This was a cruise of a life time for us. We cruised with our daughters and their families. So there were ten of us in 3 adjacent rooms. Grandkids ranged in age from 9 to 12 years. The steward removed the balcony barriers between rooms and ... Read More
This was a cruise of a life time for us. We cruised with our daughters and their families. So there were ten of us in 3 adjacent rooms. Grandkids ranged in age from 9 to 12 years. The steward removed the balcony barriers between rooms and our room had an inside door connecting us to one grandkids rooms. This was a 7 day cruise with port calls at Cabo, Mazatlán and Puerto Vallarta. We were at sea between Mazatlán and Puerto Vallarta for New Year’s Eve. We had taken a 5 day to Cabo cruise on the Royal in October as a scouting mission.
Our boarding was smooth and fast. We waited until the designated boarding time. The kids were medallion ready and walked right through to the ship. We had to wait briefly for counter help. One issue is getting the medallion ready without a cell phone. Tried three times on an IPad and gave up.
We had deluxe balcony rooms aft on deck 6. The kids used the pull down bed above the doors to the balcony and the small sofa pull out bed. Kind of crowded at bedtime, but comfortable. We overlooked life boats but no obstructed views from our deck. Aft elevators were very close and a laundromat was across the hall. The Horizon Court Buffet is directly above, so little walking when leaving the elevator. The Vista Lounge and an outside promenade area is directly below. We think this is a good location on a ship. There was no engine noise or vibration. The ride was very smooth the whole cruise. Our Steward was superb, taking all three families in stride. Ask for something, it happened.
We ate many meals at the Buffet. Never had a problem finding an open table. The design of the food lines, with four lines separated by about 20 feet, makes maneuvering easy. The grandkids had no problem going through on their own. They had a chocolate breakfast one morning. Chocolate sundaes, waffles, pancakes, bacon, and more. There were theme nights featuring Mexican food, German food, and others. We all ate by the pool at various times. The pizza is good as are hamburgers. The grill also has bratwurst, knockwurst, hot dogs, chicken fingers and chicken tacos. You have to know this, as not well signed…so ask. Room service was good for early breakfast on port days. We all liked Alfredos for pizza, salads and calzones. A bit of a wait for pizza, maybe 25 minutes. Seems unique to this ship, as had faster meals on other ships Alfredos. The International Café was great, as usual. Our daughters and husbands ate at the Crown Grill and raved about the Surf and Turf, lobster and steak filet meal. We had the best meal ever at Sabatinis. Some Princess ships do not offer the Lobster 3 Ways at their Sabatinis. It was superb, as were all the courses. We all did Tea in the Concerto Dining room one day. Very popular, so get in line early. They had a good selection of sandwiches and pastry. So in summary, food on the Royal is abundant, varied, and tasty.
Service was excellent throughout the ship. Wait staff in buffet are plentiful and friendly. We had occasion to use excursion desk and customer service desk several times. Staff were attentive to our needs and resolved all issues promptly. Rainier, the bartender at Crooners was wonderful. Ask for an olive tray if you visit there.
We did some shopping on board. Effys is overpriced. The Swarovski Crystal store next door is good price wise and they offer many items. For example, and almost identical appearing earing and necklace set at Swarovski store was $88 as compared to $1750 at Effys. Just saying! Pictures on board are overpriced. We had a family picture taken at one of the set ups in the piazza area. $25 each shot. Wow. I think they would sell more, that is increase revenue, if they lowered prices. The display for viewing pictures is awkward as compared to other princess ships.
Saw no deteriorating or dirty furniture, carpet or other ship amenities. The Christmas decorations were still up and made for a pleasant atmosphere.
The casino was a little crowded in slot machine placement. Also there were not many machines with a low minimum bet. We left after a week ahead by $7.85 so can’t complain. I bought a deck of used cards for $1 at cashier cage, a tradition. They have a slight shave on sides, but are essentially new with a Princess design on back. I understand you can buy cards specific to your ship at the Princess on line gift store for $3.95.
