The Princess ground staff were there to greet us at the airport and assist us to our bus transfer to the ship. On the way to the ship we had to wait for other local passengers which took about twenty minutes. Be expected to tip the driver who was very cheerful and welcoming.
Embarkation onto the ship went well as we arrived around 2.30 pm and there were no crowds. We received our cabin card and a small deck plan card. We didn't receive much direction by the security staff which I believe may have been attributed to their lack in speaking English comfortably. We embarked on deck 5 and was assisted to the lobby elevator in order to proceed to our cabin on deck 10 (caribe). We were greeted by name by our steward Chris Cabanas who advised our luggage would not be forwarded for about 2-3 hours. We were happy with our cabin and the balcony especially. If you prefer some alone time and fresh air, I would suggest a balcony cabin. We found the cabin quiet and had ample hot water. There is plenty of shampoo and body wash provided and we were able to use Princess bathrobes that can be purchased for $45. We also received two complimentary Princess cruise tote bags. Each night we received two chocolates when our beds were turned down.
Our steward directed us to deck 16 - Lido where the pool, snack bars and buffet restaurants are located. We weren't certain at this time if fees applied to the snack bars and had to embarrassingly ask, answer being no. There is a no cost soft ice cream bar called Swirls, which at night also provides free popcorn for the 'movies under the stars.' The other two snack bars, one for delicious thin crust pizza and the other for burgers, hot dogs and fries. My first meal was a nice tasting veggie burger. The servers did offer welcome alcohol drinks at a cost which I thought should have been complimentary.
We did not dine at the restaurants requiring $25 service fee but were told by other passengers Sabitini's was exceptional for steak. The Horizon Bistro (buffet) is opened 5.30am to 11.00pm and is on the Lido deck. We were pleased with the food options there and it was nice to eat outside on the deck. We opted for anytime dining, however, I would recommend eating before 6.30pm in order to not miss the evening entertainment. The staff were hardworking, courteous and helpful. It was nice to see the staff's name and their home country. I would recommend leaving a gratuity at the end of the cruise to any staff who provides exceptional service as did our cabin steward, Chris.
The auditoriums for the stage shows have limited seating. We did see the Princess Live shows and enjoyed the Princess Pop-star competition which highlighted many talented and courageous passengers. Please check out the Princess Patter newletter for daily activities. The gym was well equipped. We did not take advantage of the Sanctuary or Lotus Spa. I would suggest being cautious of the sales presentations unless you are looking to spend a lot of money on jewellery and algae supplements. There is a gift shop in the atrium that has many items should you have forgotten something. We found the gift shop not overpriced. Also, you will be photographed many times which make lovely souvenirs at a cost of about $20-$25 per photo.
I was the only one who did experience sea-sickness out of my family of five; Tuesday morning and Friday evening. I cannot explain why I got sick as I didn't feel the ship's movement. I did bring Gravol which made me sleep and recover. Two passengers suggested taking any form of ginger being fresh, pills or ginger ale. I would say that if you suffer from motion sickness, prepare yourself. I didn't think it necessary to see the ship's medical clinic.
Being our first cruise we truly enjoyed: the ship's elegant three-storey atrium; the formal night champagne glass fountain ceremony with the captain and crew with complimentary champagne (to those over 21 years); the "Love Boat Themed Horn" when departing from ports;and the amazing caribbean scenery, weather and beaches; and the movies under the stars. The skywalk over the ocean was amazing and not too frightening. Our only not so positive comment (other than my sea sickness and the sales sessions) was of the unpleasant diesel and sulfur smells from the upper decks. We couldn't lounge on the higher decks for this reason.
Staff handled the debarkation efficiently regarding organizing the luggage and transfer to the airport.
The Royal Princess is not a super large ship that provides out-door activities as rock-climbing or wave surfing but is a grand ship which provides relaxed elegant sailing travelled by mature passengers and adult families. The crew and staff did make us feel welcomed and appreciated which is important when one spends a considerable amount towards a vacation.