Princess Cruises’ Royal Princess presents a wide variety of dining options, most of which are generally tasty. It's a ship that offers something for everyone, from grill bites and two pizza joints to specialty seafood, steaks and Italian. Look for "one time only" eating options such as the Crab Shack and Pub Lunch; both are worth advance reservations once you're onboard. Most dietary preferences and allergies are accommodated, although these aren't necessarily marked everywhere.
For Royal Princess' Alaska sailings, the line has intoduced its Wild for Alaska Seafood menu, making it possible for guests to order Alaska seafood dishes every night in the main dining room. Wild For Alaska also encompasses regional drinks. Think spiked coffee and hot-chocolate offerings; Alaska beer tastings; cocktail flights made from Alaska-distilled spirits.
Princess has worked on improving its wine list, teaming up with wine expert Doug Frost, one of four people in the world to have both a Master of Wine and Master Sommelier certification. The redesigned wine list encompasses 142 choices from around the world, many at prices under $50. Royal Princess offers drink menus in all of its restaurants, but the vast majority of drinks are extra unless you’ve purchased a drink package – and, even then, some may still not be included.
Allegro, Symphony and Concerto (Decks 5 and 6)
Meals: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Dinner (D)
Royal Princess offers three main dining rooms – Symphony on Deck 5, and Allegro and Concerto on Deck 6 – and "anytime" and "traditional" modes of evening dining. Allegro offers only set-seating/set-tablemates options (typically at 5 and 7:15 p.m.), while Symphony has open seating. Concerto offers a mix, with an early seating followed by anytime dining, and Club Class dining available for a few hours in the evening. All offer the same menu, with the most special menu items occurring on formal nights.
Allegro is the only one of the three to be open for breakfast daily and lunch on sea days. Allegro is also the site of the ship's free afternoon tea, served daily.
All three MDR's offer vegetarian, heart-healthy and Lotus Spa (lower in sodium, fat and cholesterol) menu items for those with dietary restrictions.
The restaurants have a nice range of table sizes, including plenty of two- and four-tops for more intimate dining, and also larger tables for groups of eight or more. One note, though: Those who opt for the open-seating venues at busy times may be encouraged to dine at large tables with other passengers, even if a smaller table is requested, to avoid a longer wait time.
Horizon Court/Bistro (Deck 16)
Meals: B, L, D
The Horizon Court buffet has a station layout with food "venues" that include a taqueria, rotisserie, sandwich shop and Japanese hibachi grill. It never feels too crowded, even at peak times. At night, the Horizon Court becomes the Horizon Bistro, offering an interactive experience with themed events and specialty serve-yourself dinners. On certain nights, passengers may find a Brazilian churrascaria, Argentine gaucho theme, German beerfest, European bistro or British pub. There is no extra fee for themed events.
Within the Horizon Court is The Pastry Shop, a dedicated room for all types of free baked goods; classic and modern desserts at lunch and dinner; tea sandwiches, cookies, desserts and waffles at teatime; and special show pieces and flambes in the evening. There are also pastries available elsewhere in the Horizon Court.
Prego Pizzeria (Deck 16)
Meals: L, D
This pizza counter by the pool offers three types of grab-and-go slices (compared with the more varied menu that includes salads and thinner crust pizza at sit-down Alfredo's).
Trident Grill (Deck 16)
Meals: L, D
Another poolside venue; during the day you’ll find hot dogs, hamburgers and chicken sandwiches here. At night, the Trident Grill is transformed into a traditional “smokehouse-style” barbecue.
Swirls Ice Cream (Deck 16)
Free soft serve ice cream, located by the pool.
Wheelhouse Pub (Deck 7)
Once per cruise, there's a British pub lunch in the Wheelhouse Pub and adjoining Crown Grill, serving up a simple menu. It does get popular, however, so best to arrive early.
Alfredo’s Pizzeria (Deck 6)
Meals: L, D
This Neapolitan-style pizzeria offers traditional, hand-stretched pizza, along with antipasti and desserts, in an enclave just off the Piazza. It's fun for people-watching, and the pizzas are generally good.
International Café (Deck 5)
Meals: B, L, D
The coffee drinks here cost money but the food is all free. Located in the Piazza and open 24 hours, this spot works well for a light bite anytime. You'll find a selection of delicious pastries, quiche, hot breakfast sandwiches, freshly baked cookies, panini sandwiches, salads and desserts.
Room service is offered 24 hours a day, with salads, sandwiches, hot dogs and hamburgers available, as is a continental breakfast via a door-hung card.
Sabatini's (Deck 5); prix fixe
Sabatini's focuses on Northern Italian food with dishes that include pasta, seafood and traditional entrees. It's an elegant spot, with a centerpiece featuring a wine display. The veal dishes are outstanding, as are the pastas. Vegetable antipasti also stand out.
Gelato (Deck 5); a la carte
Meals: L, D
This space on the Piazza feels more like an American ice cream parlor than a traditional Italian-style gelateria. It serves ice cream, sundaes, sweet crespelle (Italian crepes), fruit smoothies, shakes and homemade waffle ice cream cones.
Chef's Table Lumiere (Deck 5); prix fixe
Held once per cruise, this approach to a chef's table has an executive chef cooking dinner and explaining techniques to an exclusive group of passengers. Royal Princess' version adds a "curtain of light," which surrounds the diners and creates a private, softly lit space in the center of Allegro. It books up quickly so reserve in advance.
International Café (Deck 5); a la carte
While the pastries are free in the International Cafe, you can also have an extra-fee upgraded version of tea (known as the Royal Tea, with proper tower of savories and sweets versus waiter-served one-offs at the free one) or with Champagne, every day. Specialty coffees are also available at all times for a fee.
Wine Maker’s Dinners (Deck 5 or 6); prix fixe
Surrounded by wine bottles, these circular and private spaces off the Symphony and Concerto dining rooms are inspired by wine cellars and seat up to 12 people. Diners can enjoy specialty menus developed with winemakers and paired with wines. Bookings can be made at the reception desk.
Crown Grill (Deck 7); prix fixe
With its signature theater-style open kitchen, the Crown Grill has a menu of chops, seafood and premium sterling silver steaks. This is lovely place for a date night.
Ocean Terrace Seafood Bar (Deck 7); a la carte
Meals: L, D
Princess' response to the increased demand for raw bars at sea serves sushi, sashimi, ceviche and caviar. You also get a complimentary dish, such as edamame or wakame, with each drink. It's in a great spot on Deck 7 overlooking the whole Piazza.
Vines Wine Bar (Deck 5); a la carte
Located in the atrium, the ship's wine bar offers tapas-style snacks when you buy a glass of wine or Champagne. Food cannot be purchased separately from the wine, nor can you get food if you want something nonalcoholic.
Ultimate Balcony Dining; prix fixe
If you have a room with a balcony and you'd like to step up your room service, Princess' Ultimate Balcony Dining experience offers a deluxe breakfast that includes a half-bottle of chilled Champagne, a basket of pastries, a specially prepared quiche and smoked salmon on brioche.
Crab Shack (Deck 16); prix fixe
Once per cruise, Princess also offers the Crab Shack, a fun spot cordoned off from the buffet that comes with mallets, bibs and buckets. Dishes include crawfish in a bayou-style "Mud Bug" boil, spiced peel-and-eat shrimp or a mixed steamer pot filled with snow crab legs, jumbo shrimp, clams and mussels. Walk-ins are welcome, but reservations are recommended.