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
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.
The captain (Dino Sagani) regularly forced all clients to listen to his irrelevant babbling by transmitting in each state room his loud status reports. It is true that most other cruises don't force paying customers to listen to obscure super-star wannabes, but on the Royal Princess they do things differently! We had the chance to experience the prison-like treatment of having our afternoon sleep rudely interrupted by the captain's many fascinating announcements â€“ we found out the speed of the boat in three measurement units and we were also regularly informed of the depth of the sea! We complained that normal cruises donâ€™t transmit such loud announcement in the staterooms, but the cruise staff quickly dismissed our lack of enthusiasm and our reluctance to embrace the hyperactive vacationing approach. So once you had your tenth supersized extra-strong coffee you're ready to relax on this cruise.
The drills performed on the ship were also a nice occasion to witness frustrated staff yell orders to some disobedient paying customers. Luckily no client was beaten for their lack of immediate compliance with the orders of parking-guard equivalents.
The food was tasty and nicely presented, but some itemsquickly finished so we had to be there when the restaurants opened.
Otherwise, the ship is beautiful and the entertainment diverse and of adequate quality.
Royal Princess Inaugural Caribbean Cruise Oct.29- Nov. 3, 2013
There is nothing like the excitement of arriving at a cruise port on sailing day, and looking for that first glimpse of your ship through the shuttle bus window. "There she is," we all exclaimed on the bus, "she is so big!"
We arrived on the morning of October 29 at approximately 10 a.m. There were no line-ups, and surprisingly, we were processed through security, registration desk and up into the waiting lounge in less than half an hour. After about an hour's wait, our Platinum status allowed us to be one of the first to board the Royal Princess, and first impressions were she was lovely! The magnificent atrium area, called the Piazza, was beautiful, classy, and the columns of light on either side of the stairways were breathtaking.
There was a very good band playing to welcome passengers with some Caribbean music. They were called "Steele" and
The first order of business as usual was lunch! We made our way up to Deck 16 to the Horizon Court Bistro where tantalizing reats awaited. My first discovery, situated between the two halves of the buffet area was called The Pastry Shop. Oh my, the heavenly smells that emanated from there! I had to walk through and goggle at the all the delectable treats, even though I could not eat most of them. I was pleasantly surprised though to discover that each day, at least one gluten-free dessert was offered, and they were always delicious!
After a lovely first lunch we embarked on a "Treasure Hunt". At boarding, we were given cards featuring many of the shops and specialty areas on the ship, and were encouraged to find these places, collect a stamp at each one, then drop the card into a box for a raffle prize draw at sailaway. I thought it was a great way to discover the ship, find our way around, meet the staff, and encourage people to attend the sailaway party.
One of our first stops on the treasure hunt was The Sanctuary, located on Deck 17 forward. First you come to the Retreat Pool, a fairly large rectangular pool surrounded by lounge chairs and tented cabanas.The pool and regular chairs were free to use, but the cabanas had to be rented at $50 for a half day or $80 for a full day.
Then, into the private entrance of The Sanctuary,where things got even more expensive. Beautiful cushioned lounge chairs could be rented, as well as tented cabanas and what looked like mini apartments,complete with comfortable couches, lounges, flat screen TVs, and mini bar, all tastefully decorated, comfortable and very private. There were also smaller rooms available for massage treatments and total relaxation.
People were lined up to book their time in TheSanctuary, but were told they had to come every morning around 8:30 to book for that day. Beautiful as it was, we never did go back as it was totally out of our price range.
After touring the ship and collecting our treasure hunt stamps, we made our way to our cabin on Baha Deck 11, midship.This proved to be a fortunate location because we were in close walking distance to the main midship elevators. Unfortunately, there were no staircases located midship, only forward and aft, so even if you wanted to walk up or down a floor or two, you always had to wait for the elevator. This was the first of many design flaws we were to find on the ship.
Our cabin was ready by the time we got there at 1:30; nicely decorated, comfortable if a bit small, but it had plenty of storage space with a large open double closet and many drawers situated in the bedside tables and desk.
