This brief cruise to Cabo San Lucas and back appealed to my wife and me as we have reservations to sail aboard in December. We will be taking a family cruise with kids and grand kids on the Royal over New Year’s this year. We have sailed ... Read More
This brief cruise to Cabo San Lucas and back appealed to my wife and me as we have reservations to sail aboard in December. We will be taking a family cruise with kids and grand kids on the Royal over New Year’s this year. We have sailed on six other princess ships and this was the largest. I will admit we were a little concerned because of her size and 3000 person capacity. However we found crowding was seldom an issue and there are some improvements over other ships that really make sailing on her fun.
Embarkation from San Pedro is from the old terminal. Very crowed there, but lines kept moving. The ship is too long to dock at the new terminal and even backs out of the harbor to the breakwater before turning around. The check in involved a lot of walking in the cavernous structure. We were given medallions even though we did not complete the medallion registration before the cruise.
Our room was to the all the way aft on deck 11, Baja, the last balcony before the suites, close to the aft elevator which runs up to the Horizon Court on deck 16. It is straight down to deck 7 where an outside sitting area is. There is no outside Promenade deck running the lengths of the ship. There are two sitting areas on each side of ship.The ride was exceptionally smooth. Everything worked and was in good shape. The beds are especially comfortable. We had a neighbor several cabins down that tried to hang an article of clothing on a hanger to dry by sticking it in the fire system nozzle on the ceiling. The glass rod sensor in the nozzle broke and the whole room had to be redone, carpet included. Ship staff did it in a day. We were very impressed by the efficiency of the staff.
The biggest plus was the Horizon Court Buffet. Unlike other Princess buffets, with one way in and at times overcrowded, this design uses four separate serving lines separated by about 20.’ Each line is about 50 feet long. And the food is unbelievable. Usually four carving stations with beef, pork, ham, as well as, shrimp prepared multiple ways, cold, cooked, fried, this flavor that flavor and so on. The seating was also not a problem ever at peak times, always seating available. There was even a separate room, The Pastry Shop, with multiple deserts. This design is a winner.
We also ate at Crown Grill which with excellent service, food and wine. Alfredo’s Pizza is on this ship on deck 6 and has an expanded menu which includes antipasto salads and calzones. Don’t forget you can have what you want on board, so I ordered a double pepperoni…mmmm good. In the past we liked dinner at Sabatini’s, but on our last two ships they did not offer Lobster Three Ways. On the Royal it’s back on the menu. Although we did not eat there, we will in December. Princess should keep this item on all their Sabatini menus.
The casino seemed a little crowded, but not bad. We found a couple of friendly slots, hit many bonuses, and left with only a loss of $8 for both of us. We felt like winners.
The pool area, usually very crowded on other ships was remarkably spacious. In addition to the usual pool lounges, there is comfortable patio furniture in conversational clusters. We always found a seat there. The glass floored Sea Walk is on both sides of ship on this deck. It extends out over the sea and is a little scary…but not too much. Had pizza one day for lunch. Great as usual. Ordered a double cheese burger for dinner one night and felt like Guy Fieri biting in to it. Very good. Finished with the free ice cream on way to room.
The large atrium is a very positive improvement. Twice the usual size, more seating and decorated in a very dazzling manner. We watched the paper airplane contest there. Very nice.
There were just over 300 kids on this cruise. I have to say we observed them in the pool area, buffet, atrium, etc. All were well behaved and looked excited to be on the ship. The buffet had a small kids offering of mac and cheese, pigs in a blanket, PB+J and baloney sandwiches.
The Medallion system was a mystery to us before this cruise, but we are sold. Wear it on a lanyard, put it in your pocket or wear it as a watch. As you approach your stateroom, the screen by the door welcomes you, shows your picture and unlocks the door for you. When visiting a bar, your icon is on an IPad, and confirming your stateroom number, the staff just touches icon. Transaction done. Same in the stores, photo department, and if you order drinks in a dining room.There were folks with cell phones using the locator feature to tract down kids or friends. The same when going ashore. Just touch it to the reader. There are other features we didn’t explore, but embrace this, it is terrific. By the way, the internet was as fast and easy to get on and off. No problem sending or downloading pictures.
We went ashore in Cabo each day we were anchored there. The Royal has a new lifeboat design. They are bigger and seating is at the same level as the entrance from the ship. No more stairs down to a hold. The hull has a main keel rather than a catamaran design. There is still roof seating.
Cabo was hot and humid since a tropical storm had just departed. We walked all the way to end of water front and enjoyed the stores and a couple margaritas. I didn’t have my picture taken with an iguana this time. Their big marlin Tournament was in progress so there were many fishing boats in the harbor.
One complaint is the lack of Port talks. On all previous cruises we always attended, even if it covered a port we visited previously, and learned something every time. People want to know about where they are going. A naturalist talk would have really been nice even though this was a short 5 day cruise; there were two sea days and a couple half sea days. A couple foot health lectures could have been scrapped.
Our seas were smooth for the cruise. We had a couple of exceptional sunsets and a great sunrise sky one morning. The last sea day was mostly overcast and a little cool. We did see dolphins several times but no whales.
Disembarkation logistics at this older terminal needs to be redesigned. There must be ways to reduce the amount of walking/running people were forced to do. The handicapped, elderly, and folks dragging bags and travel treasures were exhausted by the crush of humanity. The luggage workers were terrific and knew some short cuts. If Princess plans to continue having the bigger ships calling here, they need to negotiate a terminal redesign with the Port Authority.
Can’t wait to get aboard again in December. Read Less