We looked forward to our first Princess cruise, especially as the Royal Princess was christened only 6 months before our departure. The Royal is a beautiful ship. The crew is friendly and, for the most part, when they understand English they are competent. Crew members go out of their way to be helpful even if what you ask isn't in their job description (as in, when deck personnel couldn't be found, an officer located a stack of towels at the pool).
Now for the not-so-good news. The food and entertainment were mediocre at best. The restaurants and buffets offered many choices, but the quality of the food was only average. Entertainment: meh. Food: feh. The drinks, reasonably priced, had minimal alcohol, and the choice of liquors was poor.
This brand-new ship has decks that are slippery when wet. Slippery when wet! That means that even if you don't have rain, you'll find a lack of sure footing every day when the decks are washed down. Who builds a ship that embarks in 2014 with slippery deck material?! (We saw a little boy fall--and he wasn't even one of the many elderly on board.)
The Sanctuary, an adults-only private sundeck, requires a hefty extra fee. Upgrading to a specialty restaurant also will cost you $25/person to walk in. Whoa, Nelly. You've already paid for the cruise. In truth, the Sanctuary is a bit nicer than the all-adult Retreat, but is it necessary for Princess lines to add an elite, VIP area for those willing to shell out about $100/day more? We could have afforded the Sanctuary, but the principle is offensive and elitist.
The Enclave, part of the spa, also has an extra charge. This dark area of the ship is small and can be noisy. You'll find about 8 warm tiled lounges and a small pool, fragranced showers, and sauna and steam rooms. The pool and sauna areas are co-ed. The spa offers the usual: bamboo massages, salt scrubs, etc. Perhaps the best deal is the $99 "20-20-20" offer, in which you choose three 20-minute options.
The casino allows smoking. Enough said.
So much more to say about our disappointment with the Royal Princess, but let's leave it at this: why would anyone want to spend a week on a ship that has only average food and below-average entertainment?