Royal Princess, the first of two in the new Royal class of ship (Regal Princess is launched next year). Royal Princess is currently the largest ship built for Princess, the largest cruise ship ever built in Italy and the worlds 6th largest passenger ship, holding a maximum of 3600 passengers. My Father (Tony Hammond) and I flew out to Barcelona on Wednesday 17th July to embark on a 12 night Grand Mediterranean Cruise to Venice.
It did not seem as grand as other Princess ships. On the bottom floor of the theatre it had a long walk through like many theatres on land.
Princess Live is the first TV studio on board a ship. It was amazing. They held port lectures, quizzes, game shows and they filmed The Wake Show (the show you wake up to with your cruise director) live and had an audience on sea days. It is a great place to go to in the evening to have some fun and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.
Unfortunately we only went to one of the shows, I think it was a good idea but they bragged that the jets would perform with the music but I really didn't see any of that at all, the water was great with the colours, but it really didn't match the music.
The Outriggers bar was right at the back of the ship on deck 16 next to the Horizon Court. This bar was fantastic, because it was tucked away at the back not many people knew about it and it was quiet and they had lovely music playing. The bar staff there where absolutely amazing and every night after a quiz or an event we would go up to Outriggers at around 11:00 and they would know exactly what we wanted, top class.
Not much to say about the Vista lounge, it looked exactly the same as the Vista show Lounges on other vessels in the Princess fleet. It held all the Art events and hosted all but one of the Bingo games. They also had a few themed nights e.g. a 70s night and a Rock and Roll night.
The Spa was massive, it covered the whole of the forward part of deck 5, we managed to get a look around the Enclave but were not able to take pictures because there where people inside. But we were very impressed by what was inside. While on-board we had our hair cuts for $25 per person which was a reduced rate because we didn't need much off!! normal price would be $35, I also had my teeth whitened with GO SMILE which was a $120 treatment. But overall the spa looked good.
The sanctuary has an association with the Spa. This was not free of charge so a fee was necessary as follows:
Sanctuary Cabana rental
Half Day - $60
Full Day - £130
Sanctuary Lounger rental
Half day - $15 per person
Full Day - $25 per person
Sorry to say we did not pay this, but we did sneak in to take some pictures. It looked nice and very secluded for some piece and quite. But also there were not many people in there, we went in twice to look and first time there where two people and second time there were no people.
The Cabana was a mock up of a living room, it had chairs and sofas and a TV, it was basically a mini stateroom without the bathroom and bed. Not sure why you would want to use one to be honest.
The Retreat pool is found just before the sanctuary on deck 17. Around the pool there were also some Cabana’s for rental (simply sided tents with two loungers inside) at $50 for a half day and $80 for a full day. As you can guess when we went in, there where many people but no one in the cabanas, just on the ordinary loungers. But it was very peaceful and quiet.
We didn't have a massive look in the Casino because I am underage and my dad isn't a gambling man. But it wasn't as big as I thought it would be, but it was still a decent size with many slot machines and tables.
Troy was outstanding and brilliant; he has to be one of the best comedians I have seen in a long, long time.
David was very good at what he does; we had one performance in Princess Live which was all close up action and then another performance in the Princess Theatere which included levitation and disappearing etc. If you have never seen this acts or tricks before then it would be amazing but having cruised a lot I have seen many illusionists. They all do basically the same things.
Celebrations is a shop that sells high end chocolate and sweets. I asked the lady who worked in there how popular has it been since the first cruise and she replied it has been very, very popular and one person even came in and bought around $600 worth of chocolate. As well as Godiva and similar high end products, it also has mainstream Hersheys, Cadbury etc.
The WiFi reception on-board is meant to be ship-wide (including cabins), but is really only at useful strength in public areas. Once connected, the speed of the satellite feed was actually quite good.
If you had a Smartphone or tablet or any device that could connect to the wifi, then you where able to connect to a website free of charge – (royal.Princess.com). This was a great website. It had information about the ship on it, it had the itinerary on it, it had all of the events taking place during the morning, afternoon and evening so the shows and the trivia’s etc.
From this website you could also access your stateroom account, which unlike other lines is not available on the TV system. Unfortunately, this facility does not currently work for Captains Circle Elite members, due to a code missing from their cruise cards. A bit of an oversight which should really have been picked up ages ago. For an elite member to access their bill they had to go down to reception and use the self-service machine that anyone could swipe there card and get a print out of there bill.