Ours was a balcony cabin and the balcony was tiny, barely fitting the two chairs and tiny table.
The bathroom was even smaller. As someone later pointed out, if you were to take the shower out of the bathroom, the remaining space was no bigger than an airline toilet. I often kept the door open while in the bathroom because not only did it make me feel claustrophobic, but I kept banging my elbow on the door while standing at the counter. Come to think of it, another reason for keeping the door open was the fact that there was no exhaust fan in the tiny room, so it very quickly steamed up if the shower was on. Oh, and I mustn't forget design flaw #2: the toilet roll holder. Every single person I talked to over the course of the two weeks we spent on the ship said the same thing; "what's with the placement of the toilet roll holder?" If you were seated, the toilet roll with its annoying metal flap cover was situated behind you and under the sink counter, so that you almost needed to be a contortionist to reach it, and being cheap thin paper, it often ripped off in little bits several times before you got enough to use. Speaking of cheap and thin, the towels fell into that category as well. I thought for a beautiful big new ship like the Royal Princess, we would have luxurious "royal" towels, but the towels and facecloths were thin, and had the texture of fine sandpaper.
After unpacking and settling in, the inevitable muster drill was called around 3:15 p.m. Our muster station was in a main thoroughfare area outside Princess Live! television studio on Deck 7. We had to drag our life jackets down the stairs far far down the hall, and line up in very cramped quarters for the demonstrations and announcements. At least it was air conditioned...one step above being lined up on a hot deck outdoors.
This was followed by the Sailaway party on Lido deck 16 by the main pool. Another very good band called "The Volume" were playing by the pool, and all the entertainment staff were in attendance, encouraging people to dance and also giving out raffle prizes from the treasure hunt. Sadly, I didn't win anything. At this point, we found our friends who were traveling with us on this cruise and we celebrated sailaway with a couple of drinks and a heartfelt "Cheers".
When it was time to actually depart, the Royal Princess's horn announced her departure with a tooting rendition of "The Love Boat Theme". We were on our way!
Following the sailaway, where we had filmed our departure from the upper pool deck, we were coming down the outside stairs back to the pool deck, when I missed the last step and fell down the stairs. Nobody's fault but mine, I just didn't see the last step. I fell heavily on my bad hip, and smacked my shin bone on the bottom step, never dropping the two plastic glasses I was carrying! Back in the cabin I had to ice the injury for awhile, the swelling and bruising was extensive.
By 6:30 I was recovered enough to go to dinner.We had chosen "Anytime Dining", so were directed to the Symphony Dining Room. It was spacious, beautiful, and I loved the entrance decor of what resembled silver and gold Christmas balls.
Our waiter that first night was James "007", who was very funny and gave us great friendly service. Our first meal consisted of grilled chicken, roasted potatoes, green beans for me, and leek & cheese tart, shrimp cocktail and mushroom soup for James, all was very good. Dessert was a delicious creme brule, and flourless (gluten-free) chocolate cake.
A very good dinner was followed by a very good Welcome Aboard show in the Princess Theatre. It was extremely packed by 8:30 when we got there, and we were lucky to get seats, because it was soon full.
The Princess singers and dancers were fabulous; energetic, talented, and they put on a good show. Our cruise director Sam Hawker-Thompson introduced herself and her entertainment staff, and she and they proved to be personable and funny. The headlining comedian of the week, Carlos Oscar, did a short act that had me in tears, I was laughing so hard. We looked forward to seeing more of him later in the week.
Despite the fact it had been a very long and busy day, we still had time and energy for one more bit of entertainment before bedtime - Trivia in the Princess Live! TV studio. This theatre is a new endeavour for Princess, and was the focus spot for karaoke, interactive trivia, game shows, and daily live television broadcasts of the Wake Show hosted by the cruise director Sam and her sidekick Deputy Dan.
All in all, a very successful first day, toilet roll holder aside, and we were off to bed looking forward to Day 2 in Princess Cays...