This was our (3 adults) third cruise and our second with Princess but the Royal was the largest ship we had travelled on.
The ship is very impressive in a number of ways. It is new, huge and very smooth. You wouldn't know you were actually on the sea on many occasions. We booked a mini-suite on Deck 11 and were happy with the size and layout even though it is not as roomy as the old Sun Princess. The design of the sofa with the third bed extending sideways was great leaving a much needed passage to the balcony. The bathroom was well designed and satisfied all our requirements. The balconies are smaller than previous but adequate. The beds were really comfortable and we slept really well. Our suite was midway between the centre and rear lifts so we had a choice as to which ones to use. The laundry was close by and this pleased my wife who also was happy with the new arrangements on how to pay for the machines. In summary, there was nothing to really concern us.
There are some issues with the size of the ship that may affect future passengers in different ways. We felt it was too big and perhaps, we would not cruise on ships of this size in the future. The main drawbacks relate to the fact that, at times, public places can be become very crowded. Lifts are often packed and frequently involve waiting time. Horizons buffet, even though it is huge, requires one to scout for a spare table at breakfast time. The anytime dining required waiting at times although we never experienced a long delay. The ship had numerous places to eat or to be entertained. The size of the ship also affects port logistics as in Gothenburg and Stockholm where because of its size it is required to dock in industrial areas or anchor.
The service offered by all staff was without fault. Our cabin steward ensured our room was always clean and ready, especially the assembly of the sofa bed. The waiters in Horizons and all the dining areas were great and we felt very happy with the staff in the Symphony dining room.
The food was very good without being exceptional. Horizons had so much choice one could be overwhelmed at times. We ate in the dining room most nights using the anytime dining option. The menu always provided plenty of choice and the meals were generally very good and delivered quite quickly on most occasions. Anytime dining does not provide the opportunities of really meeting any of your fellow travellers and this was something we found lacking on this large ship.
The itinerary was port intensive and this is something we prefer although we were pretty exhausted after our second day in St Petersburg. All the cities were extremely interesting with Gothenburg being the biggest disappointment. Here, the dockside amenities were non existent with restrictions on travelling to the front gate severely limiting the already short time spent in the city. Time in Stockholm was also limited due to where the ship had to anchor. The costs of shuttles to the city due to the size of the ship should be paid by Princess not the passengers. We did not do any excursions arranged by the ship as we prefer to do our own thing which was easy in most of these cities. In St Petersburg , we choose Alla Tours for our 2 day tour and were really pleased we did. A sea day after St Petersburg would have been ideal.
The entertainment was terrific. We went to a show in the theatre most nights and without exception they were great. The production, costumes, stage sets, lighting and entertainers were first class. The entertainers in the Piazza were also really good and we enjoyed listening to them.
The embarkation in Copenhagen was very smooth and we were on the ship quite quickly, had some lunch and our suitcases were waiting when we returned to our cabin. On the conclusion of the trip we booked the shuttle to Copenhagen airport and this was really well organised with our luggage waiting for us at the airport.
In summary, we really enjoyed the experience. There are many positives about this ship and this itinerary, however our next cruise with Princess will be on one of the mid-size ships.