We were excited, but a little anxious about the Royal Princess. We loved the smaller Princess ships, but based on how much was available on board, this one looked exciting.
Embarkation was amazingly fast. We're Ruby, not Elite, but there was little difference. We were in line maybe 15 minutes before getting on the ship. Disembarkation was the same. So fast, I almost didn't have time to get my passports out in time before getting to customs.
There were four of us, my 86 year old father, my husband, our 16 year old son and me. Once onboard, we went to the teen area to sign our son up. The newly designed teen center was amazing! They had their own sun deck, hot tub and a gathering area that had a very modern, sophisticated design. There were several teens on board and my son had a fantastic time.
Okay, let's get to the cabin. We had a mini suite and like many others have said, the balcony was small. In reading reviews prior to our cruise, I thought that it wouldn't be that big of deal. Sadly, it was. It was a squeeze for even two people, because they didn't scale the furniture properly. It looked like they used the same chairs and ottomans that they had on the Coral and other ships. It didn't leave much room. The cabin itself was fine, but I sensed it was narrower. One thing that was great was the flat screens and movie selections. After a long day and night, it was great to come back and watch a movie.
If you like the aspects of going to the Crooner's Bar or the Wheelhouse for fun entertainment and dancing, forget it. These were two spots we always liked on Princess. All real entertainment takes place in the Piazza. When you do that, there are a limited amount of spots on any level to see the band, if you want to sit. Otherwise you are forced to stand around the rails to watch. Personally, I missed listening to a jazz combo in the Wheelhouse before dinner or the fantastic piano player in Crooners. The best entertainment can be found in the Princess Theater. Every show we saw was excellent, especially the Beatle's cover band.
We did anytime dining and unless you were an early bird or a late comer, there was a significant wait in the dining room. Luckily, Princess still maintained their high standards on service and food. Their soups are always to die for and our servers were fantastic. We ate at the Crown Grill one evening and it wasn't any better than the regular dining experience. The quality of the steaks were good, but Longhorn's Steakhouse good, not Ruth Chris good. The Horizon Court was bigger and had a Bistro and a pastry section. The food was fine, but I think in the expansion, quality was sacrificed. I know that with breakfast you should not have an over cooked egg, with hollandaise sauce that has broken down because of being under the lights too long. I noticed a lot of older folks getting easily confused by the layout, too.
I will echo the sentiments that others have had about the pools. Not enough and if you wanted a deck chair you had to get their early, even for one in the shade. There was only one big pool and a kiddie pool. Taking up space for the water light show was a mistake as was taking out that lovely indoor Lotus pool with it's mellow space.
We had some inclement weather on a couple of days, so we took extra advantage of the Lotus Spa. The staff was great and the service was excellent. I did miss it being on the upper deck, though.
Would I go back to another Princess cruise? You bet, but just not the Royal.