We are Platinum Princess folks with 11 cruises completed. This was our 2nd Transatlantic sailing with the last one on the Ruby to Rome. We absolutely love the Ruby, but the Royal is certainly our new favorite ship in the fleet. From the Captain of the ship on down to the lowest paid employees of this ship, we received Class A++ treatment.
Embarkation took a little longer than usual but that was because there were so many Platinum and Elite passengers boarding. Still was not a problem because finally we were on vacation! We were greeted immediately by our stateroom steward, Luca, on Baja deck 11. We've had some excellent stewards on other ships, but Luca far exceeded our others with his attention to detail, greeting us by name each time we met, handling any potential problems before they happened, his sincere feeling of responsibility towards his guests, and his wonderful humor and happy attitude.
The Piazza is at least twice the size of that on the Ruby and this is a great improvement. There are so many more places to sit to enjoy cocktails, coffee, or treats from the International Cafe. The main floor on deck 5 held almost all of the dancing lessons and exhibitions, as well as music venues. The entertainment on this crossing was absolutely fabulous with only a couple of folks who did not seem up to par with the others. There was great variety and we found it difficult to see and do all that we wanted each day.
One of the most enjoyable new parts of the Royal is the Princess Live TV studio where all of the Wake Shows as well as most of the game shows were recorded with live audiences. The Cruise Director Sam and her Assistant Toby were the best we've ever had on any ship. It was so fun to see how they actually pull together the TV shows. Prizes were given out to the audience day which added to the fun.
The Princess Pop Choir, under the direction of Cruise Staff Member Christopher J Walker, was a delight to participate in. We had almost 60 folks and did two performances in the Piazza.
The Lotus Spa has a new area called the Enclave, which is a large, hot bubbly pool with many jets to soothe muscles. There are steam rooms, aroma therapy suites and a couple of water beds to relax on. There was a deal to purchase access to the Enclave for the entire voyage and it was cheaper than one massage. Very nice and there was no pressure to buy products. They limited the sales to 50 people so to keep it quiet and not overcrowded.
One of our two real disappointments was our dinner at Sabatini's. Honestly, dinner in our dining room was better. Service was fine, but the food was not excellent as it should have been. The other disappointment was with the Gelato bar. It did not taste like real gelato at all. The soft serve ice cream on Deck 16 at Swirls was much better. We did enjoy the new Alfredo's Pizza Restaurant for lunch one day. Great food! Best pizza on the ship.
The Horizon Court is laid out much better now with a Bistro side and then a full-meal side with a Pastry Shoppe in the middle. We tried it several times for lunch or breakfast and found it to be good. Food in the Concerto Dining Room with traditional dining was excellent. We had two very excellent waiters in Rommel and Victor.