We have sailed on the Ruby Princess and the Crown Princess, as well as other Princess ships, but this is our new favorite.
EMBARKATION: Fairly smooth at noon, although several people went through the line reserved for platinum and elite guests, and this happens nearly every time. The regular lines were terribly long. I think more and more people are boarding early.
DINING: The Horizon Court is greatly expanded from the one on other Princess ships. There are a number of food stations and plenty of seating, as well as a pastry shop. What a great addition – it had crème brulee for a lunch dessert. The Horizon Terrace is a great outdoor area to relax and eat. The food was consistently good in the Horizon Court.
Alfredo’s is fantastic! It is located in the piazza – very convenient to everything. The pizza and pasta are so fresh – it’s like eating in a specialty restaurant without the cover charge.
We did not use room service or try the seafood bar in the piazza; nor did we try a specialty restaurant as we have done those before.
Dining room: We had a table for 2 each night in a great location. Our waiter, Bali, was excellent. The food was good, but I must say that if you are a frequent cruiser on Princess, you might notice that the menus need to be updated/changed. We have had the same ones now for quite some time and although the variety of selections is good, some new ideas for the menu would be welcome.
OUR CABIN: We were on Dolphin deck, cabin 607. There is ample storage. Several reviewers have mentioned that the cabins on this ship are much smaller, and that is true. The cabin is very small, and the balcony is small as well. However, since we had been forewarned, we didn’t expect much and managed quite well. The television is a huge flat screen, and the bathroom has enough room. I was surprised to see a shower curtain instead of the nice sliding shower doors found on most new ships, but it is due to the odd shape of the shower. The shower has a long ledge for storage of shampoo, soap, etc., and it’s great for the ladies to use as a foot-rest for shaving legs. Finally – a shower that doesn’t skimp on storage areas! The lighting in the cabin is a bit sparse – if you want to read at night you might struggle a bit. The pillows smelled very stale – I asked for clean pillowcases three days into the cruise, and the cabin steward was very accommodating, but that didn’t get rid of the smell. Fortunately, I carry a travel bottle of Febreze with me. The bath towels are horrid – like drying with sandpaper. Water pressure in the shower is extremely low at any time of the day.
THE SHIP: The ship is gorgeous, and there are so very many public spaces where you can lounge! The piazza has so much more room than other Princess ships, and we spent a lot of time there. I think that the sacrifice you make by having a smaller cabin is well worth the increase in public areas throughout the ship. It just didn’t seem crowded except at the elevators. The elevators are indeed small, as many have noted in their reviews. All in all, though, the positives far, far outweigh any small negatives.
ENTERTAINMENT/ACTIVITIES: The Beatlemaniacs were phenomenal! We stayed for a second show. Truly a highlight! We’ve seen more jugglers and magicians than we care to remember, and the same is true of production shows, so we skipped those. The comedian, Steve White, was very funny. The Caribbean Band Steele was awesome! That band can do any kind of music and knock it out of the park. We thoroughly enjoyed them.
CHILDREN’S ACTIVITIES: We did not travel with children and didn’t see too many children. Apparently, the children’s programs were keeping them busy.
ITINERARY/SHORE EXCURSIONS: We didn’t use these because we’ve been to these ports many times.
SHOPS ON BOARD: The shops didn’t impress us. I have always found a great cruise top on Princess ships; this one had mostly high-priced Tommy Hilfiger clothes designed for tiny women in their teens through 30’s. There wasn’t much for women 40 and older. My husband loves to shop and didn’t find anything.
SERVICE: Throughout the ship, nearly every crew member was extremely friendly. The Symphony Dining Room Maitre d’ Jelena was terrific, and all of the bar servers and others could not have been nicer or more helpful. Luigi, a head waiter in training, was so friendly! Three exceptions: The Internet manager was a grump, as was one of the bartenders and one of the staff at the Guest Services desk. Other very friendly crew members made up for that, though.
DISEMBARKATION: We were assigned a disembarkation time of 7:10 and were called at about 7:13. We were pulling out of the parking lot by 8:00 a.m. We have noticed that the lines are much longer getting through Customs. There were only 2 Customs officers and they really need several more, but I’m sure budget figures in there somehow. We really can’t complain, though – disembarkation really is easy.
OVERALL: We loved this ship and this cruise! Princess has really stepped up its game with this new ship, and hopefully, the Regal Princess will be just like it. We will sail again on the Royal and try the Regal as well. Can’t have a bad cruise on Princess as far as we are concerned!