Having returned 4 days ago from the 15-day Spanish Passage Cruise on Royal Princess, it is now time to write the review. Must preface this by saying I am not one to write detailed reviews of previous cruises, but I feel this cruise needs ... Read More
Having returned 4 days ago from the 15-day Spanish Passage Cruise on Royal Princess, it is now time to write the review. Must preface this by saying I am not one to write detailed reviews of previous cruises, but I feel this cruise needs one.
Only married 6 years, my DH & I (in our 70's but young at heart) just discovered cruising in 2012, and have since done 37 days on Princess, 14 days on Celebrity, 5 days on Disney, and 7 ays on Holland America. On this last Princess cruise, there were a lot of Pros and a few Cons.
Would like to start with the positive. The Royal is an absolutely gorgeous, immaculate ship! The 3-level atrium offers lots of seating, bars, dining, gelato, access to entertainment, etc.
The Chef's Table was spectacular!!! They hosted six of them on this cruise, with 10 participants in each one. We donned white chef's coats, were escorted to the galley, where we sipped champagne, sampled five delicious hors d'oeuvres, before a fabulous dinner in a special section of the Allegro Dining Room. A gorgeous crystal curtain was drawn around our table for 10. The Murano Glass sculpture in the center of the table was said to cost $492,000! The Chef and Maitre'd were hilarious. Can't praise this event enough. Well worth the extra $$$. Only $115/pp I think. Just magnificent!
Didn't do a lot of the shows, but enjoyed immensely the lectures given by Ted McCourt, a retired Aer Lingus pilot/trainer/checker. So knowledgeable and interesting! When we couldn't make it to his 10 AM lecture, Princess had it saved on the TV, and we never missed one.
FABULOUS surprise was the Irish comedian, George Casey. Though great comedians are hard to find, this guy is hilarious! We had seen him last year on an Irish Charter Cruise, and we were very excited to learn that he would be on this cruise. He did two shows on each of two nights, and both nights, there was standing room only. Everybody loved him!!!
The Atomic Band was on our 2013 Ruby Princess Transatlantic cruise, and we were happy to see them again. So versatile. Though they are fairly young people, they played to our age group, and many others. Great band!
The crew was great. We had a super cabin steward, Romiel. We called him the phantom because he seemed to sense when we were out, and did our room up perfectly. Fresh ice twice a day. No complaints. COLD fridge, unlike other cruise lines.
We had fun with the waitstaff and bartenders. Very friendly and accommodating. Kudos to Nikola, Maryna, William, Victoria, Ana, Robb, and many others.
The cabin was smaller than balcony cabins on HAL, Celebrity and Disney, but well-appointed with a great shower (small but efficient). Very clean and comfortable.
Having said all that, I MUST post the downside. To begin with, it was made very clear to us from the "git-go" that the Princess Loyalty program trumps a lot of other things. Nineteen hundred (1900) of the passengers on this cruise were "Elite" level, and Princess makes this caste system a little too obvious. On the second day, my DH (who happens to be a very easy-going guy) said that he had never before felt like a second-class citizen on a cruise. He also said he doesn't want to be "a donkey chasing a carrot on a stick" to get to Elite level, and probably wouldn't want to go on another Princess cruise. We do spend money on cruises. We don't get the deals the "Elites" get, we pay to do our own laundry ($48 for self-serve on this cruise. Didn't send out because ship's laundry was so choked with "Elite" laundry that it was taking even THEM 4 days to get their clothes back). We got the AIBP (drink Package) which cost about $1700 for the two of us. We went to Specialty Dining (twice to Crown Grille, twice to Sabatini's and twice to Ocean Terrace). We tip over and above what we pay for gratuities. In other words, we are NOT just "going on the cheap", always book a mini-suite or balcony. We would rather stay home than book an inside cabin and not participate in the activities and dining that we enjoy, versus saving money to rack up points to reach "Elite" status.
On the first day, we tried to order two bottles of wine from room service. Could not reach them for HOURS. They just didn't answer the phone. Others had same problem. When we finally got the two bottles (the next day), it was $81 for two low quality wines.
We noticed a lot of cut-backs. In the past, I have said that Princess has good food, and FABULOUS pastries. This time, both have slipped.
With the AIBP,we could get a drink up to $12 (I think), but could not get a Perrier or San Pellegrino water. Does that make sense? I drink chardonnay. I'm happy with a fairly cheap one like Yellow Tail or Kendall Jackson. I drank Clos de Bois on the cruise, because the other two choices were Woodbridge and Mondavi (yuck!). Did I neglect to mention that each package was over $800?(LOL) My husband was happy with his beer, but it really didn't make the packages worthwhile. In the past, we could get a 25% discount on a bottle of wine in our cabin if we had the AIBP. Also a 45% discount if we bought it at the bar to take to the cabin. That has changed to NO discount in the room and 25% of if purchased at the bar.
We had a great time the night before Halloween blowing up balloons to decorate Bellini's bar with another passenger and the bar staff. A supervisor cam be and said jokingly(?), "They're going to expect free drinks". I replied "We don't need free drinks...We have the drink package". Is anyone getting the aura we were feeling? God help Princess if they can't squeeze the last nickel out of you.
One reason we didn't go to the Princess Theater more often was that the seats were uncomfortably cramped. I mean you'd better pray you don't get a large person next to you. It's like being on an airplane in economy class.
All in all, it was a great experience. After the first couple of days, we learned to laugh and joke about the minuses (i.e. the donkey), and as always, we had a wonderful time. Read Less