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
Royal'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
---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
---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