Royal Princess First Impressions

| Friday, 26 Apr. 2013

The ultimate Princess ship, more lovely in design and detail than expected


Royal Princess atrium at night

One of the advantages of my job is seeing new ships in brand new "right out of the box" condition - in this case before the first guests have even arrived. I arrived in Southampton, England, Tuesday night and have been on this ship along with just a bare minimum of other people, not including the crewmembers. This has given me the opportunity to see the ship in its first finished form, brand new and polished to precision.

I have to say, in all honesty, that there are few ships that truly impress me in real life beyond what I had already seen in renderings and written descriptions. But this ship, Royal Princess, is surprisingly much more beautiful than I expected - striking in its sharp, pristine beauty. But unlike many other ships in this category of larger but still elegant premium ships, this is not a ship that attempts to "wow" you with broad design statements or outrageous activities. Rather, its elegance is in the finer details - the symmetry of lines, the consistency in color and the quality of the materials.

See the first picture album from the new ship here.

The colors used on board are brilliant; azure blue and porcelain white along with plenty of glass, dark wood and gold-colored banisters and railings in the atrium. Truthfully, I do not yet know exactly what particular metals were used in these railings, but they appear to be real gold (probably plated) rather than the typical bronze or chrome. It is one of those small, but distinct, details that make this ship appear so distinctly elegant.

Public Rooms

Obviously this ship is large, and it feels large in the sense that there are so many different places to spend time on board, but there is not a single square inch of space on this ship that the designers did not think through, but at the same time, there are no overt attempts to overwhelm the senses. It is not understated décor like many far more expensive and smaller luxury ships I have seen, nor is it over-stated like many gimmick-laden mainstream ships. It will imbue in the guest the sense of a luxury cruise, with all of the accompanying finer details of design and service elements with more than enough space for everyone to find a special nook to claim as her own.

The main atrium, so much lovelier than I had expected, is 50-percent larger than previous Princess ships, three decks tall, open in the middle and surrounded on all three decks by various attractions such as the Geleterria, gift shops, specialty restaurants, the piano bar and other lounges.

The first time I entered I was dazzled by the clarity of the glass and gold railings, which a crewmember was still on duty actively polishing to make sure any solitary smudge that may accidentally occur was immediately eliminated. This entire Atrium reflects light like a diamond necklace. The circular stairways, surrounding three-deck tall crystal lighting fixtures, land upon a beautifully swirl-tiled design floor of similar golden color and symmetry. All together, the room that makes a breath-taking impression.

Other rooms, such as the Princess Theater, the three main dining rooms, Allegro (which also houses the dramatic Chef's Table Lumiere), Symphony and Concerto, also make use of light and color in very dramatic fashion, but once again the décor warms and thrills but never overwhelms the senses.

See the first picture album from the new ship here.

Movies Under the Stars

I have not sailed on a Princess Cruise since Movies Under the Stars became a primary attraction, but I am looking forward to trying it on this ship later on this week. The upper pool deck on this ship is magnificent. There are two large swimming pools divided by an "island" that is really the stage for a very intense computer-driven laser light and water fountain show, which lately has taken on the simple name "the fountains."

Surrounding the pools and this stage are dozens of especially plush lounge chairs all pointed to see the very large and clear outdoor screen where the movies will be shown. Unlike earlier versions of such large outdoor screens, which appeared to be composed of thousands of very tiny colored light bulbs, this screen has excellent resolution, just like the projection in a real movie theater. With free popcorn and other movie-style snacks available - Movies under the stars will be certain winner.

See the first picture album from the new ship here.

Staterooms

My stateroom is classic Princess. It has a very large dressing area, and unlike most cruise ships the staterooms are designed with a maximum of privacy so that one would feel comfortable sharing it with a near stranger. The key is a large wardrobe-like divider that separates the bathroom area from the main bedroom - providing plenty of space for a person to "clean up" without bothering other people in the stateroom.

There is an abundant balcony, large enough for two chaise lounges and a table. The bed is king-sized with a plush pillow-top mattress and four thick pillows. The 40-inch flat-screened television directly across from the bed is one of the main attractions of the stateroom. Unlike other ships, Royal Princess offers over a dozen new release movies to you free of charge on demand in your stateroom, movies that would cost you $5.99 to rent for a day from your local cable provider. One thing that I also love is the amazingly intuitive remote control which only has eight buttons on it, but still allows you to manage every function of the television, such as switching between live TV and movies on demand - which you can pause or run fast forwards or backwards.

Also impressive is an almost full-time "live" television station just for the ship itself. Turn on the channel called "The Wake Show" and you will see programming coming from one of the ship's entertainment venues called "Princess Live." The venue is built like a television studio with modular seating and staging. As I just turned it on I see one of ship's designers being interviewed and telling the inside story of what it takes to design and build a ship like this one. Amazingly, I can tell it is (almost) live because they are referring to events that I also just witnessed myself yesterday. It is hosted by Cruise Director Ronald Goodman, who is interviewing the Princess Cruise Line executive chef Alfredo right now. However, as the show repeated over and over I realized it could take a few months before they have enough interviews and other programming saved up to provide constant variety to the programming of this channel.

See the first picture album from the new ship here.

Summing Up

It is bigger and newer, but Royal Princess still feels like a Princess ship. It is the ultimate Princess ship. Regular Princess cruisers will immediately feel at home, while cruisers who are new to the line will discover a ship that is most inviting and comfortable. There are many spaces where a person can spend an entire day and just watch the events and environment transform around you throughout the day, and the next day you can find a different space and experience something else.

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