Right away we were impressed by the size and beauty of the new Royal Princess ship. (We sailed on the last Royal in 2009.) This ship was inaugurated in June 2013 and our voyage was her first visit to the Baltic Sea. She dwarfs many of the other Princess ships with her impressive 19 decks and 3,500 passengers. We were looking forward to exploring all the features we had read about on this new ship, including the new Sea Walk that extends out over the water for fabulous views as well as the larger and more spacious Atrium. We had heard complaints about the lack of a mid-ship staircase as well as small balcony size. There were no lines the day we boarded, which was a port day (Berlin) for most of the passengers, so the public areas were quite empty and we got a good look at the well appointed decor. The next evening they would be packed with people trying to get a view of the captain and the champagne fountain, a Princess favorite. Meanwhile, we enjoyed finding our way around this enormous ship. We learned quickly that we did not miss the mid ship staircase at all. With our cabin on the 16th floor forward and most activities on 5, 6, & 7 aft, we would not be using the staircases much. If anything, we wished for more elevators. It seemed each one would be full and then stop at every floor. The Horizon Food Court and Bistro were on our same Lido (Deck 16) aft so no need for stairs there either. Also, once you are in the Atrium, they have stairs between the main 3 floors and we used those often.
The Piazza and Atrium are really the center of activity on the ship. They had line dance classes in the afternoon (on Sea Days) and a band you could dance to each evening. Sometimes there was a string quartet playing or a specialty act; it was rarely quiet. The two floors above were opened up to reveal popular spots like Alfredo’s pizza dining, Crooners, and Bellini’s as well as the Photo Gallery and the Facets gift shop. New in the Photo Gallery on the Royal is facial recognition! Enter your name on the touchscreen monitor and behold your photos from the entire voyage appear! This is the greatest thing and you now avoid “the big search” of looking for your photos among the thousands of other guest photos on the myriad of gallery walls. The walls of photos are still there of course for those that like to hold the photo in your hands. Wonderful feature!
The new Sea Walk itself extends out for a few feet on both sides of the ship and is a little less than anticipated. On one side you really just look down (way down) to see the Promenade deck below. It seemed to be a bit of a novelty and we did not see many people pausing there. In fact, most seemed to avoid it once they had checked out the view.
The extra space of a mini-suite is so luxurious with a full size couch and the elegantly decorated beige toned rooms. We had two flat screen TVs with on demand movies and port talks along with the usual At Sea news channels. We able to hear some of the TV noise from the next cabin, but it was otherwise a very quiet room. There was a heavy curtain that we used to partition the room when one wanted to nap while the other person read or watched TV. As rumored the balcony was small, with just enough room for two chairs and a table. We were happy with it though, and we utilized it several times in spite of the cool temps in the Baltic. (Request an extra blanket or two from your steward). The forward and high deck location of this cabin means a lot of walking and using the elevators. It is close to the forward elevators, but they were often crowded. Expect it to take a while if you forget to take your camera or wine package card to dinner.