Royal Princess Cruise Review by frqttrvlr09: Bigger is not better, or even very good
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Bigger is not better, or even very good
I recently took a cruise on the Royal Princess. I chose the cruise because of the itinerary: it was the only cruise including Scandinavia and the Baltics that started and ended in St. Petersburg, enabling me to spend more than the usual cruise-offered one or two nights in St. Petersburg, and to go to Moscow as well. I had cruised with Princess once before, on the former Renaissance ship Pacific Princess in French Polynesia and the Marquesas. That ship had not yet been updated and the accommodations and food were marginal at best. I had cruised once on a larger ship: years ago on the Rhapsody of the Seas. More recently, I went on a two week Western Carribean cruise on the "medium-sized" Celebrity Eclipse, and it was quite enjoyable. The rest of my cruises have been on Oceania and Regent's 550-650 passenger ships, including a 2 1/2 month round trip cruise from Ft. Lauderdale to and around South America including Antarctica, the Falklands, and back to back cruises totaling 3 months More
starting in Istanbul and ending in Hong Kong.
I have read the many comments on the Royal Princess' staterooms. I did not find any of them to be a problem except the shower curtain. In fact, I found the bathroom to be well laid out with the storage shelves conveniently NOT over the toilet (so items don't fall in). There was plenty of storage space in my balcony stateroom, and the deck chairs were not a problem. The bed was extremely comfortable. However, the towels were disappointingly thin and rough.
The problems I had with this ship concern its design, structure and size. Apparently Princess thinks it needs to add gimmicks in order to distinguish itself from its competition. An example of this is the obviously expensive to construct Seawalk that juts out over the side of the ship and has a clear bottom so you can see the sea while walking on it. As has been noted by other passengers, I rarely saw anyone on the Seawalk during my cruise. It is certainly not something you want to walk on more than once. Yet, there is no walk way around the outside of the ship which passengers can be used for doing laps. None of the chairs around the pool are in the shade, instead, there are tables. The pool-less Sanctuary and Retreat are a total waste of money in a Baltic Cruise; it is too windy and cold to be out there. I never saw a single person using that area during my cruise; the sea days were rainy and cold. At least on Celebrity the adults-only area not only has a pool; it is enclosed from the elements. While there were no annoying alcohol-fueled games at the pool, there was constantly noise, including movies during the day. The evening movies were rarely attended as it was too cold and/or rainy, and that was also true of the attendance for the Bellagio-wannabe water and light shows, which are another waste of money. And, one viewing of that show is more than enough.
The biggest structural problem with the ship is the much-ballyhooed multi-floor open atrium. The line must think that having entertainment blaring on the central court creates excitement and energy, but what it really does is drive people to find somewhere quiet, and that is hard to do. It is really a jolt to be sitting in one of the many atrium-side areas and then suddenly a musical or dance group is blaring loud music that reaches all floors.
There also are no indoor areas where passengers can sit and watch out the front of the ship while the ship is sailing. There are some seats in a few of the restaurants and bars that area seated by windows so you can see outside, but in a speciality restaurant the view is blocked by lifeboats.
Possibly in part because of the number of passengers, the food quality was very poor. I ate at almost every food venue on the ship. For example, in the main dining room, the pasta was cold, lumpy and tasteless. A lamb chop were so shriveled up and tough I had to saw it with my knife. At the so-called Seafood bar, the Spanish and Portuguese and sardines were served in a can, just as you would purchase them in a grocery store. And the fresh sashimi looked old and was not served with chopsticks. Meals in the speciality restaurants were also a disappointment.
A major disappointment was in the port of Stockholm. In fact, the ship was too large to dock in Stockholm, so it docked an hour away in a town called Nynanham. A passenger's choices were to either 1) take a ship-organized tour of Stockholm; 2) take a taxi into Stockholm ($150 one way); 3) take a shuttle to the train station and the the train into Stockholm; or 4) take a ship-provided bus into and back from Stockholm. I chose to do the latter. It did not arrive into Stockholm until 11am and then left to return to the ship at 4:15. It was difficult to see much of Stockholm in that short a period of time.
On a positive note, the staff and crew were uniformly helpful and professional. Less
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