You've read many of the negative reviews regarding Royals layout, for me the disappointment was the lack of a Promenade Deck, however, Regalt is designing it in. Yes, the central staircase would be nice, but not an issue and the elevators weren't a big issue after day one. Mind you I prefer using the stairs.
The crew was excellent, very friendly and willing to do what they could to help. A bit above other
Princess ships I've sailed on. The overall layout was pretty nice, however as the new flagship well I prefer the design off the Grand class and the older Panamax ships (Island & Coral). The number of passengers on board was not an issue, like most ships the chairs are "reserved" with towels early, but we had no issues real issues there either, typically finding a place after breakfast.
The sports area, well forget shuffleboard what Royal provides is a shrunken version in a walking path, not worth the paint to make it. The basketball, general area is quite large perhaps too large for the limited use it receives.
The food, well it was okay, not the best of the Princess Ships as the premier ship we were expecting it to set the standard. The new Horizon Bistro and Court provided a very nice breakfast and lunch, dinner well not much above standard buffet level. Dinners in the dining room were fine, good staff, decent food, but not above other Princess ships.
Entertainment, while I believe the performers do there best, it wasn't much to talk about.The Princess Theater layout needs to be pointed out to the entertainers, especially magicians and illusionists. The theater seating wraps behind the stage front at the edges. We arrived late, no issues and sat in the third row from the front about two seats from the side. The initial performer was an Illusionist, lets just say that by sitting effectively behind the performer, not much illusion remains. The remainder of the performances were not worth attending, with the exception of the comedian who was great in our opinion. The largest issue was trying to see a performance, they are only available for a couple of shows and the length of the show is extremely short. The comedian for example, barely had the crowd warmed up before his time was up. This area needs work with respect to proper scheduling.
So bottom line, nice ship, great crew, top of the line, no we prefer the older ships design. I understand Regal will address a couple of the design criticisms, but Princess has to redesign the "Anytime Entertainment" concept to be more passenger friendly by increasing the number of offering for the same show and increasing the times allocated for the shows. We wanted to experience the new ship, we did, will we go on Royal again, doubt it, but a super itinerary and we might consider it again.