My wife and I recently cruised on the Royal Princess to the Eastern Caribbean and were very disappointed. We have cruised extensively since 1995, initially with Princess, then Royal Caribbean for 12 years, and returned to Princess last year. That cruise, aboard the Caribbean Princess to New England, was outstanding. We thought that since that cruise was so great, Princess's newest ship, the Royal Princess, had to be better. Boy were we wrong !
Embarkation was uneventful and our stateroom (a mini-suite) was clean and ready when we arrived. The balcony was the smallest that I had ever seen. You could barely fit two people. The first annoyance that we encountered was with the electrical system. You needed to put your cruise card into a slot near the door or the lights would go off after a few minutes (apparently some sort of energy conservation measure). Additionally, if your card was in that slot, no one could enter the stateroom using their card (apparently some sort of security measure), but a potential problem if your wife was in the stateroom with her card in the slot and she fell asleep while you were out getting a snack, you would have no way to enter the stateroom with your cruise card.
We next went to the Horizon buffet for lunch. The service was inconsistent; we waited several minutes before anyone approached us for drinks, while several other cruisers were served immediately upon sitting down. The buffet was set up with wide aisles which you would think would be a good thing, but it did not direct you in an organized fashion past the food and allowed other cruisers to constantly cut you off and clog things up. The selection of food was sparse and unappetizing.
Dinner wasn't much better. The menu was extremely limited, the food bland, and the service barely adequate. On one occasion, the waitress had noticed that I had not eaten much of my soup and commented, "I guess that you didn't like that" and laughed. No offer to bring me something else or try to make it right.
Entertainment was also sub-par. Except for a comedian and magician, the remaining shows were all with the Princess Cruise's singers and dancers. None of the entertainment was particularly entertaining. There was, however, a pianist who would perform several times a day in the Atrium, who was excellent.
Our stateroom steward was also excellent. He was very pleasant and It seemed like he was able to make up our stateroom in the blink of an eye. The TV system in the stateroom was loaded with current movies, so my wife and I were able to catch up on some of the movies that we had missed in the theater. As perhaps a cost saving measure, the bath only had liquid soap in a pump dispenser. This did not give sufficient lather when bathing, so we requested and received bar soap from our steward.
Our final annoyance was with the tipping system. This is probably not unique to the Royal Princess, but it was the first time that I encountered it. You could not tip anyone ! That's right, no tipping allowed. All tips, whether automatically placed on your bill or personally handed to one of the staff, went into a big pool to be shared not only by all of the personnel on your ship, but by all of the personnel on all of Princess's ships. So if your stateroom steward was exceptional, there was absolutely no method of monetarily expressing your gratitude. You could only fill out a card telling Princess that he was an exceptional employee.
All in all, a disappointing cruise, except that we were able to escape the cold Northeast winter for a little while.