98 total cruises - Over 60 total cruises on Princess. The RP is an undeniably beautiful ship. Very understated elegance in muted browns, beiges and golds. There is much to like about her and quite a bit not to.
The beds are very comfortable pillow top with wonderful linens. The balconies, while small are adequate. Won't be holding any parties. Chairs recline, but would only be room for one that way. The rooms are narrow and somewhere in size between an inside and a balcony on other Princess ships. Very nicely done. 42" LCD TV almost too big. Bathroom an improved design, you don't become quite so friendly with the shower curtain. Yes the TP holder is ridiculous. But overall an improvement. Very brightly lit.
The mid ships stair situation is overblown. Most passengers would take an elevator to the top of the bar stool if they could! BUT the elevator situation is horrendous. They have increased the size of the Piazza on all 3 floors by 50%. They have many activities and dining rooms there. And of course there are 600 additional passengers with the same number of elevators and in our opinion smaller elevators. It is a fight for every elevator, they are packed and very hot. Most unpleasant. And I feel sorry for handicapped as they have a very difficult time. This is a major blunder that probably can't be fixed here or on Regal absent a major overhaul.
We are ballroom dancers and virtually all dancing is in the Piazza which feels like you are dancing in a greyhound bus station. The floor is marble with metal strips that catch the ladies heels. Not the least bit romantic. And there are gawkers on the levels above. For those unaware marble is very hard on the legs, feet and ankles and the result is pain! Dancers like to dance on cushioned floors and while not cushioned, the wood floors do have a little bit of resilience. The music is wonderful. But since almost all music is in Piazza, it is impossible to have music in Crooners at the same time.
Wheelhouse is non existent. Nothing more that a waiting area for crown Grill. No dance floor, just a piano player. No explorers. In its place is Princess Live - a video production facility that does not seem to have any real use and uncomfortable seating. No dance space. Game shows etc. A lot of money for little use.
The theatre is terrible. No side isles except on first 9 rows which have no rise at all. Don't get behind someone tall or big. You can watch folks move to 3-4 different seats trying to find a good one. There aren't any. Very tight airline seating especially in the rows with a glass wall in front. No place for drinks but the waiters can't get to you anyway. It actually appears to be a fire hazard with the lack of side isles and exits. Takes a long time to get out. On 7, one side exits into the shops and if they are closed then Squeeze across to the other side. Again appears to be a hazard.
Vista Lounge has even worse sight lines than other ships. The seating is the worst design ever. There are bench type seats with nice fixed lighted tables. Then they add in front of the tables where one would expect an aisle very heavy swivel barrel chairs. If you manage to get in one, you are there for the duration because you can't move and the folks on the bench seats can't either. In some rows there is a column blocking the end so that there is only one way in or out and it become impossible. Again no way for the waiters to reach you. This is hard to describe, just have to see it to believe it.
The public bathrooms are very tight with lots of angles. Very uncomfortable. And again 600 more passengers and no more bathrooms. One oddity is the use off wood trim in the stalls which goes to the floor and of course absorbs water from the constant mopping. Most are very black and rotting on this brand new ship. In the international cafe area they have tables with 2 chairs and a cute curved couch which looks big enough for 2 - but wrong! It is only comfortable for one!
In general the human engineering seems to be non existent and created by a team that has never been on a ship before. There are many other elements that are very odd and reflect a lack of understanding of people and how they react.
NOW - we heard constantly from other Elite passengers how unhappy they are and that they will not return. All unsolicited.
Royal Princess is a major blunder and may explain the recent shakeup in Princess management. Hopefully the new team will take the necessary action and expense to fix it - or just sell it to another unsuspecting cruise line!
NOTE on this cruise - Seemed like A team mostly on holiday. Service was below our normal expectations on Princess including room steward, dining staff and especially International Cafe area. Alfredos waiter was literally running to try and keep up. Horizon Court service was excellent.
We did not see first hand, but our friends played blackjack and said it was impossible to have someone sitting at the first seat on one table and the last seat at the next because the tables were so close together. Another human engineering blunder.
Overall food was good and comparable to other ships in the fleet.
We are very dedicated Princess passengers and will continue to sail on their other beautiful ships, but will not return to Royal or Regal unless major changes are made which we don't see happening.