Year Started: 1965
Ships in Fleet: 18
Summary: Princess is one of the most consistently excellent cruise lines in the upper mainstream to premium group. All the diversity of larger ships but personalized service.
Regions:Alaska, California Coastal, Panama Canal
Good for: Teens. First-time Cruisers. Families.
Regions:Alaska, Asia & Africa, Australia
Good for: Families. Teens. Children`s Programs.
Regions:Canada, Caribbean, Europe
Good for: Teens. Children`s Programs. Group.
Regions:Alaska, California, Hawaii
Good for: Teens. Children`s Programs. Group.
Regions:Caribbean, Europe, Transatlantic
Good for: Seniors. Value for Money. Group.
Regions:Caribbean, Europe, Transatlantic
Good for: Seniors. Disabled Travelers. Overall Service.
Regions:Alaska, California, Hawaii, Mexico
Good for: Teens. Children`s Programs. Families.
Regions:Alaska, California, Hawaii, South America
Good for: Seniors. Families. Overall Service.
Regions:Canada, Caribbean, Europe
Good for: Families. Seniors. First-time Cruisers.
Regions:Caribbean, Europe, South America
Good for: Teens. Children`s Programs. Families.
Regions:Asia & Africa, Australia, Europe
Good for: Group. First-time Cruisers. Families.
Regions:Alaska, California, Hawaii, Mexico
Good for: Overall Service. Seniors. Families.
Regions:Alaska, California, Panama Canal
Good for: Seniors. Group. Singles.
Regions:Asia & Africa, Australia, Europe
Regions:Asia & Africa, Australia, Europe, Hawaii
Good for: Overall Service. Foodies. Seniors.
Regions:Asia & Africa, Australia, Panama Canal
Good for: Seniors. Group. Families.
Regions:Asia & Africa, Australia, South Pacific, Tahiti
Good for: Overall Service. Disabled Travelers. Seniors.
Embarkation at Port Everglades was worse than Miami. Although not under the control of Princess, they need to work with the Ports Authority on the wheelchair boarding process. They use the "Honor System" (no numbers or log-in sheet to determine who's next) and we had many jump the line causing us to have to wait over an hour before we could board in sweltering heat. There is NO excuse for this especially when you request wheelchair boarding prior to the cruise through Princess.
We had a Balcony cabin (R611) which was common in size and amenities yet these cabins have an overhang from the Buffet above making it quiet and private. NO noise heard from the buffet above at all for the entire cruise. Mattress was sub-par and we had to request foam egg crates to fill in the gully in the middle if the mattress.
Buffet was hit and miss (yet more miss). Main Dining room (Palm) was excellent with great presentation, good portions and served hot. Don't understand why people complain about portions when you are eating a six course meal!
Princess theater too small to allow access to many passengers unlessyou arrive an hour or more earlier. Crew were always smiling and helpful. Customer service desk personnel need some customer service training.
Slots (penny) were VERY loose as were most of the other one-armed bandits in the casino. I hit for over $1500 in one day on the penny slots. Drinks are as expensive as any other line but you can order from Princess Cellars prior to the cruise and have a bottle of your liking in your cabin for the entire cruise. I would most Definitely sail Princess again.
This was our 2nd time on this ship and our 10th cruise overall. We previously sailed on her in 2004. We booked B749 cabin with an extended balcony overlooking the wake. The best cabin we ever had. We stayed the previous night at the Hyatt Regency Pier 66 which was very close to the cruise terminal. We had booked a Jr executive suite in the tower on the 7th floor with views to ocean and cruise terminal. Hotel was pretty good and we had zero complaints.
The next morning we woke up around 6am only to see the ship already docked and some others coming in as well. It was pretty cool to watch! We checked out at 11am and took a very short cab ride with another family to the cruise terminal <7$> was the fare. Check in procedures was pretty easy and everyone was friendly. Now Princess only lets people onboard when cabins are ready. We entered the ship around noon and went straight to our cabin. The cabin was spotless and our very friendly cabin steward greeted us. We gave her a small tip up front andwe always got treated by her like royalty and she kept our cabin in great shape.
