We chose this cruise to celebrate 50 years of friendship of our husbands, dating back to their Navy days in Italy. We chose this week because we figured it was not a "Spring Break" week, and the few children on board were well-behaved.
The Royal Princess met all of our expectations. It has attractive and elegant public areas. It took a day or two to figure out how to get around the ship because of the central piazza area - there are some decks where you have to go up or down in order to get from the forward to the aft part of the ship. There were about 3500 passengers on the ship, but most of the time it didn't feel crowded.
From the moment we arrived at LAX to the moment we left, we were greeted and taken care of by Princess employees. Our transfers to and from the ship and the embarkation/disembarkation process were very smooth and efficient with plenty of friendly personnel to direct passengers. Our cabin, aft-facing E-733, was smallish, but perfectly adequate, and was well-maintained by Emmanuel, our cabin steward. There was plenty of room for clothing and toiletries. If hair care is important to you, bring your own products, since there is only "shampoo-conditioner" provided. We had some trouble with the toilet not flushing occasionally, and there was some minor soot on the balcony. However, the cabin was nice and quiet, and we enjoyed the aft view. There were lots of loungers all over the ship, so it was never a problem to find a place to relax.
We chose Anytime Dining and enjoyed our meals in both of the MDRs and the Crown Grill and Alfredo's. We never had to wait for a table in the MDRs. The buffet was extensive - massive, really - with many choices. We were pleased to see so many staff members keeping the buffet clean and refreshed, and there were many servers in the buffet dining area clearing tables and serving beverages.
As far as entertainment goes, Matt O is an enthusiastic and energetic CD, and his staff members were all very fun and friendly. We played a lot of trivia games and they had a nice variety of topics. As often happens, there were either many enjoyable activities that happened at the same time, or occasionally there were no events that appealed to us. However, that was a good reason to do some reading or lounge by the pool or walk a few laps on the track. The production shows were good, if not outstanding. We particularly enjoyed the presentation by Paul Burrell, Princess Diana's assistant.
Service from every employee (stewards, bartenders, wait staff, cleaning staff, front desk) was polite and friendly.
We took shore excursions in each port, and I expect I'll be able to report on those below. In brief, we really enjoyed our half-day sailing experience in Cabo, but thought the Mazatlan City Highlights was just OK, and we couldn't really recommend the Best of Puerto Vallarta tour. The tour guides on both excursions were fine, but the PV tour included a long drive over rough roads, and we got back to the ship more than 2 hours later than we expected.
We absolutely would take another Princess Cruise - this was our third cruise with Princess. We really enjoyed it!
As mentioned above, the cabin was small but perfectly adequate for us. We liked having the aft view, but be aware that there is some soot that drifts down, so look at the chairs carefully before you sit down. We had occasional trouble getting the toilet to flush, but never had to call for a plumber (as we did on a previous non-Princess ship.) Next time I would bring my own shampoo and hair conditioner, since I found the shampoo-conditioner that was provided to be be very drying on my hair. Our cabin was beautifully cared for by Emmanuel, our steward. Emmanuel was very polite and very friendly, and we enjoyed the fact that he posed our "Teddy Bear" in cute ways with a towel elephant he created.
The sailboat was lovely and well-staffed, by Captain Bruno, two wonderful young men, and photographer Veronica. We were served two delicious snacks/small meals, and just about any drink you would like. We were fortunate that it was a warm, sunny day, so we enjoyed the views of Cabo including The Arch. Due to the rather high winds, we were not able to try SUP, and no one cared to snorkel on our boat, but since we weren't planning on doing those activities anyway, it was not a problem. At the start of the trip, we were advised that we wouldn't be able to actually sail because of the high winds, so we were given the option of a refund or continuing on the cruise at half-price. As it turned out, we were able to sail after all (my first experience!) but we still were given the half-price rate, which we thought was good customer service. Veronica took some wonderful pictures, and the young men staff members were very kind and conscientious and polite. We recommend this shore excursion!View All undefined undefined Reviews
We had never been to Mazatlan before and figured that this excursion would give us an overview of the city, which it did. The bus was comfortable enough, and took us to see the Cathedral, the Golden Zone, a Cliff Diver (wow!!), and other areas of Mazatlan. The highlight for us was that I left my travel mascot Teddy Bear at the Cliff Diver area. Irma, our tour guide, was very conscientious about trying to locate the bear for me. As it turned out, we returned to that area before we went back to the ship (since when we stopped the first time, the diver was not able to dive) and Irma asked around until she found a vendor who had taken the bear for safe-keeping. I was grateful for Irma's kindness, and for the kindness of the vendor who rescued our mascot. I don't think I'd take the tour again, but it was fine for an overview.View All 66 City Tour Reviews
Best of Puerto Vallarta: Rafael (Rafa/Bruno Mars) was a charming tour guide, and he is enthusiastic about PV. We did see the Church, the Malecon, Old Town, and Elizabeth Taylor's home. There was also a stop to buy jewelry, and a photo stop at a pretty restaurant overlooking the ocean. Then we drove quite a long way to the family-owned Tequila distillery where we bought lunch and then had a tequila tasting. The tequila was quite popular with our group, and there were many varieties to sample. However, the trip was supposed to be 5 hours, and we were about 2 hours later getting back to the ship than we expected. The road to the distillery was quite rough and quite long, and people were disconcerted by that. I wouldn't take this excursion again. If we return to PV, I'd just hang out at the Malecon and have lunch and drinks at one of the restaurants there.View All 71 City Tour Reviews