Having sailed with Princess before, I was excited to experience the brand new 142,000 ton Royal Princess and all the new concepts Princess offered. I have been cruising since 1992 and consider myself an experienced cruiser. I have sailed on Dolphin Cruises, Premiere Cruises, Princess, Carnival, Celebrity, Royal, and NCL many times in the past. After spending 7 nights on that ship, I couldn't wait to get off; a first for me ever.
Embarkation was painless as we showed up at our requested check in around 1:30pm. We got on board Deck 5 near the Atrium and was in immediate shock when we heard there were no stairs in the middle of the ship that could take you deck to deck. This was a HUGE MISTAKE! All six, yes six, elevators on embarkation day were consistently full near the Piazza which is the main hub of the ship. My wife and I had to walk all the way to the Aft of the boat, take those elevators up to the Aloha Deck (12) then walk all the way back to the middle of the boat to get to our cabin A425. These elevators were always full throughout the cruise as the median age for this sailing had to be 65 and I thought I'd walked onto a Holland ship. Not only did you wait a very long time for these elevators, it didn't matter if you were the first ones waiting, the group of people standing next to whatever elevator came available were the ones to get on. Enough about the lack of stairs and consistently full elevators. The first thing we did was visit the dining room as we requested a table for two, but wanted to make sure that's what we had. There was no Matri Di in the dining room and no one knew where he was. We were told to contact guest services to make any changes. I knew this information was incorrect, but decided to call anyway. Being an Elite member with Princess one would think that would be considered. Guest services told me she was not able to see the dining schedule, but to show up and make the request at my scheduled dinner time. At 5:00pm I went back down to the Concerto dining room and attempted to speak with the Matri Di. There was of course a line at this point and everyone was being turned away. Needless to say, we did not eat one dinner in the dining room. Our cabin, A425 was an inside mid ship as previously stated. The bathroom was smaller than I remember on the Princess and the layout was different. Our cabin was consistently hot and we slept with no covers on through out the cruise. We mentioned it to our cabin steward on the second night and we were told that part of the ship is hotter than others due to the galley by our room. I would avoid this deck in the mid ship and sail in the aft.
Day 2 had us a Princess Cay. It's a beautiful island filled with many activities for couples, families, groups, young to old. The only complaint I have about this island is the fact your coke card doesn't work and I was told by the bartender it's because they don't have a computer system hooked up and everything had to be accounted for. Simple solution, write down I got a coke with my alcoholic beverage.
Day 3 was at sea and being in my late 30's there is absolutely nothing geared towards our age group having a little fun, unless you like bingo, art auctions, and a below average band playing by the pool. By the way, unless you got up at the crack of dawn, there were no chairs by the pool as they were all "reserved" by 8:00am. I asked not one, not two, but four different pool attendants including one of the head guys and I was advised to remove the towels myself as they are not allowed to touch people's items. It's like this on every sailing so I can't knock Princess to much for this one.
Day 4 was in St. Thomas. We docked pretty early and was able to get some shopping done. Don't worry about getting off the ship before 9am as nothing but the straw market is open. We booked the BOSS excursion which is where you ride an underwater scooter with an air helmet on. This has to be one of the best excursions I have taken in my last three visits to the island and I highly recommend it.
Day 5 was in St. Maarten. The wife and I took the $8 per person taxi ride over to the Sunset Beach Bar which is where the people hang onto the fence as the planes take off. If you haven't seen this in person, this is I highly recommend also. The Bar has food and drinks and if you stay near the beach, it could be a family event. We also went shopping downtown in Front Street. Word of advice, never let them take your credit card from your sight, even if they are only 20ft away behind their counter, When I checked my cc account, someone had used it for $575 at Computer World in St. Maarten. The only good thing about this is I used my credit card and not my debit card. ALWAYS use a credit card.
Day 6&7 were back at sea and again, nothing exciting to watch. They did play the pool games once during this cruise, but again, nothing geared toward the younger crowd.
I will say the staff on this ship was extremely polite. John, our stateroom attendant was fantastic as was Aimeer, the bartender I met while at the Elite/Platinum nightly event. Those people made a horrible cruise better.
I spoke to many people who went to the dining room Sun, Mon, and Tues, but never went back. I personally thought even the buffet food was average at best. One night the soup was cold along with the mashed potatoes. I have never written such a negative review about a cruise because I always wondered how people can have such a bad time when your on vacation. I now know why. Will I ever sail Princess again? Of course, the Caribbean Princess is a great ship with great staff and a wonderful layout. Sailed on her three times with 0 complaints. I will never go back on the Royal Princess and do not recommend this ship for the younger crowd. I know people have different views and there were some that had a great time, but this was absolutely, hands down, the worst cruise I have ever taken.