Once we entered our cabin we called the desk to make reservations for Sabatini's and also a balcony dinner the following night. We are not too fond of buffet food in general and we don't mind spending a little extra on better food. We toured the spa and inquired about the spa schedule. We did not book anything and received a rather cold shoulder from the sales rep after that. We never went back for that very reason. We stopped at the buffet and the lines were super long. I did not liked the food at all.
It was better then our previous cruise on Royal Caribbean The Jewel of the Seas for sure but still mediocre. We found the International Café where we purchased a coffee card for $30 and it was in our opinion well worth it. Also purchased for 20$ a soda card which gave us a coca cola cup but we only drink club soda but it suited us well. The International Café also served pastries and cold foods and hot croissants and we really liked the place A place to have our coffee was at times difficult to find and the seats are not compfy at all.
Which brings me to our balcony. Seats are small and a small very ghetto looking plastic table. We had coffee on our balcony every morning and it was not easy to balance this small table with our coffee and sometimes a muffin. We had requested a lounge chair but did not get one. Anyways the muster drill went fast and efficient no complaints. Our dinner at night was disappointing and I advise future cruiser to skip it. Nothing remotely outstanding or worth writing about.
The following day we stayed at the aft pool pretty much all day. We had breakfast in our cabin and during the day grabbed coffee and something small from the crowded buffet lines. We played scrabble by the pool deck and enjoyed the sun. Our balcony dinner was $100 total and worth the event. Food again wasn't the greatest but the event was romantic and the waiter very well trained and did an awesome job spoiling us. My steak was totally undercooked and had to be sent to be redone. Lobster in my opinion was too chewy as well. But we loved the event and would do it again.
The following day we docked in Grand Turks and we got off the ship and rented a moped and explored the Island on our own. We found a secluded beach and stayed there for about 3 hrs and just swam or sun tanned, it felt like paradise. On our way back entering the cruise area they had many shopping stores and also a pool area with bar. But we did not explore it and went back on the ship to our aft pool lol. That night we ate in the anytime dining room. We had some nice table mates and the evening was lovely. We ordered a nice bottle of wine with our dinner as well. Again food was okay but nothing special. For the following evening we decided to see if we could get a table at the Steakhouse but it was fully booked. We tried several times and finally they squeezed us in and for a surcharge we dined on some great food. The waiter let us wait 20 min before asking us if we wanted anything to drink and he brought us our wine from the following night and seltzer water. Service was terrible but the food outstanding. It truly was delicious and highly recommend to eat there.
The power went off on the entire ship the last evening and the person speaking on the intercom was very confusing. Back up power came back and the entire event only lasted for maybe 30 min? We did not watch any shows or attended any kind of events. The Sanctuary was something I wanted to do but the place looked very worn and frankly old fashioned.
The furniture is totally out of style so we decided to just hang out by the aft pool which btw is an adult only area. We did see a few kids but they left in a hurry when told it was an adult only area. The pool lounge chairs are not very comfortable and wish they would change that. Overall we thought most of the staff had an attitude and was not very friendly. We heard this from several other cruisers as well. I could not for the life of me get a muffin toasted from the gal that made toast at the buffet. She had a terrible attitude as well. We also noticed a lot of staff having language issues. This being said we encountered some very friendly staff and our room attendant was the best we ever had.
We booked a Everglades airboat ride after the cruise and this little event went very well. By 9am we left the ship and headed to a bus to drive to the Everglades. Afterwards it brought us to the Ft Lauderdale airport. Overall the cruise was nice and we would do it again. Ship was in pretty good shape and clean. I am cruising again for 13 days in June on the Star Princess Alaska land/sea tour. I am looking forward to another great cruise!
Firstly, this is my first time cruising with Princess Cruises. I have travel on Royal Carribean (Rhaspody of the seas - ROTS) before this cruise. Compairing the two, Royal Carribean is my favourite but there's a lot to like about the Diamond Princess which Rhapsody didn't have.
I loved the space and how big this ship was, I actually thought it was too big at the start of the 5 day cruise I went on big I got use to it and then wanted it even bigger, haha.
