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Royal Princess – April 22-May 7, 2016 Spanish Passage My husband and I approached our first transatlantic cruise with a mixture of excitement and trepidation. Would we go stir crazy with 7 solid sea days at the beginning of the trip? When Princess offered a great price on an inside room along with free gratuities and a free meal at one of the specialty dining venues, we decided to go for it. We loved the cruise so much we have already booked a similar one for 2017. DH and I flew down a day early and stayed at the Holiday Inn Express on 17th Street. The next day we took a taxi to the Port at 11:30 and boarding went very quickly for the preferred line. We dropped off our carry on bags and headed to the Concerto dining room for a lovely lunch. The afternoon passed so quickly. I bought a coffee card in order to enjoy brewed coffee, cappuccino, premium hot tea and iced coffee, as well as sundaes from Gelatos throughout the cruise. I called room service and requested several changes to my elite mini-bar. I tried calling the dining line to change my assigned specialty dining place and time. I was told to call back later, so instead I went directly to the Crown Grill and the changes were made. After the muster drill we decided to skip the sail away party and instead finished unpacking and headed to the Elite lounge at the Vista. We were so pleased to find that there were 7 various drinks to pick from for $5. It was so relaxing to enjoy the appetizers and sip on a cocktail prior to dinner. This event was well attended each evening. That evening I signed up for my elite internet package using Princess@sea app. The internet is painfully slow sometimes compared to home, but for being in the middle of the ocean it’s not too bad. I’m just glad I didn’t have to pay for it. Most nights of the cruise I left a bag of dirty laundry on the bed which was returned to me about 2 days later. In the price area of the form I simply wrote “elite”. I didn’t take advantage of 2 other elite perks. The complimentary wine tasting was at 11:30 in the morning which didn’t appeal to me. The formal night canapés are not very exciting, so I skipped this. Here are my comments on our experience on the Royal Princess: Cabin: We took advantage of a last minute upsell to a balcony room B601. Mid-aft is a great location for us as we are most often heading to the Vista lounge, fitness center, Horizon Court or International Café. Food: For the first 5 days we had room service breakfast on our balcony. What a delightful way to start the day. Later in the cruise it was too cool to do this so we headed to the Horizon Court for eggs, quiche, fruit and yogurt. For lunch and dinner we rotated between Horizon Court, the International Café and Alfredo’s. We enjoyed the variety and quality of food at each. Our favorite meal of the trip was at the Crown Grill. My DH had the filet and I had lobster. The food was cooked perfectly and the service was excellent. For dessert we shared the sampler plate with 4 desserts and it was incredible. Daytime: The first sea day my DH and I attended the cruise critic meet and greet. There were well over 100 attendees and many of the cruise staff was there to welcome us. We took this opportunity to meet some of the cruisers that we had booked private tours with. It was nice to see familiar faces as we went out and about on the ship. On sea days I attended the morning Zumba classes and Flash mob dance lessons while my husband went to the enrichment lectures by Sehdev Kumar and port lectures by Julio Delgade. The fitness classes were fun and the instructors’ high energy. Both of the lecturers were so interesting and entertaining that I ended up watching many of them later using the on demand television in our statement. On nice afternoons we went to the retreat pool. On days that were not as nice we liked playing one of the 3 games we had brought along or watching a movie