Royal Princess Cruise Review by Ramoli
- Sail Date: December 2016
- Destination: Eastern Caribbean
- Cabin Type: Premium Suite with Balcony
To recap: When we arrived in Fort Lauderdale, I called the Cambria Suites for the shuttle transfer to the hotel the night before we sailed. After an hour, I called again and was asked, “Did you look for the Comfort Inn Shuttle?” I told the desk clerk, “I wasn’t looking for a Comfort Inn Shuttle, I was looking for a Cambria Shuttle.” He responded, “Well, they are the same.” I didn’t know this. Twenty minutes later, the shuttle arrived and we made it to our hotel. The room was nice and the food was the best we had on the entire trip.
I made a reservation for the shuttle transfer to the pier for 10:00am, even though “the doors to the ship didn’t open until 12:30pm”. And I’m glad I did. We ended up standing in the “Preferred Line” for about 1½ hours, but got on board much quicker than my brother’s family who arrived about 1:00pm and had to wait for three hours to board. By the way, the shuttle from the hotel is $10.00/person, not $5.00.
Our suite was roomy but not luxurious. There were no clocks, however. You would think this would not be that big of a deal, but when you wake up and you have no idea what time it is, you become oddly attached to your cell phone and quickly become bed buddies.
There is a ten-minute introduction video on both televisions that you must watch in order gain access to watch regular television and it is the exact repeat of the safety drill we were required to attend.
Although the beds are comfortable, the duvet covers are not. Our covers only came up to just above the waist, making it impossible to “get under the covers.” One would expect the covers to fit appropriately and these did not. We ended up sleeping with hand towels around our necks.
The food was the worst we’ve ever had on a cruise and usually lacked any flavor. The “Anytime Dining” is not anytime. If you show up between 6:30 and 8:00pm, the wait times can be up to 45 minutes during these prime times in the main dining rooms of the “Symphony” or the “Concerto.” “Traditional Dining” was either at 5:30pm or 7:45pm with nothing in between.
The two specialty restaurants, Sabatini’s and the Crown Grill (at $29/person) was nothing special and is not worth the price. I’ve had much better Italian at “The Olive Garden.” And the Crown Grill which supposedly epitomizes a classic steakhouse didn’t impress this cowgirl from Colorado. However, one unique feature of Crown Grill is their specialized salts, which are served on the side and made a unique dipping “sauce” for the steak.
One night, before going to eat we ordered canapés of cheese and crackers for $12.00 + tip. It consisted of five or so types of cheeses, fruit and Zesta Saltine Crackers (still in the individual plastic packing). Classy.
The All-Inclusive Beverage Package is not all inclusive (such as the mini-bar and room service). If you want a bottle of water, you must beg a bartender to give you an actual bottle instead of a glass with ice. If you need to, say, take pills before you go to sleep you find yourself standing over the sink and wonder, “Is the water safe to drink from the tap? Do I hike to the Horizon Court and secretly fill my water bottle? Do I drain the remaining water from the ice bucket?”
And, if you’re out at the pool and find an attendant to ask for a drink, half the time he’ll tell you when you pull out your “All-Inclusive Beverage Package” card, that he only works for tips, so you can just go belly on and up to the bar yourself.
The best part of the pool experience was watching the Jumbotron over the pool. They played videos from the 80’s, an early morning concert by Luciano Pavarotti that blew my mind and I don’t even like opera, and sadly, we watched our Bronco’s lose to the Raiders…next year.
In the interest of thoroughness, I have decided to visit the subject – “Does the internal decor of a cruise ship matter”? Initially one might think ‘No’; surely it is the overall experience (food, entertainment, ports of call, etc.) that is important. However, most cruise lines must think that the interiors of their vessels really do matter, as they all spend a fortune on the internal decoration of their ships. The Royal Princess DOES NOT!
Interestingly the average mass-market hotel will often have quite unexciting, possibly ‘bland’ décor. However, the average mass market cruise ships are an explosion of glitz, color, neon and art works. Oceania had the most amazing décor I’ve ever seen. It was astonishing, over-the-top, mega-glitzy, inspiring, confusing, and migraine inducing, all at once! It really must be seen to be believed. The intention is to not only physically transport you to exotic ports, but to mentally transport you to a fantasy world.
Now I would not go as far as saying a ships decor alone should make or break a cruise. However, I do think it is important when choosing a cruise to match the onboard experience. The art on the Royal Princess is quite pedestrian. To be fair, the Old-World charm of the Piazza with roving street performers, quaint boutiques, a spiral staircase and several glass-walled lifts were impressive.
Also, the sparkling evergreens adorning the decks for Christmas, to the Atrium snowfall, and the festive onboard activities, such as a Gingerbread House Making Contest and a visit from Santa was very nice. We particularly enjoyed the special holiday programming on the stateroom TV and a Christmas Eve stocking with some holiday treats.
The two snorkeling excursions we went on were also disappointing. When three to four massive cruise ships converge on Turtle Cove with thousands of tourists splashing about, the fish tend to leave and coral dies. In St. Thomas, the tour company, “Castaway Girl” did a wonderful job with what that had to work with, but I’d suggest trying to find a reputable private company to take you to places that are not so over-dived. The same goes for our snorkeling in Barbados. The crew was great and there were more fish and turtles, but nothing like other dives we’ve been on.
There were things we really did enjoy on cruise. The Crème Brule was fabulous! And you might be familiar with Princess as the cruise line on the 1970s & 80s show “The Love Boat”. The line, is currently celebrating its 50th anniversary, and is proud of their Love Boat heritage. The ship featured all nine seasons of Love Boat on the stateroom TVs. I’m not ashamed to say that I got a kick out of watching them.
Also, “Nemo”, the bartender at Bellini’s was one of the highlights of our evenings.
Poor customer service is the basic problem with the Royal Princess. Many of the crew members were obviously irritated and honestly unhappy with their jobs. Why should a crew member work harder than another member who doesn’t, if they earn the same wage? There is no incentive to try harder or to make the customer experience more memorable.
I guess that’s their business plan. That plan does not include this sailor.
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