Staff: Majority of the staff were lovely people and polite. My only problem was with some of the staff in the main dining room which were rude and a bit stuck up. I prefered the buffet over the main dining area as I got to pick what I wanted and didn't need to get all dressed up. The cruise director staff (hosts) were excellent onboard. All very friendly and happy to help and join in the activities. The housecleaning people were great too.
Activities/Entertainment: Lots of stuff to do, I never got bored or couldn't find something to do.
Food: Was ok, Some ofthe food in the buffet was only just warm and they had the exact same food almost everyday without changing it up. Unlike on Rhapsody where they had different themes each night and varity in their buffets, I found it much easier to eat on that ship then on Diamond Princess. The high tea on Diamond Princess wasn't that great either and I overheard a few fellow passagers complaining about the food and service they had with the high tea in the main dining area.
Bar: I loved all the bars onboard this ship. My favourite was The Wheelhouse Bar, a nice mostly quiet area and heaps of sitting area. The Explorers Lounge was a good bar area too but I didn't enjoy the bar service there as the bar attaindants were extremely slow and the person I was travelling with had to wait over 30minutes for just a glass of water, that I was not really impressed with. Every other bar was top notch though.
Cabins: I stayed in a inside cabin which I would usually prefer a outside balcony but since it was only a short trip I picked the inside because I didn't care too much. It was prefect and had enough space for me and my travel partner.
Need major change of design and management Hopefully Regal will be the same design.
Common areas: Super crowded, people everywhere. Not enough table, chairs, plates, green onion, cups, etc. Lines everywhere. To get a table and chair, you have to be there three hours before the event. Should perform flow chart to study work flow, customer flow and crowd control. Lots of things do not make sense at all.
Balcony Rooms: Seems to be 1 to 1.5 feet narrower, no sofa to relax, only two chairs
Wheelhouse Bar: Reduced to 1/10 of the size with dancing floor on the hallway.
Explorer: Gone. Replaced with Princess Live, 1/8 of the size. Low ceiling causes bad sound quality. Feel very cramed. Two big camera block the view. Low cost microphone and little selection of Karaoke songs, lots of malfunctions.
Horizon: Confusing design. Lots of wasted space and yet crowded due to lack of everything from plates to green onion. Need major design changes urgently needed. Have to back track to get plates and food causing accidents. People walking in every directions, including workers. Have to wait 1/2 hour for waffler every morning. Expect to use soiled knifeto stir your coffee. Totally illogical for workers and customers.
Security returning the ship: The lady at the x-ray machine is very demanding and does not know what she is doing but making unreasonable searches.
Vista: Added 3 rows of chairs making it very crowded. The dance floor is super long, only good for line dances, no even for the entertainment crew to use. Again, low ceilings make it sounds bad and difficult to see.
Sabatini: Absolutely no presentation. Every dish comes with stew white beans with no taste. Smelly seafood. Tough commercial grade steak.
Crab Shack: Very salty seafood.
Piazza: Way too small for any activities. Crowded and no space to sit, stand or view.
Entertainment: seems to be lazier than usual and lack of activities. Most shows are talk shows or demonstrations.
Spa: You have to pay a daily expensive charge for the use of steam room or sauna.
Regal Princess, a big step back
We did the 17 days transatlantic tour on the new Regal Princess leaving Venice on October 17, 2014. We had a mini suite on the Riviera Deck. After the huge advertisement made by Prin-cess for the apparently most beautiful ship, we were very interested to build our own opinion. Here is our report:
When you judge a new ship which according to the advertisement is the best ship which Prin-cess has ever built, you compare it automatically with the older ships, the Ruby class of ships and the Coral/Island class of ships. Generally it can be said that the Regal Princess is a big step back in comparison to those older ships. In detail:
Cabins (Mini Suites)
The new mini suites have a much smaller â€“ about 50 %! - balcony than the minisuites of the older ships. The distance between the wall which separates the bed from the wardrobe is also much smaller. You have to pay attention when you get up in the night in particular older peo-ple. The bathrobes are no more of â€œTerryclothâ€ but of a much worse quality. It positively must be noticedthat Princess offers now a wide variety of new movie films without any costs in all staterooms. A plus is the bigger water basin. We would assess the minisuites of the Regal Princess with three stars versus four stars of the Ruby Class ships.