in our room. Evening Entertainment: We saw lots of shows, but two were simply outstanding. Diane Cousins hailed as Wales First Lady of Comedy and Song was so entertaining and different. The audience adored her. Next was a musical tribute to Whitney Houston by Jade Milian and Samuel E. Jade was such an incredible singer that the audience was mesmerized. We had fun at many evening games and particularly liked Sherlock Holmes Musical Murder Mystery and The Quest. One of the highlights of the cruise for me was being in the Flash mob dance performance in the Piazza. Leader Vicky made feeling like a teenager so much fun! Ports: Madeira (Funchal): We went on a 12 person tour with Daniel Madeira Taxi, organized by Fran, a cruise critic member. We loved this size group and had a great experience at the Funchal Market, Camara de Lobos, Cabo Girao, wine tasting at a local bar and more. Lisbon: This was a last minute port, added when conditions were too rough at Cadiz. We booked the ship tour Easy Lisbon which was exactly as advertised, a tour with little or no walking. We got some great photos at the 2 stops that were made, but if I had to do it over again I would have taken the hop on hop off bus that was just a very short walk from the port. Gibraltar: We booked in advance with Gibraltar Inside Out Rock Tours. The tour had 20 of us on a 22 person mini coach. We saw all the major highlights including going inside Michael’s cave and the Great Siege Tunnels. There were plenty of photo opportunities with the Barbary Apes. The driver did an excellent job of explaining the sights and history of Gibraltar. I can absolutely recommend this company. Malaga: We joined 6 other people on a Tapas tour that was organized by Gail, a cruise critic member. Paco, a lively 71 year old Spaniard, was our guide from the tour company We Love Malaga. We used the Princess shuttle for $12 each to get to starting point of the tour. This walking tour took us to the wonderful indoor market and then to a series of 3 restaurants off the beaten path where we had delicious tapas and wine. Paco was a great guide and showed us many interesting sights along the way. My DH and I thought this was our favorite tour of the trip. Cartegena: We did this on our own which was ok but not great. It was sprinkling the whole time, so my walking maps became soggy and difficult to read. I wanted to visit the Roman Theatre Museum but arrived the same time as a large group. We instead took the bus tour for €7 each and got stuck on the open air top deck. We did salvage the day by going to a local restaurant for paella and beer. Next time I will either go to the museum at opening time or perhaps find a tour company that limits their group size. Mallorca (Palma): We joined a group of 14 organized by cruise critic members Fran and Audrey with a company called Mallorca Private Tour Guides. This tour highlights included time in Valdemossa and Sóller, two very scenic Spanish villages. We really enjoyed our tour guide and in Sóller we found a small café on a side street and stopped to enjoy some local wine and orange pastries with new friends Kay and Glen. We can also whole heartedly recommend this tour company. Disembarkation: We signed up for a Princess transfer to the Barcelona airport. We had no problem checking in for our 10 a.m. flight to Atlanta. The flight was smooth, but transferring to our connecting flight in 1 hr 45 minutes was quite stressful. We stood in long lines for a customs kiosk, then to see a customs agent, then passport control and finally a security screening including taking off shoes. We just barely made our plane. Next time I will pay for the Delta Select Comfort seats that are closer to the front of the plane and will pay to get global TSA pre check. Final thoughts: We loved our first transatlantic cruise. We did discover that 15 days on a cruise is enough for us and did not regret our decision to skip the 7 day additional cruise on to Rome.

