We cruised the week of March 30- April 6 to celebrate our anniversary and to experience the Royal Princess. After months of reviews, pictures and research, we believed we would take this cruise with realistic expectations. A big thank you to all those that cruised before us and shared their experiences. Your informative posts were most helpful to us and many others I'm sure. We had a wonderful week on the Royal and our expectations were met and then some!
We arrived in Ft. Lauderdale at 10:30 am on the day of embarkation,This is the first time we didn't come a day ahead. We parked close to the port and then were taken to the ship by shuttle. The cost was 1/2 of what the port garage charges. We were at the dock by 11:00 am and did not experience any long traffic lines trying to enter the port at this hour. We went directly to security and checked in and then to the Elite and Platinum waiting area. We began boarding at 11:45. There have been those that have complained about huge waits. I would recommend getting there before 11:00 or after 1:00 to avoid the crush.
We had a Deluxe balcony mid-ship on Dolphin, D511 and were pleased with the location and decor. The TV was huge with lots of choices, the love seat comfy, the bed and pillows were a welcome improvement over the other ships and the larger shower with its shelf a definite plus. I also found the new lighting on the sides of the mirrors to be great for applying makeup.
The safe is still only big enough for an ipad, but they added a shelf and it holds the contents in a more organized fashion. They also have increased the lighting in the closet area making it easier to see items in the safe.
The air conditioning was working properly and our wifi was good in the cabin and on the balcony. Just a mention here about the gentleman in charge of the Internet Cafe, he was very personable and helpful. He put the Princess apps on my ipad and iphone which was of great help to me. I experienced a grumpy tech in the Internet Cafe on my last cruise.
The card slot for the lights and TV to work does not affect the AC or the electrical outlets.You can charge your electronics when the card is not in the slot.
The balcony was small but we could face the sea or angle the chairs to be partially facing each other and the sea. Seems that's the way we always sit on the balconies no matter the size.
The elevators are smaller than those on the other ships. The number ratings for them are not realistic. On embarkation day, the elevators were partially
reserved to serve the embarking crowd, but once all were on board,we had no problems using the mid-ship elevators.
I will share now, an amusing tidbit about the elevators and perhaps it will help others.
We entered the lobby of the mid-ship elevators on Dolphin to find several irate passengers complaining because an elevator that stopped and opened was full and this group could not get on. They were frustrated at the lack of stairs and were annoyed they had to walk to the stairs aft or forward. They were also noting that elevators weren't stopping but passing them by. I observed that none of the buttons were lit on the 6 elevators. We hit the buttons and suggested that this might be the problem.Three of the group were so embarrassed they said just wait till you try to get on one and left the lobby. The next elevator opened seconds after they left and we were at the dining room door for our tender tickets before them.
The key here is that once an elevator opens and leaves, you must push the up-down buttons again. If the arrows are not lit, the elevators will not stop.
I will point out also that there are mid- ship stairs behind the double doors in the mid-ship elevator lobby. They are opened for the muster drill and crew will guide you during the drill.
Alfredos was a great alternative to the Horizon for lunch the first day. The food and service was excellent. Sitting and relaxing over lunch beats the crowds that can be found at a buffet. I had the seafood pizza and hubby had the Hawaiian pizza..This was one of two lunches we had there during the week. There is no fee. I mention this as we met people that assumed there was.
We had dinner for two in the Symphony dining room and continued to dine this way all week for the first time. We usually share a table. But this anniversary was special for us and since seating for two is abundant on this ship, we tried it. Never waited and ate between 6 and 6:30 without reservations.
We also dined in the Crown Grill and the Crab Shack and got to celebrate our anniversary twice!!:) Seems when you are making reservations, they ask if you are celebrating anything special. We made the reservations for both dinners at the same time. So we ended up getting two cakes delivered by singing crew members. We also received a card from the Captain, who was sitting at the next table in the Crown Grill. PIc
We ate in the Horizon a couple of times and enjoyed the new buffet set up, especially the outdoor Horizon Terrace and Outrigger Bar. Great place to relax and watch the wake or to dine alfresco.
We also ate lunch and breakfast in the dining room as well as the IC
We found the food to be good to excellent and now we are paying for it:)
We experienced a couple of power outages on our voyage. One was about 10 minutes and the next day we had a lengthy one in the morning affecting the kitchens. We could only have a cold breakfast. That wasn't so bad. It was the lack of COFFEE that was bad.But, after eating our cold breakfast, the power was back up and we got a fresh cup of coffee. The Captain announced that we would be late to St, Thomas, arriving about noon and staying until 8 at night. While in St. Thomas, they conducted some power load tests closing the elevators for about 45 minutes in the afternoon.We were on deck 16 and walked down to 9. Felt sorry for those going the other way. We made it through the rest of the cruise without problems.