Generally it can be said that the ratio of the size of the public rooms to the quantity of the passengers is considerably smaller than of the old ships.
About the staircase in the middle of the ship much has already been written. It is true the lack of stairs in the upper part is a catastrophe and you ask yourself how apparently experienced ship planners can make such a great mistake. It does not throw a competent light on the man-agement of Princess Lines. As we could not take the steps from the Riviera Deck to the Hori-zon Court, we always had to use the lift. First thing when you arrive at the lifts in the middle of the ship is running around â€“ when no other waiting passengers have already done so - and to push four times the buttons because the lifts run independently. On average we had to wait during the normal business hours 90 seconds for a ride. One lift out of six was often out of service or reserved. If you have to use the lift 12 times per day which is quite normal, you have to wait 18 minutes per day in front of the lifts. In 17 days that adds up to 306 minutes which is more than 5 hours waiting time. Then you have to add the lift travel time because the lifts stop on nearly all floors due to the fact that the stop order only expires for the lift you have pushed. The other stop orders remain. If in an office building employees would have to wait such a long time during normal labor hours, the employer would be in great trouble. The next problem is that the lifts in the middle are very often overcrowded. This is a wonderful environment for passengers who have a cold to pass their symptoms to other fellow passen-gers. A gold mine for the doctors on board!
The Wheelhouse Bar has shrunk to about one fourth of the size of the older ships. It is not a separate room any more. Room for a band or dancing does not exist anymore. The library does not disserve its name; it has shrunk to the size of a lavatory. The Explorer Lounge has been rationalized away in favor of a TV Studio.
The Atrium of the ship is really beautiful and a plus. The Elite and Platinum lounge is now in the Vista Lounge. It is a big room at the end of the ship which is used as a second theatre; it has nearly no windows and is extremely inpersonal. It is not comparable with the beautiful lounge on the 19th floor of the Ruby class ships.
The Princess Theatre in the front of the ship is too small for the number of passengers. For the great shows (two per evening) not all the passengers found seats which means that they missed the shows. At the end of the cruise they performed three shows per evening to elimi-nate this problem. The Atrium is quite large and beautiful.
There are enough lounges for sunbathing. However, the cabanas in the adult part of the sun deck were never used. Nobody was prepared to pay the $ 40.00 pro cabana per day. One of the new gadgets is the fountain on deck 16 midship which can be operated in many colors and designs in combination with music. The only problem is that this fountain can be hardly oper-ated on sea due to the wind. So at the end it is a waste of space, space which could be used for other purposes. Most passengers would be happy if Princess would built in an indoor pool like on the Coral/Island ships.
The three main restaurants are nicer equipped than the older ships. We ate in the Allegro Res-taurant which is reserved for fixed dinners. It is on deck 6 at the end of the ship. Here you feel and hear the engines of the ship quite well and sometimes we had the feeling that the drive shafts which connect the engines with the shipâ€™s propellers are running untrue. We also ate twice in the Crown Grill. We liked the design of the Crown Grill resp. of the Bayou CafÃ©s in the older ships better than on the Regal. If you have a table near the kitchen and the piano player any decent discussions among the guests are impossible. One of the benches of the ta-ble next to the hostess desk was defective. Nevertheless it was offered to guests but not to the officers of the ship which also eat in the Crown Grill. The quality of the food in the Crown Grill is not better than the dinners in the main restaurant. The portions, however, are bigger. If you want to eat in the Crown Grill insist to be seated next to the windows where the noise is much lower. A definite advantage in comparison to the older ships is the newly laid out Hori-zon Court and Bistro on the 16th deck. However, if you order a freshly squeezed orange juice for breakfast it takes the waiter at least ten minutes because the Horizon court has not the ap-propriate machine to squeeze oranges (or other fruits).
