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What we booked was the 14 day Western Mediterranean and Aegean Medley. We did not realize, at the time, that this was really 2 7-day cruises back-to-back rather than a single 14 day cruise. There were not any negative aspects to this: I had read that you have to get off the ship at the new embarkation point, but we were going ashore anyway (it was Civitavecchia for Rome) and so that did not make a difference. What did make a difference was that embarkation was unusually smooth and calm (only half the ship embarking) as was disembarkation. Also, two cruises, rather than one, boosted our Captain's Circle Membership up one level (!). So we cruise Princess because we like traditional dining at a table for two. Vacation is our best time to actually see one another and we really enjoy the ritual of a fine dinner and conversation, just with ourselves. Princess was the first cruise line that told us, when we asked if we could have this, "No problem." That was five years ago and we cruised in the Mediterranean on the Ruby Princess. Now, as anyone who has made this request on Princess knows, it is not always "no problem." Older ships such as the Diamond Princess, do not have many tables for two (on one cruise were assigned a table for 8!) but in every case, once we approached the Maitre D, we were assigned a table for two for the remainder of the cruise. The Royal Princess being a new ship, there really is no problem getting a table for two with traditional dining and that is a great pleasure (more on that later). The Royal Princess is a new ship. It is a beautiful ship. It is a huge ship. You really are somewhat dependent on the elevators because there are so many decks and it is far to climb, on the stairs, from the bottom to the top. Sometimes, yes, the elevators are slow. Sometimes, yes, the elevators are crowded. The problems happen mostly on the first or last day of a cruise (which is the same thing) or if everyone is rushing to get off at a port. But most of the time, there is not much of a wait and it is vacation. We were relaxed. But all in all, this was the best Princess cruise we have been on so far. The food was great - the chef, David McDonald has a Michelin star. The food is cruise food, to be sure, but we have always enjoyed Princess fare and found this to be just a bit better than usual - the choices, the flavours, the freshness, the presentation were all superior. Generoso Mazzone was far and away the greatest Maitre d'Hotel we have ever encountered. He seemed to take enormous joy interacting with every single guest, each was special, each was unique. We have never experienced such warmth on any cruise ship. Dinner is such an important part of our time away together and he, along with Salvador and Ronwaldo, made it super special every night. As I said, the food was excellent in the dining room, but also in the Horizon Court and Horizon Bistro, where we had breakfasts and lunches most days. Trying not to gain a whole lot of weight, I chose to put my lunch on a bed of lettuce rather than rice or potatoes and, taking some advice from Cruise Critic, told our servers not to put bread on our table at dinner. I think it helped. We went to the Super Tuscan dinner at Sabatini's, a gourmet dinner with wine pairings ($60 per person charge) and we loved it. It compares favourably with Tasting Menus with wine pairings on land but at a fraction of the cost. We had to return to Sabatini's though for their regular menu because that is always a highlight of our Princess Cruises. It was a highlight here as well. The Crab Shack was also fun. Finally, we tried Alfredo's for lunch. The menu was much more extensive than the last time we were on a ship with an Alfredo's and we had fantastic salad, pizza and pasta. On the plus side, it was fantastic and there was no extra charge. On the minus side, it is a true diet buster! (Ah, well, at least I held out until the second to last day!) There were a lot of ports, many of which we had not been to. They were all interesting, with Cartagena being the biggest surprise - a really great port we had never considered before. On the second half of the cruise, we were scheduled to dock in Kusadasi (for Ephesus) and Istanbul. Even weeks ago, I wondered whether Princess would change these ports due to the various problems and was surprised when they didn't. With the "attempted coup" all that changed and Kotor and Corfu were substituted. For many other passengers, that was a disappointment, but for my partner and myself, because we had been to both of those ports before, it was not a disappointment. In fact, it was rather welcome and both of those ports are well worth visiting.

The best Princess cruise we have been on so far

Royal Princess Cruise Review by happyonaship

10 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: July 2016
  • Destination: Mediterranean
  • Cabin Type: Deluxe Balcony
What we booked was the 14 day Western Mediterranean and Aegean Medley. We did not realize, at the time, that this was really 2 7-day cruises back-to-back rather than a single 14 day cruise. There were not any negative aspects to this: I had read that you have to get off the ship at the new embarkation point, but we were going ashore anyway (it was Civitavecchia for Rome) and so that did not make a difference. What did make a difference was that embarkation was unusually smooth and calm (only half the ship embarking) as was disembarkation. Also, two cruises, rather than one, boosted our Captain's Circle Membership up one level (!).

