PORT LECTURES My husband has been on 14 Princess cruises and I have been on 8 since we were married a few years ago. This cruise was the FIRST one with really great port lectures, by Rae McConnell who had done extensive research and whose enthusiasm was contagious. We went to every one, all well-attended with the theater at least 2/3 full each time, so we weren't the only ones who enjoyed these lectures. Rae's perspective added a lot to our experience of the on-shore tours.
We have since learned that Rae was cut from the staff the night before we disembarked, a complete surprise to her and to us. We are sincerely hoping we will meet her again, perhaps on a smaller tour with a company appreciative of her abilities and enthusiasm.
CAUTION TO ASTHMATICS On cruises (all of them Princess to date) I usually have some asthma problems by about day 7, but my asthma has been manageable with rescue inhalers and anti-histamines. Not on this ship, and at least one other asthmatic had the same experience on this ship. By day 12, my rescue inhaler was not helping. I had to go to the Medical Center (which is excellent on this ship) for 2 nebulizer treatments, a course of prednisone and antibiotics, first time I've ever had to go to the ship's doctor. An asthmatic passenger I met on the flight home, who has traveled extensively on Princess, had her first experience with urgent asthma care on this ship as well. She has an oxygen concentrator on which an alarm had sounded indicating the room (an inside one) didn't have enough oxygen to concentrate. Comparing notes, our symptoms didn't get bad until the 2nd day of the second half of the cruise when the ship was completely filled. On the first half of the cruise, the ship wasn't full--probably 500 fewer people than on the second half--and it may be that the circulation system for the rooms does not work as well when the ship is at capacity.
My husband, who is not asthmatic, had no problems.
Recommendations for asthmatics: Take extra meds (allergy, prednisone, antibiotics), make sure your inhaler is full, and if you have a nebulizer, take it with you. That way you can start treatments as soon as you have a hint of abnormal symptoms.
POSITIVES OF THE ROYAL PRINCESS We noticed and other passengers commented that we really appreciated the absence of "hard sell" (for the Casino, the Spa, photos, and art auctions, all expensive extras). The food was good, and the buffet lay-out is really nice on this ship, plus we enjoyed the gelato shop and the pizza restaurant there. On every sea day, the piazza area featured a good jazz dance band and lots of passengers taking advantage of the opportunity to dance, very nice. Dance lessons, bridge lessons, and Mah Jong tournaments, among other do-it-yourself (free) activities, fun. Good selection of in-room movies.