Jogging around the complete ship like you can do on the Promenade Deck of the Ruby Class ships is no longer possible. There is a much smaller jogging track on deck 18. A negative point is also that the passengers have no possibility to see the front of the ship when in sea. On the Ruby class of ships you could see the front from the fitness center resp. from front verandas on the Coral/Island ships.
In spite of the beautiful atrium and remodeled Horizon Court we would assess the public rooms with three stars versus four stars of the Ruby Class ships.
Quality of food
Food was good like on the Ruby Class ships. The variety of pastry was greater, which is really a positive point. We would assess the quality of the food with four stars.
The big shows were really fantastic also the bands and singers. Some of the comedians were under average. However, Mark Preston from the former Lettermen and Linda Gentille were absolutely great. We would assess the entertainment with four and a half stars versus four stars of the Ruby Class ships.
The service and the quality of Princess Staff was always excellent. Here no difference can be found between the Regal Princess and the older ships.
What we also found is that Princess is now starting to charge money for any perks for example all transfers from the landing position to the center of the city. Before passengers returned to the ship they received cold fruit punch. This has been deleted. If you bought previously a cof-fee card on the first day of the cruise you received a second coffee card without extra charge. The live musician at the English afternoon tea has been taken away.
We like the older Princess ships and we think that Princess is a fine cruise line which we rec-ommended until now to our friends. But we will never book again the Regal Princess class of ships because they are a big step back. If the management of Princess continues this way, the Company will lose its good reputation and the passengers will change to other cruise lines. The small gap between Celebrity Cruises and Princess Cruises has with the appearance of the new ships been widened in favor for Celebrity Cruises.
Overall we would assess the complete rating of the Regal Princess with only 3.5 stars in par-ticular due to the very small balconies, the missing staircase in the upper middle of the ship and the smaller resp. missing public rooms. You get the feeling that the Princess management tried to squeeze in this ship the most possible cabins. Our opinion that the new ship is a great step back was shared by many fellow passengers. This ship and the Royal Princess may be a financial success but only with the â€œolderâ€ ships you have still the â€œoldâ€ Princess feeling. But CEO Jan Swartz, you know that the competitors do not sleep and passengers must be newly conquered in every sailing. We will not sail again with this class of ships.
My son and I took Princess Crown Cruise 13 days Alaska Off the Beaten Path - Tour (KA6) starting from May 24, 2014.
This tour start with 7 days on cruise and then follow with 6 days in land. Before the trip, I purchased a blue Armani Jeans brand T-shirt for my son because we thought my son has to wear formal evening dresses for dinner in Specialty Restaurants. I also thought my son is still young and doesn't need to wear suit and tie, and T-shirts looks good enough for young men. He wore it in the cruise. Then we washed our clothes before we left the cruise for our land tour. I went to the laundry room to check my clothes when they were in dryer. I saw one of Princess staff turning his body immediately facing to my dryer and turned on the dryer which had my clothes inside when I opened the door of laundry room. I am one hundred percent sure the dryer I used was started and don't know why he was so scared and awkward. I saw his face, but I didn't havetime to find his name and ID before he ran away. I found many parts of T-shirt faded when I was folding my clothes. And other clothes include my son's red and green color T-shirts were all ok.
I report what happened to one of Princess Staff. But I still thought it is quality problem. So I contacted the Armani store where I purchased the T-shirt after the cruise tour. They checked and told me that is not their problem. They also told me that the T-shirt has cleaner odor which is not detergent for the clothes because we still can smell it on my son's T-shirt. I am shock and very angry. Therefore I believe that Princess staff who ran away using my son's T-shirt to wiping down the metal table in the laundry room. I reported what happened to customer service department of Princess one month later. Now Princess cruise pushes my problem aside and told me they cannot solve the problem because my tour is end. Now almost 3 months is over, nobody in Princess Cruise Company contact to me again. So I have to write my review here to tell everyone how Princess Cruise company treats customer. I would never take Princess Cruises ever again.
