I am always leery of bad reviews on Cruise Critic because how can you not have a good time on a cruise? I did have a good time on the Royal Princess but I would never book this ship again or any other Princess ship in this class.
That being said I am an experienced cruiser; I am Platinum on Princess and NCL, and have been lucky enough to cruise over 30 times. There were many things that I enjoyed on Royal Princess but just as many were disappointing.
The good was the entertainment. The shows I saw were innovative and fun to watch. One of the bands on board, Steele was amazing with a lead singer who channeled Tina Turner and we couldn’t get enough. There was also a fantastic Magic Show (David Cats) that was Las Vegas quality and highly entertaining. The food was good and the buffet endless. Princess still has the best pizza and sea and Royal Princess is no different. There is an expanded Retreat area which is quite nice as well. There was also excellent service in the dining room, buffet area, and around the pool.
As stated there were some things that were not so Royal. Princess continues their tradition of the worst embarkation in the cruise industry at their Fort Lauderdale terminal. It took 1 and ½ hours to get on the ship. When our party tried to board with the platinum members some of our party was turned away and made to wait by “Paul” who is in charge of embarkation at the gate. You have to wonder why this guy would separate a family even after he was advised that we were all together. This guy has to go.
Next is the fact that this ship has no complimentary sauna or steam room and your only option is the Thermal Suite at $159.00 per person; only 40 guests can sign up for this and with over 4000 passengers how much sense does that make?
Another sore spot is the elevators. Frequently elevators were out of service and when they would arrive were always full. The sign in the elevator says capacity of 17 but I don’t see how as they are very small. Getting anywhere on an elevator on this ship is a mission. Often the elevator stopped at every deck which is exhausting.
The shopping host was another disappointment. Those who go to these things know they usually raffle off something nice but not on this ship; instead he gave something away to someone in the back because he got up and danced and then just tossed a few trinkets to those few that were right in front of him. The information he gave was also mostly inadequate; if you are going to shop you are way better off on your own.
The ship is big so tenders can also be a problem especially when tendering into someplace that can only accommodate a few tenders at a time like Princess Cay. I heard complaints that it took many too long to tender in. I did not have this problem because we went over early.
The buffet while big is broken up and while this helps it be less crowded it is hard to find things. Frequently I would be leaving and see things I missed on the buffet.
Another rather strange activity was the margarita demonstration. Why do they only give the women at these things samples? It is so bizarre to me that if you are doing a demo why not let everyone taste a small amount rather than give an entire drink to several females of the bartender’s choice.
On sea days there was literally nothing to do. The seminars were all designed to sell you things; bring a good book along for sea days.
Alfredo’s Pizzeria, the much talked about dining venue was just ok, the pizza on the pool deck is better. They actually burned several calzones our party had ordered and the bottoms were black.
Several times we went to activities that were listed in the Princess Patter for a certain time that were not set up; for example and art auction that we arrived for that they were just starting to set up at the time it was supposed to start.
One night when a “Movie Under the Stars” was to start there was nobody to shut off the canned music around the pool and there was no audio for the movie.
Balconies are tiny and many have no privacy. Once you have been over the Ocean Walk the thrill is gone and it is pretty much a waste that takes away balcony privacy. Balconies at the rear of the ship are tiered offering no privacy from deck 16 above.
We took a shore excursion to St. John that was a disaster; transportation was late and we did not get to spend time in Cruz Bay as advertised and promised; I will only do St. John on my own in the future.
And so it goes on a big ship like this with too many people and not enough facilities for them. I much prefer the older Princess ships like Caribbean Princess and although older they are easier to navigate and because they are smaller are able to offer a better cruise experience on all fronts.