This was our first Mediterranean cruise. I've sailed with Celebrity 1x and Princess 3x in the Caribbean. We opted to go with Princess even though we saw mediocre reviews for this ship, Royal Princess. The itinerary and dates worked ... Read More
This was our first Mediterranean cruise. I've sailed with Celebrity 1x and Princess 3x in the Caribbean. We opted to go with Princess even though we saw mediocre reviews for this ship, Royal Princess. The itinerary and dates worked well for us, so we thought, let's give it a try.
We used a car service to get from Rome to the ship, which wasn't cheap, but started the trip off stress-free and in comfort. The boarding process was a snap! We packed lightly and each of the three of us had one piece which we carried on, so when we got to our room, we had everything there and were able to immediately unpack and move into our cabin. Highly recommend doing this-there is a laundry room on the ship and since we were touring Italy and Switzerland for another week post-cruise, traveling light is the way to go.
The stateroom, a deluxe balcony E412 was sold as obstructed view, but there was no obstruction whatsoever. This room is right at mid-ship, and there are angled balconies where are slightly larger. There are at least 10 cabins mid ship on the Emerald deck that have zero obstruction. So glad we saved several hundred and booked this one. I've been in mini suites before and the smaller room was a bit tight for 3 of us, but honestly, it was fine for the amount of time we actually spent in there! My only criticism is that if you have a cabin for 3, they should provide 3 deck chairs for sitting on balcony.
Two of us opted to do the all inclusive drink package after a visit to the bar and a look at drink prices. Even though there was only one day at sea, the package was a bargain. It includes premium coffees (capuccino, latte, etc) at the INternational Cafe, which we visited every morning and far preferred to the buffet breakfast. The Cafe had baked goods, yogurt and we prefer a continental breakfast and GOOD coffee (the in-room coffee service was horrible), and this was included in the all-inclusive bev package. A few cocktails or beers in the afternoon, and then wine at dinner, and a nice cofffee with dessert, and we already drank more than the cost of the card. If you enjoy your drinks on vacation, I recommend springing for it. It also removes the anxiety of the final day "bill" being astronomical.
Now the bad stuff- as written about before- the elevator situation and the mediocre food. We have never had food this sub-par on a Princess cruise. We were hoping the other reviews we had read were just from picky people. We are not major foodies, but we do enjoy good, well-prepared food. We did not get that in any of the dining rooms. We probably should have paid the up charge and dined at one of the higher-rated restaurant, but we didn't. We tried both dining rooms that were open to us (Anytime dining) and results were the same at both. The food tasted like mass-prepared cafeteria quality food, with fancy names and presentations. There were two meals out of 7 that I would rate a 3 (out of 5). Everything else was a 2. The prime rib was good on the first night, but it was downhill. On the evening they served lobster (only on the menu once) it was served with giant prawn. The lobster tail was good, but the prawn was like mush. All three of us had intestinal issues within 24 hours of getting on the ship and varying degrees of stomach upset/indigestion. So disappointed by the food. As to the elevators, the wait for elevators and the inability to take stairs all the way up (wouldn't have minded walking) is a real issue on this ship. Princess has acknowledged this and will be renovating the ship and we were told by a crew member that after Jan. 1, 2017 it should be better.
The ports of call- Naples, Crete, Kusadasi, Mykonos and Rhodes as a substitute for Istanbul (due to political unrest and recent airport bomb) were all great! We loved Rhodes and Mykonos. We only did two organized tours, both NOT through Princess (saving us hundreds of dollars). We did a Viator 8 hour Amalfi Coast and Pompeii tour; and a tour of Ephesus and the Virgin Mary house in Turkey (organized by a fellow cruise-goer we met on Cruise Critic). On Mykonos we rented ATVs to drive around the island and go to "Paradise Beach" (highly recommended). In Rhodes we hired a local taxi driver (fixed rates) to take us to a beach. He brought us there and returned at the appointed time to bring us back to town- you pay at the end, so they are guaranteed to return to get you! The warmth and friendliness of the Greeks is outstanding and the shopping and food prices are phenomenal.
As to the pool deck, it was never too crowded for us to find lounge chairs. It was a windy cruise, so the forward "adult pool" area was often just too windy to enjoy, so we stayed at the all ages pool most days. Service was good at the pool deck, lots of waiters wandering through the crowd willing to serve you a cold beer or refreshing drink. We went to two shows- a Beatles tribute show (meh) and a "The Voice" style competition (someone we met on ship was in the finals). We went to Club 6 several nights for music and dancing and met lots of friendly people. But the DJ plays the same songs over and over, so that could use some shaking up! The cruise was a great mix of ages, lots of Brits and Aussies who were quite friendly to meet and chat up.
In summary, we had a very enjoyable trip, despite the disappointing food. Many of the crew on the ship were wonderful and friendly and we enjoyed meeting and chatting with them- from Philippines ,Macedonia, Ukraine, Peru, etc. I hope Princess can do some work on improving the food service on this ship. Read Less