The entertainment was good to excellent on this cruise. We saw two production shows that were new to us, "Colors of the World" and "Sweet Soul Music:. There were four tenors singing "Time to Say Goodbye" in Colors of the World that stole the whole show. The men were also great in a medley of Motown Songs in Sweet Soul Music. The Princess showband played live for this show.
The Beatle Maniacs were also on the ship and as usual, they rocked the house.
There have been comments that there was no live music on the Royal. This is false. There were live bands at the pool, the Atrium and the lounges on board. There were 3 different bands on the ship besides the show band. There was dancing in the morning, afternoon, evening and late night.
We went to the Latin Night deck party and saw people of all ages dancing on the Fountain deck to a Latin Band. Then a DJ kept the crowd dancing while the Show Band got ready to accompany the singers and dancers.
Kudos to the performers on a great show.
Comedian Steve White was very funny. Dave Katz the illusionist was enjoyed by many.There was so much more that we could have done, but not enough time to do it all. There was another production show we missed, "Spectacular" and other performers and activities, but we will just have to go again:)
The pool decks were busy on sea days as they are on all ships. However, there are loads of loungers on the open decks to accommodate everyone that wants one. You have to be up at dawn for one on the edge of the pool, but sleep in if you don't mind walking to the pool once settled in a lounger on the sun decks. There were plenty of towel covered loungers with no one around, but some of these were abandoned loungers. We saw people leave with their personal belongings, but they left the towels. There are dedicated drop areas for used towels and to get fresh ones, but either they were too lazy to deposit the towels in the bins or they figured the deck crew would clean up after them. My tip to all is that if you see nothing of a personal nature with the towels, take them to the drop bin and use the lounger. The decks are so busy that some people would not be able to find the loungers again even if they came back.
For those concerned about shade, we found plenty of loungers in the shade on the sun deck right around the corner from the Fountain and Plunge pools.
We also found shade at the Retreat pool, but it is under fabric overhead that still lets light through. You still need to protect your skin if you are fair.
The promenade loungers aft on the port and starboard sides of the ship are in the shade depending on time of day and direction ship is sailing. There is shade all around the perimeter of the Fountain and Plunge pools some with loungers some with tables and some with sofas and club chairs.
We enjoyed the Retreat Pool and found seats either by the pool on port days or just around the bend from the pool on sea days. The water was nippy but swimming a few laps warmed me up. Then it was a pleasure to use the hot tub, which was hot :)
The second pool we tried was the Fountain Pool on a sea day and that water was chilly as well. I was able to swim laps again as the people clung to the sides of the pool or sat on the edge. The Fountain and Retreat pools are deep and many people couldn't touch bottom.
The third pool, the Plunge pool, was waist deep on me and the temp was just right.
It is a better pool for children to use although most of the time, it was filled with adults.
The fountains were on in the morning for children to play in and the children really enjoyed them. Then the fountain deck became a sun deck with added loungers. At night, the fountains performed for water shows. The fountain deck also became a dance floor for party time and a stage for singers and dancers to perform. Plenty of uses for this area of the ship that people suggested was wasted space.
For those who don't like MUTS all day, you will find hours with nothing but soft background music and wildlife videos on the screen. Concerts and band times are listed in the patters. So you can adjust your pool visits accordingly if you prefer the Plunge and Fountain Pools. The Retreat pool is not affected by MUTS at all.
I will also add here that the Retreat pool has no charge and is open to all adults. I do so because we met people that didn't know this even after all the months the ship has been in service.
We have been to the three ports before but still found some new things to do. One of them was to try the right side of Princess Cays as you leave the tender instead of the left. We found it to be more convenient to access the Grille, rest rooms and tenders then the other side.We found loungers in the shade of a palm tree and a cove with easier access and a softer bottom. The weather was nice all week with showers at St. Thomas off and on in the afternoon bringing our only rain.
The seas were great all week and the ship gives a smooth ride.
The service was a 5+ in all areas of the ship. We had a woman steward for the first time. Christina is a fine stewardess and kept our cabin in tip top shape. All the wait personnel were friendly and efficient at all the bars and restaurants.
In conclusion, I would like to encourage those that aren't sure about sailing the Royal to give it a try. I wouldn't have missed this cruise and I look forward to cruising the Royal again along with the Regal. She is different and yet the same as all the other ships in the fleet. She is a Princess ship and we have enjoyed all our cruises on the different classes of ships in the fleet.