Spanish Passage; Our First Transatlantic Cruise

Royal Princess Cruise Review by Cruz4Sun

15 people found this helpful
Trip Details
Royal Princess – April 22-May 7, 2016 Spanish Passage

My husband and I approached our first transatlantic cruise with a mixture of excitement and trepidation. Would we go stir crazy with 7 solid sea days at the beginning of the trip? When Princess offered a great price on an inside room along with free gratuities and a free meal at one of the specialty dining venues, we decided to go for it. We loved the cruise so much we have already booked a similar one for 2017.

DH and I flew down a day early and stayed at the Holiday Inn Express on 17th Street. The next day we took a taxi to the Port at 11:30 and boarding went very quickly for the preferred line. We dropped off our carry on bags and headed to the Concerto dining room for a lovely lunch.

The afternoon passed so quickly. I bought a coffee card in order to enjoy brewed coffee, cappuccino, premium hot tea and iced coffee, as well as sundaes from Gelatos throughout the cruise. I called room service and requested several changes to my elite mini-bar. I tried calling the dining line to change my assigned specialty dining place and time. I was told to call back later, so instead I went directly to the Crown Grill and the changes were made.

After the muster drill we decided to skip the sail away party and instead finished unpacking and headed to the Elite lounge at the Vista. We were so pleased to find that there were 7 various drinks to pick from for $5. It was so relaxing to enjoy the appetizers and sip on a cocktail prior to dinner. This event was well attended each evening.

That evening I signed up for my elite internet package using Princess@sea app. The internet is painfully slow sometimes compared to home, but for being in the middle of the ocean it’s not too bad. I’m just glad I didn’t have to pay for it.

Most nights of the cruise I left a bag of dirty laundry on the bed which was returned to me about 2 days later. In the price area of the form I simply wrote “elite”.

I didn’t take advantage of 2 other elite perks. The complimentary wine tasting was at 11:30 in the morning which didn’t appeal to me. The formal night canapés are not very exciting, so I skipped this.

Here are my comments on our experience on the Royal Princess:

Cabin: We took advantage of a last minute upsell to a balcony room B601. Mid-aft is a great location for us as we are most often heading to the Vista lounge, fitness center, Horizon Court or International Café.

Food: For the first 5 days we had room service breakfast on our balcony. What a delightful way to start the day. Later in the cruise it was too cool to do this so we headed to the Horizon Court for eggs, quiche, fruit and yogurt. For lunch and dinner we rotated between Horizon Court, the International Café and Alfredo’s. We enjoyed the variety and quality of food at each.

Our favorite meal of the trip was at the Crown Grill. My DH had the filet and I had lobster. The food was cooked perfectly and the service was excellent. For dessert we shared the sampler plate with 4 desserts and it was incredible.

Daytime: The first sea day my DH and I attended the cruise critic meet and greet. There were well over 100 attendees and many of the cruise staff was there to welcome us. We took this opportunity to meet some of the cruisers that we had booked private tours with. It was nice to see familiar faces as we went out and about on the ship.

On sea days I attended the morning Zumba classes and Flash mob dance lessons while my husband went to the enrichment lectures by Sehdev Kumar and port lectures by Julio Delgade. The fitness classes were fun and the instructors’ high energy. Both of the lecturers were so interesting and entertaining that I ended up watching many of them later using the on demand television in our statement. On nice afternoons we went to the retreat pool. On days that were not as nice we liked playing one of the 3 games we had brought along or watching a movie in our room.

Evening Entertainment: We saw lots of shows, but two were simply outstanding. Diane Cousins hailed as Wales First Lady of Comedy and Song was so entertaining and different. The audience adored her. Next was a musical tribute to Whitney Houston by Jade Milian and Samuel E. Jade was such an incredible singer that the audience was mesmerized.

We had fun at many evening games and particularly liked Sherlock Holmes Musical Murder Mystery and The Quest.

One of the highlights of the cruise for me was being in the Flash mob dance performance in the Piazza. Leader Vicky made feeling like a teenager so much fun!

Ports:

Madeira (Funchal): We went on a 12 person tour with Daniel Madeira Taxi, organized by Fran, a cruise critic member. We loved this size group and had a great experience at the Funchal Market, Camara de Lobos, Cabo Girao, wine tasting at a local bar and more.

Lisbon: This was a last minute port, added when conditions were too rough at Cadiz. We booked the ship tour Easy Lisbon which was exactly as advertised, a tour with little or no walking. We got some great photos at the 2 stops that were made, but if I had to do it over again I would have taken the hop on hop off bus that was just a very short walk from the port.

Gibraltar: We booked in advance with Gibraltar Inside Out Rock Tours. The tour had 20 of us on a 22 person mini coach. We saw all the major highlights including going inside Michael’s cave and the Great Siege Tunnels. There were plenty of photo opportunities with the Barbary Apes. The driver did an excellent job of explaining the sights and history of Gibraltar. I can absolutely recommend this company.

Malaga: We joined 6 other people on a Tapas tour that was organized by Gail, a cruise critic member. Paco, a lively 71 year old Spaniard, was our guide from the tour company We Love Malaga. We used the Princess shuttle for $12 each to get to starting point of the tour. This walking tour took us to the wonderful indoor market and then to a series of 3 restaurants off the beaten path where we had delicious tapas and wine. Paco was a great guide and showed us many interesting sights along the way. My DH and I thought this was our favorite tour of the trip.