My wife and I just completed the Alaskan Inside Passage cruise on Sunday. Had a great time. Only disappointment was our stop in Skagway...not much there at all...big let down after visiting Ketchikan
The Ruby Princess certainly didn't live up to its reviews! I would not recommend this ship. This was not my first cruise. I've take cruised on the Holland American Line and Azamara Cruise Line, so I know what to expect on quality cruise. We had a mid-ship balcony cabin but the room steward had to get permission to give me a disposable shower cap because shower caps were only given out to guests in suites. How cheap is that! Our bathroom was the tiniest imaginable and smelled of mold. The shower overflowed on to the bathroom floor and the toilet stopped working at one point. The food was only mediocre.
From the Norman Love truffle pops at the Welcome Toast to the restaurant-like beverage service in the buffet, Princess is filled with surprises that make it my favorite among the mass market cruise lines.
It won’t blow you away with bumper cars or carousels, but what it does deliver is consistently solid service, attention to detail and an eagerness to please.
The recent trip on the Caribbean Princess, our fourth on the line, proved to be as good as the first. With many of the lines noticeably scaling back, Princess is an exception. Here’s some of what made it special:
Ship shape. Princess’ mini-suite is ideal for those who want more space but not at a suite price. It’s essentially the size of a hotel room with two flat screen TVs, a full-sized couch, large counter, and porch furniture featuring reclining chairs, foot stools and a large table. The closets in the mini-suites%u2014as well as the balcony rooms%u2014are the largest we’ve had on any cruise line, and can accommodate three hanging shoe bags, along with a whole lot of clothes.
The staterooms%u2014as well as the public rooms%u2014were immaculate. You’d really have to look hard tofind any evidence that the ship was built 11 years ago.
The piazza, the hub of ship activity, this trip featured a pianist, a we-can-play-just-about-anything band and singer, steel drums and a former circus performer who twirled lighted hoops in a blaze of color and grace.
The only downside to the handsome piazza is that it can’t always accommodate everyone who wants to be there. Getting a good enough view to take photos of the Mardi Gras party or a seat to eat your International Café quiche can sometimes be all but impossible.
Food; themed and otherwise. Speaking of food, it ranged from fair to good, in both the Main Dining Room and Horizon Court buffet. One innovation in the MDR was Caribbean cuisine, a welcome reminder of where we were. And it was nice to see lobster tail still on the formal night menu.
Horizon Court themed nights were a lot of fun and we found ourselves there more than the MDR. German night was alight with a color-changing, larger-than-life beer stein (in ice, not on ice), landjagger bites and German hams, pretzel rolls, red cabbage, sausages, and linzer and sacher tortes. Italian night, with its gondolier-costumed waiters, served up prosciutto and hunks of parmesan, fennel au gratin and pasta many ways.
The bakery stuff is where Princess really excels. The breads are great%u2014from the sunflower-studded rolls to the cheese-topped croissants to the onion-infused focaccia. The chocolate desserts were excellent, rivaling some of the best bakeries on land.
The ship was as generous with its buffet hours as it was with the food offerings. You can get breakfast until 11:30, lunch until 3:30 (if you miss this, there’s “afternoon snack” from 3:30-5:30, which is a scaled down lunch), and full dinner is available until 11. Late dining was an especially mellow meal, just us, a few other night owls and the crew.
Fun and games. While standard fare, the entertainment was generally good; highlights were a juggler/comedian whose not-G-rated shtick brought on belly laughs, and a magician/comedian with same-but-different sleight-of-hand tricks and fast wit.
In fact, everyone seemed to be a comedian on this trip%u2014including the cruise director, Paul Chandler-Burns. The Brit’s quips shot out like sparks%u2014in an understated, under-the-breath sort of way%u2014and made him the ideal emcee. His banter during the “The Marriage Match Game Show” made it easily one of the best we’ve seen on any ship.
There were several themed parties, the most memorable was the “Love Boat Disco Deck Party” held by the pool. The ship’s singers and dancers, dressed officer-like in white pants suits and captain hats, did the hustle and other moves, while the Movie Under the Stars screen revived scenes from the TV show, interspersing its octogenarian cast members somewhat disconcertedly jiving to a disco beat.
