We're a Princess family, don't get me wrong, we cruise a ton and love each one that we're on however every time we book a Princess cruise, as my wife says "it's like we're home"...We were especially looking forward to this one...Our family was travelling with a group of people that were running the A1A Marathon in Lauderdale then jumping on the Royal to enjoy the cruise but run at each port of call...Pretty cool idea-everyone was stoked to see the Royal since it was quite a change from more of the cookie cutter ships they had been putting out lately...This one was filled with a lot of changes that we were excited to see, namely, the Piazza that everyone was raving about!
Pre-Stay was at our home away from home, the Sheraton Fort Lauderdale Beach, a staple every time we stay...It's got everything we need and you're right on the beach so no complaints there...The kicker though was that the finish line to the Marathon was right at the hotel so it was great to just cross the line, run into the hotel, shower up, grab the bags and boom! we're off to the pier...Fave lunch spot is the Bahia Cabana across the street...Doesn't look like much from the outside but once you're there, it's gorgeous views of the intercoastal and all the yachts for sale lol...Try the Big Daddy's fish tacos-we get em every time...Coconuts on the Intercoastal for dinner-don't even read the menu, just wait to hear the specials then make your decision, you won't regret it! If not there, then Bubba Gumps is always a second choice for us...Love that shrimp mac n cheese in the skillet!! If you're at the hotel, try for the beach tower, great views of the beach volleyball (if you know what I mean) and I'm not being sexist, the views from both genders are equally as impressive...The pool is nice but the access to the beach is great and setting up with umbrellas and chairs will make your day.
Marathon Day was packed and filled with activity first thing in the morning...It was a stunning sunrise and a perfect temp for running...10 minute trek from the hotel to the pier and we were ready to get on...Easy Peasy checking in (thank you Elite Status-love you Princess for that) and we were on the way...Stepping on board, it will take your breath away, the Piazza is everything you wanted it to be, so elegant and stunning, was just gorgeous...We made our way to the room, had a balcony cabin on Aloha Deck and first impressions were quite good although the balconies are smaller than what we've been used to (unless you get a Deluxe)...Kudos to Princess for the On-Demand system on the TV-great flat screen with access to tons of good TV shows and awesome movies, plus you could pause and come back to watch another time which I found really convenient...Typical bathroom for what we're used to on a cruise, yes the toilet paper is hard to get to but just be a caveman like me and take the roll and put it in a good spot you can get to it...You have to be a practicing Yogi to be able to get to where you need it right now...Not sure who designed it but I've seen in 5 star hotels as well so what ev! Make it happen! Beds were good, nice and soft, they're pillow top now so you'll sleep like a baby...Internet access is still prehistorically slow in the cabin but we weren't on it that much anyway with the exception of our son who has school work to do.
As far as the rest of the ship, I'll tell you what you already know-yes no center stairwell sucks, and I'm glad they are putting back on the Regal...No aft pool was disappointing but I still had some good cigars and Remy out back where it would have been-Again, thank you Princess for adding back to the Regal! And no promenade to walk around and chill-that was weird not having that but again, it's headed back to the Regal so thats going to be a beauty...Jogging track was awesome-we were up there every day running with the group-basketball court is a full court and is great as well-hooped it up there every day-love the track though, big enough and wide enough for everyone to get along...Mini golf is meh! They've got some spots for shuffleboard and some ping pong tables as well...The big winner in my humble opinion is the Horizon Court-no more cattle lines and masses of people trying to get a friggin' omlette. The way they have it layed out now is pure bliss when you go for breakfast lunch or dinner...So many selections and things to choose from and the laneways and traffic patterns are awesome to more around! Well done Princess-whoever designed that should have done the toilet rolls in the rooms...Food was good to great in our opinion, service throughout all areas including dining room was fantastic, love the Princess Service-Alfredos Pizzaria-yes yes yes and get the Calzones-mmm mmm good!
Entertainment was good thruout the trip, always lots happening in the Piazza so keep your eye on whats going on there...Cruise Director Goodman was pretty cool, always out and about which was nice to see...MUTS was great...nice huge screen with some good movies that week-Gravity-Capt. Phillips (some people were offended they would play this? Check your meds)...The water show-meh! Could do without it or put another pool in...I don't complain much but I do have an issue with this next point and you can agree with me or not-I would love the debate...I love a good steam and a sauna-they've had them as part of the change rooms on the majority of Princess ships before-well not anymore-now you've got to go the spa to pay $199 for the week to use all the Thermal stuff-nothing in the change rooms any more-that blows...However- it is stunning and they did a great job only 40 passes given out for the week at 200 bones-c'mon guys bring back the steam room please!!
Gym was good, lot of machines to use and everyone was pretty cool in there...As far as the pool deck, lots of space to lay around, service is good where ever you go...There's more I'm missing here but my fingers are getting sore...You WILL love this ship...We did and booked the Regal for Marathon Weekend next year...It's going to be even better with the changes that are going to be added to her so can't wait for that! Enjoy your time on the Royal and let me know what you think!