I sailed on the July 8, 2015 Royal Princess doing the British Isles (including Paris). Generally speaking, this was a good cruise as Princess usually is. However, I can tell you that having a cabin directly mid-ship is mildly irritating. ... Read More
I sailed on the July 8, 2015 Royal Princess doing the British Isles (including Paris). Generally speaking, this was a good cruise as Princess usually is. However, I can tell you that having a cabin directly mid-ship is mildly irritating. There is no central stairwell for midship cabins other than for the life boat drill. The mid-ship stairwell is used for crew and is closed off to guests otherwise. Given that some major public spaces are
directly off the midship elevators, the wait can be annoying. Also, problematic is that the signature terrace pool is missing on the ship (but was added back on to the Regal Princess).
This ship is of a size where more people than on the other Princess ships are packed together. Architects did not do a very good plan of traffic flow from one part of the ship to another. There is no 'promenade' on the Promenade deck. I prefer other Princess ships that have the complete wrap around down on this deck. The jogging track has been jammed up on deck 17 for probably about 1/3 of the size of the typical promenade.
With these draw backs noted, the ship had the look and feel of most of the other Princess ships.
I went to one show while on board. It was non-descript. There was a situation about a performer who was to be on board. This was brought to my attention through a pre-cruise e-mail received from Princess. His name was David Copperfield - but not the magician we know in the US. In the Daily Patter there was mention of a performer by the name of David Cats who would be performing. I went to the front desk and wanted to know if this David Cats was also known as David Copperfield, and if not, was David Copperfield performing. I was told that no one by the name of David Copperfield would be performing. I had the front desk clerk report this e-mail communication to the cruise director. I got a phone call from the cruise director who was not aware of any David Copperfield performing during this cruise and that if I had this e-mail, she would appreciate my sending it to her. Well, low and behold 3 days later, the Princess Patter indicated that David Copperfield would be performing that evening. It is clear that the cruise director did not have all of the facts as to who the entertainment would be.
As for the MDR, we had anytime seating. This is really a misnomer. Reservations are encouraged for anytime dining. Even with that being said, we were provided with pagers - sort of like going to TGIF on a Friday night, or being on a Carnival cruise, for that matter. The answer to this predicament was to go to each dining room and get a pager from each location. The first pager to go off became our winning ticket. Generally speaking, service in the MDR was painfully slow. Once in the MDR, we learned that the food was better than on other Princess ships. As for the specialty restaurants (Sabatini's and the Crown Grill) the meals were excellent.
In terms of bars, this is the first time that I looked away from the Wheelhouse bar and opted for Crooners in the atrium. With my first drink in the Wheelhouse bar, I noticed that the shot glass was only filled to about 3/4 full. That was with me looking right at the bar tender. I will make sure to keep my eyes out for this situation on any other Princess cruises I may take. Crooner's, in the atrium, had afternoon happy hour from 3 to 4 daily with buy one, get one for $1.00. A pretty good deal.
In terms of shore excurions, nothing was very close and required quite a bit of driving to get to the sights, with the exception of Liverpool. Shore excurions were more than I am used to paying and wonder if this isn't because of the price of gas in Europe.
In Paris, we did 'The best of Paris'. It took a 3 hour bus ride in each direction to see the sights. Lunch was not served in a charming Parisian restaurant as described, but rather in a German brew pub.
In Edinburgh, we did a Castle and City drive. This was on a most Popular and World Heritage Site, so I knew this would be enjoyable, and less expensive as well because of the trip only being 4.5 hours.
In Loch Ness, we did the Urquhart and Cawdor Castles. Although a full day tour, it was enjoyable.
In Glasgow, we did the Easy Scottish Lochs. The views on this trip were incredible. And once again, only a half day trip.
In Belfast, we saw the Giant's Causeway. This is essentially the remnants from lava which cooled over the nearby waters. Interesting and strange. This was also known as a Most Popular and World Heritage Site trip.
In Liverpool, we took the 'In the Steps of the Beatles'. Don't overlook this excusrion. It was much more than I thought it would be.
In Dublin, we did the Highlights trip. This was probably my least favorite tour.
In Cork, we did the Blarney Castle. If your bus can get there early in the morning, the lines should not be too long and you should be able to kiss the stone at the top of the castle, if you are so inclined. Otherwise, taking pictures of those kissing the stone can be a life time memory. A note to the claustrophobic, the circular stairwell has very narrow steps and a winding rope used as a hand rail. A tight squeeze for many.
In Guernsey, we went to a miniature castle made out of broken china and shells. Unique. Then, we were off to the Sausmarez Manor. This Manor had a lot of history right up through world war 2.
With respect to ports with tenders: beware. We must have been waiting in a line to re-board the ship via tender for 40 to 50 minutes while preparing to leave Guernsey. As indicated elsewhere in this review, the staff / architects have not designed this ship for easy passenger movement and flow. I think that this ship should not visit ports requiring tender service. It is too big to handle so many passengers in an expeditious manner.
On this sailing, the tenders were used in Edinburgh and in Guernsey. And with one more observation regarding shore excursion, it appears that many excursions were arranged to come back to the ship at the same time. This left extensive lines getting back onto the ship. This was poor planning in my thinking. The flip side to this argument is that the travel times to get from the port to the 'attraction' is extensive. Read Less