Royal Princess Cruise Review by nbsjcruiser
- Sail Date: February 2017
- Destination: Caribbean
- Cabin Type: Interior
Embarkation: We arrived at Terminal 2 a little earlier than planned. I know they don't open the doors to the terminal until 11 sharp but we were awake early and so we decided to check out of the hotel in Pompano and enjoy a leisurely drive down A1A, coffee in hand. It was a beautiful drive down past the beaches without the hassle of I95. After dropping off the rental car we arrived at the pier right around 10AM and we were probably 50th in line or thereabouts. The doors opened sharply at 11 and the higher level cruisers were allowed in first. We weren't far behind them though and within a few short minutes we were checked in and waiting upstairs for the ship to open. I'd say we eventually boarded (group 2) probably around 11:15 or so. We dropped our bags off and headed to the buffet - where else? So Embarkation a breeze but I'd guess if you wanted to minimize waiting you could probably show up around 11:30 or so and you'd likely hit the sweet spot.
Disembarkation: Streamlined and smooth. No issues getting off super early if you wanted to. I'd have no issue booking a flight at 10AM in FLL.
I was so impressed with the food on the Regal in November. It was THE best food on any cruise ship I've been on and so the Royal had big shoes to fill. We really enjoyed the food on the Royal all week but it wasn't a home run every night like the Regal. Don't get me wrong, I was impressed with the buffet - lots of options on every meal and Pastry Shop gives you a great variety of desserts all week. I did find that the variety of the food in the buffet though was not quite as good. Maybe I missed it but I was looking forward to the Mongolian stir fry that they did on the Regal. I guess on the 10 day cruise there would be some repeats and perhaps this is what threw me off a bit but the food was always good, hot and the service was exceptional in the buffet. If all I have to complain about is some variety then I'm really digging hard eh?
The dining room food was quite good as well and I tried a few Curtis Stone items this week. The seafood chowder was quite good - really good. Its funny but I found the menus all week to be so-so but each night I ordered something and was pleasantly surprised. I really enjoyed the food in the dining room with one exception - we tried the gourmet hamburgers last night and they were not good. I'd avoid them in the future. But that was the only disappointing item all week so no complaints here. I would like to say something about the service in the MDR. Those guys and gals are over-worked. There's simply not enough of them and its noticeable. One evening we were lucky enough to get a seating in the Club Section of the MDR because Anytime Dining was full. The service up there was unreal. The best analogy I can come up with is it was like driving down the A1A on a bright Sunday morning versus the I95 on a Monday morning. It was like the old days of cruising up there. The waiters were casually serving people, making chit chat, standing, waiting for people to finish a course and then methodically serving the next course. Down in the regular section though it was busy all the time and dining takes longer than it should on many nights. Personally, I'm ok with a dinner that takes a little longer, after all, where do I have to be? I've seen the same on Royal Caribbean btw and I have a theory. Its time for cruise lines to make up their minds. Go 100% My Time dining or go 100% traditional. Stop trying to be half pregnant. MTD on RCI and Princess is hectic, too hectic at times.
Alfredo's - like the Regal, this surprisingly free restaurant is a must. There were no lineups there all week which was surprising given the great food there. We skipped Sabatini's again this cruise because Alfredo's was able to provide a nice Italian dinner for us one evening. Just Excellent really.
Crown Grill - We ate there twice on the 10 day cruise. Great steaks and I love the Peanut Butter dessert thing they do there. The salt selections are interesting and I was able to get a couple of the salts when we stopped at Bonaire. So if you like the salt samples they give you and you stop in Bonaire, go out to the little market they have just after you get away from the pier. There's a girl selling them there.
Princess Cays - this was a first time for us. Nice beach day with good food on the beach. We just enjoyed the beach with a couple of those floating chairs which was relaxing. I saw a couple of people floating in the water, drink in the cup holder, reading a book. I'd rent them again. Nice beach area and we enjoyed our day there.
St Thomas - been there many times but its always a nice stop. We walked around town and I picked up a bottle of scotch downtown. We then headed out to Secret Harbour - pictures to follow. It was hot out there let me tell you so we rented an umbrella. There's a nice restaurant right on the beach and we ordered some food there, as we did in November on the Regal.
