I realize I have nothing to compare the Royal to but I thought it was a gorgeous ship and we had a wonderful time! I really was surprised at how much people on the ship were complaining about things but I guess they have more experience than I do!
I was impressed with how quickly we were able to board the ship--very easy and painless process--have your passport and travel summary and you are good to go! We were on the ship within a half hour of arriving at the dock! Our room (a deluxe balcony) was ready so we dropped our carry on bags off, checked it all out and headed to lunch!
The elevator is slow to come but quick to close--so quick my 14 year old daughter got on ahead of me and the elevator slammed shut and off she went without me! Off to a great start! She rode the elevator til she got back to me and then we went to the Horizon Court. I again lost her because the place is so huge and it all starts to look the same! Quick tip- there is light and dark wood furniture in the different dining rooms--pick one style and stay in that area! I thought the food was wonderful and there was so much to choose from! We ate there for most breakfasts and even a few times for lunch and dinner. We had Anytime Dining and ate in both the dining rooms--they seemed equally nice to us. All the staff we encountered throughout the ship were very polite, friendly and so helpful! We never had to wait for anyone to offer us anything--there was always someone asking what they could do for us. We enjoyed the complimentary room service a few times too--best chocolate fudge cake ever!! We had rough seas all week and you could feel it as you walked around and especially when you laid down but it never felt so bad I got seasick or anything (my daughter did not feel well a few times so she took Dramamine).
Our cabin was very nice and spotlessly clean. Our room steward was Cynthia and she was wonderful! My daughter wanted to bring her home with us! I found my twin bed to be very uncomfortable--think cement slab--but they do not have pillow top cushions for the twin beds. I could barely walk in the mornings from my body aching so badly. I loved having a balcony but found that more than half of the time I tried to be out there someone on another balcony would be smoking which was not permitted. I specifically chose Princess because of their no smoking policy but it was not enforced on my cruise at all. It also really reeked of smoke when you went to The Piazza on Decks 5, 6, and 7--smoke from the casino. Yuck! So disappointing!
Our Princess Cay day was a bust--we had high winds and rain so we got a few minutes in the ocean and the rest of the time we were trying to find cover from the rain. It is a beautiful island and I would love to see it again in nice weather. Our other 2 excursion days were nice--Maegen's Bay beach on St. Thomas is spectacular!. I bought a bottle of rum in St. Maarten and it was taken at the security point and given back to me our last day. Our sea days were nice but be warned if you do not get up very early and grab a lounge chair you are out of luck! It took us til 4 pm the first sea day to be able to get one. The pool area was very crowded and chaotic--unsupervised kids everywhere! .
We loved all the shows and entertainment, loved the Wheelhouse fish and chips lunch on sea days, loved the ice cream at Swirls, loved the Princess Live Studio--go watch them tape the Wake Show--really cool to see a tv show filmed! Sam and Ryan are awesome Cruise Directors and there is always some thing going on! We watched Wolverine at Movies Under the Stars--that was fun!
Overall I would say that was the best vacation I have ever had and I did not want to come home to cold and snow but reality called! We paid our deposit to go again but I think we will try a different ship just so we can see what everyone was talking about!