This was our first cruise, for our anniversary. We traveled with a few friends and no kids. The Royal Princess is a beautiful ship and we were impressed with it in every way possible. it was big enough that we almost never felt crowded. ... Read More
This was our first cruise, for our anniversary. We traveled with a few friends and no kids. The Royal Princess is a beautiful ship and we were impressed with it in every way possible. it was big enough that we almost never felt crowded. The only exceptions were times when everybody aboard were all basically doing the same thing (embarkation, debarkation, etc).
Okay, so first cruise out and we are on a Medallion Class ship and now I think we are spoiled because I cannot imagine how things would be without that dumb little trinket. Everything just seemed so easy. Ordering at the bar, getting anything in the store, and especially embarkation/debarkation were pretty much effortless.
The activities seemed to be nonstop, there was always something happening somewhere. Same for the entertainment options, there was always something, usually multiple things happening at all times. The musical entertainment was really good, I think we caught the mariachi trio at least three times.
Service from the crew was uniformly fantastic. Over the course of seven days I would say we interacted with only one crew that was not enthusiastic and really friendly. Waiters, bussers, bartenders, stewards were all great. The hotel manager even stopped and took a picture of us so we didn't have to take a selfie.
The shore excursions were so-so. In Cabo San Lucas we did the Todos Santos - Hotel California Tour. This tour would have been great if it were a 30 minute ride away, but its 90 minutes each way. The town is sleepy and has some interesting art shops, but it is not outstanding in any way. Hotel California is just an old hotel, with an interesting brush with fame. The lunch served there was good though. Not a bad tour, just not worth the 3 hours of travel time required. Also, Cabo is too small to dock ships so you have to take a tender to shore. This means you basically ride a lifeboat, if you get motion sick this is a guaranteed bad time.
In Mazatlan we visited the Turtle Sanctuary. The sanctuary itself is very cool, and you get to see tiny, baby sea turtles and learn about the local conservation efforts. The sanctuary is housed in a neat development of hotel/condo/custom homes and you eat lunch at the hotel. Lunch was very good, and the bar made great margaritas for cheap. There is quite a bit of time to hang out at the hotel pool and beach. The pool is nice, but could use more loungers and umbrellas, the beach is wide and flat and great for a long walk. If you want to just laze the time there is great, otherwise it is a bit of a long time.
The cabin on the Royal was great. The listing calls it partially obstructed but I would say it is maybe 10% at most. There is a lifeboat to the left of the balcony, but it did not hinder our enjoyment of the view at all, you cannot see the lifeboat from inside the cabin at all, you have to go outside and look left. The location of the cabin is pretty ideal, close to midships and just above the jewelry store, so no nighttime noise from below.
Our dining experience was great. We ate at both Sabatini and Crown Grill and both were completely worth the cover charge and staff at both were amazingly helpful. We ate in the dining room just about every night and were never disappointed. We also buzzed through the buffet many (many) times. I was kind of amazed at the variety and quality of the buffet food. The buffet was a great place to put together a cheese/meat/cracker plate between meals too! I also went to Crab Shack, which is a one-night affair. If you are really into crab you will be happy, of the four of us there none of us could finish the pile they brought us. International cafe is the 24 hour spot, always reliable for fresh pastry or small sandwiches. International also served really good coffee drinks which kind of exposes chain coffee stores as bogus, these guys were pumping out cappuccinos and lattes and everything else you might get a Sbux, except twice as fast and better tasting. Alfredo's, the pizza restaurant was as good as the hype I had heard, excellent. The only thing amiss was the calzone, it was good but not great, too much dough used. Also do not sleep on the pizza place by the pool, instant slices = instant gratification. The burger place at the pool always had fries at the ready and they were very good.
The most impressive part of the dining experience though may have been touring the kitchen. The place was 100% spotless from floor to ceiling. For a kitchen that serves thousands of meals every day you would be amazed. It seemed more like an operating room it was so clean.
Internet on the ship was fast and reliable for us and the digital apps available were great. I could order food from a deck chair through the app and staff knew just where to bring it. There was also messaging through the app, but we used whatsapp ourselves. There was a locator (that you can turn on/off) that allowed me to see where others in my party were at any given time. The daily schedule was on the app along with a super easy way to add things you wanted to do to your personal schedule. All in all the tech offerings on the ship were impressive.
We went in for the all-inclusive photo package and for us it was worth it. We took a ton of pictures and ended up with 50+ different 8x10 portraits and the digital files too. It was kind of a one-time thing for us though, as if we cruise again anytime soon I feel like we would just take some formal night pics and buy a couple ala carte, since we have so many recent portraits.
We visited the Lotus spa twice, the second time was 100% due to how good the service was on the first visit. My spouse normally does not recover well from massage (a common thing I have learned), but in telling that to the masseuse she knew exactly what to do and we both came out of the spa feeling amazing. We had read about hard-upsells and were ready for it, but it never happened. Took a tour and all options were presented with no pressure, after our massages there were things we could have purchased but there was no feeling like we were being pushed, we did not buy anything and it was all good. The second massage (we requested the same staff) they remembered that we were not interested and didn't even bring it up. We visited the Enclave, which was cool but just not our speed. If you are about heat and steam and that kind of thing you will love it. We preferred the Sanctuary and recommend it. Reserved, super cushy, loungers and utter peace and quiet. When we cruise again we will spend more time there than anywhere else I think, unless its Alaska.
We were at Club 6 for all but one night. The club is fun and the waiters are attentive. The layout of the place is awful, it is narrow and long, and about half the club cannot see the dance floor at all thanks to a wall. Also, either the subs were stolen or off because there was no bass in the music. A club with no thump-thump-thump? DJ was cool, crowd was fun, and despite the negatives we ended up there every night.
We did not visit the casino, mostly because it stank like cigarettes. We did not attend any enrichment activities.
We walked though the gym with every intent of using it but our baser instincts prevailed and we did not. The facility was impressive though and way bigger and better equipped than what I expected. It even had a group class room. Read Less