We choose to travel with Princess for one reason......The Princess experience. Princess epitomizes the term guest relations and will always go the extra mile to ensure their passengers a memorable vacation. We always opt to book the entire trip (Air, Hotel and Cruise) through Princess. It is a very easy process that guarantees next port protection, in the event of flight cancellations, delays...etc. It also automatically upgrades your travel insurance to the platinum protection plan for the standard protection plan cost. After researching prices directly through the Airlines, Hotels and various travel sites, I find that it is basically the same costs if I booked everything separately. As most frequent cruisers do, we always fly out the day before embarkation and book a Hotel close to the Cruise port to gear up for our vacation.
We choose to stay at the B Ocean Resort in Ft Lauderdale when boarding at Port Everglades. It is perfect for a day for anticipation and relaxation the day before our cruise. Being just steps away from the beach, you can watch numerous ships cruise to and from the port, which adds to the excitement of our cruise. The rooms are clean and the beds very comfortable. The restaurant in the Hotel, Dos Caminos, serves up some wonderful Mexican fare at a reasonable price. There are a few restaurants in the area, but if your looking to indulge in a more upscale experience you'd have to hail a taxi to Las Olas Boulevard. But lets face it, your going on a cruise the following day and there will be no shortage of delightful flavors to satisfy every taste.
On to Embarkation day! After a restless sleep in anticipation of boarding the ship (no disrespect to the Hotel), I am up at 4am. I'll pour myself a cup of coffee in the Hotel lobby, stroll down to the beach, and watch my ship come in. The shuttle bus that took us to the Cruise port picked us up at the Hotel at 12:15. Check in was a breeze! From the time we arrived at Port Everglades to the time we walked up the Gangway was about 20 minutes. The Grand Piazza, which is the hub of the ship, is impressive. Very tastefully designed, there is no sign of glitz or glitter. It is a feast for the eyes with its spiral staircases, glass elevators,and finely decorated accents. As you enter into the Piazza, you hear the calming melodies of a delightful string quartet, a perfect onset to just enjoy a cappuccino and gaze,in awe,at the grandeur of this magnificent vessel.
Where we always book a Mini Suite, we chose a deluxe balcony this time out. Where the bathroom was considerably smaller and only had a shower stall instead of the bathtub/shower combo offered with the Mini Suite, the smaller stateroom wasn't much of an issue. Only 1 flat panel TV instead of 2 and a smaller sleep sofa. They do offer a fine selection of movies and other shows available in the staterooms. The Balconies on the Royal and Regal are noticeably smaller than other ships in their fleet. We don't spend much time in the room anyway.