The main pool deck, Deck 16 mid-ship, features two freshwater swimming pools, which are pretty small, considering the size of the ship. In the middle is an "island" surrounded by faux palm trees and dotted with loungers. There are two hot tubs in the main pool area and two in The Retreat. There is a number of different styles of seating options, including circular loungers, garden-style furniture, bar-height tables and stools, and chaise lounges. At night, the pool area transforms for the Water & Light Show, and the island area becomes a stage with an interactive sound and light show featuring dancing fountains. With a sophisticated lighting and sound system, and a computerized fountain featuring 85 water jets, streams of water shoot 33 feet into the air. The downside: There's a lot of acreage given over to the water feature -- at the expense of sun loungers -- and we feel this area could get awfully crowded on sunny days and warm nights.
The ship features a new double-lane jogging track with separate paths for runners and walkers. The track area is decorated with art, picturing iconic global travel destinations, giving passengers the opportunity to "run around the world."
We're torn on whether the SeaWalk -- a glass-floored walkway cantilevered over the side of the ship on Deck 16, with vertigo-inducing views to the ocean below -- is a significant addition to the ship or a gimmick (particularly if your mini-suite is directly below it).
Spa-goers searching for pampering on Royal Princess no longer have to trek to a top corner of the ship -- the standard area for cruise ship spas -- because Princess has put its Lotus Spa on Deck 5, just off The Piazza.
Mimicking a move by Royal Caribbean, which took a similar approach with the spas on Oasis and Allure of the Seas, Princess has opted for space over sunlight. The 10,000-square-foot Lotus Spa, the biggest in the fleet, offers more treatment rooms than any other Princess spa, as well as an enhanced thermal suite called The Enclave.
An unavoidable drawback associated with its new, easy-access location is that the Lotus Spa receives less natural light in its facility than many other cruise ship spas, but we didn't miss it; the facility is absolutely beautiful and serene. One exception is the beauty salon, with its barber shop for men, which is flooded with light.
What Lotus lacks in light, it more than makes up for in treatment options. The spa covers all the bases with a full-service salon, teeth-whitening stations, a barber shop, plush mani-pedi areas, the aforementioned relaxation room (for a spot of herbal tea, pre-massage) and 18 treatment rooms (some with windows). And that's not to mention the amenities in The Enclave.
The Enclave offers the largest thermal suite in the Princess fleet, complete with a hydrotherapy pool and accompanying rain shower. Inside the suite, with its spaceship-like lighting, passengers can try out heated tile loungers or waterbeds, as well as sensory showers with mood lighting and therapeutic aromas. Three named rooms offer a variety of heat-based experiences: The Hammam, a Turkish-style bath, featuring a marble slab for mud or salt treatments; the Caldarium, a ceramic chamber infused with herbal aromas; and the Laconium, a dry sauna. Day passes to The Enclave are $39 per person, per day, and full-voyage pass rates start at $219 for individuals, depending on the length of the cruise.
The Scrub & Shine Bar, located near the Lotus Spa's reception desk, offers sugar and salt scrubs mixed with herbs, created individually for each passenger by a "mixologist." Passengers can get recommendations for the perfect scrubs to complement their treatments, and the blends are applied before spa treatments or a trip to The Enclave. The scrubs are also available for purchase, separate from the spa menu, based on ingredients selected.
Prices for basic treatments, such as facials and manicures, at The Lotus Spa are cruise-standard. For example, a manicure is your cheapest treatment option, and those start at $50. On the downside, we found that massages and more exotic treatments were overpriced. The cheapest -- a 75-minute Swedish massage -- came in at a hefty $165 (not including tip) and was marred by an overly aggressive product pitch from our therapist.
Aimed at cruising twosomes, two new Couples Villas within the spa provide side-by-side massages, followed by an hour's relaxation in a whirlpool bath or sitting area with ocean views. Packages range from $449 (50-minute treatment) to $589 (facial and massage, 100 minutes) per couple.
The spa extends it outreach to Royal Princess' Sanctuary, a for-fee sun deck for adults only ($15 for a half day or $25 for a full day, per person).
Couples can also opt for alfresco massage packages in the Sanctuary. Four new Sanctuary Cabanas offer amenities like a personal television with noise-reducing wireless headphones; sofas, robes and slippers; a welcome cocktail; snacks, including fresh fruit and nuts; and a fully stocked mini-bar with soft drinks, beer and wine. Sanctuary Cabanas start at $80 for a half day. Couples cabana massages start at $320 for an 80-minute treatment.
There are also two new Lotus Spa Cabanas, which are larger, more enclosed areas, set in an exclusive area at the bow of the ship's top deck. They feature a comfortable resting area with a television and plush chairs, a treatment area with two massage tables and beautiful ocean views looking out over the front of the ship. A variety of customized packages is available for the Lotus Spa Cabanas, ranging from $320 to $3,000, but it's also possible to book treatments individually or as a couple from the Lotus Spa menu. The top-of-the-line package is a "Royal Indulgence" package for four people ($3,000). This exclusive experience provides the ultimate in pampering with all-day massages and gourmet food and drinks. The price tag includes unlimited spa treatments, caviar, a bottle of Dom Perignon Champagne and butler service. Access to a special menu of healthy snacks and salads is free, but juice "mocktails" cost extra. "Princess Pleasure" is the half-day option, which again is for four people and comes in at $1,500.
Among the usual sweaty suspects, Royal Princess features a few fun twists for fitness and leisure; a portable batting cage and a new take on the at-sea jogging track, with a circuit program offering outdoor exercise stations, are a couple of the more unconventional offerings in the multisport area on Decks 18 and 19, known as Princess Sports Central. Royal Princess' laser shooting range is a simulated laser with moving targets displayed on a screen -- an arcade-like offering that compliments the Shockwaves (ages 8 to 12) and Remix (ages 13 to 17) game lounges' Xbox Kinect gaming systems.
Princess Sports Central also features a golf driving facility, multiuse court (basketball, volleyball, tennis) and table tennis. On the upper deck, a Lawn Court offers an artificial grassy area for bocce, croquet and lawn bowling, as well as a putting green.
Below the sports area, on Deck 17, passengers will find the fitness center with the expected array of equipment, including treadmills, elliptical machines and free weights. Additionally, at the back of the gym, a private aerobics studio offers fitness classes that include TRX suspension bodyweight training, body sculpt boot camp sessions, spinning classes and an aromatherapy yoga class. Class prices range from $12 to $20, personal training sessions cost $85, and the body sculpt boot camp (BSBC) costs $120 for which you get four classes, a free body composition analysis and the BSBC program to take home with you.
On our sailing, fitness instructors offered a complimentary Zumba class in the atrium that was great fun.