So we cruise Princess because we like traditional dining at a table for two. Vacation is our best time to actually see one another and we really enjoy the ritual of a fine dinner and conversation, just with ourselves. Princess was the first cruise line that told us, when we asked if we could have this, "No problem." That was five years ago and we cruised in the Mediterranean on the Ruby Princess. Now, as anyone who has made this request on Princess knows, it is not always "no problem." Older ships such as the Diamond Princess, do not have many tables for two (on one cruise were assigned a table for 8!) but in every case, once we approached the Maitre D, we were assigned a table for two for the remainder of the cruise. The Royal Princess being a new ship, there really is no problem getting a table for two with traditional dining and that is a great pleasure (more on that later).

The Royal Princess is a new ship. It is a beautiful ship. It is a huge ship. You really are somewhat dependent on the elevators because there are so many decks and it is far to climb, on the stairs, from the bottom to the top. Sometimes, yes, the elevators are slow. Sometimes, yes, the elevators are crowded. The problems happen mostly on the first or last day of a cruise (which is the same thing) or if everyone is rushing to get off at a port. But most of the time, there is not much of a wait and it is vacation. We were relaxed.

But all in all, this was the best Princess cruise we have been on so far. The food was great - the chef, David McDonald has a Michelin star. The food is cruise food, to be sure, but we have always enjoyed Princess fare and found this to be just a bit better than usual - the choices, the flavours, the freshness, the presentation were all superior. Generoso Mazzone was far and away the greatest Maitre d'Hotel we have ever encountered. He seemed to take enormous joy interacting with every single guest, each was special, each was unique. We have never experienced such warmth on any cruise ship. Dinner is such an important part of our time away together and he, along with Salvador and Ronwaldo, made it super special every night.

As I said, the food was excellent in the dining room, but also in the Horizon Court and Horizon Bistro, where we had breakfasts and lunches most days. Trying not to gain a whole lot of weight, I chose to put my lunch on a bed of lettuce rather than rice or potatoes and, taking some advice from Cruise Critic, told our servers not to put bread on our table at dinner. I think it helped. We went to the Super Tuscan dinner at Sabatini's, a gourmet dinner with wine pairings ($60 per person charge) and we loved it. It compares favourably with Tasting Menus with wine pairings on land but at a fraction of the cost. We had to return to Sabatini's though for their regular menu because that is always a highlight of our Princess Cruises. It was a highlight here as well. The Crab Shack was also fun. Finally, we tried Alfredo's for lunch. The menu was much more extensive than the last time we were on a ship with an Alfredo's and we had fantastic salad, pizza and pasta. On the plus side, it was fantastic and there was no extra charge. On the minus side, it is a true diet buster! (Ah, well, at least I held out until the second to last day!)

There were a lot of ports, many of which we had not been to. They were all interesting, with Cartagena being the biggest surprise - a really great port we had never considered before. On the second half of the cruise, we were scheduled to dock in Kusadasi (for Ephesus) and Istanbul. Even weeks ago, I wondered whether Princess would change these ports due to the various problems and was surprised when they didn't. With the "attempted coup" all that changed and Kotor and Corfu were substituted. For many other passengers, that was a disappointment, but for my partner and myself, because we had been to both of those ports before, it was not a disappointment. In fact, it was rather welcome and both of those ports are well worth visiting.
happyonaship’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Deluxe Balcony
Cabin DE D207
Our cabin was a little larger than the regular balcony cabin and there was certainly enough room. With the kinds of luggage restrictions we now experience from airlines, we both packed carefully, lightly and sensibly. The result was that there was way more than enough storage space, but just a bit of advice - there is much more space to hang clothes than for folded clothes. So, plan to hang shirts, t-shirts, anything that can be on a hangar and you will find you have lots of space. We stored our suitcases under the bed. It goes absolutely without saying that Roberto, our room steward, kept the room spotless and was always in and out at the most discrete times.
Marina Deck Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Athens (Piraeus)
    We debarked in Athens and took a transfer to our hotel, the Intercontinental Athenaeum, which is really very nice. While waiting for our room to be ready, we decided to walk up to the Acropolis to see how bad the ticket line was. It was hot and the line was terrible. So we decided to go to the new Acropolis Museum instead. We thought we were following the signs toward it, but found ourselves in the tiny, cool and empty Museum of Pavlos and Alexandra Kanellopoulos. It has collections of ancient as well as Byzantine art. No one else was there and the museum staff were totally welcoming, showing us around to all the exhibits and making sure we did not miss the window onto current excavations.

