My husband and I are totally addicted to cruising, having been on 29 cruises in 5 years. In fact, we love cruising so much we moved to Florida to be closer to the cruise ports. We now live on the Gulf Coast, just a 3 1/2 hour from Port Everglades. This is our 13th cruise on Princess and the first on the Royal.
We had a bit of a hiccup a couple days before our cruise - our credit card company called to say our card security had been compromised and they were canceling our card. Oh great! Our replacement card wouldn't arrive for several days. Luckily we have a second credit card so we didn't have to take a bucket of cash for our on board account. When I changed my credit card at check-in, the agent said at least 3 other people that day had told her the same thing. Good lesson for us - always have a second card.
Embarkation was slower than what we're used to, I don't know if it's because we arrived at 12:30, a busy time, or if it's because the ship is so big. Since we are Platinum we used the Preferred Boarding line but even that line had 50 people in it. Luckily, it moved quickly and we were checked into our room and lunching in the expansive buffet by 1:30.
I was really looking forward to seeing how beautiful this new ship was and was certainly not disappointed. I never said "wow" so many times in my life. The Piazza was gorgeous, with a staircase that looked like it was suspended by a ribbon. I loved all the tile, granite and marble. The ceiling above the Customer Service Desk had very interesting painting techniques. Loved being able to see pictures of the Naming Ceremony.
We loved the first production show, Colors of the World but weren't crazy about the other 2, too much recorded singing. The theater is a weird design and anyone coming in late on deck 6 had to walk down front and across in front of the stage to get to the available seats. Very disruptive. A couple times they interfered with the singers and dancers who were performing in the aisles. We always arrive a little early so that we can get a seat near the front. Love the energy of the performers. We were very impressed with all the music every night on the ship. Just leaving the theater we'd pass at least 3 venues with live music. The Beatle Maniacs in the Piazza is not to be missed. The whole crowd was dancing!
We don't eat in the main dining room much anymore - not much impressed with the food or the service. We had surprisingly good food both nights we ate there but miserable service one of the nights. Crown Grill was good as usual. Our server worked very hard to please. Alfredo's has a great menu and very attentive servers. I can't say enough good things about the buffet, so many choices! Loved having such a great salad bar, especially near the end of the cruise when I was so full I was sure I'd explode.
Our cabin attendant did a great job for us. We didn't see him much but the cabin was always clean. I found the new bed to be disappointingly hard so our steward found an extra pillow top for me and that helped. I think they used the wrong kind of feathers for the pillows because it was so hard that I couldn't use it. The synthetic pillow was fine.
We rarely do any ships excursions, usually take a cab to the beach and that's what we did in both St Thomas and St Martin. The tenders to Princess Cay went very smoothly with very little wait. We don't join many activities on the ship either - mainly lay in the sun (plenty of open loungers) and read books. We were grateful that the MUTS only showed travelogue type pictures and not the blaring concerts of the past.
What impressed us the most on this cruise was how happy the crew seemed. Everyone greeted us with big, friendly smiles. One of the stewards was whistling Christmas carols every time we passed. The Maître 'd and the head chef put on an amusing culinary demonstration where they teased each other endlessly. It was obvious they liked each other, and their jobs. Shortly before we disembarked I saw the head chef himself escorting 8 young cooks around the ship. He said (with obvious pride) that he was showing them the new "city" they'd be working on.
Sadly, we had to leave the ship after 7 wonderful days. Disembarkation was very smooth, nearly 1/2 a hour ahead of schedule by the end.
Our second hiccup of the cruise was waiting for us at the off site lot where we parked. Our car had been crunched by one of their valets. Luckily they admitted fault so it should be no problem getting it fixed, but a time consuming hassle for something we didn't cause. I'll be looking for self park and not valet for our next cruise.