Some in our group did a production show and liked it. The trivia was good. Bands performed well. Entertainment in Piazza was okay. They did not do a paper airplane contest, which I had told the grandkids would be something they could do. The Captains welcome and Champaign waterfall were great. We missed the confetti drop at midnight on New Year’s Eve, but a daughter said it was super.
One complaint is the lack of lectures on this cruise. No port talks, no naturalist, no enrichment talks. We really enjoy those and have had wonderful education talks over the years that we still talk about. Too bad, maybe Princess is saving money by eliminating them. In fact, we enjoyed them so much that we are going to explore other cruise lines to see if they offer these talks.
Getting on and off the ship at ports was easy, no waits. Tenders were abundant at Cabo. In fact, the royal has a newly designed life boat, which is used as the tender in ports at which the ship anchors. When you step in, all seats are at your level. No climbing down narrow stairs to the dungeon. Capacity is more also. I noticed the hull is a center keel design, rather than the pontoon catamaran type.
In Cabo, some of our group took a boat tour to whales and to Lands’ End. They said it was great. The temperature was about 75 and pleasant. We and the rest walked along the waterfront to the city entrance. We had drinks and snacks at a cantina along the way. Did some shopping and took pictures at giant sailfish and surfboard exhibit. Prices are not cheap in Cabo. You will pay what you would in the USA for drinks and food. The trinkets or souvenirs are priced higher than I recall. We enjoyed the walk and saw exotic fish along the harbor edge, as well as pelicans, expensive yachts and slick fishing boats. No wait at tender back to ship. Princess creates a rest area at the tender pier, with seating, cold drinks and wet towels for wipe down.
In Mazatlán we all took an excursion into wetlands and an estuary. About 20 people in a small boat. Saw a lot of exotic birds, fresh water clams, red crabs and beautiful trees. We then were transported in pickup truck to a beach, where a lunch was served. A lot of activity and performers on the beach. We saw dances with flaming hoops, iguanas on heads, a guy walking on broken bottles and so on. The kids went swimming. We then were transported by bus to another boat for return to the pier we started at. Then a bus took us back to the ship. Sounds busy,but well done. Along the way in the last boat the tour guide had a bucket of fish so everyone could stand on nose of the boat and feed pelicans and ernes (Man o” Wars) The reception area at Mazatlán has a cantina and souvenir sales. From there a shuttle takes you through the industrial part of port back to gangway of the ship. Everywhere along the way guides and waiters accommodated our group of10. Very nice.
In Puerto Vallarta we did the Dolphin Encounter. The kids all went in the water. My wife and I heard the day before that you can purchase Observer tickets for this excursion at half the price. That isn’t on the Princess Shore excursion info on line, but should be. Lunch was included and observers were given great viewing on a platform. The dolphins kissed, nudged, towed all the kids through the water.. At the end they did a display of jumping, flipping and walking in their tails. Really a once in a lifetime experience.
One complaint is the new terminal at this port. Walking is increased through the caverns so everyone is exposed to Diamonds International and other vendors. Very poor design. Also, very crowed in terminal. We lost our tour guide and had to take a second bus to the Dolphins. Not good. Usually the guides keep track of everyone, as there are slower folks on these ships. The old set up let you into port by the cantina and flea market west of the new buildings. Having cold one in that cantina is a tradition for us. Despite pouring rain in late afternoon, we made it though. The folks working there say business is pretty bad with the new terminal.
Two days at sea and home. Smooth seas and a port side room meant sunny days. Regardless of the ship, or how well service, food, or entertainment is, the sea is priceless and available to all. Sky glowing sunrises, diamond glistens on the surface in the afternoon to great sunsets at night. The real reason we sail.
Disembarkation was okay, but the terminal used for this ship is old and needs remodeling. You must walk about a mile to finally get out. Luggage retrieval is tougher because they use little signs that can’t be read as you walk by. The other terminals have large designations. We got a porter to take us through customs and into a luggage drop area within the port parking lot. Made for easy pick up. Customs was easy, as we are USA citizens. Then home. The fee for parking here is $19 a day. So $133 for us. I remember when it was $8 a day.
Happy Sailing! Read Less