    On Sunday, we went to the Acropolis Museum, again an amazing work of architecture perched on current excavations, which you can see through the glass floor. We arrived at 10 a.m., after a wonderful Greek breakfast at the nearby Arkadia restaurant. More than two hours flew by, but by about 1 p.m. the museum was getting very crowded and so we returned to our hotel. A great supper at Skoumbri on Drakou Avenue was the finale of our wonderful vacation.
    View All 1,241 Athens (Piraeus) Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Athens (Piraeus) Cruise Port Review
  • Barcelona
    We love Barcelona and spent a couple of days there before embarkation. We took a tour to Sagrada Familia, which we had not seen in ten years. It is still not finished, but what a wonderful place to check on, every so often. We also drove by other Gaudi architecture. We bought tickets, in advance, for the Picasso museum, also a wonderful place to visit.
    View All 2,230 Barcelona Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Barcelona Cruise Port Review
  • Cartagena (Spain)
    Cartegena was the big surprise of the trip. We had not expected much but took a "Best of Cartegena" tour, which was a good idea, since we knew nothing of the place prior to visiting. It is an ancient and interesting port.
    View All 433 Cartagena (Spain) Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Cartagena (Spain) Cruise Port Review
  • Corfu
    Cave Tour: This was an incredible and incredibly beautiful break from ancient art and architecture. The coast line is rocky and the water incredibly blue. The caves are beautiful, especially the Cave of the Blue Eye. You can understand so well when you visit here how the myths of the gods might have been inspired.
    View All 661 Corfu Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Corfu Cruise Port Review
  • Knossos Palace
    The trip to Knossos was well worth while, even though the palace was crowded and the day was very hot. Standing around or even sitting in the shade was exhausting. We therefore chose to taxi back to the ship rather than to see the old town after Knossos and that allowed us to shower and dress in a relaxed manner before dinner.
    View All 49 Knossos Palace Reviews
  • Lucca Walking Tour
    Lucca is a beautiful little town, birthplace of Boccherini and Puccini. We enjoyed both the exercise and the sites of this walking tour. It was nice, as well, to visit something a little less popular and crowded than Florence or Pisa.
    View All 36 Lucca Walking Tour Reviews
  • City Tour
    Again, in Genoa we chose to see Genoa for a half a day rather than taking the whole day to travel elsewhere. It was very interesting and, again, gave us some time on the ship to relax.
    View All 34 City Tour Reviews
  • World War II Tunnels
    By time I booked the excursion, my first choice was filled and so this was a good second choice. We not only toured the WWII tunnels, which were interesting in themselves, but also got to see a great deal of this very interesting island. Princess seems to be offering fewer, but better, excursions and so I would advise cruisers to reserve their excursions early. You can always cancel up to the night before.
    View All 21 World War II Tunnels Reviews
  • Budva
    Kotor was one of the two ports substituted for Kusadasi and Istanbul. We did not know what to expect and what we found was that the town was far more beautiful than it seemed in the pictures at the port talk. We had a ride to nearby Budva, which is small and ancient. Kotor is larger, but also old. The art and architecture shows the multiple influences of the regimes that controlled the area and is therefore fascinating.
    View All 30 Budva Reviews
  • City Tour
    This was the City Drive and Notre Dame de la Garde. It was a half day tour which I felt exposed us to the best sites in Marseille and left us some time to relax. On a cruise such as the one we took, which had only two sea days in two weeks, it is easy to get exhausted trying to see EVERYTHING. But we have cruised in the Mediterranean before and hopefully will do so again and so we can leave some sites unseen. Truth is, though, we have been to Aix-en-Provence and Avignon before. Also, if you are in the area, Carcassonne is well worth a visit.
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  • Island of Delos
    We had been to Delos before and wanted to see more of it. Our tour guide was knowledgeable and gave a lot of information, but there was a little too much information and too little travelling around the site to see it. We had very little time on the island and feel that in order to really experience Delos we should perhaps go when we can stay overnight in Mykonos and spend the day on Delos. We would like to hike to the other side and see the ancient synagogue there.
    View All 89 Island of Delos Reviews
  • Herculaneum
    We had seen Pompeii five years ago, and wanted very much to see Herculaneum. We had a good, knowledgeable guide who didn't waste much time with silly jokes and found the place incredibly interesting. Again, as with many other ports, we didn't spend the whole day here and were able to have a nap before dinner.
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  • Rome on Your Own
    Really, all we wanted was the coach into Rome and the coach back so that we would not have to worry about getting to the ship before it departed. We made arrangements for tickets to MAXXI - the Museum of Twenty-first Century Art, an architectural masterpiece by the late Zaha Hadid. In truth, we went to see the building, but the collections are very interesting as well. We were also able to sit and have a cappucino and a delicious pastry in a nearby cafe while waiting for the museum to open. Advice: we used the ultra-confusing website to purchase our tickets in advance. However, as opposed to the Picasso Museum in Barcelona, for which purchasing tickets in advance enables you to side-step the line-up, here we had to line up anyway to trade in our online "tickets" for museum tickets. However, we were here early - before the museum opened, in fact - and there was not a long line since it is not a highly publicized tourist spot. If you are a fan of contemporary art and architecture, it is well worth a visit. But don't bother to buy tickets online in advance.
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