Well served. Service onboard was attentive from the room steward to the well-orchestrated disembarkation. Ironically, some of the best service we had was in the buffet. One night, I was asked by three different waiters within 10 minutes if I wanted any water or coffee.
With the generous room space, great service, varied entertainment with plenty of laughs, satisfying food sprinkled with surprises, and four good Western Caribbean ports (seven days of sun didn’t hurt either), we felt gloriously pampered from ship to shore. And felt that Princess did its best%u2014and succeeded%u2014in helping us “come back new.”
We recommend cruises like this one. Even though we prefer smaller ships, this was a decent cruise for us.
We are Elite but hadn't sailed with Princess for about 5 years. For the budget minded, I recommend cruises like this one. Even though I prefer smaller ships, this was a decent cruise for me and I'm certainly not ruling similar ones out in the future.
----This was the largest ship we have sailed on, the 11th largest ship in the world; we recently passed the 1.5 year point of being on the sea in cruise ships. Only one year old and still the entire ship is like brand new, sure nice to have a stateroom that is not worn with stains here and there, for a change. Best balcony we have had, mostly due to the portion of it that looks and faces forward as well as to the side. The balcony size itself is 30% larger than the norm for an equivalent mini-suite stateroom, albeit they gave us one of the better balconies. Some commentators mentioned that they would be returning to other lines as a result of theRoyal's "small" balcony cabins. That piqued my interest as they mentioned Royal Caribbean and Celebrity, so I looked into their cabin specifications, strange, but the Royal Princess balcony cabins and adjacent balcony were slightly larger for the equivalent. We did have a mini-suite with an exceptionally large balcony though.
---This is the first ship we have been on where the heating system/air conditioning has worked almost perfect throughout the entire vessel. It always seems that on most ships the theatre is either too hot or too cold. For the morning lecture in the theatre it almost always is very cool, I can't understand why somebody doesn't turn up the heat before morning events begin. But on this ship they do it right. Also on other ships you continually hear people complaining of stateroom temperatures, we have never really had a problem like that, but our cabin on this ship has been perfect. Also, on this ship the cabins are very quiet, about the best we have ever experienced, and for 3 days the captain ran at over 24 MPH in relatively choppy seas, that's about the fastest we ever have sailed and the ship handled it without much motion.
---Meals were slightly above par for a ship operated by one of the top 11 big mainline mass market cruise lines, in fact, I would say the meals were slightly better on average than even some of those we experience on Regent Seven Seas Cruise's ships, a high end so called luxury line. After a rough start for us getting a table for two in the main dining rooms, second night out, anytime dining for us the rest of the voyage proved excellent and without hardly any wait ever we always got a table for two. Thankfully, Princess and HAL have both got away from "Traditional" only dining, sure makes for a better voyage for us. The specialty extra charge restaurant, Gelato, was very good.
The buffet area on the Lido deck (The word Lido means, open air swimming pool, almost all ships have their main buffet restaurant on the deck where their largest outdoor pool is), called the "Horizon Court/Bistro" also was above par, food quality wise. If you want to go there without all the hustle bustle and difficulty finding a seat, then go at off hours, like early in the morning or after the noon rush. Having suggested that things are a little cramped on the Lido, in fairness one must recognize that outdoor temperatures were slightly cool on that voyage so much so that the outdoor tables were rarely used. During warmer temperatures, things could be entirely different from an available seat standpoint, as, by my estimation, the outdoor seating would add well over 30% to the overall capacity. Also, the Horizon does a late afternoon conversion so that the tables are all set with cloth tablecloth, fine wine glasses, good silverware, etc which makes for a more quiet dining experience.
Of the three lines we cruise on Holland America (HAL) has Princess and Regent beat for making sandwiches or omelettes because they do it while you wait. I'm a sucker for tuna melts and can only get a good one on HAL. Princess annoyingly toasts bread, bagels, English muffins, etc, in advance then stacks dozens of them on heated trays, where they dry out and taste not so good. HAL and Regent prepare toast and these other items while you wait. Princess some times overdoes the military chow line mass feed concept.
