Seriously, what's really important on a cruise ship?
The food - it was great on this ship. The service - impeccable on the Royal. The fitness facilities were better than any ship I've been on and better than my home gym which is top notch. I went to the gym five out of the six mornings which was unheard of for me, it was that good. Three visits to the Lotus Spa and they were all good.
Here are a few beefs: Beef#1 What really left a sour taste in my mouth at the Lotus Spa was the hard sell for products at the end of each treatment. I had to gear up for the argument about why I didn't want to buy anything. $700 in face products? Get real.
Beef #2 was also about the Lotus Spa. The swanky steam rooms were only available if you paid $159 for the entire week. Why not a daily rate, Princess? You lost business from a lot of people who would have loved a day in the steam rooms, but who didn't want to shrivel up to a prune by steaming for seven days straight?
Beef #3 was the dining situation. After 9 cruises, this was the second Princess ship (the last being the Island Princess in Jan'13) where we had to wait for 90 minutes for a table in the Anytime Dining Room. Surely something can be done to avoid this problem. After two days of this, we decided to make a reservation every day which defeats the purpose of 'anytime' dining, doesn't it? And I could only choose between 5:30 or 7:30. That's not anytime dining, Princess. That was annoying.
The pluses about the Royal are many: the Horizon Court buffet was much improved over the older ships. So many options and everything tasted fresh. We're not buffet people, but the few times we ventured up there we were pleasantly surprised. The cafe that sold pastries was delicious. Didn't get to try the pizza because they were out of pizza the two times I tried to sample it. The main dining rooms were fantastic with high quality food, fast service and good variety. There were many great places to sit or recline on the Royal and it took us days to find them all. To sum up, we won’t be booking a second cruise on this ship because we preferred the older ships, namely the Crown and the Ruby both of which had features that we preferred over the Royal, ie the ability to walk right around the ship on deck 6 or 7, larger balconies, etc. But we wouldn’t pan this ship altogether. It’s definitely worth a visit.