We chose this cruise solely to see what the Majestic Princess, was like. The itinerary did not have much bearing on our choice as we have been on many similar, over recent years. Follows are some of our observations and experience.
Design: Majestic Princess is the 3rd of the new Royal Class ships that have been launched over the past five years. Despite what some may say, the Majestic was built by Fincantieri in Italy, yes to partly service a new China/Taiwan market but also spending 6 months in the South Pacific/Australia/NZ.
Apart from the bilingual signage(like Diamond), maybe a small number of dedicated karaoke rooms, a few mahjong tables(actually a card table with drink holders in each corner)in the Hollywood Pool Club/ Conservatory, noting both karaoke and mahjong have been offered on most, if not all, Princess cruises we have travelled on in the past, there is very little to justify comments that it was “designed and built” for the Chinese market. The ship has a genuine International feel about it, not, as some say, designed for the Chinese market, implying a significant bias in design. It could be at home with a multitude of cultures, without imposing one over any other.
Layout on World Fresh Marketplace Bistro/Buffet D16 Lido is poorly designed/planned and confusing to most. More on that later.
The Vista “Gaming” lounge does not have the same flexibly/functionality in design/usage as in other ships for similar area. It doesn't have a bar, nor overhead monitors for relaying exercise/dance lessons. Apart from Bingo/Trivia/Zumba and Tai Chi, most activities are now staged in the Piazza.
There were 4 table tennis enclosures on the starboard side of D17, which had been covered with shade cloth which, I image, was to reduce the effect of prevailing wind and turbulence caused by a moving ship on an open deck. The area was only to be used on the first few days for daily table tennis comp, which was moved indoors to the Hollywood conservatory where 2 tables were set up either side of the pool bar, which would resolve the wind problem, leaving the outdoor tables with little or no use.
The lack of a proper Promenade Deck was a common complaint. Sitting on deck chairs under cover, exposed to the sea or walking around a deck on a cruise ship is one of those traditional activities most cruisers enjoy. You could partially walk around D7, squeezing past survival crafts or on D17 but not a complete circuit as some outdoor areas were assigned to smokers on D17 and on D7.
There was no pool at the rear of the ship like on the Regal (sister ship) but in its place, according to the on the floor plan Deck 17 aft, immediately above the Wake View Bar, was shown as “outdoor exercise circuit/area” but surprise, was a large sundeck and undercover seating that had been assigned to smokers giving then a them a grand view aft.
Didn’t get to use gym this cruise but it appeared to have a good range and plenty of equipment and not to be busy (maybe because of the passenger demographic)
There were only two positives, the first and most beneficial was the new complementary, adults-only Hollywood Pool Club/Conservatory at the front of the ship on deck 17. It appeared to be a popular and relaxing venue, with a good indoor pool, adequate lounges and cabanas, plus some general areas for playing cards or just lounging around. It was like a “sanctuary” area but free of charge for all passengers. It was also open at night, for a late night swim or an uncrowded area to congregate, away from the noise of the Piazza.
The second new feature that was very popular, was the laser shooting range, on the sport deck. On days when it was available, you had to book in the morning, as the time (late afternoon) and numbers were limited. This activity was popular with both men and women, testing their skills on a realistic (laser)shooting system. You could shoot simulations of tin cans, balloons, clay targets, to bird, deer and charging boars, giving a brief respite from the boring alternative activities on board.
Accommodation: Cabin design/décor showed slight improvements whilst maintaining continuity in the Princess décor/style. Bedding was ok with multiple pillows but the pillows were far too soft (no support) resulting in sore neck. 2 pillows was an option, if you could contort them into a more supportive position.
Entertainment: Only 3 evening and one afternoon (yes) production show on a 23 day cruise. Production shows may have displayed higher technical support but cast members were only average. We only saw one new production show, which we hadn’t already seen, so we tended to avoid the theatre, too help maintain our good health, on the cruise.
In addition to production shows, single entertainers prevailed, most seen before, some we avoided but the violinist Katei and singer NZ Chris Powley NZ singer were consistently good again(after seeing many times before). There was the “Voice of The Ocean” concert, with performances by fellow passengers and an “International Crew Show”. Both shows were well received and probably would out rating some of the paid performers.
The new 900 seat Princess Theatre for 3500 passengers was ridiculous. The theatre cannot accommodate the demand by passengers to attend. You either got there 30 - 45 mins prior to show if you wanted a reasonable seat or just to get in but they did provide a video link to Princess Live and Vista lounge venues, for what that was worth, for those who couldn't get a seat in the venue.
Activities: With so many sea days and too few activities that you could actively participate in, other than Bingo, Trivia, Knitting, cards or just sitting around watching a handful passengers on the dance floor in the Piazza, there was very little else to do. The activities on this boat were geared toward the 70-90 age group. We were so bored, albeit saved by a reasonable selection of in cabin movies, like many others, were longing for the cruise to end.