Dominica - We decided to do a ship excursion here in the afternoon. We did the mineral baths at the Bolongo Baths. It included a tour first and then an hour or so in the baths. I was pleasantly surprised I must say. The baths were very nice and the tour and tour guide was great. Again, pictures to follow.
Grenada - we planned to spend the day doing a self guided walking tour and I'm glad we did. I always enjoy doing that and Grenada provided an interesting stop to see the local area and talk to people. It is a friendly island and very safe to walk around. We stopped at the Chocolate Museum and you'll see a couple pictures later on that. They volunteered to show us around and tell us about the history of chocolate as it pertained to Grenada. Of course we bought some chocolate before we left. We also walked up to the fort on top of the hill. Apart from providing a nice spot for pictures, there's not much up there so for those wanting to go up to see the fort, you aren't missing much if you dont. DW befriended a stray dog on our travels who became our unofficial guide to the island for an hour or more. DW would have taken the dog home with us I'm sure - thank god we were on a cruise . We finally bribed our tour guide with some chicken strips from KFC while he hurriedly hustled our way out of sight.
Bonaire - This was an interesting stop and as I mentioned I picked up some flavoured salts and other spices at the market area near the ship. Don't miss this area if you're ever there. Its not your typical market with people clamouring for you to buy junk. There's some nice things in there. We walked around town and off the beaten path a bit to see what the place looked like. I heard that several passengers rented golf carts for the day. I think I'd do that next time. Its would be a great island for that type of sightseeing and I saw several of them doing it. I think I'd grab a few bottles of water/beer/soda, some ice and bring a couple towels and head out for the day. We picked up a tour of Bonaire later in the afternoon that took us all around. We saw flamingos, salt flats and we stopped at the Cadushy Distillery where I picked up a bottle of very nice tasting liquor made from cactus. $25 - a good deal. The only thing I found a bit unfortunate was that the tour bus had Canadian Air Conditioning - i.e. roll the window down. It was hot and at times uncomfortable on the bus but we still enjoyed the tour.
Aruba - we went out to Palm Beach for most of the day and had a great beach day. It was cloudy but we go lucky in that the clouds seemed to avoid the little strip of beach we were on all day. We took the bust out there ($5 round trip) and I'd do that again except I'd go a little further out to Eagle Beach I think. There's more out there from what I'm told. In the afternoon we walked around town, grabbed something to eat at The Paddock - right on the water. Food was good, beer was cold. We then did a little shopping and lost a few bucks in the casino.
Really great job by the crew all week. Room attendant was always around doing his job and was very good. Dining staff was excellent in the MDR and in the buffet. No complaints whatsoever.
Entertainment - quite good I would say. They had a group of guys in there called Flyboys who I felt were excellent. Comedian was good and I heard several people say the illusionist was very good but we missed that one. There was also a singer who was well received and he did an encore show which we caught - I can't remember his name, sorry.
CD Staff - always around getting people to do something. The Voice of the Ocean on the last night was worth attending. Do it if you have a chance.
Ship layout and condition
I'm going to steal this bit from my Regal review of last November. Beautiful ship. Not much else I can add. Its well laid out, a bit confusing at times finding one of the dining rooms (Allegro I think?) but minor issue in truth.
I like the layout of the pools. If you want to hang around the main pool area with the TV and hairy legs contests and so on - well go ahead. For me I prefer a nice quiet area and the Retreat area was great for that. Getting a deck chair in that smaller area can be a challenge later in the week but I was always able to get something. There is also a smoking section back there which I thought was well laid out. Out of the way from the general populous and in an area well served with coffee, tea and a person back there who could go get drinks if needed.
Ship condition was pristine as you would expect and the Piazza is the hub of activity.
Like the Regal, one of the best cruises we've ever been on. Was it 10 out of 10 like I felt the Regal was? No. It was a 9 but we're still very happy with the 10 days we spent on the ship. Great job by the staff, all of them.
Now the fun part - the pictures.
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