We usually utilize the main dining rooms for dinner instead of the Horizon but prefer the Horizon over the dining rooms for breakfast and lunch.
One night we had one of the best meals ever on a voyage. It cost extra but not a lot. They call these meals "Crab Shack" and it is mostly shellfish. They only have them a few times per segment. We had King crab and shrimp mixture, you had to crack it yourself, lots of it. It wasn't crowded and we had a big table all to ourselves. Kind of messy but with all the good appetizers and stuff we were really full when we left. Good job Princess.
---Shore excursions were all pretty good with knowledgeable guides. Exception, motor coaches were filled to 90% of capacity most of the time, the saturation point has obviously went up in recent years. Princess, like HAL currently does, used to keep their loads to around 50-60%. Muster station shore excursion personnel did excellent control, most of the time, and manipulated the masses even though herd instincts motivated guests to cheat, push and rush for the coaches, typical of queues on most all cruises. All in all, I was rather surprised that Princess was able to handle the ports on this voyage when providing quality shore excursions as well, considering the massive size of this vessel and the number of passengers.
---Crew was very friendly in almost all aspects of the ship and voyage, not saying though they were always so knowledgeable pursuant to the subject matter they were suppose to be intimate with. All around service was okay (only one dinner night did the waiters appear to be overwhelmed) and room service, speed wise and otherwise, no better or worse than average.
--Hot tubs on the main pool deck (4 of them) were excellent. Well maintained, water consistently just the right temperature. Wish there were more of them since during good sea conditions there was a lot of demand. The huge, huge, outdoor theatre screen makes taking a hot tub on this ship another experience indeed.
---Great was the ship's multi pitch horn system on the Royal Princess, never heard anything like it, from deep base all the way up to a high pitch, sounding off with a prescribed melody. Princess gets an A plus for this feature. It was a lot of fun when the Royal and a sister, the Ruby crossed paths at the harbor entrance and engaged in a horn duel (When we were leaving Iceland). One of my favorite times on every cruise is the sailaway, this Captain had no compunction using the horns and at most ports we were the final cruise ship of the season and sometimes the largest that had ever visited the port, these were super sailaways. We were getting tired of two Regent ships with their "castrated canary" sounding fog horns (The Mariner's horn is okay though), which they rarely use, probably due embarrassment.
---I do appreciate the excellent large flat T.V.s (2) in our stateroom and the selection of live news and other shows. I particularly like the MSNBC and BBC. For too long with HAL and Regent we were relegated to the extreme right wing TV news source called "FOX News".
---We like attending a protestant church service on Sundays. This is the first of our voyages with Princess where they have really done a good job of putting on a quality service.
---The Royal Princess has an excellent fitness center. 17 deck levels up with plenty of cardio exercise machines and beautiful vistas of the sea from each one. I never was in the gym when it was overcrowded and always found an elliptical to work out on.
---Laundry--First time we had it free. Wife was happy but you had to give them a three day lead. Their were quite a few fairly sizeable groups on this voyage. Another Elite posted that Elite's in those groups were taking on laundry for their non-Elite group colleagues which added to the burden. If that is actually happening it irritates me no end.
---We used Princess hotel, air and transfer packages. Everything went well and without a problem or delay anywhere.
---Princess has now completely adopted the business model of all the large mainstream cruise lines, we are witnessing what is either going to be the success or the degradation of this trend. We shall see. This concept leans toward building more and more very large vessels. The Royal Princess is 3.5 times the size of the Titanic and can hold 4610 passengers. A ship's officer reportedly said we were only carrying 3500 this voyage though. In order to fill a three quarter of a billion dollar investment like this ship cost, the lines have adopted a policy of getting passengers on board for a very low initial fee. Then charging extra for just about everything except the basic stateroom and food served in the main dining rooms and the buffet areas, also there are pizzerias and hamburger grills with no extra charge. The ships function more or less like large floating resorts, with all sorts of premium type restaurants and other meal venues where additional payments are required, not to mention all the boutiques and other retail outlets trying to sell you something.
-----One of the things I like best about cruising is the theme lecturers they usually have on board. This cruise was billed "Iceland