Cartegena: We did this on our own which was ok but not great. It was sprinkling the whole time, so my walking maps became soggy and difficult to read. I wanted to visit the Roman Theatre Museum but arrived the same time as a large group. We instead took the bus tour for €7 each and got stuck on the open air top deck. We did salvage the day by going to a local restaurant for paella and beer. Next time I will either go to the museum at opening time or perhaps find a tour company that limits their group size.

Mallorca (Palma): We joined a group of 14 organized by cruise critic members Fran and Audrey with a company called Mallorca Private Tour Guides. This tour highlights included time in Valdemossa and Sóller, two very scenic Spanish villages. We really enjoyed our tour guide and in Sóller we found a small café on a side street and stopped to enjoy some local wine and orange pastries with new friends Kay and Glen. We can also whole heartedly recommend this tour company.

Disembarkation: We signed up for a Princess transfer to the Barcelona airport. We had no problem checking in for our 10 a.m. flight to Atlanta. The flight was smooth, but transferring to our connecting flight in 1 hr 45 minutes was quite stressful. We stood in long lines for a customs kiosk, then to see a customs agent, then passport control and finally a security screening including taking off shoes. We just barely made our plane. Next time I will pay for the Delta Select Comfort seats that are closer to the front of the plane and will pay to get global TSA pre check.

Final thoughts: We loved our first transatlantic cruise. We did discover that 15 days on a cruise is enough for us and did not regret our decision to skip the 7 day additional cruise on to Rome.
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Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Cartagena (Spain)
    We did this on our own which was ok but not great. It was sprinkling the whole time, so my walking maps became soggy and difficult to read. I wanted to visit the Roman Theatre Museum but arrived the same time as a large group. We instead took the bus tour for €7 each and got stuck on the open air top deck. We did salvage the day by going to a local restaurant for paella and beer. Next time I will either go to the museum at opening time or perhaps find a tour company that limits their group size.
    View All 448 Cartagena (Spain) Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Cartagena (Spain) Cruise Port Review
  • Gibraltar Highlight Tour
    We booked in advance with Gibraltar Inside Out Rock Tours. The tour had 20 of us on a 22 person mini coach. We saw all the major highlights including going inside Michael’s cave and the Great Siege Tunnels. There were plenty of photo opportunities with the Barbary Apes. The driver did an excellent job of explaining the sights and history of Gibraltar. I can absolutely recommend this tour.
    View All 13,765 Gibraltar Highlight Tour Reviews
  • Highlights of Madeira
    We went on a 12 person tour with Daniel Madeira Taxi, organized by Fran, a cruise critic member. We loved this size group and had a great experience at the Funchal Market, Camara de Lobos, Cabo Girao, wine tasting at a local bar and more.
    View All 13,765 Highlights of Madeira Reviews
  • Malaga Tapas Tour
    We joined 6 other people on a Tapas tour that was organized by Gail, a cruise critic member. Paco, a lively 71 year old Spaniard, was our guide from the tour company We Love Malaga. We used the Princess shuttle for $12 each to get to starting point of the tour. This walking tour took us to the wonderful indoor market and then to a series of 3 restaurants off the beaten path where we had delicious tapas and wine. Paco was a great guide and showed us many interesting sights along the way. My DH and I thought this was our favorite tour of the trip.
    View All 13,765 Malaga Tapas Tour Reviews
  • Valldemossa
    We joined a group of 14 organized by cruise critic members Fran and Audrey with a company called Mallorca Private Tour Guides. This tour highlights included time in Valdemossa and Sóller, two very scenic Spanish villages. We really enjoyed our tour guide and in Sóller we found a small café on a side street and stopped to enjoy some local wine and orange pastries with new friends Kay and Glen. We can also whole heartedly recommend this tour company.
    View All 26 Valldemossa Reviews