By way of introduction, we are a 50-something couple on our annual winter vacation. We have done a number of Carnival cruises in the past, and last year we did a Princess cruise. Our goal is rest and relaxation.
We arrived in Fort Lauderdale a day early, as we fly from the cold North. From FLL, we took a taxi ($25 with tip) to Bahai Mar Doubletree on Sunrise Blvd., off A1A. We loved the location, on the beach, and just a couple of blocks south of the main strip. We enjoyed lunch at Bubba Gumps and walked up to the CVS. We met friends at Coconut's for dinner. The food and service were good. We had breakfast in the morning at the little convenience store next to the hotel and then took a stroll on the beautiful beach across the street.
We left our hotel at 10 a.m., taking a taxi ($21 with tip) to Port Everglades. We got our first glimpse of the beautiful Royal Princess. We stood in line for about 15 minutes before we went through security, checked in our two allowed wine bottles, checked in, and then went to the seating area by 10:30. We sat in the seating area until our boarding zone (#1) was called at 12 noon.
Two days before our cruise, we were contacted by Princess by phone with an “upgrade” offer, offering to move us from a regular balcony room on Baja, to E618, a Deluxe Balcony with "partial" obstruction. They offered us $200 OBC, and we decided to take it. The room turned out to be very obstructed, with a large life boat (the one used for tendering at Princess Cays) directly out our balcony door. We did enjoy the larger room with a love seat.
We had some great meals on the Royal Princess. Our favorites included...
Crown Grille - we ate here 3 times and had 3 excellent meals with wonderful service. The Filet Mignon and Prime rib were excellent.
Horizon Buffet - this is the best lay out of any buffet we have seen. There are lots of choices, with great food for a buffet. We actually ate dinner here twice, which is something we don't usually do.
Room Service - we had breakfast delivered to our room several times. The coffee arrived hot in a carafe. The coffee itself was much better than last year’s coffee.
Anytime Dining - this did not work well for us this time. We wanted to eat around 7, which is when everyone else also wants to eat. The first night, we waited about 20 minutes, then got a pager, then waited another 30 minutes.
Pizza - delicious pizza for a ship.
Ice Cream - stopped for quite a few small soft serve cones.
The goal of our cruise is rest and relaxation, so there are a lot of activities that we are not interested in. Some of the things we enjoyed include:
Sitting out on our balcony. This was only our second cruise with a balcony, and we certainly enjoyed it.
A huge highlight of the trip was listening to the band Orphea and their singer, Pascale. They were excellent and we went to hear them several times. I hope our paths cross again sometime.
We found a nice quiet deck to sit on, on Deck 7, port side, near aft.
We enjoyed a MUTS, Now You See Me.
I watched several old episodes of Love Boat on our nice stateroom TV.
Other random thoughts...
Theme for the week was "you can't get there from here" due to the really different lay out. A midship stairway would be helpful.
Beautiful ship decor. Not gaudy.
The Crown Grille rocks. Excellent food, great service.
Comfortable beds and bedding.
Obstructed view balcony really means obstructed. A large lifeboat (used for tendering) outside our balcony door.
Small bathroom but nice sized shower.
Great room steward.
Loved, loved the band Pascale and Orphea. They will be on Regal Princess in May.
Older crowd. At 50, we were young.
Nice Horizon Buffet. Best layout and food we have ever seen.
No aft pool. No covered pool.
Retreat area was very, very windy.