Royal Princess Cruise Review by mcharles: Royal Princess Not Regal
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Royal Princess Not Regal
This was our sixth Princess Cruise. Our cruise (20 April 2014) was the last before a repositioning cruise, and a good portion of the more experienced crew had been transferred to the new Regal Princess. The service performed by the remaining dining crew was very spotty. For example, can you imagine a waiter coming to a table of 8 passengers to take orders, take orders from two of the persons at the table, and then disappear? This happened on two separate occasions with different dining room staff.
The bartenders remaining on the ship in the pool areas did not know how to make either a Mojito or a frozen Daiquiri. At $9 a drink, it was a clear rip-off.
The Royal Princess’s overall business plan appears to be aimed having more passengers onboard, and maximizing money from the passengers. This business plan is not an improvement if one wants a sea experience as opposed to an indoor experience.
The cabins are much smaller than the Grand More class Princess ships (the Emerald, Ruby). My guesstimate is that the cabins are about two feet narrower, and the depth is about a foot less. If one uses a wheel chair or a motorized scooter, there does not appear to be any way to take the wheel chair scooter into a normal cabin.
The biggest disappointment is the balcony size. The stated balcony size is 41 square feet, down from the 80-90 square foot range on older ships. The balconies come equipped with two chairs and two foot stools, with the implication two adults can be on the balcony at the same time and sit and stretch out. If Princess believes two adults can be on the balcony at the same time, there must be a belief the passengers are Hobbits. We heard a number of passengers express extreme disappointment about the balconies, and heard many complaints that if a couple wanted to play cards or read, there was insufficient space. Numerous passengers who wanted a balcony will not again take this ship.
The shopping areas have been expanded. The restaurants, including the specialty restaurants, are all concentrated on decks 5, 6, and 7. The library area (presumably because it does not produce any revenue) has been down-sized. We missed the deck 16 aft dining at Sebatini. Placing Sebatini’s on Deck 5 was not an improvement. To maximize the shopping areas, there is no longer a full walking track on Deck 7, because the life boats now extend through Deck 7 and hang over the edge of the ship. If you have a balcony cabin, you can no longer see the ocean looking straight down from your balcony. The International Café (with the coffee bar) has been turned into an alcohol bar area, but you can order espresso drinks from the coffee bar and have them brought to your table.
The Spa is also located on Deck 5, providing a dark cave experience rather than the light experience on older ships. A number of spa attendants and passengers were not pleased with the change.
With 25 percent more passengers and the same basic design as the Grand Class ships, there are significantly more passengers using the elevators. The Royal Princess main dining rooms are located on Decks 5 and 6 midships to aft, with the result there is no way to walk to forward areas from the aft elevators on Decks 5 and 6. This design concentrates passenger use of the midships atrium elevators. As a result, very commonly there was significant waiting for the elevators during dining hours.
Improvements on Royal Princess
There are some major improvements on this ship. These are: (1) The Deck 17 Retreat pool (adults only, no blaring music, is much larger than the other ships); (2) the Horizon Court serving lines (a very wide variety of food and a separate pastry station); and (3) the rear deck with rattan furniture (no smoking). Room TV and electronics are good (we could not figure out how to plug a mp3 player into the TV speakers, but who goes on a cruise to watch the same TV shows you watch at home? Movies under the stars has many new movies before cable release. The movies shown on movies under the stars are available the next day on your cabin TV. The electronics (including lights) in the Princess Theater is first rate.
If you are a Karaoke fan (we are not), you can use the Princess Live video studio and be taped.
Unfortunately, despite improvements on deck, pool chair deck hogs still remain. Something really should be done to stop people from taking chairs for hours without actually using them.
Comments on Food
The Horizon Court food had great variety and was generally of high quality. Typical dishes were Italian, Chinese, Indian, British, and American. The chefs appear to have a very skilled touch with fish, both grilled and fried. The duck a la orange, and minute steaks were very good. Salads, both mixed and green, were very good. Attendant service in the interior dining areas was sporadic, and at times, non-existent.
We ate our first lunch in the Symphony dining room, and the food was very good. Service was spotty, and it took almost 20 minutes to get iced tea. Refills were offered only after repeated requests. The couple next to us, had a meal in which nothing was served as ordered.
Sebatini’s had very good food; but it, too, was marred by excessively salted food. On one occasion, as it had been in other Sebatini’s, the burrata was outstanding. The next, it had large salt crystals and pepper chunks. We heard a number of complaints (although there were some praises) of the Crown Grill. During sea days at lunch, the Crown Grill turns into the Wheelhouse Bar, with typical English pub food. Food in the Wheelhouse was very good.
The dishes and pastry in the International Café were very good. The croissant donuts (served only in the International Café) were first rate.
The gelato onboard continues to have ice crystals without a typical rich, gelato flavor. The soft serve ice cream was good, although sizes varied greatly.
The salt content of the soups and some main dish food was so high that salt-free dishes were offered. Why the food could have nominal amounts of salt is a mystery.
Although Princess talks about the Chef’s Table as being a dining experience available on the Royal Princes, it plays games with the sign up list. Suite passengers, despite claims to the contrary, appear to be given priority even if one signs up early and was given a confirmed reservation.
Princess Cay is a very enjoyable stop, and the barbeque lunch continues to be first rate. You do not really need to buy any shore excursions on this stop, unless you want to use aquatic equipment. Snorkeling and swimming were very good.
We generally go on snorkeling, catamaran excursions. The excursion in St. Marten (Golden Eagle III) was wonderful, with attentive staff and an enjoyable cruise. The snorkeling was good as well.
The excursion in St. Thomas (Champagne Cat) was characterized by a crew going through the motions of providing service, without providing any real service. The excursion, despite the charge, was a minimal performance. We wasted considerable time (about an hour) driving through the traffic in town rather than having the ship come to the dock at Crown Bay. We asked the staff at shore excursions about why the ship did not come to Crown Point, since other cruises picked passengers directly at the harbor, and were told this the shore excursion company had not paid for docking charges at the beginning of the season. When we arrived at the snorkeling area, we anchored some distance from the shore. The directions as to where the good fish areas was simply that you were to go up and down the entire beach (about a quarter mile), without any details of where the fish (and turtles) were. The crew in fact knew the good areas, but did not disclose them until we were leaving. The so-called freshly baked bread and cheeses turned out to be store bought loaf of bread with some packaged cheese. On the return, which was supposed to be sailing, the sails were not used, even though it was windy. The captain claimed it was because it was lack of wind. One suspects, however, that, despite starting late, the crew wanted to leave at the scheduled time. Less
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