On disembarkation day there was a special offer so that people could check-in for their flights which was 15 minutes for $8.99. Otherwise during the cruise 600 minutes would cost $199.
On the Royal Princess you had Traditional dining or Anytime Dining.
The Traditional dinning venue was the Allegro Restaurant and the Anytime Dining was Symphony and Concerto dining rooms. But there was also Sabatini’s, The Crown Grill, Horizons Court and The Pizzeria.
We used this restaurant most nights for our dinner; it was open from 6:00 till 10:00. It had a nice atmosphere to it and the décor was colourful. The food was outstanding like I know Princess is, but some dishes where a tad inconsistent. For example the signature Fettuccini Alfredo one night would have loads of sauce and on another night it would barely have any, leaving the pasta a tad dry. But apart from that the food was fantastic. The waiters and waitresses were attentive and catered to any needs.
The Crown Grill is the steak house on-board. They had beautiful tasting steaks and stunning seafood and cooked to perfection. There was a higher standard of service from the wait staff than in the restaurant. We only went in the steakhouse once but it was definitely worth the cover charge
It isn't really a dining venue but it is food! Gelato is the ice-cream shop on board. This is NOT complimentary. The costs were from £2.75 for three scoops of ice-cream. There was a wide variety of choice available.
There was a limited amount of choice. I think there were 4 or 5 pizzas and 1 calzone. You could not make your own pizza with your choice of toppings. There where classic deserts served in there Apple pie and tiramisu. This was complimentary.
The pastry shop did not actually have many pastries in it – it was all different types of cakes, jellies and cookies and biscuits. There was always one hot option that ranged from steamed pears to a sponge pudding.
In the Horizon Court, there were 6 buffet areas and the pastry shop. The Horizon Court had a completely different décor to the Horizon Bistro, the bistro having more garden type Italian bistro surroundings. It also seemed a bit more like a café than a restaurant. Horizon court looked exactly the same as a typical court on other Princess ships.
There was a wide variety of food available from the big pieces of meat to salads, but they always had pastas and oriental style cuisine stir fry’s, rice, noodles and lasagna and always a choice of two soups.
There was also a lot of seating available in Horizons Court and Bistro – except from sea days when you had to eat early while all the Americans where still asleep and on the last morning when everyone is up there early.
In the morning coffee and orange juice were served to you by the waiters and there were not many (I saw two) drinks machines to get tea and coffee etc.
Soups/salads/sandwiches/Hot dog and burgers all complimentary 24/7. You could also have the choice of a 12” pizza but this would cost a $3 delivery charge per order.
We stayed in room R734 which is a Deluxe Balcony Stateroom (one of their new categories). It was a good size for two people – but could take up to four people with a single sofa bed and one bunk. There was a large balcony also due to the fact we were at the back of the ship. This was the first time that we had ever been in a rear facing cabin. We noticed that all of the balconies at the rear were uncovered, which lead to an unwelcome level of soot deposits from the funnel. (Take a note of that for any customers that ask for a rear facing stateroom). This was cleaned everyday, but you really needed the Princess slippers that were available from your room steward. The Balcony included two reclining loungers, two footstools and one table – which is pretty good.
This wasn't a big factor for me but for a new ship it was a bit striking that there was not a bible in sight in the stateroom. We looked everywhere but could not find one – we did not need it but what if someone else did!
In the room there was a large flat screen TV. The networked TV system was a bit slow to get going on occasion. You could have to wait around 3 or 4 minutes before you could select a program. The movies on the TV where all free and there was a good choice of fairly recent releases (Oz the Great and Powerful, Butter, Parental Guidance and Les Miserables to name just a few). Also they had some comedy and action TV series, showing the first five episodes in each one including The Middle, Raising Hope and Bones and CSI. These were all free as well.
One thing we did notice from the TV was that we could not access any personal details such as your bill or any excursions you have booked or to make reservations for speciality restaurants. Also the TV had a few glitches and faults especially during the evening, which was frustrating. All teething problems that will get sorted I’m sure.
In the new category of stateroom you get the same upgraded amenities as a mini-suite so the lotus spa soaps and shower gel, lotion and hair conditioner. The biggest downside about the bathroom was that the toilet roll holder was behind you!!