Internet Café/Library on D7: IT support staff on duty were very to helpful but someone forgot to update the floor plan to include the Internet Café on D5 in a converted Karaoke Room. I stumbled across by chance. Cabin Wifi reception was not great but much better in the Internet Café room on D5 where there were 8 workstation Desktop PCs plus one printer. One table and lounge, if you had your own laptop. Not well known as most of the time, the room was empty. The Library was a joke, with very limited shelving space and devoid of any books, for most of the cruise.
Dining: Layout on World Fresh Marketplace Bistro/Buffet D16 Lido poorly planned and confusing. There was a “Bistro” serving area and “Bakery” then the Buffet, with two separate serving lines, with an interconnecting area between both, for standard self serve options but all serving areas had to be serviced by staff through one central staff entry/exit section, dividing the Bistro/Bakery and the Buffet areas. Staff would have to compete with patrons in negotiating the movement of some food items as well as used tableware. At times trolleys blocked or reduced through access in a common walkway to either area to access/ connect to a centralized internal galley operations area.
Then there was the food, which to some, with simple tastes was ok, but not to others, serving up the same range of dishes every night, maybe with the odd variation. Some likened the quality of food as to what you’d find at mediocre club or shopping mall food hall at home. The menu items and quality (both traditional dining/buffet) were nothing like what we have experienced on previous Princess Cruises, where you generally had what was on offer, in the dining room plus a varied range of standard meats/ vegetables, pasta etc available in the buffet, along with an occasional themed night, German, Indian etc, with dishes to match. This was a common gripe, usually by seasoned Princess cruisers, whilst some did say it was ok, but recognized “they had very simple tastes”. We met a elderly, down to earth couple, who sat down with us, with a couple of slices of fresh crusty bread and butter (plus water), as that was all that appealed to them from what was on offer……….I could sympathise, as sometimes, my evening meal was a combination of fruit and a few scopes of ice-cream which was available from the dessert bar in the Bakery.
There were some positives. Alfredo’s Pizzeria, did a roaring trade, maybe due to the poor offerings in the buffet or dining venues. It was also nice to see ice-cream back in the buffet, as it was dropped, on past cruises, in recent years. In addition, the Majestic did have new coffee ground brewing machines in the bistro, so at least, the coffee was more palatable than on previous cruises, not great but an improvement, but someone needs to taste and adjust the hot chocolate option, as it was terrible.
Another source of concern was the unhygienic practice of some passengers who were admitted to the Market Place without washing their hands at the new hand washing stations. The vast majority of passengers did so but many were not stopped or requested by staff stationed to do so at the entrance, walking straight through, unchallenged.
Dining service varied on this ship. In Traditional Dining rooms, you could not fault the service compared to World Fresh Marketplace Bistro/Buffet where wait staff/deck attendants appeared to be very indifferent to patrons, sometimes aimlessly wandering around, paying little attention to patrons, clearing or cleaning vacant tables. Requesting drinks was hit or miss, some would attend but disappear to return much later or to the wrong table. This indifference to service could also be seen in supervisory staff, who in general, paid little attention to patrons and issues (uncleared tables) and tended to chat amongst themselves without performing any real supervisory role.
But in making such a generalisations, there were a few exceptions, where the individual staff members, did provide service in the Buffet/Bistro but again they were the exceptions, notably Andrea and Mario, both from Peru, plus Acacia from Brazil-Waiter-Pool Side always had a happy and welcoming greeting to all patrons and stood out against all others in their attitude and service, not only to us, but appeared to do so for all patrons they served.
Service on our table in the Concerto Traditional dining room was exemplary with Nathanael(waiter from South Africa) and Ronald (Senior Waiter from the Philippines) displaying a positive attitude and fine service, not only to us, but to all patrons they served.
Note: We did not use any of the specialty restaurants(so we won’t comment), as we had already paid for all inclusive meals in you fare. Maybe the general reduction in food standards might be intentional to encourage patronage of such venues.
Embarkation and disembarkation: For us, it was extremely quick although some say it was a lengthy process. …..but I know embarkation did not go as advised. We were all told there was to be progressive embarkation, based on deck, at designated times and priority for some within those times. We were to board at 6pm. We were aimlessly killing time in the afternoon, planning to arrive at 5pm (1 hour before scheduled progressive check in time), so we thought we might wait at the terminal. On arrival at 3.30pm, large numbers were already waiting but as we had priority boarding, we were waved straight through, quickly through Princess check-in, then immigration, no problem. Question: What happened to progressive check-in. Did the majority ignore and turned up before 1pm, then the masses were partially cleared, and by the time we arrived, progressive check-in was scrapped ???
Overall: Come back new! I don’t think so, more like bored, dissatisfied and not very happy. If this is the new standard and direction of Princess Cruises is charting ……..I think there might be more than a few, abandoning this ship and cruise line, unless there is a change back to established standards of service and design. The decline in service and amenity standards is also reflected in the parent company’s stock performance over the last couple of years…..ie down the drain. Read Less